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Old 08-30-2003, 01:50 PM   #1
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One of our players held a poll recently, checking to see what characteristics players preferred when developing a character's personality. Leading the race: Cunning.

It probably shouldn't be too surprising that many people in roleplaying environments want to play a character who's clever. But, the sad truth is, some people behind these characters aren't quite as intelligent as the characters themselves.

How does one balance the desire to have one's character seen as intelligent against the embarrassment of looking stupid from time to time? And how do you balance the repercussions of stupid player choices with the need to maintain a flow of IC actions and consequences?
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Old 08-30-2003, 04:13 PM   #2
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I don't really see a way to make a character intelligent when the player isn't unless you move up one level of abstraction. In other words, instead of: Bob says, "It's my considered opinion that the world is flat, and I can prove it." (which would mark him as stupid presuming your world isn't flat) you'd need to abstract to: Bob says something remarkably intelligent about the fundamental nature of the world.

You can rp someone dumber than you at the common level of abstraction (ie having to actually speak the words) but I don't see how you can play somone more intelligent. It's just you, the player, communicating, after all, and you can't be more than you are.

--matt
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Old 08-30-2003, 05:14 PM   #3
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And yet, amusingly, intelligence remains a staple of character attributes as if it can be quantified by the game. Its even more ridiculous when you stop to notice that intelligence is usually just a synonym of "magical ability" in most MUDs, and could easily be called just that without the unfortunate side-effects of "intelligence".

When will we learn?

- Ryan
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Old 08-30-2003, 05:16 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (the_logos @ Aug. 30 2003,16:13)
I don't really see a way to make a character intelligent when the player isn't unless you move up one level of abstraction. In other words, instead of: Bob says, "It's my considered opinion that the world is flat, and I can prove it." (which would mark him as stupid presuming your world isn't flat) you'd need to abstract to: Bob says something remarkably intelligent about the fundamental nature of the world.

You can rp someone dumber than you at the common level of abstraction (ie having to actually speak the words) but I don't see how you can play somone more intelligent. It's just you, the player, communicating, after all, and you can't be more than you are.

--matt
Generally, I agree with this sentiment. However, the devil's advocate in me has to consider something: People who play "beautiful" characters may not be beautiful in real life. Roleplaying games are a means of exploring what you aren't - and it's a lot to ask players, I think, to "play to their RL intelligence level." Wouldn't that require a remarkable amount of intellectual honesty on their part?
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Old 08-30-2003, 05:41 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (malaclypse @ Aug. 30 2003,17:14)
And yet, amusingly, intelligence remains a staple of character attributes as if it can be quantified by the game. Its even more ridiculous when you stop to notice that intelligence is usually just a synonym of "magical ability" in most MUDs, and could easily be called just that without the unfortunate side-effects of "intelligence".

When will we learn?

- Ryan
It's done that way because players usually expect it and often to try and inject a relative intelligence in races (like, orcs are dumb and Grook are smart). It's still fairly stupid given its meaningless though, I agree.

--matt
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Old 08-30-2003, 06:00 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
You can rp someone dumber than you at the common level of abstraction (ie having to actually speak the words) but I don't see how you can play somone more intelligent. It's just you, the player, communicating, after all, and you can't be more than you are.
(The Logos)

Quote:
Originally Posted by
Generally, I agree with this sentiment. However, the devil's advocate in me has to consider something: People who play "beautiful" characters may not be beautiful in real life. Roleplaying games are a means of exploring what you aren't - and it's a lot to ask players, I think, to "play to their RL intelligence level." Wouldn't that require a remarkable amount of intellectual honesty on their part?
(Brody)

The two are related.  The latter (Brody's point) requires a suspension of belief from those who literally know the person - they instead accept the virtual description of the character, rather than their physical knowledge of the player - when interaction occurs.

For the former, rather than a suspension of belief, one must provide benevolant acceptance - that is, those who are interacting with the virtual character must increase the statement to meet what would actually have been said, were the player behind the character of the minimal intelligence requisite for that character.

In truly immersive worlds, this is done as a matter of course - it is a point of courtesy among players, to ignore or minimalize faux pas on the part of the player behind the character.

