IRE Asks: How do you define player driven?

Minecraft game

One of the popular questions thrown around MMO forums lately is "where are the player driven MMOs?", to which the poster will receive few replies. Modern MMOs might have player-driven features like EVE's economy or Mortal Online's territory control, but no MMORPG exists that can define itself as a truly player driven world. Instead we usually see a Diku base thinly layered with sandbox, but rarely can players leave their impact on the universe in any sort of meaningful fashion. Of course, player driven and sandbox can be mutually exclusive as one refers to a concept and the other to mechanics. Is it possible for a theme park MMO to be "player driven", or must it adhere to the strictest definition of the phrase, ala Second Life?


4chan Second Life raids.

The beauty of user-generated content.

Finding a balance between player driven concepts and sandbox mechanics seems to be the most difficult thing facing MMO developers, as some players will run miles if given just an inch. But there's not much else to do after seeing all the rides at a theme park. So what do you consider the proper balance? How can players feel like they belong to an enormous, immersive world that they have the control to shape, without a bunch of bullies to come dump water in your sandbox? 


Comment below!


Interesting to note, within the chaos of Second Life and Active Worlds, there were several RP communities that ran their own worlds, by their own rules. There has to be a way to define smaller consensus communities or else you end up with one big generic nothing--this is why Reddit has thrived while Digg has withered. "Player-driven" doesn't mean you can do whatever you want, it means players help define what the consensus is. By this definition I think Eve Online qualifies; they even invited elected tribunals from the playerbase to come to HQ for a tete-a-tete. IRE games, too, are driven in large part by volunteers and players. It's all a matter of degree, of course.

that is a really good point

yep yep

Interesting, indeed.

hmmm.... I guess. Though there is a lack of custom content in eve...

But I guess the economy is more malleable than with WoW, it sounds like? Or I could be wrong - the economy seems 'player driven' nearly everywhere. I've never played the game.

That's a really interesting point.

It was!

That IS interesting.

yes it is

Superbly said.

I haven't found this level of customization anywhere but IRE.

(Achaea and others)


Text based games have an easier time of it than graphical, for obvious reasons.


This is true - much easier to let a player help design text things, clearly.

And why would you say that?

wait till you try aetolia!

EVE Online is also a 'sandbox', which means players have to create their own goals. There are preset activities in scaling levels of difficulty and reward, but you can go in any direction at any time. You're not bound by a class or a level because there is no such things. You still have to take the time to train for ships, but as that is passive and runs in the background it's not an enforced 'grind',

It is all a matter of degree. Just nice to be able to have our actions have some feedback, as opposed to killing the big baddy in Raid every Saturday and having the world remain the same. Kills all RP and immersion for me, at least.

Slay the dragon!

Agreed. Especially ""Player-driven" doesn't mean you can do whatever you want, it means players help define what the consensus is." Part of the issue may be that defining the consensus requires some sort of regulation.  I suppose some might not like this, but some sort of defining rules are necessary for most games to function.

You hit the nail on the head.

As usual, an interesting contribution by Azor

I wish there were more well thought out posts like this.

Granted this post isn't contributing very much.

Well said.

to me player driven means that the story itself is constantly evolving as is the world, due to player influence

Pretty much what Hhaos said

I agree.


A player-driven environment is one that was mainly a result of interaction between players or even players and admins (in our case, Divine), one in which most of the changes were effected by players, or at least from the ideas of players.


I'll have to agree with Hhaos here!


Having players be able to take active roles in creating things, playing in politics, being able to destroy, changing the economics...

The fact that players can change anything and alter how their cities interact is great.


Sums it up nicely, yes

I much prefer the idea of player-controlled decision points, rather than just complete chaotic anything-goes...

but how can you tell what can and cannot be effected?

I totally agree. 


I agree as well.




You hit the nail on the head.

The evolution of the stories, and thus the game, in IRE MUDs is mostly player driven even if not seen by the general populace on a day-to-day basis.




That works

what that guy said

I agree with Hhaos and Tukio

Does depend on the maturity of the playerbase.

Completely agree

fully agree

Agree times three


...and the amount of jurisidiction/control by gods/divine/admin.


