[MUD-Dev] Fair/Unfair? Scenarios (fwd)

Sellers Sellers
Mon Dec 6 18:05:15 CET 1999

Matthew Mihaly wrote:
> On Mon, 6 Dec 1999, Sellers, Michael wrote:
> > JC wrote:
> > > ...
> > > The idea that the game world (or game designer for that matter) is
> > > going to come up to me prior to every "dangerous" section and warn
> > > me off (however subtlely), or ensure that I can never trap myself
> > > without a means of escape is somehow deeply offensive.
> > 
> > To you.  I think I can safely say that you're in a tiiiiiny minority who
> > feel that way.  The idea that (as they say in the theatre) "a pistol
> > on the mantel in the first act must be used by the third" is seen all
> > throughout our culture's fiction.  A corollary to that is that you don't
> > make a pistol that no one's seen or talked about a central piece to the
> > story.  Doing that is deeply dissatisfying to most people.  So, in terms
> > the fiction created by our game worlds, it's not surprising that most
> > would find it unfair (dissatisfying/frustrating) to have the centerpiece
> > their story turn on an item or monster that they could not possibly have
> > known exists.  Some, of course, will find such uncertainty thrilling and
> > anything else annoying and coddling; but most will not.  
> I don't feel that a play has much to do with the overall experience of an
> MMORPG. A play is a singular experience with a beginning and a definite
> end. There's no such thing as the centerpiece of a player's story in a
> MMORPG because it's not just a sequence of rigidly defined experiences,
> like a play or most videogames are.

Don't get stuck on the example of a play: as I said, this sort of thing runs
all through our culture's (US/European) notion of fiction.  There are
constants of fiction handed down since the Greeks that we all more or less
just *expect*, and you might be surprised at how codified some of these are,
and how pervasive across forms of fiction.  If you're really interested in
this, I *strongly* recommend you get the book "Story" by McKee.  It's
fantastic -- mainly oriented toward film, but don't let that fool you, or
stop you.  The lessons run across anything that feels like fiction to us,
whether open or closed, single or multiple viewpoint.  MUDs are not exempt
from this.  
> > > "Life isn't always fair.  Deal with it."  We've all heard the line.
> > > How true is that for our players?  
> > 
> > People play games as a diversion, escape, or for fun.  Life isn't fair,
> > it often isn't fun.  Why should our games follow the same restriction?  
> To me, the goal of MMORPGs isn't to just be a glorified one-player game. 
> With all due respect to classical game designers, if that's all MMORPGs
> end up being, I and many others will be deeply disappointed. 

No one said that's what they were; I certainly didn't imply it either.

But nevertheless, MMPOGs are *GAMES.*  People play them for fun, excitement,
and diversion.  If the game is tedious, frustrating, or apparently arbitrary
(as in a monster you could not possibly have known about enters the room and
eviscerates you -- no matter how 'realistic' the monster's presence is), few
people will play.  If that's what you're looking for, that's cool -- there
are nano-niches for all kinds of hobbies.  But few people consider a slavish
correspondence to some view of the real world to be a whole lot of fun.  

Mike Sellers

MUD-Dev maillist  -  MUD-Dev at kanga.nu

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