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Author Topic: Richard Bartle on MMO design (IMGDC 09)  (Read 78918 times)
UnsGub
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Reply #35 on: May 01, 2009, 09:14:04 AM

I'm just saying that anyone who knows SO much should be making them instead of pulling this shit.

There is value for someone whom does does know much.  Teaching others reguardless of the style of presentation.  Much of the education industry (academic) seems not be about teaching at times but it is still something that does get accomplished.

Knowing what to do, knowing how to do it, and leading a team to do it are uncommon accomplishments individually.  To all be done by the same person?  I have no expectations that anyone can do it all even if it sometimes happens.
Modern Angel
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Reply #36 on: May 01, 2009, 09:34:31 AM

That's a bunch of boring platitudes to say, "Academe is pretty hot! Bartle rulez!"

He's spent thirty plus years saying the same crap and never putting his hat in the ring even though he could go to any publisher with a proposal, assemble a team and get funding. That's the difference between us schlubs here and him: he could actually make the game he thinks is going to change the world and get all those subs but he refuses to do so.
patience
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Reply #37 on: May 01, 2009, 09:37:05 AM

visual companion

Oh man, I hope not.

Seriously though, those look like an outline. Though I'm sure SOME dev here heard the speech. I have not, however, heard of a single dev that agreed with the majority of stuff he had to say.

At this point I'm ready to just say "It's put up or shutup time, Mr. Bartle."

Even some one who knows what they should be doing can be too poor at execution to get the job done.

This is partly why some companies have an evangalist who preaches and a manager who leads and both teach  everyone what needs to be done in different ways.

OP is assuming its somewhat of a design-goal of eve to make players happy.
this is however not the case.
schild
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Reply #38 on: May 01, 2009, 09:39:04 AM

Man, I hope more people come in and say things I already know.

Seriously though, everything he said could've been said by anyone at f13. Or many other websites. Or 15 year olds who have no clue what Mud1 was, and they'd all still have missed the point. Just like Bartle did with his presentation.

The whole ivory tower song and dance a bunch of these people do, it has to stop, they aren't helping.

Edit: Clarity.
Khaldun
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Reply #39 on: May 01, 2009, 10:18:58 AM

I'm just saying that anyone who knows SO much should be making them instead of pulling this shit.

Today class, we're going to go to my ivory tower, built from MUD, and I'm going to show you my gold throne where I sit when I want to watch the peasants try to make something that I so obviously perfected 30 years ago. After that I'm going to snort blow off a co-eds thigh, give a speech somewhere I really shouldn't be since my last real game came out before the NES was even an IDEA let alone a console that was ready for worldwide release that would change the world. Afterwhich I'm going to say a bunch of really profound, obvious shit and show you a square I came up with back when such a thing may have been relevant. After that? Yea, you guessed it. I'm going to ride naked on the back of my golden eagle that I have named Fame.

So.

No one should study novels or fiction. They should just write novels or fiction.
No one should study movies or photography. They should just make movies and take pictures.
No one should study art. They should just make it.

This is an old position. Doesn't just apply to cultural criticism: it's the thing people throw at economists a lot, too ("if you're so smart, why aren't you rich"?)

There is something totally legit to saying that a cultural critic needs to understand what goes into creating culture, and to be humble about the difficulties (practical and imaginative) that are involved. Sure, I'd rather hear Richard (or anyone else) talk about that in detail--about why good ideas or designs in MMOs actually falter when there is an attempt to put them into practice, really get into the design process. (Don't forget though that this is the hardest aspect of current MMOs to study because most producers are insanely close-mouthed about these kinds of specific questions, even compared to the rest of the games industry.)

On the other hand, putting this argument about doing over studying too crudely drops a lot of excluded middles out:

1) That people who make culture sometimes do not themselves understand how best to do it. Come on, on virtual worlds, people here know very well that experience in the field of virtual world design is NOT an instant ticket to "doing virtual world design right". You can have the programming chops and a lot of experience actually implementing virtual worlds and still fuckup royally even with a very unambitious product, both at the level of basic design and at the level of technical management. Right now we have a market of virtual worlds where arguably all of them are fucked up in some important ways, but where most of them are fucked up in almost every way they could be. So obviously you need something more than technical skill and experience: it could be that some of what you need is a critical understanding of virtual worlds as a cultural form. Maybe sometimes you have to get that from someone who focuses on that issue but who can't do some of the other technical work.

