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Oct 13, 2004



Finally we have a site where I can point people and say, "here is where you find player opinions on buying and selling virtual items."

Or "Here is where you can see what level of organization these games require at the highest levels."

These narratives are accurate reflections of the player base. Very useful to have them.


Hey, Nick... something seems to be wrong. I can't make my post.


*blinks* That was awfully uninformative. *tries again*

I can't make a comment in Prince and Pauper. I click POST and... I get sent to page 1 and my comment isn't recorded.


Sorry about the bug. I had upgraded Movable Type, and a compatibility problem set off comment moderation. I just changed it back to the way it was.


I was reading Damion Schubert's trackback to this post (above) and nodded to his point about how these testimonials indicate a subtle and very much more complex universe than might be first suggested by the streamlined rules of play (of combat in Damion's cited case). A great deal of this complexity, it strikes me, are adaptations to extend the expressive range of individuals or of the society (e.g. was taken by the "drowning" episode in EQ - on non-PvP server). My question is, which is better -- and why --: to rely on these fabrications for expressiveness...or just to modify the rules?

Does the latter have useful side-effects, e.g. strengthening community bonds, but doesn't that also make it less accessible to outsiders? Where should the fulcrum be?


It would be possible to design much more complex interactions inside of online games, but the more that you do that, the less that teamplay becomes possible. Combat in most MMPs is, at its core, all about teamplay. It's simple, visible to the whole party, and its possible to tell at a glance how your teammates are doing. Combat doesn't need to be complex because other people make it complex.

The more that you make things complex, the less that teamplay becomes emphasized. One good example is Puzzle Pirates, a game that I deeply love, but which has some design quirks. They focused on making a game where the core game interaction was puzzles instead of combat, with the notion of each of these puzzles being an interesting and intricate activity. One of the ramifications of this is that 'teamplay' combat, your ability to watch and help, is extremely limited.

Reading observers of MMPs complain about combat being boring is one of my pet peeves currently (I have many). As Nick's testimonials show, combat against extremely high-end stuff is quite the opposite- incredibly risky, especially if you are with people you don't know or trust. When you're in a raid scenario, you actually grow to really appreciate the simplicity, since it gives you greater faith that the idiots you're grouped with won't drop the ball. Ultimately, this does help bonding.

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