# August 2003

- A potential best-seller?
*Richard A. Bartle* - Identifying Players
*Scion Altera* - Identifying Players
*Crosbie Fitch*

- Identifying Players
- Metrics for assessing game design
*David Kennerly* - ADMIN: Crunch thread
*J C Lawrence* - Mapping real money into MUD money
*Alex Chacha* - Mapping real money into MUD money
*Katie Lukas* - Mapping real money into MUD money
*David Kennerly*

- Mapping real money into MUD money
- Mapping real money into MUD money
*Kent Peterson* - Mapping real money into MUD money
*Peter Tyson*

- Mapping real money into MUD money
- Mapping real money into MUD money
*Matt Mihaly* - Mapping real money into MUD money
*Paul Canniff*

- Mapping real money into MUD money
- Research in the Gaming Industry
*Damion Schubert* - Research in the Gaming Industry
*Kerry Fraser-Robinson* - Research in the Gaming Industry
*Richard A. Bartle* - Research in the Gaming Industry
*Matthew S. Ayres*

- Research in the Gaming Industry

- Research in the Gaming Industry
- Mapping real money into MUD-Money
*Henrik Johansson* - Java or LPC (DGD)?
*Ben Chambers* - Java or LPC (DGD)?
*Ammon Lauritzen* - Java or LPC (DGD)?
*T. Alexander Popiel* - Java or LPC (DGD)?
*ceo* - Java or LPC (DGD)?
*Lars Duening* - Java or LPC (DGD)?
*Torgny Bjers* - Java or LPC (DGD)?
*Ryan Underwood*

- Java or LPC (DGD)?

- Java or LPC (DGD)?
- Reputation systems: a possible path for investigation
*J C Lawrence* - Reputation systems: a possible path for investigation
*david.l.smith@mail-x-change.com* - Reputation systems: a possible path for investigation
*Brian 'Psychochild' Green* - Reputation systems: a possible path for investigation
*Andrew L. Tepper* - Reputation systems: a possible path for investigation
*Matt Mihaly* - Reputation systems: a possible path for investigation
*Vincent Archer*

- Reputation systems: a possible path for investigation

- Reputation systems: a possible path for investigation
- Reputation systems
*Castronova, Edward* - Reputation systems
*J C Lawrence*

- Reputation systems
- Mapping real money into MUD-Money
*Ren Reynolds* - MudDev Faq - part 2
*Marian Griffith* - PHP muds
*Peter Harkins* - PHP muds
*Torgny Bjers*

- PHP muds
- Slashdot story about review of Bartle's new book
*Christer Enfors XW {TN/PAC}* - Slashdot story about review of Bartle's new book
*Dave Rickey* - Slashdot story about review of Bartle's new book
*Evan Harper* - Slashdot story about review of Bartle's new book
*Richard A. Bartle* - Slashdot story about review of Bartle's new book
*Tamzen Cannoy* - Slashdot story about review of Bartle's new book
*Kerry Fraser-Robinson* - Slashdot story about review of Bartle's new book
*Richard A. Bartle*

- Slashdot story about review of Bartle's new book
- Slashdot story about review of Bartle's new book
*Dave Rickey* - Slashdot story about review of Bartle's new book
*Marc Bowden*

- Slashdot story about review of Bartle's new book

- Slashdot story about review of Bartle's new book
- The lack of Creativity and Beauty a game user
*james_nesfield@nesfieldcapital.com* - Artists and Copyrights
*Derek Licciardi* - Artists and Copyrights
*Paolo Piselli* - Artists and Copyrights
*Marian Griffith* - Artists and Copyrights
*Paul Dahlke*

- Artists and Copyrights
- Using Windows Scripting Host
*Owen Matt* - Using Windows Scripting Host
*F. Randall Farmer* - Using Windows Scripting Host
*Karl Dyson* - Using Windows Scripting Host
*Tess Lowe*

- Using Windows Scripting Host
- Better Game Design through Data Mining
*David Kennerly* - Better Game Design through Data Mining
*Chris "Diamonds" Stewart*

- Better Game Design through Data Mining
- When Will Player-Avatar Integrity Be a Feature of Persistent Worlds?
*vladimir cole* - When Will Player-Avatar Integrity Be a Feature of Persistent Worlds?
*Martin Bassie* - When Will Player-Avatar Integrity Be a Feature of Persistent Worlds?
*Craig H Fry* - When Will Player-Avatar Integrity Be a Feature of Persistent Worlds?
*Matt Mihaly* - When Will Player-Avatar Integrity Be a Feature ofPersistent Worlds?
*Michael Tresca* - When Will Player-Avatar Integrity Be a Feature ofPersistent Worlds?
*Baar - Lord of the Seven Suns*

- When Will Player-Avatar Integrity Be a Feature ofPersistent Worlds?

