[MUD-Dev] Roleplaying in Muds

Dave Rickey daver at mythicgames.com
Mon Jul 24 10:22:24 New Zealand Standard Time 2000

-----Original Message-----
From: Travis Casey <efindel at earthlink.net>
To: J C Lawrence <mud-dev at kanga.nu>
Date: Sunday, July 23, 2000 9:06 PM
Subject: Re: [MUD-Dev] Roleplaying in Muds

>Roleplaying is not the only area in which motivation and other
>internal factors make the difference.  Consider, for example, trying
>to create a reasonably definition of "cruelty."  Is it cruel to slap a
>child's hand so that it hurts?  If someone does that because they
>enjoy seeing the child suffer, the answer is yes.  If someone else
>does it to keep the child from touching a hot stove burner, the answer
>is no.
>That's a case where motivation is easy to see, but motivation is not
>always so easy to see.  If we see a man cross the street to stay away
>from another man of a different race, is that man prejudiced?
>Possibly.  However, there are other possible explanations -- perhaps
>the first man and the second had an argument earlier today, and the
>first does not want to continue it.  Perhaps the first man owes the
>second money, or the second man has been pestering the first for a
>favor.  Without either asking the man questions and getting true
>answers, or being able to read his mind, we simply don't know.
    Okay, this whole thread has brushed up against something where I know
what I mean, but can't find a way to say it clearly.  I'll just bull through
it, and hope someone can get my meaning well enough to translate.

    The most thorough roleplaying I ever saw surrounded Multi-Player
BattleTech.  People thoroughly acted out virtually all aspects of five
competing military organizations, including rather byzantine internal
politics, as well as elite mercenary units.  They did this simply because
the best method to "win" was to take on the trappings and behaviour of a
military organization.  Groups who treated ranks and chain of command as
"real", won more often than those that didn't.  They tended to have more
fun, too, but if "fun" had come into conflict with winning, things wouldn't
have gone the way they had.

    Yet it wasn't a roleplaying game.  It was armored robot combat, based on
the original Mechwarrior engine, with a strategic meta-game grafted over the
top.  Nobody got any kind of points for roleplaying, except that ranks above
"colonel" had to be awarded by the power structure.  The power structure, in
turn, gave them to the people who had demonstrated the ability to take their
rank seriously, inspire loyalty, and win.  A completely goal-oriented reward
system that just happened to result in a roleplayed environment.  One that
was amazingly tolerant to rapid influxes of new gamers, converting them

    Our general gaming population *will* roleplay, if the role they are
offered is compatible with the rewards that we offer.  The current systems,
however, reward powergaming, not roleplaying, and as a result they tend to
be filled with d00ds, not roleplayers.  Those same d00ds *would* roleplay,
if it was an appropriate response to the game system.

--Dave Rickey

MUD-Dev mailing list
MUD-Dev at kanga.nu

More information about the MUD-Dev mailing list