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Designing Virtual Worlds

Book Description

Designing Virtual Worlds is the most comprehensive treatment of virtual world design to-date from one of the true pioneers and most sought-after design consultants. It's a tour de force of VW design, stunning in intellectual scope, spanning the literary, economic, sociological, psychological, physical, technological, and ethical underpinnings of design, while providing the reader with a deep, well-grounded understanding of VW design principles. It covers everything from MUDs to MOOs to MMORPGs, from text-based to graphical VWs.

Designing Virtual Worlds brings a rich, well-developed approach to the design concepts behind virtual worlds. It is grounded in the earliest approaches to such designs, but the examples discussed in the book run the gamut from the earliest MUDs to the present-day MMORPG games mentioned above. It teaches the reader the actual, underlying design principles that many designers do not understand when they borrow or build from previous games. There is no other design book on the market in the area of online games and virtual worlds that provides the rich detail, historical context, and conceptual depth of Designing Virtual Worlds.

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
    1. Dedication
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. About the Author
  4. About the Technical Reviewers
  5. Tell Us What You Think
  6. Preface
  7. Introduction
    1. Who Should Read This Book?
    2. Overview
      1. Chapter 1: Introduction to Virtual Worlds
      2. Chapter 2: How to Make Virtual Worlds
      3. Chapter 3: Players
      4. Chapter 4: World Design
      5. Chapter 5: Life in the Virtual World
      6. Chapter 6: It's Not a Game, It's a…
      7. Chapter 7: Toward a Critical Aesthetic
      8. Chapter 8: Coda: Ethical Considerations
  8. 1. Introduction to Virtual Worlds
    1. Some Definitions
    2. What They Are and Whence They Came
      1. The First Age: 1978–1985
      2. The Second Age: 1985–1989
      3. The Third Age: 1989–1995
      4. The Fourth Age: 1995–1997
      5. The Fifth Age: 1997–Present
    3. The Past Affects the Future
      1. Missed Opportunities
      2. Theory and Practice
      3. Whither Innovation?
    4. The Basics
      1. Appearance
      2. Genre
      3. Codebase
      4. Age
      5. Player Base
      6. Dimensions: Change and Persistence
    5. Influences on Virtual Worlds
      1. Printed Works
      2. Film and Television
      3. Role-Playing Games
      4. Other Influences
    6. The Designer
  9. 2. How to Make Virtual Worlds
    1. Development
      1. The Team
      2. The Development Process
      3. Pre-Production
      4. Production
      5. Roll Out
      6. Operation
    2. On Architecture
      1. Overall Architecture
      2. Server Architecture
      3. Load Balancing
      4. Other Things Happen
      5. The Client/Server Model
      6. Synchronization
      7. Security
    3. Theory and Practice
      1. Modes
      2. Virtual Reality
      3. Extensibility
  10. 3. Players
    1. Who Are These People and What Do They Want?
    2. Player Types
      1. The Nature of “Fun”
      2. Player Types
      3. Dynamics
      4. General Observations
      5. Using Player Types
      6. The Newbie Flow
      7. The Bartle Test
    3. Other Categorizations
      1. Social Dimensions
      2. Circles
      3. Facets
      4. Levels of Immersion
    4. The Celebration of Identity
      1. To Be, or What to Be?
      2. Identity and Identification
      3. Progression
      4. Development Tracks
    5. Anonymity
      1. Life with a Backspace
      2. The Name Problem
      3. Image
    6. Role-Playing
      1. On Being Others
      2. The Role-Playing Paradox
      3. Soft Role-Playing
    7. Masquerading
      1. Player Rights
      2. A Story About a Tree
    8. Community
      1. Beginnings
      2. Levels of Community
      3. An Analogy
    9. Influence Through Design
      1. Churn, Sink, and Drift
      2. Influencing Community Development
      3. Ways to Promote Community
        1. Communication
        2. Filtered Communication
        3. Mutual Dependencies (Characters)
        4. Mutual Dependencies (Communities)
        5. Reconnection
        6. Jargon
        7. Communal Activities
        8. Stake-Holding
        9. Things to Demote
      4. Influencing Immersion
      5. Ways to Promote Immersion
        1. Control
        2. Detail
        3. Freedom of Choice
        4. Self-Expression
        5. Things to Demote
  11. 4. World Design
    1. Scope
    2. Major Decisions
      1. Ethos
      2. Unending or Circular?
