[MUD-Dev] Alright... IF your gonan do DESIESE...

Marian Griffith gryphon at iaehv.nl
Sat May 31 13:02:49 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

On Wed 28 May, Adam Wiggins wrote:
> [Marian:]

> > If the game isn't centered around players and person (and social inter-
> > action) then it is a game, but there is little to no role being played.

> Well, I doubt there are any games in existance which don't center around
> the player.  The social interaction thing is the key.  Of course, I don't
> think that this is *necessary* to role-play, at all.  I could potentially
> log onto a mud, walk out into the wilderness, and role-play a solitary
> ranger perfectly well without ever talking to another player.  It's just
> that it's not really much fun to do so - the computer won't recognize
> that you go out of your way to protect the animals of the forest, in
> most cases, and eventually you'll probably take to doing whatever is most
> convenient, regardless of your role.

Which is the weakness of current game design. And the reason why roleplaying
can said to imply social interaction. If you play a role for yourself that's
fine but, like you said, not terribly interesting. Unless you can have other
players notice what you're doing it isn't making the slightest difference to
any game I can think of, current or otherwise.  Personally I'm not convinced
this is a bad situation.  What appeals to me in muds  is the fact that there
ARE other players around to talk to, or act with. This may be me though, I'm
very socially oriented and known to talk too much.

> > This doesn't mean that a roleplaying game can't be combative, or that a
> > combative mud can't be person oriented. I've played both and they can
> > work out (until something shifts the balance, usually towards the hack
> > and slash variation).

> I've played many a pen and paper RPG session, and most of them were bloody
> as hell (probably related to the fact that it was usually a bunch of
> 15 year old males).  But it's really impossible to play these games
> without role-playing, since there's just nothing else to do *but* role-play.

Never done the pen and paper games, looks like I should give it a try if
I get the chance.

> That doesn't mean that you have to role-play a gentle healer or a
> shining paladin; it's just as 'valid' to role-play a twitchy, drug-addict
> hitman with a cybernetic right arm and an itchy trigger finger.  Usually
> you rather revel in the complete stupidity of such a character, and
> happily go walking into situations that you know are probably sure to
> be fatal.  This is role-playing just the same as anything else.

Definitely. Roleplaying is all about characters and character development
in much the same way as good novels (or movies!).  It's just that in muds
there is  so much focus on combat  that in order to be able to RP to some
extent you have to take the completely opposite position  to be 'allowed'
to RP without getting ridiculed.  Of course there's also  always a couple
of jerks  who claim they have the right to make life miserable  to others
on the grounds that they RP an evil character.

> > > In the game I'm planning, there's not much in the
> > > world to be experimented with, and what there *is* doesn't tend to be
> > > deadly.

> > Which is a pretty certain way to make the powergamers stay well clear
> > of your game. What point in having the sword of ultimate destruction
> > if there's nothing to chop up with it?

> Hmmm...I think there's a little bit of confusion here.  There's a
> difference between 'mud with a world that is interactive beyond just
> social interaction with other players' and 'mud where the only thing to
> do is kill'.  I like the idea of somewhat less deadly worlds...ie, I
> can explore a cave and not expect to find instant death in most cases.
> On the other hand, I do want to find *something* of interest.

My argument would be that there is. There are other players who are in
my opinion infinitely more interesting  than the monsters the game has
generated for you. I do understand the distinction though but I belief
my point is still valid.  If you give a player weaponry  you also have
to provide monsters to fight it with.  If there is no challenge in the
monsters then that weapon is mostly pointless. Powermudders will defi-
nitely not like such a game  where they have to define their own goals
in absence of the easy, kill anything that looks like it is killeable.
All this  does not mean that there can not be combat in  a RP oriented
game but by making most monsters relatively  harmless you -will- drive
off the hardcore powermudders.
It is similar to what I believe to be the worst curse the admin can put
on players. Give them virtual immunity to combat, and the means to kill
just about anything in the game with a single blow and you have totally
ruined the game for a combat oriented player.

> This is, indeed, my fundamental problem with role-players and the Tiny
> side of the mud world.  The worlds are just too simple.  Going back
> to my original example, it's rare that you role-play a solitary ranger.
> There's just nothing to *do* in the forest; the name of the game is
> social interaction.  That's fine, but I want more.

Well yes. Game worlds are much too dead as it stands, and that is some-
thing that must be addressed by a new generation of games. As it is the
world revolves around the players, and this shows. Any game, be it com-
bat mud or pure roleplaying, will benefit if the gameworld will tick on
its own,  and has players as just more characters that are part of that

> I guess I don't see how a detailed world can possibly detract from
> role-playing.

It can,  but it depends on how the players are integrated within that
world.  If they're truly a (small) part of it social interaction will
not suffer much. But if they're an add on then you have a potentially
unstable game that can easily slide into becoming either static or be
too combat oriented.

> The difference is, I suppose, that the game is oriented around your
> character, rather than the overall storyline.  A role-playing game with
> few internal 'rules' means that players spend most of their time thinking
> about how their character can help advace the storyline of the game; how
> they would react in a certain situation, and so on.

This is a valid idea for roleplaying.  Especially if you feel that it
is much the same as acting. It is not accident that the terms In- and
Out of Character have been used on RP oriented games.

> With the game I'm proposing (and writing), you're thinking more about
> your character specifically; the overall storyline forms itself when
> your character does what comes naturally.

This is potentially much more interesting. But very hard to do. You will
need a good set of rules and laws implicit in the game to make this work
and I'm not talking about the policy rules.  If you don't have a certain
story everybody adheres to you must make certain (or at least encourage)
players won't do things that disrupt the roleplaying. And that their ac-
tions will have inescapable consequences. Which must be true for players
and monsters in the game.

[example snipped]

> All of this is role-playing, but it's more natural, to my mind.  You just
> do what your character would do - both because it is what is 'best' for
> your character, and because that's what the character *would* do by just
> following their natural inclinations. 

I like this very much, and I hope you pull it off.

> This is, I think, role-playing without having to be a good actor or actress,
> although it certainly doesn't hurt :)

*grin* thank you, bows to her audience.
Seriously though. You're right about not necessarily being a good actress.
What you need is a good grasp of theatrics and writing skill. The first is
to help you develop plots and characters  without any preconception on the
part of your audience.  I am comparing to theatrics rather than to writing
because in RP  you also have little time and words available  to introduce
your characters.
The need for writing skills is obvious, you need to convey emotions to the
others in very few words. In online games even more than you have the time
for in life games (or so I think).
An actress learns to express emotion with her entire body first of all and
has only her voice to do the rest.  The words are usually pretty much pre-
scribed by the author of the play and by the director.  Things, of course,
are different for movie-actresses  but for theater you are wearing make-up
that is terribly overdone from nearby (or the audience at the last row can
not make out your expressions at all) and you're too far away from them to
use your facial expressions for anything but the most basic anyway.

Yes - at last - You. I Choose you. Out of all the world,
out of all the seeking, I have found you, young sister of
my heart! You are mine and I am yours - and never again
will there be loneliness ...

Rolan Choosing Talia,
Arrows of the Queen, by Mercedes Lackey

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