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Old 07-19-2002, 10:16 PM   #1
Burr
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It occurred to me that the best roleplay would come from placing yourself in a new, but real, situation, rather than pretending to be in such a situation. (That is, it would be if we were to define roleplay as acting in a role that isn't your normal role.) Increasing the reality of a situation does not necessarily decrease the "play" of the roleplay. After all, are we not playing in the real world, at the same moment that we are working or fighting in the fantasy world? Our play is very real; it is the work and fighting that is not.

So what if rather than starting with the idea of creating a world for fake work and fighting, and hoping to make it playful on a more real level, we tried to create a world specifically for real play.

If I haven't been so vague as to absolutely confuse you all, then I'm sure one of you is right now thinking of how "utopian" muds were created in the past, and they just didn't work as well as the muds that had some amount of psychological risk (thus making them game-play rather than just play). But I think such a mud <i>could</i> work well now that people have more experience creating virtual worlds.

Someone recently posted an article that talked a lot about the Sims. I submit the success of the Sims as evidence to support my claim. I haven't had the opportunity to play it myself, but from what I gather, yes, there is gameplay involved in the Sims. However, I infer from the article that there is much less than there is in muds. The game focuses on the creation worlds to live in, not so much on the attempt to live in the world. The game focuses on real play derived in large part from pretend play, not so much on real play derived from pretend work. Often, because the play focuses on sociability, the play isn't pretend at all.

However, like a lot of muds, even the Sims limits itself. The creators of the Sims, just like the creators of all the muds I'm familiar with, are evolving their world in large part as an imitation of the real world, rather than as a real extension of it. It's as if we are saying, "Well, it's not real, but it will just have to do."

The Internet is real. It has real limits, real capabilities, and real potential, not to mention real people. One of the Internet's capabilities, through telnet, is the ability to organize information into the navigable sections that we call "rooms" in muds. But just because we call them "rooms" doesn't mean we have to limit ourselves to concepts we might call "rooms" in the real world. For example, here's an admittedly half-baked idea I had while writing this post:

1) Somehow obtain permission to the text of a good book.
2) Put each page of the book in a single room.
3) Add page-by-page navigation, as well as a teleportation type navigation.
4) Encourage people to read the book in this way together. Give them means to talk and such on the way.
4) In pages that describe a battle, allow fighting.
5) In pages that have dialogue, have NPCs act it out, or allow the readers to roleplay alternate conversations.

Now they aren't "rooms" at all, but "pages."

Of course, as I said, that was just a half-baked idea for the purposes of giving example. My real purpose for writing this long post was to bring up the idea of creating a real world rather than a pretend world in a mud, a True World.

What distinguishes a True World from a pretend world? For one, in creating a True World, no limits would be created merely for the sake of imitating the real world. Why force people to navigate slowly if, with the option to teleport or some such thing, they can achieve their goals much faster? Real limits, those that would be accepted (though only temporarily), would be things like the number of coders on hand, the capabilities of the server, the amount of information that a person can absorb at one time, etc.

Another thing that would distinguish a True World from a pretend world is that the risk (or the gameplay, which ever you want to call it) would evolve naturally, such as those from real conflicts of real motivations of real people in a world with real limits. That is to say, create a complex enough world, and the gameplay will come all by itself, just like in the real world. Oh, but it isn't fun gameplay. Murder and theft in the real world aren't fun. That isn't the point. On the level of mudding, being pked isn't fun either. The fun is in the life you lead in the world despite the rather un-fun gameplay.

Now, this isn't all to say that the creators of muds have been wrong all along. Rather - as I believe was also mention in the article recently posted - the history of muds has been a beneficial evolution. Limiting ourselves with imitations of the real world as we are used to it is much like limiting a student to the laws of Newtonian physics before teaching him Einstein's theories.

I suppose my conclusion is that a True World is what we are evolving towards. Like Marx, I think certain evolutions can be inevitable, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't help it along if and when we can. The best world we can create on the Internet will be, by definition, a True World, and it would be foolish to strive for any world other than the best we reach.
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Old 07-20-2002, 05:01 PM   #2
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I agree that RP is best in a realistic world, that is why the premier RP games in the world avoid coding much of anything. They are called MUSH.

The problem is that you can only code a finite amount, even with a team that is constantly working. To produce a full simulation of the real world in any significant sense would take hundreds of people 20 years to accomplish. Code is finite, reality is infinite, so somewhat compromises have to be made.

