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I want you guys to check out this video:
My below discussion starts at 14:50 of the video and is like 5-10 minutes.
It is a video of Raph Koster talking about MUDs and how communities tended to police themselves because they were small enough that everyone knows everyone and that would lead to less griefing. When the graphical RPGs started coming up, the developers of these games had never worked with such large communities before, and found themselves shocked with how much 'misbehaving' there was in these games. For instance:
In UO you could attack anyone. You could build houses. You could place objects on the ground. There was player collision. These are all things that have been removed, not necessarily because they are hard to implement (although they are) but because they are very difficult to police. Koster gives the example of when players dropped thousands of pieces of furniture at the entrance of a city, leaving only one small entrance to and from the city. They would then camp this entrance and kill anyone coming to and from the city. This would have not been a problem in MUDs, so it was the first time developers ever faced this issue.
How did they solve it? They increased realism to solve the problem. They added the ability to destory and set fire to furniture. This allowed players to set aflame to the furniture blocking their exit to the city and it made blocking the city gates much more difficult.
Koster then explains that this continued... Players would find ways to exploit the game and the devs would combat that. But eventually they got sick of it, and instead of increasing realism of the virtual world to fix these problems things started going the other way: They started removing features from the game. For instance, the new solution to the problem of furniture blocking city gates would be to remove the ability to drop items on the ground.
So now we are left with MMOs that are more restricted. Just because some devs decided it would be easier to not have features in a game at all.
Koster goes on to describe how MMOs have become action RPGs. He jokes that the combat was his least favorite part of Dungeons and Dragons and 'not the reason why he loves RPGs'.
What do you guys think about the decision to remove realism to solve problems in game instead of increasing it?