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Old 09-25-2010, 12:46 AM   #121
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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Originally Posted by DonathinFrye View Post
I've said it elsewhere, put I'll push my thoughts on the matter here as well.
I believe most players of RPIs that are leery towards other games using the term out-of-context, feel that way because they see it as misleading. I, too, think that it is misleading.
I was mostly agreeing with this tidbit here. o:

And if you go to assassinate a political figure on a MUD, only to see him later walking around with a few penalties slapped on because of the death....

An RPI that ain't.

As far as my views on permadeath go, at least.
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Old 09-26-2010, 10:44 AM   #122
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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Originally Posted by Qzzrbl View Post
I was mostly agreeing with this tidbit here. o:
Fair enough.

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Originally Posted by Qzzrbl View Post
And if you go to assassinate a political figure on a MUD, only to see him later walking around with a few penalties slapped on because of the death....

An RPI that ain't.

As far as my views on permadeath go, at least.
If you go to assassinate a political figure on a MUD, and the MUD is based on Steven Brust's Dragaera setting, and you don't use a Morganti weapon, you should certainly expect to see him walking around later. In fact, the protagonist of the series (an assassin) goes into some detail about why assassinations that someone can be resurrected from are performed (warning and intimidation, basically). I see no reason that MUD couldn't be an RPI.
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Old 09-26-2010, 04:28 PM   #123
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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Originally Posted by chaosprime View Post
If you go to assassinate a political figure on a MUD, and the MUD is based on Steven Brust's Dragaera setting, and you don't use a Morganti weapon, you should certainly expect to see him walking around later. In fact, the protagonist of the series (an assassin) goes into some detail about why assassinations that someone can be resurrected from are performed (warning and intimidation, basically). I see no reason that MUD couldn't be an RPI.
See, I really agree that permadeath doesn't make game more intense in playing or less realistic depending on the setting. In some games, not having permadeath is essential to their lore and built in. Your example is an excellent one where it makes sense that you would see the target of your assassination walking around the next day, and your "Oh crap" moment comes when he sees you... his murderer.

Still, to fall under the classification of a traditional RPI (as defined by the RPI players), you have to have permadeath to be an RPI. I think there wouldn't be so much of a problem if RPI didn't actually stand for anything other than the subset of traits found in that type of game. Unfortunately, the word "intense" or "intensive" seems to be the trigger of many of the arguments. Do RPIs have more intensive or intense roleplay? I think not, but many of the players believe that, based on the characteristics of the game, their roleplaying is more intense or intensive.
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Old 09-26-2010, 08:57 PM   #124
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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Originally Posted by chaosprime View Post
I entirely get what you're saying about no levels, no xp, no deer carrying gold coins -- things that are basically ridiculous and "gamey" in any context. Permadeath is one of those really arbitrary political statements, though. Whether it's realistic or not depends on your setting, and it's brain-damaged to assign it a realism value in a vacuum.
In Narnia, it might make a lot of sense to find a deer carrying coins.
And for characters (or, at least, one specific character) to return from the dead.
As you point out, resurrection makes sense in Dragaera - similarly, for me, in the Ironclaw cannon setting there are church-sponsored white mages that can, and do, bring people back from the dead. (Better make sure you don't get excommunicated from the church...)

But we can play this game all day. For every crazy rule, there's going to be a setting where it makes sense. I believe the thrust of the argument is that setting considerations should be more important than game mechanical considerations. If it doesn't make sense for deer to carry coins in the setting, then they shouldn't have coins just to allow the players to collect money. If it doesn't make sense for there to be resurrection in this culture, then characters shouldn't return from the dead. And that argument makes sense. (I don't 100% subscribe to it. I believe the roleplay should come first. Then the realism. Then the game mechanics. So if there's a change that will enhance roleplaying, even at the expense of realism, I'll make it. Typically, though, a consistent world compliments roleplaying, so there is rarely a conflict.)

But now we're led into the third part, the meaning of "RPI." As has been explained many times, it doesn't mean "intensive roleplay", it's indicative of a feature-set within the games. One of those features, arbitrarily, is no resurrection. Which means a Dragaera game, or an Ironclaw game, if "implemented fully" can never be an RPI. But that's alright. A mud version of "Glee" would never be a H&S. They're just categories.

So, to sum up:
- Deer carrying coins, people returning from the dead, etc. might be perfectly sensible, depending on the setting. In many settings, they make no sense.
- Games are more believable if only things that make sense happen. So if deer carry coins, or people return from the dead, it should be built into the world setting. And significant elements like that should lead to cultural effects on the game world.
- RPIs do not allow resurrection, but that is just a coincidental, arbitrary rule as part of the definition of RPI. Presumably the intention was to have a more realistic setting, but having "no resurrection" as a rule to enforce that is as arbitrary as having rules like "characters should log into the game where they last logged out" as a rule, or "items shouldn't vanish when used. They should become empty, and the player should have to throw them in the trash." - none of those rules are either good or bad. They're just decisions that add to the flavor of the game.
- RPIs do not, inherently, lead to any more "intensive" roleplay than other games. Their feature sets may (or may not) lend themselves well to roleplay - they were, after all, designed for roleplay. But they are not inherently more "roleplay intensive" than other games that do not fall under the RPI feature set.

(I don't intend to sound down on RPIs at all. I understand why they have their defined feature sets, and I see the appeal. I'm just trying to split out the threads of discussion, since the term "RPI", in-game resurrection, and believable worlds, were all being discussed as if they were one thing.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Milawe;
Still, to fall under the classification of a traditional RPI (as defined by the RPI players), you have to have permadeath to be an RPI. I think there wouldn't be so much of a problem if RPI didn't actually stand for anything other than the subset of traits found in that type of game. Unfortunately, the word "intense" or "intensive" seems to be the trigger of many of the arguments.
Oh yes! (And before Prof chimes in... notice how careful I was to explicitly state that I understand that RPI stands for a feature set... yadda yadda...)

Problem is, as much as Prof (and others) say otherwise, as much as RPI can stand for a feature set... it's still a descriptor. It's got emotional connotations. It's got PR value.

It says "We are roleplaying intensive" not "We have the features of A, B, C"
And yes, people might understand that RPI games will have those features, so it does serve a useful purpose, but every time the term is used, it's reinforcing the (mis)conception that those features make a game more "intensive."

Am I upset at that? No, not at all. It was a very cleverly chosen term, and more power to the people who chose it! But it's not a surprise when it creates arguments.
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Old 09-26-2010, 08:58 PM   #125
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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Originally Posted by Milawe
Do RPIs have more intensive or intense roleplay? I think not, but many of the players believe that, based on the characteristics of the game, their roleplaying is more intense or intensive.
Bingo.
But, again, that's alright. Many RPI players obviously feel that their roleplay (and game's features) are superior. But many non-RPI players feel that about their games, too. Heck, I certainly feel my game's features are superior, and I cringe at the lack of social options in the parser of most games. But that's neither here nor there, whenever you have a setup like this, where players are so invested in their individual world, and where the worlds can vary so much, you're going to get this balkanization.

I think the RPI discussion is similar, but subtly different. We don't tend to see arguments of "Godwars vs NewWorlds", we tend to see "Everyone vs RPI"

I think that's caused by two things. Firstly, by identifying a feature-set as RPI, it widens the group. Players from a number of games all identify themselves as RPI players. Players from Ironclaw wouldn't have the first clue as to whether they were SMAUG players, TINYMUSH players, or LP players. The shared feature set also means the players can support each other's argument. This is great, it's widened the game community to include other games - if only more games could do that! And a larger game community will be heard more often.

The second thing is the term. As you touched on it, many players believe that their game's roleplaying is more intensive. But I don't entirely agree that they believe that due to their games features alone. I do think that they are being told (and telling each other) that their game is "roleplaying intensive" - and then reminded that it's a feature set. So they're going to believe that their feature set leads to more intensive roleplaying. If the term was neutral, they probably would still think their game has the best roleplaying - but they possibly would be less outspoken in the belief that their feature set is inherently superior.

