« The Price of (a virtual) Man | Main | Gamespeak »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I met the eGenesis guys at a Pittsburg-chapter IGDA meeting, and we spent some time talking about ATITD. I think the ATITD is fostering community like no other MMOG, although there are similar on-line communities (The Sims' collection of independent fansites, and the website Everything2.com come immediately to mind). I can't claim to completely understand why these games and websites foster community so naturally, but the theory at Maxis is that online community (perhaps community in general) forms around what you leave out, not what you put in.

To use The Sims as an example: Maxis has consciously left out certain types of objects with obvious appeal from The Sims and its expansions. This creates "low hanging fruit" which allows interested players, who probably aren't the best game designers in the world, to see good opportunites for expanding the game. When these fan-created objects are released to the public, the creator gets positive feedback, and perhaps eventually prestige, which drives them to try more complex ideas. Iterate a few times, and you wind up with a large community (Will Wright explained this in lots of detail in a talk at... it was either GDC 2002 or DICE 2002... I think there's a video of it at gamasutra).

Jia Ji

Wow, I just got ./ed, http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/06/26/0444228. One thing you slashdot people might want to know, we have a free downloadable linux client at http://atitd.com/eClient-linux.run. Our engine is also partially open-sourced.


A word of warning to those reading the article: it's basically a whole lot of developer spin. I've been playing the game for over four months now. The DP elections were considered by most players to be utterly pointless. The main strategy for getting votes was to vow that as DP, you'd never use the power of banishment. Since the actual position is meaningless, it became a giant popularity contest. Unsurprisingly, the person with the most name recognition won.

As for the GM "debate", it was handled by the Devs quickly, before anyone knew what the actual issue was. By the time people found out what had happened, two of the GMs quit in disgust (out of less than 20 GMs), and the popular vote is now that GMs should be allowed to resign their posts and run in the election.

The bits about campaign platforms and a so called "green party" don't hold water either. The few platforms presented were little more than non-committal expositions about why this person is interested in the good of Egypt. There is no green party or anything even remotely close. There is minor pollution in the game, and there have been small attempts to regulate it, all of which have failed horribly.

The last line of the article is the kicker though, "Rather than step in and preach morals by setting arbitrary rules, we prefer to let the players police themselves." The developers enjoy setting arbitrary rules, or rather, not setting any standardized rules and then making rash decisions when problems arise; much like how the GM demi-pharaoh problem was handled. As far as self-policing, there really isn't any; all issues worthy of outside involvement are almost invariably handled by the GMs.

I understand the company's desire to make it sound like things are interesting in the game, but this kind of distortion is taking it a bit too far. I enjoy the game quite a lot, but the way it is presented here is not an accurate representation.


I'd add that there were actually people who ran for DP who actually were attempting to make something of the position other than "oh, we ought not to ban people" - it's not even people, really, with guilds you could be banned and be back to where you were the next day - but they were alternately voted down as being "too controversial" or roadblocked by other people unwilling to negotiate.

Unfortunately, like every other "test" in Egypt, the big guilds win first and frequently. And it's not mentioned at all that the same guild that's passed almost every test first (including the first huge pyramid) is the same guild that has several GMs in it, the same guild who tried to pass the law to allow GMs into DP, and the same guild who had two candidates in DP (one of whom won).

Say what you will about online "community": this isn't any better than high school.


You seem bitter that guilds have as much power as each of their members contribute Sko. While being in a guild does grant some power, it is a collective power that comes from the individuals that make up the guild.

If you were to say that the efforts of a group should produce a result less than the efforts of each individual in that group, you belittle the contribution of every individual member of that larger group. This is like saying 1+1 should = 1.

If you aren't in a guild, you get one vote. If you are in a guild, you still get one vote. As an individual you don't have any less power than each individual that makes up a guild.

When I graduated from high school, I went on to college. From there, I got a job. Companies are generally more successful than individuals working alone because they represent the combined and co-ordinated efforts of a number of individuals.

I will admit to being a member of a powerful guild, possibly even the one you refer to indirectly. But I don't even consider it my primary guild. My primary guild has 2 members, one of which was only going to be temporary. I personally solo darn near everything I own that isn't part of a regional project.

The same is essentially true for all the rest of the members of that larger guild, even the ones whose primary guild is signifcantly larger than 2 people. I suspect even the guild elders don't consider it their primary guild. We are all free to vote as we will, build what we want or contribute as our means allow to regional projects.

Suppose for a moment one of your friends was banned unfairly. So they make a new account. Wouldn't you, as a friend, assist them? I know I would help any friend of mine who finds themselves in trouble as a result of circumstances beyond their control.

If they deserved that ban, would you still assist them? Would you have chosen that person as a friend? I know I would think twice in that situation as well. Being a member of a powerful guild is not a blank check for bad behavior.

DP is definitely meaningful. Not the equivalent of having a nuclear bomb in game, perhaps. I see it as slightly closer to having a 7 shot handgun in a world where no one else has a gun.

While the experience may have been like highschool for you, it was not that way for me. Perhaps you were stuck with an immature group, but those I interact with regularly are all reasonably mature adults. I'm not though, so there... ;P


As a slight defense of my position, I would point out that a highschool is a community. Most online communities in my experience tend to afford a higher degree of melodrama than most of the grown-up communities I'm a part of, but when you can't touch people, you've got to make things interesting some how...


Think simple. Learn different. Macinstruct.net


Think simple. Learn different. Macinstruct.net

The comments to this entry are closed.

Subscribe to the mailing list!

* indicates required