[MUD-Dev] Problems with current RPGs

Björn Morén <bjoernen@hotmail.com> Björn Morén <bjoernen@hotmail.com>
Sat Jan 17 10:42:06 New Zealand Daylight Time 2004


How can the current computer RPGs be improved? Why do I not find
them particulary interesting? The following are the points that I
think designers are underestimating in their players.

  - Players are creative

    Most RPGs of today rely on the idea of experiencing pre-created
    content: players should experience the game content much like a
    very interactive book. The games are based on streamlined
    content as a replacement for player creativeness. The designers
    assume that players like to be entertained in their laziness,
    rather than entertained in their creativity. (I'm being harsh,
    hope you get the point)

    While often appealing by graphics and professional content, such
    games easily break if new content is not constantly added, which
    really isn't cost effective. They work by "throwing" tons of
    content on the players in an effort to hide weaknesses in game
    concepts or mechanics.

    Most players are creative enough to provide most game content if
    they are given an open ended interesting system. Non-creative
    players will live off of the creative ones. In order to make the
    game interesting enough it must have detailed game mechanics,
    support many different game concepts and have support systems
    for enforcing player ideas and handling tedious work. (By
    concepts I mean combat, housing, crafting, trade, communities,
    laws, etc).

  - Players are individual

    Designers often assume a lot about the player's taste and
    needs. Players do not want to be fitted in to predefined roles
    and ways of playing, they want to pursue their own specific
    lifestyle; they want to play *their* role. By letting players
    choose from stereotypic roles we are hardly contributing to a
    role-playing experience.

    Individuality in its shallow form is being able to choosing
    race, role, bodily features and equipment, evident in many
    RPGs. Individuality in it's deeper form is the ability to create
    roles, and define new game rules that enforces and supports a
    player's specific taste of playing.

  - Players want detailed realism

    Most players of RPGs want an extraordinary experience that's
    different from the real world. They want to immerse in an
    exciting and different world that stimulates them. Still, what
    would easily break such an adventure, would be the lack of
    detailed realistic rules. A game would break by having too
    simplified and too non-realistic game mechanics. Vivid detailed
    game mechanics is much more important than vivid detailed
    graphics, the latter being the usual strategy of current RPGs.

    Detailed game mechanics adds a depth to the game that can not be
    achieved in other ways. Just as the real world, it will keep
    players occupied very long with examining and understanding the
    world they are living in. Detailed mechanics means for instance
    expanding the number of item attributes, creature skills and
    game concepts, and letting them form complex realistic
    relations.

/Björn Morén
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