[MUD-Dev] Usability and interface ...

Caliban Tiresias Darklock caliban at darklock.com
Mon Oct 6 23:17:36 CEST 1997

On Sun, 5 Oct 1997 03:37:39 PST8PDT, Marian Griffith <gryphon at iaehv.nl>

>On Wed 24 Sep, Caliban Tiresias Darklock wrote:
>> On Wednesday, September 24, 1997 4:29 AM, clawrenc at cup.hp.com 
>> [SMTP:clawrenc at cup.hp.com] wrote:
>> > Reese reports that being a fisherman, and thus spending ones play time
>> > sittting about fishing and telling stories is popular with a certain
>> > set of players.  One could easily imagine a similar scenario for
>> > musicians sitting about strumming and swapping songs.
>> Note that you would not actually need a fishing skill or musical instrument 
>> skill for either of the above. I agree, musicians are a nice thing, they 
>> contribute vastly to the enjoyment of the world; but why do we actually 
>> need game mechanics to handle it?
>Basically this is the same question as:
>Why bother with descriptions on rooms and monsters in a (traditional)
>mud at all?  It does not add anything to the game, which is all about
>killing monsters.

Actually, that's not the same question at all. I'm saying that
atmosphere is a wonderful thing and we need it in our games, but there
are a lot of things that aren't specifically *game* components and don't
need a skill or attribute allotted to them. One of my favorite examples
is the idea of the comeliness attribute in AD&D. (This apppeared in the
Unearthed Arcana supplement of first edition AD&D in the eighties, for
those who aren't long-term players, and was supposed to represent your
physical beauty on a linear -- well, bell-curved, technically -- scale.)
If I have a high comeliness, then I'm good looking, even if I describe
my character as having festering sores and boils. If I have a low one,
then I'm ugly, even if I describe my character as Adonis squared. It's

If you have a stat for it, why? Skill space is usually limited. Even if
it isn't, you only have so much memory and so much disk, so why store
skills that have no real game use? The comeliness attribute struck me as
highly stupid. The proper way to handle this is to use a description,
not a statistic. Just like in any game, if there's no statistic to
handle it you just fill it in. Fishing? No problem. You wanna be a
fisherman, you're a fisherman. How good or how bad is up to you. Music?
Same thing. Golf? Likewise. (I mean, talk about a useless skill.) 

A description is not a statistic to which game mechanics are applied.
Fishing and music and golf, likewise. In fact, ANY artistic talent
should probably be looked at with a skeptical eye before assigning a
skill to it. 'Painting'? Okay, with a high painting skill, I could do
portraits. But what about more abstract works? Designs? Scrollwork? Can
you really assign a percentage to that? Can you realistically put a
number in the place of a description?

=+[caliban at darklock.com]=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=[http://www.darklock.com/]+=
"It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more 
doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than the creation of a 
new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by 
the preservation of the old institution, and merely lukewarm defenders in 
those who would gain by the new one."                      -- Machiavelli
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