[MUD-Dev] RP, MMORPGs, and their Evolution

Marian Griffith gryphon at iaehv.nl
Mon May 26 08:04:13 New Zealand Standard Time 2003

On Fri 23 May, Michael Chui wrote:

> My current strategy is this: Design the background and history
> NOW, before a single player even knows my world exists. Enrich the
> culture as deeply as possible. Make it so that when that first
> player steps in, he or she will KNOW that this is another world. A
> real world. A living, breathing world in which they can walk
> through and be a different person.

The background alone, while important, is not enough. You also have
to work it into *every* aspect of the game. Objects that the player
encounters must conform to history (and incidentally to the
landscape), characters the player meets must dress, and look, and
talk conforming to the history and background, and the culture
derived from that.  Those same characters must react to the players
according to their history and culture as well, and yes, that should
mean that parts of the game might be inaccessible to certain

> With this design in hand, I plan for something different: greet
> the player with a demonstration of how to roleplay their
> character. A normal elf, this demonstration would say, talks like
> this, walks like this, and acts like this. It's their choice to
> depart from the norm, but as long as this isn't too foreign or too
> difficult, I'd wager most players would follow it.

I do not know if *most* players would follow it, but I agree that
this is an important, and frequently overlooked, part of the setting
up of roleplaying in a game.  The third part that to me seems
essential is to arrange things so that powergaming is discouraged.
If you make it so that levels are by and large irrelevant then there
is that much less reason for the players to step out of the
immersion, and more to remain inside it.  Since I tend to think that
immersion is the aspect of game playing that causes role playing
(though perhaps cause and effect is worded a bit too strongly) this
is vital in my opinion.  A question you have to ask yourself as a
game designer would be why players powergame.  Is it because they
want to?  Because the opportunity is there?  Because there is
nothing else to do?  Because the game is set up to reward only that?
Because it is the only way to explore the entire game?  Next you
have to ask yourself why they do not roleplay (i.e. stay in
character, as opposed to the more common interpretation of character
development a la D&D).  If you have a good idea of those two why's
then you probably can work towards removing one set of reasons and
strengthening the other set.

Yes - at last - You. I Choose you. Out of all the world,
out of all the seeking, I have found you, young sister of
my heart! You are mine and I am yours - and never again
will there be loneliness ...

Rolan Choosing Talia,
Arrows of the Queen, by Mercedes Lackey

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