To use Qzzrbl's recent posts as examples (Sorry, I don't intend to pick on you. You're just a convenient illustration)

Everything Qzzrbl said was entirely reasonable. I don't think he was out of line, or rude. But he does demonstrate this attitude I'm talking about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Qzzrbl
When someone says "RPI", I think permadeath.... Heavily-enforced roleplay demands, no levels, no experience points, no gold coins to be looted from freshly-killed wildlife....

And that's the way it really should be, in my opinion.
Yup. That's the way it should be in my opinion, too.
And that's the way my game is. But my game is very much NOT an RPI, according to the feature set. It doesn't match certain points, such as learning skills from doing it rather than being taught, it has resurrection, and probably doesn't match on a few other points.

Yet when Qzzrbl thinks of RPI he, apparently, thinks of a game like mine.
It seems that what he's really thinking of when he hears the term RPI is "a game with heavily enforced roleplay demands, that has a believable world and character progression."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Qzzrbl
If your MUD is roleplay-enforced, but it's not up to RPI standards, then just say it's roleplay-enforced.
Easy enough to do. And a reasonable request. But let's look at the language - "not up to RPI standards"
Technically, Qzzrbl is entirely correct, RPI meaning a specific feature set means that there are specific standards that must be met before your MUD qualifies. But I doubt Qzzrbl was speaking as an engineer, the usual emotional content of "not up to X standards" implies that X is a higher quality.
If he'd said "but it doesn't match the RPI features" then it wouldn't have that emotional content.
Do I think Qzzrbl intended to imply that RPIs were higher quality than non-RPIs? I don't know. I won't put words in his mouth. Do I think that Qzzrbl believes that RPIs are higher quality? Certainly. If he didn't, he probably wouldn't play them. That's fine, he can believe what he wants. Do I think that he'd have made that same comment without the phrase RPI encouraging it? Probably not.

So, even unintentionally, the phrase RPI, and the supporters of RPI, will tend to get up the noses of non-RPI players. I don't believe that would have been the case if "RPI" was a more neutral, less PR-friendly, term.

Am I sore about the term? Not at all!
Am I sore that my game can't be called an RPI? Not at all!

What am I trying to say?

Just that roleplay quality, world believability, and feature sets are three very different aspects of the game. They interact with each other, but they shouldn't be discussed lumped together.

I'm also trying to say that I regularly see these three lumped together when discussing RPIs (probably because the acronym uses the phrase "roleplay" while referring to a feature set, which is going to combine those two together in players minds.)

So how does that relate to the original topic? Prof feels that RPIs have lost veteran players due to dumbing down their role-playing standards, but I keep seeing roleplaying confused with the feature set. Prof obviously knows the difference between the two, but I wonder if other staff on those games make this mistake? And don't feel like they're "dumbing down" the quality, and feel like as long as they stick to the "core rules" then their games will be full of "intensive" roleplay?

With that in mind, my question is, "how do you define good roleplay"? How do you define dumbed-down roleplay? Are we talking less enforcement of players that go out of character during the game? Or are we talking about a higher quality in the stories being told (and how do you enforce that?) Or are we talking about more consistent roleplay from the players? Or more hurdles to jump (so that only dedicated players will participate?)
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Old 09-26-2010, 11:49 PM   #126
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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Originally Posted by silvarilon View Post
With that in mind, my question is, "how do you define good roleplay"? How do you define dumbed-down roleplay? Are we talking less enforcement of players that go out of character during the game? Or are we talking about a higher quality in the stories being told (and how do you enforce that?) Or are we talking about more consistent roleplay from the players? Or more hurdles to jump (so that only dedicated players will participate?)
I honestly think that games have to evolve as trends change in the gaming industry, but the difficulties of evolving a game that is over a decade old can be extremely challenging. Let's face the fact that "super popular" games are now MUCH easier in progression that traditional muds whether they be RP, HnS, PvP, or even a platformer. Heck, you can even argue that 4th Edition DnD is easier than 1st Edition. Game have changed to reach out more towards the mainstream and the people who CAN'T beat Super Mario Brothers in 8 minutes. Is that a good thing? Probably, but it does bring its own issues to the people who have been gaming for ten or even twenty years.

With any game, even if it does involve roleplay, the mechanics are far more player friendly than they were 15 years ago as a general trend. And with roleplay situations, all it takes is one administrator not roleplaying "correctly" in the eyes of a player for that player to cry foul or favoritism and leave.

In all honesty, I really dislike "judging" the roleplay of characters because I honestly think a good effort counts. Just like any other gift or talent, roleplaying abilities were not created equal in all of us. As long as there is a true desire to roleplay and not just to "win", I think that most players are good RPers. Yes, some fall out of character more than others, but even those people can often play a fun or important part of a scenario. Sometimes it takes more effort from the more able roleplayers to help guide them and set an example, but allowing all levels of roleplayers into a scene can produce wonderful results.

Roleplaying, to me, is a little bit like judging art. There are some pieces that are brilliant and can be recognized by everyone, but the majority of art is a matter of taste. Some people can really hate other pieces that other people absolutely love. I've run stories and events that many players have loved, but for nearly every one that gets tons of praise, at least one person has to send me some hate mail over how I should have done things differently. I stopped beating myself up over it a long, long time ago.

So, it's a matter of taste. I'm not really sure that I think that RPIs or RP-whatevers are any worse off than they were before. There's still tons of players who love it and tons of players wanting to be involved. Roleplayers, however, are a creative bunch, so I'm sure that sooner or later, they're going to think they can do it better. Isn't that how new muds are born?
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Old 09-27-2010, 03:58 AM   #127
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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Heck, you can even argue that 4th Edition DnD is easier than 1st Edition.
You could argue it. It wouldn't be a hard argument to make. But it would be focussing on the combat mechanics.
Early editions of D&D had archaic tables of accuracy, percentage charts, and other silliness. They required dedication to understand and play properly. But if we're talking about quality of *roleplay* then I'm not sure that the difficulty of the system really matters that much.

Modern versions of the game give much more freedom and support for roleplay, while early versions were more rigid. You could be a thief, or a wizard, or an elf. What's that? Yes. "Elf" was a class. You couldn't play an elven thief, nope. When it comes to bringing your characters to life, 4th edition gives much more opportunity. And there are other game systems that go even further (some even allowing you to define a character by aspects other than how they perform combat!)

Are those games "dumbed down"? Maybe. 4th edition DnD is certainly easier to pick up and play than 1st was. But is that really "dumbing down" or is it streamlining, improving? Bear in mind that D&D came from tactical wargaming. We (as a community) have learned a lot about roleplaying in the time since then.

The latest trend seems to even be removing skill levels altogether, and instead having character descriptors. Seems fruity to me, but I'm yet to see it in play. The idea of getting rid of hitpoints seemed fruity to me at the time, and now I hate the concept of "hit points" for a character.

I'd argue that 4th ed is a significantly superior game to 1st ed. Are there things I don't like about it? Sure. Are there things I miss from 1st ed? Sure. But in terms of a total package? It's a much better designed game. "Hard" doesn't necessarily mean "better" - in fact "hard to learn" is often a sign of bad game design.

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Game have changed to reach out more towards the mainstream and the people who CAN'T beat Super Mario Brothers in 8 minutes.
Is the intention really to make the game easier, though?
Super Mario is a pretty easy game. At least, the early few levels. So there's something in there that anyone can enjoy.
But yet they have some fiendishly hard levels. But is that really because modern games don't want those hard levels? Or is it because content generation is so expensive? If it costs me $20,000 a level, I'm more likely to make a game with 10 levels that goes up to middling difficulty, and let people replay the game on "hardcore" mode, rather than having 10 levels that go up to middling difficulty, and then another 10 that go up to fiendish difficulty. Having the harder ones will get my game a fun reputation of being "hardcore", but it'll double the content cost. If, on the other hand, it only cost $200 a level, sure, I'll put in all 20 levels.

