[MUD-Dev] Balance... RPG or Role-Playing Game?

Paul Schwanz - Enterprise Services Paul.Schwanz at east.sun.com
Tue Jul 25 16:35:01 New Zealand Standard Time 2000


Ben said:
 
>     RPGs today have come to mean something completely different than the
> exact meaning of their acronyms.  Usually you Play the Role of a Hero.  NOT
> an ordinary person.  I feel that a MUD such as DartMud lacks that aspect.
> People play games today for the combat.  If you take that away, what does
> the game ammount to... at toddlers RPG.  I feel that Role Playing is good to
> a point.  If you play a role as deeply as some people feel you should, you
> don't just get to fool around and have fun, it becomes a serious, full time
> endeavor.  Personally I prefer the kind of game that has you play the role
> of a hero.  It provides a greater relief from everyday life, and let's you
> play occasionally for entertainment, instead of playing constantly to build
> an online fake 'life'.

But what is your definition of a hero?  Traditionally, dragon-slaying resides 
firmly within my concept of heroic action.  However, to be perfectly honest, 
there is little in the way of true heroism required to slay your basic dragon in 
your basic MUD.  In the usual "cumulative character" method, it is simply a 
matter of putting in enough hours skilling to the point where your character is 
powerful enough to take on the dragon.  The consequences of failure are never 
really prohibitive, and it is almost always possible to avoid even the slightest 
possibility of failure.

In fact, it seems that a major focus of many MUDs is to make sure that *anyone* 
can slay a dragon.  They simply have to put in the time.  Some have suggested 
recently that this requirement be removed as well so that newbies can slay 
dragons.  But in so doing, are we providing more or less of an opportunity to 
play the role of a hero?  Oh to be naive enough to feel that such an 
accomplishment made me a hero!  I'm sure I would be much more capable of 
enjoying many of the MUDs out there.

In my mind, real heroes face real danger with a real awareness of the potential 
for real loss.  It is more about *very* ordinary people making extraordinary 
sacrifices than about having my ears tickled or my eyes tricked into believing 
that I am an extraordinary fellow who can kill a dragon while receiving nary a 
scratch.  Unfortunately, I find that my eyes and ears are not so easily 
deceived.

So what do I think would be heroic?  An ordinary character, who has very little 
chance to succeed in a battle against a dragon, taking up a pitchfork to defend 
the online "fake" lives of his friends, and knowing full well that he is likely 
to suffer the permanent death of his character.

To me, such an event would be compelling even if the character did not survive.  
All the more so if I knew that the hero truly loved the life he was sacrificing. 
 To me, it would be a powerful demonstration that those "fake" lives of his 
friends were things that truly mattered to him.  And to me, to have designed a 
world in which life truly mattered to its inhabitants would be the ultimate 
validation.

I want to live in a world that presents the possibility of such heroics.  But 
not everybody feels the same about these things.

--Phinehas


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