[MUD-Dev] Blog about GDC implies changes to MMORPG population

Mike Shaver mike.shaver at gmail.com
Wed Apr 27 04:13:38 New Zealand Standard Time 2005

On 4/25/05, Michael Hartman <michael at thresholdrpg.com> wrote:
> Sean Kelly wrote:

>> I disagree. While mixed-level grouping doesn't offer an optimal
>> XP reward, it does up the challenge considerably. Keeping a
>> low-level player alive when they aggro things half a mile away
>> and can't defend themselves can take some work. From an
>> achievement perspective, this offers bragging rights. In fact
>> there have been a number of player-run events involving
>> protecting low-level characters in dangerous areas.

> So the fun challenge comes from wrestling with the crappy game
> design that discourages, heavily, grouping with anyone more than 1
> or 2 levels apart from you?

The fun challenge comes from finding a combination of the game
mechanics, your desired play experience, and the people you have in
your game-life, that presents you with a course of action that is
possible-but-not-trivial, and rewarding in some way that amuses you.

Some people like the nearly-single-purpose Lego sets, which
basically give you a handful of variations on a narrow theme, but
will let you build things like a waving flag, which is traditionally
cumbersome with the classic bricks. Other people are more interested
in the old-school bumpy-rectangle purity, because they can make a
larger number of things, albeit usually to a lower fidelity, and
usually having to overcome some "bad decisions" in terms of what
sorts of pieces can interact in what ways.

Sometimes it's annoying to not be able to group with arbitrary
people and get optimal advancement or uniform challenge. Sometimes
it's a heck of a lot of fun to take a group of random, wide-eyed
newbies through mobs that would normally chew them up, and just turn
it into a spectacle. ("I bet I can do this with just my skinning

> As a game developer, I wish I had tons of customers as easy to
> please as you. Every poor decision I make becomes the "fun
> challenge" of the game. Wow, just wow.

No, not every poor decision becomes the "fun challenge". The
decision-making process is pretty much irrelevant, as is any sort of
value judgement about whether it's a betrayal of the game design
craft or a new pinnacle of the field. The resulting game mechanics,
and environmental/second-order effects like number of people to
share an experience with, are what determines if a given player will
find something to entertain themselves. Every aspect of your game
that lets a player find a sweet-spot in terms of risk and reward --
even if it's only amusing to them at the time because it's 3AM and
running into Orgrimmar to moon people in the auction house seems SO
FREAKING FUNNY -- becomes the "fun challenge", even if you think
it's pandering or beneath you to enjoy it, or that someone Should
Have Done Better.

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