[MUD-Dev] Removing access to entertainment

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Tue Dec 9 11:55:29 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

Damion Schubert writes:
> From: John Buehler

>> I've noticed that through time games have begun to eliminate the
>> annoyances of previous games.  One such example is a difference
>> between EverQuest and Dark Age of Camelot.  EverQuest assigned
>> weight to money.  Dark Age of Camelot does not.  In EverQuest,
>> there were times when I had to carry so much money that I would
>> drag my character from point A t point B.  And just transferring
>> cash for purchases got to be a hassle.  In Dark Age of Camelot,
>> money has no weight, so money never becomes a burden, literally
>> or otherwise.  I believe that Mythic chose to go that route
>> because heavy money is a barrier to their ability to provide the
>> entertainment that they want to provide.

>> Again, just becomes something is challenging doesn't mean that
>> it's entertaining.

> Very true, but at the same time, I just want to stress that many
> times, the designer's first impulse is to rip out something
> because it's boring or tedious to the user.  If you follow this
> stream of thought to its logical end, then before long you will
> have Dungeon Siege, the infamous 'game that plays itself', because
> everything that was considered even mildly inconvenient for the
> user was automated for him.

A perfectly valid observation.  I assuredly don't want to go in that
direction.  But, as in Tetris or Chess or Go, the activity of the
game is fundamentally entertaining.  Tetris doesn't involve
manufacturing the pieces, or fighting a monster so that it will drop
the pieces.  The ordering of the pieces as they fall IS the
entertainment of the game, and there is always an unending stream of
free pieces falling.  It is an activity that is entertaining.  It is
not placed into a larger context that only junks up the experience
with reality, backstory or other such things.  Those only serve to
dilute the entertainment of Tetris.

If game designers want to present a persistent virtual world to
players as a form of entertainment, the activities that the players
get to experience should be inherently entertaining, and not simply
part of the fiction of the virtual world.

I wonder if any single activity in the existing games could survive
on its own as a standalone game.  Is any existing combat system
sufficiently entertaining that it could be its own game?  Is any
crafting system?  Is any exploration?

So when I look at mesmerization, I see a time in the game that is
devoid of any entertainment value.  There are far better ways for
players to compete with each other without removing one player's
ability to stack his Tetris pieces.

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