- When Will Player-Avatar Integrity Be a Feature of Persistent Worlds?
- [Fwd: Metrics for assessing game design]
*ceo* - Examine/Look
*Elia Morling* - Examine/Look
*Ammon Lauritzen* - Examine/Look
*Marc Bowden*

- Examine/Look
- Examine/Look
*Lars Duening* - Examine/Look
*Eamonn O'Brien*

- Examine/Look
- [BUS] Account-management systems
*ceo* - [BUS] Account-management systems
*Rayzam* - [BUS] Account-management systems
*Christopher Allen*

- [BUS] Account-management systems
- Job opportunity on Star Wars Galaxies
*Koster, Raph* - NCSoft yearly report
*Mathieu Castelli* - MUD using the .net framework
*Norman Beresford* - MUD using the .net framework
*John Buehler* - MUD using the .net framework
*James F. Bellinger* - MUD using the .net framework
*Linder Support Team*

- MUD using the .net framework
- Virtual property lawsuit in China
*Koster, Raph* - Virtual property lawsuit in China
*Nicolai Hansen* - Virtual property lawsuit in China
*Daniel Anderson* - Virtual property lawsuit in China
*Kerry Fraser-Robinson*

- Virtual property lawsuit in China
- Virtual property lawsuit in China
*Vladimir Cole* - Virtual property lawsuit in China
*Ren Reynolds* - Virtual property lawsuit in China
*Nicolai Hansen* - Virtual property lawsuit in China
*ren@aldermangroup.com*

- Virtual property lawsuit in China

- Virtual property lawsuit in China

- Virtual property lawsuit in China
- Expected value and standard deviation.
*Jeff Cole* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Scion Altera* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Jeremy Hill*

- Expected value and standard deviation.
- Expected value and standard deviation.
*katie@stickydata.com* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Ben Chambers* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Zach Collins {Siege}* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Ben Chambers* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Robert Zubek* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Kwon J. Ekstrom* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Eamonn O'Brien* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Kwon J. Ekstrom*

- Expected value and standard deviation.

- Expected value and standard deviation.

- Expected value and standard deviation.
- Expected value and standard deviation.
*Freeman, Jeff* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Zach Collins {Siege}*

- Expected value and standard deviation.

- Expected value and standard deviation.

- Expected value and standard deviation.
- Expected value and standard deviation.
*Bernard Graham* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Freeman, Jeff* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Jeff Cole* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Koster, Raph* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Katie Lukas* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Fidelio Gwaihir* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Katie Lukas*

- Expected value and standard deviation.
- Expected value and standard deviation.
*Matt Mihaly* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Martin Bassie* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Katie Lukas* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Matt Mihaly* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Paul Schwanz* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Matt Mihaly*

- Expected value and standard deviation.

- Expected value and standard deviation.

- Expected value and standard deviation.

- Expected value and standard deviation.
- Expected value and standard deviation.
*Koster, Raph*From: Katie Lukas

> And Raph Koster wrote:

>> There's no way to get rid of the "boring" way to play your

>> game. Players can always choose to play conservatively to

>> maximize return while minimizing risk.

> I'm not sure that this doesn't move us into Elephant Territory -

> as in the Elephant in the Room. Personally, I think that the

> above statements reflect some central assumptions about what

> constitutes good (or fun) gameplay that I'm not so sure are

> accurate, or at least not accurate for enough people.

I must say that the fact that players prefer to play a boring way

that gives them advancement over a fun way that gives slower

advancement seems to be well-proven over decades of online games.

Here are the assumptions I am operating under: players seeking

advancement will be driving towards optimal advancement. Optimal

advancement will include making the activity as predictable as

possible. Predictable activities become less fun over time.