Of course, those who truly are incapable of meeting the requirements of their character for a sustained period of time usually prove Darwin's theory in the virtual reality, by working towards their own elimination.  One could likely extrapolate a method of determining the relative intelligence of the player behind the character by determining the length of time between creation, decline, and demise.
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Old 08-30-2003, 06:03 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Brody @ Aug. 30 2003,17:16)
Generally, I agree with this sentiment. However, the devil's advocate in me has to consider something: People who play "beautiful" characters may not be beautiful in real life. Roleplaying games are a means of exploring what you aren't - and it's a lot to ask players, I think, to "play to their RL intelligence level." Wouldn't that require a remarkable amount of intellectual honesty on their part?
Beauty is a physical attribute that is easily faked in muds, both graphical and text.

As to playing to their RL intelligence level, it's not a matter of asking them to do it. It's not really possible for them to play beyond their own intelligence level so it's not even an issue. The solution is probably just to remove intelligence and all other intangibles as a character stats.
--matt
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Old 08-30-2003, 06:09 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Robbert @ Aug. 30 2003,18[img
http://www.topmudsites.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif[/img]0)]For the former, rather than a suspension of belief, one must provide benevolant acceptance - that is, those who are interacting with the virtual character must increase the statement to meet what would actually have been said, were the player behind the character of the minimal intelligence requisite for that character.
But if my character is a genius who is a chessmaster and is playing chess with me, he's going to suck if the person playing him also sucks. There's just no way around that this side of AI assistance, which only works for extremely limited sets of problems.

If my character is supposedly highly intelligent and is called upon to solve a problem, how do you fake that if the person behind the character is not as intelligent as the character is supposed to be? Assume the character as a level of intelligence that would allow it to easily solve said problem. You can't just gloss over this as the problem is either solved or it isn't, and whether it is or not is completely to do with the person not the character.

--matt
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Old 08-30-2003, 06:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (the_logos @ Aug. 30 2003,18:03)
Quote:
Originally Posted by (Brody @ Aug. 30 2003,17:16)
Generally, I agree with this sentiment. However, the devil's advocate in me has to consider something: People who play "beautiful" characters may not be beautiful in real life. Roleplaying games are a means of exploring what you aren't - and it's a lot to ask players, I think, to "play to their RL intelligence level." Wouldn't that require a remarkable amount of intellectual honesty on their part?
Beauty is a physical attribute that is easily faked in muds, both graphical and text.

As to playing to their RL intelligence level, it's not a matter of asking them to do it. It's not really possible for them to play beyond their own intelligence level so it's not even an issue.  The solution is probably just to remove intelligence and all other intangibles as a character stats.
--matt
I don't want us to be hung up on "intelligence" as a stat. I'm not talking about stats. I'm talking about roleplaying. I'm talking about people who want to play, say, a shrewd smuggler whose bio suggests they're a really clever individual, but then they do some incredibly dumb-as-dirt things because the player behind the character isn't all that clever.

The question, really, is how you deal out the Darwin Award while also trying to maximize enjoyment of your game for everyone. I've been a big proponent of IC consequences on my games - and eventually came up with ideas like luck cards and +cricketfactor (named after Jiminey Cricket, a tool that actually rolls the character's intelligence stat so that, if they pass, a staffer can drop a major hint that the player is about to get themselves killed by doing something stupid). These measures have helped *some*, but we still get people who ignore +cricketfactor rolls and insist on doing stupid things. And then they still get mad at staffers when bad things happen.

In a perfect world of roleplaying, players would be forced to stick with a character that fits their RL IQ - or less, since it's probably easier to play dumb than it is to play smart. But how do we balance that ideal and keep a playerbase relatively happy?
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Old 08-30-2003, 06:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
I don't want us to be hung up on "intelligence" as a stat. I'm not talking about stats. I'm talking about roleplaying. I'm talking about people who want to play, say, a shrewd smuggler whose bio suggests they're a really clever individual, but then they do some incredibly dumb-as-dirt things because the player behind the character isn't all that clever.
That's a problem with intangibles. Characters can have tangible aspects but all intangibles come from the player himself. You get this kind of disconnect anytime you try to express an intangible (intelligence, alignment, etc) in tangible form.

I think the solution is just to keep intangibles on the player where they belong and where they emanate from. (I should take my own advice too since we stupidly have both intelligence and alignment.)

