[MUD-Dev] DESIGN: The game with a thousand faces

Jaycen Rigger jaycen.rigger at sbcglobal.net
Sat Apr 23 03:39:00 New Zealand Standard Time 2005


Mike Rozak <Mike at mxac.com.au> wrote:

> I've been thinking some more about alternative virtual world
> genres, and decided to try a different approach to hopefully find
> some yet-undiscovered genres. Many of the "genres" the approach
> comes up with are not actually virtual worlds (which might be
> considered heretical by some), but they might spawn some
> interesting discussion, which could lead to even more genres. (I
> have mentioned some of the ideas before, such as private virtual
> worlds.)

I've read that write-up a few times.  It's interesting to me that we
agree on so much, but disagree on the "whys".

You yourself mention the fact that in myth, human beings tend to
create the same kinds of myths and stories.  This is true even
amongst cultures seperated by thousands of miles and thousands of

In myth, as stories are related from telling to telling, the details
might change (like playing "telephone" as kids), but the core plot
is distilled and maintained.  The fact that it occurs across
generations and in totally isolated cultures in the same way
(i.e. Gilgamesh is Heracles is John McClain) demonstrates that human
beings are hardwired for certain concepts and ideas.

I think the fact that so many games are homogenous reinforces that
same concept.  It isn't lack of understanding, or lack of
imagination.  It is what it is.  It's a formula that works, that
people readily accept and identify with.  You will get slight
variations on the formula, but the main ingredients will never
change, or the new product will die.

It's this kind of fundamental truism that attracts me to the
psychological papers written on gamers and games.  It's the same
kind of fundamental truism that we, as developers, should be
searching for in order to address the common problems that crop up
within our games.

It's surprising to me to read posts by so many smart folks in the
industry who constantly struggle with the same problems all the time
(economy drain, abberant player behaviour, lack of player
social/governmental structure, stagnant crafting systems).

Take, for instance, your statement on sub-genres.  I think that
specialization is the key to smaller, less interesting communities.
It's possible to create a world that caters to many player
personality types and still be successful.  You just have to accept
the idea that some players will not like it.  However, the casual
gamer will be attracted to the variety and more importantly, the
players will help to drive the content and conflict.  I'm not just
talking about PvP or anything on that level.  I'm saying that when
you get a group of very different people together in one place,
different mixes of sub-groups are going to occur and more
interesting relationships are formed.

I have a feeling I'm not getting my thoughts across as well as I'd
like.  Ah well.


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