[MUD-Dev] Historic lessons on fluid identity

Matt Mihaly the_logos at achaea.com
Mon Oct 1 05:43:44 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

On Sat, 29 Sep 2001, Marian Griffith wrote:

> The fact is that a fixed and traceable identity is a very recent
> invention.

No it's not. A fixed and traceable identity has always
existed. People can recognize each other. That is a fixed and
traceable identity.

> More so, they live in a situation that is not dissimilar to muds
> where one can simply move to another town and effectively become
> anony- mous and untraceable. Less than two centuries ago the
> entire po- pulation lived under such circumstances.

Of course, there are large practical and psychological barriers to
totally cutting yourself off from your previous life. They far far
exceed any such barriers in the current virtual worlds.

> Lock your door.
> Societies built walls, both physical and social, around themsel-
> ves, to keep strangers (and potential dangers) out.  To enter a
> city you had to check in with the gate guard (or sheriff ;), and
> leave your weapons behind. Unless of course somebody in the city
> would vouch for you, or you were a citizen.  This 'primitive'
> technique is emminently applicable to muds, and can even allow
> player societies to ensure their own protection.

If you want to ensure near-absolute safety of your players, just
don't allow them to ever damage each other in any way. Get rid of
things like monsters attacking random people, etc.

The difference is that in the physical world, the idea IS to totally
protect people if possible. That isn't really the idea in a MUD
where part of the fun might be attacking other players and the
danger inherent in the possibility of such action. The goals aren't
the same at all.

> To enter a city one must already pass through a checkpoint, and
> the community can "rent" a guard from the game, or the staff, to
> keep unwanted visitors out, or at least force them to be unarmed
> Further guard squads can sweep the community to look for players
> who circumvented the entrance restrictions and either lock them up
> or expell them.  Visitors who misbehave can easily be removed from
> the society by marking them as unwelcome with the guards. A
> citizen who misbehaves can be exiled in much the same way.  When a
> player changes identity to hide his crimes this makes no dif-
> ference as the new person is 'unknown', and thus automatically
> repelled from the society.  To gain entrance one must first earn
> the trust of the other players. While it will not prevent a tru-
> ly determined player, it does restrict his ability to do harm,
> simply by forcing him out, and it also makes it difficult enough
> to do that very few are willing to go to such extremes.  (and if
> they do they are really going to be cases for law enforcement, the
> real one that is).  Further, it gives the victim a very real sense
> of control over his or her fate, which is extremely im- portant to
> prevent the assault from being traumatic.

Achaea does this, but of course all it does is provide a safe haven
(well, what we really do is make it so that if you set foot in an
enemy city, you're quite likely to die from NPC attacks, and if you
have to deal with player attacks on top of it, you're screwed,
unless you gather together a number of people to attack at once,
thus spreading out the NPC attacks).

The problem with it is that all it does is protect someone while he
or she is in the city, and he or she has to leave the city in order
to do a lot of things. Now, we could protect them everywhere, but
total protection isn't the goal, and in Achaea at least, is
definitely not desirable.


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