--matt
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Old 08-30-2003, 07:09 PM   #11
 
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Originally Posted by (the_logos @ Aug. 30 2003,18)
As to playing to their RL intelligence level, it's not a matter of asking them to do it. It's not really possible for them to play beyond their own intelligence level so it's not even an issue.
I'm pretty certain people can play way above their intelligence level under certain conditions.  In fact I've read hundreds of university theses written by complete morons which appear to bear that out.  That is they certainly sound intelligent at first glance on the surface merely because of wordsmanship.  Sustaining it during role-play in real time consistently would take more skill, but certainly doable.   ;-)
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Old 08-30-2003, 07:18 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Tyche @ Aug. 30 2003,19:09)
I'm pretty certain people can play way above their intelligence level under certain conditions.  In fact I've read hundreds of university theses written by complete morons which appear to bear that out.  That is they certainly sound intelligent at first glance on the surface merely because of wordsmanship.  Sustaining it during role-play in real time consistently would take more skill, but certainly doable.   ;-)
Wordsmanship is not intelligence though.

A dumb person can't make his character solve a problem he can't himself solve without some sort of outside help and without free-form AI or a nearly 1-1 staff to player ratio we lack a way to consistently provide that help.
--matt
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Old 08-30-2003, 08:27 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (The_logs @ @ Aug. 30, 2003, 16[img
http://www.topmudsites.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif[/img]9)]If my character is supposedly highly intelligent and is called upon to solve a problem, how do you fake that if the person behind the character is not as intelligent as the character is supposed to be? Assume the character as a level of intelligence that would allow it to easily solve said problem. You can't just gloss over this as the problem is either solved or it isn't, and whether it is or not is completely to do with the person not the character.
This is where the darwin factor comes into play. If a gross enough breach is committed, (ie, a bomb expert cuts the 'red' wire, when this clearly would trigger the bomb), then the die is cast, and the event occurs.

Too many games engender a suspension of reality (as opposed to a suspension of belief), wherein one does not suffer for ones actions. In a roleplaying, single-player universe, there exists the luxury to save prior to a world-impacting event, and restart if said event does not occur as desired. In a multiplayer, dynamic interaction world, this luxury should not exist, yet often does. Players commit gross violations of their character ethos, with no thoughts to the repercussions thereof. Or they commit raw acts of stupidity, when clearly their 'wise' character would not.

Moderation can and should be done by the player population, not the immortal staff. By the same method that I evinced previously, wherein players allow minor mistakes to be covered, so too could they hold their peers responsible for actions in the extreme. (I should emphasize here that I am not advocating an entirely player-moderated system of being; rather, the intent is to give the players the ability to remain as in-character as possible, giving leeway for minor faucities and exacting a toll for major breaches from a characters standard of conduct).

As an aside, Matt - I think you're absolutely correct, that the raw delimiter for intelligence should not be shown to the player, since it is an intangible. It's something I had not considered before, myself.
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Old 08-30-2003, 11:04 PM   #14
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Here's my view on it,

Intelligence is not something that can be quantified by one person and therefore you. Society, determines if you are an intelligent person and in our cases the player characters decide if a player's character is intelligent. Brody said earlier that some people play 'beautifull' characters when they might not be so in rl. But, what if they can't rp being beautifull... what if they don't know how to show other people through their poses or emotes that they are beautifull, would we still consider that person's character as being beautifull?

Now to answer the main question: I think the best you could do is offer a guide on how to pretend that you are intelligent. The guide would include things that have been discussed in the above messages.

I understand that this does not solve when a person had their +cricketroll and ignore it... but if they ignore it, then they simply fail at portraying that they are intelligent. They would be too stupid to be able to act more intelligently, which anybody above that level should be able too. Your +cricketroll is a great way to give ooc feedback on ic actions and thus would be a great way for somebody to be like: Oh yeah my character is more intelligent than this... and then they can start thinking of another more clever solution. - which I am sure they can do -

If they cannot portray themselves as intelligent to other player characters, then it is the same thing as if they failed as portraying their character as 'beautifull'.

