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Old 05-25-2005, 02:13 PM   #1
Brody
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Share your thoughts on the interaction of RP and coded systems. When does it work for you? When are the coded systems *intrusive* on RP? When does RP overwhelm coded systems? For this thread, I'd prefer that specific games go without mention and I'd like to avoid flames. Critiques of different types of systems and their benefits/shortcomings are welcome, however, and you can identify the game as a MUD/MUSH/MUX, etc.
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Old 05-25-2005, 02:52 PM   #2
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Well, I'm an admin on a MUD so I would say in our case coded systems often overwhelm RP, at least for many of our players. This isn't to say that they can't work together, however, I think coded systems can be excellent tools to accentuate and enhance RP - and I think this is accomplished by choice.

By choice I mean adding in methods, be it player abilities, different options when choosing something that affects coded game elements, or just different paths to complete the same quests. An example of this would be in our MUD the player cities can choose a style of government, which affects the benefits they receive from their villages, but it also affects the titles of the ranks of the city. This means the way they choose in the coded system of government affects their RP by making it obvious to them and the rest of the game what style of city they are - despots or capitalists, for example!

One of the other things I mentioned was different paths to complete the same quests, this is something I loved as a player, whether I was playing a single player RPG or a multiplayer game such as a MUD, MUSH or graphical MMORPG. While I know more than most how much more time, energy and hassle this can be (especially while debugging), I do think that when it is possible, it usually pays off to do it.
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Old 05-25-2005, 03:24 PM   #3
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To set the context: I play on a MUSH that has a fair amount of code. I'm also a moderately competent softcoder in pennMUSH. (as in, I can code but not a great deal of experience)

For the most part, I could go through my RP days without using all that much code if I wanted. Know how to use the emote/pose commands, skillrolling commands, and a couple individual room commands (like transportation). Other than that... I could play where I do without dealing with much code if I felt like it.

But I like the code. I like when code gives incentives for people to play with each other. I like my code when it makes my life easier. Right now I do a lot of work with trading code, so naturally I like it enough that I work with it and see lots of potential things to do with it.

In the end, I think code is more like a facilitator, especially since the emphasis of where I play is roleplaying. Code can only facilitate roleplaying, it can give incentives to roleplay certain things, it can help me do other things too... but in the end it seems code is subservient to the roleplaying objective where I am, so this view is prevalent.

I think systems like economics often inspire roleplay, so I definately enjoy having light econ code. - - "Wait, I thought you said you like economics inspiring roleplay, but only light code?" Yeah, because I'm a fan of there being a lot of variation. Remember, I think code is a supplement, not a primary activity. If I play a manufacterer I'm going to roleplay running the business more than I type out codes to make the money come in. So where I play: I like the econ code that's there (of course I look over a part of it so I'm biased. :>)

As for code that I think is overwhelmed by roleplaying? Remember, I said I think code is a facilitator in an RP heavy envirorment. So when a piece of code comes along that just makes my RPing life a bit more difficult... I think it ends up being rejected. An example of this where I play is telepathy code. The idea was that it would make a psionist (who possesses the ability from birth, and a fair portion may use it as a primary language) roll to see if they could successfully send a message. What most people seemed to reply with was, "But can't we just use a private emote showing the telepathy rather than use this code?" and that's what I and others do. It's not that we're anti-code, but merely that most people thought code was prohibitive to the roleplaying so it has never really been pressed.

When code makes my life easier and enhances my roleplay: I use it.
When code annoys me and feels like it has little purpose other than being a gadget: I toss it and stay with whatever I was using before.
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Old 05-26-2005, 09:22 PM   #4
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I don't like coded toys.

There, I said it.

I can pose, page, all that necessary and simple stuff. But I can't/won't use anything else. You know how many times I've been taught how to board/disembark from a ship? Neither do I, because I've lost count.

I think it's pretty safe to say that if they come out with more coded systems at the MUSH I play at, I wouldn't use 'em. It makes my brain hurt. x.x
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Old 05-26-2005, 10:30 PM   #5
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I like a good mix of things. I came from a game that was code-heavy. So much so, that there were constant problems with "balance" of skills and classes and equipment and economy. So much so that, after 12 years running, this particular game STILL has constant problems with all those things. They've tweaked and retweaked, characters got so powerful because the code was only intended to level 50 and couldn't support higher.. so they added more difficult critters, more level-dependent barriers to get to those critters, and still people figured out how to get around the limitations. And so the spiral continued - tweak, circumvent, tweak, circumvent, until they had to actually create a coded level cap.

That's just the least of their problems. After all this time, they still haven't managed to create a dynamic emote system. They rely heavily on verbs, and announce (proudly! that "We have a new verb, scoobie!" and you type "scoobie" and spin around a few times and fall on the ground, face up, with your legs in the air. Or whatever this week's favorite cartoonesque "verb" happens to be.

The code, and people who rely almost exclusively on the code, have turned the game into nothing more than a trading card venue, where people can buy and sell characters and equipment on e-bay. Roleplaying is something you have to "look for" and people seem to think this is fine and dandy. In a game with over a thousand players active at any given moment, having to "look for" roleplaying doesn't sound much like a roleplaying game to me. But they insist that's what they are <shrug>

I like where I am now. Very few socials at all, most people use the emote system which is dynamic and can be complex if the player wants it to be. But yet there -is- code, so you don't have to wait for a GM/IMM/Whatever to roll a dice and tell you if you made a saving throw or whatever. I mean - if there's no "head honcho" logged in at that moment, what do you do - sit there for a couple of RL days waiting to find out if that thrust toward your enemy's side actually hit or not? Or if that lockpick you just used to break open an apartment snapped, or if you actually got the door opened?

