[MUD-Dev] Action Figures

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Fri May 6 02:34:10 New Zealand Standard Time 2005

Here's a suggestion for those who would like to present an
experience to players in a rather more lighthearted fashion than the
current experience of being a heroic individual who can get
violently killed while pursuing power and wealth:

  Give the players action figures in a virtual setting.

They don't die.  They have arms knocked out of their sockets, which
get pushed back in again.  When a head gets knocked off, the body
has to go get it and put it back on.  When struck by a massive
force, they go flying through the air to smash into a wall, land in
a crumpled heap, only to jump up and get back into the action.

Want stronger arms for your action figure?  Pop out the old and push
in the new.

The goals of such a system are:

  1. Emotional separation of player and character

    I am not my action figure.  I just play with one.  This would be
    played up by having the figures themselves react to some things,
    making comments about "losing my head" when that particular
    piece is knocked out.  The ability to swap out arms and legs,
    torsos and heads on a casual basis would also tend to lessen the
    notion of permanence and humanity in a character.  The
    terminology used in the game would always support this
    saparation.  Arms and legs are pieces, and so on.

  2. Lightened mood

    It's obviously not 'real'.  No blood.  No gore.  There is a
    popping sound when a joint comes out of a socket instead of a
    crunching or slashing sound of weapon striking human flesh.
    Further, the expectation of the game world being a place for
    serious gameplay is diminished.  It's a world of action figures
    after all.  As I said earlier, getting hit by a nuclear weapon
    would only make the action figure fly farther through the air.

  3. Reduced need for biological appearance

    A plastic look, with clearly-visible joints, is desireable.  The
    animators can probably do a better job on such figures than they
    can on clothed human figures, lizard-based dragons and all
    manner of other animalian figures.

I've been trying to find a formula for lighthearted gaming in
virtual worlds such that people would play for the sheer joy of it
instead of taking it oh so seriously, and I think that the action
figure approach has some merit.  Note that I'm not going for "The
World of The Incredibles".  That retains a notion of people.  I want
the players playing with toys, not playing in the guise of

Feedback welcome.

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