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

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Thu May 26 16:23:45 New Zealand Standard Time 2005


Raph Koster writes:
> Michael Hartman wrote:
>> Koster, Raph wrote:

>>> I feel the same way about devices like no-drop items and
>>> "soulbinding."  First introduced in order to address twinking
>>> problems (which are at root because of levels), and now bandied
>>> about as a means of eliminating real-money-trades (RMT), it's
>>> both a step towards single-player gaming and a band-aid on top
>>> of the real problems.

>> I look at "soulbinding" as having a more important benefit to
>> games that support it, and that is promoting tradeskills.

>> In Real Life, products wear out. Products get replaced with next
>> year's slightly better version with more features. In MMOs,
>> players really dislike the idea of their equipment wearing out to
>> the point of being destroyed.

> I've managed to put it into two successful MMORPGs without the
> playerbase quitting in disgust. They may dislike it, but they also
> live with it.

>> So having items soulbind (or perhaps customized is a better term)
>> is one way to get items OUT of the game so crafters can have some
>> customers.

> Abstracted, you're saying "one way to remove items from the game
> is to soulbind them so that the march of levels renders them
> obsolete anyway."  Should you remove levels, soulbinding fails to
> accomplish this purpose.  It also fails in the event that there is
> a reduced influx of players rising through the levels.

> Really, player crafting needs to be about consumables. Whether
> that's done by limiting what players craft to certain consumable
> items, or by making all items degrade, is irrelevant. Soulbinding
> in this sense is just an alternate form of degradation.

If we take a step away from our throw-away-consumable society,
remember that consumer goods have historically been pretty difficult
to obtain.  They required resources and skills that were not
casually available.  Given the difficulty of manufacture, the goods
were expected to last for a long time.  This is the more
crafter-centric world, where crafters could crank out as many of an
object as they cared to, but could never catch up with demand.

In such a world, degradation and replacement need not have a
signifiant role.  The focus moves from demand to use (and the game
then has to make use more entertaining than getting the stuff in the
first place - anti-Monty Haul).  Consumables are them limited to
things that are actually consumed by a process or by people
directly.

So I believe that player crafting needs to be about the manufacture
of the items.  On the consumption side, it's about picking which of
the few major items in the world your character will have - as
opposed to it being about needing a house or a vault to store all
your junk.  A character then spends a character's career to obtain a
full set of plate.  It need not rust, rot or break.  Crafters will
spend perhaps days working on a single item.  Days working with a
crafting system that they enjoy, in the same way that players will
work for weeks to obtain a single level.

JB
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