[MUD-Dev] Re: Character evolution

clawrenc at cup.hp.com clawrenc at cup.hp.com
Tue Aug 26 18:32:14 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

In <199708202315.QAA09616 at pc4.zennet.com>, on 08/20/97 
   at 04:27 PM, "Brandon J. Rickman" <ashes at pc4.zennet.com> said:

>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:

>>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 campaign 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...

This is a self-defeating argument.  Implicit in the answer is the
concept of a scale of importances and values.  If you have a set of
items which are scaled as being of various importances, an action can
be weighed against them as to how much damage or benefit it does to
those items.  If it does more benefit than damage it can be judged
"good".  If more damage than benefit, it can be judged "bad".

Of course incredible arguments can be made over the importance scale
and the weights assigned to various items.  On that point alone are
the questions of slavery, racial purity, human equality, religious
fanaticism etc built.

>"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.

I consider that it is up to the players to observe the behaviour
patterns and any changes in them, and then to react accordingly.  I
refuse the concept that it is up to the mechanics of the game to weigh
player's action against an internal scale for representation within
the game.

>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.

Agreed.  Unless another player sees this, or receives report of it, it
fails the perception test I posted on earlier.  

>>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. :)

Hurm.  This rests upon another fundament is which appears to be a
common point of disagreement between me and RP'ers.  Are you the human
merely a background mentor for the character in the MUD, or is the
character in the MUD merely a proxy for you the human (along with
whatever personae etc you the human wish to assume)?  To a certain
extent this difference can be modelled by asking the question, "Does
the character in the MUD have any cognitive and/or computational
abilities outside of its human player?".  

For me the unquestionable answer is, "Hell no!".  The character itself
is a dumb as a post if not dumber.  It is effectively a virtual blob
of nerve-twitching meat awaiting instruction and guidance from its
"spirit" the human player.  It has no innate intelligence or awareness
except for that granted to it by its human.  As such the _character_
never lies, it merely parrots its human who may or may not lie.  

Requoting from above:

>...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. :)

This I agree with, and like. but more in the context of the human
knowingly attempting a snowjob which he wishes to have his character
portray such that it might be detected thru mannerisms or body
language (eg the wry lip quirk, the hidden chuckle etc).

>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?  

Not much.  They are all toys for players to fiddle with.  To echo back
to another point of interest to me:

  Have a look at the Z shell for Unix.  More bells and whistles than
any swiss army knife.  Great for some things.  Vastly bloated for
others.  Your choice on suitability.

>Is this feeping creaturism? 

Always, merely dependant on your scale of importances.

>Hm, I seem to be feeling critical today.

No worries.  I always seem to end up playing devil's advocate, and
liking the devil's side much better to boot.

J C Lawrence                           Internet: claw at null.net
(Contractor)                           Internet: coder at ibm.net
---------------(*)               Internet: clawrenc at cup.hp.com
...Honorary Member Clan McFUD -- Teamer's Avenging Monolith...

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