[MUD-Dev] RE:

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Fri Nov 16 11:31:28 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

Hans-Henrik Staerfeldt writes:
> On Sun, 11 Nov 2001, Travis Casey wrote:
>> On Friday 02 November 2001 11:47, gamaiun at yahoo.com wrote:
>>> On Tue, 30 Oct 2001 16:10:46 -0800 (PST)
>>> "Koster, Raph" <rkoster at soe.sony.com> wrote:

>>>> If we want to go on a crusade to fix something, how about we
>>>> fix the fact that your average cartoon does a better job at
>>>> portraying the human condition than our games do?

>>> Why is it that the average cartoon portrays the human condition
>>> better?  Are there no humans in those games, or do they not have
>>> stories and longings they want to express?

>> For that matter -- what is "the human condition"?  Is there only
>> *one* "human condition"?

>> To me, the very phrase, "the human condition", reeks of
>> projecting your own values and morals onto others.  It's like
>> "the meaning of life" -- there are lots of different people who
>> will tell you that life means a lot of different things.  By the
>> same token, I can imagine quite a number of "human conditions".

> Even if you adapt that idea then i would re-ask Raph's question in
> your wording;

>   "Why is it that the average cartoon lets you project your own
>   values and morals onto it better?"

For the same reason that books and movies are a poor analogue for
most MUDs: Lack of interactivity.  The cartoon, book, or movie
author completely controls all actions and reactions of all
characters, permitting a very specific drama to play out.  In a MUD
you don't control the reactions that your players make, so you
cannot *illustrate* a moral structure.  You can only present the
predicaments and let the players react.  They don't 'learn' anything
from it per se because it is not illustrated for them.  Cartoons,
books and movies spell out the predicaments and resolutions in clear
ways.  That is one of their purposes.

Only through the extensive use of NPCs who DO react according to the
director's wishes can we up the ante.  That, and/or making player
characters which have a certain autonomy to them - regardless of how
terrible this may seem to some players.  In Camelot, I can walk in
on the queen and dance in front of her, draw my weapon in front of
her, etc.  Guards don't do anything in reaction, and the queen
doesn't do anything in reaction.  The social code of 'respect
royalty' simply isn't present.  If player characters enforced (or
assisted in enforcing) the social norms of the society that they
lived in, then there would be a greater sense of what you've asked

For example, I click the mouse in the castle to get my character to
go in.  But my character only walks near the gates and then *looks*
into the castle, trying not to annoy the guards who keep people out.
I may have controls to say that my character is particularly bold,
saying that that single click would actually cause the character to
try to bluff its way into the castle.  But the NPC guards would have
to be interacted with in some way, etc.  Lots more control by the
game to decide what outcomes result from given predicaments.  This
is a kind of midpoint between the purely non-interactive movie, book
or cartoon, and the fully interactive MUD.  It moves the player a
bit more into the area of viewer rather than player, which is what
many players just don't want.  They like the control and they like
the sense of alternate identity that springs from it.


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