2) That there's value in studying a cultural form that doesn't have to translate into making it, as long as the person studying it is humble about the limitations of such study. In the case of virtual worlds, for example, there's a whole bunch of useful shit to know that isn't easily generated within design itself: who plays, who might play, what they do when they play, why they play, what they'd rather play, whether play is actually why people are drawn to virtual worlds. Or my favorite, the relationship between design/code/rules and practices/forms of play--a relationship that designers very self-evidently do not understand well or they wouldn't constantly be fucking up along those lines. Sometimes the study of a cultural form brings in useful bodies of knowledge or methodologies that designers generally know little or nothing about: sociology of networks, ethnography, microeconomics, social psychology and so on.
 
3) That someone needs to teach other people about a cultural form, and to help people refine or deepen their own critical knowledge of that form, rather than make it. E.g., that academics who study virtual worlds have as their first goal communicating to wider audiences and teaching students, not making products.

4) That if you're going to bitch that Richard Bartle needs to be making games rather than analyzing them, why doesn't this apply to literally everyone? Nuke the entire MMOG forum here from orbit, tell everyone to shut their piehole, because the only people entitled to an analytic opinion are game-makers. Game-players and academics and anybody else are disqualified.

5) That if the problem is Richard Bartle gets to talk to GDC, let's see what your keynote would look like. I mean, you gotta have a keynote at a meeting like that, so show me something startlingly better. If it's annoying that someone talks about designing games without designing games (recently), it's equally annoying that someone talks about how easy it is to make a compelling keynote without making a compelling keynote.  Or maybe it's ok to criticize without doing?
Draegan
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Reply #40 on: May 01, 2009, 10:28:59 AM

Someone just got butthurt.
schild
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Reply #41 on: May 01, 2009, 10:29:04 AM

Quote
4) That if you're going to bitch that Richard Bartle needs to be making games rather than analyzing them, why doesn't this apply to literally everyone?

I'll make a deal with you, in 23 years, if we're still here bitching about the same stuff, I'll nuke the mmog forum from orbit. That's how long Bartle has been in his ivory tower.

Simply put, there's a statute of limitations on wankery.

You've built up an excellent straw man there though.
Khaldun
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Reply #42 on: May 01, 2009, 10:31:43 AM

Look, if you want to argue that Richard in specific flogs some of the same stuff repetitively, cool. But it's just as much a straw man to trot out the "don't study, make" thing so sweepingly.
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Reply #43 on: May 01, 2009, 10:35:29 AM

Look, if you want to argue that Richard in specific flogs some of the same stuff repetitively, cool. But it's just as much a straw man to trot out the "don't study, make" thing so sweepingly.

I don't point it out so sweepingly. I really reserve it just for Bartle.

Look, he's never made a modern MMOG. Shit, he's never really made a modern game. People laugh when George Broussard talks. Well, at least he made Duke Nukem 3D. Yes, Duke Nukem Forever elicits laughter from every corner of the industry when uttered aloud. Yet the guy who made a MUD back when Reagan was president still gets to talk with authority.

Don't try to build up an argument that makes Bartle look anything more than insipid. It'll only be met with groans when the information is coming from one of the few guys in the industry that could get any budget he wants (god knows why) and yet doesn't.
sam, an eggplant
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Reply #44 on: May 01, 2009, 10:37:24 AM

I don't much care about the ad hominem schtick, as far as I'm concerned he's perfectly credible, he's just wrong.
Modern Angel
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Reply #45 on: May 01, 2009, 10:39:25 AM

Not only that, he could waltz in to any number of projects in development right now by dev houses doing sandbox style games and have free run of the place. He wouldn't even need to secure his own money or deal with suits. There's a huge list of jobs for CCP doing WoD design. Go for it, dude. Schild's right on when he says this is about Bartle, and Bartle alone,  who's never done *anything* concrete in the industry. He's just one of  us with a resume that stopped thirty years ago.
Khaldun
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Reply #46 on: May 01, 2009, 10:41:01 AM

I think he's wrong about some important things, also. And I'd rather he spend more time thinking about why some of these ideas might prove difficult to implement, or about how good plans turn into difficult implementations. I'd say that about any academic critics of design. But...I mean, if you're comfortable in an academic position, you've got teaching commitments, you're trying to keep a program going, why should you have to drop all that and get involved in a long, painful effort to bring a product to a marketplace in order to have the right to keep on teaching and talking about a legitimately interesting subject?
schild
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Reply #47 on: May 01, 2009, 10:42:38 AM

Quote
why should you have to drop all that and get involved in a long, painful effort to bring a product to a marketplace in order to have the right to keep on teaching and talking about a legitimately interesting subject?

