[MUD-Dev] Do players enjoy farming? (was MUD-Dev Digest, Vol 7, Issue 9)

Paul Schwanz pschwanz at comcast.net
Fri Jan 9 17:17:25 New Zealand Daylight Time 2004


Tom "cro" Gordon wrote:
> From: Paul Schwanz

>> I'm still not sure why we have it in for camping when players so
>> obviously like to camp.  Or why we have it in for farming when
>> players seem to prefer to farm.  Why don't these facts cause us
>> instead to come up with better ways to help players enjoy camping
>> and farming?

> But players don't like to camp - they like what they get from
> camping.  And players don't like to farm, they like what they get
> from farming.  It feels like cause and effect are being mixed up
> here.

> As a player, I camp not for the pure joy of camping, but from the
> benefits within the game I receive as the end result of the
> camping, be it rare loot, additional experience to bolster
> character development or whatever. But camping is inherently
> boring.

> As for farming (quick definition here: the costant repetition of
> the same act/quest to receive the same object) in games that rely
> on a specific item for advancement (such as the Lore Tokens in
> Horizons), earning these advancement-items will be accomplished
> via the path of least resistance - or farming.

I'm trying to look past the current implementations, though, to see
how players really prefer to play.  When I talk about them enjoying
farming, I'm not talking about the constant act/quest repetition,
although I do understand that yours is the typical definition.  I'm
talking about something much closer to literal farming (virtually
speaking).

I think the problem with farming/camping as it is currently
implemented is that it is perhaps not low-risk enough.  High-risk
activities and interesting activities are not always synonymous.
People often enjoy rather low-commitment types of activities.  There
are more people who play cards on the internet than who play
MMORPGs.  Playing cards seems like a rather low-risk (if not
mindless) activity, yet people seem to enjoy it.  To me, "farming"
in an MMORPG often appears very much like people trying to bring
something like card-playing (or agricultural farming?) into their
favorite virtual world.  I'll leave it to the academic types as to
whether or not this is a natural human tendency to move from
hunter-gatherer to agriculture.

When I look at my own internet usage, I see myself taking little
breaks here and there throughout my day to check something:

  Has anyone responded to a thread?  How are my stocks performing?
  Is there any new technology news?  Game news?

I have a number of sites that I check on a frequent basis when I'm
bored.  I can get almost obsessive about it.  Even when I don't have
the time to sit down and write a response or don't feel like doing
anything requiring a high level of commitment, these little moments
help me still feel connected to something interesting.  Then later,
my interest will get to the point where I'll write a response or an
article or otherwise invest my time into more focused pursuit of my
interests.

For me, I think the killer MMORPG is going to be the one that lets
me drop into something like a management interface via a web browser
when I'm bored and want to take a few seconds to feel connected to
something interesting:

  How is my farmer doing?  What are wheat prices at now?  Are there
  any reports of threats to my little farm?  Has anyone stopped by
  to see me or left me a message?

Even better if I can make a few selections on the interface to try
to improve my farmer's progress or profits:

  A wolf lair has been spotted nearby that may threaten my sheep?
  I'd better send out a request for someone to destroy it.  Hmmm,
  how much can I afford to pay?  Maybe I should IM Bubba and see if
  he is interested in the job.

Or if I have the time and the inclination, maybe I'll log in and
take care of it myself that evening.  After all, I'm itching to use
that new sword I purchased last week.  Or maybe I feel like going on
an adventure up into the wild lands.  Current MMORPGs are decent
about letting me do this sort of thing, but they are really rather
poor at letting me farm or ranch or mine or run a shop.

--Phin
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