MMORPG player motivation

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Björn Morén

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Dec 21, 2003, 9:19:41 AM12/21/03
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What motivates the player of a MMORPG? What are the goals? Are there any
ultimate goals? In a single player game it's much easier to control the
experience and story development towards the grand finale. What is the
equivalence in a persistent multiplayer game?

To my knowledge few creative solutions have been displayed to address this
problem. In order to understand the problem maybe the following is a
convenient model.

Besides watching a vivid engaging multiplayer world, a player want to
experience some form of development, some form of progress in the game. The
player looses interest when he development stops. I think the progress must
be on several levels, giving the player multiple types of challenges.

Levels of development

1. Personal level
This level is about "Me" versus "All other guys"

The avatar learns skills, develops characteristics, collects materialistic
wealth (money, equipment, treasures), performs personal/group quests and
adventures. He also engages in fights against other avatars or guilds. This
is all about measuring up to the next guy/group, and the common MMORPG
motivation.

2. Community level
This level is about "My town/country" versus "All other towns/countries"

The avatar performs duties and has a role in the community. The avatar is
motivated by reputation and what that can benefit him. Citizens will unite
and try to conquer other towns/countries, or unite to defend themselves.
This is all about nationalism and "we against them".

3. World level
This level is about "The living" versus "The earth"

I don't know how this will manifest itself, but I feel it is needed, to make
the world be in constant evolution, in constant progression. Else there is
no ultimate goal for the players, and they will loose interest.

One idea is to introduce special "superquests". A superquest is a long
ongoing struggle for a goal, that requires participation from a large
portion of the creatures in the world. It is tough, takes long time,
requires cross-country cooperation, but is highly rewarded for all. This is
somewhat close to an ultimate goal. Several superquests can keep players
motivated a long time.

The general idea of these development levels is to balance the game and
encourage cooperation on different levels. On the personal level (1) you can
maybe gain the most from being selfish. This will counter itself at the
community level (2), but there you can gain a lot from conquering other
countries. Which in turn will counter back at the world level (3). It's a
kind of self maintaining political system.

It would surely be an interesting social experiment.


Brandon J. Van Every

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Dec 21, 2003, 3:39:16 PM12/21/03
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"Björn Morén" <bjoe...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:cYhFb.4197$7U1.51515@amstwist00...

> What motivates the player of a MMORPG? What are the goals? Are there any
> ultimate goals? In a single player game it's much easier to control the
> experience and story development towards the grand finale. What is the
> equivalence in a persistent multiplayer game?

Categories of MMOG gamers exist, are well-known to a lot of MMOG developers,
and have been discussed in theoretical and practical terms for at least a
decade if not longer. Some of the categories, and feel free to add any you
think I haven't included:

Powergamer - sees the MMOG as a game to be minimaxed and beaten
Social Gamer - sees it as a chat channel
Roleplayer - sees it as a vehicle for "in character" acting
Builder / Decorator - sees it as a virtual world construction kit
Explorer - mainly wants to look at new landscapes all the time
Griefer - sees it as a way to annoy people
Tourist - is passive, doesn't "see it," and needs their hand held to have an
experience

> To my knowledge few creative solutions have been displayed to address this
> problem.

Do you say that even considering MUD-Dev list?
https://www.kanga.nu/lists/listinfo/mud-dev/

> In order to understand the problem maybe the following is a
> convenient model.
>
> Besides watching a vivid engaging multiplayer world, a player want to
> experience some form of development, some form of progress in the game.
The
> player looses interest when he development stops. I think the progress
must
> be on several levels, giving the player multiple types of challenges.

You are describing the imperatives of a Powergamer. And only that.

> 2. Community level
> This level is about "My town/country" versus "All other towns/countries"
>
> The avatar performs duties and has a role in the community. The avatar is
> motivated by reputation and what that can benefit him. Citizens will unite
> and try to conquer other towns/countries, or unite to defend themselves.
> This is all about nationalism and "we against them".

Here you may be crossing over into the concerns of Social Gamers, but that
depends on what kind of community you're talking about. For instance, a
death squad that treats the game like football with swords would still be a
community of Powergamers.

> 3. World level
> This level is about "The living" versus "The earth"
>
> I don't know how this will manifest itself, but I feel it is needed, to
make
> the world be in constant evolution, in constant progression. Else there is
> no ultimate goal for the players, and they will loose interest.

Many players will lose interest anyways, because you've only addressed the
concerns of Powergamers.

> The general idea of these development levels is to balance the game and
> encourage cooperation on different levels. On the personal level (1) you
can
> maybe gain the most from being selfish. This will counter itself at the
> community level (2), but there you can gain a lot from conquering other
> countries. Which in turn will counter back at the world level (3). It's a
> kind of self maintaining political system.

Attempting to enforce social mores, and yelling and screaming at people who
do not live up to "required" coda of behavior, is the province of the Social
Gamer. When they gain in-game power, such as the ability to easily kill, or
to ban, or to deny construction resources, the results are really ugly.
IMO. I'm a Powergamer. :-) I'm not interested in people's silly cultural
needs, I'm interested in playing the game.

> It would surely be an interesting social experiment.

It would be, but I am wondering, have you done due dilligence on other
people's previous experiments?

--
Cheers, www.indiegamedesign.com
Brandon Van Every Seattle, WA

20% of the world is real.
80% is gobbledygook we make up inside our own heads.

Björn Morén

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Dec 22, 2003, 3:53:15 AM12/22/03
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"Brandon J. Van Every" <try_vanevery_a...@yahoo.com> wrote in
message news:bs4voo$9pvs7$1...@ID-207230.news.uni-berlin.de...

> Powergamer - sees the MMOG as a game to be minimaxed and beaten
> Social Gamer - sees it as a chat channel
> Roleplayer - sees it as a vehicle for "in character" acting
> Builder / Decorator - sees it as a virtual world construction kit
> Explorer - mainly wants to look at new landscapes all the time
> Griefer - sees it as a way to annoy people
> Tourist - is passive, doesn't "see it," and needs their hand held to have
an
> experience

I think that covers the major types. And people are often combinations of
the above.

