[MUD-Dev] Ray Feist interview

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Sat Dec 30 12:28:50 CET 2000

David Loeser writes:

> > John Buehler <johnbue at msn.com> writes:

> > I come from the school of thought that states that games shouldn't
> > be inviting players to spend their lives there - which is what
> > players are encouraged to do when they find that their actions
> > impact the macro activites of a 2000+ player server.  They can be
> > FAMOUS!  If only they spend the 100 hours a week needed to be among
> > the few that have characters in a position to perform the needed
> > actions.  It's a strange way to derive satisfaction from life.

> This is exactly the issue that "we" have been working on. How can a
> player that does not spend 100 hours per week playing continue to
> feel that they matter. More over how do you make that player
> continue to play? To feel that he isn't (for lack of a better word)
> "losing"?

> On top of that how do you make the game challenging enough for the
> player that does spend 100 hours per week playing... or how do you
> continue to challenge that player to remain a paying customer?

Perhaps you're posing that rhetorically, but I'll attempt an answer

First, make sure that nobody has a significant sense of 'winning'.  A
single axis of accomplishment is a great way to permit players to
compare themselves to each other.  Having many axes of accomplishment,
and ensuring that accomplishments provide little more than bragging
rights is a good beginning.

Second, make sure that the challenges that you offer your players
don't result in rewards that encourage them to alienate themselves
from their fellow players.  An example of this is leveling.  I have
achieved 40 levels and you have achieved only 10.  If those are simply
numbers, the alienation is slight (bragging rights).  If they
constitute a significant change in the way that we can each play the
game (which is typical), then I am not interested in being around you.

Third, make simply being in the world interesting.  This is the
toughest challenge of all, and we won't see it happen for another
decade or so.  It requires towns populated by NPCs that actually do
stuff and with whom players can interact.  It requires things to be
happening in the world.  In short, it requires so much of what we call
'content' that it exceeds gaming company's ability to hand produce it.
It must be created using algorithms, much as terrain can be
manufactured by using factal techniques.

In short, I'm interested in catering to the mythical 'casual player',
and not to the hardcore gamer who wants to 'make a difference'.  Game
worlds are not a viable outlet for making a difference, and players
should not be encouraged to believe such things.  Instead, let them
simply enjoy the experience of being in a different place, doing
different things.  Something akin to reading a book, except that you
get to wander around in the world, witnessing various and sundry
things.  Wouldn't it be nice to witness a coronation of an NPC king
with tons of NPCs all around?  There will also be player characters
all about, but they'll all behave themselves and follow the cues of
the NPC peasants.  If they don't, the NPC guards will haul them off.
I'm a big believer in NPCs being the backbone of the social fabric of
a game world.  But now I digress.


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