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Old 07-18-2005, 04:51 PM   #1
AdmiralProteus
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For roleplay-intensive games,
How important is a single player character in your MUD?

I've noticed that across many games, the role of one player varies all across the spectrum--there have been games where a player is always a great leader, commanding vast resources, ruling over the largest institutions of the world. Or they are an individual "hero" adventuring around the world, doing good deeds and whatnot. And there have been games where a player, at best, is a common citizen with little or no power. The positions of power in the world are technically filled by non-player characters. These differences create a completely different atmosphere and give a very different sense of scale in the minds of the users who enjoy the games. Which is preferable?

Where are your players in terms of the in-game power and status that they wield?
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Old 07-18-2005, 10:13 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (AdmiralProteus @ July 18 2005,16:51)
For roleplay-intensive games,
How important is a single player character in your MUD?

I've noticed that across many games, the role of one player varies all across the spectrum--there have been games where a player is always a great leader, commanding vast resources, ruling over the largest institutions of the world. Or they are an individual "hero" adventuring around the world, doing good deeds and whatnot. And there have been games where a player, at best, is a common citizen with little or no power. The positions of power in the world are technically filled by non-player characters. These differences create a completely different atmosphere and give a very different sense of scale in the minds of the users who enjoy the games. Which is preferable?

Where are your players in terms of the in-game power and status that they wield?
Well, most RPIs want a player to prove themselves before they attain any significant level of power within the game. That's to prevent new players who have little interest/skill in role-playing from coming in and just hacking and slashing their way through NPCs (sadly it does happen). Most RPIs value every player with the exception of the aforementioned H&Sers who aren't interested in RP. And regardless of the role they play, they're important. A noble lord who owns vast tracks of land and a huge manor might seem more important than a lowly farmer, but in the grand scheme of things, it's just another PC, each RPing the role their character inhabits. Neither player is more important, though in the game's culture, the nobleman would be seen as more "important". Of course, that doesn't mean that, relatively-speaking, the farmer isn't viewed as important by others. Those that depend on him would see his worth. His family would surely consider him important. Likewise for his friends. But as far as player-wise, the nobleman probably has the staff's trust, but that's because they likely have played the game for quite some time and proven that they can handle the responsibility of such a role (and there's ample room for abuse in such a position).

Take care,

Jason
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Old 07-20-2005, 09:04 AM   #3
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In most RPI's I have played there is a pretty significant breakdown (actually this is pretty much true of every mud):

You seem to have two groups of people, those with little to no actual in game power, and those with immense in game power. Obviously those with more power are usually older players who play for a very significant amount of time compared to everyone else.

I think this is a result of the vast disparity between people's play times. Most MUDs 'reward' you based on time input, so if one person can play for over 8 hours every day and another can only pop on for an hour or two, the person with more playtime will advance exponentially faster. In RPI's these people win positions of personal power within the world of the game as opposed to or in addition to character statistics. Usually they set up some heirarchy where there are positions beneath them that report directly to them and have some amount of in game power.

However

Simply because of the fact that the said player with higher position is seemingly ALWAYS online, he or she gets deferred to in almost every situation. Why bother with the underlings when teh grand poohbah is always around and always 'ready to RP' in almost any situation?

This in turn creates a system where certain people are almost always the star or at least one of the stars of nearly every RP event, nearly every player run plot and consequently are asked to test new things by the IMMs. This leaves everyone else in a sort of catch-22. They obviously want good RP and dynamicism with their character, but why would you pour resources into someone who cannot be around consistently enough to keep a storyline moving? Meanwhile casual players notice that the logs of great storylines they read to entice them into playing a MUD star pretty much the same characters that are doing all the interesting stuff now.

It's a wierd catch-22, but it all makes a sick sort of sense. I'd like to see a MUD that somehow solves this problem of casual players and RP, but I really have no idea what such a MUD would look like.
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Old 07-20-2005, 05:39 PM   #4
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It's a wierd catch-22, but it all makes a sick sort of sense. I'd like to see a MUD that somehow solves this problem of casual players and RP, but I really have no idea what such a MUD would look like.

One tool you have at your disposal is a mechanism for permanent death. If the powerful/influential characters die off on a regular enough basis, they create a little 'room at the top' when they have to start over as someone else.

With that kind of mechanism, the staff will have to plan for new participants and write accordingly.
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Old 07-20-2005, 06:54 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Valg @ July 20 2005,17:39)
One tool you have at your disposal is a mechanism for permanent death. If the powerful/influential characters die off on a regular enough basis, they create a little 'room at the top' when they have to start over as someone else.

With that kind of mechanism, the staff will have to plan for new participants and write accordingly.
That is an interesting take on permadeath that I had not considered. I can see what you are talking about.

