[MUD-Dev] RP thesis...

Matt Chatterley root at mpc.dyn.ml.org
Sat May 17 08:54:45 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

On Fri, 16 May 1997, Adam Wiggins wrote:

[I've completely forgotten who wrong the stuff in >>>, but >> was me]

> > > (1) Rp is by definitio nsocial. if yo uwant to encoruage Rp first yo uhave
> > > to encourage social behavior.
> > 
> > Of course. If one has noone to RP with, one cannot RP. Ack! I'm using the
> > royal 'we' type form :P But yes, this is true. If you have people who will
> > not interact socially on any level, they will not be able to successfully
> > RP together.
> Agreed, but this is an age old RPG issue.  The more specific problem, to
> my mind, is that players just aren't immersed in an RP-way into the world.
> That is, the world looks the same regardless of whether you're playing a
> 9-foot, orange-furred Kzin with razor-sharp claws or a 3-foot, cross-eyed,
> club-footed midget with a horrible nervous twitch.

This depends, really. In some cases, shaping the world based on what the
player is, is a good thing, sometimes it's a hindrance, and awfully
awkward to put in for what it can add.

Personally I like to cover obvious points this way (Ie, a 12ft tall giant
will have extreme trouble going through a humansize door), but find that
something like, for instance, enforcing all players to speak a racial
language automatically is bad. It's a big stumbling block (although trying
to communicate is rather novel for a while, AND a good thing for some
small situations, it;s not overly desirable for most games as an entirity,
context dependant, of course).
> > > Some ways to caue this to happen:
> > > (1) Design your game with interlocking dependancies, players must need each
> > > other.
> > 
> > Well noted. Players should be able to play alone to some extent, but
> > should require other players to progress in any way, shape, or form.
> I think this fact is obvious; exactly *how* to do it, and how to do it well,
> is where things get tricky.

Obvious, yet so often overlooked? There are many games (I'm talking about
tinymush derivs that I've seen here, really, I suppose), where there are
all sorts of doobreys and trinkets the player can putter about with alone,
and it's very possible to RP as an individual who needs absolutely noone
else to survive (although obviously it's not terribly realistic..
everybody needs somebody somewhere, somehow).

And you're also right on the second point, doing it well is hard.

Do you enforce an economy so that players must buy things? How do you stop
them just pretending to have them? Should you stop them? And the other
thousand economy questions illustrate how one seemingly 'popular' system
of creating interdependancy (ie, by finance) causes trouble. Another
thread in it's own right.
> > > (2) Design so that groups are mroe efective then individuals.
> > 
> > Perhaps, but it should still be possible to be an individual, and relate
> > to other individuals and groups. :)
> Of course.  This is something I've never liked about LPs - there seems to
> be little to no point to grouping.  Something that makes dikus pretty cool
> is that grouping is a necessity.  You simply *can't* do a lot of things in
> the game without a group.  And some of the funnest times I've had mudding have
> involved groups of 30 or 35 people going to take out a particularly tough
> dragon (usually resulting in mass death of the group).

Heh. :)

To diverge from the RP thread a little, Caffeine, a game I'm working on
developing (what I'd probably call a thinking man's hack'n'slash) is going
to try and address this point. For about the first 1/3rd of the game,
players work alone, or more often in small groups (or alone with NPCs to
help them), in a sort of D&D campaign style setting (just think of the old
group of adventurers running about stuff). After that, individuals can
enter the nobility (or carry on as they were), and amass land, armies, and
so forth, which swings the focus of the game somewhat. Their relation to
other players? Players can live on their land.. join the armies.. and so
forth. It should be an interesting experiment if nothing else.
> > > (4) Do NOt design your game so any single player can., on their own,
> > > acquire everything they need to be succesful. if yo udo, they wil lstop
> > > socializing and focus on solo accomplishment.
> > 
> > Right. While it should still be possible to be an individual, and succeed
> > to some extent in individual projects, one man trying to build a bridge
> > will take longer than four men working together to build a bridge. One man
> > cannot open a bar and instantly have a profit - he'll probably need staff,
> > or at least customers. The concept of a 'group' can be abstract, since
> > they don't have to share a common goal or aim.
> Absolutely!  I can be a great thief, but without a fence to turn my goods
> into hard cash or gullible players to pick-pocket, I'm going to have a
> tough (or at the very least, boring) time of it.

Yup! This is an incredibly overlooked point, and well illustrated!