We see something similar with movies - as movie production costs go up, the demands that movie put on us goes down. Who's going to pay $80 million to make a movie that will only be understood by 5% of the potential audience?
There are still clever movies, but like "hardcore mode" those intellectual aspects are layered on top of a simpler story. Everyone can enjoy "District 9" because the basic story is pretty easy to understand, and it has fun explosions and aliens. People who want to, and are capable, can go further and appreciate the subtleties. But that basic, simple movie is still available to everyone.

Similarly, the basic, simple computer games are available to everyone. We're expected to pump up the difficulty level if we want the extra challenge.

Which is a shame. When we're not looking at costs, the situation can be quite different. I was just playing God Wars 2 for my first time today. Wow, it's got a bit of a learning curve. I was pretty lost. Y'know, that's cool. It means KaVir could design the game that he thinks would be as awesome as possible. If that was a commercial release, there's no way he'd have been allowed to drop people in like that. He would have had to build those first 10 levels that end at a middling difficulty level. And only if there's enough budget would he have been allowed to finish off the remaining 20, and have the challenge level that he's currently got.

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Originally Posted by Milawe View Post
With any game, even if it does involve roleplay, the mechanics are far more player friendly than they were 15 years ago as a general trend.
I think this is undeniably a good thing. If there is a challenging game, it should be challenging because of the gameplay, not because the mechanics are unfriendly.

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Originally Posted by Milawe View Post
In all honesty, I really dislike "judging" the roleplay of characters because I honestly think a good effort counts.
Yes and no. I agree with the sentiment, but in practice the quality of the players roleplay heavily impacts any social game.
If a game is set in medieval times, and a player is just incapable of remembering that they are not modern people - and keeps talking about democracy, modern medicine etc. then that's going to impact the other players.

And quality of roleplay does matter. Because the other players are there to roleplay. So if there is bad quality roleplay, then it's less fun to play. That needs to be balanced against a relaxed atmosphere (we should be able to kick back and enjoy our roleplaying, and not always worry about the quality of what we're outputting)

Unfortunately, as much as I might not *want* to judge players based on their ability, the other players will be doing so, and will be staying or leaving the game based on what they see. And when I play, I'm just going to be having more fun with the players that roleplay in a compatible way to me.

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Originally Posted by Milawe View Post
Just like any other gift or talent, roleplaying abilities were not created equal in all of us. As long as there is a true desire to roleplay and not just to "win", I think that most players are good RPers.
I'm of the belief that, at the right moments, all players will be trying to win. I don't expect them not to (achievement is important to players) - what I do expect is that they still play consistently with their character. The claustrophobe shouldn't suddenly be fine with going down a mine because it'll help the player win. But they should be able to ask their friend to go down.
(Similarly, the claustrophobe that refuses to go down the mine should be, in some way, rewarded)

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Originally Posted by Milawe View Post
Roleplaying, to me, is a little bit like judging art. There are some pieces that are brilliant and can be recognized by everyone, but the majority of art is a matter of taste. Some people can really hate other pieces that other people absolutely love. I've run stories and events that many players have loved, but for nearly every one that gets tons of praise, at least one person has to send me some hate mail over how I should have done things differently. I stopped beating myself up over it a long, long time ago.
I 100% agree with this.
It's very much like art. Personal taste plays a huge part. Especially because we're all experiencing something different, due to our own characters relationship with the other characters.

But, like art, it's still a learnable skill. Maybe you don't like watercolours, but others do. But you can still learn to paint a monet vs a finger painting. You can still learn to create art in a way that is going to be enjoyed by more people that before (or by the same number or less people, but those few will enjoy it to a greater degree.)

Unfortunately, like art, I have no idea how to teach it. Or even how to judge it. And I certainly have no idea how to (properly, and fairly) reward good roleplay and discourage bad roleplay.

Some obvious examples, aside. (banning players that have OOC tantrums, rewarding players that go above and beyond when creating an event)

But if we can't recognize what makes good roleplay, and we can't reward the good roleplay and discourage the bad - then it shouldn't be a surprise if quality of roleplay is dropping.

But then again, is it really dropping? Or do we just have nostalgia when thinking about the past?

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Originally Posted by Milawe View Post
Roleplayers, however, are a creative bunch, so I'm sure that sooner or later, they're going to think they can do it better. Isn't that how new muds are born?
Yup!
That's why I'm here. I want to find new ways of thinking about old games.

This is one of the big things for me, trying to objectively pick out indications of good roleplay, and reward them. Currently I only have partial answers on how to do that.
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Old 09-27-2010, 07:54 AM   #128
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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Originally Posted by Milawe View Post
Let's face the fact that "super popular" games are now MUCH easier in progression that traditional muds whether they be RP, HnS, PvP, or even a platformer. Heck, you can even argue that 4th Edition DnD is easier than 1st Edition.
Yet 3rd edition (and 3.5) had considerably more complex progression than 1st or 2nd edition - and 4th edition caused quite a schism among D&D fans, with many deciding that Pathfinder (dubbed D&D 3.75 by some) was what 4th edition should have been. In fact I got the feeling that 4th edition was somehow more aimed at bringing in new roleplayers, particularly from the MMORPG community.

Personally I rather like simplified game mechanics when playing a tabletop roleplaying game, as I usually focus on interaction and storytelling, with a strong tendancy towards improvisation (possibly due to having done live roleplaying in the past). In fact I've recently been playing with a GM Emulator for running tabletop games, and I've realised I've already been using similar elements in many of the games I've run. I did also enjoy D&D 3.5 for the more tactical-oriented aspects it added to gameplay, but even then I was often quite slack about following the rules.

However for non-roleplaying games I tend to prefer a greater degree of complexity - and I'm not a big fan of roleplaying online, so most computer games I play tend to involve strategy and player skill.

While it's clear from the popularity of Facebook games that there's a huge market for very simple casual games, I think there will always be a market for the more hardcore games. This actually brings to mind a comment made in one of Bartle's articles:

"Virtual worlds are becoming diluted by poor design decisions that can't be undone. We're getting de-evolution - our future is in effect being drawn up by newbies who (being newbies) are clueless. Regular computer games don't have this problem.

The market for regular computer games is driven by the hardcore. The hardcore finishes product faster than newbies, and therefore buys new product faster than newbies. The hardcore understands design implications better than newbies. They won't buy a game with features they can see are poor; they select games with good design genes. Because of this, games which are good are rewarded by higher sales than games which are bad.

In virtual worlds, the hardcore either wanders from one to the next, trying to recapture the experience of their first experience or they never left in the first place. Furthermore, in today's flat-fee universe, the hardcore spends the same amount of money as everyone else: developers aren't rewarded for appealing to the cognoscenti, except maybe through word of mouth that always comes with caveats (because of point #3)."


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Originally Posted by silvarilon View Post
When we're not looking at costs, the situation can be quite different. I was just playing God Wars 2 for my first time today. Wow, it's got a bit of a learning curve. I was pretty lost.
But were you lost because you didn't know what to do (even with the 'what' command) - or because the mud was unfamiliar and there were too many new things to learn? To quote Bartle's article again:

"Newbies come to virtual worlds with a set of preconceptions acquired from other virtual worlds; or, failing that, from other computer games; or, failing that, from gut instinct. They will not consider virtual worlds that confront these expectations if there are others around that don't."

I think this is a problem all muds face to some degree - most veteran players have too many preceptions from other muds, and don't like fundemental differences. I know I'm guilty of this too - even being aware of it, I just don't have the patience to spend time learning something completely new.