That could be hard to determine..

my questions is, when does the developer intervene to prevent playerbase from making 'bad' choices with the game?

Too often in Achaean events. :/

I agrree

not all that is needed for it to follow through to the next. Or just a ball of confusion which we all love anyway!

I suppose a good call would be when the effect of letting players have their way would result in exploitation of 'weaker' players in terms of economy, or if there are serious ethical questions that are raised and an administrative position needs to be clarified.


But developer intervention, in itself, is a form of player-driving events wherein players force a response from the administration.

Constantly! :>

minecraft player run?

passion, passion, passion

Quite a technical article


Need passion and dedication..

I like Achaea's system -- player-designed items, player-run Houses and cities with administration guidance. Sometimes the administration can do too little or too much, of course, they're human, but people with a larger view of the game help keep it 'on track' so to speak, instead of devolving into complete ruin at the hands of a few.

certainly true, but sometimes I wish the Divine would sit back and let us make our own mistakes every now and then, though then they'd have to be willing to not know what was going to end up happening in world events until it happens.. as it is they kind of make all the choices, but that certainly has its points, like that we stay on some sort of common track, not everybody doing their own thing!

a really big story, kinda like a D&D super-adventure.. a story arch that will last for a year and will have soo many pathways, each depending on the actions of the players. It's not that each player will have this story differently, but the continuation of the story will be based according to the large decisions and actions of many people. Kinda like when there are events with two possible outcomes that the players can influence.

But too many big-arc stories end up in players having event fatigue. Or, as we like to call it in Lusternia, Event-rue.

arrange it to happen in normal event time, but on the same story.

and would be neat

The problem with big-arc stories, and I say this having played a number of IRE games, is that when you involve too many people, it doesn't feel compelling, and when you involve too few, it seems elitist or the story doesn't get around. In my opinion, the best way around this is smaller factional story arcs, but there just aren't ever enough rp admin for everyone to get a fair shake.

The best way I can say to make things possible is to have smaller factional story arcs, that somehow affect the world as a whole, or in the very least set the stage for multitudes of other things to come about so player can drive the story further. Of course this would require on some level Admin approval to get the ball rolling, but it'd be interesting and I think it would truley engage alot more players than one gaint story arc that everyone trys to participate in. At least on the smaller lever the impact can be felt more close to home and gives a sense of player driven story lines.

"The beauty of user-generated content." is a placeholder for actual article? Because as is it has nothing worth of reading. Also I'm kind of surprised by lack of advertisements, back in the time it would be "addictive IRE games" and "free" in every second sentence.

The problem with a MMO is that you can't please all fo the palyers all of the time - all of them come looking for different things in a game - some want high Fantasy, some Low.  too many want baked goods!  You just can't have events for all fo them so that leaves you with oputting the events out there and letting players interact with them to push it towards one of several predetermined endings, depending on what happens.  When there is only one ending and everyone can see it, thats where players disassociate from it.  You have no events and tehy will just kill each other or cuddle or both.

If there are at least a couple of different outcomes that will be determined by players' decisions, that compels people to partake.


I think of player driven as being able to move around and interract with people without obvious limitations. In IRE games you can do many things, but in graphical MMOs I've seen there's really just this line of quests until endgame where there's raid/battlegrounds and that's it.

Yes, this is very much it


Aye, this sounds right as thou wilt, in MMO as well as in RL!

Therefore, I am more keen to consider a player driven world more similar to the Second Life concept, that a God driven world like WoW or others.

Theoretically, God(s) or whoever should the gameplay rules only, its physycs, and letting the players mould their own way, change the world and finally be able to bend those rules.This is happening in RL, so the same should happen in any virtual realty, for it to be free, or truly player driven.

On the other hand, as to an "World Aquarium" metaphore, I would like to fly out there, not just swim.


it as the player having a say in things

Everything roleplaying I've seen lately in Imperian.

To me all IRE content is player driven to a point otherwise there would be no content to speak of. If there were no players to take part in the fantastic world that has been created there would be no world at all. If there was no Mhaldorian to vanquish the the "good" then what would the "good" guys do (other than pick weeds). The whole reason for the games is to give players a place to move towards whatever goal they set for themselves.

player driven is where the game provides the universe but the players provide the story.