However, the issue that I notice seems to be more about playtime than anything else. The positions of power are almost always filled with people who play the game very very frequently. If one is killed off, another of the same type siezes the reigns. The problem is that RP planners will use people who are always there as their lynchpin because they can rely on them always being there. Thus, even if said player's character dies off, they will quickly be recognized as another of the characters who is always there, and therefore a reliable lynchpin for RP planning.

It does, however, give a few weeks breathing room for other folks while the player re-establishes himself or herself. I will have to think about this more. Thank you for that tidbit of wisdom, it is a good argument in favor of permadeath.
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Old 07-21-2005, 02:12 PM   #6
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If you're playing on a non-Roleplaying MU*, then permadeath makes advancement to the higher levels all the much harder and a more important achievement, and the player knows they can't be #1 forever unless they're smart.

In the roleplaying environment: Is it really such a bad thing if more dedicated, time spending players are given the positions of authority? Or more accurately, is it wrong if they happen to be the ones to have earned the authority since they put the most effort in?

Also keep in mind there are different kinds of authority, namely IC and OOC authority.

IC authority is just that: The ability of a /character/ to project power in the IC world. Most likely this is the noble lord with a ton of land or the faction leader at the highest levels. At lower levels of IC authority you have your small organization leaders, minor noble lords, commoners and eventually your slave class, if you have one. - Some of this class can be 'earned' just on the kind of application/chargen that is done. It can also be earned IC as someone earns promotions or acquires more land and whatnot.

OOC authority, on the other hand, is the ability of the player of a character to be respected in the MU* community. This can also be defined as the trust the player has from other players. One reason this can be a dicey area is that OOC and IC authority does overlap in a lot of places: You'll see players with OOC authority having at least one character with a good deal of IC authority. - OOC and IC authority are bound with each other, it's hard to be able to use IC authority with your character if OOCly you have no respect from the other players.

While IC authority is that earned through RP or how the character is designed (ie, a character meant to fill an application position for a political character would have at least some IC authority immediately after approval), OOC authority is earned through time investment, community involvement and quality roleplaying.

The fact somewhere has the 'high powered' characters with IC authority isn't neccessarily bad. - It can be bad if new characters never have a chance, but unless there are only a finite number of positions and you're near the limit for what players can fill there won't be a problem.
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Old 07-21-2005, 03:20 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Slanted @ July 20 2005,18:54)
However, the issue that I notice seems to be more about playtime than anything else.  The positions of power are almost always filled with people who play the game very very frequently.  If one is killed off, another of the same type siezes the reigns.  The problem is that RP planners will use people who are always there as their lynchpin because they can rely on them always being there.  Thus, even if said player's character dies off, they will quickly be recognized as another of the characters who is always there, and therefore a reliable lynchpin for RP planning. It does, however, give a few weeks breathing room for other folks while the player re-establishes himself or herself.
Well, it's counterproductive to try to have casual players play major roles from a number of angles:

1) Practicality: Nothing much will happen if the person isn't online more than 1 hr/week.

2) Fairness: While you want some opportunities to be available for casual players, there's nothing unfair about saying 'This guy is on twice as often, so he'll be twice as involved.'

We've had a lot of success getting both casual and regular players involved in ongoing quests. The key is writing the quests so that's possible. Some examples:

1) Episodic Quests: Have a number of events that can involve people who have missed all past events. As an example, before we introduced our Legacies of the Macalla system for warriors, we had warrior monks who would pop up in places and propose competitive contests to local warriors. Their underlying motivation was to test the merits of the local guilds, and identify honorable people who could be entrusted with passing on the techniques of their dying Order. What was nice about these was that I could grab a monk, devise some contest of skill (Race from town to town blindfolded, with the winner being taught Maelstrom of the Veils, fight one another using improvised weapons (brooms, shovels, etc.) with the winner being taught Hour Past Midnight, etc.), and challenge whoever was around. Enough warriors ended up in multiple contests by chance that we were able to build the larger storyline, but we always seemed to have one or two warriors around who had never been contacted. No one saw every contest, but after a month or so of them, word got around.

2) Encourage apprenticeship: Tell a long-term participant that they won't be enough to do The Big Quest, and they'll need to recruit a trusted partner. This was done with me when I was a mortal player on Carrion Fields, and it enouraged me to seek out like-minded magi to found the Scions of Eternal Night, with the price for my service being immortality. This lets players get players involved, and they'll often pick different people than the staff would, and increase the number of people you have working towards spreading things around.

3) One-Time Deals: Not every quest needs to be epic and ongoing. Sometimes, angry trees decide to attack Galadon, dammit. If you're on and you're in or near Galadon, you're involved! Fight trees, burn the city, or run like ####!

4) Novices Only: It's tempting to always start quests with kings and dragons and apocalyptic threats and such, but sometimes, a farmer just needs help, and he doesn't have the money to hire big-time adventurers. If you target novices specifically, you'll disproportionately involve players who haven't invested a lot of time in your game.
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Old 08-05-2005, 03:14 AM   #8
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Old 08-08-2005, 05:13 PM   #9
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