Massively Multiplayer Online Vanity

Random brief thought after reading this Joel on Software blog post, specifically this story he quotes:

“A number of years ago a programmer friend of mine worked for a company that was brought in to optimize the elevators in a San Fran hotel. After doing their due diligence/study, they had the hotel install mirrors in the hallway where the elevators were. By the time the visitors were done preening, the elevator had arrived. Human engineering at its finest.”

I just attended a game dev conference in Vancouver which included a panel on MMO design, plus I’d just been skimming Terra Nova before catching this in my feeds. So naturally I read this great story and started wondering – how much of an MMOs success really depends on simply how cool you’re able to make your character look (and by extension, how cool and varied other characters around you look)? After all, good game design is all about “human engineering” of this sort, and MMOs in particular need to pull all kinds of attractors in to get people to stick around through the Long Grind.

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One thought on “Massively Multiplayer Online Vanity

  1. Just take a look at Guild Wars’ whole lines of armors — styles, rarity, etc. — and custom dying stuff (which is priced through artificial supply vs user demand). I’m sure that’s minor compared to other MMOs. Stuff like SecondLife, with such large variety, is also hard for newbies to get into — so it’s something of a detractor. A little overwhelming.

    A nice mix of variety vs ease-of-use.

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