Tobold had a great post yesterday about what sorts of eductaion might prepare one for a career as an MMO developer. In it, he mentioned Maslow’s Heerarchy of Needs as something Psychology trained devs could partially ignore, since players aren’t concerned with things like food and shelter in thier games. Which got me thinking about why, and how people in online games don’t act like they do in real life. Maybe the lack of attention to Maslow’s basic idea is why.
As somebody looking for more simulation in games (yet aware that you still need a good game in there,) I wonder what a game based around the idea would look like. You’d have to start with permadeath or a stiff death penalty. You’d need food and drink not for buffs but to stave off debuffs. And ways to avoid exposure to the elements. Beyond that, you’s want making and building to form the crux of play. – exactly the part that makes an MMO world come alive, and the part that most developers treat as an afterthought, or even ignore entirely.
What I’m talking about sounds a great deal like Wurm Online. Wurm is one of those games that offers a lot of what we MMO commentators say we want out of a game, but then pretend doesn’t exist, usually with protestations that such games are “not fun.”
So the question is what would make a game fun despite all that simulation? How would you design a game where the mechanics are ruled by Maslow?