[MUD-Dev] Character Perceptions

Scion Altera scion at divineright.org
Wed Jan 21 14:56:37 New Zealand Daylight Time 2004

Monday, January 19, 2004, 2:56:20 PM, John Buehler wrote:

> The information available about an object is limited and quite
> uniform for all characters, regardless of skill or class.  (Which
> isn't very surprising, given the narrow 56K pipe that is the least
> common denominator for client internet communication.)

> There seems to be a significant opportunity to greatly magnify the
> entertainment value of MMORPGs by basing what the players see on
> the skills and abilities of the characters that they run.


> Given that these games are predominantly graphical, it seems that
> the greatest bang for the buck is going to come from fooling
> around with the graphical elements of the game.  And to me, that
> suggests playing with the way the characters perceive the world.
> Once that's done, a whole variety of subgames become viable
> according to the combination of skills and abilities that a given
> character possesses.

I am surprised, John.. another idea I agree with ;)

I liked all the examples you gave, from the swords to the night
vision to the perception of warrior-ness for fighting classes or
wealth for roguish classes. I just wanted to add that this is
certainly not limited to graphical games.

A few years ago when I was running a text MUD, I implemented a few
things along these lines. Each character in the game (NPC and PC)
left footprints in rooms they walked through. The footprint data
structures were there until they decayed after 30 minutes, but the
conditions that made them visible in room descriptions varied by
character: rangers could always see footprints while outdoors, and
had a much better chance to see them indoors. If it was snowing,
everyone could see them in the snow. If you were bleeding, you would
leave a trail of blood behind you. Clerics could see glowing red or
blue "footprints" from highly good or evil characters. The
'truesight' spell made all footprints visible to the affected

What we're talking about here is essentally the character's "second
nature". Pickpockets are always going to be looking for easy,
wealthy targets. City guards are always going to be looking for
potential troublemakers. Making those potential targets show up as
such in a graphical game isn't hard. Making them show up in a text
game isn't very difficult either. The gain in gameplay would be very

The other aspect of this seems like more of a user interface issue.
Looking for a shop selling swords is a perfect example. While it
isn't very realistic that a character should be able to walk down
the street and see at a glance who has swords to sell (or better
yet, who has swords that are both better than the character's
current weapon and within the character's price range), it would
streamline a lot of the hassle of searching through hundreds of
irrelevant items in dozens of shops to find the one you want. It
also does not destroy the challenge of finding the one shop with the
best sword: you still had to get to that street in the first
place. Going through the inventories of dozens of shops is not
fun. Upgrading your equipment is fun. Getting back out there to slay
more critters is fun.


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