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5:20pm on Thursday, 5th December, 2013:

Old Laws


Every year, I ask my CE317 students to read The Laws of Online World Design. I split them into groups, and each group produces its top 5 most important laws. Sometimes they come up with completely different sets, but often they intersect quite a bit.

Over the years, two of the laws have consistently been chosen in the top 5 of most groups:

Never trust the client.
Never put anything on the client. The client is in the hands of the enemy. Never ever ever forget this.

Rickey's Law
People don't want "A story". They want *their* story.

I wouldn't argue with either of those decisions, although it's still amazing how many modern MMOs completelty disregard them.

Looking back at the laws, though, it's clear that they're of their own time. The emphasis on role-playing, for example, is now largely irrelevant (mainly because one of the laws  — Koster's Law — is correct, and the quality of role-playing is indeed inversely proportional to the number of people playing). Many of them remain as strong today as they ever were, however, and when I asked the students this year if I should repeat the class next year, they were all for it.

I don't personally agree with all the laws, but anything that gets students to think is good. They can make up their own minds.

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Copyright © 2013 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).