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Friday, August 12, 2005

Laws of Virtual World Building

Ralph Koster is Chief Creative Officer for Sony Online Entertainment and knows a metric truckload about building online worlds ... which is, by the way, one half of a truckload more than Stephen Hawking knows, if my sources are correct. Anyway, he has compiled a list of laws from himself and his cohorts about the process, and you have to like a list of laws that starts with:

Ola's Law About Laws
Any general law about virtual worlds should be read as a challenge rather than as a guideline. You'll learn more from attacking it than from accepting it.

And here is one that if every MMO creator had on their wall, I would have played a lot more of them:

Is it a game?
It's a SERVICE. Not a game. It's a WORLD. Not a game. It's a COMMUNITY. Not a game. Anyone who says, "it's just a game" is missing the point.

And here's one just for Corvus:

Storytelling versus simulation
If you write a static story (or indeed include any static element) in your game, everyone in the world will know how it ends in a matter of days. Mathematically, it is not possible for a design team to create stories fast enough to supply everyone playing. This is the traditional approach to this sort of game nonetheless. You can try a sim-style game which doesn't supply stories but instead supplies freedom to make them. This is a lot harder and arguably has never been done successfully.

Great stuff. Head over to the article at Next Generation to read them all.

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