Generally, any given game has multiple near-optimal paths. One of

these paths will be the one that minimizes risk to the point of it

being non-existent. It's a slow but steady guaranteed return on time

invested. It's also "boring" in the sense that there is no

challenge to it, no risk, and little variation in the activity.

Most likely, this path is NOT one designed intentionally by the

designer. It's one that players find by manipulating the system.

> As for the corollary to Raph's initial statement, I absolutely

> could not disagree more. The boring way(s) is/are a function of

> traditional game design, and the statement implies that it is

> impossible to design a game that does not feature at least one

> "boring" method of advancement. IMHO, if this is the way we are

> going to think as game designers, what on earth is the point? Why

> would we begin designing a game around a central assumption that

> at a minimum part of advancement has to be boring?

I'd assert that the above dynamic is intrinsic to PEOPLE, and

therefore what you're saying is "why on earth would we design a game

accounting for human nature?" I'm not presenting it as a defeatist

attitude, but as an acceptance of how players choose to play systems

(not just games). In the real world, the vast majority of people

choose to minimize risk and maximize return with their entire LIVES,

to the point of choosing boring careers. They will also work to get

ahead any time they can do so. Why is it a surprise that they will

choose to do similar things in games?

> Players constantly and consistently generate feedback (a LOT of

> it) about what is interesting and what is boring. While

> definitions of interesting vary a great deal, definitions of

> boring remain fairly consistent - mostly repetitive activities and

> obvious outcomes.

Correct. And yet, a guaranteed return on time invested, when you

regard a return as the most important thing you can be doing, is

what players tend to choose. Do the simple thought experiment: you

can either press a button to get 1 xp, or you can fight a monster

who might kill you, for 1 xp. The majority of players will choose

the button with little hesitation. Those who say it's not fun will

complain that a) you shouldn't have put the button in there (true!)

b) they have to press the button themselves to "keep up" (which they

don't really, but they feel they do, so they do it).

Now, that much just shows the psychology of it. Next, posit cases

where you can kill the monster with no risk. As soon as there is any

way whatsoever to do so, you have the same phenomenon as if you'd

put the button in there.

Eliminating cases where you can kill the monster without any risk is

a dubious proposition. We all try, of course. The fact that we have

the term "bottomfeeding" reflects how widespread the practice of

optimizing advancement is. Players will always drive towards this

point. It is very likely that there will be one optimal strategy per

challenge. Once this strategy is codified, it meets the criteria you

defined: repetitive activity and obvious outcome.

I'll go further and say that it doesn't have to be a guaranteed

return--it just needs to be the highest possible return on the risk

in the possibility space. A 70% chance of return is still enough of

a pattern that people will see it as predictable. Humans are

incredibly good pattern-matching machines.

> And yet, the foundation of most games - released and in

> development - feature huge quantities of repetitive activities.

That's because most games, across cultures and across the ages, are

about teaching players how to solve a specific problem. As Dave

Rickey recently put it in his Skotos column, they are puzzles to be

solved (puzzles of varying degrees of complexity). One of the

reasons why most long-lasting games have been player vs player in

the past is because it allows the puzzle to change constantly and

dynamically.

> When the players themselves focus solely on the details, game

> designers have failed.

That is like saying that the poet is right for looking across a

verdant landscape and seeing Nature's Beauty, but the scientist is

wrong for seeing photosynthesis in action. You are espousing a

worldview, an aesthetic of game design, but not an absolute.

> When the players are unable to see the game as a holistic idea,

> one that either appeals or does not, the designers have failed.

And this one is even an aesthetic that I AGREE with. :)

> When the questions and answers involve mathematical equations

> rather than what is honestly interesting about a game, the

> designers have *especially* failed.

What of the (sizable) portion of people to whom the mathematical

equations ARE what is interesting? There's a good case to be made

that this is the *majority* of game players. In Bartle's typology,

both achievers and explorers will fall into this category, and come

to think of it, every killer I've ever talked to was similarly

focused on the minutia because it gave them an edge.

> Are most current games derived from D&D-style play? Yes, of

> course. But why do we not use the technology and the talent at

> hand to abstract those concepts? Why do we have gamers behaving as

> if the game is actually rolling dice rather than immersing

> themselves in the world?

