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Old 06-27-2002, 11:05 AM   #1
Pasano
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Unhappy

Maybe it's just the places that I've played. Maybe it's something bigger. I'd like to see what other people think of this for a variety of reasons.

I've spent significant time on a couple of RP-required muds, and I've never been pleased with the level of roleplay I've found, or the quality of it. It seems that regardless of how deep and interesting a few characters are, the majority still prefer to play shallow, 'what'cho-lookin'-at', hack'n'slash types. They spend countless hours number-crunching together a perfect character, and about 10 minutes determining how they're going to carry themselves and their strength about the realms. Even in a scenario where the numbers were removed in favor of a color-coded damage system and vague item identify statements like "Affects HR a wee tiny bit, or increases strength massively", players seemingly spend the bulk of their time on being the best killing machine, as opposed to the best roleplayer. These types typically ignore the roleplay attempts of the true RP-characters. And the sin of it is that ultimately, the mindless pkers will drive off the solid RPers.

Is this a sort-of disease among muds, that human tendency, for the most part, is to strive for domination rather than meaning?

And beyond that, how can this scenario be combatted? What rules or systems can be (or perhaps, to your collective experience, have been) implemented and enforced to produce and maintain a solid roleplaying environment. And if such a thing is done, is it possible to maintain a large player base?
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Old 06-27-2002, 11:47 AM   #2
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I've never had that experience in a RP-required game, though it seems (in my limited experience) to be common in RP-encouraged games.

Maybe you've been checking out the wrong games?

As far as prevention, I think it's a combination of things.

First, the staff (from the owner all the way down to the assistant GM who only exists to field questions from new players) MUST hold roleplay as their number one priority, with mechanics a close second. Game integrity must be first and foremost in any kind of game, so a roleplaying game must have roleplay at the top of the list in order for it to truly BE a roleplaying game.

Second, the players have to want to roleplay. This reverts back to the staff - the staff MUST set the example, beginning with the website they provide, and continuing with coded support of roleplay. Such support could be the "pure" RP games where everything is acted out, and no mechanics for hunting or advancement whatsoever. Support could include hunting (and crafting) mechanics, but would also "reward" people with experience toward advancement when they're not using their trained skills (whatever they may be). Things like quests and events, run by the staff to present plotlines where the players can interact and determine the outcome themselves. Things like experience-per-hour just for being in the game, which helps those power-mudders justify time spent away from hunting and more time roleplaying.

Give the players a significant and solid reason to BE their characters, and they will want to do so. Then enforce the rules. All around, top to bottom. Make no exceptions, but allow the "line you can't cross" to be flexible to accommodate new situations you might not have encountered before.

Give the players a place where they CAN go OOC. Some games have this, some don't, and some only have it for new players. Give this to everyone. A few rooms where they can exit to, a separate part of your "world-building" game code, a different "zone" or whatever you call it, where your character doesn't even exist. Let your players BE players up there in that separate area, so they can talk about stats and skill ranks and power-number-crunching or even the Mets game to their heart's content. But make it also so that while they are up there, their character is not in the game. Don't do any of this "So-and-so is link-dead" emit stuff. Don't provide it to the players. If someone goes link dead, they should just disappear with no fanfare. The more attention you give to OOC things, the more disruptive it is to roleplay.

This goes for newbie "channels" and ooc "channels" and bright fancy colors for every third word of text. The game world is its own entity. Don't mix it up with real life stuff. Don't give the players more of a reason to go OOC than is absolutely necessary. Don't even let it be an option. If it's available, they'll use it.

For people who like numbers, if your game has stats and such, let them see those numbers - on themselves. Don't let them see numbers on other people. If my *character* "looks" at another *character,* there is no way in hell that she can possibly tell that the other guy has a 79 strength stat, because in the world of the game, strength isn't a stat. It's how their muscles ripple (or flap around in the breeze), how they carry themselves, how they appear. But again, since I might want to see how well *I* am doing (or how poorly), let me see my own stats and mechanical information. Again, with no fanfare. Because checking stats is an OOC command, don't force it into the roleplay. Don't code the game so "Susie checks herself over, determining her strength." I've seen that before and all it does is make me go OOC to someone asking how they got that emit to show up. Again, don't give the players a REASON to go OOC, and they usually won't.

There are games like this - DartMUD is the only free one I have personal experience in. Inferno is a pay-to-play, and it embraces everything I've described as part of their policy. I imagine there must be others, both free and pay-to-play, that support and *truly* enforce roleplay, some of which have skills and levels and some that don't.

Good luck!
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Old 06-27-2002, 11:54 AM   #3
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This can be fought against. It has been fought against. And, by and large, it can be beaten.

Now, it's human nature to want the best and to be the strongest, to have the coolest toys. That's never going to change, I'm afraid.