> > To my knowledge few creative solutions have been displayed to address
this
> > problem.
>
> Do you say that even considering MUD-Dev list?
> https://www.kanga.nu/lists/listinfo/mud-dev/

I've been somewhat ignorant of MUDs and will look more into them.
Thanks.

> > Besides watching a vivid engaging multiplayer world, a player want to
> > experience some form of development, some form of progress in the game.
> The
> > player looses interest when he development stops. I think the progress
> must
> > be on several levels, giving the player multiple types of challenges.
>
> You are describing the imperatives of a Powergamer. And only that.

I think I am describing almost all types. That's the intention anyway.
I use development/progress as a general term here.

> > 2. Community level
> > This level is about "My town/country" versus "All other towns/countries"
> >
> > The avatar performs duties and has a role in the community. The avatar
is
> > motivated by reputation and what that can benefit him. Citizens will
unite
> > and try to conquer other towns/countries, or unite to defend themselves.
> > This is all about nationalism and "we against them".
>
> Here you may be crossing over into the concerns of Social Gamers, but that
> depends on what kind of community you're talking about. For instance, a
> death squad that treats the game like football with swords would still be
a
> community of Powergamers.

It's on different levels, and I didn't explore the subject well. The core
concern
is "What can we do together so that all of us benefit from it." It's about
giving
up some short term personal gain for a grater gain later. I think all player
types
can see more or less gain from it. For example trading, building towns,
common
protecton, teaching/learning from others, but also as you describe
"fotball with swords".

This should absolutely not be forced on the players, it's just one way of
playing
the game. There is no inherit "moral" in the game, just ways to survive.

> > The general idea of these development levels is to balance the game and
> > encourage cooperation on different levels. On the personal level (1) you
> can
> > maybe gain the most from being selfish. This will counter itself at the
> > community level (2), but there you can gain a lot from conquering other
> > countries. Which in turn will counter back at the world level (3). It's
a
> > kind of self maintaining political system.
>
> Attempting to enforce social mores, and yelling and screaming at people
who
> do not live up to "required" coda of behavior, is the province of the
Social
> Gamer. When they gain in-game power, such as the ability to easily kill,
or
> to ban, or to deny construction resources, the results are really ugly.
> IMO. I'm a Powergamer. :-) I'm not interested in people's silly
cultural
> needs, I'm interested in playing the game.

I can relate to your concern but I see it the other way around. Players
should
not be forced to cooperate in communities to play the game. When it is not
a benefit they will not. Crappy communities will die, good ones will
flourish.
I picture something more like the dynamics of Sim city. People will choose
to live where the conditions are the best. Those who make up the rules for
a city, must make it appealing for people to live there, so they can't mess
too
much with the players. I also pitcure different types of "loose" or "thight"
communities as well. More can be said on this.

> > It would surely be an interesting social experiment.
>
> It would be, but I am wondering, have you done due dilligence on other
> people's previous experiments?

To some extent. Mostly by reading a lot about both design goals, solutions
to common problems and player's experiences with these type of games.
I've worked as a professional game programmer so I have some background.
However I admit that I have not been part of a MMORPG project.

Regards,
/Björn


Brandon J. Van Every

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Dec 22, 2003, 6:54:29 AM12/22/03
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"Björn Morén" <bjoe...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:mgyFb.4299$7U1.52335@amstwist00...

> "Brandon J. Van Every" <try_vanevery_a...@yahoo.com> wrote in
> message news:bs4voo$9pvs7$1...@ID-207230.news.uni-berlin.de...
>
> > Powergamer - sees the MMOG as a game to be minimaxed and beaten
> > Social Gamer - sees it as a chat channel
> > Roleplayer - sees it as a vehicle for "in character" acting
> > Builder / Decorator - sees it as a virtual world construction kit
> > Explorer - mainly wants to look at new landscapes all the time
> > Griefer - sees it as a way to annoy people
> > Tourist - is passive, doesn't "see it," and needs their hand held to
have
> > an experience
>
>
> > > Besides watching a vivid engaging multiplayer world, a player want to
> > > experience some form of development, some form of progress in the
game.
> > > The
> > > player looses interest when he development stops. I think the progress
> > > must
> > > be on several levels, giving the player multiple types of challenges.
> >
> > You are describing the imperatives of a Powergamer. And only that.
>
> I think I am describing almost all types. That's the intention anyway.
> I use development/progress as a general term here.

Well, you certainly aren't describing Tourists - people who are passive and
need their hands held. I could make similar comments for a number of other
entries on the list above... maybe it wouldn't hurt for you to contemplate
the list further.

> I picture something more like the dynamics of Sim city. People will choose
> to live where the conditions are the best.

That assumes people will tolerate their play experience long enough to
choose something. Sorting people out quickly is important, otherwise people
just leave.

> Those who make up the rules for
> a city, must make it appealing for people to live there, so they can't
mess
> too much with the players.

Appealing *to whom* ? Note all the different types of players.

Nick Reed

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Dec 22, 2003, 6:55:07 AM12/22/03
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"Björn Morén" <bjoe...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:cYhFb.4197$7U1.51515@amstwist00...

> What motivates the player of a MMORPG? What are the goals? Are there any
> ultimate goals? In a single player game it's much easier to control the
> experience and story development towards the grand finale. What is the
> equivalence in a persistent multiplayer game?
>
> To my knowledge few creative solutions have been displayed to address this
> problem. In order to understand the problem maybe the following is a
> convenient model.
> ...

I've just finished reading Richard Bartle's book "Designing Virtual Worlds".
A lot of player motivation is explored in that book and although it covered
a couple of other points throughout the book that I "personally" wasn't that
interested in, I'd recommend it as a good read if you're interested in these
kind of issues,

Ncik.


Björn Morén

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Dec 22, 2003, 1:03:31 PM12/22/03
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"Brandon J. Van Every" <try_vanevery_a...@yahoo.com> wrote in
message news:bs6lcq$a3c6a$1...@ID-207230.news.uni-berlin.de...