And I suspect this is one of the main reasons behind the attitute towards certain mud features, such as those common to RPIs (in fact permadeath is specifically mentioned in Bartle's article): Players from an RPI background typically like permadeath, no public channels, hidden names, etc, because that's what they're used to. Conversely, players from muds that don't have permadeath, do have public channels and don't hide player names will prefer the opposite for exactly the same reason. Neither side will change their stance, because their preferences are based on their personal expectations of what makes a good game.
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Old 09-27-2010, 09:16 AM   #129
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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Originally Posted by silvarilon View Post
But now we're led into the third part, the meaning of "RPI." As has been explained many times, it doesn't mean "intensive roleplay", it's indicative of a feature-set within the games.
More or less, yes. It's a term coined to describe a particular set of features and philosophies (such as strict IC/OOC separation, etc).

Quote:
One of those features, arbitrarily, is no resurrection.
That's not actually one of the features. Permanent death is not the same as no resurrection. There are actually examples of "resurrection" of a sort in one of the first RPIs. The difference is that such ressurection results in a person who is a form of "undead" of sorts rather than just continuing on with their life as before.

One of the characteristics of RPIs is that code follows world design. That's also a difference between most MUDs with non-permanent death and RPIs. The lack of permadeath tends to fall into one of two different categories. Either it's done because the world is shaped around the code and the code is non-permadeath H&S code or the world is designed around the OOC consideration of players' dislike for character loss.

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Which means a Dragaera game, or an Ironclaw game, if "implemented fully" can never be an RPI. But that's alright. A mud version of "Glee" would never be a H&S. They're just categories.
I'm not familiar with the details of Dragaera so I'll have to offer a very limited response in this regard. However, I did discover in my research that while the inhabitants of Dragaera are long-lived, they are not immortal nor do they simply reincarnate to resume their lives. They do die and this process is not a repetitive gimmick for immortality. For a RPI based on this theme, the process of death would have to be coded to fit and the entire experience handled IC and probably with extensive staff intervention since it seems to involve a form of divine judgement.

It's a tough call though. I suspect many RPI players might not enjoy such a setting and thus it could be argued that this is simply one setting that wouldn't lend itself to development as a RPI.

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But they are not inherently more "roleplay intensive" than other games that do not fall under the RPI feature set.
The term does not refer to the feature set directly nor does this feature set rely entirely upon coded aspects. It refers to the game possessing the feature set and role-play philosophy. These games are inherently role-play intensive because the design and aspects were conceived exclusively with role-play in mind. The RPIs didn't set out to make games that had mass appeal; they set out to make games which appealed to an extremely small portion of the MUD community.

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Problem is, as much as Prof (and others) say otherwise, as much as RPI can stand for a feature set... it's still a descriptor. It's got emotional connotations. It's got PR value.
Part of which is also due to the reputation that the old RPIs earned in regard to their role-play stretching back to a time when role-play was more of a source for ridicule than a popular format. I can recall comments directed at Armageddon about a decade ago regarding the strict in-character role-play. The idea of requiring role-play didn't appeal to many and the idea of enforced role-play was even less well-received. I can recall comments ranging from dislike at the thought of not being able to just be oneself to the effect of "Do you sit at your computer dressed like your character?"

I'm not exactly sure why role-play caught on more and more but I suspect the draw of graphical MMOs created a drain on players and MUDs began to look beyond the H&S and PvP aspects that were and are the staple of the graphicals.

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It says "We are roleplaying intensive" not "We have the features of A, B, C"
It's shorthand for people who were trying to find similar games. Considering when the term was coined there were hundreds if not thousands of MUDs and only 2 or 3 RPIs. Even now, there are 1903 games listed on TMS. When you add in games from TMC that aren't listed here, there's well over 2000 and yet there are only four open RPIs, a fifth near to opening and three or four more in development. In fact, from the thousands upon thousands of MUDs there have been since the term RPI was coined, there have only been about 30 RPI projects, less than half of which actually opened.

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And yes, people might understand that RPI games will have those features, so it does serve a useful purpose, but every time the term is used, it's reinforcing the (mis)conception that those features make a game more "intensive."
Only because people lack adequate English skills to realize that it's Role-Play Intensive and not intense role-play. The fault lies not with the term but with those who are erroneously confusing the two.

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Am I upset at that? No, not at all. It was a very cleverly chosen term, and more power to the people who chose it! But it's not a surprise when it creates arguments.
The thing is that pretty much every term in the MUD community has the potential for arguments or is subject to very inaccurate definition. Not every Hack-and-Slash MUD involves hacking or slashing; some are entirely magic-based without a blade in sight. To the best of my knowledge, no player has ever killed another player on a PK MUD. They may kill players' characters but shouldn't that be PCK or CK?

The term RPI was coined to differentiate a specific type of role-play game where the design and gameplay were focused around role-play rather than having the role-play slapped on an existing H&S codebase, many with RP the equivalent of what you'll find from the average WoW player. For a time, outside of MUSHes, the only place you could get strict in-character RP was the RPIs. They were truly role-play intensive at a time when role-play was more of an option than a core principle. People that played them liked that specific format and needed a way to identify this philosophy and feature set. Considering there are still over 350 open RP MUDs in existence today (and hundreds more in the TMS and TMC listings which are defunct), the unabused use of the term is still important in finding the 4 or 5 that fit the RPI format.
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Old 09-27-2010, 10:35 AM   #130
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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Originally Posted by silvarilon View Post
Many RPI players obviously feel that their roleplay (and game's features) are superior. But many non-RPI players feel that about their games, too.
It's important to separate the subjective "RPIs are better" comments from the objective "RPIs have this feature" comments. I agree all too often this isn't done and in the past I've been guilty of this myself. Mind you, RPIs aren't what they used to be so it'd be hard for me to maintain such an attitude anymore.

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The second thing is the term. As you touched on it, many players believe that their game's roleplaying is more intensive. But I don't entirely agree that they believe that due to their games features alone. I do think that they are being told (and telling each other) that their game is "roleplaying intensive" - and then reminded that it's a feature set. So they're going to believe that their feature set leads to more intensive roleplaying. If the term was neutral, they probably would still think their game has the best roleplaying - but they possibly would be less outspoken in the belief that their feature set is inherently superior.
The real problem I see quite often is people being unable to distinguish the difference between "role-play intensive MUD" and "intensive role-play MUD". They do not mean the same thing. I offer the following example to illustrate the difference.

red rose ball

rose red ball

The former is a ball made from red roses. The term rose is an adjective for ball describing the ball while red refers to the roses. In the latter example, red is the adjective describing the ball and rose is describing the word red. The second ball is red but it isn't necessarily made of roses. It could be made of dandelions, plastic or rubber.

Hence despite possessing the same three words, the two terms have different meanings. The same is true of "role-play intensive MUD" and "intensive role-play MUD".

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And that's the way my game is. But my game is very much NOT an RPI, according to the feature set. It doesn't match certain points, such as learning skills from doing it rather than being taught, it has resurrection, and probably doesn't match on a few other points.

Yet when Qzzrbl thinks of RPI he, apparently, thinks of a game like mine.
It seems that what he's really thinking of when he hears the term RPI is "a game with heavily enforced roleplay demands, that has a believable world and character progression."
I coined the term Role-Play Oriented or RPO back in 2006 to describe games which are far more than merely H&S codebases with enforced role-play yet do not meet the particular characteristics of the RPIs. Attempts to differentiate further or provide a more precise definition were difficult owing to the lack of specific similarities between various RPOs (one may not have permadeath but has no levels and no global OOC channels while another may have permadeath and no levels but possesses global OOC channels and yet another may have permadeath and no global OOC channels but possesses levels).

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Easy enough to do. And a reasonable request. But let's look at the language - "not up to RPI standards"
Technically, Qzzrbl is entirely correct, RPI meaning a specific feature set means that there are specific standards that must be met before your MUD qualifies. But I doubt Qzzrbl was speaking as an engineer, the usual emotional content of "not up to X standards" implies that X is a higher quality.
If he'd said "but it doesn't match the RPI features" then it wouldn't have that emotional content.
Agreed, although I would note that sometimes Qzzrbl's statement would be appropriate if a game described itself as RPI without meeting the 19 characteristics. I've seen games which examined separately were very good but which insisted that they were RPI despite clearly not meeting the characteristics of the term. They were not up to RPI standards so far as their description of themselves as RPI was concerned.