Some people just want to watch the world burn. Look at Eve...purely player driven, yet some just want to find a way to crash it. Nonadmins at least, but still...

Would take more effort to think of an answer than i can be bothered with.



The divine in achaea do an awesome job, but when they do interact it usually involves a whole city and quite possibly the whole world shortly after. Wouldn't it be cool if the divine interacted with people in smaller groups or even one on one from time to time. There is really no substitute for interacting with another human.

tend to be receptive to ideas for roleplay when you drop them a message

that would be nice if more did that

Aetolia's small group RP is great without huge divine influence.

aint got time for a real one today



After all, nobody can truly become the warlord that crushes the entire world under his heel. He'd get issued away :)

People influence events, cause events, and pretty much have consequences felt all over the place. Something like that.

One of the things that kept me hooked to Achaea, was when I discovered that all the cities were managed by players. I've always found that really interesting, and still do.

I was used to other muds where there were cities, and maybe even mechanisms to choose one to be a "citizen" of in the sense of it being your home base for certain coded purposes, or belonging to this chat room rather than that, at best, but players didn't actually have any control over them at all.

Achaea is a whole different matter.

I played WoW and the lack of player impact upon the game world just made me miss IRE more. :P

They've had some attempts, like the opening of the AQ gates, but since it is a themepark gate their events are bound to be themepark as well. And there is always a safety net.


Player driven is when I have the reins in my hand instead of a denizen having the reins in his. Then I am driving.

I feel like the Iron Realms MMOs get it pretty much right. The library system is really what gives the world a player-impacted world, and that really helps with the immersion aspect, I feel.

Any time when you can put in player driven design.

Everything needs to be possible to run yourself.

When there's stuff that is centered around what players do, not when it's all already predetermined. But stuff like Ascension is pretty player-driven!

Oh how I hate crafting the same thing that 500 other people make, over and over to level up crafting on a graphical MMO.

I agree completely!

Till some greedy ass decides to undercut everyone, permanently pushing the market to where it's bearly profitable..

One great thing is Achaea's player driven economy.  Clothes, enchants, inks, forged items are all mostly player made and sold.  Part of it is the maturity of the playerbase, but really great job evolving it!

Factions are a big part in any RPG, and player-run government goes a very long way towards why Lusternia's orgs feel the way they do. It really affects how the whole game feels, even when (especially when) recommending the game to new players.

the whole raid and area control is a large part of it. keeps the playerstense because of other players.


We don't have that already?

You get too dependent on them for RP, and then when they poof, you're basically... WELL WHAT NOW? 




The game reflects the state of the (most active/known) player-base, for better or worse.

MMOs run by people who actively play the game.

When you pull your hair because you got disconnected

I loled

This is a really interesting subject, one I haven't really thought too much about. I do enjoy what people are saying though. It's nice to hear other's opinions.

... you gotta save people from their own stupid.

Save em!

A player driven world allows the player to drive thier own story in a way that they want.  Sure, free roaming chaos results in bad things, but the degree that Achaea and games like it allows the player to choose thier path is incredible.

Look at EVE Online, that is an MMO that has sandbox down to an art. Yes, they fell on their faces this summer, but they have made a remarkable recovery.

EVE ONLINE is a prime example indeed. I agree!

I'll have to check it out!


Player generated content is but the crux of what helps to develop a online world.  A game like second life gives the user more tools then any place that can exist.  8 years player there, and still chugging along.  What do I do?  Nothing :P  I explore the worlds generated by people, see the RP communities and enjoy simple bliss of being able to just do this simple thing.  Look me up Pypo Chung if you're a SL dweeb :P


However, back to the point.  Evolution is based on what specific forms revolve around what drives people to do the things they love to do.  In text based mmo's players don't revolve around the story.  As much as admins, gods, and all these types gift opportunities to get people involved with storyline.  In lusternia before we even got the two new cities.  Pypo was a giant binge-drinking taurian with no other interests.  Once the new worlds came, i could take drinking to the next level!  However...that doesn't drive me to give 2 shits about protecting the elemental planes or saving the world.