>
> > I think I am describing almost all types. That's the intention anyway.
> > I use development/progress as a general term here.
>
> Well, you certainly aren't describing Tourists - people who are passive
and
> need their hands held. I could make similar comments for a number of
other
> entries on the list above... maybe it wouldn't hurt for you to contemplate
> the list further.

I'm only talking about the progress/development for a player in
the game. You are assuming that I'm describing something else.
Can we agree on that players will loose interest when there is no
progression? Thats fundamental for most every kind of game.
Progression can mean character development, visiting new areas,
finding new friends, etc.

> > I picture something more like the dynamics of Sim city. People will
choose
> > to live where the conditions are the best.
>
> That assumes people will tolerate their play experience long enough to
> choose something. Sorting people out quickly is important, otherwise
people
> just leave.

Choosing to settle in a town is of course optional. And I think you are
underestimating the players.

> > Those who make up the rules for
> > a city, must make it appealing for people to live there, so they can't
> mess
> > too much with the players.
>
> Appealing *to whom* ? Note all the different types of players.

Players themselves make the rules and found the cities. Therefore
there will automatically be a city for every taste. Just like in the
real world.

/Björn

Brandon J. Van Every

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Dec 22, 2003, 5:10:59 PM12/22/03
to

"Björn Morén" <bjoe...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:3kGFb.4363$7U1.52340@amstwist00...

>
> "Brandon J. Van Every" <try_vanevery_a...@yahoo.com> wrote in
> message news:bs6lcq$a3c6a$1...@ID-207230.news.uni-berlin.de...
> >
> > > I think I am describing almost all types. That's the intention anyway.
> > > I use development/progress as a general term here.
> >
> > Well, you certainly aren't describing Tourists - people who are passive
> > and need their hands held. I could make similar comments for a number
> > of other
> > entries on the list above... maybe it wouldn't hurt for you to
contemplate
> > the list further.
>
> I'm only talking about the progress/development for a player in
> the game. You are assuming that I'm describing something else.
> Can we agree on that players will loose interest when there is no
> progression?

We can't even agree that players require progression! Social Gamers and
Tourists definitely don't require it. They require something else, and you
are not meeting their needs.

> Thats fundamental for most every kind of game.

No it isn't. You think with the biases of a Powergamer.

> Progression can mean character development, visiting new areas,
> finding new friends, etc.

Then you are defining "progression" to be so broad as to be useless.

> > Appealing *to whom* ? Note all the different types of players.
>
> Players themselves make the rules and found the cities.

You are already positing a very specific type of player, assuming that
people will undertake such labor.

> Therefore
> there will automatically be a city for every taste. Just like in the
> real world.

In the real world, most people go shopping. They don't game.

Björn Morén

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Dec 23, 2003, 1:21:14 PM12/23/03
to

"Brandon J. Van Every" <try_vanevery_a...@yahoo.com> wrote in
message news:bs7phq$a91po$1...@ID-207230.news.uni-berlin.de...

> We can't even agree that players require progression! Social Gamers and
> Tourists definitely don't require it. They require something else, and
you
> are not meeting their needs.

This is too theoretical. A pure social gamer or tourist doesn't even exist.
Pure tourists don't play games they go to the movies. Pure social "gamers"
use a plain chat, why pay more. I would say "social", "tourist" and
"griefer"
aren't even player types, they are attributes that a player can have.
Powergamer,
roleplayer, builder and explorer (and maybe more) are the real types, and a
player
seldom is just one type.

> > Progression can mean character development, visiting new areas,
> > finding new friends, etc.
>
> Then you are defining "progression" to be so broad as to be useless.

You think with the biases of a Powergamer. So progression can only mean
one thing in a MMO game? Really? Progression means goal oriented movement;
development; growth; steady improvement, which describes what all player
types wants to experience in different forms. Too bad we cant agree on
definition.

> > > Appealing *to whom* ? Note all the different types of players.
> >
> > Players themselves make the rules and found the cities.
>
> You are already positing a very specific type of player, assuming that
> people will undertake such labor.

Yes, the specific type is: players that are interested in building and
living
in cities. They are hardly in minority, since doing that serves many
purposes, attractive for the majority of players/player types. Why do you
think
housing is an attractive component of major MMORPGs?

> > Therefore
> > there will automatically be a city for every taste. Just like in the
> > real world.
>
> In the real world, most people go shopping. They don't game.

And your point is what? MMORPGs have no similarity to the real word?

/Björn

Brandon J. Van Every

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Dec 23, 2003, 5:11:07 PM12/23/03
to

"Björn Morén" <bjoe...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:AG%Fb.4514$7U1.57112@amstwist00...

>
> "Brandon J. Van Every" <try_vanevery_a...@yahoo.com> wrote in
> message news:bs7phq$a91po$1...@ID-207230.news.uni-berlin.de...
> > We can't even agree that players require progression! Social Gamers and
> > Tourists definitely don't require it. They require something else, and
> > you are not meeting their needs.
>
> This is too theoretical. A pure social gamer or tourist doesn't even
exist.
> Pure tourists don't play games they go to the movies. Pure social "gamers"
> use a plain chat, why pay more.

You are contradicting yourself. Clearly, as you said, the pure types exist.
The degree of the trait depends on the person. Let's say a person "mostly
wanted chat" or "mostly wanted their hand held." They wanted very little
game but still some, i.e. an excuse to chat, an excuse to see pretty
pictures and go "oooh" and "aaaah." If you approach these people as though
they are Gamers or Powergamers, you've lost a customer. Now, if you
*willingly* decide to lose those customers, on the premise that you can't
please everyone, fine. But don't assume you can just do Gamer / Powergamer
stuff and nab everybody.

> I would say "social", "tourist" and "griefer"
> aren't even player types, they are attributes that a player can have.

A "player type" is any player for whom the attribute is sufficiently strong.
There is no contradiction here.

> Powergamer,
> roleplayer, builder and explorer (and maybe more) are the real types, and
a
> player seldom is just one type.

Ah, I see. "Real types." A small set designed to fit whatever you *want*
the player data to be. Before assuming you are correct, try asking on
MUD-Dev. You will get lotsa anecdotal evidence.

