…was really good. It was one of those talks that doesn’t necessarily bring something majorly new to the table, but instead crystallizes a bunch of things you sort of knew but didn’t have organized in your head.
Broadly speaking, he was talking about lessons we can learn from casino design and practice and apply to MMO design and practice.Some of those things were straightforward (harshness in dealing with cheaters; listen to mavericks because even if they are wrong, they will shake you out of established thinking) but the core of the talk was about a wonderful new phrase: Cozy Worlds.
In a nutshell, he advocated that our worlds be designed for proper population density and segmentation. We often overbuild terrain, or emphasize seamlessness, or encourage instancing, to the degree that we lose the ability to easily group players by locale for purposes of chat, and fail to provide the feeling of “playing alongside each other” that is so critical to a sense of massive multiplayerness.
I’m not really doing the presentation justice with that sort of summary; suffice it to say that it made me look at mapbuilding in a somewhat different way than previously. I have already been very much thinking in terms of neighborhoods even though I am a firm believer that seamlessness is the default technology we need to employ from now on; it was startling to hear his analysis of WoW zones as being the equivalent to a small town square, which i exactly the analogy I used for SWG player towns…
Looking forward to the PARC talk on socialization tomorrow.