Front cover image for Designing virtual worlds

Designing virtual worlds

This text provides a comprehensive treatment of virtual world design from one of its pioneers. It covers everything from MUDs to MOOs to MMORPGs, from text-based to graphical VWs
Print Book, English, ©2004
New Riders Pub., Indianapolis, Ind., ©2004
xxi, 741 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
9780131018167, 0131018167
1. Introduction to virtual worlds
2. How to make virtual worlds
3. Players
4. World design
5. Life in the virtual world
6. It's not a game, it's a ..
7. Towards a critical aesthetic
8. Coda: Ethical considerations. 1. Introduction to virtual worlds. Some definitions
What they are and whence they came. The First Age: 1978-1985; The Second Age: 1985-1989; The Third Age: 1989-1995; The Fourth Age: 1995-1997; The Fifth Age: 1997-Present
The past affects the future. Missed opportunities; Theory and practice; Whither innovation?
The basics. Appearance; Genre; Codebase; Age; Player base; Dimensions: Change and persistence
Influences on virtual worlds. Printed works; Film and television; Role-playing games; Other influence
The Designer
2. How to make virtual worlds. Development. The team; The development process; Pre-production; Production; Roll out; Operation
On architecture. Overall architecture; Server architecture; Load balancing; Other things happen; The client/server model; Synchronization; Security
Theory and practice. Modes; Virtual reality; Extensibility
3. Players. Who are these people and what do they want?
Player types. The nature of "fun"; Player types; Dynamics; General observations; Using player types; The newbie flow; The Bartle test
Other categorizations. Social dimensions; Circles; Facets; Levels of immersion
The celebration of identity. To be or what to be?; Identity and identification; Progression; Development tracks
Anonymity. Life with a backspace; The name problem; Image
Role-playing. On being others; The role-playing paradox; Soft role-playing
Masquerading. Player rights; A story about a tree
Community. Beginnings; Levels of community; An analogy
Influence through design. Churn, sink, and drift; Influencing community development; Ways to promote community; Influencing immersion; Ways to promote immersion. 4. World design. Scope
Major decisions. Ethos; Unending or circular?; Hands on or hands off; Categories; Intimate or grand scale?; Purposeful or decorative?; Closed or open economic model?; Information versus immersion
Geography. Geographical consistency; Levels of geographic abstraction; Terrain; Movement; Settlements
Population. Non-player characters; Player characters; Economics; Interface in economies; Tips for a successful virtual economy; Charge for advancement; Non-player players
Physics. Laws of nature; The big six; Beyond real world physics; Objects; Common problems with objects; Time; Proactive physics
Reset strategy
5. Life in the virtual world. Advancement. Attributes; Levels; Skills; Skill organizations; Skill sets; Caps; Skill improvement
Character generation. Appearance; Character generation methods; Physical differences; Long-term characters
The virtual body. Maintenance; Survival; Sensing the virtual world; Body composition
Groups. Formal or informal?; Temporary or permanent?; Flat or hierarchical?; Hardwired or softwired?; Common configurations
Combat. How combat works; Enhanced combat systems; Problems with combat; Opposition; Consequences; Permanent death; Approaches to permanent death; Alternatives to permanent death; The unfortunate consequences of permanent death; The unfortunate consequences of non-permanent death; Why permanent death?; The hero's journey; Attitudes to permanent death
Crafting. Manufacture; Recipes; Beyond the virtual world
The elder game. Who plays the elder game?; Player-created content; Power to the player; The content conundrum
The whole picture. Under- and over-design; Participatory design; Testing a design. 6. It's not a game, it's a ... Points of view
Making sense of virtual world. Geography; Architecture; Anthropology; Sociology; Psychology; Gender studies; Lexicography; Economics; Politics; Autobiography; Theology
Virtual worlds as subfields. Literary theory; Role-playing theory; Drama theory; Computer-mediated communication; Post-modernism
Virtual worlds as tools. Computer science; Artificial intelligence; Education; Law
Virtual worlds as ... virtual worlds. Community management; Conclusion
7. Towards a critical aesthetic. A theory of virtual worlds. Motivation; Some questions; Template theories; Signs and symbols; Dimensions; Whence the symbols come; A chemistry for virtual worlds
The story of story. Narrative; Why story arcs don't work; The Koster-Vogel cube; The place of narrative
The critical aesthetic in use. The job of the critic; Content created by players; My take on all this
8. Coda: Ethical considerations. Censorship. Unpleasantness; The real as the virtual (and vice versa); Passive censorship
Players as people. Persona issues; Privacy; Addiction; Mental illness; Religion
Groups of players as groups of people. Icons; Social engineering; Confounding expectations