Two answers:

1) Because they are not stupid, and they know that the game is

actually rolling dice

2) Because they prefer to see the game world as a puzzle to be

solved

> "No way to get rid of the 'boring' way." If I believed that, I

> would be neither playing nor designing games - what could the

> reason to do so possibly be?

Because the process of game design always offers new and interesting

puzzles. :) And the process of playing games is the process of

finding new puzzles as well. All forms of play are forms of brain

exercise of one sort of another.

The other day I was playing a typing game on Popcap.com. I am a

six-fingered hunt and peck typist who manages to sometimes get over

100 wpm. I typed, and typed, and eventually got to the point where

the game stopped giving me designed levels and instead randomized

the level challenges. I turned the game off. I was done. It was

boring. I had beaten the challenge in it.

I then started playing Bookworm, a game of wordfinding. Bookworm

randomizes the location of letter tiles. A large vocabulary helps

you eliminate tiles. But over time, letter frequency distribution

in the English language means that the bottom half of the playfield

fills up with Us and Js and Xs, which you cannot commonly find words

for. Eventually, entropy eliminates you. The challenge lies in being

aware of this fact and surviving as long as you can. But after a

while, I got bored with it too, because I could see that I was

pushing back the tide. When the puzzle is revealed as insoluble, I

also lose interest.

Why don't I personally design Diku style games anymore? Because I

see the shape of the puzzle, and it's rather boring to me now. I

understand what causes mudflation, what player progression looks

like, and so on. So I look to new features and new ways to play the

game. It's not innovation solely for innovation's sake. It's because

it provides me a new interesting design puzzle, and because

hopefully it provides players with a new interesting puzzle to play

as well.

Notice that this doesn't mean I make any claims whatsoever to be

GOOD at making the Diku-style games. It just means that I see a

pattern in them, just as players see a pattern in them, just as you

say you see a pattern in them. The way the human brain works is that

we puzzle out things until we see patterns. Once we see a pattern,

we view it holistically until we can absorb it as a single iconic

object. Then it fades into the background, becomes a symbol, and we

cease to know it well, because we make assumptions about it based on

the pattern it fits. It becomes boring. It stops being fun.

You can define fun as being the process of discovering new areas in

a possibility space. Once the possibility space is explored, it

ceases to be fun.

I don't think you're going to succeed at rewriting the human brain

and finding game designs that don't have a boring way to play them

unless you design games with infinite possibility spaces. There

aren't many games like that. Some of the ones I can think of:

- player vs player activities (assuming a playfield of sufficient

complexity. The human body makes for a nicely complex playfield,

for example, hence sports--simple games like tennis still having

big possibility spaces).

- media. Writing, music, and dare I say it, game design.

-Raph - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Paul Schwanz* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Amanda Walker* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*John Buehler*

- Expected value and standard deviation.
- Expected value and standard deviation.
*Kwon J. Ekstrom* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Jeff Cole* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Paul Schwanz*

- Expected value and standard deviation.
- Expected value and standard deviation.
*Dr. Cat* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*David Loving* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Pat Ditterline* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Michael Chui* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Matt Mihaly*

- Expected value and standard deviation.
- Expected value and standard deviation.
*Kwon J. Ekstrom*

- Expected value and standard deviation.
- Expected value and standard deviation.
*Chanur Silvarian* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Katie Lukas* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Daniel.Harman@barclayscapital.com*

- Expected value and standard deviation.
- Expected value and standard deviation.
*Oliver Smith*

- Expected value and standard deviation.

- Expected value and standard deviation.
- Expected value and standard deviation.
*Daniel Anderson* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Koster, Raph* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Nicolai Hansen*

- Expected value and standard deviation.

- Expected value and standard deviation.
- Expected value and standard deviation.
*Dark Lamenth* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Fidelio Gwaihir*

- Expected value and standard deviation.
- Expected value and standard deviation.
*Ola Fosheim GrĂ¸stad* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*gbtmud* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Tom "cro" Gordon* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Sheela Caur'Lir* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Roger Hicks* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Ola Fosheim GrĂ¸stad*

- Expected value and standard deviation.

- Expected value and standard deviation.

- Expected value and standard deviation.
- Expected value and standard deviation.
*Freeman, Jeff*

- Expected value and standard deviation.

- Expected value and standard deviation.
- Expected value and standard deviation.
*Matt Mihaly* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Tom "cro" Gordon*

- Expected value and standard deviation.