[MUD-Dev] New laws. (was: Player Manipulation of Environment)

Travis Casey efindel at earthlink.net
Fri Nov 30 20:49:27 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

On Friday 30 November 2001 7:12, Hans-Henrik Staerfeldt wrote:
> On Thu, 29 Nov 2001, Travis Casey wrote:
>> Thursday, November 29, 2001, 9:38:22 AM, Hans-Henrik Staerfeldt wrote:

>>> There is also no problem in incoorperating information about
>>> events that the player/audience/character would 'naturally' not
>>> have access to, like say explain that;

>>>   "Since you yesterday convinced the guard not to show up for
>>>   duty, he has now indeed not shown up and the entrance is left
>>>   unguarded"

>>> Even if the player/audience/character have no 'natural/physical'
>>> way of knowing it. That trick has been used in many singleplayer
>>> games, and would not suffer too much if incoorperated into
>>> multiplayer games.  (I know that some list members would shiver
>>> of the idea of moving away from 'simulation' this way, but its a
>>> neat narrative trick that just works too well not to use it).

>> I'm not sure that I'm understanding this point.  Can you
>> elaborate on the example?

> Simple example from Toom Raider;

> Laura Croft pulls a switch, then theres a cut-scene to a gate
> (somewhere else than Laura's current location, and _not_ visible)
> and the gate opens.

Ah, I see -- I think it was the reference to doing something the day
before that had me confused.  From that, I was thinking that you
meant something like reverse causality.  Some people actually do the
same sort of thing as you're describing in paper RPGs, having "cut
scenes" that show the players things their characters shouldn't

> Clearly, its important for the game and the story that the player
> knows that this exact gate was opened. Its neatly woven into the
> storyline _curcumventing_ the otherwise naturalistic simulation
> based environment (unless you she's psychic but i don't think
> thats the point).

Well... with the specific example, it depends a lot of the style of
game you want.  If you want to have a game that's very heavy on
puzzle-solving, for example, you might not want to let players know
what a particular switch does, but instead let them figure it out.

> Similar techniques could be used in the narrative of a MUD to tell
> of some of the effects of the player/audience/character actions,
> even though they logically would not know of them. This would
> clearly ensure the 'distance' from the story needed to see a
> larger scale arc of the narrative that otherwise would be lost to
> them by _ensuring_ the important facts are given to the
> player/audience/character.

Yep.  The idea of using cut scenes, flashbacks, flash-forwards as
devices in paper RPGs has been discussed a lot on
rec.games.frp.advocacy.  I've never been involved in a game that
used them heavily, but I have made, and seen others make, light use
of them.  As you say, they're usually used to show effects of
actions -- e.g., a flash-forward to describe someone the PCs helped
out someday becoming a great wizard, or the village recovering from
the plague thanks to the medicine that was delivered, or similar.

(I have once used a flashback to describe the results of PC actions,
but that was a case involving time travel.  :-)

One interesting technique that I've seen described, but haven't
tried or actually seen used, is using flashbacks to describe, or
even *decide*, things about the setting.  Think of the way
Highlander or Forever Knight used flashbacks to show how the heroes
have interacted with someone in the past -- these GMs did the same
thing when introducing NPCs that the PCs are supposed to already

Some GMs described doing it in a very scripted fashion -- much like
the little movies you're shown in some computer games to fill in
background.  Others, however, described actually running it as a
game-within-the-game, and then giving the NPC an attitude towards
the PCs depending on how their interaction in the flashback scene
worked out.

       |\      _,,,---,,_     Travis S. Casey  <efindel at earthlink.net>
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_   No one agrees with me.  Not even me.
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