This isn't Kiddy land where everyone wielding a magical sword can save the world.  Even if there is some who wish they could do that.  The ways in which we involve our players is the key thing that keeps people comming back to do more.  For some it might just be seeing friends....look at Aetolia for the lack of ACTUAL RP content going on...90% of time idlers or obcessed Communities revolving over petty fighting and political battles.  Both of which ARE rp...but there are some groups who tend to umm...dramatize it like a personal attack on one's own being.


Some people want to involve themselves as if story focuses on all their deeds throughout the world...I'll let them have it, while i enjoy pulling carpet out from under them...I been DYING to know in Lusternia why there has never been any Souless worshipers or even secret societies in getting the souless gods back.  The most recent lore events actually gave us a small glimpse of this specific thing. 

When one player's actions can so drastically affect a large portion of the world, such as in my case, I call that player driven. When big RP moves and such are not ignored by Admins and they can evolve into massive city-wide crises, just because one player had an issue with another, that's player driven

I think that achaea used to be player driven to an incredibly extent. But, a number of things stick out to me as being points of the breakdown of that system. One of these was the elimination of ascention, and second was around the time that houses were instituted. At around the time of the latter divine interaction started to wane significantly. And the divine were characters that made the game interesting. In addition to divine interaction there was fairly easy interaction between denizens and players. I remember several events between Aztecia and Zarachnor, for example. There was even an adventurer that was so misogynist that the gods turned him into a woman. The time that Sartan told the Eleusian women to bake pies for their men and that he liked blueberry. Sure, these things are a little bit silly at times, but they made things a lot of fun. I think that we still have a great realm, don't get me wrong. But I feel like there was a lot more room for player driven roleplay back about 3 or 4 years ago then there is now.

I recently became more driven by a Divine and friends. Actually having someone telling you to complete your set goals gives you that energy to try harder.

My experience with the game has painted it as rather player-driven so far. Certainly compared to other games that are out there. 

Mine as well.

Could be why it's enjoyable?

That's the fine part of MUDS.

The player base makes it fun


Agreed. Simplest way to say it! Though, the Divine do have a set of abilities that regular players don't, giving them more options. Roleplaying with Divine has its rewards, as well.

Those people who just buy everything out and mark them up?


The work between admins and players in IRE really keeps me involved, I have to say.  Great stuff!


Most of the times at least!

I feel like I have an impact on my world in Lusternia. Not so much in driving new content - more like, able to do a lot with the current content. IThe game is very player driven because of the strong focus on implementing political systems affected by the playerbase. There are org politics, village politics, aetherspace politics, family politics, alliance politics, clan politics, order politics and more.

Also, everybody loves Iosai. There is a real sense our suggestions, ideas, complaints are considered and implemented if appropriate.

I'd say the proper balance (if one is in fact aiming for a player-driven world) should fulfill the following criteria:

1. If all the players want something to happen, or a substantial number want it to happen and the rest don't care, and it makes sense in-universe that their characters should be capable of making it happen, then they should be able to make it happen.

2. It should be impossible to cause something major to happen without those affected having at least a chance to stop it.  The more major the change, the easier it should be to stop and the harder it should be to counteract attempts to stop it.

3. It should be impossible to detrimentally affect players' characters directly in a durative manner.  Changes to the world can affect characters, but nothing direct.

4. Any major changes must be motivated by role-play.  (This is to keep the bullies under control; of course, people who roleplay bullies are a different story, but then people can use the world's player-driven nature to make it less bully-friendly, and meanwhile criterions 2 and 3 will keep things from becoming more than an obstacle to be overcome.)


Alternatively, one can go for a conflict-free player-driven world, but where's the fun in that?

Nope can't say I really get it...

What this article is reeally about.


About what you believe is playerdriven?

Not having played places like wow or the others mentioned I think aetonia and lusternia take in player comments/input on a constent bases.  We can't have complete controle otherwise things would be crazy.  We do though have a large freedom in these games and our input is taken into account and even sometimes sout. 

I do believe we build the world of MUD games despite the fact that most historical events are out of player control, but at the same time we make decisions, for example which houses and cities the Alchemists would fit into after they arrived etc etc. So fun! But yeah we wouldn't be able to control every aspect it wouldn't make sense.

