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When I think back to the first time I came across some PBM ads while reading The Dragon, I remember the quick rush I felt at the possibilities. I could play a well-moderated game, with hundreds of other people, at a workable pace, allowing me to invest in strategy and diplomacy, on a scale that could never be done face to face while sitting around a table.

I had been familiar with the idea of postal gaming because I had seen a number of ads in my friend's copy of The General, and I was vaguely aware of a game called Diplomacy that was fun to play through the mail.

But Flying Buffalo -- and the PBM publishers that followed -- offered something new. They didn't just port a game over to the mail -- they designed games to take advantage of the mail. Even a game with a smaller set of players, Starweb for example, couldn't realistically and reliably be played at home, in person. It was generally hard to get a half-dozen of your friends to agree on a game and commit to playing it all the way through -- getting a dozen or more was practically impossible, outside a college setting. And here, you'd be playing MOTIVATED players. (As I've often said with regard to the ancient MMO "Ultima Online", the most dangerous monsters you'll face are other people.)

So PBM needs to embrace the web and leverage it.

I will also add that people are looking for new ways to gather and play. I read an article the other day on Fortnite, the shooter game that has every kid in the country enthralled. They continually update the game with new content and features, to keep players happy. One of these updates had a surprising result -- they added guided missiles, to make it easier to kill people, but players didn't like them much. They wanted to win, to be sure, but what they REALLY wanted was to PLAY. They wanted more ways to interact, tease, surprise, and tickle each other. So the company keeps doing THAT now, adding dances, player skins, funny ways to move around -- basically anything that looks entertaining and fun on a youtube capture.

The focus on PBM design should be to maximize points of interaction. Turn away from parallel solitaire. Enable team-building, colorful role-playing, opportunities to shift narratives, etc. And make it something that will look good or enticing when posted to social media.

Messages In This Thread
Expectations - by PNMarkW2 - 08-02-2019, 05:28 AM
RE: Expectations - by Angerak - 08-02-2019, 02:28 PM
RE: Expectations - by Nebless - 08-03-2019, 05:13 PM
RE: Expectations - by Davin - 08-05-2019, 04:15 PM
RE: Expectations - by Davin - 08-05-2019, 04:22 PM
RE: Expectations - by PNMarkW2 - 08-06-2019, 01:16 AM
RE: Expectations - by GrimFinger - 08-06-2019, 01:52 AM
RE: Expectations - by Davin - 08-06-2019, 02:43 AM
RE: Expectations - by ixnay - 08-13-2019, 07:59 PM

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