> > > Progression can mean character development, visiting new areas,
> > > finding new friends, etc.
> >
> > Then you are defining "progression" to be so broad as to be useless.
>
> You think with the biases of a Powergamer.

Nothing about my statement above implies such. Your definition is simply
overly broad.

> So progression can only mean
> one thing in a MMO game? Really? Progression means goal oriented movement;
> development; growth; steady improvement, which describes what all player
> types wants to experience in different forms. Too bad we cant agree on
> definition.

Social gamers and Tourists are not looking to "improve" either themselves or
their characters by playing games. They are looking to socialize and
passively view pretty pictures.

> > > > Appealing *to whom* ? Note all the different types of players.
> > >
> > > Players themselves make the rules and found the cities.
> >
> > You are already positing a very specific type of player, assuming that
> > people will undertake such labor.
>
> Yes, the specific type is: players that are interested in building and
> living in cities.

2 distinct types of players, right there. 1) Building the city. 2) Just
living in the city.

> They are hardly in minority, since doing that serves many
> purposes, attractive for the majority of players/player types. Why do you
> think housing is an attractive component of major MMORPGs?

Arguing minority / majority is not the same thing as identifying the types.
If you want to design our MMORPG for Powergamers and not take any other kind
of person's money, have at it.

> > > Therefore
> > > there will automatically be a city for every taste. Just like in the
> > > real world.
> >
> > In the real world, most people go shopping. They don't game.
>
> And your point is what? MMORPGs have no similarity to the real word?

The point is, there will *not* automatically be a city for every taste.
People aren't going to magically show up and build stuff that pleases
everybody. *A few* people will show up who like to build, and they will
build stuff that pleases their *narrow* tastes. You will not have broad
demographic coverage, you will have a self-appointed niche of players.

If you want all the different kinds of players, you have to do stuff to
please each of them specifically. You can't just define them not to exist.

Björn Morén

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Dec 28, 2003, 7:59:00 AM12/28/03
to

I get your point. I also think we are arguing too much about definition, so
I'll give you my final thoughts on this, so we can devote energy elsewhere.
:-)

We clearly have different views on this. I still believe that players that
are not basically powerplayers, builders, roleplayers or explorers will not
play a MMORPG. They may also be very social and touristy in nature, but they
are in the game because they are one of those types. It's not about ignoring
people, it's just my view on the potential players. I think you are
discussing an entirely different kind of "game". "Progression" is a concept
that will get great attention from those groups. Sure, they also have other
needs. Needs that are as fundamental as color graphics; communication with
other players and proper introduction/tutorials/help. Different people will
utilise those services more or less, but no one will only use one of those
services and nothing else.

> > > > > Appealing *to whom* ? Note all the different types of players.
> > > >
> > > > Players themselves make the rules and found the cities.
> > >
> > > You are already positing a very specific type of player, assuming that
> > > people will undertake such labor.
> >
> > Yes, the specific type is: players that are interested in building and
> > living in cities.
>
> 2 distinct types of players, right there. 1) Building the city. 2) Just
> living in the city.

You like having right, right? ;-)
I'm sorry, but is this leading anywhere Brandon?

If I view it from another perspective you are effectively saying that it is
impossible to implement game mechanics for housing in way that all player
types find rewarding. Do you really believe that? While I find the
implementation to be a challenge, I strongly disagree it is impossible.

> > > > Therefore
> > > > there will automatically be a city for every taste. Just like in the
> > > > real world.
> > >
> > > In the real world, most people go shopping. They don't game.
> >
> > And your point is what? MMORPGs have no similarity to the real word?
>
> The point is, there will *not* automatically be a city for every taste.
> People aren't going to magically show up and build stuff that pleases
> everybody. *A few* people will show up who like to build, and they will
> build stuff that pleases their *narrow* tastes. You will not have broad
> demographic coverage, you will have a self-appointed niche of players.

Try to widen your perspectives and not be bound to some existing MMORPGs and
their problems. You are saying that few people will build and they have
narrow tastes. That's like saying "few people will say anything, and only to
a few others since everyone has such a narrow taste". At this point we
havn't
even discussed the game mechanics for building or communicating. In the real
world people live in cities. Alot can be learnt from that.

/Björn


Timothy J. Bruce

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Jan 24, 2004, 2:18:48 AM1/24/04
to
Greetings:

I think Brandon is on to something. I like to think of myself as a
die-hard rôle-player, and thusly have played each of those archetypes
at one point.
I often play the explorer (I just like to go walk-about in the wilds)
and the tourist (how many settlements have you visited?), but on
occaision I am also the big, dumb, ogre (Hulk bash!). But this is
digression...

Back to the root! It turns out each of the archetypes Brandon listed
(there may be more, but I don't know of any off-hand) each have
different motivations.

PERSONAL LEVEL
The power-gamer and the griefer are not Rôle-players (by definition)
and are not relevant here.
The Rôle-player, by definition, would assume a set of the following
traits in various intensities:
1 - builders/engineers/designers/decorators would be *very* interested
in your thread `RPG crafting' (Message-ID:
<e4e045a.04012...@posting.google.com>) (Hostile Space, iRO,
Ultima 5, and Daggerfall come to mind)
2 - socializers/bards/people-persons would be very interested in our
on-going thread(s) regarding chatting and rôle-play (I will come back
to those, but I am conducting some research on just that in my [very]
limited spare time)
3 - explorers would like a large world
4 - tourists would like a populated world with many things to buy and
trade
5 - sages simply want to learn *facts* about the world (be it
cartography, biography, hearldry, demographics, history, etc)

In order to make types 3 and 4 happy one would need a large world.
This can be difficult (if everything is a C struct in RAM) or easy (if
everything is a row in database), _and_ it still may be difficult (if
the world has lots and lots of doo-dads and props) or easy (if the
world is very bland and empty).

To make types 1 and 5 happy you will need to define how things relate
(in the mathematical sense) to each other. This is simply hard, but
since you're asking smart questions I think you can pull it off.

