[MUD-Dev] Problems with current RPGs

Björn Morén <bjoernen@hotmail.com> Björn Morén <bjoernen@hotmail.com>
Fri Jan 23 09:30:10 New Zealand Daylight Time 2004


From: Hans-Henrik Staerfeldt <hhs at cbs.dtu.dk>
> On Saturday 17 January 2004 10:42, Björn Morén wrote:

>>     Designers often assume a lot about the player's taste and
>>     needs. [...]

> 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. [...]

Youre absolutely right. This is my view on the subject and I'm not
an expert. I've just observed some issues about current MMORPGs and
I'm expressing my biased view of it. I have a gut feeling that many
people agree, but I could be dead wrong. If I express my views like
some kind of truth I apologize. :-)

> 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.

Sure this is a big challenge for the designers, but I believe
details can be "layered". A few important and trivial details are
immediately noted by novices, others require some time to be
discovered and understood, and the rest are hidden from the player,
requiring a lot of work to be figured out. Hopefully it can lead to
a world that provides player challenges on all levels.

> 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.

I agree to some degree. But if all players start out as a role
neutral charater and specific roles are developed as they play, is
that really experienced as bad? Will players get frustrated when
they immediately can't assume the role of knight? I think this is an
issue about aiding the player in the role creating process. Maybe
giving examples of roles they can play, and encouraging them to find
a role of their own. Describing the game systems as an opportunity
rather than a bond of precreated roles. It is also similar to being
a kid and growing up.

Lets say I have a strong will to be a knight. Then I will find gear
that makes me look like a knight, learn the appropriate skills and
maybe take on knight job at the local king. I will eventually be
called "knight" when I and other people in the game like call me
that. Personally, I would like to play a game where no roles are
predefined at all, but are defined and named as the players "invent"
or have need for them. I know, this is very theoretical, but I have
a feeling it can work.

>>     A game would break by having too simplified and too
>>     non-realistic game mechanics. [...]

> 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). [...]

Sorry, this was not very well expressed by me. I didn't actually
mean *realistic* in true sense of the word, since the game itself is
not very realistic. As you suggested, intuitive is a better
word. The game mechanics must be created in a way that they make
sense within the world setting, that they are not isolated but
relate to other mechanics as part of a greater well designed whole,
and relate to concepts in the real world making them intuitive in
nature.

> 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. [...]

As I explained above I think this could be solved by different
"layers" of detail, not obvious at once, but discovered the more the
player immerses into the world.

Thank you for your reply.

/Björn Morén
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