Game Design

 
Game design is an art and a craft, and like all arts and crafts, it has techniques and approaches, and that implies that it can support a criticism; said criticism exists though it is not very sophisticated. Mud design is also an art and a craft, and it also has techniques and approaches, but there is no criticism, no self-evaluation, no standards defined, no study of what has gone before. And without self-critique, it cannot improve except in fits and starts. If this genre is to evolve into more than game design, which I firmly believe it has already begun to do, then it will have to support at least the critical apparatus of game design, and preferably the critical apparatus of many disciplines that most people do not bother to link: server design, and writing, and hypertextual theory, and art (for graphics are coming and will dominate, it’s not worth fighting over), and psychology and sociology… Game designers today generally do not know even the short history of computer game design; we must as a community educate ourselves and each other if we want the community and its art and craft to grow.
–from a newsgroup posting c. 1995

This here is a collection of writings of various sorts on gaming-related issues. Some of it is of only historical interest. Some of it is Legend-specific, and some of it is UO-specific, and so on. As this section is rather large, you can use the following icons to navigate via the top bar.

Essays

Essays

These are full-blown essays, papers, and articles, largely ones that predate the blog. Of course, there are many more essays available from the blog itself. I suggest starting at the Recommended Posts page.

Presentations

Presentations

Slideshows and presentation materials from conferences. Some have video, some audio only, and so on.

Interviews and panels

Interviews and panels

Reprints of non-game-specific interviews, and transcripts of panels and roundtables.

Snippets

Snippets

Excerpts from mailing list, newsgroup, and forum posts. Most of these are quite old, and date back to the MUD days, or early Ultima Online.

Laws of Online World Design

Laws of Online World Design

This is a collection of aphorisms gathered up largely from the MUD-Dev mailing list. It is here presented in various forms.

Insubstantial Pageants

Insubstantial Pageants

A book I started and never finished outlining the basics of online world design.

Online World Timeline

The Online World Timeline

A timeline of developments in online worlds. It is widely referenced and reprinted, though it ends in the early 2000’s.

Books

Books

Books I have written or appeared in.

Links

Links

Links to resources on online world design. Many of these have rotted away, but I will be trying to restore this page to its former glory.

*

I started playing video games when Pong came out. I moved on through the Atari 2600 and on to Atari 8 bit computers. When I was a kid some friends and I actually did the “code games and sell them in Ziploc baggies” thing. We never hit it big, though, since we mostly sold to our school friends. We were also, of course, into AD&D in a big way, and all the trappings of geekdom. I designed around sixteen different board games of all types that we used to play during school. Probably the most epic was a Caribbean pirates strategy game that usually lasted around 8 hours per game.

By the time I got to late high school and my college years, however, that all went on hold while I pursued the life of a writer. It wasn’t until graduate school, when I was introduced almost simultaneously to muds and the academic study of hypertext, that my interests were re-awakened. I spent a lot of time on the mud hobby, and after finishing my MFA, I was hired by Origin as part of the original team behind UO.

In the Galaxies community, I am known as Holocron. In the Ultima Online community, I am known as Designer Dragon, but the text mud community knows me better as Ptah, one of the implementors for LegendMUD. For years now, I’ve just been using my real name.

I was a pretty active poster on the MUD-Dev mailing list, back when it was active. I also do quite a lot of speaking on the general subjects of games, online community, virtual worlds and the manu issues surrounding them, and so on.

*Why do I do this online game thing?

I’m in it for the sake of the state of the art, so to speak. I actually do not see myself doing this as a career my whole life. At some point I’ll probably backtrack and go back to some of the other things that have been central parts of my life: music, writing, etc. So for the moment, I am doing it for the sake for certain ideals regarding virtual communities and the like. In other words, I am an idealist on a virtual crusade.

Then again, doing it as a religious crusade gets lots of players saying you’re on a hobbyhorse, grinding an ideological axe, etc (the latter is a direct quote from a newsgroup post I read once). And ya know what, they’re right. :) As long as I don’t cross over into fanaticism, I’ll feel OK about it. 😉 (Of course, if I did cross over, it’s in the nature of fanaticism not to notice…!)