Types 2, 4, and 5 demand large populations to meet and interact with.
This will require tracking NPC Mobiles the same as PC Mobiles. Why?
Let us assume my class is Knight, but my character's motivation is of
the sage/tourist type (I want to be the best caravan merchant in the
whole world!). If another player kills my good friend Balstag (the
owner of the Blackfoot Inn at the Apal Pass) I would demand vengence
on 1) hearing the news, or 2) simply arriving for a drink after three
months trading in the north and seeing the inn is closed and in
disrepair! There should be consequences for EACH AND EVERY act in the
game, and nothing will motivate game-interest than ACTUALLY BEING PART
OF THE WORLD.

COMMUNITY LEVEL
Same as above; we do not care about the power-gamer or the griefer
since they are not rôle-playing.
Types 1 and 5 will most likely be affiliated with some kind of Guild
because, for example, an apothecary can hardly ply his craft w/o
access to a library _and_ strong men to collect the more rare
reagents. In Dagerfall I was sent to fetch `a goodly portion of
Aberoth'. What is Aberoth? An herb? Mineral? It turns out Aberoth is
an ancient lich. The sorceror also told me to hurry because the
recipe required a fresh piece...
Since each individual will be surrounded by friends, their primary
interests will become his secondary interests. Along those lines, if
each character also has a `home town' then the player (if indeed
rôle-playing) may also align his interests to those, unless the
character is diabolical. Diabolists might possibly seek ways to
sabotage or even destroy his home-town (YEAH! WHO'S LAUGHING NOW?!).
Weather I am enlisted in a mercenary company, attending a church,
enrolled in a university, in good standing in a guild, born into a
clan (my pet peeve is hearing people `join a clan'), or just hanging
around the town, the interests of my peers and superiors should become
my interests. This can be accomplished by many `quest' systems I've
seen in use, and if the diabolists also have opportunity to
sabotage/oppose, and if there are _REAL_ results (not just rewards for
the player, but how about 1/2 the town dying from famine?) based on
the success and failure of those quests, then you will *DEFINITELY*
have a true gem on your hands: Those that Rôle-play will be hooked as
if your game was crack cocaine.

WORLD LEVEL
Same as above (including `same as above'); discounting power-gamers
and griefers.
Since no man is an island, we can also state no settlement is an
island. No matter the settlement is an independant city-state, or
part of a larger government (perhaps the county seat, which is in turn
loyal to the crown. or maybe plotting a rebellion...). Republics and
Empires alike have their own motives. What happens when two
neighboring nations/empires have competing interests? Usually war
happens, but sometimes peace is resolved. This alone could generate
any of a million unique `quests' which could range from assassination
to courier (assassinate the war-monger to force peace, or deliver a
message to co-conspirator to signal war! or the reverse...).
Of course the local underworld might not like the idea of a war (this
increases military patrols and penalties), and so they may offer their
own assistance and impedance to the barons, counts, and kings.
Naturally merchants would like to continue `business as usual' (or
better yet: `more money than you can imagine'), and therefore they
would most likely be advertising for anything from `simple guards' to
`procurers of specific items (theft)', `small item courier (mule)', to
even `purchaser of antiques, curios, and generic brick-a-brack
(fences)'.

ORTHOGANAL CONCERNS
Populations require food or will starve. Food must be grown in
fields. Burned fields do not yield food. Therefore, if a field is
burned there will not be a harvest, ergo the populations will starve.
Starving populations often riot and even rebel (MacArther, while
Governor of the Philipines, wired Washington `Give me bread or give me
bullets'). Both rebellion suppression and rebellion instigation are
both paying and moral work (it's all a matter of `sides').
Swords are made of steel. Steel is made from molten iron. Molten
iron requires both iron and coal. Coal and iron are both mined.
Miners need both food and gold delivered to them. Gold is mined.
Food is harvested from fields (see above for food). Stealing the
payroll wagon for the coal miners (for example) should have a nasty
effect on 1) the local economy, 2) that regions war-making ability, 3)
political stability, etc. The same could be said if the gold miners
were all slaughtered, or if the fields were burned, etc.
While the above relations are simple to understand, they may very hard
to model in a MUD.

Ideally all games would correctly (at least what *I* think is correct
[and my opinion is the only one that counts when *I'M* the one playing
a game]) model PERSONAL, COMMUNITY, WORLD levels, and additionally
have a complete map of the (termed here) ORTHOGONAL CONCERNS level.

I'm going to stop typing before this becomes a 400 page tome,
Timothy J. Bruce
uni...@hotmail.com
</RANT>

Bj?rn Mor?n

unread,
Jan 25, 2004, 9:42:09 AM1/25/04
to
uni...@hotmail.com (Timothy J. Bruce) wrote in message news:<34519632.04012...@posting.google.com>...
>
> I think Brandon is on to something. [...]

>
> Back to the root! It turns out each of the archetypes Brandon listed
> (there may be more, but I don't know of any off-hand) each have
> different motivations.

I think this issue is more complex than any of us would like it to be.
My original post is showing ignorance, I know that. I tried to say:
what (if anything) is the common motivation for all player types? I
still believe that the progress idea has some truth in it, but I agree
it is not the whole truth (...so help me God!).

Why is it more complex? Just look at the real world, and try to write
down a common motivation for all people. I'm pretty stubborn with the
idea that "a MMORPG is the real world in a bizarre setting", and thats
why I will always try to understand MMORPGs by analyzing the real
world. (My stubborness also makes it my lifetime goal to provide the
ultimate MMORPG world simulation to people, and make them realise they
have a need for it (sounding just like your average crap product
salesperson)). When we create a MMORPG we are limited, and it's much
about understanding common denominators in order to attract reasonably
many players. It's kind of a contradiction, because we also want to
create a rich open-ended game with possibilities for everyone (at
least I want to). I guess its about balance, and identifying
archetypes makes this balancing easier.

Just as much as I am against predefined role-playing roles, I am also
against player archetypes. While I've always felt like going against
the stream, I'm not stupid enough to reject the idea that player
archetypes helps designers understand customers and their motivations.
Ok, lets keep them, to make me not look like an asshole.

> PERSONAL LEVEL
> [...]
> COMMUNITY LEVEL
> [...]
> WORLD LEVEL
> [...]
> ORTHOGANAL CONCERNS
> [...]

