[MUD-Dev] Problems with current RPGs

Hans-Henrik Staerfeldt hhs at cbs.dtu.dk
Thu Jan 22 12:15:13 New Zealand Daylight Time 2004


On Saturday 17 January 2004 10:42, Björn Morén wrote:

>     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.

Not that I necessarily say you are wrong, but this may be another
example of yet another designer (you) assuming a lot about the
player's taste and needs. I understand that what you write is your
view on what players want and need in a roleplaying game.  However
what i do not see, is where you get your information.  I suspect
that your opinion reflect you, and perhaps a few people you have
spoken to/chatted with, but it is important to remember that your
own opinion is not necessarily the opinion of the general player.  I
will agree though that it would be very beneficial to find out what
the player actually _do_ need in the game, but then you should ask a
lot of players :-)

There are dangers in implementing huge complex game mechanics, as
well as endless depth of detail. Such things are very nice, if you
have been growing up in such an environment, but can be frustrating
to work with if you are dumped right into it. If the game spouts a
cascade of concepts and parameters as well as a deep detailed
history that is needed to understand the environment and the NPC's
around it, this can be very overwhelming for a casual player, and
you may loose her interrest early in the game, even though the game
then would have more staying-power later on.

Also there are also some merits of forcing stereotypic roles onto
the players. Keep in mind that most players will not be experienced
roleplayers such as yourself (I presume). Stereotypic roles are
easier to roleplay than having to invent everything yourself, and
makes it easier to approach roleplaying and the universe you play
in, without having to put a lot of effort into your character. This
is important if you want your game to have more of an audience that
the hardcore roleplayer, which in turn may make or break the game
financially.

> - 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.

Non-realistic game mechanics can be great fun, and is used in most
games. In fact i believe you meant to say 'non intuitive' instead
(in which case i agree with you). Remember magic is not realistic in
any way (or at least I don't believe it is, but that is not a
discussion for this list). Imagine a RPG where the player say 'I
want to become a mage', and the game then say 'OK, now you have to
study for 50 years, online game time, reading these 30 books on
magic, and knowing them by heart'. Thats no fun. Or you say 'I want
to become a fighter', and the game say 'OK, better start making 100
push-ups a day, and run 10 times around the keep, and then hit the
weights for a few hours. Same procedure for the next months, then we
start swinging at dummies for a few months. No fun either. But
realistic.

I would actually take a different view. Online roleplaying games
need to feature simplified non-realistic game rules for a great many
things, because otherwise it simply becomes tideous and boring. The
world need to be presented to the player in a pre-digested and
easily accessible way, otherwise it can become overwhelming.

I am not saying to stop adding depth to a virtual environment, but i
am saying that wanting 'realism' is a choice that could end up
killing the fun of the game. I believe it would be wrong to make
this the main focus of a game design process.

--
--Hans-Henrik Stærfeldt
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