[MUD-Dev] Something in the water

J C Lawrence claw at 2wire.com
Tue Jul 24 17:30:25 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 in 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/sufficiently 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 in maintaining the validity of the gathered stats, and they
fail horribly once any noticeable percentage of the player base
games the system.

<<Damn, that'll teach me to hack elisp while writing list mail.
Urk.  Sorry for the dupe/half-edited post guys>>

I believe the problem is solvable at the social engineering level.
I'm convinced its not solvable purely via technical/mechanical
approaches.  That said, while I've vague ideas as the social
engineering required to do such (mostly around establishing
moralities and mutually creating self-referential value sets
surrounding them) I don't have much idea how to get there from here.

Ugly problem.  Big too.

> 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

IOW the critical factors are positive feedback loops and a critical
mass of RPing players who mutually collude in presenting a single RP

> 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.

Its interesting to contrast this with Castle Marrach which adopted
something of a middle route.  While I was unfortunately not able to
follow that one as closely as wished (14hr work days take their
toll) the apparency is they've managed thru admin presence and
character seeding (seemingly normal player characters played by
admins) to aggressively force grow an RPing population with an
internally defined culture and style.

Perhaps the Skotos people can comment further?

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