[MUD-Dev] Elder Games

Koster Koster
Fri Mar 12 09:54:16 CET 1999

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Adam Wiggins [mailto:adam at angel.com]
> Sent: Thursday, March 11, 1999 7:24 PM
> To: mud-dev at kanga.nu
> Subject: Re: [MUD-Dev] Elder Games
> On Thu, 11 Mar 1999, Martin C Sweitzer wrote:
> > I read in the archives about a person that went to a conference and
> > heard a talk given on Elder Games (or portion of talk on it)
> > http://www.kanga.nu/archives/MUD-Dev-L/1998Q2/msg00589.html
> > http://www.kanga.nu/archives/MUD-Dev-L/1998Q2/msg00486.html
> Ayup.  That was me.

As a reminder for anyone interested: I'm running a roundtable at CGDC
starting next Wednesday on the Laws of Online World Design. Also, it looks
like Amy Jo Kim has roped me into helping on her all-day tutorial on Tuesday
on building online community that she is doing with Amy Bruckman of

> > There was really no details given on this subject that I could find.
> Actually we have talked about it quite a bit over the years 
> on this list,
> but unfortunately it's probably difficult to dig up the references, as
> there's no one term that's always included in the posts.  
> ("Elder games"
> was a term I hadn't before I wrote that description of the CGDC.)

I am not sure where I first heard the term. It was before I knew Amy Jo. I
might have heard it from Rich Vogel. In any case...

In the referenced post, Jonathan Baron talked about significant milestones
in the game. The difficulty is in running out of milestones. Elder games are
the attempt to provide entirely different ladders of achievement, or
different ways of playing the game (or space) altogether, ways that unfold
as the player becomes more expert.

Classic elder games that you''ll recognize from most any muds:

* leading a guild, which brings in a new dimension of politics
* questing, which is often presented as something to do once you exhaust hck
n slash
* becoming a mud admin or volunteer helper (newbie helpers, etc), the
ultimate "elder game" for many
* becoming a builder of some type
* player vs player combat
* playing with programmable entities (bot-writing is an elder game of long

Other avenues that people have found fruitful:

* castle ownership or other forms of holding territory--this ranges from the
siege-warfare style stuff done on some muds to more typical sedate housing.
In UO we have shops, taverns, cities, castles, etc.
* running in-game businesses. This is a very interesting type of elder game,
but it does require that you mud's economy not totally suck.
* allegiance trees--this is a very interesting tack being taken by Asheron's
Call, a forthcoming graphical mud done by Turbine & to be published by
Microsoft. Basically, elder players try to recruit the fealty of newbies. A
percentage of the XP earned by loyal players goes to the "master." It's a
full tree, so theoretically you have just a few "roots" at the base. Nice
political battles can ensure since there's direct benefit to courting
newbies & helping them.
* complex research systems, embedded languages, etc, for spell creation,
item creation, etc.


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