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Old 01-27-2013, 08:52 PM   #1
dark acacia
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PC physical descriptions

When you create a character which encourages or requires a physical description (long desc) and a short room description, do you have your own set system for how you describe your character to conform to the game's rules?

When I create a character's long description, it always seems like mad libs. I start with the most obvious features first (skin color, height, hair length and color, and build), then work my way down towards the features which would require a person to look closely to see (hand and feet size, facial features, and eye color). It comes out something like this:

"You see a [sex] [race, if applicable] with [hair length] [hair type (curly, straight, etc)] [hair color] hair and [skin color or type] skin. He/she is about [a relative height, rather than specific] feet tall with a [build type] build, [hip, shoulder, and bust size], [arm and leg length and musculature], and [hand and feet size] hands and feet. He/she has [lip size and color] lips, [chin shape], [nose shape], [eye shape and color], and [ear type, if applicable]."

I don't see any reason to have a terribly long or extremely detailed long description, as I personally never pay a lot of attention to other players' descriptions unless for some reason it's important for current roleplay.

For the short description, I usually include some combination of hair length and color, race, and skin color. If there's some obvious and immediately noticeable, perhaps unusual, feature, I include it here. Especially short or tall characters would have some mention of height, but I wouldn't include something like a small scar on the cheek.

A couple things which annoy me about other players' descriptions are eye color in the short description, and $5 words picked up from the thesaurus. Eye color is not something easily noticed from a distance or at a quick glance, but for some reason there are always people who have "sapphire blue" or "twinkling emeralds" or things like that in their short descriptions and it's allowed.
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Old 01-27-2013, 09:42 PM   #2
Darren Brimhall
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Re: PC physical descriptions

A basic way of doing this is to first create a 100 word (or less) discription of said character or object to use with any 'Look' command. And for any further in-detailed views, use an 'Examine' command

This is also true if a detail view is warrented of a specifit part of characters clothing, physical appearance (including scars and tattoos) or any details lightly viewed using the initial 'Look' command, that'll only focus upon those individual traits. Of course, a player maybe offended if another views them with the 'Examine' command.

I agree that discriptions don't need to be really long. About 100 words, using the typing method of counting (every five spaces counts as one 'word', including spaces and puncturation marks) generally does the trick.


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Old 01-27-2013, 11:59 PM   #3
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Re: PC physical descriptions

I don't think I've ever played a game with long and short descriptions. What's the reason for having two? (I'm genuinely curious.)

We always had characters start out with descriptions generated by combining a bunch of selected options for hair length, color, style, build, eye color, etc. Then when they reached a certain benchmark they became eligible for custom descriptions which described characters a little more in depth. The difference was something like...

You see Kavak, a middle-aged male celarti.
He is tall and slender and seems to be robust and dashing.
He has slitted ruby eyes, dusky skin and a cleanly shaven face.
His pitch-black shoulder-length hair is windswept and lightly tossled.

as opposed to...

Tall and slim with clean, angular features, he seems confident and stately,
even for a celarti. Dusky skin draws taughtly over high cheekbones and a
slender jaw, smooth as sculpted stone, its flawless surface marred only by a
pair of glittering ruby eyes. A shadow of ebony hair falls to his shoulders.
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Old 01-28-2013, 01:59 AM   #4
dark acacia
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Re: PC physical descriptions

Most rp-enforced games I've played required long and short descriptions.

Short descriptions are exactly that, they are a single sentence with a brief description of the character. When you look in a room or enter it, you see the short descriptions of other PCs. It's handy in games where PCs are not assumed to know each others' names without being introduced first. There's actually an introduction command in some games which replaces the short description text, but I really dislike it. You end up getting people who think that randomly introducing themselves to other people out of the blue is acceptable roleplay.

Long descriptions are more detailed and show up when you look at a specific PC.
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Old 01-28-2013, 10:50 AM   #5
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Re: PC physical descriptions

Quote:
Originally Posted by dark acacia View Post
Most rp-enforced games I've played required long and short descriptions.

Short descriptions are exactly that, they are a single sentence with a brief description of the character. When you look in a room or enter it, you see the short descriptions of other PCs. It's handy in games where PCs are not assumed to know each others' names without being introduced first. There's actually an introduction command in some games which replaces the short description text, but I really dislike it. You end up getting people who think that randomly introducing themselves to other people out of the blue is acceptable roleplay.

Long descriptions are more detailed and show up when you look at a specific PC.
Ah. I see.

