[MUD-Dev] Expectations of in-game reality

Ian Collyer i.collyer at ntlworld.com
Thu Oct 25 12:15:08 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

Matt Mihaly wrote:
> On Mon, 22 Oct 2001, Paul Schwanz wrote:

>> On the other hand, these are prominent among my goals in a MUD.
>> And I find that every time I am presented with a situation in a
>> MUD that can only be explained or understood as a "game rule," it
>> is an unwelcome reminder that I am only playing a game.

> Sure, having different goals for entertainment in different games
> makes sense. How do you deal, psychologically, with the fact that
> fire-breathing dragons exist? I mean, they are only explainable as
> a game rule, unless you want to say "magic". Of course, respawning
> mobs can be the result of "magic" too. I've never seen a magic
> 'system' that didn't boil down to just arbitrariness.

> So why are all of us (including myself) willing to accept
> fire-breathing dragons more quickly than respawning mobs as 'real'
> within the fiction of the world? Is it because fire-breathing
> dragons have a long tradition of being an element of 'fantasy'
> worlds?

> What about other, even more improbably things, not found in normal
> 'fantasy' worlds. For instance, Achaea has 'humgiis' that serve as
> garbage cans. They're cute little creatures that can eat anything,
> of any size. It makes no sense at all that something the size of a
> small dog (even with its big mouth) would eat, say, the corpse of
> an elephant. Yet, I've seen 'em do it, with my very own eyes, and
> didn't have any problem believing it.

> Anyway, I don't have time to think about it right now, but I'd be
> interested in hearing opinions as to why something like the humgii
> is believable yet something like mob-respawning is not. There's
> some perceived (it's not really a real distinction either, as both
> are ridiculous if thought of in context of the physical world)
> distinction between the two, and I can't put my finger any closer
> than, "I know it when I see it." (which is utterly unsatisfying).

I think the difference between dragons and humgiis on the one hand,
and respawning mobs on the other can be explained like this...

Dragons and humgiis are extrapolations or juxtapositions of things
we already accept as real:

  - Physically dragons are not that different to dinosaurs or large
  lizards with bat-like wings

  - Dragons' fire-breathing is similar to the effects of a

  - Humgiis eating elephants is an extension of snakes eating large

Suspension of disbelief for these and similar creatures is not that
hard because it merely requires us to walk a bit further down
already familiar paths.

With mob-respawning however, we have no such experiences to combine
or exaggerate.  I can't think of any examples outside of quantum
physics for the spontaneous creation of matter from nothing, let
alone complex intelligent lifeforms.

We could ease the strain on our players' credulity by creating a
suitable in-game fiction, skeletal warriors rising from shallow
graves for example.  Much more believable than having them simply
pop into existence.

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