Your text fleshes out details in a very good way about how player
types can be stimulated on different levels. The examples that you
give are exacly what I hope (and predict) a well designed simulation
MMORPG can stimulate players to originate. Observe that I think
players themselves can make this happen, and that no artifical
constructs need to force specific behavior or lifestyles on the
players, neither the repent and penalty that possibly will follow.
Players "only" need an open-ended world that inspires enough and
allows them to do it. Too theoretical? Sure, a lot of ground lies
between us and a world like that. I just have a gut feeling that's the
ground to start walking.

Put in a simplified way (for sake of illustration) the world should
only consist of physical rules (physics) enforced as game mechanics,
acting on a rich and engaging world. Designers shall not interfere
with players' motivations, morale, justice, interaction, lifestyles,
roles, quests, etc, they should only provide tools to help players
automate tideous tasks and enforcing player created "concepts".

I would like to see the future MMORPG more like a tool, than a
finished product. The designers of the MMORPG creates a tool which
players may use to various degrees to live out their own fantasies. I
also picture that the difference between game company employees and
consumers will not be as strict as today. Or there will be a third
group of "world experience designers" that play the game as regular
customers, but at the same time contribute a lot to the overall world
experience by creating the stuff that today is labelled "content".
This already exists in some half-hearted ways (mod makers, fan sites,
etc).

I am sorry for not contributing with more examples and details, just
hiding under fancy words. Hopefully I will cange soon when I can
understand the details myself.

/Björn

Timothy J. Bruce

unread,
Jan 25, 2004, 9:37:11 PM1/25/04
to
Björn:

I think you're definitely on to something. You've identified all the
real tricky parts, and are asking very smart questions about the
intensional and extensional qualities. I wouldn't be surprised if you
were able to prototype a few of your ideas within the next year.

I don't think I could add any more to this w/o repeating myself at
this time.

Don't give up,

Gerry Quinn

unread,
Jan 26, 2004, 4:52:38 AM1/26/04
to
In article <e4e045a.04012...@posting.google.com>, bjoe...@hotmail.com (Bj?rn Mor?n) wrote:
>I would like to see the future MMORPG more like a tool, than a
>finished product. The designers of the MMORPG creates a tool which
>players may use to various degrees to live out their own fantasies. I
>also picture that the difference between game company employees and
>consumers will not be as strict as today. Or there will be a third
>group of "world experience designers" that play the game as regular
>customers, but at the same time contribute a lot to the overall world
>experience by creating the stuff that today is labelled "content".
>This already exists in some half-hearted ways (mod makers, fan sites,
>etc).

And in the form of PKillers or various "griefers"? These people
dedicate themselves to creating 'content' for others.

Mods have more of an incentive to be beneficial to other players.

Gerry Quinn
--
http://bindweed.com
Screensavers, Games, Kaleidoscopes
Download free trial versions

Bj?rn Mor?n

unread,
Jan 27, 2004, 2:08:47 PM1/27/04
to
ger...@indigo.ie (Gerry Quinn) wrote in message news:<tn5Rb.215$rb.3...@news.indigo.ie>...

> In article <e4e045a.04012...@posting.google.com>, bjoe...@hotmail.com (Bj?rn Mor?n) wrote:
> >I would like to see the future MMORPG more like a tool, than a
> >finished product. The designers of the MMORPG creates a tool which
> >players may use to various degrees to live out their own fantasies. I
> >also picture that the difference between game company employees and
> >consumers will not be as strict as today. Or there will be a third
> >group of "world experience designers" that play the game as regular
> >customers, but at the same time contribute a lot to the overall world
> >experience by creating the stuff that today is labelled "content".
> >This already exists in some half-hearted ways (mod makers, fan sites,
> >etc).
>
> And in the form of PKillers or various "griefers"? These people
> dedicate themselves to creating 'content' for others.

Lets divide the general griefers into villains and piss-off'ers.
Villain is absolutely a valid role, and their creation will add to a
greater whole, supplying elements of danger, deceit and awkwardness.
If piss-off'ers can offend people and ruin their playing experience,
the game design is wrong. I know, thats easy to say, but I belive
games can be designed that takes the edge off most behavior like they
use.

> Mods have more of an incentive to be beneficial to other players.

Right now yes. In the future, mod makers will probably work on a part
of the world as the world is running, being characters in the game
just like veryone else.

/Björn

NoaNamim

unread,
Feb 3, 2004, 2:57:46 PM2/3/04
to
First of all I want to thank you for this thread. It has been pretty
interesting to read this dialogue. Some very interesting facts have
emerged in the discussion.

My Background: I am studying media- planning, development, and
consulting (this is a word by word translation ;o) - can't think of
anything better) in Germany. I also studied marketing and
communication in the US for 9 months. I played a couple of MMORPG.

I want to offer you my view on the topic. To answer your starting
question: Yes, there is one thing, that every MMORPG Player seeks. The
answer is simple and complex at the same moment: Players seek
gratification.

There is a research approach in media studies that asks why we use
media offerings. It is called "user and gratification approach".
Researchers all over the world ask why we use media in general. The
answers vary from study to study and from media appliance to media
appliance.

So I may give you a starting point to think this whole issue over
again. But let me please point out some weaknesses in this discussion
so far.

You structured your MMORPG-World in various layers and you offered
some things a user might enjoy on this kind of level (Personal Level,
Community level, LD Level, orthoganal level). Unfortunately you are
already leaving the basic question when you start structuring the
mmorpg world.

Nick Reed lists a couple of archetypes of player orientations that
have evolved in the history of rpg games. You critizise that by saying
it is mostly a mixtures between the different types. I agree with
that. Typologies always characterize ideal types. Nobody fits in
perfectly in these mental structures. It's always like that with
typologies. Anyway they help a lot to evolve a game.

The problem with this typology is that it is based on the past. It
lists player types that up to now have recieved gratification in these
type of games. Personally I would like even more people to play these
games. So there could be more types that have not yet emerged because
those people (types) have not yet found their gratification in the
various games. Trying to design a game for the listed types will at
best be "market penetration" or, to put it simply, designing a game
for people that already play other games.