But what you have to do is impose a sense of personal responsibility and consequences into the act of attacking another person during the course of RP.

To this end, you could (as we've done at OtherSpace), eliminate any automated combat system you might have and rely instead on consent-based or refereed fights in which the participants make rolls on their stats and skills.

Let's explore the difference between consent-based and refereed for a moment.

Consent-based: Two or more players decide they want to rumble. They decide their own combat modifiers for their taskrolls (and deliberate amongst themselves when they disagree). And they all agree that however the fight plays out through taskrolls, they'll abide by the outcome - even if that means someone dies.

Refereed: Two or more players decide they want to rumble, but they want a staffer to oversee the fight and assign modifiers. Everyone agrees to abide by the outcome with the referee's oversight.

During the fight, as Player A suffers injuries, his ability to effectively roll his stats and skills decreases. This is pretty realistic, as the more one fights - and the more injuries one receives - the wearier one gets. Sweat and blood get in your eyes, making it hard to see. The pain from that searing plasma rifle blast makes you dizzy.

When either of these types of combat comes to an end, a staffer will inflict permanent damage to some +sheets, +kill people, maybe make them take +luckrolls to see whether a miracle saves them from certain death (but not near death injuries and probably permanent disfigurement).

Now, the key element in all of this is: Staff involvement and the absence of an automated system. When you have referees on the playing field, you can make sure the penalized team goes back five yards as required by the rules. Without referees, the automated system might say "Team A must fall back five yards," but Team A doesn't have to listen, and can run rampant all over the field.

Consent-based and refereed combat are more difficult and time-consuming than automated combat, but I've found they are much friendlier to a truly RP-oriented environment.
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Old 06-27-2002, 12:00 PM   #4
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Personally, I find it hard to find a perfect RP MUD, just a single thing that goes from RL and the scenario is ruined, I have played in a variety of MUDs where they make you remember that this is not an RP game for every action you do (with flashy coloured OOC lines and such) things that make you lose the real feeling of a role played game. In paper and dice role, you can easily set the diference between IC and OOC things, but the only safeguard you'll have in MUDding is playing and hoping you are in the right MUD.

good luck on your MUD hunting
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Old 06-27-2002, 12:25 PM   #5
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The issue I have with the options provided by Brody is that it seems like too much of a controlled process. I believe that some degree of chaos and randomness to the PK world does add spice and flair to it, and as long as you're not working on a perm-death mud, dying really doesnt have any consequence beyond the frustration of the loser and perhaps some gold and/or experience.

My interest in this, is that I'm seeking to either start my own mud with some friends or take on a position (as I posted on the staffing board) on another mud coordinating roleplay. I'm trying to get an early jump on things.

Ideally, I think the most enjoyable system, if properly respected by players and managed by immortals, is one no different than that of a typical PK mud. One where, within level or skill range, you have the freedom to walk into a room and attack/kill someone. The issue then becomes, how do you deal with players who abuse this freedom. Or better yet, how do you prove that they have, in fact, abused the system.

For example, Joe the fighter walks into the town square, slaughters mike the wizard, and steals his gold. Mike asks Joe why he attacked him, the two having never even met before. Joe says "I wanted to take your money." Clearly, this is poor roleplay, but it's something that happens every day in real life. It is a real life scenario that's being played out, and punishing something like that OOCly seems to be in bad form.

The ideas that I have in mind are as follows:

1) Requirement of a completion of something like 10 questions on every character. If the questions are not answered, the character can not level past say... level 10. These questions would be used to establish the nature and personality of a character beyond alignment. Any prejudice against certain races would have to be explained here, tendancies towards violence, derrangements and, in general, the personality, direction and goals of the character. These answers would be stored in a players PFile, and should a PK come into question, the answers given could be reviewed. A character who is seeking to become a political leader, and who describes himself as noble and chivalrous could then be punished when he goes out of character to massacre someone for their money.

2) A strict and tangable law system in which characters are punished for crimes they commit. These punishments would include, but not be limited to: Monetary Fines, Imprisonment, Execution and Banishment (from cities/towns). Enforcement of laws would fall mostly on the players, but would include NPC support in the form of guards and perhaps NPC bounty hunter types who would track down criminals and bring them to justice.

In order for this to work though, the prison system has to be interesting as well. It'd cant be 'sit on your ass in a cell.' We're punishing the character, not the player. Prison could perhaps include arena-like prison fights, smuggling of weapons/drugs and a possibility of escape.

I've seen things along these lines attempted, and I've seen them basically fail. I wonder, if done truley right, could a system like this function? Suggestions? Comments?
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Old 06-27-2002, 12:38 PM   #6
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Give me a moment to scratch my head.

Ok. Back.

Now, then, how is a refereed or consent-based combat system any more controlled than a number crunching automated system that lets the fastest macro win?