I played a game like that once.
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Old 01-28-2013, 10:57 AM   #6
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Re: PC physical descriptions

UL features a description generator during chargen. It results in mad lib style descriptions. These can be further altered via an ooc currency.

The standard descriptions look like this:

Drelk is a male re'har of the re'hari breed in his middle twenties with observant jade green eyes, accented by multi-colored flecks. He has short black fur covered with scattered deeper black spots and a long, curved tail. His tousled raven hair is worn tied back with a small strip of leather and his ears are inquisitive. He is below average height and has a slight build with lithe legs.

The game doesn't have short descriptions, rather it uses a players name, plus any pre or post titles that they choose to use. Players are pretty good about not actually using a person's name until they learn it.
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Old 01-28-2013, 12:51 PM   #7
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Re: PC physical descriptions

Like OP, I am guilty of not reading character descriptions very often. I feel that most long descs I see are way too long and expecting someone to read a description that takes half your output window in a MUD environment (where people are doing fast, one-line poses or says) is ridiculous. I'm pretty sure I got pk'd while reading one of those monster descriptions once.

I like to write concise long descs that don't take up half the page. If I can at least describe the major attributes of my character (skin color, relative height, hair, build, general face shape / info, any other noticeable qualities), then I am happy. Some of my better descriptions are only five to seven sentences.

I do something similar to the OP where I prioritize important / unusual features first. I start by describing the most noticeable qualities, then connect some of the items to each other using verbs as I go from most interesting to least. In general, I don't use an actual template where I substitute adjectives, but I follow the same style for all of my characters.

As for $5 words, I try to avoid extremely pretentious language (twinkling emerald orbs, as you put it). Instead, my gimmick is using action verbs to chain together the description instead of saying 'He has blue eyes'. It tends to make the description much more interesting to read and lets you describe your character with simple adjectives. It also helps make the desc shorter.
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Old 01-28-2013, 07:54 PM   #8
Darren Brimhall
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Re: PC physical descriptions

The general reasoning behind 'two' discriptions involves detailing of sais object or character, which may have an influence on some plot run in the future--though 'how' is usually up to the player or staffers who created the character.

They can also be a source of irritation, as suddenly having other players 'examine' your character can become quite unnerving--if not rude--during gameplay.


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Old 01-29-2013, 05:39 AM   #9
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Re: PC physical descriptions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Will View Post
I don't think I've ever played a game with long and short descriptions. What's the reason for having two? (I'm genuinely curious.)
Actually in most DikuMUDs there are three descriptions, as follows:

* "short_desc": Used instead of a name, mostly just for mobs, but also used for players in certain muds (notably RPIs, and muds that use character recognition/introduction systems to conceal names until you know the person).

* "long_descr": A single sentence that is displayed when you type "look" within the same room as the character. Mostly used for mobs, and usually generated for players automatically based on their current position (standing, resting, sitting on a couch, etc), although I believe a few muds allow players to customise them.

* "description": Usually a paragraph, this is what you see when you actively look at someone, often followed by a list of what they're wearing. Players are usually allowed to customise these, sometimes with guidelines.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Will View Post
We always had characters start out with descriptions generated by combining a bunch of selected options for hair length, color, style, build, eye color, etc. Then when they reached a certain benchmark they became eligible for custom descriptions which described characters a little more in depth.
I generate all character descriptions too, except I don't give players the option of customising them. I don't run an RP mud and I don't have rules, so automating the process ensures that the descriptions are at least thematic (instead of rude ASCII pictures). It also means the descriptions are accurate (particularly as they incorporate worn equipment), which gives them a purpose beyond simple cosmetics.

As my mud makes extensive use of shapechanging, it means I can also carry over attributes from one form to another, providing a degree of consistency between the forms. For example a werewolf with blond hair in human form would have white fur in wolf form, while a dragon with dark green scales would also be dark-skinned in human form.
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Old 01-29-2013, 10:25 AM   #10
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Re: PC physical descriptions

Quote:
Originally Posted by KaVir View Post
Actually in most DikuMUDs there are three descriptions, as follows:

* "short_desc": Used instead of a name, mostly just for mobs, but also used for players in certain muds (notably RPIs, and muds that use character recognition/introduction systems to conceal names until you know the person).
Interesting. My almost 30 years of MUD experience has consisted nearly exclusively of pay games, including Gemstone III, Legends of Futures Past and Inferno. The only one of the three not built on a custom platform is Inferno, and it was built on a highly modified version of LambdaMOO. As a result, I have little to no frame of reference for discussing most of the MUD codebases which have become most popular.

