[MUD-Dev] Re: Administrative notes

Adam Wiggins nightfall at inficad.com
Sun May 18 19:01:45 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

> [Chris L:]
> :  Does the character in a MUD represent an "being" who has a life
> :independant of its human player's, and whom the human player guides,
> :interacts with, and suggests directions to periodically?
> :
> :  Or does the character in the MUD literally and directly represent the
> :human player, much in the way of a proxy or avatar, with changes in the
> :MUD character literally representing changes in the human player (they are
> :indistinguishable)?
[Chris G:]
> I'm probably in much the same situation as Chris L on this. Something
> similar had occurred to me while reading the RP messages going around.
> When I play a MUD or adventure game, etc., it is *me* playing the game,
> not me roleplaying someone else playing the game. The fact that the

You're getting confused here.  There is a fundamental difference between
role-playing and the kind of direct control found in arcade games.  When
I control Ryu, I might as well *be* him.  He does nothing "automatically" -
if I tell him to do something stupid, he will do so without complaint, and
if I do nothing (don't touch the controls) he will just stand there and
stare dumbly as Ken kicks the living crap out of him.  A role-playing game
is different.  Your character *is* your character.  She has a set personality,
history, attitude, reactions to various stimuli, etc.  You are sort of
the frontal lobes for this character - you tell her what to do and when, but
you can't dictate how she sees the world and may even loose control altogether
in some (hopefully very limited situations).  Thus, you can tell her to
hold her hand in the flames, and she may well try - but eventually, depending
on her strength of will (or maybe just the thickness of her skin), she'll
jerk her hand out.  If someone attacks her, she'll do what comes naturally;
likely your brains will provide her with better choices, however, than her
instinct.  Of course, this is all perfectly fine, sine YOU are the one
that defined her personality and other traits.  If you don't want to
play a character that's going to be easily provoked, don't make a berserker!
As a cavet I should mention the question that arises from this definition
of RP - "Do 'traditional' computer RPGs such as nethack, Moria, or even
the modern-day pop hit Diablo count as RPGs?"  The answer is, by my
definition - not really.  They are usually tactical combat combined with
personal management, set in a fantasy world.  This is mostly related
to computers being a very poor substitute for human interaction, which
is the basis for true RP.  (I don't consider this a 'flaw' in those
games, they're just a different kind of game.)

> character in the game is good at combat, or can cast magic spells,
> somehow doesn't bother me as contradictory. So, I would have to work
> quite hard in an RP MUD, just in order to stay in character. Having
> never actually tried it, I don't know whether I would find it fun or
> not. I think it would have to be a fairly forgiving environment.

Well, I have to agree with your setiment if not your reasoning.  I
don't play a lot of pure RP (that is, Tiny-based) muds mostly because I
just find it to be too much work.  Usually when I mud I want to relax
and enjoy myself, and I find that making my character behave a certain
way is sometimes trying.  (On the other hand, it's frequently a lot of fun,
as my many hours of pen and paper RPGing will attest to.)  This is why
we are making our mud a sort of "passive role-playing" - I crave RP, but
not the acting talent required to make it happen.  We've built things
so that the role-playing part comes naturally.  I think I've already mentioned
one of my favorite and more humours examples - if you're stupid enough and
strong enough, sometimes ripping a door off of its hinges is easier than
trying to figure out how to work the knob.  This is 'natural' RP - you
don't say, "Gee, my character is really stupid, but strong...I had better
play into this role" (although such an attitude certainly doesn't hurt).
You simply did what was easiest and natural for your character.

> With playing me in the game, I don't think I would be too bothered by
> the game imposing a few character constraints on me, as long as I can
> attempt to control them. So, in the earlier example of the berserker
> tending to go off and berserk, I don't think I would mind that, as long
> as I got advance warning of the impulses, and could try to counter them.
> It's much the same as your character being near death from combat - you
> get advance warning and can attempt to avoid it, but sometimes cannot.

Sure, you should get plenty of warnings about everything.  One of the
points of the game is learning how to properly interpret those messages.
This is part of adapting to the role - just like an actor learning
how his character thinks and behaves, so you have to learn how YOUR
character thinks and behaves.  Hopefully you should have a pretty good
idea from character creation; the more you play him, the more you get
to know his quirks and responses.

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