It's a lot like describing a Honda Accord as not up to Indycar standards. It's not up Indycar standards and would suck major monkey balls if it ran the 500 in May. However, the Honda clearly bests the Indycar in miles per gallon and road handling (Indycars can't make sharp turns or drive in reverse). The context of the "standards" must always be taken into consideration.

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Just that roleplay quality, world believability, and feature sets are three very different aspects of the game. They interact with each other, but they shouldn't be discussed lumped together.

I'm also trying to say that I regularly see these three lumped together when discussing RPIs (probably because the acronym uses the phrase "roleplay" while referring to a feature set, which is going to combine those two together in players minds.)
Role-play quality is a subjective assessment and should be taken in context of how it's determined and to what it's compared. For example, I made the comment that the quality of RP on the RPIs isn't what it used to be. This isn't a comparison to non-RPIs. My comment is in regard to the role-play on the same games over a period of a decade and the differences that can be noted.

Quote:
So how does that relate to the original topic? Prof feels that RPIs have lost veteran players due to dumbing down their role-playing standards, but I keep seeing roleplaying confused with the feature set. Prof obviously knows the difference between the two, but I wonder if other staff on those games make this mistake? And don't feel like they're "dumbing down" the quality, and feel like as long as they stick to the "core rules" then their games will be full of "intensive" roleplay?
I think they're more blinded by the desire to attract more and more players. When I started playing RPIs, it wasn't uncommon to see less than 5 people on at any time and to often times be the only player online. That's not the case any more though I've found that quite often while there may be more players online, the role-play experienced interacting with them is lacking compared to that of years past.

(continued below)
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Old 09-27-2010, 10:35 AM   #131
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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With that in mind, my question is, "how do you define good roleplay"? How do you define dumbed-down roleplay? Are we talking less enforcement of players that go out of character during the game? Or are we talking about a higher quality in the stories being told (and how do you enforce that?) Or are we talking about more consistent roleplay from the players? Or more hurdles to jump (so that only dedicated players will participate?)
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...in practice the quality of the players roleplay heavily impacts any social game.
If a game is set in medieval times, and a player is just incapable of remembering that they are not modern people - and keeps talking about democracy, modern medicine etc. then that's going to impact the other players.
Everything mentioned above is exactly what I'm talking about when I say that the quality of RP in the RPIs isn't what it used to be. More and more I saw players who didn't learn the game's cultures and didn't role-play according to the setting so much as according to what they wanted. Breaking in-game cultural laws and then claiming "rights" in games where the concept of democratic rights is alien to the cultures depicted would be one example. Excessively worrying about personal gains and concentrating on skills and abilities, leading to spam-crafting or mob-bashing, rather than more naturally role-playing their character would be another.

Likewise, more and more I found admins willing to look the other way at this behavior and in some cases even facilitating it. When I was on SoI's staff, I was often told "Playability, Falco" in response to my complaints that such admin behavior was enabling twinking and non-RP behavior. Playability has its place but it should be done with respect to the players who role-play rather than with concern of appeasing or attracting players for whom RP isn't the primary consideration. To give an example, one veteran on another of the RPIs used to play a guilded and licensed caravan trader. He'd spend months RPing the necessary preparations for the trip, hiring on help, making the huge investment of buying his goods for transport and then making the journey where he'd acquire rare goods in exchange. His profits were fairly low, keeping him within the realm of the economic setting (for the sake of this example, we'll say he bought 4000 worth of goods and traded them for goods he could sell back home for 6000 making himself an annual profit of 2000). The problem was that players who weren't guilded and who didn't want to go through all the above process would band together and just make the trip, selling off hides or goods looted from corpses to make money, then buying the rare goods and returning to sell them for profits far exceeding reasonable (they'd make 6000 but spent almost nothing). This was illegal according to the laws of the country because they weren't licensed by the guilds to engage in such commerce but staff didn't enforce such laws in order to not upset these players. Instead, they even allowed non-guilded players to obtain licenses to engage in such activities despite their lack of guild credentials. This had the effect of undercutting the guilds and upsetting those players with guild characters who went through all the RP and legitimate procedures. The character of the player who was RPing within the setting ended up at a disadvantage to those whose charactears should have been at best scraping by and at worst in jail for blatantly violating guild laws.

Additionally, I found the quality of the stories being told relying more upon combat and less upon rational justification or cause and effect. As an admin, I'm a strong believer in planning RP and accepting the consequences so long as they fall within the realm of plausible. However, I noticed a lot of admin-run plots which were lazy, poorly-conceived and poorly-executed. Sometimes they required ignoring or even contradicting established in-game history and culture to implement leading those players who were aware and respectful of continuity and in-character reaction to question how to role-play the results. When A has always led to B and all logical reasoning shows that A leads to B, how does a player deal with A leading to C just because an admin wants the result of C but is too incompetant to create a plot that gives them the result they want? Worse, when the player reacts and manage to find a legitimately-RPed way of changing the outcome back to B, what do they do when staff just make it C again because that's what they want even if doesn't make sense and can't be achieved in any way? As if that weren't bad enough, what does a player do when it's obvious that the admin wants the result of C because it's preferential to another player to whom they show favor?

I've witnessed all of these things more and more over the years which led me to playing less and less (as well as partially being responsible for me resigning from the staff of SoI). These are all examples of poor quality in role-play as well as destructive administrative duties which result in sub-standard role-play.

I'd write more but I'm not feeling well and need to get back to bed so please excuse me if I didn't address any further points. I'll try to review the rest of the posts and respond accordingly when I've had some rest.

Later,

Jason aka Falco
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Old 09-27-2010, 01:23 PM   #132
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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Originally Posted by Milawe View Post
Still, to fall under the classification of a traditional RPI (as defined by the RPI players), you have to have permadeath to be an RPI. I think there wouldn't be so much of a problem if RPI didn't actually stand for anything other than the subset of traits found in that type of game. Unfortunately, the word "intense" or "intensive" seems to be the trigger of many of the arguments. Do RPIs have more intensive or intense roleplay? I think not, but many of the players believe that, based on the characteristics of the game, their roleplaying is more intense or intensive.
My answer mimics yours, Milawe, in that the entire crux of the argument has always been you can't be called an RPI without a following the RPI set of standards. All well and good, the problem exists as you described it and that is interchanging RPI with roleplay intensive. The biggest problem the RPI group has had in claiming the term is the mindset that only RPI games are roleplay intensive. The group will argue that they don't claim that, but come on, why the term if you don't claim that. Give me a break. That is why the term RPE is much more acceptable. Either you have enforced roleplay or you do not. There is no semantic arguing about intensive roleplay or roleplay intensive, RPE can be both. Enforced Roleplay, Roleplay Enforced. No ambiguity.

In all honesty after writing all this I wonder why I should post. This argument has been made in 3 other threads with 100's of posts on both sides of the argument. Oh well, perhaps there is a need to re-educate.
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Old 09-27-2010, 04:38 PM   #133
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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Originally Posted by Newworlds View Post
In all honesty after writing all this I wonder why I should post. This argument has been made in 3 other threads with 100's of posts on both sides of the argument. Oh well, perhaps there is a need to re-educate.
You're posting for the same reason I'm posting: we both make and play games where we throw ourselves at hopeless odds and type commands furiously to try to get some numbers to go up on our screen. This isn't really that different, right?

I think, though, that this isn't necessarily an argument. I'm definitely not attacking the RPI people or the feature list that is required to be an RPI. We've never said our games are RPIs nor have we had interest in doing so. The threads really only get nasty when someone makes a claim that some subset of features is just so much better for RP, and thus, the people who play with those feature sets must be better RPers.

