[MUD-Dev] Reward system for social gaming?

Damien Neil damien.neil at gmail.com
Fri Nov 18 20:59:10 New Zealand Daylight Time 2005


On 11/12/05, Sean Howard <squidi at squidi.net> wrote:

> Actually, I think it comes down to the social contract between
> players.  Roleplay only works when all players EXPLICITLY agree on
> the conditions.  You can't walk up to a stranger and pretend to be
> Robin Hood. They'd have you committed, unless they were in on the
> joke already. Alan Funt made a living off this dichotomy.

I firmly believe that roleplay only works when the physics of the
game support it.

In pen-and-paper roleplay, the physics are generally fluid.  Want to
be a horse nomad from the northern wastes, in search of the man who
murdered his father?  Not a problem.  If the GM knows what's he's
doing, you'll probably get a chance to show off your amazing
horsemanship, and your father's murderer will turn up sooner or
later.

Now try that in EQ or WoW.  Sorry, no special horsemanship skills
for you.  Your father's murderer?  Nowhere to be seen.  You're just
another level 1 human warrior, just like all the others.

When the game physics support the role, you can play it.  When the
physics don't, you're acting--and improv acting among a large group
of strangers doesn't usually work out very well.  You can define the
terms of a meta-game, of course; a second level on top of the EQ or
WoW mechanics.  (That's the explicit agreement on conditions you
mentioned, I guess.)  But at that point, the underlying mechanics of
the MUD are just a distraction at best and a hinderance at worse.=20
You're better off hanging out in an IRC channel.

In contrast, when the game mechanics support a role, you don't need
to act to take part in it.  For example, it's no work at all to play
the part of a wheeling-and-dealing commodities trader in Eve:Online.
The game is designed for it.

The problem with roleplaying in MMORPGs isn't the players.  It's the
fact that virtually none of the games have physics that support the
roles people want to play when they think of "roleplaying".  (This
isn't intended as a criticism, really--virtually none of the
existing MMORPGs are *trying* to support that form roleplaying.)

                      - Damien
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