I'd recommend trying a broad variety of systems before judging their value - and before picking one to call your own.

Modifiers assigned in our taskrolls, for example, provide a randomizing factor. You may have a Superb Melee Weapon skill, for example, but if a referee says you have to assign a -3 modifier because you're trying to swing the weapon while swinging and then jumping from a chandelier, there's a good chance you'll fail your attack - but SOME chance that you'll succeed.

Now, the other things you talk about:

1) Requiring an application for a character to get anywhere - that's something we do, and something quite a few RP-focused MUDs employ. It's quite handy at weeding out the twinks. It's not perfect, but it definitely whittles down the problem players. It's also a very controlling thing to do, although it allows for variety within the parameters you've set.

2) Legal systems are great in theory, difficult in practice. If you have coded NPCs doling out justice, you're going to upset your pure RPers who think it's unfair. If you rely on PCs doing the job, you will be listening to a lot of criminals whining about a lack of legal representation and being stuck in jail. Something I'll be enacting soon on some worlds of OtherSpace will be a "sleeper prison." Someone gets convicted of a crime, gets stuck in a box, and lives out a virtual prison sentence. They'll emerge 24 hours later - but they'll be 25 years older - maybe even more than that. They'll suffer permanent reductions in skills, stats, and they'll get new faults assigned to represent their debilitated state.
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Old 06-27-2002, 01:01 PM   #7
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The idea of using a sleeper-prison as you described is quite intriguing although I'm not certain where it would fit into the type of game I'm looking to get myself involved in. I prefer the old sword and shield type of games over the more futuristic-oriented muds. Given, the same effect could be created with magic but I become hesitant when it comes to things like modifying stats and adding permanent flaws to characters.

I've never been a fan of perm-death, but the idea is growing on me with regards to age. Yes, if you're killed IC, you can res up and get back at it. However, when your time comes age-wise, you're gone forever. I get annoyed when I see 7,000 year old humans walking around on muds.

Now I love remorts, and when that elf character is pushing 250 years old, and death is near... perhaps he could pull a remort of some type, or perhaps even reincarnation after death. There should be some reward for playing a character out for a lifetime. A reincarnated character would lose all knowledge of his past life, he'd come back with a new name, nobody would know it was him, nor would he himself, but he would just naturally be a bit more skilled/adept at things from his former life.

I've entirely lost my train of thought, forgive me. heh

On the note of Ref-overseen non-auto combat, the system you're describing sounds a lot like a tabletop system, D&D or Vampire:The Masq. where difficulties/modifiers ultimately play as much a part in things as stats and skills. I love that type of system in tabletop, but I think I'm too locked into autocombat to see how it could work on a mud. It's something I'll likely look into.

As for autocombat and macros, I've played muds where it just wont help you much. If command-lag is properly assigned, it becomes more about using your moves/spells/etc strategically, as opposed to quickly. If you have a good gameplan and execute it, you succeed. A lot of the time, that's easier said than done.

It's funny, because the more I think about it, the more I see your point and grow to agree. I'm thinking about a combat system like what you've described as being controlling, good for fights that are 'major events' in a characters lifetime, but the more I think about it, I realize that any life-or-death type fight should be a 'major event' in a character's lifetime. And under such circumstances, players would probably be more likely to acknowledge, realize and respect that. Wow, I've gone 180 in the time it's taken to write post.
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Old 06-27-2002, 01:10 PM   #8
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All that means is you're thinking about it actively, and didn't come to the discussion with your mind made up, which is excellent.

BTW, permadeath is something we practice on OtherSpace - when you die, you leave forever the land of the living. But players have the option of keeping their characters as "ghosts" in the realm of the dream, which serves as our OOC area.

And, yes, our system for combat is very reminiscent of tabletop gaming. That's one reason I love it .
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Old 06-27-2002, 01:19 PM   #9
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My concern with this type of system is as follows. Can it coexist with more standard autocombat-like mobkilling/leveling and a fairly normal skills/spells system?

I wonder how players will go about getting schooled in this form of combat, as I figure that most players will not have seen a system like this before, and if that is the case, how will they adjust to it when the time come for it to be brought into play. In other words, how do you practice without risking your character's life in combat?
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Old 06-27-2002, 02:07 PM   #10
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Well, one thing we have is, as another posting person mentioned, an out-of-character area where folks can have "faux fights."

On OtherSpace, for example, we've got the Dream Arena. You and your pals can go in and practice fighting against each other, applying modifiers. And there's no risk of dying in that circumstance.

But can it co-exist in a mobkilling environment? My kneejerk response is: No. It takes a different type of mindset to engage in refereed or consent-based combat than it does to run around in automated mode. It takes a willingness to be refereed, and allow for a chance of things not to work out like you might want them to. However, despite my kneejerk reaction, anything is possible - and it might work just fine. Depends on how it's implemented.
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