[MUD-Dev] Removing access to entertainment

Marian Griffith gryphon at iaehv.nl
Sat Nov 15 11:16:26 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

On Fri 14 Nov, John Buehler wrote:

> This is an observation about some graphical games that I've played
> through the years, and a pet peeve that has been building all that
> while.  I don't know if text games have this manifested in any
> way, but the graphical games sure do: they remove my access to
> entertainment as part of the normal operation of the game.

>   Example 1: Nighttime and rainstorms.  Example 2: Mesmerization.
>   Example 3: Blindness.  Example 4: Slow travel in large worlds.

[explanation snipped]

> The only real purpose of this post is to suggest to game designers
> that they cease putting in game features that, while 'realistic',
> do NOT add to the game's entertainment value.  In truth, they
> oppose players finding entertainment because those very features
> remove access to the game's entertainment.

>   1. Don't remove or limit my ability to see the game world in an
>   entertaining way.  A dark screen is NOT entertaining.  It only
>   adds to eye strain.  A rainstorm isn't 'fun'.  It only impairs
>   my ability to move around the game world to find the real
>   entertainment in the game.

I think you are wrong here, for several reasons.  First of all you
seem to apply that your idea of fun applies to everybody, and also
that your idea of fun matches the game.

A lot depends, I think, on what a game is aiming at. If it is just a
quick play with a couple of more or less random strangers, then you
have a point.  On the other hand if the game aims at an immersive
world it becomes much less valid. And if the game is aimed at
roleplaying (acting) then these features you complain about become

Second there are many different reasons to play. "Consuming
entertainment" is only one of them. You complain that darkness and
rain restrict your ability to 'see' the game.  Others (myself
included) might see those as exciting precisely *because* they can
not see as far ahead and this adds an additional sense of
danger. Suddenly staring at a dark, or spinning, screen gives an
urgent "oh crap" feeling, just as being jumped at by more, or
larger, enemies than you can handle right then.

>   2. Don't remove my access to my character's abilities.  Let
>   others attempt to counter my character's abilities, but don't
>   remove access to mine.

But is there really any difference between the two?

>   3. Don't install barriers to accessing entertainment.  I
>   understand that players will consume all available entertainment
>   in a game because of the difficulty in composing content.  That
>   doesn't mean that there should be such onerous barrier to
>   pursuing that entertainment that I spend much of my gaming
>   experience in simply trying to reach the entertainment that's
>   out there.

I always thought it extremely silly to think of games as "content to
be consumed", personally. If a game is nothing more than a 'run
somewhere real fast, hit a couple of buttons and run back' then it
is not much of a game to me.

This also touches on another problem that you are ignoring.  Games
like muds are not about 'content' as such (or not exclusively) but
also have a large social component in them. By inconveniencing all
travel, the game forces player communities.  If travel is near
intantaneous then the social fabric between the players fractures or
never has the chance to develop. Of course, if it is too difficult
then you need a critical mass of players or society will never
develop because of lack of members. Travel, like other forms of down
time, are necessary to a social game.

Have you considered Diablo II, which pretty much has all the
features you desired and none of the drawbacks you complain
about. It is not really a mud, but I am not entirely sure if that is
what you are looking for anyway.

Yes - at last - You. I Choose you. Out of all the world,
out of all the seeking, I have found you, young sister of
my heart! You are mine and I am yours - and never again
will there be loneliness ...

Rolan Choosing Talia,
Arrows of the Queen, by Mercedes Lackey
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