[MUD-Dev] Roleplaying in Muds

J C Lawrence claw at kanga.nu
Sun Jul 23 11:05:43 New Zealand Standard Time 2000

On Sun, 23 Jul 2000 12:46:13 -0400 
Travis Casey <efindel at earthlink.net> wrote:

> Roleplaying is playing your character as if he/she were a real
> person existing in a real world.  To do this, you must decide what
> the character is like (i.e., his/her personality).  With that in
> mind, you try to make the decisions that your character would
> make, based on what he/she knows about the situation.

What part does the enjoyment of others have in this, and does this
in fact take any account of RP as an inherently social activity, or
are the social trappings views as accessory to the central function?
Additionally, does this fully accomodate the differences between say
consensual RP and non-consensual RP wherin the social milleau may
(and does) restrict the actions of a character outside of his own

> GoP play can be roleplaying, *if* the goals are the *character's*
> goals.  Roleplaying is a way of thinking about your character and
> the game, so terminology can be important.  For example, "I want
> to be the highest level fighter on the mud" and "I want to be the
> best fighter in the world" may be essentially the same goal in
> "game terms", but the first is stated in a non-roleplaying way,
> while the second is stated in a roleplaying way.

Quite some time ago Jon Lambert accused me of being a closet RP'er,
which got my goat at the time, but which I now agree was true.

At one time I had a habit of playing characters in MUDs for the sole
purpose of leading others to a particular viewpoint or deception (I
did this to advantage my other characters I was more interested in
in a purely GoP manner).  I would create a character and then use it
to manipulate other players into a belief/view I wanted, typically
setting them up so my primary character could gain some in-game
advantage.  To do this I'd play both a fake human (who was playing
the manipulative character), and the manipulative character himself,
neither of which made any apparent serious attempt at RP asides from
the occassional self-concious "thee" or "thou".

I defined and assumed a character.  The character I assumed, and
played exactly as if it were real AS DEFINED BY THE PERCEPTIONS OF
OTHER PLAYERS, was that of another human player who just happened to
be playing the same MUD I did.  The caps bit is important.  I had no 
interest or concern for the human I was masquerading as.  My entire
intent was the control of the perceptions of others.  I wasn't
playing a character, I was calculatingly doing what I thought I
needed to do to make another think that I (in the form of ht other
identity) was real.

Is that not RP?

>> Arguably your average Quake player, playing Quake is actually a
>> pretty good roleplayer given the venue (eternal combat, effective
>> identity immortality, honour thru sustained frag rate -- all very
>> Valhalla-like, just minus the feasting).  No?  Why not?

> I see two possible problems here:

> 1 - This may be confusing game system with game reality.  I don't
> play Quake and haven't looked it over, so I don't know for sure.
> Does the Quake manual say that you're locked in a Valhalla-like
> reality?  

I have no idea.  I know it has a back story, I've just never looked
at it.  My comments above were based purely on the perceived
mechanics of playing CTF Quake.  Quake players are effectively in
eternal combat, they have effective identity immortality (just hit
space and you respawn), and the status token de jour is frag rate.

Everything else either directly aligns with that or seems to devolve
to adolescant testosterone.

> Or does it say that you're an adventurer who has travelled to this
> place, and we're just skipping the dull stuff and getting you
> straight to the action?  Or does it say nothing about the setting?

I don't know.

> 2 - Given the above definitions, and the fact that roleplaying is
> more a matter of how you think about your character than what you
> do with your character, it should be obvious that most Quake
> players probably aren't roleplaying -- they haven't thought about
> questions like "What's my character like?  What would he/she do
> here?"  They're simply playing the game.

Which is why the above questions.  Is RP a question of perception by
others, a purely internal matter to the individual, or a mix of
both, and if its a mix, where's the line?

> That leads to an interesting point, though; you can't tell whether
> someone else is *really* roleplaying or not except by asking them.
> Someone who goes straight for the treasure, kills on sight, and
> never speaks to anyone *could* be roleplaying a greedy, vicious,
> taciturn character.  Someone who speaks in flowery phrases and
> participates in plenty of in-game conversations may be consciously
> trying to gain influence in the game by making friends with other
> players through their characters.

And the functional difference?

> Therefore, if you want to appeal to roleplayers, you can create a
> game that encourages people to act in ways that roleplayers think
> indicates roleplaying.  

Bingo.  Is somone acting in a fashion that appears to be RPing not

Gawds, I wish Jaime were still on the list.

J C Lawrence                                 Home: claw at kanga.nu
---------(*)                               Other: coder at kanga.nu
http://www.kanga.nu/~claw/        Keys etc: finger claw at kanga.nu
--=| A man is as sane as he is dangerous to his environment |=--

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