# 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* - 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*Me: After an absence of a couple of days, this particular thread has

piled up. Thus, I am responding to an earlier message in the

thread, because I think that Mr. Koster's reply has pointed out some

interesting items, and would like to reply to those before tackling

the rest of the messages. Apologies in advance for (the, holy crap

I wrote like miles over here, really extreme) length, but it seemed

that snipping much of the replies would remove some valid context.

From Raph Koster:

> 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.

I am absolutely *beyond* agreement about the statement that the

players will always find the optimal path to a goal, and that even

past that they will find any means to an end that is faster than any

other means regardless of whether that was a design choice. I

personally believe that to underestimate the players and their

ability to heat-seek optimal (in terms of time) methods to any

game-related goal is virtually suicide on the part of the

developer(s).

That said, there are a couple of ideas that I find worth tackling

here. First is pretty central - the fact that optimal in games is

measured in time. Meaning - in other parts of life, the fastest

route is not always optimal (for various reasons, many of which are

purely subjective to the individual choosing the route). Second,

that subjectivity alone is largely (not wholly, but largely)

eliminated in games - the goal itself is chosen by the developers.

Third, the risk-reward equation. To reduce that to a simple

statement: The fastest route to an objective is a compound of the

length of time of the activites with the probability that the risk

is high enough to make delay nearly inevitable. That is - players

have to consider the time that would be required in a failure

circumstance when considering the best route to take. This also

relates directly to the "predictable = optimal = boring" statement

made above.

I personally believe that each of these items and their

ramifications has not been overwhelmingly explored in search of more

interesting game mechanics, especially as pertains to simply

multiplying possibilities.

1. Shortest Time = Most Optimal Means to an End.

The first problem with this statement is that game developers

often seem to forget that time, to a player, means every single

minute spent online, not just the time taken in a particular

activity. There are many examples of game areas in MMORPGs that

clearly had no small amount of time and effort put forth to make

them attractive, full of mobs that drop useful stuff, and

engaging at various skill levels - but that are desolate and

deserted 90% of the time. Why? Because it takes too long to get

to them, especially for the lower-level characters they are

designed for that have less money for transport mechanisms and

speed spells/items. Often, some more enterprising souls will go

there just because they know it's always uncamped, but the

numbers stay small. Even areas that are relatively easy to get

to, but that are surrounded by mobs that are higher than the

mobs in the objective area will often be deserted. There are a

couple of examples of both in DAoC.

The second problem with this is that I'm not sure it's an ideal

condition. Even apart from the purely business downside

(shortest time = less money), it makes me wonder if we're

looking at the whole equation wrong. Since this is the case, it

means we are more than adequately rewarding those who accomplish

things more quickly than average, and inadequately rewarding

those who take longer than average. I think there are a lot of

ways to resolve that problem, but that the problem itself is an

incredibly threatening one to both developers and players, since

it is impossible to bring up without the age-old question of how

to reward players that play more (who are also those who can do

things more quickly, go figure :) AND casual gamers so that both

are engaged, interested, and feel adequately rewarded for their

time.

Some of the ways I could see the problem being addressed are:

- An incremental reward system that involves more player

choice as per how and when the rewards are granted. Meaning,

a player could choose to "store" points, not unlike a gambling

situation, and granted a larger reward as long as the player

managed to stay alive. This is certainly correlative to the

problem with risky activities causing longer timeframes, but

adds an element of player choice directly, as well as

introducing what could become almost a level of

competitiveness with the mobs themselves. Not unlike players

saving cash and using poor items in order to be able to buy a

specific item later on. Or, allowing players to literally

gamble, to a certain extent - I'll wager half-a-bub that I can

win this fight.

- An extreme multiplier being added to the number of

reasonably equivalent development paths, such that a player

could vary activities with absolutely no penalty whatsoever.

Easiest example is PvE XP advancement: by multiplying the

number of kinds of mobs (and kinds of fights) *in the same

area* by a factor of, say, five, could scale into

time-equivalent but vastly different advancement courses.