As many of us said before, roleplaying is a matter of taste, and many people honestly think of roleplaying as very different things. Solo-computer gamers think of RP as putting their character through different scenarios and leveling them up. (Dungeon Siege, Diablo II, etc.) Others think that true roleplay can only come in when interacting with other players. Still others think that roleplay is an elite artform that can only be done by the best of the best. (I don't think that's a really common thought. I had a friend who was required to RP a blade of grass on some MUSH. She didn't really get a lot of out it.) While, objectively, there is good and bad RP, a lot of it also comes down to personal taste.
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Old 09-27-2010, 10:31 PM   #134
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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Originally Posted by KaVir View Post
Personally I rather like simplified game mechanics when playing a tabletop roleplaying game
I'd go a step further and say that I like simplified mechanics whenever are possible.

What did Einstein say? "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler."

If a complex mechanic doesn't add anything, it should be simplified. If the complexity does add something, it should be kept, or built on. The different flavors of the games will dictate which fits. In a combat game, the combat system will need nuance, which the communication system might not. In a social game it might be reversed.

Not to say there can't be complexity, there are plenty of ways to add complexity to a game, while still keeping it simple for the players that don't want to use the complex options. It's only dumbing it down if we remove the complex options that were adding to the game.

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Originally Posted by KaVir View Post
our future is in effect being drawn up by newbies who (being newbies) are clueless. Regular computer games don't have this problem.
Agreed - but unlike regular computer games, we have a very short development cycle, so we can continue making improvements after release.
Not all of us are newbies, the rest can still learn from the experienced, and we build on what came before.

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Originally Posted by KaVir View Post
But were you lost because you didn't know what to do (even with the 'what' command) - or because the mud was unfamiliar and there were too many new things to learn?
The second. To be entirely fair, I didn't give it a proper chance (I plan to come back when I have more time) - I was just there to have a look around and get a feel for the place. I didn't read instructions properly, I *did* read the intro text, learned to walk to the training area, learned to make fists and throw attacks with the right and left hand. I wasn't sure I was doing the right thing when throwing punches at the dummy (my character was a blademaster?) - I suppose I could have continued, but instead I tried the "what" command, which just told me to do what I was doing. I had a look at the available commands (with r?) and saw the simple commands along the top, but then there was a table of other commands (sssd +15 +0 -5 etc.) which I assumed were combos or some sort or another. I started reading help files, saw the command to set gender, tried it, it didn't work (presumably I need to go back to the character-defining-area and not change things like that while "out in the world")

So I did read the files and use the 'what' command, but not to the extent that a newbie would have. Instead I expected to be able to "pick up and play" and just use those commands for quick reference. While I couldn't do.

That's not a complaint, when I have time I'll have a proper attempt. At the time I was logged in while at work and doing other stuff, so I didn't have the concentration available to learn something completely new.

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Originally Posted by prof1515 View Post
These games are inherently role-play intensive because the design and aspects were conceived exclusively with role-play in mind.
I find it interesting that you feel the games are inherently role-play intensive due to the features and philosophy - because the guiding goal when we were setting up our non-RPI was to put roleplaying first. We considered the game design elements (including every item on the RPI list) and, although we came to many similar conclusions, we have a few big differences. However, those differences were, without exception, put in place to facilitate RP. I guess it's that "different flavors for different people" issue. But I find it interesting that the feature-set (and philosophy) that you feel inherently leads to role-play is different to the feature-set (and philosophy) that I feel inherently leads to role-play. (Actually, I'm not quite that confident. I don't feel that it inherently leads there, just that it enables the RP, if we can shepherd the players there. So maybe the RPI feature set is actually more effective?)

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Originally Posted by prof1515 View Post
I'm not exactly sure why role-play caught on more and more but I suspect the draw of graphical MMOs created a drain on players and MUDs began to look beyond the H&S and PvP aspects that were and are the staple of the graphicals.
I suspect you're right

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Originally Posted by prof1515 View Post
Only because people lack adequate English skills to realize that it's Role-Play Intensive and not intense role-play. The fault lies not with the term but with those who are erroneously confusing the two.
Mmmm. Maybe.
But this is where we disagree. (although I don't have enough of an emotional investment to really care. Beyond some teasing here, since writing these posts amuses me when work is boring)

You claim that the problem is a lack of English skills. I claim that the problem is an (unintentionally) misleading term.

I do understand adjective word order. If we break up the two phrases we have:
Intensive role-playing mud
Intensive(adj, opinion) role-playing(adj, purpose) mud(noun)
role-playing intensive mud
role-playing(adj, purpose) intensive(adj, purpose) mud(noun)
and, just for fun:
"These games are inherently role-playing intensive"
These(determiner) games(noun) are(verb) inherently(adverb) role-playing(noun) intensive(adj, purpose)

So it's indisputable that you are using the words correctly.
But the purpose of language is to communicate, and not everyone has studied NL or knows how to do POS tagging. If a significant number of people who know the term RPI misunderstand it to mean that there is intensive RP, well... it doesn't really matter how grammatically correct you are. Confusion is created. There is PR value to a phrase that makes people *think* that you're telling them that these games are focussed on intense RP.

I'd also question the word "intense" as an adjective that is taking the "purpose" position when looking at adjective order. Let's look at some other acronyms.

RPE game
role-play enforced game. So it's a game with role-play being enforced. That makes sense.

FPS game
first-person shooter game. So it's a first-person game. That makes sense. And it's a shooter game. That makes sense.

RPI game
role-play intensive game. So it's a game with role-play. That makes sense. And it's an intensive game. Uh? An "intensive game"? What does that even mean? Are RPI's any more "intensive" than other games? (and we're not talking about "intensive role-play", as you've many times pointed out.) What is an "intensive game"? Does it mean I'm interacting constantly without much chance for rest? Maybe it's "intensive" in the case of intensive care, or intensive workout, where we talk about a lot of effort and work going in - so does it mean that RPIs require more work from the players for the same output? With all that confusion over what, exactly, is "intensive" about the game, I can understand why people might think that the "intensive" refers to the role-play. Even if they have good grammar comprehension.

If we were speaking Latin, this wouldn't be an issue. Unfortunately, we're speaking English, which has a horrible amount of ambiguity in both its structure and use. I'm of the opinion that when creating a term, if the term has an in-built ambiguity (such as what, exactly the "intensity" relates to) and the grammar structure causes problems for many amongst the target audience of the term, then the fault does not lie entirely on the audience. I would argue that at least part of the fault lies with the term.

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Originally Posted by prof1515 View Post
The thing is that pretty much every term in the MUD community has the potential for arguments or is subject to very inaccurate definition. Not every Hack-and-Slash MUD involves hacking or slashing; some are entirely magic-based without a blade in sight. To the best of my knowledge, no player has ever killed another player on a PK MUD. They may kill players' characters but shouldn't that be PCK or CK?
I don't know. Those terms don't match exactly, and may be inaccurate definition, but they hardly cause confusion.
When I talk about a "player-killing MUD" I don't think there are many, amongst the mentally stable audience, that would assume we kill another player. They might not understand what the term refers to, and have to ask, but they won't jump to the wrong conclusion.

Similarly, I might not know what RPE stands for, but if I guess it stands for Role-Play Enforced, then again, there is no confusion.

If I figure out RPI stands for Role-play Intensive... well, there is confusion. Demonstrated by the number of times this topic has come up.

I don't begrudge you the term, but at some point, you might want to consider why you need to defend it. There doesn't seem to be a need to defend the term FPS or RTS - nobody is motivated to describe a FPS as a RTS or vice versa. Even if one style of game is more popular than the other. So why would people be motivated to describe a RPE as an RPI? Surely not just because of all the totally awesome good will that RPIs have gathered over the years? RTS games also have some pretty hefty good will, but that phrase doesn't get misused.