I make the rules muhahahahhahaha


:) Another hi to Mortagona!

I agree with Hhaos' side, but I like Aleil's way to say it best.

ho ho


Uh huh

Administration needs to hand over power to players.  The more handed  over, the more player-driven - when players can design and contribute to events, that's when these games shine.

Or turn into absolute chaos

Not necessarily, imo. There still needs to be a bottom line that the administration can give, as Divine IG.

There should be a bottom line. I have met my share of crazies that could easily wreck a whole bunch of the game if the were given too much free reign.

Yes, shine through the total chaos, if that's what you like...

wheels on the bus

And around!

I definitely would not want more 'player driven' Achaea than it is now.  It is a good and healthy balance now.  We have all the opportunities to 'drive' our characters almost any direction we wish, with administration/Tecton 'driving' the world, so we can all co-exist and have fun in relative harmony.

so raelly, who's got the wheel?


When the real importance is the interactions with other players, versus the game system itself.

Players love knowing that what they do in a game can affect lasting change, but without mechanical constraints and admin oversight, you will inevitably see griefers driving others away. It can be a difficult balance to create and maintain a healthy roleplaying environment.

Very true. Admin need to be a guiding force, both encouraging and moderating RP arcs.

Balance is key with these things. Players can't be trusted to abide by the RP rules of the universe all the time.

Which has been proven alot of time.

I concur with the previous two comments. It's a difficult thing to accomplish. Even most MUD text based games, (which have alot more potential to be truly player driven in my eyes) seem to have very little success in this area. So it's not suprising that most MMO graphic based games, such as runescape and WoW seem to have so little to be said for thei play driven aspects of the game. the most I've personally seen for this area, is clans and such. not that great. but then I haven't played either of these in YEARS, so they may have added some. but my point still stands I think.

Permanence to anything that anyone does is cool for sure, but it's definately an issue. It's so easy in a DnD game to just have characters going along and seeing the world change as they do things. It might be possible (and quite fun) to run a parallel party who's doing other things, maybe directly against the first party and having it affect the first party. But Lusternia (and really any MMO) is like a DnD game within DnD games, within DnD's just impossible (I feel) to let every single thing every person does have an effect on the world itself. On the otherhand, interactions with players is something that the players can do themselves, and that can trickle up to make big changes.

well in a real world fantasy it makes sense

driven content.

permanence would be cool

or not

Probably not





I prefer the ability to make decisions at key points than to drive and generate all the content. I want to preserve the lore, but be able to realistically influence it.


The perfect balance imo.

is perfect though!



Well, in Achaea at least, the oversight of the gods ultimately keeps it from being truly 'player driven', as the standards for RP and thus 'how to act' are mandated.

i like the way achaea works, the players take a real stance in how the world is working, it makes things a little more interesting

When people make stuff.

Saying 'BAD WOLF'. Forcing a Blue Box to appear at some point within the game. There's player driven right there ;)


Wonder if any'd get the reference...



As it stands, Achaea is 60-40 when it comes to divine-player driven initiative. the admin tends to step in when they see that the balance is tipping too much in one faction's favor.

After a point, admin have to step in or players simply won't fully recognize something as legit and will fall back to citing mechanics and saying "lol no", unfortunately.

I'd say IRE games are as close to player-driven as you can get successfully.

The players decide how the outcome of things to happen come about.



Players are the driving force behind all decisions, but with the full backing and support of admin/Gods.


Drive on!



would enjoy more player-riven events, or at least events wher players have some degree more controll

These are mainly more fun in general.

Interesting points

Players gonna play, drivers gonna drive. Players are driven by drivers and drivers are played by players...



Sums it up.

What Lupe sai... no.

I think that player-driven means that the playerbase is essentially what keeps the game going. Great, involved, active players (sometimes organization or guild leaders) who pull in newbies and get them excited about the game are a major force behind keeping the game alive. Player-organized things such as org advancement and regular contests are part of the flavour of the game, and contribute to many players' interests in the game.

