maddog at best.com maddog at best.com
Wed Apr 8 22:50:08 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

[Going to be long...]

J C Lawrence wrote:
> Largely I'm going to play devils advocate here. 
> On Sat, 4 Apr 1998 13:21:19 PST8PDT 
> maddog <maddog at best.com> wrote:
> > Lately I've been thinking again about the virtuality of virtual
> > characters.  A few years ago I posted to rgm.something about having
	...and so on
> Its been a long discussed theme, all the way back from the time of
> Ranum's portals back in the '80's (see the MUD FAQ's).

Yes, I had a chance to explore a couple of them in the bad old days.
> The first problem is that any such system is based on a core set of
> mechanical assumptions -- and of course they do not translate to
> systems which don't use those assumptions, or which base on (entirely)
> different sets of principles.
> Next up, given a set of systems which allow conversions between them,
> say, A, B, C, and D, it is going to be difficult (if not impossible)
> to do such convserions without data loss (A->B->C->D->X where X is
> _not_ A, and worse when X translates to B etc he is different yet
> again in a new series of oddities) without requiring the base models
> (if not the systems themselves) of each of the systems to be
> identical.

In my previous post I talked about the universal system (X) and two
systems A,B with the ability to do A->X->B.  According to WotC,
they didn't recommend this method for their Envoy.  They felt
it was better to do A->B and eliminate X.  I think this also
has problems. If someone invents a low volume system C, no one 
is likely to convert to their system, so they have to write converters 
for A->C and so on. In a multiverse you have the problem of having
to account for every possible system now and in the future.  

> All of this can of course be worked around -- but it will be at the
> cost of a large degree of homogeneity in all the supporting systems.
> Is that cost worth it?  Is it worth it this early in the field's
> development?  I would argue that the field and the technology (tightly
> coupled) are not rich enough to support such standardisation moves
> yet.

Maybe this is the time.  I think that most hypertext people feel that
HTML is a really weak form of hypertext. Yet the simpler HTML has 
changed the way we all deal with computer systems.  MUDs are very
good as islands of entertainment, but they not good at creating
a vast, seamless universe.  The Web browsers with their kludgey URLs
are many times smoother than a mud client.
> There are obvious problems with attempting to translate physical
> objects between systems:
>   Bubba has a gold coin.  It is not worth much in world/game A.  He
> portals to world/game B.  Gold is incredibly rare and valuable there.
> Bubba is instantly as rich as Croecus.  Bubba does the standard
> arbitrage trick and repeats the trip, this time with a wagon full of
> gold...
>   Okay, you could diminish the gold repsective to its value in the
> relative worlds.  But his is a mock solution as the value may be
> multiplexed or otherwise complex (the valued items are the steel nails
> holding the ship together (ignore the possibility of wooden pegs)).

Agreed.  I don't have an answer for this.  

>   Bubba has the same gold coin, and this time travels to world/game C
> which takes place undersea with fish-like bodies.  Gold there is a
> powerful toxin.  The gold is rapidly eroded by the acidic water and
> everybody dies...
This is not good. But didn't the early explorers on our own planet 
end up spreading a toxin to other cultures?  Gold or microbe--
same problem.

> Thus your virtual characters -- BUT the same problem exists if the
> translations are done for mechanical factors:
>   Bubba originates from a high gravity world, wanders off to a
> low-grav world and suddenly finds that he can whup Tiamat using only
> his left nostril.  
Looks like bad news for Tiamat, but it certainly is possible.

> Okay, so you scale strength and the rest of it per the standards of
> the old and new world:
>   Bubba is a rougueish over-muscled barbarian old fart.  He's not the
> fastest or strongest on the block, but his supplemental stats largely
> ensure that he always comes out of the cauldron alive.  (Translation:
> extremely high experience based stats).  Bubba moves to a new world.
> His various stats are scaled appropriately so that he is still an
> over-muscled old-fart.  However the new world is entirely based on
> puzzle solving, not brute force so his old experience stats count for 
> naught.  Or do they?  Should they be scaled appropriately, or should
> he be the babe-in-the-woods?

I asked maddog about this.  He said, "I see the monster.
I wack the monster with my sword.".  So essentially he wasn't
much help with this question. 

> Whichever side you pick of the last one you're going to be wrong some
> of the time.  


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