Re: An uncommon problem...

From: Chris Proctor (cjp@YOYO.CC.MONASH.EDU.AU)
Date: 10/03/97

> -+Agreen, in terms of realism. However, it's easy to extrapolate that
> -+argument to sending a message to the character who likes exploring
> -+dungeons, finding secret doors etc:
> -+"How the hell do you think your 5 intelligence barbarian is going to
> -+realise there's a hidden lever on that statue?"
> Well, the only way the character (and the player) will ever know
> about the lever is if someone told them or if they look around and
> find it.  So I don't see your point, here.

Ah, but if they have a stupid (read unobservant) character, it isn't in
character for them to find it. Sure, once or twice they might manage to
pull something like that off, but repeatedly?

Oh, ok, it's a stretch. But it's possible to envisage a mud where the
player has no decisions to make, because anything they decide will be
coloured by their real-life skills, and will hence be out of character.
So the computer should make the all of the (in character) decisions for

> -+If your players have fun deciphering the languages on your mud, great. In
> -+most cases the intelligence of the player is used as an approximation for
> -+the intelligence of the character in any case. Take d&d for an example.
> That's an interesting assumption.  A false one, but nonetheless,
> interesting.  I've played unimagiably old, weak, but highly
> intelligent mages before; and I'm not old, weak, or magical, and
> not quite as brilliant as the mage I played was.  I've played
> young girls, old dragons, middle-aged dwarves, and fun-loving
> wood elves...and none of these are an approximation of who I am.
> They were my characters, and they all differed from me in some
> ways (some large, some small).

Nuh-uh. I said the player's intelligence must be an approximation for the
character's, NOT vice-versa.

The difference is significant. Characters (except in highly obsessive
situations) are always less in depth than real people, hence a
character's personality is arguably a subset of the player's.

> -+Is a 3 intelligence warrior going to realise that if he can convince a
> -+dragon to eat some tainted meat it'll be easier than taking it out in a
> -+head-to-head fight? Probably not. But penalising the player for having
> -+his character do that reduces the fun of the game.
> I never said you should penalize a character for the player finding
> out something.  I said you should limit the ability of the player
> to defeat the game's mechanics.
> -+I quite like the idea of having players recognise common words in other
> -+languages (using the player's intelligence as an approximation for the
> -+character's again), but it's up to the individual implementor *shrugs*.
> Ideally, that would work, but it's working on the assumption that a
> character's abilities are based off of the player's real life
> abilities.  This is a silly thing to assume in CircleMUD, where
> a person's abilities are automatically rolled for them, and they
> have no bearing over them.  And it's a poor assumption when you
> realize that half the people playing 18-strength warriors are
> likely over-weight, or down-right puny.  A character is not
> indicative of the player's real abilities; it's indicative of the
> player's ideal abilities, or of just a conjured character.

Ok, there's another difference here. Strength, Constitution and Dexterity
are a character's physical attributes, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma
are his mental ones.

In role-playing games, the problem is that the physical attributes are
absolutely identifiable, dice-rolls or comparison of ability scores or
whatever are fairly fair, for purposes of lifting weights, racing etc.

The mental attributes on the other hand are harder to quantify. You can
roll for the player's chance to memorise a spell, or whatever, but it's
not much fun to have a battle of wits with the player's nemesis decided
purely by dicerolls. Likewise, I can see the fun of working out for
yourself (not relying on the internal mechanics of the game) the gist of
common phrases in other languages.

Actually, even in role-playing games (in my experience), the initial
stages of the learning process come from the player.

If a mage wants to learn Dethek, he might do so by noticing Dethek runes
on the walls of tunnels, and realising that one certain rune was always
present when a tunnel collapsed on him. So working out a few words of the
language himself leads the player to have his character learn it.

Obviously it's far too much for for the DM to write a whole language for
the player to learn, but a few simple words are normally enough, after
which you just assume they know enough to get by (with appropriate
teaching and whatnot).

So basically you can totally define a character physically, using
numbers, but it's not possible to do it to any great extent mentally. You
can prevent a player with a puny character picking up a horse, or a
clumsy character making it across a tight-rope, but you can't stop a stupid
player with a super-intelligent character attacking a tough mob when he's
on 1 hp. Or selling his favourite sword instead of a rusty goblin one, or

> -+I see what daniel's saying here, but I think it's taking the realism a
> -+bit far, and ignoring the potential fun that can be derived from
> -+translating another language. Hey, maybe you could even have a language
> -+school, and have the player have to sit a test on the language to be able
> -+to prac the language and have his character understand it automatically.
> The learning of the language is an entirely in-character thing, and
> shouldn't deal with the player outside of that assosciation.

From a realism point of view, true. But the more realistic,
"rules-lawyerish" approach isn't the most fun for a lot of players.

> -+The potential problem daniel sees in players writing client macros to
> -+translate other languages is real, but I guess it depends how central the
> -+unintelligibility of languages is on your mud. On most it would be more
> -+effort than players would be willing to put in for a relatively small
> -+reward.
> That actually depends upon how wide in scope you implement languages.
> In reality, they have quite a bearing on the ability to trade and
> do business with foreign lands.  If you have them work to that
> affect on the mud, then learning the language is quite
> profitable; and if you can do so without having to use "practice
> points" that could be used for "bash" instead, then why shouldn't
> you?  It's actually not that difficult to just find a friend that
> speaks both your language and their language, then have them say
> things in both languages, so you can figure out some words, and
> before long, understand the general idea of what someone is
> saying.

Actually, that language test thing I suggested was intended to use
practice points anyway. Would be something for nothing otherwise,
probably not quite what you meant though.

Ok, I'm talking from the perspective of my own mud. True.
I'm not planning to implement languages as an important part of the game,
if they do go in it will be purely for fun. If the players want to write
macros to decipher them, it's not going to worry me.

In a roleplaying MU*, elendor for example, where language is
important, talking in front of enemies secretly is important, being unable
to decipher languages out of character is important.

The Dwarves don't want their secret plans being overheard by a group of
Orcs hiding in nearby bushes, and the Lorien elves are xenophobic to the
extent where they won't teach outsiders their language for any reason.

In my MUD none of these factors exist, so there you go.

I still basically believe it's a question of style. Daniel's way of doing
it is great, complex to code, realistic, and lends itself easily to
roleplaying. The other way is somewhat easier to code (still tedious, but
anyway), decipherable out of character, realistic, but maybe less so if
you think it's important for the character to do all the work.

      "A double-edged sword lets you cut down
      your enemies with the backswing as well."
             -- Gerrard of the Weatherlight
     Check out Dominia Mud, on 3333
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