Since everything is conected, each little compromise can lead to all sorts of non-realistic wierdness. This is such a massive subject that frankly it is beyond a lot of people including game designers.

The obvious solution is to remove all the coded bits of reality and replace it with cooperative storytelling by all the participants. In truth you do not even need a MUSH, just a good full featured Chat Room will do. But this style of game is totally different from what the average non-RP MU* is all about.

Your Book idea is interesting, but a book is a one way road. What I mean is that events follow a path and one ending results. What you would need is a multipath story so that victory in combat can lead one way, and loss leads another. Authors can write such things of course, if they know that is what they are supposed to do.

I am a big supporter of a realistic approach to game design when RP is involved, so in general I am with you on wanting that to be a focus when possible. But there is one statement you made that I just have to question a bit:

"Why force people to navigate slowly if, with the option to teleport or some such thing, they can achieve their goals much faster?"

Because to me that is the kind of thinking that causes problems. Unless you are more advanced than I, you cannot teleport anywhere in the real world. Distance, time to travel, and terrain are very significant in human history. Wars are fought over territory, distance creates cultural differences, trade is defined by the means used in transport.

Consider human history for a moment, and then give people the ability to teleport. How much would change?

I am just pointing this out because I believe that a realistic basis in the world makes for good RP play. People should be free to choose any actions that make logical sense in the setting. They have to be able to understand the possible outcomes of their actions and can only do that in a world that makes sense to them.

A.T
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Old 07-20-2002, 08:09 PM   #3
 
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There are several styles of roleplay.  What you've described I call the immersive style.  Very much like Armagedon.  There is also freestyle or storyteller roleplay which is descriptive of many Mush enviroments.  There's also gamemastered roleplay, common in tabletop games and on some Mushes/MOOs/Mucks.  IMO, no amount of code or realism will elicit good roleplay.  Roleplay is entirely dependent upon the interests, talents and skills of your players.  The best roleplay I've ever seen occured over a kitchen table or in a chat room, not in a any mud server that coincindental hosted a "game".  I think that's the key, the word "game" or "goal".  If you design a mud server that includes anything that can be "gamed", you attract non-role-players.  

So can one implement an immersive realism without including gameable systems?  I don't know.
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Old 07-20-2002, 09:02 PM   #4
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Oh dear.  I really failed to get my point across.  What you are describing is merely a more accurate representation of the world outside the Internet.  I'm talking about a world designed specifically for the Internet.

Temporarily remove the real world from your perception of the Internet.  Imagine for the moment that the Internet is entire the universe known to you (with all other persons being unaffected.)  It doesn't have laws of conservation of energy or anything like that, as far as you are concerned.  It is what it is.  Imagine you have absolutely no conception of a world outside the Internet, except by the absurd descriptions of the other people on the Internet.

Then imagine how you, to the best of your abilities, would design a place in the Internet.  You wouldn't base it on this "real world" idea that the people of speak of, or at least not much if you could help it.  Rather, you would base it on the limitations of the Internet itself, as well the limitations of the hosts of people who mysteriously appear and disappear so often (and talk of some "real world" idea that you think absurd).  The latter limitations would decrease as the people become used to the logic of your design.  The former limitations would hopefully decrease, though from your perspective, you wouldn't realize how it was happening.  (It wouldn't matter to you anymore than the physics of Heaven matter to those of us on earth.)

I intended the book example as a stepping stone before diving into a concept excluding the real world concepts almost completely.  I suppose it didn't step far down enough, so that significance was lost and only the superficial idea remained.  Or maybe I should have waited until I had a more concrete example in mind of my final concept - not that I'm currently planning to come up with one.  Anyhow, I hope the above does a better job of explaining the basis of my writing in the original post.
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Old 07-22-2002, 01:49 AM   #5
 
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Ok How about Neuromancer?
Or Tron?
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Old 07-22-2002, 02:45 AM   #6
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Or, and here's a radical idea, we could Live in the Real World, and play in the virtual (translate: Not Real) one.

I don't support extreme 'realism' in muds. Where others want realistic design, I simply want depth to the Games I am playing. If you propose that a MU* is an expression of Art, like a painting, or a novel, I would still term it 'depth' and not 'realism'. And I would still enjoy it because it was a game, not because I wanted another life.
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Old 07-31-2002, 08:46 PM   #7
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I am beginning to see where you are going with this Burr, but I think a little more concrete data would be helpful.