I'd put forward the theory that a strong term would become self-regulating. I'd also put forward the theory that this strong term would have to be descriptive (if not accurate) and emotionally neutral. I would suggest RPE is a good example, I don't think anyone needs to defend the meaning of "RPE" (even if there are admins that list their games as RPE when they don't do any enforcement.)
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Old 09-27-2010, 10:31 PM   #135
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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Originally Posted by prof1515 View Post
It's important to separate the subjective "RPIs are better" comments from the objective "RPIs have this feature" comments.
Mmmm, no argument here.
I just don't think you recognize that the phrase "RPI" itself encourages those two attitudes to combine.

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Originally Posted by prof1515 View Post
I coined the term Role-Play Oriented or RPO back in 2006 to describe games which are far more than merely H&S codebases with enforced role-play yet do not meet the particular characteristics of the RPIs.
I've got no objection to that term, although it doesn't seem to have taken off.

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Originally Posted by prof1515 View Post
They were not up to RPI standards so far as their description of themselves as RPI was concerned.

It's a lot like describing a Honda Accord as not up to Indycar standards. It's not up Indycar standards and would suck major monkey balls if it ran the 500 in May. However, the Honda clearly bests the Indycar in miles per gallon and road handling (Indycars can't make sharp turns or drive in reverse). The context of the "standards" must always be taken into consideration.
I agree. Which is why I didn't disagree with anything he said - I merely pointed out the phrasing might imply MUDs which "meet the standards" are higher quality. That was never explicitly stated.

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Originally Posted by prof1515 View Post
Role-play quality is a subjective assessment and should be taken in context of how it's determined and to what it's compared. For example, I made the comment that the quality of RP on the RPIs isn't what it used to be. This isn't a comparison to non-RPIs. My comment is in regard to the role-play on the same games over a period of a decade and the differences that can be noted.
This is the meat of what I'm really interested in

There isn't any point comparing the decline of quality RP in RPIs to the other games, unless we're seeing similar declines for similar reasons.

The differences that can be noted in the RPIs between then and now are useful. Perhaps we can figure out the causes, and reverse the trend.

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Originally Posted by prof1515 View Post
I think they're more blinded by the desire to attract more and more players. When I started playing RPIs, it wasn't uncommon to see less than 5 people on at any time and to often times be the only player online. That's not the case any more though I've found that quite often while there may be more players online, the role-play experienced interacting with them is lacking compared to that of years past.
Does the greater number of players necessarily indicate that they were blinded by the desire to attract those new arrivals? Could it be a symptom of something else, such as a greater emphasis on RPing in the MUD community (and therefore RPIs are attractive to a greater percentage of the audience?)

Or could it be a symptom of the game having more features, and therefore attracting non-traditional audiences, without necessarily loosing the features and strengths it had before?

My question is... if previously there were less than 5 players, and those players displayed a high level of roleplaying, and now there are more players... how many of that larger pool display a high level of roleplaying? If there are now 20 players online, but only 25% of them display a high level of roleplaying... then we've still got those 5 high quality people. We've just opened the game up to the others, too.

The next question would be, if that's the case, how can the others be taught to RP well, (or encouraged to stay out of the way of the RP if they are uninterested.)

Could this "new blood" be a boon rather than a bane to the roleplaying, once the players are encouraged in the right direction?

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More and more I saw players who didn't learn the game's cultures and didn't role-play according to the setting so much as according to what they wanted.
This is an ongoing problem for me, too. Many players are uninterested in reading any background information. Many others know the background information, but are uninterested in making their character conform.

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Originally Posted by prof1515 View Post
Breaking in-game cultural laws and then claiming "rights" in games where the concept of democratic rights is alien to the cultures depicted would be one example.
Another agreement from me, that is one very damaging thing that regularly happens, if allowed.
The game needs to (and can) push quite hard against that. There can be coded or formalized cultural rules that are put in place. For example, we have the formal rule that someone can't be arrested until AFTER there is enough evidence to prove guilt. And a noble can't just have someone arrested at will. However, when collecting evidence, the word of a noble is worth significantly more than the word of a commoner. This helps to encourage the renaissance setting of a rising middle class, with new freedoms, that are still partially under the control of nobility. Players can talk about "rights" all the want, but there is an undeniable "law of the game universe" that the nobles have the coded ability to have more influence when a trial happens. It changes the debate from "Stupid noble, you can't do that" into "You can't just have me arrested... what, trumped up charges? You don't have evide...oh. You just gave your testimony." so instead of "I have rights" it's "You shouldn't have the ability to do that! But you do..." which pulls the players modern argument back into the renaissance context.

Not directly related to RPIs, I know. But I think it's the same problem. It's something that needs to be fixed by considering the outcome that the game staff want, and structuring the game environment in a way that will encourage the desired behaviour.

In a setting where people have no rights, there should be the ability to bring sanctions down on them, with them unable to (legally) respond. There can still be options for the players to respond. Maybe their characters have to go to criminals for help. But that still makes the point that, legally, they have no option.

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Excessively worrying about personal gains and concentrating on skills and abilities, leading to spam-crafting or mob-bashing, rather than more naturally role-playing their character would be another.
Mmmm, yep.
But how much of that is the player just wanting something different? Or how much are players that wouldn't be doing the role-play anyway?
As long as the economy is balanced properly, it shouldn't matter how many H&S players are off to the side mob-bashing, that won't impact my roleplaying.

What we need, though, are encouragements for those players to RP when they run into other roleplayers. Having people ask "want to group" during my roleplay totally turns me off. Having someone come up and say "Hey, you look capable. Are you interested in joining an expedition?" adds to it.

Not to get off-track by questioning the RPI criteria, but spam-crafting and mob-bashing as an advancement activity only happens when players need to spam-craft or mob-bash to advance their skills. With sensible limits (only one item needs to be made each day, after that it stops adding to skill. Only three mobs need to be killed.) you can cut most of that from your game. The roleplayers can get it "out of the way" quickly, and not feel like they're falling behind or being penalized, while the achievers can spend all day mob-bashing, and feel that they got the reward by finding that extra bear pelt.

I'm of the opinion that "there's no such thing as a bad player, only bad game design." - if the player is doing the wrong thing, then something in the game design is encouraging them to do the wrong thing. Players will always worry about personal gains. And the majority will seek those gains through whatever means is most effective. If you design the game well, so that the desired behaviour is "what is most effective" then the players will follow. If the player is doing something negative, then there must be a reward in it for the player. Remove the reward. Give a similar reward for something positive.

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Originally Posted by prof1515 View Post
Likewise, more and more I found admins willing to look the other way at this behavior and in some cases even facilitating it. When I was on SoI's staff, I was often told "Playability, Falco" in response to my complaints that such admin behavior was enabling twinking and non-RP behavior.
This is tricky, isn't it?
We want to put roleplaying first. But this is still a game. When the player sits down at the keyboard, they need to have fun, or they won't come back tomorrow.

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Playability has its place but it should be done with respect to the players who role-play rather than with concern of appeasing or attracting players for whom RP isn't the primary consideration.
I 100% agree.
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Old 09-27-2010, 10:33 PM   #136
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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To give an example, one veteran on another of the RPIs used to play a guilded and licensed caravan trader. He'd spend months RPing the necessary preparations for the trip, hiring on help, making the huge investment of buying his goods for transport and then making the journey
...
His profits were fairly low, keeping him within the realm of the economic setting
...
The problem was that players who weren't guilded and who didn't want to go through all the above process would band together and just make the trip, selling off hides or goods looted from corpses to make money, then buying the rare goods and returning to sell them for profits far exceeding reasonable
Mmmm, a very good illustration of the conflict between RP vs achievement.
The caravan player obviously wants some achievement, too. Otherwise the lack of profits in comparison to the other players wouldn't be an issue. Likely he wanted achievement for a social reason (wants to be socially respected as the caravan leader who runs profitable expeditions) rather than for the achievement reason. But he still wants an achievement.