Gee, I don't know.

CREDIBILITY?
Khaldun
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Reply #48 on: May 01, 2009, 10:43:39 AM

Another way to come at it:

Why *can't* the people with a lot of experience and technical skills in this field make better MMOs? Why do most of them make MMOs which are horribly fucked-up like Warhammer and AoC?
Modern Angel
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Reply #49 on: May 01, 2009, 10:44:40 AM

It is an interesting subject. But he's treated as more than just a guy who talks about an interesting subject. There's this starry eyed "if only BARTLE were making games" thing from his fans and a kind of wink wink "if only *I* were making games" thing from him. He's also not talking about just what's fun or the study of subjective stuff like that; he's very much saying that the way to save these games is to do it like THIS where THIS is not only wrong but something he could actually do in a heartbeat.
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Reply #50 on: May 01, 2009, 10:46:17 AM

Another way to come at it:

Why *can't* the people with a lot of experience and technical skills in this field make better MMOs? Why do most of them make MMOs which are horribly fucked-up like Warhammer and AoC?
OK, now you're just straying off point. This isn't about Funcom shipping way too early or Mythic making core design errors. We all know Funcom shot their wad and it was a blank and we know Mythic has people like Barnett who just can't seem to shut the hell up. At least they tried.

Maybe you're not getting it.

Bartle hasn't tried. All he's done, for nearly 3 decades, is grow a wicked neckbeard.
SnakeCharmer
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Reply #51 on: May 01, 2009, 10:46:33 AM

Another way to come at it:

Why *can't* the people with a lot of experience and technical skills in this field make better MMOs? Why do most of them make MMOs which are horribly fucked-up like Warhammer and AoC?

Oh for fucks sake.

Edit:  Along the same lines, it's far easier to snipe from the sidelines (a la Bartle or anyone else for that matter, including players and other commentators).  The minute someone like Bartle DOES get charged with creating a game and it (likely) fails miserably, their lolcredibility gets tossed out the window (see Raph and ask yourself just how relevent he is these days - though to be fair he was always a designer, but his 'academic' work is what brought him 'fame').
« Last Edit: May 01, 2009, 10:56:25 AM by SnakeCharmer »
Khaldun
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Reply #52 on: May 01, 2009, 10:49:46 AM

I have yet to meet a starry-eyed fan of Richard's in many years of going to conferences and reading scholarly and non-scholarly literature about virtual worlds. People cite him, he has access to various soap-boxes when he wants them, he's given respect both for creating MUDs and establishing them as a legitimate subject of academic interest well before anyone else did but no one particularly genuflects. You can take or leave whatever he says concretely, in its own terms: the credibility of his points stands or falls independently of his career.
ashrik
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Reply #53 on: May 01, 2009, 10:50:40 AM

Bartle hasn't tried. All he's done, for nearly 3 decades, is grow a wicked neckbeard.
Aha! The core of the matter- facial jealousy. I've figured it out  why so serious?

e: I thought credibility was a thing that only sources of information could possess, not the information itself. Whether he's right or wrong is an issue, but not the one at steak here.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2009, 10:52:43 AM by ashrik »
Modern Angel
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Reply #54 on: May 01, 2009, 10:52:07 AM

I have yet to meet a starry-eyed fan of Richard's in many years of going to conferences and reading scholarly and non-scholarly literature about virtual worlds. People cite him, he has access to various soap-boxes when he wants them, he's given respect both for creating MUDs and establishing them as a legitimate subject of academic interest well before anyone else did but no one particularly genuflects. You can take or leave whatever he says concretely, in its own terms: the credibility of his points stands or falls independently of his career.