There are two ideas that might be interesting to discuss. You are
surely familiar with Maslow's hierarchy of needs. As we (I assume, you
too) live in a world where there is high work spezialization. Some
people have problems to fulfill their needs in regular life or just
find it easier to fulfill some needs by playing games. In literature
you will also find speculations about escapism in relation with
"coping strategies" (problem solving in everyday life).

Even more helpful than Maslow's hierarchy of needs to idetify human
needs are Steven Reiss' basic desires. There are 16:
Power, the desire for achievement, competence, leadership, influence.
Independence, the desire for freedom and self-reliance. Curiosity, the
desire for knowledge and truth.
Acceptance, the desire for positive self-image and self-worth.
Order, the desire for cleanliness, stability and organization.
Saving, the desire to collect and amass property.
Honor, the desire to embody morality, character, loyalty.
Idealism, the desire for fairness and justice.
Social contact, the desire for friendship and fun.
Family, the desire to have children.
Status, the desire for wealth, ti tles, attention, awards.
Vengeance, the desire to win and compete. Romance, the desire for sex.
Eating, the desire for food. Physical exercise, the desire for
fitness. Tranquility, the desire for relaxation and safety.

Steven Reiss claims that every Human has three to four main basic
desires. Now it will be easy to locate the archetypes.
Power-Gamers: Vengance
Social Players: Social Contact
Explorer: Independence etc.

With Steven Reiss' Basic desires you may also see the point, that
MMORPGs and other games are competing with different means of
gratification. The basic idea, coming back to the "user and
gratification" approach, is: The better "gratification seeked" fits
the "gratification obtained" the higher is the gratification. Having
in mind the limitations of everyday life, people seek activities that
meet their needs best. Obviously different activities compete against
each other as there is a limitation in spare time.

Now we can discuss which needs an MMORPG fulfills, now and in the
future, and then you have your answer to your question: Why do people
play mmorpgs. It might also give us some ideas what mmorpgs will be
like in the future and which people might be the mmorpg users of
tomorrow.

I hope I added some interesting aspects to the discussion. I look
forward to any comments. Please excuse my bad English. At least I
tried. In case anybody feels offened, it wasn't my intention at all.

Best regards
Christoph G.

Bj?rn Mor?n

unread,
Feb 4, 2004, 2:20:42 PM2/4/04
to
> I want to offer you my view on the topic. To answer your starting
> question: Yes, there is one thing, that every MMORPG Player seeks. The
> answer is simple and complex at the same moment: Players seek
> gratification.

To me "gratification" does not say much. It's like saying players need
a "pay-off" or a "motivation". Sure we know that already. Does
gratification add to any understanding of this subject?

> You structured your MMORPG-World in various layers and you offered
> some things a user might enjoy on this kind of level (Personal Level,
> Community level, LD Level, orthoganal level). Unfortunately you are
> already leaving the basic question when you start structuring the
> mmorpg world.

The levels was just a way of adding dimensions to game play. I think
they could be of use, regardless of what conclusions we come to for
player types and motivation.

> Nick Reed lists a couple of archetypes of player orientations that
> have evolved in the history of rpg games. You critizise that by saying
> it is mostly a mixtures between the different types. I agree with
> that. Typologies always characterize ideal types. Nobody fits in
> perfectly in these mental structures. It's always like that with
> typologies. Anyway they help a lot to evolve a game.

Yes understanding player types is important. But only some aspects of
MMORPG playing is important enough to label them as archetypes I
think. The other aspects are just second order ones; I view them as
properties of archetypes.

> The problem with this typology is that it is based on the past. It
> lists player types that up to now have recieved gratification in these
> type of games. Personally I would like even more people to play these
> games. So there could be more types that have not yet emerged because
> those people (types) have not yet found their gratification in the
> various games. Trying to design a game for the listed types will at
> best be "market penetration" or, to put it simply, designing a game
> for people that already play other games.

I agree. Too much focus is on legacy aspects of RPGs.

> There are two ideas that might be interesting to discuss. You are
> surely familiar with Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

No, but after a short crash-course, now I am. :-)

> Even more helpful than Maslow's hierarchy of needs to idetify human
> needs are Steven Reiss' basic desires. There are 16:
> Power, the desire for achievement, competence, leadership, influence.
> Independence, the desire for freedom and self-reliance.
> Curiosity, the desire for knowledge and truth.
> Acceptance, the desire for positive self-image and self-worth.
> Order, the desire for cleanliness, stability and organization.
> Saving, the desire to collect and amass property.
> Honor, the desire to embody morality, character, loyalty.
> Idealism, the desire for fairness and justice.
> Social contact, the desire for friendship and fun.
> Family, the desire to have children.

> Status, the desire for wealth, titles, attention, awards.

> Vengeance, the desire to win and compete.
> Romance, the desire for sex.
> Eating, the desire for food.
> Physical exercise, the desire for fitness.
> Tranquility, the desire for relaxation and safety.

Interesting. Maybe we can move away from player archetypes and look
more at desires. I immediately felt an urge to prioritise among the
desires; some are more important than others when it comes to MMORPGs.
But maybe we must look at it from another perspective. Maybe MMORPGs
cant become really successful until all aspects of human behavior and
desires can be expressed and pursued. Maybe the griefing and odd
virtual behavior of current games is a reaction of limited ways of
expression and limited support for living out desires?

Given the perfect game design, I wonder if MMORPG characters show
"complete" human behavior just as in the real world, or just a
one-dimensional type of behavior, mostly emphasizing on one specific
desire (a lacking real life desire of the player)? I think characters
will be as complete as humans in the real world, but of course seldom
identical with their player.

> I hope I added some interesting aspects to the discussion. I look
> forward to any comments. Please excuse my bad English. At least I
> tried. In case anybody feels offened, it wasn't my intention at all.

Thanks for entering the discussion. There is nothing wrong with your
english.

/Björn Morén

Timothy J. Bruce

unread,
Feb 4, 2004, 9:36:56 PM2/4/04
to
et al:

> Interesting. Maybe we can move away from player archetypes and look
> more at desires.

