[MUD-Dev] Critiquing Muds

Caliban Tiresias Darklock caliban at darklock.com
Thu Jul 8 15:14:49 New Zealand Standard Time 1999

On 05:39 PM 7/8/99 -0400, I personally witnessed Travis Casey jumping up to
>On Thursday, July 08, 1999, Marian Griffith wrote:
>> On Wed 30 Jun, Travis Casey wrote:
>>>    Put simply, the idea is that characters
>>>    should only be able to act on knowledge that the character
>>>    possesses, and not on knowledge that the player possesses but the
>>>    character shouldn't.
>> It is in fact one of the reasons why it is considered such
>> a rude act to kill somebody's character against their will in those
>> situations.
>Hmm?  I don't see the connection

I don't either. Thank God I'm not alone. ;)

I think consent and firewalling (or, as I call it, "IC/OOC Separation" --
but firewalling is so much more concise) are two different issues. I am
also of the opinion that firewalling is virtually impossible without
scripting, so I tend to like the mainly WoD-centered concept of the "OOC
Masquerade" which is basically that you don't GIVE people OOC information
about your character or any other. Ever. 

Consent, I think, stems more directly from what death *means* to a
character. On GOP MUDs, characters are basically interchangeable. Even with
permadeath, there is only the matter of ramping up to a decent skill level,
which many players have scripted and most can manage in a couple days. The
setback is trivial in most cases -- not as trivial as Quake (oops, died,
run over here and grab armor, run over there and grab perforator, go kick
some ass), but a LOT more trivial than an RP MUD. On an RP MUD, you gather
a reputation over the course of months and years. The death of your
character entails a loss of thousands of hours worth of gameplay, hours
that have accomplished absolutely NOTHING applicable to your new character. 

Virtually nobody knows me on most GOP MUDs, but on the RP MUDs I tend to be
among the most respected members of the playerbase... often an "original"
playerbase member with several years of time spent on the same character.
I'm rapidly approaching my fourth anniversary with the same character on
Cajun Nights MUSH, for example -- which you just plain couldn't do on your
average GOP MUD. Some people like anonymity. I sort of like it, sometimes.
(It's nice to log onto MUDs from AOL on occasion, since the bandwidth isn't
a big issue and it tends to make people think you're some kind of idiot so
they generally leave you alone.) But in general? Pretty much the main focus
of my life is recognition. I don't care whether you like me, just so long
as you know who I am. ;)

>Indeed, it seems to me that requiring consent works against the concept
>of firewalling, because it requires you to deal with other characters
>on two levels -- the character-to-character level and the
>player-to-player level.  If you're required to deal with others on
>both those levels, instead of just on the character-to-character
>level, it becomes harder to ignore player-player considerations in
>choosing your actions.

Agreed, to an extent, but it also tends to encourage non-violent solutions
to problems. While your initial instinct is to beat someone to a bloody
pulp, you can't take it to that level -- you have to take it to something
less than that. You have to rationalise some reason why you would NOT beat
them to a bloody pulp. Not always easy. ;)

>>>  - Re: the "Acting" form of gaming.  I don't really see where this is
>>>    a separate form -- to me, it's just immersive RP.
>> There is a real and important distinction between the two.
>> Roleplaying, as the term already says, means that a character has a
>> -role- to play. There is a purpose to the character that is defined
>> in terms of the game world.
>> Acting on the other hand requires no particular role.  A player may
>> adapt one for her character,  but it is not part of the game. Pern-
>> mushes usually are strongly acting oriented where white wolf mushes
>> tend to be more roleplaying oriented.
>This is the first time I've seen the term "roleplaying" treated this

I'll step in here and state my OPINION (big letters so I don't get jumped
on) that Marian is wholly wrong. What she is describing here is not
roleplaying v. acting, but role *creation* versus role *assumption*. Both
are roleplaying, and both are acting. Role creation is like improv theatre
or traditional generate-your-own-character gaming; while you have
boundaries, these boundaries are very loose. You must "fit", but you can
fit in any way you like. Role assumption is like traditional scripted
theatre or tournament-style pregenerated character gaming. You are handed a
role, and whether you like that role or not, you must play it. 

The major difference is in how much individuality and control you can exert
in your portrayal of the character -- the former gives the actors/players
more control, whereas the latter gives the director/GM more control. Not
surprisingly, GMs tend to prefer the latter while players often prefer the
former. It's a matter of whose story you're telling: ours, or his. Are the
players pawns in the GM's grand scheme, or is the GM merely a facilitator
to serve the desires and needs of the players?

I tend to like role creation, myself, both as a GM and as a player. I think
the game should be as much a matter of discovery for the GM as it is for
the players, and that a good GM can always adapt to the needs and wants of
his playerbase. My viewpoint shifts a great deal when you get into MUDs,
however, as a GM can normally only handle some number of players at or
around a dozen. I tend to get confused and rapidly spiral into
ineffectiveness at about eight players; I find five to be about the optimum
point, give or take a player. 

| Caliban Tiresias Darklock            caliban at darklock.com 
| Darklock Communications          http://www.darklock.com/ 
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