- Lodes

EDIT: Fixed my paragraph indentation. It didn't look good
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Old 08-31-2003, 12:14 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Lodes @ Aug. 30 2003,23:04)
Here's my view on it,

Intelligence is not something that can be quantified by one person and therefore you. Society, determines if you are an intelligent person and in our cases the player characters decide if a player's character is intelligent.
Other people's opinion of you is irrelevant to your intelligence level.

--matt
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Old 08-31-2003, 12:31 PM   #16
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I agree with you logos that your intelligence level is not dependent on other people. But the fact is that it is about appearing intelligent not necessarily being it. After all when you rp, you pretend to be things you're not. Therefore in this case, the intelligence level is determined by how you appear to be intelligent.
I've seen a lot of times when some people think that another person is really intelligent, while some other people think that same person is the dumbest ever. It's all about perception.
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Old 08-31-2003, 06:45 PM   #17
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I've found that it's usually all about relative intelligence and knowledge of the subject matter at hand. People can BS other people into thinking that they are extremely intelligent if a) they are more knowledgeable with respect to the subject at hand, b) are substantially more intelligent* than the aforementioned other people, or c) the other people lack confidence, and it is therefore easy to convince them that they are wrong when in fact they are correct.

a and c are especially effective in combination when the subject matter at hand is relatively esoteric.

*note that more intelligent != very intelligent.

*edit*

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A dumb person can't make his character solve a problem he can't himself solve without some sort of outside help ...
That isn't necessarily a problem for the said dumb person trying maintain the illusion that he or she is a genius. All he or she has to do is convince all onlookers that the problem is much more difficult than it actually is. Using lots of often-heard-but-poorly-understood technobabble is one of the most common examples of this.
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Old 09-01-2003, 01:41 AM   #18
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I agree with the people who say: it's not quite possible to be a clever character when you aren't a clever character yourself. There are ways you could get around it, all of which I've already seen posted, but the ideas I've seen don't worry make for good roleplay in my opinion.

Mostly I think some people's character resemble themselves, another party of themselves, or something they could be. Not something you want to be (on some cases, of course we aren't all masters of a sword, but I'm speaking personality wise).
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Old 09-01-2003, 03:53 AM   #19
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I don't know if there are any stats on this, but I expect that the average mudder has a higher than average intelligence. Text games just tend to draw people who can read fast and prefer their own visualization over graphics. So we aren't generally dealing with dumb players wanting to play intelligent characters. They are intelligent players wanting to play brilliant characters.
I think it is entirely possible to play a little more intelligent than you are. The pacing of conversations in roleplay being slower than a spoken conversation gives you more time to think and consider your words. I know I seem more intelligent when writing than speaking. Also there is the consideration of what a stupid or intelligent character would do, in class choosing (barbarian vs. psionic) or leisure time (beer guzzling vs. library research). Stereotypes, I know, but they get the point across.
The two main problems I see are that too many people want to play phenomenally intelligent, and that not enough people play a little stupid, at least not well. Often you see the thick-as-a-brick caveman, or the got-knocked-on-the-head types, but rarely just your general couldn't-handle-algebra stupid.
For both the very stupid and the brilliant, sometimes when there is one person roleplaying that in a way that gets a lot of attention, similar characters start cropping up. Even if the character dies, it managed to reproduce first. Darwin's theory isn't just survival.
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Old 09-01-2003, 09:15 PM   #20
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Intelligence/cleverness/expertise in the MU* World is one which is a fine line. To a limit, however, I think it is possible to play someone smarter than the player, but it should be done within limits. Realistically, there are some races on MU*s out there that would be unplayable if we were purely focused on playing 'at or below player's intelligence levels.'

Same thing could be said for several occupations. Should a player be allowed to be a fencer if they aren't one IRL? Should we limit occupations and skills to what a player knows?

This is where I think that players should at least put minimal research into occupations or skills. This doesn't mean write a thesis statement, but it means, 'If you want to play a pianist, know how many keys there are on the board.' or just having a little bit of understanding of your skills so you can RP them properly, and this can transfer to inteligence somewhat.

I have played characters from a bit below my intelligence to characters with intelligence that would make most humans feel inadequate speaking to it. The higher level intelligence often requires knowing a few things... but I'm sure there are smart people out there that spend years with 'brilliant' research ideas including ones that last for years on if water melts.

You can't learn cunning and raw intelligence. You can enlighten yourself on your character and a little bit of what they know.
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