- Advancement itself becoming a factor of more complex

activities. A small example of this is DAoC's camp bonus - if

you stay in the same area for x amount of time, your xp drops

by y% until it hits a floor or until you move. I would

advocate the reverse system: your xp maintains unless/until

you do something (whatever that might be) differently, at

which point it increases by a percentage. This could also

involve tying some level of xp to non-traditional activities,

such as mentoring or exploration. Varying the kinds of

activities within a single category (different kinds of

fighting, etc) would allow this to occur without angering or

reverse-boring players that do not like some of the available

activities (many players, I think, would balk at being forced

to craft, or to explore the map, at least if that forcing was

overt).

2. Lack of Subjective Goals

Nearly every game attempts to provide various subjective goals.

Most don't do a very good job of it. This is most often

successful as pertains to avatar customization - one player will

save up for pink dye, the other for blue. In some restricted

incidences, comparable items are offered in different varieties.

To a certain extent, some skills can be considered subjective

goals - one player loves crafting, the other hates it; one loves

PvP, the other hates it. To my mind, these are fairly paltry

excuses for subjective goals, especially considering the above

statements that players will rapidly figure out the "best"

thing/path/end and begin using those exclusively.

Non-equivalent items will always be measured on a scale,

especially when taking into account the (im)balance problems of

class and skill.

Now, apart from the obvious and very time-consuming idea of

adding more things for players to do (which is not only

time-consuming but often futile, since players frequently reject

those activities out of hand, even those that are otherwise

clamoring for less boring gameplay), and trying to look at the

problem largely from the standpoint of existing systems, I

personally think the best solution lies in actually UNbundling a

number of concepts within the game. Unbundling items and stats.

Unbundling skills and XP in some instances. Unbundling skill

dependencies. Unbundling cash and certain types of objectives.

Unbundling loot and mobs to some degree.

Unbundling in this circumstance could be as simple as vastly

increasing equivalent but dissimilar choices (10 equal swords,

in 10 different visual styles; 10 different endings to the same

quest; offering stat multipliers across a broader spectrum;

offering XP for more activities), or as complex as creating a

system where much of the content is customizable, or a system

where skill choices are vastly expanded and unbound to some

extent from one another.

In real life, one could take the example of a cross-country car

trip. One person might choose to meander and view the scenery,

while another would just cover the mileage as quickly as

possible. Now, the first person has a reward - pleasure from

observing the beauty of nature. The second person has the more

obvious reward - a shorter trip. Except that to the first

person, the shorter trip would actually represent a punishment,

and vice versa. We have not yet built many equivalents to this

concept in our games. The person who meanders is almost

universally punished, and the person who speeds is almost

universally rewarded, and it is rare for one of those people to

see the second's circumstances differently than the second

person sees them. Newbies become upset that they are moving

more slowly, regardless of the lovely trees the 3D artist has

cooked up.

3. The Risk-Reward Equation

(Or, that players handily compute in the time-to-destination

risk as well as the death risk when measuring a reward for

desirability)

I don't think we take nearly as much advantage of this as we

could. Developers tend to see players' ability to locate and

compute the fastest way to a goal, up to and including risk

levels, as a frustration, and usually put their efforts into

making finding that route as difficult as possible.

What if we exposed those mechanical systems to a far greater

degree than we currently do? For one thing, I think that to do

so would force developers to be more rigorous in examining the

precise degrees and effects of the risk-reward systems in place.

What I am wondering is if we exposed those systems to such an

extent that the players themselves would be better able to adapt

the systems to their purposes, could we not then move our focus

away from concealing those mechanics and towards expanding them

in ways that work better for the players?

I mean, it seems obvious to me that a central concept to game

design is high risk = high reward, and that, theoretically, this

seems like a fabulous idea. In practice, however, this system

rapidly becomes the "absolutely minimal risk for the absolute

maximum reward" - meaning, players quickly discover that the

risk factor detracts more heavily from their game than the

reward adds to it. Not to mention the fact that due to the

general and overall design of most games, any player can, at any

time, return to another, lower-level mob to produce a specific

drop, even if the experience points are not useful at that time

(and, so doing, usually transfer that item to other characters

of his or his friends'). Additionally, games which reinforce

and encourage grouping (most of them), become doubly troublesome

in the risk department, since for risk to be usefully high at

that point it must threaten a significant number of the group.

