Killed By Facebook, Building Space and Unwritten Laws

From Facebook vs MMORPGs to Murphy’s Laws of MMOs, here’s the rest of the day’s fun links – plus, Cynwise announces a temporary retirement…

  • Yes, Cynwise, winner of the 2011 Piggies award for best blog post, is taking a break from blogging – but leaves us with a comprehensive index of all his best work“Since this weblog is pretty big – I write a lot, okay – I thought putting a map for new visitors up at the very top of the front page was the best way for me to leave the store unattended for a while.”
  • Spinks has been assembling a list of the unwritten rules of MMORPG play“Whining actually does help. The more you whine about not getting that rare drop you want or never being able to get a group to some location, the more likely it is that the thing you want will actually happen immediately afterwards, thus making you look like a miserable whiner with no grip on reality.”
  • Tobold ponders the question of whether MMORPGs are being killed by social networking“MMORPGs don’t make for a very stable social network. There are workarounds, for example I am in a multi-game guild, but even those rely on most people playing whatever game is in vogue at the moment. “
  • And Ardwulf writes an interesting piece pondering how to generate planets in a space-based MMO that are realistically large, but also interesting“I’m a big believer in procedural generation and think it ought to be used more widely than it is in MMOs. At the same time, though, it can give you a lot of empty places that look the same.”

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What Games Are Talks About… What Games Are

Get your thinking caps on because today we’re leaving the comfort of our games behind to join Tadhg over at What Games Are to talk about the idea of gamification. Which, conversely, argues for games becoming one with real life.

‘Gamification’ became all the rage last year or so. If you’re not sure what it is – don’t panic, you’re not alone – Tadhg’s included a great summary of it in his post’s introduction, and you can find tonnes of other information on it using your GoogleFu (or start here). But once he’s done with introducing the idea, Tadhg jumps straight in with explaining why games cannot mesh with life.

It’s because a game is ultimately a set of abstract tools and patterns that the play brain learns to interpret mechanically, and so also learns to manipulate at both a basic and a complex level. If you know that pieces move in certain ways but not others, or that your game character can climb short walls but not tall ones, or that the betting round at the poker table always happens in the clockwise direction, this reliable information allows you to strategise. You can plan, optimise, think about the order in which you will do things and the results which you will expect to see, and that is why the game becomes engrossing.

Tadhg’s post is a brilliant and engrossing piece. He manages to always make sense, never getting us lost in confusion or loosing sight of either the central concept of gamification and his own ideas relating to it. Really recommended read.

What about you – do you think that games work because they’re enclosed and can’t reflect real life, or do you think the whole concept of gamification is pigswallop anyway?

_Quote taken directly from Tadhg’s post

You can find Tadhg’s What Games Are homepage here_

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Should We Actually Call MMOs ‘Games’?

Every so often Nils’ blog gets on a roll of good posts. Right now he’s on such a good roll it must be made of Belgian chocolate. Yesterday he put up a post which is, I grant, a little convoluted. But it’s also so thought provoking – and frankly, throwing out the idea that MMOs might not be games, not really, is going to disarm your average intelligent gamer. Like us.

So what does he mean? Nils is comparing MMOs to traditional games like chess and soccer, and what traditionally makes a ‘game’. he suggests that MMOs might not have rules, not really. If you want to kill a king in an MMO you don’t have to move your priest diagonally so they least expect it, like in chess (or Discworld). And as if that wasn’t enough, there aren’t any single, over-arching goals.

There are goals, just not one higher-ranking one. Instead, the goals appear naturally while the simulation runs it’s course. The most trivial example is you meeting a ‘monster’. That ‘monster’ attacks you and to ‘die’ is now considered to ‘loose’. Suddenly there is a goal, like ‘defeat the monster’ or ‘escape as unharmed as possible’. But this goal is setup by the player. The designer has some influence, but ultimately the player decides what he wants to do. … But how did the player even get there? What was his goal before he met the ‘monster’?

Nils’ conclusion on the whole thing is interesting, and ties around the idea that MMOs are comprised of minigames – and how they stick together. A fascinating topic and I’d like to see if anyone else adds to his commenter, who bravely ventured a view using a few long ‘n complicated (but interesting) words. Oh, and to go back to the roll thing – Nils also picked up on Melmoth’s topic from yesterday about how being a hero’s kinda over-estimated these days.

What do you think – are MMOs games, no contest, or are they something else – or take ‘game’ to a new level?

_Quote taken directly from Nils’ post

You can find Nils Blog here_

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