The example of incredibly talented space-traders in some say.. starwars
games, who have neither suppliers nor customers is another one, I suppose.
> > > (5) Design out "dominance games", (Im higher level and can beat you up,
> > > etc...)
> > > Tehre is a snmall, EVRY destructive component that wil lotherwise domiante
> > > your game and ruin almos tal lsocial interraction.
> Well, 'power' levels are only natural.  I'm a 300 lb sumo wrestler, so I
> can grab you and beat the living hell out of you.  I'm an awesome thief,
> so I can rob you blind and slip out the door before you notice.  I'm
> loved and respected in the community, so if you beat the hell out of me
> and rob me blind, my friends will have me re-equiped and healed up and
> be after your ass in no time.
> My complaint is only that the power levels are too extreme.  On a serious
> power-play mud the difference between a newbie and a high-level character
> is stunning.  1,000,000 newbies versus one tough high-level player would
> probably result in a few scratches on said high-level player and 1m newbie
> corpses.  This is a fundamental problem.

Yup. No matter how skilled and powerful you are, if you get mobbed, you
start having problems. To tackle the above directly, I handle it in
Caffeine's combat (or rather, plan to) so that the difficulty of fighting
(read: internal penalties applied to character) doubles for each extra
opponent, where a creature can be surrounded by upto 8 creatures of it's
own size. Ie:

A human is Size Index 10, and can be surrounded by upto 8 humans (or 4
giants, who are size index 20).

A human with 1 human opponent suffers no penalty.
A human with 4 human opponents suffers a penalty of order magnitude 4.
A human with 8 human opponents suffers a penalty of order magnitude 64,
because he is completely surrounded, and being attacked from all sides at

The penalties for a human surrounded by giants would only be 4, but since
Giants are stronger, bigger and basically nastier, they're also bigger,
slower and clumsier, allowing our human to nip around them a bit more than
with 8 of his own kind.

That said, we basically intend to use Exp levels as a tracking of your
progress, and to provide short term targets (they restrict you VERY
little, only in the skills you can amass, since level is a representation
of your overall rough experience and training).
> > > (6) Make sure that posuitive social behavior is a "winning" strategy and
> > > that negativ social behavior is a losign one.
> I'm not sure I agree with this.  A working society takes all types - good
> guys *and* bad guys.  If there are no successful scumbags, who will the
> righteous defenders of good hunt down?  It's just a matter of balance, like
> anything else.  Pick-pocketing from other players may be a great way to
> make money, but sooner or later it's gonna catch up with you.
> A secondary issue, related to this one, is to make sure the players understand
> it's all in the context of the game.  People tend to take thing personally;
> they think you're stealing from them because you're an asshole and you have
> it out for them, instead of because you're a thief and they are dumb enough
> to walk around with tons of cash on hand.  Their *character* has every
> right to be pissed off, and my hunt you down and slap you around.  That's
> still in the context of the game.

Yup. Everyone wins if they have fun. A noble, and largely desirable
situation to hop towards. You can have tremendous fun (while causing no
harm to anyone) by stealing from someone elses character, possibly being
caught, possibly getting away with it, or being hunted for some time
afterwards. People taking things personally is of course, a problem, yes.

Basically in a good RP environment, people wouldn't, but people are only
human. :)
> > While the first is mostly right.. someone has the power (be it someone in
> > the government, or somesuch). The concept of 'levels' and other such
> > mechanics should really not feature in RPGs at all, IMHO, since they cloud
> > everything over. Negative behaviour can be fun, but usually destructive.
> > It might be fun to RP a bank robber, at least, fun until the cops shoot
> > you down infront of the bank.
> Yup.  I don't see any reason for it to be any different in structure from the
> real world.  Cops wouldn't be neccessary if there were no criminals.

> > > (8) DONt expect your players to dveelop a society, most americans dont even
> > > have basic people skills.  CREATE asociety that they are integrated into in
> > > the structure of your game.
> Right.  Especially since you're trying to immerse them in a fantasy world.
> If I make a race that I am told is hated by most other races (ie, drow elf
> or something), I should expect to walk through town and be spit on or
> even attacked.  Now I feel like a member of an oppressed, underground race,
> who can find solace with my companions hidden deep within the Underdark.
> Now we're having fun!

Yup! Thats another whole area again, racial interaction <g>

	-Matt Chatterley
"Fishing is complete and utter madness."  -Spike Milligan

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