I like having code for stuff like that. Clothing too. I would hate to have to change an entire paragraph of my character's description just because she is wearing a new pair of gloves that day. Much nicer, easier, and less time consuming to simply "wear gloves."

I like being able to enter and leave buildings, and move in directions. If there aren't coded rooms, what do you do - just have everyone stand in a single room emoting that you're not there, and have gone somewhere else? I just can't imaging enjoying that kind of atmosphere. But then, one of the things that attracts me to gaming is the adventuring side of it. If I want to sit still I can turn the computer off and veg out in front of the TV
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Old 05-27-2005, 11:56 AM   #6
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Good discussion so far! Anyone else want to add their thoughts?
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Old 05-27-2005, 04:06 PM   #7
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I find that RP in an "RP Encouraged" environment, i.e. one VERY heavy on the code (HnS, usually), offers significant opportunity for long-term RP.

The major difference is that the player has to figure out what the design for the character track was intended to be, and then decide whether or not to 'fill out' the code's/coders' plans for that Guild/Race/Clan, etc. I will contend that while this doesn't offer nearly as much 'freedom of choice' as to what a character can do or impact in the game in the short-term, a long-term player tends to grow into all the character they can be.

A dynamic emote system coupled with extensive social emotes can provide unlimited in-room RP opportunities, and global channels tend to be where some of the 'realest' RP shows up. There is nothing better than watching a Serpent Warrior and a Knight goading eachother into an arena, publicly. ;>

Hard-coded systems can offer great teaming/partying opportunities, but also allow for individual play, so that players don't *have* to function in a group. Global channels offer RP opportunities that let people gain XP solo while simultaneously chatting in their RP voice.

I know I've mentioned this before, but here it is again: I have walked onto RPI MU*s as a female character and typed 'bow.' My character curtsied quite prettily. I gagged.

I find *that* kind of code VERY intrusive to my RP. Just because my character is female does not mean she will always curtsey. It is ridiculous to curtsey when one is in pants. A respectful bow from a female puts her on the same footing as the males. I understand that it is *that game's* intent that women should curtsey, just as it is my game's intent that one's Guild dictates many of the character's 'actions.' However, there is a significant difference to me when fighting style is dictated by code and when emotes or socials are dictated by code.
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Old 05-27-2005, 04:54 PM   #8
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With our races, they tended to be built on ideas for RP or parts of our game world's history first, and then they were given their stats, advantages and disadvantages afterwards in order to balance them from a gameplay point of view.

This is probably mostly to do with our producer responsible for our races, Estarra, being that she loves creating things for/from our history that the players can actually be a part of.

We are guilty of having our bow emote show curtsies for female characters however you are entirely able to do a custom emote to bow, as I know many of our female characters do, in fact I know of a couple of male characters that emote our female bow and female laugh because they feel it fits them better.
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Old 06-04-2005, 11:00 AM   #9
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Anyone else want to chime in?
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Old 06-04-2005, 02:25 PM   #10
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I think coded systems are very important for Roleplaying. The code makes the world come alive and feel much more immersive. To me, emotes and poses are less real than what your character does with the code. When I backstab, and then have that few seconds of worrying, am I hidden well enough? How is my dex today? Uh too many lights? Is fate on my side? I wouldn't want to emote a backstab and then wonder if the player is going to go along and get stabbed or does he think he can win today.
Also, I have a tendency to just take commands done with the code more seriously than emoted commands when other people do them. If somebody emotes something I think should be impossible then I'm quite likely to just ignore it, or start arguing ooc'ly about whether they can do that. But if they do it with the code, well then I have to concede they have the skill or the luck.
Also, with coded actions done to the room or to NPCs, if the code is good, there may be a real reaction. I've found on less code-heavy games, it is less immersive to pretend that the NPC talks back to you or that there's a hole where you dug one. And I really don't like waiting around in case there's an imm/wiz to possess the NPC.
It is unfortunate however that heavily coded systems tend to attract players less interested in roleplaying, and RP really is about the players.
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Old 06-04-2005, 07:06 PM   #11
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I think that I more or less agree with everyone else here (to a greater or lesser extent) in saying that code that has been specifically designed to support a game's RP will be beneficial, while leftovers from a converted code base that don't quite fit the IC environment obviously don't.

If there isn't some limiting factor in terms of a character's wealth, strength, magical prowess, etc. most people will eventually degrade into arguments. You want players to have freedom in their actions, but in most cases, having the success of those actions defined by (proper) code will help to avoid resentment and trouble.

Going further, if you can code in extras such as an economy that will give people opportunities for RP subjects, you can really help to enrich your roleplaying game. A large problem in most free-form roleplaying games is that no one has anything to do and no impetus to take action. If you can create a world that will impose meaningful consequences through code, you provide players with motivation to take action, which will always enrich the quality of your roleplay.
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Old 06-04-2005, 07:52 PM   #12
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Free form roleplaying requires a consent heavy environment and a group where there is a ton of trust. Along with that, it requires either enough canonical information or enough leeway that players have a framework to work in, or can make their own framework.

The more freeform something is the more you need to rely on trusting other players in order to get anything done.

On the flipside, however, the more coded something is, I think there's a mentality (at least in my experience) where it comes down to, "Well, there's nothing that says I can't kill you, so too bad." And it's hindered my ability to enjoy the community of more heavily coded games.

I'm personally a fan of the peripherary coded systems, where the use is optional (and to one's benefit when used), but if you don't use most of them it's not like you're going to have issues playing.
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