[MUD-Dev] Something in the water

J C Lawrence claw at 2wire.com
Tue Jul 24 17:15:35 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

On Tue, 24 Jul 2001 14:00:06 -0700 
Caliban Tiresias Darklock <caliban at darklock.com> wrote:

> On Tue, 24 Jul 2001 10:59:44 -0400, John Hopson
> <jhopson at nc.rr.com> wrote:

>> Currently, in most muds, the environment doesn't acknowledge
>> roleplaying at all.  It acknowledges pkilling, mindlessly hunting
>> mobs or typing "Mine ore" nine thousand times, but an hour spend
>> roleplaying is, in the eyes of the system, utterly meaningless.

> You know... that is quite possibly the most useful observation on
> RP in MUDs that I have ever seen. 

The problem is that implementation is an automatic, or at least
computable system requires that the item be subject to determinable
metrics (ie it has to be able to be measured), and there lieth the

  How can you mechanically determine when RP is occuring?

Or, if the problem is not subject to mechanical determination:

  What social systems can you implement which are variously
  resistant to gaming/overt_manipulation to measure RP?

Historically various things have been tried ranging from counting
the number and rate of poses and emotes, to having players award
each RP points.  The grinding point is that all such systems only
work reliably when the player base explicitly colludes with the system

So I'm going to ramble at great
> length about it. Oh, wait, that's my response to everything. ;)

> Traditionally, I think the "reward" for RP has been the admiration
> and respect of other players. When you log onto the average RP
> MUD, for example, there is an established base of players who are
> engaged in RP and will respond to non-RP with undesirable
> responses. Any attempt to RP, however, meets with favorable
> reactions from the other players -- even if it's ham-handed and
> ineffective. They display by their actions and reactions what
> "good" RP is in the eyes of that game, and the newer player learns
> by example. A new MUD which *isn't* founded on RP, on the other
> hand, usually lacks the sheer number of players you find on a new

> When you ask "why", an answer immediately presents itself.

> RP MUDs usually start from a clean slate.

> When someone starts a MUD running TinyMUSH -- and they *can* do
> this with pretty much any server, if they decide it's a Good Idea
> -- they have nothing. They start with a basic "core" which
> includes defining a "master room" and three near-ubiquitous
> additions: the staff nexus, a private area for staff only; the OOC
> room, where new players are dropped when created; and the main
> entry point of the game grid, usually a significant landmark
> roughly the equivalent of a Diku's "town fountain".  A staff is
> required, and must be recruited somehow. The unique "global"
> commands for the system must be defined and constructed, placed in
> the master room, and tested. The game world itself must be
> created, linked, and described. Rules, procedures, and codes of
> conduct are laid out and defined. This is accomplished as a team
> effort, with typically a dozen or more people working to various
> degrees on each project.

> Each of those people has a significant period of time -- sometimes
> as much as a year -- to talk up the new game to his friends. Some
> of those friends join the staff. Others merely indicate a desire
> to come and play when it opens. By the time the MUD actually opens
> its doors, there are twenty or more people on staff, and fifty to
> a hundred people waiting in the wings to play. For some time
> before actually opening, the MUD provides some of these players
> with "signature" characters important to the game. Others are
> provided with plain old regular characters they want to
> play. While they wait for the MUD to actually open, they spend
> their time interacting with staff, forging bonds, helping define
> the initial rules and policies, requesting and building their own
> personal areas of the game.

> In short, when the game finally opens, the initial playerbase is
> already defined and has already developed its own culture. This
> culture is tightly knit with the staff, and there's actually a
> single unified vision. The new player who arrives the very second
> this game opens faces a hundred more experienced players who
> dictate what constitutes "acceptable" behavior.

> Now, let's contrast the average MUD running Diku. Usually started
> by three or four people, they begin by spending a few *hours*
> editing some of the area files. They import some other areas,
> throw a couple areas away, maybe build a couple themselves. They
> customise the MUD to their personal druthers, and then fling open
> the gates with a blitz of free internet publicity through mailing
> lists, newsgroups, and web sites.  When the new players arrive in
> droves, there are three or four staff.  There is no culture. There
> is no distinction. The MUD looks like...  well, any other MUD. The
> first-time players of this MUD outnumber the experienced players
> ten or more to one.

> Here, the MUD is a blank slate when it opens its doors, and then
> they let in a bunch of kids with spray paint.

> For further contrast, let's look at a massive commercial MUD. This
> MUD will have a similar setup to the TinyMUSH example, until it
> opens its doors. Then it's in the same situation as the Diku,
> because the rabid players come swarming in, and the players who
> were part of the design process were largely *paid* for their
> assistance. Now that it's not their job, they trail off reasonably
> rapidly. The culture is rapidly overwhelmed, and then deserts the
> MUD before it even has a chance to assert itself.

> Arguably, UO was in the best position there because it brought an
> established world into being. Many of us, like myself, had played
> the UO series of games for close to 20 years. (When WAS the
> original Ultima released? Wasn't it like 1978 or something? I
> started with II, myself.)  There was an emotional investment and
> an expectation that already existed in the target market, so a
> community vested in those values was virtually guaranteed. How
> well that community has asserted itself is arguable, but it cannot
> be denied that such a community is certainly well-entrenched in UO
> and will not be displaced anytime soon.

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J C Lawrence                                    )\._.,--....,'``.	    
---------(*)                                   /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
claw at kanga.nu                                 `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
http://www.kanga.nu/~claw/                     Oh Freddled Gruntbuggly
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