[MUD-Dev] RE:

Lee Sheldon linearno at gte.net
Wed Nov 28 12:24:52 CET 2001

-----Original Message-----
From: Freeman, Jeff

> Nor is there much of any demand for storied games.  The "demand"
> is for what little story exists to, as Dave put it, "Shut up and
> go away".

Maybe not from your corner of the world.

> There are no professional storytellers in this medium.

Sorry, that's simply untrue.  Forgetting me for the moment, they are
certainly few and far between in MMOs.  It is a distinctly daunting
challenge for many writers.  There are some: I worked with the
Miller Bros.  of MYST fame recently on an MMO; Mark Barrett is known
mostly for solo games, but he did some writing for me on an MMO; the
writer of the original AC story was a professional.  I think Raph is
one.  Have you read any of his stories?  He fits the hyphenate
label.  In solo games there are more.  EA and Disney (maybe
understandably) hire writers (and both companies are not unaware of
MMOs), including them in their budgets.  Hal Barwood is the only
other major Hollywood transplant besides me to continue to work in
games over the years.  Like me Hal would consider himself a
hyphenate: designer/writer with the emphasis on the former.
Myiamoto (sp?) hired professional writers for Shen Mue, just as he
hired professional architects to design his virtual buildings.  The
list is really quite long in solo games.  But for me the challenge
is pretty much gone in solo.  I find MMOs much more interesting.

> Speaking as an avid gamer, I can tell you that I don't care
> whether the story is good.  None of the people I know care whether
> the story is good.

Jeff, the MMOs already have you and your friends hooked.  I mention
in another post that I can't use adding story as an excuse to ignore
you.  I need to provide an environment where the story doesn't
intrude on your fun.  You can ignore it all you like.  But you are a
subset of the universe, Jeff.  You aren't the entire universe.  And
that subset has plenty to choose from currently.  The rest does not.

> The story is fake, contrived, regardless of how well "written" it
> is, whereas the things we *do* in-game are not.

Well, your actions aren't exactly "real" in a virtual
environment... But yes, most story in MMO's is pretty nasty.

> It sounds to me like you're the one who wants something to be true
> to badly,that in spite of all evidence to the contrary, you
> dismiss said evidence as "invalid".

The thing is I have statistics and experience behind me.  I know how
many people are online playing games, and what a small portion of
them are playing MMOs.  I have some beliefs extrapolated from those
statistics and personal observation that allow me to make a stab at
estimating the potential audience for levels & loot or PvP or
several other current trends in MMOs over the next few years.  Maybe
I'm more pessimistic than others.  Nobody has "the" answer.  And I
have some experience in knowing what draws people to an
entertainment product in several different industries, including
yes, even MMOs.


> I think Dave nailed it.  People don't want games to *tell*
> stories, they want games to *be* stories.  That's my opinion
> because it's what *I* want, as a gamer.  That's the demand that I
> perceive - and one we have a realistic shot at meeting.

Yes.  I understand that.  And of course you're not alone.  Most game
developers in general (as opposed to suits) have yet to mature
beyond the "I only want to make games I want to play." to something
with a little bit broader appeal.  The suits are WAY too beyond it.
But for the developers, it will happen in time.  I know that
probably just makes you angry, or you don't believe me, but it's a
simple truth of mass market entertainment.  You have your niche,
Jeff.  Enjoy it.

> And that's not my opinion on account of how lazy and stupid I am,
> which is what I infer from your post.

Lazy and stupid?  I have no way of assessing that, nor would I be
rude enough to try.  But there is some ignorance of the realities of
entertainment in your post.


>>  But it hasn't done it yet.  Apparently this industry > hasn't
>>  the imagination to do it.

> Revise the above: I don't hold this opinion because I am lazy,
> stupid, *or* unimaginative.

Buy a dictionary and look up the words lazy, stupid and
unimaginative.  They are not synonyms.  (And boy did I edit my
initial response to this.)


> But I do disagree that it is something we should be trying.

I gathered that.

> And I don't think it's a good idea to attempt to do both (tell
> stories AND allow the gameplay itself to be the story), because
> the attempt to tell Our story will stomp on the players' story.
> Their story is more important, else they'd have gone rented
> Titanic again.

That's all clear.

> You seem to be under the impression that EITHER games must tell
> stories, OR they must be level-n-loot treadmills.  You're
> completely ignoring the premise of games *as* stories.

Sorry, that made me smile.

> Game-as-story doesn't dictate any one particular mechanic, let
> alone a singular mechanic that dominates gameplay to the extent
> that level-n-loot systems do.

I'm not sure this is what you meant to say.  I'm not sure if you
mean what I think you're saying.  But there's an outside chance I
might even agree with you.


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