And the other players are also aiming for the achievement, without putting in the RP work, additionally they're trying to maximize profits, rather than take whatever makes the most sense to trade.

Again, though, it's a good example of something that can be balanced by a game system (whether coded or staff-run)

The first, obvious thing, is to limit the number of trips. If the RP-guy is the ideal we should be striving for, and he does one trip each year, then limit it to one or two trips a year. That instantly reduces the impact to him - yes, the others can still rush up there and make a bag of money, but they can only do that once a year, rather than once a week. So they end up with similar amounts (even if they put in less work) rather than significantly more profit.

Continuing from that, you can put in RP information. If your staff run NPCs or similar, you could have an NPC that arrived from the trading destination and, if asked, would be able to tell what items are buying at high or low prices. Without taking to an appropriate NPC, the non-RPers would be rolling the dice on whether they get a profit. Their desire to profit will encourage them to seek out these NPCs and roleplay - but even then the caravan leader has an advantage. If the NPCs are rare (they can be rare if you're only going once a year!) then the achievers need to find one themselves. The caravan-leader, having involved a whole lot of other players in the plot, has a lot more eyes on the street. Only one of them needs to talk with the NPC and pass on the information. Additionally, it gives an actual goal that the roleplayers can be aiming for.

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This was illegal according to the laws of the country because they weren't licensed by the guilds to engage in such commerce
So why didn't staff enforce the setting?

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Originally Posted by prof1515 View Post
but staff didn't enforce such laws in order to not upset these players.
That's silly! They had plenty of options. They could have still allowed the trading mechanics, but had some mechanic allowing those players to get caught (say, something like "I want to put a tail on that guy. If he trades without a licence, he should get in trouble") or just had the traders buy and sell for less. They're not going to buy black-market goods, and risk alienating their primary trading partners, for the same price that they'd buy legit goods.

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Instead, they even allowed non-guilded players to obtain licenses to engage in such activities despite their lack of guild credentials. This had the effect of undercutting the guilds and upsetting those players with guild characters who went through all the RP and legitimate procedures.
Mmmm, yeah. I don't know the story (of course) so I'm not judging, but this sounds like very poor form. Adding new options for players is great. Adding new options that make a previous option pointless is bad.

If those players are obtaining licences, presumably they're going through some sort of process - so why can't they just get a licence from the guild proper? And if not, how is this different licence, well, different? Is it once-off? Does it allow trading of different types of goods? If it's just the same, then how does the game benefit from the duplication? (the game may well benefit. I don't know the situation. But the staff should consider what the pros and cons are.)

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The character of the player who was RPing within the setting ended up at a disadvantage to those whose charactears should have been at best scraping by and at worst in jail for blatantly violating guild laws.
Mmmm. But that's just bad game balance if they don't enforce consequences for actions. Those other characters should have been able to profit (maybe profit more) by buying and selling on the black market, but they also should have run the risks, and incurred the costs, of doing so.

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Originally Posted by prof1515 View Post
As an admin, I'm a strong believer in planning RP and accepting the consequences so long as they fall within the realm of plausible.
I agree with this, however I've run into many players that strongly resist planning RP. And I've also run into problems where an unexpected player interacts with a planned plot, and the players who had planned events rigidly resist any change of course.

I'm not sure if I have any ideas of what the "happy medium" is here...

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Sometimes they required ignoring or even contradicting established in-game history and culture to implement leading those players who were aware and respectful of continuity and in-character reaction to question how to role-play the results.
That's always going to happen, though. Mistakes will be made. It's reasonable, as long as those mistakes can be worked around and corrected. Often players will be more aware of game lore than an individual admin.

That said, any big game events or personalities should have enough information that they can be maintained relatively consistently. It is annoying, but doesn't matter terribly if the captain of the guards changes personality from a snotty arrogant individual into a friendly gambler. What matters more is if the captain of the guards previously hated pirates with a passion, and now allies with them, without a significant reason or event to change his mind. Or if he previously refused any help to individuals that weren't either noble or worked for him, and now he takes the side of a commoner against one of his guards. Those events that will have a significant impact on the outcome of a plot should be consistent.

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When A has always led to B and all logical reasoning shows that A leads to B, how does a player deal with A leading to C just because an admin wants the result of C but is too incompetant to create a plot that gives them the result they want?
I can't criticize the admin. If they're incompetent, then... well, I can't expect them to do any better than their best.

What I'd expect is communication. The player should be able to say "Hey, what's going on? Shouldn't B happen?" and the admin should be self confident enough to say "You're right, but we really need C to happen for this plot to progress. Sorry for railroading you, but it was a necessity"

In an ideal situation, things would follow logically, and the outcome of the plot would be based on the players actions. We know that's not always possible. Where it's not possible, there should be good communication between players and admin - something that unfortunately doesn't always happen. But certainly something that can *always* be improved.

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Worse, when the player reacts and manage to find a legitimately-RPed way of changing the outcome back to B, what do they do when staff just make it C again because that's what they want even if doesn't make sense and can't be achieved in any way?
Yeah. But that point, things have really gone haywire. The player should have been told, way before that, about how C had to be the outcome. And asked not to push for B.

Again, not my ideal. I'd like players to have the ability to control the outcome (as long as that outcome leads sensibly from the players actions) - but I recognize that sometimes staff just need to make C happen instead of B.

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As if that weren't bad enough, what does a player do when it's obvious that the admin wants the result of C because it's preferential to another player to whom they show favor?
The player either decides if they can accept that favouritism, and plays on. Or they find a way around it (such as by brown-nosing and becoming a favourite themselves), or they move onto another game.

One of the problems you mentioned above was players trying to change the game, rather than fit in with what's expected. If admins want to run the game by showing favouritism, well, that's their choice. I don't agree with that choice, but it's their call.

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These are all examples of poor quality in role-play as well as destructive administrative duties which result in sub-standard role-play.
Agreed.

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I'd write more but I'm not feeling well and need to get back to bed so please excuse me if I didn't address any further points. I'll try to review the rest of the posts and respond accordingly when I've had some rest.
I think you covered everything I mentioned. I'm interested to hear more about examples or causes of declining RP, though. I like the opportunity to try and design ways to admin the game that will minimize or remove the problems. Identifying the problems is the first (and often hardest) step in that.

Take care, hope you feel better soon.
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Old 09-27-2010, 10:33 PM   #137
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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As many of us said before, roleplaying is a matter of taste, and many people honestly think of roleplaying as very different things.
Certainly! But a chef can learn to make delicious food despite patrons having varying tastes.

One of the largest challenges with RP, is that it involves interacting with other players. That means, it doesn't matter how great the game is, the roleplay of the other player will have a large impact on my fun.

I see a large part of our job as finding ways to encourage players to become better roleplayers (depending on what taste our game is aiming for) and give them incentives to build relationships with other characters.
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Old 09-28-2010, 01:35 AM   #138
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

Goodness Silvarilon, you really want us to read all that. Okay. so I did, but holy cow, find something more constructive to do. Poor prof1515 is going to have to spend a day answering all that.
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Old 09-28-2010, 02:06 AM   #139
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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Goodness Silvarilon, you really want us to read all that. Okay. so I did, but holy cow, find something more constructive to do. Poor prof1515 is going to have to spend a day answering all that.
This is what happens when I'm bored at work

Usually I'd spend my time coding in the mud, or planning specific systems. But I'm going cold-turkey on that for a few months - so all I'm left with is participating in these more general discussions.
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Old 09-28-2010, 05:57 AM   #140
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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Stuff

Just to clarify, I don't look down on RP-enforced, non-RPI-- or even non-RP muds at all. There's something out there for everybody.

Do I think RPIs are superior and wish there was a bit more variety to the RPI mud market? Sure... But everybody's got their own opinion on things, y'know?
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