The above statement is a façade de parler of my previous post listing
several archetypes. An archetype simply is a container for various
motivations from a (finite) set of everything players would enjoy.
I regarded my (most likely incomplete) `list of motivational
archetypes' as a set of motivations that *all* players will use to
play their character in varying intensities.
When a rôle-player creates a character they typically are using that
character to explore various psychological motivations, perhaps
attempting to explore each in all of it's implications, or merely
trying to have a `good time'.
This means any class/skillset could assume any of the above listed
motivations in any degree. Each motivation is independant and
disjoint from all other motivations. Any given player may assume any
number of the above motivations in any strength or intensity.
This implies the opening thread is to be regarded as a True statement,
``Players are individuals'', but with the caveat that no two are
identical as motivation intensity is to be regarded as a continuum
rather than a discrete value.
This further implies that all players therefore have a set of
motivation-intensity vectors. Because vectors are bound (yet
infinite) and disjoint a game designer can attempt to address the
desires and motivations of each archetype in isolation from eachother.
While all motivations are disjoint, because each character is a
_proper_ subset of the motivation set (mathematical) the designer can
also attempt to address the needs, wants, motivations, and desires set
combinatorially, i.e. `kill two birds with one stone' via union
typing. The (logical) union between `sage' and `explorer' (sage +
explorer), for example, obviously dictates the type of game a player
operating under those constraints will desire.
The same designer may also, at his liesure, concurrently explore what
will make the (builder + tourist) happy, which can possibly reinforce
other archetypes under consideration.

I would also at this time invoke Elaine. She has reminded many of us,
repeatedly, that our sole purpose is make a game that is fun to play.
We must not, under any circumstances, make a game that is not fun to
play, and therefore the inclusion of the above, I assert w/o fear of
logical contradiction, will promote a game that promotes said fun
because it is the *PLAYER* who seeks enjoyment, but it is the
*CHARACTER* who has motivations (Naturally there is a transitive
relationship at work here, but that much should be obvious).

My Hair Scrunchy Just Broke,

Timothy J. Bruce

unread,
Feb 4, 2004, 11:17:27 PM2/4/04
to
Christoph:

A very good post, but I believe you may be on the `wrong track'.

I consider Erickson's contention-oriented psychic development model a
bit more applicable here, and after further examination of Maslow's
hierarchy of needs I must demote Maslow's thesis to `orthogonal', and
also assert Reiss' model as similarly orthogonal.

The very core of any MUD *requires* `advancement' in many forms.
Material gain (loot), political gain (guild/clan system), popular
opinion gain (being generally `famous'), and self gain (skill/level
increases). The point of any MUD includes both Reiss' and Maslow's
theses at a most fundamental and basic level, as evidenced by any
given MUD written by those who are unfamilar with these psychologists.
This means any given MUD will resolve the above needs tacitly, rather
than focally. The tacit/focal difference is a *profound* difference
in this case.

Erickson's development model, on the other hand, pointedly addresses
playing issues which develop *FROM* the above advancement need
realizations. Much of the transitional model rests on contention,
which I believe is necessary for the aspiring designer to focally
address.
The neophyte lives within a different social framework than the
demi-god, replete with varying responsibilities and capabilities.
This means there are various prescribed and proscribed actions of both
social (general player base, as well as specific guild/clan base) and
professional (as a junior accolyte, or as the judo grandmaster) rôle.
It is the transition from one distinct rôle to another where the
contention is appearant and I assert it is here where designers must
focally address the framework which all characters (and therefore all
players) participate in.

If you have objections, please read about Erickson's development model
(http://www.childdevelopmentinfo.com/development/index.html) so you
may better address which points are 1) orthogonal, 2) simply wrong, or
3) may be correct but with further clarification/qualification, 4) may
be correct but with further generalization/stereotyping.

I'm Usually Wrong About Most Things,

Bj?rn Mor?n

unread,
Feb 5, 2004, 4:49:14 AM2/5/04
to
uni...@hotmail.com (Timothy J. Bruce) wrote in message news:<34519632.04020...@posting.google.com>...
> et al:
>
> The above statement is a façade de parler of my previous post listing
> several archetypes. An archetype simply is a container for various
> motivations from a (finite) set of everything players would enjoy.
> I regarded my (most likely incomplete) `list of motivational
> archetypes' as a set of motivations that *all* players will use to
> play their character in varying intensities. [...]

Some more details are carved out, and syntactic sugar is added. Well
written.

Sometimes I wonder though if we are a bit too intellectual about all
this. Well, anything that adds to our understaning of the problem must
be welcomed. My intuition say we now understand one of the many layers
of MMORPG design. Tougher ones remain.

> I would also at this time invoke Elaine. She has reminded many of us,
> repeatedly, that our sole purpose is make a game that is fun to play.
> We must not, under any circumstances, make a game that is not fun to
> play, and therefore the inclusion of the above, I assert w/o fear of
> logical contradiction, will promote a game that promotes said fun
> because it is the *PLAYER* who seeks enjoyment, but it is the
> *CHARACTER* who has motivations (Naturally there is a transitive
> relationship at work here, but that much should be obvious).

Is this really a *game*? Pardon me for asking such a stupid question,
but lately I've more and more started to question it myself. Woulnd't
"experience", "simulation" or "lifestyle" be better. Of course it got
to have entertainment value, but I feel we are elevating this into so
much more than just being a game. I mean this isn't Tetris anymore,
it's an alternate reality. Sorry about splitting hairs on such a minor
detail.

Regarding the 'fun' factor: Sure, saying that it must be fun is a good
way to set design focus; we are not creating a business app, we are
creating something that must be fun. But is that important really?
Ultimately we want people to be in our MMORPG world, but what reasons
they have for being there is not really important. Is the focus of fun
adding or subtracting to our design possibilities? Should *fun* be in
the back of our minds when we design different aspects of the game?
Will people take part in a virtual world that is not classified as
fun? Sure, a lot depends on what you define "fun" to be. Will we ever
hear a citizen of our virtual world say "No it's not fun, but I find
it educational and stimulating"? Am I discussing a different beast, or
are you with me?

/Björn Morén

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