I define player driven as a scene, environment, or plot where player choice actually affects the outcome of the senario. A lot of the AAA MMOs are touting player choice as a core mechanic. But, what these really amount to in games like RIFT, SWTOR, and GW2 is that players get to chose a small range of options that don't actually change the ending. It's as if the game plots are a train and you know that the train is going to crash at the end and you can either regret that the train has crashed (good option), not care that the train has crashed because you got off of it (neutral), or like that the train has crashed because you stopped X, Y, or Z from leaving the train ("evil" option). 

sometimes I think that Achaea could be more player driven, but it still beats other (non-IRE games) by miles and miles

Has a permanent effect on the game. Where things happen and don't just snap back to "how it was before" 6 hours previously.

Player driven means that there just aint no CTRL + Z

Well, that only means that you can't instantly repair your mistakes, that should be true for any game that's "live".


often the path the gods chose to head story lines down comes about because of players decisions, even if the events are all divine driven.


often the path the gods chose to head story lines down comes about because of players decisions, even if the events are all divine driven.

Not all events are driven by the divines. They may stand behind it, but often at least in Imperian the events are formed by the players and the result is also in many cases the decisions of the players. Which is very good!

and I drive


it could mean many things!

Hmm true enough.

System and rules are server side however client side you have player decision such as choices of morality and behavior that can be imposed server side. No longer are you the silent protagonist or have a predetermined quest progression. Being able to take over the roles normally reserved for npcs helps somewhat.




True and interesting point.


players could actually start world-influencing events by themselves, that will be player-driven.


Agreed. With eveybody

I think persistent world > player driven unless they can both coincide.

Depends on if they players can make lasting impressions.  If not, then there is no way it's player driven - EVE is player driven in a pretty extreme way given that afaik that the admins don't create any real events beyond creating new areas.  All the drama is player ran.

By a player

Player-driven means the players have some input or control on how things progress - it does not mean that they control the content itself, though (although that might very well be the case). One example's tabletop roleplaying, where the players (assuming a not-very-railroady GM) can control the direction of the game, but the GM still decides the details, results, non-PVP consequences, etc.

... in a game. The fact that clothing rots, and jewellery needs repair make it so players HAVE to buy new stuff and get stuff fixed, making crafting very useful indeed. The addition of inkmilling took even MORE money out of Rurins pockets. Heh.

When the player is the one driving

we do everything 

A MUD with the concepts of minecraft would be awesomeness!

agreed with Hhaos old post



That snapshot with the caption about the beauty of user content is hilarious.

There's always going to be bullies and douchebags, always going to be idiots and people just waiting to take advantage of a moment of weakness. Even if they're not reflected character-like, they're actually, genuinely like that.


And that's the trouble with MMO's of any kind. There's always going to be someone around whose only goal is to ruin everyone else's fun. The only real way to avoid that  is to have a community entirely unwelcoming to newcomers, which creates a sadly clique-ruled world that no one new can break into.


In order to be truly player-driven without completely destroying something, I think the only way to accomplish that is to have a merit system of some kind that allows more control over the surrounding world. But chances are, as time goes by, those merits will be largely based on who can pay the most money outside the game, which means those who can't necessarily afford to throw money away on the game, who might in the end be good for the game, or at least better than some of the bullies, will never get a chance to show that off.



with a razor?

More interesting points.

I like the idea of players having more power, but it's hard to parallel the real world in a believable way in a virtual environment. Mainly because of the issue of time, which players have far more of than they would in real life. And of course, the bad players will be there to push your system to its limits.

why do you have to parallel RL with IC in the first place?

i notice on the forums that the admin outright ask the players what direction they want the game to take.  That's a start.

Yes, it's great that they take plaeyr feedback into consideration

But, but...I like sandboxes! Even if I'm currently in a torrential downpour! :(

I hate sandboxes, do you have any idea what the neighborhood cats do in them?

Player generated uncontrolled content is junk. Most players couldn't design quality content if their lives depended on it.



by a player


This isn't something I've thought a whole lot about, but I always thought IRE did an okay job, and is willing to accomodate under certain situations. I believe in Imperian, the city of Ithaqua, if it is to be called a city, was originally not an official part of the games mechanics. Players roleplayed it's existance, and then it got added into the game. At least this is what I heard! A great example of player-driven though.