You know more than you think you know, just as you know less than you want to know.

Knowledge boundaries are interesting in MMOs.

In crafting it is generally the character that gains the knowledge required to perform a task. Without the character knowing the required recipe, the item in question cannot be crafted.

Where to find that recipe is player knowledge, the player can often find out within the game, or instead meta-game and look up where to go and what to do on a website.

Are these boundaries arbitrary, or can certain knowledge only be restricted to the character, whereas other knowledge must be imparted to the player in order for them to be able to function within the game? Can we move more knowledge to the character, such that players spend less time reading what to do, where to go and who to speak to on websites, and more time in finding out for themselves in the game? Would we want to?

Who learns the information, character or player, and how this is expressed in an MMO is fascinating. For example: the more reliance there is on the player’s knowledge, the less relevant the character becomes until it is merely an avatar, a vehicle for the player within the world. Whether you want the players or their characters to be the inhabitants of your world should perhaps be an important consideration in the design philosophy of an MMO, and this can be determined, in part, by whichever of the two you choose to deliver knowledge of your game world to.

3 thoughts on “You know more than you think you know, just as you know less than you want to know.

  1. Tesh

    Good insight, this.

    I might add that the channel of information for players is often *not* the devs, but rather, third party sites like wowwiki and the like. It’s hard for devs to keep a handle on that.

  2. Melmoth Post author

    I think WoWWiki and company have their place in the MMOsphere, but I do wonder whether there should be more emphasis on the player’s character having to learn things about the world, and which the player then also gets to learn, such that the first instant a player gets stuck finding something out, they don’t immediately ALT-Tab to their web browser and perform a Google search for the answer.

    And yes indeed, Tim’s articles are always very comprehensive; I’ve already got him on the ol’ RSS Feed, but thank you for the link anyway!

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