[MUD-Dev] Re: Character evolution

Brandon J. Rickman ashes at pc4.zennet.com
Wed Aug 20 16:15:41 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

Subject:  Re: [MUD-Dev]  Re: Character evolution

On 08/18/97, the big guy (J C Lawrence) wrote:
>In <199708190134.SAA08207 at pc4.zennet.com>, on 08/18/97 
>   at 07:54 PM, "Brandon J. Rickman" <ashes at pc4.zennet.com> said:

>>Pretend we have a game where character alignment isn't just based on
>>how many good/evil creatures we have killed, but on
>>character-character  interactions.  A good character gives change to
>>the beggar on the corner, evil characters kick the beggar.  
>Outside of the fact that I dislike the idea of the game tracking any
>form of "alignment" concept, I'd also note that giving money to a
>beggar is an ambiguous action.  Yes, it may help the beggar, but it
>can also be argued to validate the profession of beggar as a trade
>(and a trade it is) if not to actively encourage it.  Is the presence
>of beggars a Good thing?  Which holds precedencs: the health of the
>beggar as an individual, or the the "health" of your social population
>(non-)affected by beggars?
>Further note that quite possibly the most successful ever campaigns to
>eradicate leprosy was centred on the wholesale slaughter and removal
>of beggars.

This argument reduces to the question: Can any species/man every be
truly altruistic?  If helping someone results in harm to others or oneself,
and if harming someone results in good for the majority...

"Helping a beggar" is my way of critisizing the common implementation of
alignment on muds, but that isn't to say alignment shouldn't be part of
a mud or shouldn't be tracked within the game.  Don't tell me that
alignment should absolutely not be part of a mud, it depends on 
what is important to the rules of the specific mud world.  And "keeping 
track" of the kinds of actions (good/evil) a character has performed
adds dramatic value to the experience, especially when a character
behaves out of character or even _evolves_ into new types of behavior.

Consider a Scrooge who, despite having decided to change his greedy ways,
still has difficulty giving money to the Fund for Abused Wives and Children
(if you've ever been on the UCLA campus...) but is just able to stomach
giving a dollar to a beggar.  Relative to Scrooge's past behavior, this
is a good deed.

>>There are a few other things
>>implied here...and an attempt
>>to use the lying skill.
>What is the difference between,
>  > lie "..."
>  > say "..."

A "lie" command would imply that the player-character is knowingly presenting
false information.  Have to practice those skills.  There is a chance that
other characters might catch the lie which might lead to a situation.
If all the player can do is just "say" things then any action of lying is
almost impossible to detect (short of a natural language parsing AI).
By using "lie" it is clear what the _intention_ of the player-character is,
which might just maybe be a tiny little bit useful in some extremely rare
situation. :)

Ah, but here's a can of worms: what is the difference between adding new
user commands (my "lie", thousands of socials, "consider", "scan", &c) and
a meaningless excess of *KOOL* features?  Is this feeping creaturism?
Consider the general lack of character interaction in something like Diablo.
How many new buttons do we need to add so the player can do more than
kill monsters and cast spells?  This is critically important for the new
genre of graphical muds where you get to spend more time wandering around
the landscape than anything else.

Hm, I seem to be feeling critical today.

- B. Rickman
ashes at zennet.com

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