Having read your post, though, I believe we actually use multiple descs and do a lot of the same things done with multiple descriptions that other games do. We just don't call them all "descriptions" or do all the same things the same ways. For example, our "names" are really the "short descriptions" used in other games. We go with actual character names instead of short descriptions because I prefer it philosophically. But our naming mechanics allow us to structure "names" as "short descriptions" if we want or need to. That's what we do with MOBs and automated NPCs, as well as some characters in disguise (who appear in the game to be just more automated NPCs).

Quote:
* "long_descr": A single sentence that is displayed when you type "look" within the same room as the character. Mostly used for mobs, and usually generated for players automatically based on their current position (standing, resting, sitting on a couch, etc), although I believe a few muds allow players to customise them.
We do the same thing. We just handle it dynamically in the "look" command, which checks the pertinent object properties and displays the appropriate "long_descr." Could you describe how long "long_descr" is used for MOBs?

Quote:
* "description": Usually a paragraph, this is what you see when you actively look at someone, often followed by a list of what they're wearing. Players are usually allowed to customise these, sometimes with guidelines.
Our "description" is the Diku "description."

Quote:
I generate all character descriptions too, except I don't give players the option of customising them. I don't run an RP mud and I don't have rules, so automating the process ensures that the descriptions are at least thematic (instead of rude ASCII pictures). It also means the descriptions are accurate (particularly as they incorporate worn equipment), which gives them a purpose beyond simple cosmetics.
We work with players to come up with what we call "custom descriptions," four 90-character lines which become a large part of what you see when you actively "look" at a character. The "look" verb also shows body position, clothing, and injuries, tattoos, scars, etc, if clothing isn't covering them up. Players can't change their "descriptions" themselves.

I think a lot of what we do is just an outgrowth of the fact that everything in the game is an object, and we can manipulate object properties however we want. So we customize object (character) names, prepositions, prefixing adjectives and postfixes instead of adding multiple description properties.

Quote:
As my mud makes extensive use of shapechanging, it means I can also carry over attributes from one form to another, providing a degree of consistency between the forms. For example a werewolf with blond hair in human form would have white fur in wolf form, while a dragon with dark green scales would also be dark-skinned in human form.
This is very cool. I have to think about possibly doing something like it myself.

Completely unrelated: Does anyone know when "crafting" first appered in MUDs?
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:03 PM   #11
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Re: PC physical descriptions

How longdescs are used for mobs (and for PCs) in some dikus:

look west
>The green-furred kobold is here, growling hungrilly.

look here
>This is the room. It has a description, around six lines long. There's mention of some
trees, a clearing to the west, undergrowth and various other vegetation, and the
sound of a bunch of different animals. Because this is a semi-dynamic room description,
you can tell it's presently daytime, since the room description talks about light filtering
in through the branches.
>A grainy red stone rolls around the ground.
>The tall, slender woman stands stiffly against a tree.
>The black-haired half-elf watches the west, arrow poised against his bow.

In the examples above, the kobold is an NPC. The tall, slender woman is a PC, who is hoping the kobold doesn't see her, because if he does, he'll come in and try to kill her. The half-elf is also a PC, who is trying to protect his friend by killing the kobold from a distance.
The rough red stone is just a stone - maybe the woman dropped it, or some other guy was foraging looking for nicer things and found that and left it there. Or possibly someone tried to shoot a sling at the kobold and missed

If I were a hunter passing through, these are what I would see, when I walk into the room, or type "look here" and when I type "look west."

As a player, I would be able to set that long description, OR I could let the game keep the default: %N is standing here. Or %N is sitting here, looking exhausted. Or %N is asleep here, bleeding profusely. However is appropriate for the situation. Different coded criteria return different ldescs. The generic default would be "%N is standing here."
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Old 02-01-2013, 04:20 PM   #12
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Re: PC physical descriptions

When I create my characters' long descriptions I try to write it in the style of how a novelist might describe them. I never ever describe other players' reactions to my character. I've read many descriptions that look more like D&D descriptions (like the narrative you might expect a DM to read with some "You see"s in them). I don't really like that style, but that's merely personal opinion.

On the MUD I play/dev short descriptions for players are titles. Famous (powerful) players can pick their own, mostly.
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