[MUD-Dev] DESIGN: Role playing

Mike Rozak Mike at mxac.com.au
Sun Oct 2 13:17:02 New Zealand Daylight Time 2005


I am coding a virtual world development toolkit that uses static
360-degree renderings, making the program a cross between LPMUD and
Myst III (360-degree images). It's still a long way from being
finished. For some information and screenshots, see
http://www.mxac.com.au/mif/.

Over the past few months I've added a few features that might be
useful to role players. While I don't plan to target role players in
my world, someone else might wish to use my toolkit and produce a
roleplaying world. Because I'm not a role player and don't know much
about it, I thought I'd post here and see what role players think
about these features:

  1) Voice chat - I have voice chat with a voice disguising
  feature. The voice disguise is probably better than anything out
  there, but it's still not great. It will convert male-to-male and
  female-to-female, and barely manages a male-to-female and
  female-to-male. It certainly won't create an accent, but I expect
  role players might enjoy affecting their own accent. Voice chat
  also handles audio-mangling to simulate a language barrier between
  characters, and shouting from a distance using 3D sound. (Shouts
  and voice/text chat only cover the immediate area, not the whole
  zone.)

  2) Static images - Because I'm using static images, and not trying
  to animate, I can use a higher quality renderer than a traditional
  MMORPG, and throw more polygons, textures, and varieties of shapes
  at an image than a traditional MMORPG. Consequently, when an image
  of another character is shown, it has a unique look as well as
  subtle facial emotes. You can see screenshots of this on
  http://www.mxac.com.au/mif/screenshots.htm.

By the way, I don't animate the face with lip-sync since that would
bring me into the uncanny valley. (If I ever added a video camera
with very-good face recognition (which doesn't yet exist) I could
avoid the valley, however.) I also use a painterly effect to make
the face image look like a painting, also to avoid the uncanny
valley.

My question is: Given that you haven't actually seen the program in
action, what are your thoughts about what these features might bring
to role playing (or take away), and anything else I should know
about implimenting role playing features?

  PS - The faces (and room images) include an awful lot of
  procedural objects and textures. The faces are a combination of
  Mr. Potato Head, Playdough's Fuzzy Pumper Barber Shop, and a
  1970's Barbie makeup head I saw on a TV commercial.

  PPS - As a world author, you will be able to model your own faces,
  hair, texture, etc. It's very customizable, but does take work.

Thanks

Mike Rozak
http://www.mxac.com.au
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