Imaginary Realities 2000 September Edition

Summary of September 2000 issue of Imaginary Realities. Imaginary Realities was an ezine dedicated to MUDs.

Summary of "Current and Future Developments in Online Games" by Raph Koster

Raph was lead designer and programmer at Ultima Online.

Everyone is making online games, now. Newcomers to online programming don't understand running a service, and "old guard" don't have production value or a sense of mass market.

"Online games have been on the verge of fulfilling their promise for so long now that everyone is getting tired of waiting. If they are to break further into the mass market, as we all agree they have wonderful potential of doing, people need to look both to the old guard for the reasons why players keep coming back, and to the new guard to topple some sacred cows."

Online games need to be "sticky". They need an experience that brings players back, for the purpose of getting money out of them. "We have to design our games to make players want to keep paying, and keep coming back, at minimum cost to us the service provider. This is one of those things so obvious on the face of it that people tend to miss the point."

You want players to subscribe, so they don't have to log in to stay a paying customer. Session-based models depend on players remembering to log in (and pay) when they often can't remember to watch their favorite TV shows. You want retention of subscribers that don't even log in.

It takes money to make a game attractive enough to get new players to log in. You need good art, good marketing, and good game design to succeed. Ultima Online "got lucky-it was in the right place at the right time and had the marketing muscle, the brand name, the presentation, and enough accessible gameplay functional at launch to grab the brass ring."

Choose your battles. If you don't like the battle, redesign the battlefield. UO did just that, by raising the bar on what an online game was.

Friends and social groups move from game to game, so are not the primary retention avenue for online games. There needs to be some sort of ownership, to retain players. The player needs something they can't take with them. A cool avatar, player level, and friends aren't enough.

Games need to be about the game and playing. Also, the game should NOT have an ending or completion. Players must NEVER run out of things to do. "Make your games ones where your advancement ladders are infinite rather than finite. Be it via king of the hill, player-driven content, redirecting players to socially-oriented advancement ladders."

Players need something in the game that emotionally excites them. Don't sanitize the game so much that it becomes boring.

The game needs to be a service, a world, or a community, but never just a game. Turn the game into an experience. Include the accompanying website. Make sure your game's tag line empowers the player, making them feel this is THEIR experience.

Make a game that matters to people. It needs to make people feel something.

Summary of "Dark Ages Politics in Theory and Practice" by Dave Kennerly

Dave Kennerly ran Dark Ages and also Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds.

Descriptions of attempts at 90% self-rule online political system run by players. See Dark Ages MORPG for details.

Summary of "Destroying a Mud" by Frog Brothers

Frog Brothers is a long time player that has seen several MUDs destroyed.

Mud whimping is nerfing previously overpowered game elements in the name of game balance. Mud wiping is zeroing out all player skills, achievements and weapons. Both MUD whimping and MUD wiping drive long established players from the game.

Also, random changes that have far reaching effects, with no player driven reason, drive players off.

"Once mud whimping has set in the rot is started and will not be turned around, the mud starts breaking up into little factions. The factions all start infighting and the end of the mud is in sight ... nce the mud starts to splinter into factions and groups the players stop feeling that the mud is a happy place to be".

Inform them of large reaching changes before you make them, and then listen to the players' feedback.

Summary of "Title" by Author

Summary of "Title" by Author

Summary of "Title" by Author

Summary of "Title" by Author

Summary of "Title" by Author