Bartle rants about games

Article on Gamasutra where Bartle rants about the current state of games today:

Somewhat agree, but the cynic in me thinks this:

It is the year 2004, let text go already. Yes, muds are incredible worlds full of adventure, with complex systems. They are also text. You can’t make money on them, just as surely as you can’t make money on interactive fiction. Doesn’t mean it’s not good, but it will remain a hobby. People like the shiny, get over it.

The other point seems to be that people won’t play a game if it has features that aren’t fun. No shit sherlock! I don’t pay $15 a month to get kicked in the nuts, at least not since everquest. You may find your game fun, I don’t. It doesn’t make me foolish or ignorant, or having bad taste.

The real point is that you have to make the short term game fun. This often conflicts with the long term game. This causes players to leave. To get new players, the short term game must be fun. And thus the circle continues. I agree with the short term people. I don’t want the game to be fun at some future point. I am playing a game, and the meter is running. Make the game fun NOW.

To the above point, I have a question: Why do you think, or require, a MMOG to be indefinite? I know that UO surpassed any notion of length, but why must the game live forever? In many single player and multiplayer games, people play for awhile, then play something else. Why should an MMOG be any different? Adding things like permadeath to forstall this seems like delaying the inevitable.

Maybe the main problem is the holy grail of a self sustaining, everlasting, online world.

Argh! Not here too.

I know, it was posted on corpnews, and slashdot, and f13, and nearly everywhere else, but I really wouldn’t mind hearing opinions on people who aren’t jaded MMOG players, so :P

So I shut up.

My first impression is just that the guy is an idiot… my deeper impression is this: He wants a style of game that quite frankly just isn’t popular and for the forseeable future never will be. You can see it in his insistance on using the term “virtual world”… most people who play MMORPG’s (I’m going to insist on using this term!) don’t want another world full of toil and hardship… they want to be heroes in their own story, they want to chat with friends, they want to watch little numbers on their character sheets go up… in short they want (sorry Tom) fun. I think the idea that a MMORPG needs to keep players locked in a deathgrip for life is quite frankly silly, if I get 2 years out of a game and then feel the need to move on, I’ve probably gotten my money out of it. Only a very few players are going to stay in a single game for very very long periods of time. Most other people will play, enjoy and then move on. I think that the author of this article needs to do the same.

The publishers are the ones who desire an MMO to be indefinite. Some players want this too, I’m sure. I’m with you, though. I don’t need to play one forever.

Bartle quote a) “Well, the first virtual world that someone gets into is very special to them. It’s a magical, enchanting, never-to-be-repeated experience. You thought it was only you who looked back wistfully on your early days like that? Nah, it’s everyone.”

Bartle quote b) “Even a text-based virtual world could become a monster hit if it had the right licence and was advertised to the right group of people. Unfortunately, marketing costs money.”

Talk about falling foul of your own argument.

Tim, you’ll have to explain that. I don’t see how the two are related.

JM, Bartle is a long time proponent of text based online games and one of the authors of the original MUD. It does kinda sound like he’s saying b) because a) applies to him.

As I said at corpnews, this guy’s head is up his ass. All his statements of mechanics being good or bad are from his subjective point of view. He never makes any good (or in most cases, any at all) arguments WHY something is good or bad.

Can somebody summarize this and include copious quotes that push the boundaries of ‘fair use’? I don’t happen to subscribe but I’m curious what Bartle has to say.

Just disable javascript in your browser before clicking on the link. That totally bypasses the Gamasutra login.

Or use this link.

I’m trying to write something about it, actually. Perhaps later.

Growing maturity. Perhaps the best hope for the future is the growing maturity of the player base. First-time newbies will always assert the supremacy of their first virtual world, but oldbies who have been through the mill enough will realise that some of the features they’ve been taking for granted are actually counter-productive. If they’re around in sufficient numbers, we may see virtual worlds appearing that do everything right and very little wrong, removing point #4 and leading us into a golden age. I can dream…

Well, duh. How does he think the hardcore computer gamers he reveres got to be hardcore experienced computer gamers? Because singleplayer computer games have been around for a loooooong time. The only way the MMORPG experience is going to develop better ‘genes’ is for players, not necessarily designers, to develop the perspective to understand why ‘good’ design decisions are ‘good’ for the long term of a game’s life. I know of many PnP roleplayer-computer gamers, and neo-MMORPGers, who already have a long approach to these games and their designs. They may not agree on every little thing but there is some surprising concensus. Unfortunately, we’re a fraction of a fraction of the players out there. But eventually others will catch on.