Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Persistence Leading to Dynamic Worlds

Raph Koster has two articles on the origin and meaning of persistence in MMOs, and are both a very good read. Below, my contribution to the discussion quoted for posterity:

"Still confused about this use of the word persistence; coming here with the dictionary meaning and trying to understand a seeming contradictory concept. But will give it my best shot with an example: building a house in a mmo world, that’s persistent in the sense that it should stay there with it’s content intact (like the use of persistence mentioned in the article regarding saving data like stats, items etc), determined by the rules set by the developer that nobody could break and enter. But that’s not realistic, especially in a pvp game, to not be able to ransack a house or even to have ‘bandit’ mobs programmed to loot a house that is unattended and in the wilderness. On the one hand the developer is creating a more dynamic situation, but with the other imposing some strictures on players i.e. who would be foolish enough to build a house in the middle of nowhere, away from civilisation, so you see it is wrong to say that developers programming more dynamic play lose control over the activities of players, they do it in more considered ways. Going back to persistent again, the so called legacy of a player who chooses to build a house in the wilderness in a war-torn land is a set of ruins and passing players saying noob under their breath."

In a nutshell, persistence is needed for dynamic worlds, where players have an impact on the playing environment, over what has been previously set by the developer. That's where potential confusion arises over that term, especially by people with no game development knowledge like me, and thinking to myself whenever I hear it publicised, persistence, but isnt that a bad thing if the game world is static, unchanging. It's a piece of jargon, but one to pay attention to what any particular developer means by it, especially cause it's going to have a huge impact in how it's implemented in the worlds of the future MMOs.

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