A million Bartle Scale signatures in MMO forums across the world beg to differ with you.
Khaldun
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Reply #55 on: May 01, 2009, 10:57:43 AM

People use the Bartle-scales, sure, but a lot of them don't even know where it comes from or who Richard Bartle is. I've had all sorts of players tell me that they're achiever-killers or whatever but they're not fans of Richard Bartle the neckwattled academic. It's like saying that people who know their Myers-Briggs type are fans of Myers and Briggs.
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Reply #56 on: May 01, 2009, 10:59:13 AM

People use the Bartle-scales, sure, but a lot of them don't even know where it comes from or who Richard Bartle is. I've had all sorts of players tell me that they're achiever-killers or whatever but they're not fans of Richard Bartle the neckwattled academic. It's like saying that people who know their Myers-Briggs type are fans of Myers and Briggs.

Dude. He's giving keynotes. People are still starry eyed. There are hundreds, if not thousands of mmog devs worldwide that are far more qualified than he is.

Shit, the lone QA tester on Vanguard has more MMOG experience than Bartle does.

Perhaps you're missing the point. Which would be impressive because it's a giant bricking coming right at your face.
Modern Angel
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Reply #57 on: May 01, 2009, 11:04:21 AM

Seriously. You're arguing that people aren't all gaga over a guy who has never developed a video game when they invited him to A GAME DEVELOPERS CONFERENCE, an invitation not to talk about theories of fun but to talk about theories of fun and how everyone should do a job he's never done before.
Khaldun
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Reply #58 on: May 01, 2009, 11:08:28 AM

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

I get it. I'm just saying it's overblown. A keynote is about what someone has to say, and whether an audience finds interesting or stimulating or fun to hear. It's not a job application or an award for lifelong achievement. When you're putting together a meeting, you try to think of someone your attendees are going to listen to and maybe take issue with in good ways: inviting some guy who has a lot of experience but who is painfully shy or a bad public speaker is an epic fail.  If this particular keynote strikes you as badly done, fine. I think Richard makes some obvious points rather blithely in it, if I'd been in the audience I'd have been grumbling about some better possible choices, too.
Lum
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Reply #59 on: May 01, 2009, 11:26:04 AM

Are you all finished? Well, allow me to retort.

Modern Angel
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Reply #60 on: May 01, 2009, 11:33:47 AM

You amazingly missed the point on the very first point of your retort.
schild
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Reply #61 on: May 01, 2009, 11:38:12 AM

Lum, by posting that to your blog, you've made it a pain in the ass to quote.

In short.

1. I would not create UO. Didn't like it then, found it a mess then, don't like it now, is a bigger mess now. And much like I am with Bartle, I'm pretty fed up with the arguments that still come up every now and then about UO.
2. Obviously he can't walk in to a publisher and get $50M. But he sure does talk like he can. As such, he should really, you know, put up or shut up.
3. I think it's about time we quarantined Patient Zero. It has become a disease and the template for 90% of what we hate.

This one I'll quote:
Quote
# No, Bartle hasnít worked on WoW. Amazingly, this does not disqualify you from commenting on MMO design

Bartle hasn't just not worked on WoW.

He hasn't worked on ANY MMOGs. According to his CV he may or may not have consulted on some games, but it's under NDA. If he has consulted on some games, I'd like to just go out of my way to blame him for them all being derivative. It'll make things a whole lot easier on everyone. I'm pretty sure he didn't consult on Tabula Rasa or Vanguard though. Those were made by some of those pioneers who had figured it all out.

Look, it's cool that you like the guy and think he's relevant and may have something interesting to say. But as I said before, there's a statute of limitations on wankery. Or, if you'd prefer politeness, can someone please take the needle off the broken record.
Hutch
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Reply #62 on: May 01, 2009, 12:06:40 PM


Plant yourself like a tree
Haven't you noticed? We've been sharing our culture with you all morning.
The sun will shine on us again, brother
Draegan
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Reply #63 on: May 01, 2009, 12:06:47 PM

I bet these key note speaking engagements pay decently.  How can I get one?  I made a few MUDs in my day.
Khaldun
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Reply #64 on: May 01, 2009, 12:17:32 PM

I bet these key note speaking engagements pay decently.  How can I get one?  I made a few MUDs in my day.

