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Old 04-22-2002, 04:11 PM   #1
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From room and object descriptions to character descriptions, preferences can range from extremely simplistic to excessively verbose.

What's the happy medium? Or is there one? How much is just enough? How much is too much?

And how can having too little or too much - or just enough - affect RP?
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Old 04-23-2002, 11:08 AM   #2
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Personally, I love descriptions. Having played text-based adventure games waaaay back when, I was one of those players who actually set the game to VERBOSE. But I digress...

I enjoy reading well-written descriptions that really give me a really solid picture in my mind of what the person, place or thing looks like. Whether it's long or short, so long as it gives me that mental picture, I'm loving it.

However, I think in casual roleplay that a really long, spammy description can be distracting. If you have to read someone's description for ten minutes before greeting them, it can really hold up a scene. I generally try to keep my character descriptions under a single screen in my client. I realize that this might appear differently to others depending on their monitor resolution and settings in their MU* client, but this is what I use as a guideline. If it starts getting too long, I start making use of +view, &short-desc, and any other code that might aid in my character's description -- the rest should be a basic description which will give folks a general idea of what the character looks like. Everything else is left for further inspection, if the other players so wish to do so.

I guess the same can be said for rooms.

Ultimately, I try to remember the good old days when I used raw telnet to MU* and didn't have such a thing as pause or scroll. If it scrolls past my screen in telnet (I have actually used it as a tester), then I need to cut it down. If anything gets lost scrolling up the screen, there's a very good chance that people aren't going to scroll up (or can't) and might miss any details in that segment of the description. It just gets wasted.

The other thing is that many people I've spoken to prefer it short and sweet, so if a description is too long, they might not even bother reading it (attention span is everything!. Again, if roleplay depends on details in a description, this could be a fatal error.
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Old 04-23-2002, 12:25 PM   #3
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When it comes to player descriptions, I usually like short and sweet ones, no more than a few lines long. Yes, a person can be described in verbose, intimate detail, but you don't notice those details when you meet someone irl.

Concerning room descriptions, I have played with both really long room descs (a page for a room) and those with one liners. I prefer a middle-ground, more than 3 lines, no more than 5. When I built rooms, the appearance of the words used was as important to me as the words themselves. If I didn't like the Look of a room desc, I'd rewrite this or that with different wording, or a synonym, until the room looked right to me, the lines looked good. So, yes, while the content of the description needs to be descriptive, when you enter a room 'Wind-Swept Dune in the Desert' and discover a 14-line description of an empty room of sand, the room description implies more content or important to the room than it actually has. Longer room descs for more important rooms was my motto.

I know I'll be labeled for this, but I love the brief command sometimes
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Old 04-23-2002, 09:33 PM   #4
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Personally? I like 'em long, lithe and, mmmm...lotsa curves. Seriously, though, I've always been a sucker for a long description.  But on the other side of the coin, I have ADD. So put them together, and you have me, who may not read all of the descriptions that I see, but liking the option to do so. And I've learned to be pretty good at skimming text to get the feel of it for quick rp. But if you need to know a detail, it's good to know you can scroll back and look for it. It gives me a sense of...comfort, perhaps?

That being said, there is always a point at which it becomes too much. I find that tends to happen after maybe 30-40 lines (A little more than a page on my client) for me, depending on the writing ability of the desc'er. 5 if the desc'er is particularly terrible. When the desc stops being about the room or person's 'feel' and starts turning into a grocery list, or often, just a bad rehashing of what was said earlier in the description, that's when you need to stop. If you can keep a metaphor going that long, I'm much more tolerant, especially if it's a good metaphor. But obviously, that's not everyone, or even many desc'ers.
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Old 04-24-2002, 04:01 AM   #5
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Well, I always tells my builders the best thing to do is put yourself in the scene you're trying to create. In the case of a forest, I'd tell them to go to the nearest park or something and write down what they see. Some have taken my advice and their descriptions have come out quite nice making every room unique and add_items full of detail (LPC codebase). I feel long_desc's should be minimum 4 to 5 lines long and every noun should be accounted for in the add_items of the rooms. Also, adding silly actions like picking blade of grass for no reason add colour to an area and give it a character that players will either appreciate or take for granted, and in both cases, they stay.
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Old 04-24-2002, 08:06 AM   #6
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I don't think character descriptions have to be exceptionally long - if it's enough to give the other players a quality, mental image of the character, then that's what you need. I would say a few lines, 5 sentecens, thereabouts and you should be fine.

As for room descriptions, I think the same concept applies. If it can give people a decent mental image of the room/area then that's what you need. In some areas, a long road, a forest, the descriptions tend to get redundant and can be shorter - for particular special rooms, make 'em a bit longer.

Also for room descriptions, the use of extra descriptions off of keywords in the room description can make a huge difference. This way the room description can be kept a bit shorter, but you can add the detail in the extra descs. Sure, lots of people might not read those - but for those that do, they will truly enjoy them. Not only that, in areas I've built, I've often tried to put important information, clues, quest starters, etc. inside extra descriptions in rooms - so if people just rush through they might miss something of value, something that *could* spark some roleplaying...

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Old 04-24-2002, 07:33 PM   #7
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Descriptions are meant to be read, they give a player or place basic atmosphere.

One thing about room descriptions, however, is that it can make a tavern for example, feel like a much larger envirorment for rp instead of just a closet where you can almost feel what else is in there. It can make people try to get attention as well, since there may as well be someone back in a corner, or maybe someone that couldn't see your character entering.

Or maybe it's a street, or a flight deck, miles long, could a character see someone on the opposite side? Not in most cases, or that character has telescopic vision, yet this kind of stuff seems to be sacrificed, maybe your character should have to come up with something to attract attention. Not too much, but something of interest, at least.

This is an underused part of descriptions, I think most people keep it general so they look like they know what they are doing, and I'm not saying everyone has to be perfect, but they should be able to have a basic idea of what is going on. While MU*s are based on imagination, it is also based on constraints of the descriptions and those of the other players.
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Old 04-30-2002, 12:47 PM   #8
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When I read descriptions, I look for what is different. You can write a 15 line description that covers all details, or you can use a few simple adjectives such as:

of average height
or with tanned skin

and then add the important details such as:

a thin lipped mouth, drawn down naturally into a frown
or a snaking scar across the jaw

I would rather see a couple unusual features then every interesting thing about your character. After all, isn't that how we first recall people, by what features stick out?

As for rooms, the more you can interact with features the better. Though I would agree that a desert with nothing but sand does not need a long description, a mention of a piece of bone or wood, perhaps of the slope down or up, or the rippling waves caused by the wind, would all add to the room. In indoor rooms, long to me, is good. Because inside, you may not look around a lot at first (so you just scan the description) but if you spend some time in the room you might begin to notice details (at which point you are reading specific extra descriptions for objects, etc.) Like real life, give layers to descriptions, so as you begin to spend more time around a place, you get to know it better.

Ooh, that sparked a thought. Too bad we can't have extra descriptions on our characters. 4-5 lines for our description, and then 2 lines or so for a few chosen features. So if I had that snaking scar, I could add a description that if you "look sapphar scar" you would see a few lines describing the path of it, or the color the scar tissue has taken, or how it pulls her lip down at an odd angle. *ponder* bet thats something that will never be implemented. *pout*

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