I'm pretty much saying that I don't think the traditional

risk-reward implementations work very well, quite honestly - at

least not in MMORPGs (I think that in P&P games, and even to a

certain extent, in old-school MUDs (due to the caliber of the

audience, for one thing) it works much better).

I'm not 100% sure how to replace what we've got when it comes to

high-risk/high-reward systems. It's certainly something that I

am and have been thinking about pretty constantly for some time,

and I have some ideas that I'm working to explore. There is

really an enormous conundrum to cope with when you want to

examine that system - the powergamer vs. casual gamer conundrum.

Risk = Time :: High-Risk (and associated High Reward) = More

Time. I'm trying to think along the lines of developing a

risk/reward system that takes into consideration travel time and

tangential risks as well as primary risks, and from that point

offers a bevy of possible activities in such a fashion as to

allow the players to choose from a pretty large number of

possible timeframes and rewards (maybe even customized rewards).

By doing so I think we could identify the risk-reward

combinations that really, honestly work for the players, and

expand on them.

I also believe that we need to examine WHY the optimal route

must be predictable activities which must mean boring

activities. Mr. Koster mentions that increasing the risk

decreases the number of people choosing that activity, and that

eliminating the risk pretty much eliminates the point. That's

not exactly where I'm disagreeing. I think that the problem is

that the system is broken. We're spending huge amounts of time

developing risk/reward combinations that are endlessly and

stubbornly ignored by the player base, all but a few

combinations. I could literally, off the top of my head, list

for you the exact best places to fight in DAoC Hibernia from

levels 1 - 50 (other games too, but not off the top of my head -

it's the one I happen to know the best). Does this not indicate

that we're wasting our time, whether it's because the system is

inherently erroneous or because the implementation is erroneous?

Clearly, the players are finding the most appropriate routes. I

don't think they're doing so out of some love of repetition, or

wish for all activities to be predictable. I believe they are

doing so because that is how WE have defined success. WE

determine the rewards - not the players. WE determine the

factors of measuring skill and knowledge and powergamer-hood.

Not them. Given that fact, and given that the players are

subsequently totally ignoring our carefully-crafted deep and

broad methods for obtaining the rewards defined by us, wouldn't

you think that something is going wrong, and it ain't the

players?

Additionally, I wonder if it's time to much more strongly

consider segregating (not physically, systematically) the

powergamer from the casual gamer. What I mean by that is -

there are very few games in which one can feel one is truly

accomplishing much in limited periods of time. It's extremely

unrewarding. Casual gamers often play to spend time with

friends, and in those instances can easily become frustrated

when their friends swiftly outdistance them in experience and

level. I wonder if there are ways to tier out character

development (and, quite possibly, pricing plans) in a way that

will allow casual gamers to feel like they're having fun while

the powergamers do too? I think DAoC's pre-50 Battlegrounds are

an attempt in that direction, but it's not very good at it.

Many, if not most, of the population in those battlegrounds are

players with other, level 50 characters. First, I think we need

a way to allow high-level players to group with low-level

characters *as if they were that level again.* Not

powerleveling, just hanging out with friends. I also think we

need a way to play MMORPGs as if they were something like an FPS

- meaning, say, a state in which all players could compete,

albeit briefly, on a level playing field. Even past that, I

think it would be interesting to create meaningful (truly

meaningful) ways for players to impact the world at lower

levels. This latter idea is something that I have yet to see

done in a way that the players actually, honestly believe is

meaningful to the game.

[Much Snipping]

> 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.

Agreed, as mentioned above.

As for eliminating risk in terms of PvE, I do agree that games have

tried, but I don't think that it's been pushed very far, frankly.

We all define an encounter very, very narrowly (usually some number

vs. some generally equivalent number resulting in the "death" of one

side's members).

Risk can be avoided in a number of ways in life. Sure, some

risk-avoidance is simply "do not go to the place with the scary

person," and "do not attack person bigger than you unless you have a

very big gun." But what about, for example, the concept of

preparation? Why can't I include as a portion of my risk strategy

the idea that if I put x amount of preparation into a fight, it

removes y amount of risk?