      3. Hands On or Hands Off?
      4. Categories
      5. Intimate or Grand Scale?
      6. Purposeful or Decorative?
      7. Closed or Open Economic Model?
      8. Information Versus Immersion
    3. Geography
      1. Geographical Consistency
      2. Levels of Geographic Abstraction
      3. Terrain
      4. Movement
      5. Settlements
    4. Population
      1. Non-Player Characters
      2. Player Characters
      3. Economics
      4. Interference in Economies
      5. Tips for a Successful Virtual Economy
        1. Have Stuff Wear Out
        2. Charge for Services
        3. Have Multiple Currencies
        4. Give Money Weight
        5. Multiple Uses
      6. Charge for Advancement
        1. Charge for Abstraction
      7. Non-Player Players
    5. Physics
      1. Laws of Nature
      2. The Big Six
      3. Beyond Real-World Physics
      4. Objects
      5. Common Problems with Objects
        1. Solids: Assemblies
        2. Solids: Collections
        3. Solids: Containers
        4. Fluids: Divisibility
        5. Miscibility
        6. Gases
        7. Plasmas
        8. State Changes
        9. Properties
        10. Ownership
      6. Time
      7. Proactive Physics
    6. Reset Strategy
  12. 5. Life in the Virtual World
    1. Advancement
      1. Attributes
      2. Levels
      3. Skills
      4. Skill Organizations
      5. Skill Sets
      6. Caps
      7. Skill Improvement
    2. Character Generation
      1. Appearance
      2. Character Generation Methods
        1. Random
        2. Pick Points
        3. Kits
        4. Questionnaires
        5. Tabula Rasa
        6. Essay
      3. Physical Differences
      4. Long-Term Characters
    3. The Virtual Body
      1. Maintenance
      2. Survival
      3. Sensing the Virtual World
      4. Body Composition
    4. Groups
      1. Formal or Informal?
      2. Temporary or Permanent?
      3. Flat or Hierarchical?
      4. Hardwired or Softwired?
      5. Common Configurations
    5. Combat
      1. How Combat Works
      2. Enhanced Combat Systems
      3. Problems with Combat
      4. Opposition
      5. Consequences
      6. Permanent Death
      7. Approaches to Permanent Death
      8. Alternatives to Permanent Death
      9. The Unfortunate Consequences of Permanent Death
      10. The Unfortunate Consequences of Non-Permanent Death
      11. Why Permanent Death?
      12. The Hero's Journey
        1. Departure
        2. Initiation
        3. Return
        4. Departure
        5. Initiation
        6. Return
        7. Analysis
      13. Attitudes to Permanent Death
    6. Crafting
      1. Manufacture
      2. Recipes
      3. Beyond the Virtual World
    7. The Elder Game
      1. Who Plays the Elder Game?
      2. Player Interest and the Elder Game
      3. Player-Created Content
      4. Power to the Player
      5. The Content Conundrum
    8. The Whole Picture
      1. Under- and Over-Design
      2. Participatory Design
      3. Testing a Design
  13. 6. It's Not a Game, It's a…
    1. Points of View
    2. Making Sense of Virtual Worlds
      1. Geography
      2. Architecture
      3. Anthropology
      4. Sociology
      5. Psychology
      6. Gender Studies
      7. Lexicography
      8. Economics
      9. Politics
      10. Autobiography
      11. Theology
    3. Virtual Worlds as Subfields
      1. Literary Theory
      2. Role-Playing Game Theory
      3. Drama Theory
      4. Computer-Mediated Communication
      5. Post-Modernism
    4. Virtual Worlds as Tools
      1. Computer Science
      2. Artificial Intelligence
      3. Education
      4. Law
    5. Virtual Worlds as…Virtual Worlds
      1. Community Management
    6. Conclusion
  14. 7. Towards a Critical Aesthetic
    1. A Theory of Virtual Worlds
      1. Motivation
      2. Some Questions
      3. Template Theories
      4. Signs and Symbols
      5. Dimensions
      6. Whence the Symbols Come
      7. A Chemistry for Virtual Worlds
    2. The Story of Story
      1. Narrative
      2. Why Story Arcs Don't Work
      3. The Koster-Vogel Cube
      4. The Place of Narrative
    3. The Critical Aesthetic in Use
      1. The Job of the Critic
      2. Content Created by Players
      3. My Take on All This
  15. 8. Coda: Ethical Considerations
    1. Censorship
      1. Unpleasantness
      2. The Real as the Virtual (and Vice Versa)
      3. Passive Censorship
    2. Players as People
      1. Persona Issues
      2. Privacy
      3. Addiction
      4. Mental Illness
      5. Religion
    3. Groups of Players as Groups of People
      1. Icons
      2. Social Engineering
      3. Confounding Expectations
    4. Yourself