Depends, but sometimes they do.

Start writing about MUD design and how it applies to contemporary MMOGs/virtual worlds. In places other than nerd boards. That could get you onto some conference panels, etc. How are your speaking skills? Think you could keep an audience interested and entertained for 30-45 minutes with a talk and then answer questions and disagreements afterwards?
Soln
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Reply #65 on: May 01, 2009, 12:26:15 PM

I've read some of the MUDdev archive and yes -- every argument about MMO design idea (permadeath, economies, themeparks, etc.) is in there.  Point is, no one current in industry I bet cares.  They will continue to reinvent the same problems over and over again.  That's job security for some (e.g. Paul Barnett).  And the players definitely don't care. 

This feels more like a generational problem -- the people starting to create and run MMO's are not from the MUD generation.  Disagree? Let's see where MJ and BigPaul are in a year+ with their MUD cred after launching WAR.

This MUD vs MMORPG (1990's) feels like the kind of culture war that happened with the plummy types of live theatre drama vs TV recorded drama (1940's).  TV won, WoW won. 

Edit: I'd also note that having inventor and academic credibility isn't sufficient in industry.  People will not follow someone's ideas just because they are the most complex, elegant, innovative or even correct.  The history of consumer software in particular has shown repeatedly that it's NOT the best software which wins commercially.  Hell, it's not even the most complex, elegant, let alone innovative software titles that become successful.  So, I don't see how MMO's will ever be any different.  Although I like theory and respect MUD's, but I'm kind of plummy like that.

And I don't really understand what Lum was trying to say.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2009, 12:31:25 PM by Soln »
Khaldun
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Reply #66 on: May 01, 2009, 12:34:17 PM

This is pretty much exactly what Richard says every single time I've been at a conference with him: we encountered all these problems and issues before with MUDs, nothing much has changed, people keep walking into the same buzzsaws, how about trying something we never tried with MUDs? He concedes that there's a few things about the size of playerbases and graphical interfaces that are minor variations, and of course, that the underlying technical management is different in scale and structure. On design issues, I think he has a point, but it gets frustrating to hear after a while because sometimes you're experiencing or seeing those issues for yourself in a new way and it doesn't matter that someone else experienced them before--you want to think your way through it independently. And because I do think in a few cases graphical commercial MMOGs have issues of their own, or innovative variations on MUD designs.

But inasmuch as you concede that some of the issues in the current design arena are well-established, it means that experience designing MUDs is highly relevant to judging design now. And it might be that if you always wanted to try something different back then, you still want someone to try it now. Can't see what's wrong with that, unless the stuff you want to try is flawed. (I think, for example, that he's way too pessimistic about user-created content as an idea, then AND now.)
Draegan
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Reply #67 on: May 01, 2009, 12:35:45 PM

I bet these key note speaking engagements pay decently.  How can I get one?  I made a few MUDs in my day.

Depends, but sometimes they do.

Start writing about MUD design and how it applies to contemporary MMOGs/virtual worlds. In places other than nerd boards. That could get you onto some conference panels, etc. How are your speaking skills? Think you could keep an audience interested and entertained for 30-45 minutes with a talk and then answer questions and disagreements afterwards?

Easily, but who gives a shit about who I am?
Matt
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Reply #68 on: May 01, 2009, 12:39:50 PM


Yea, and guess what? We're not giving keynotes at GDC.

Erm, neither is Bartle. GDC took place last month. He spoke at IMGDC, which has no relationship to the various GDC-trademarked conferences such as the main GDC in San Francisco. It's a MUCH smaller conference (by at least an order of magnitude, probably more), put on by totally different people. That may or may not matter to you, but keynoting IMGDC is not the same thing as keynoting GDC. I would agree that it's be a little odd for Dr. Bartle to be keynoting GDC at this point but given that he birthed both MMOs and indie MMOs I don't see why you're getting your pants in a tizzy about him keynoting a small conference focused on independent MMOs.

--matt




"And thus, they ate horseflesh as if it was venison, and they reckoned it most savory, for hunger served in the place of seasoning."
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Reply #69 on: May 01, 2009, 12:41:53 PM

he birthed both MMOs and indie MMOs

Christ. Not this again.
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