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

Damien Neil damien.neil at gmail.com
Tue Jun 28 19:18:22 New Zealand Standard Time 2005


(Curse you, gmail!  I accidentally sent this to only Sean the first
time.  Trying again.  sorry for the duplicate, Sean!)

On 6/25/05, Sean Howard <squidi at squidi.net> wrote:
> "Damien Neil" <damien.neil at gmail.com> wrote:

>> And a "real" combat system would involve picking up a sword or
>> reasonable facsimile thereof and swinging it at the foe.

> Pshaw, I say. Combat is a completely tactical system, beginning to
> end. At no point during the entire process is there any leeway for
> other types of decision making. You can make it more tactical or
> less tactical, but as of yet, you can't actually talk to your
> enemies or use mind games to throw off their morale. So combat,
> "real" or not, has none of the abstract steps removed, simplified,
> or made for you. For what it is, it is complete.

Clicking a button doesn't remove or simplify abstract steps involved
in shooting an arrow from a bow?  I've used a bow in real life and
in WoW.  Pshaw, right back at you.

>> One reason people like combat in games is that they can be a
>> mighty warrior without needing any of the skills a real warrior
>> would require.  Or be a wizard, which is a tad difficult in the
>> real world.  Or be a crafter without knowing how to craft.

> Again, pshaw. I would be honestly surprised if ANYONE, in the
> entire world, said anything like that other than as an
> excuse. Games are about abstract decision making (ie checkers),
> not escapist self esteem fantasies (ie furries). You CAN play
> games for the latter, but I'd say that it is a very, very, very
> rare thing (and also the reason why senators are so very afraid of
> Grand Theft Auto). We need to be sure to separate the metaphor
> from the decisions when we talk about why people play what they
> play.

You honestly think that the appeal of being a mighty hero plays no
part in the reason people play (some) MUDs?  You've never heard
someone say they weren't interested in a game because they didn't
care for the theme?

If escapist fantasies had no part in games, Puzzle Pirates would
have no pirates.

If being a hero wasn't important, nobody would complain about
fighting rats.

> ALL games allow the application of player creativity - that's what
> games are for. It's about making decisions, and different people
> make different decisions in different ways. How is someone who
> min-maxes a grinding pattern to yield the highest xp gain per hour
> NOT exercising player creativity?  What player design is, however,
> is a more specific and slightly rarer version of player creativity
> that requires players creating structure, not working within a
> narrowly defined one.

> And I'm pretty sure that the be-all and end-all MMORPG crafting
> would absolutely require player design. Absolutely. End of
> story. How could something be the end-all if it lacks part of the
> bigger picture?

And yet not all crafting in the real world contains "player" design.

Consider beer brewing.  A brewer has a great number of options to
choose from--what malts to use, what other ingredients to add, and
so forth.  There is a great deal of skill involved in becoming a
good brewer.  And yet, does not all this fall under the same sort of
narrowly defined structure that you complain about?  There is
design, yes, but of a quantitatively different sort than is involved
in creating a painting or song.

Now look at beer brewing in ATITD:

   http://wiki.atitd.net/tale2/Beer

Is this not recognizably the same sort of thing as real-world
brewing?  Simplified, of course, but then MUD combat is
unquestionably simplified as well.

>> It might make sense to distinguish between player-created content
>> (artworks, puzzles, and other things made by the player), and
>> player crafting (game objects created by the player's avatar).

> There is no distinction. They are different steps in the same
> process. I personally think that we can't talk about player
> crafting unless we include discussions about advertising, market
> shares, and monopolistic business practices. Crafting is not just
> the middle two steps (design, gather, build, sell).

You are conflating business with crafting.  The two are quite
different things, in both the real world and virtual ones.  MUDs
generally have quite robust systems for players to do business--I've
certainly seen people engaging in advertising, cornering a share of
the market, and leveraging a monopoly in them.

> I'm sure you like MMORPG crafting (I wish I did), but there are
> invisible steps that are typically ignored or downplayed. We can't
> just decide that crafting exists in two parts - the parts you like
> to do and the parts that you feel are so optional that they don't
> matter. Just admitting that those invisible steps exist would be a
> triumph, in my opinion. Only when we start noticing the entire
> structure can we seek to understand it.

What makes you think I like MMORPG crafting?

                          - Damien
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