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

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Sun Jun 19 03:00:47 New Zealand Standard Time 2005


Craig Huber writes:
> Tony Hoyt wrote...

>> Well then, I beg to ask what defines real crafting in such a
>> scope?  While most MMOG's do enforce a limitation on what players
>> can create, some at least give a decent sence of working on
>> something to and end result.  Although like it's been said, it
>> perhaps resembles more manifacturing then crafting.

> I'll give you my opinion/answer: a system that is as immediate and
> detailed in terms of decision making as the combat system in the
> game.

Hear hear!  This is precisely the way that I describe it.

> The mechanics (in the abstract) could be nearly identical (setting
> aside the potentials for group participation)... the difference
> would be whether the end result is a defeated opponent or a
> finished product.

Well, I dunno about this part, but it would be interesting to see.

> EQ2 is, to me, an illustration of a large step in the right
> direction in terms of crafting mechanics/process, although the
> supporting details of collecting raw materials, managing an
> expansive inventory within the interface, and effectively selling
> finished products were all serious impediments to the total
> experience, IMO.

A Tale in the Desert is also making strides, but the impediments
there are the huge size of the game world (the Nile River floodplain
plus), the klunky user interface and the repetitious actions (a
three day review; caveat emptor).

> As an aside, the "manufacturing v. crafting" perspective is an
> interesting philosophical point: is it possible that we are so
> disconnected as members of a technological society from the
> concept of crafting that we can no longer even effectively create
> (or appreciate) a simulation of it?  Seems doubtful, but the
> thought occurred to me as I was reading your post, so I thought
> I'd at least ask the rhetorical question.

Maybe.  I suspect that it's more an issue of cost of
experimentation.  Who is going to plunk down the dollars to create a
game that has combat, crafting, exploration, politics and trade that
are each as complex as combat is in current games?  I assume that
the only way we'll ever see all three is that somebody is going to
invest in some development infrastructure that can be expanded over
time.  So instead of trying to provide eight full experiences on day
one, only one is provided at initial release.  After that, the
expansions each consist of a mini-game.

Too, it may be an issue of darwinian selection in the industry.
Those who are in the industry are likely the ones who enjoy creating
the games that are currently being created.  I worked for Microsoft,
and hated my time on a product team.  I was creating software that
was lower quality than I wanted to create.  Those who thrived in
that environment were going to continue to build software the
Microsoft way: build a good-enough version and ship it to customers.
A great business model, but not satisfying to me as an engineer.  So
there's a reason that changes towards quality are slow to take place
in Microsoft.  Employees are selected for their ability to focus on
getting the product out the door.  Quality is a nice-to-have.

For now it appears that crafting is a nice-to-have.

JB
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