Additionally, you mention people avoiding risk in real life

(choosing boring careers - got snipped for space). I think this is

an inaccurate comparison. Players are avoiding risk in games not

because they're little scaredy-cats, they're doing so because of

what you state elsewhere - they have figured out the fastest way to

the top. People in real life do not choose boring careers because

it's the fastest way to the top. We are clearly and overtly

rewarding risk-averse behavior by enforcing that behavior as the

optimal means. Sure, we can't remove risk, and nor can we make

everything wholly unpredictable. But, we can dramatically increase

the rewards when it's practical to do so. We can redefine the

rewards, we can redefine predictable (especially in combat. For all

the D&D tradition, there isn't, for example, a "saving throw." Nor

is there much variation in tactics, that dreaded word.), we can

allow players to scale up and down their rewards and risks far, far

more than we do now. We can even - gasp - surprise them once in a

while.

I am certainly aware that for all their screaming for excitement and

variety and better gameplay, most players lean heavily towards "what

they know." I don't think that's bad, really. I think it's just a

place where we honestly need to take a better look at what's going

on and why. I think we can do a better job of helping players be

able to USE "what they know" in new or more unpredictable

situations. I think we can increase and decrease risk far more

incrementally than we do now. And I even think we can maintain

risk/reward levels while simultaneously drastically improving

gameplay.

> 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.

Er, this email of mine isn't getting any shorter, is it? But I keep

seeing some really excellent things to try to talk about.

I'm not sure that "puzzles" is the right term. And I'm really not

sure that the satisfaction players gain is from solving the

equivalent of puzzles - or, if they are, they ain't the puzzles we

intend. Where I see the greatest amount of puzzle-related

satisfaction is in fooling (or "getting") the developers. Finding

bugs and exploits, locating the optimal route to advancement, even

just feeling like they understand the devs' motives. THOSE are the

puzzles players like to solve.

I don't think that players of MUDs and MMORPGs are finding

puzzle-related satisfaction at all, really. First, there's the fact

that a puzzle implies that by accomplishing or ascertaining a

specific set of tasks, sometimes in a specific order, one will

always win. This is highly untrue of MMORPGs, and even less true of

PvP combat. It's not a puzzle, it's COMBAT. It's the gamer

equivalent of RL fencing or boxing. The kids running around

screaming "I pwnz j00" are not crowing about their brilliant

solution to a puzzle. Myst is a puzzle. MMORPGs and MUDs often

include puzzle-games within the games, but I truly don't see the

relationship to the games as a whole.

If MMORPGs were puzzles, then, in fact, the presentation of optimal

routes to the perceived end would invalidate much of the game. The

satisfaction in solving a puzzle is *solving* the puzzle - not using

someone else's solution.

>> 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.

Hm. Well, that's probably true. However, I stick by the statement,

mostly because I cleverly included the modifier "solely" :) - we're

trying to create worlds, universes, are we not? Besides, to a

scientist, photosynthesis is NOT a detail - it is a meaningful

system with many details in its own right. The scale of the

holistic system is irrelevant; the level of complexity is not.

Staring at "a+b=c" is boring and stale. Staring at "e=mc squared"

is less so.

>> 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.

I did not mean that the mathematical equations were invalid or

useless - I mean that I don't see why they are among the

heavily-asked questions. An equation is an equation, dammit. When

they are questioned, it is because the result of the equation is not

appropriate, whether it is because the equation was erroneously

solved or because the result is not totally applicable. In the

former case, it's a bug. In the latter case, it's a balance

question (usually). What I meant by that statement is that I

believe that the equations themselves - while easily an intellectual

pursuit for many people - should be a given, not a question.

>> 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

1. Why is it actually rolling dice? And if it must be so that it

is, why is it not more interesting (at least to a majority) to think

about causes and effects, rather than staring at the little tiny

"-14 HPs dmg +2 bonus" in the little tiny window? Especially if all

I'm doing during the fight is twiddling my thumbs or poking F4 fifty

times?

2. I disagree :)

Okay, I cannot write any more at the moment, and I am quite

overwhelmed by the fact that about fifty new messages have appeared

in this list's mailbox while I have been writing it. I will attempt

to finish up later, if it still seems relevant to do so.

-k - 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.

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- 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.