A couple things to consider is that limits and consequences define much of our behavior. If it takes zero time to get anywhere then things like terrain are not very important.

The first kind of game that springs to mind based on what you are saying would be a sort of nethack/people gathering sort of thing. The map would be servers and other points of power on the net, and players would try to take control of as much as possible. You could mix a sort of politics into it by having people gain strength based on the number of people in their group.

But perhaps you have another type of idea in mind?

A.T
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Old 07-31-2002, 09:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Miyamoto @ July 22 2002,09:45 am)
Or, and here's a radical idea, we could Live in the Real World, and play in the virtual (translate: Not Real) one.

I don't support extreme 'realism' in muds.  Where others want realistic design, I simply want depth to the Games I am playing.  If you propose that a MU* is an expression of Art, like a painting, or a novel, I would still term it 'depth' and not 'realism'.  And I would still enjoy it because it was a game, not because I wanted another life.
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Originally Posted by
I don't support extreme 'realism' in muds.  Where others want realistic design, I simply want depth to the Games I am playing.
Many people seem to have problems with this concept..

The game depth you describe is realism. It's the reality of that realm, and as long as the realism supports the realm (by, for example, allowing non-ripping spandex), it is good. Hence, realism in MUDs is good -as long as it's the realism of that world.

The OP wanted to create realism -however, if he tries to make a world and incorporate the reality of our world into it, he will not succeed. If, on the other hand, he shall model the world closely after ours, and then make it realistic within it's context, the result will probably be very good -for the person who likes the world.

It's not really whether you like 'realism'. You just prefer other worlds to this.

E
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Old 08-01-2002, 01:03 PM   #9
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Hmm Burr, not to insult your idea any but much of what you described sound alot like the setting of The Matrix. It was real life lived virtually etc. I klnow there is much potential on internet but I think it will be some time before something with that amount of "realism" can effectively be done so that the "masses" would have access to it.

Just my thoughts.
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Old 08-01-2002, 02:14 PM   #10
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You've got the general idea, Mr. Tau. Commercial sites and whatnot would want no part in such a game. But there's already a primitive form of the game going on beneath our noses; each mud can be looked at as a team of shifting allegiances, just as you describe in your example. And there are many other non-mud sites that are the same way, with no purpose in mind other than the fun of the game itself. By making such places our teams, our players, we could construct a new game. Of some kind.
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Old 08-04-2002, 06:49 AM   #11
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That is not a game, it is called Politics.

And here in the US anyway, we play it very seriously, always and forever.

So we have 2 game designs on the table, one that would actually incorporate in some way actual Internet Sites and such, and another that is a form of internet simulation existing inside a strange MU*.

The Real Internet version would be complex, and a supreme challenge almost doomed to failure. But lets say the main way a Faction/Team gains power is by getting working Sites to place a graphic somewhere online. If you had a graphics server to handle the load you could count hits, but perhaps just an estimation of the size of a Site would do.

Personal Web Pages could count, with some limits to prevent abuse of Web Hosters, which by the way is just the first in a MASSIVE list of potential problems in the whole design, and add another source of Faction power.

The only thing really lacking here is what a Faction would be able to do with the power. Unless the game could in fact provide real world resources in return I cannot think of even a basic answer to this aspect of the design.

So lets go to the Internal Internet. All the Sites in the above idea would be virtual, and players would have to apply other things to actually gain control. Hacking within the game would be a viable option, as would techniques to influence NPCs to your Factions side. This would take some interaction AI for the NPCS but that is doable.

If the whole game is really 'inside the machine' then you could populate it with a form of NPC that represented active programs (or agents, hey a Matrix reference) that could have a form of interactive personality. You could sum the world up in terms of number of servers controled, Agent alliances, Character alliances and so forth to produce power. Mostly it would be used to acquire more power, and to provide for safe fun environments for the characters to live in.

You could include normal combat as in any old MU*, but frankly I would not. Why create such a unique design and then toss a load of plain hand to hand combat into the mix? Other more player directed combat could be much more fitting.

But these two ideas are similar but rather different, one reflects the other but turning real world places into a game is wayyyy to big to discuss along with a net-hack style science fiction Mud.

A.T
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