[MUD-Dev] In-Game Languages

Mik Clarke mikclrk at ibm.net
Mon Apr 5 22:07:59 CEST 1999

Matthew D. Fuller wrote:

> On Sun, Apr 04, 1999 at 10:00:12AM -0600, a little birdie told me
> that Chris Gray remarked
> >
> > How does someone with the given language skill read the       > output? Do
> they simply get the untranslated version, and      > others get the translated
> version? Does this work for written > material too? (It could - you would just
> have to have a > language flag on all text, and do the translation on final
> > output to the player, so that a player could carry around a   > Dwarvish
> book, and finally read it after learning the skill.)
> This sort of thing has crossed my mind before.  One of the more
> interesting facets that comes to mind (that I've never seen properly explored,
> even if it is possible) is how to deal with partial skill.  Of course, having
> X% of the language be 'readable' randomly is easy, if a bit unrealistic.  But a
> more 'real' way would be better, not to mention more fun.
> Consider how you learn language; generally, you learn more common words first.
> Ignoring practical constraints on storage, you could keep track of how many
> times a character has 'seen' this word in a language he is growing in
> proficiency in.  On the basis of that, you can determine a sort of cutoff point
> at which he 'understands' that word, and thus can translate it.  If you wanted
> to go even further overboard, you could keep track (somewhow) of context as
> well, track grammar, etc.

On CthulhuMud I handle this with conditional extended descriptions.  If you have
a book with a complicated text inside it, it might have 3 or even four

It is an ancient book bound in worn leather.
actor->skill dwarven 0 0
You don't recognise the language.
actor->skill dwarven 1 10
It is written in Dwarven, complex Dwarven.
actor->skill dwarven 11 70
It seems to be a trieste about mining and metal working.  There
is some reference to true silver and Kaz'Ulm
actor->skill dwarven 71 -1
It is a record of the mine at Kaz'Ulm.  The dwarves found several
deposits of true-slver, but had to abandon the mine when they dug into a firey
chamber and an elemental called Fare-Kasum attacked them.  According to the
ledger the mine was abandond about 50 years ago.

Each reader gets to see the base description and the conditional extra
description appropriate to their language skill.  Each book (or message) can have
its own skill grades, so a simple sign sayig 'Danger' might be readable by
someone with as little as just 1% of dwarven.

> One rather useful application of this in game design is to let players choose
> which 'language' they use to communicate at a point in time; so you could be in
> a room with 2 friends, each of which speaks a language the other doesn't, and
> communicate semi-privately with one or the other. Of course, you never know
> when one might sneakily learn (though never let on by speaking) the others' and
> be eavesdropping on you...

CthulhuMud does this as well, adding the skill of speaker and listener together.
If the total is less than 50% then the text is randomly garbled to an extent
related to the skill totals.  With a total around 45% it is possible to make out
many of the words. Characters can choose both a public language (for say, shout,
yell, scream etc...) and a private language (for whisper). OOC communication
(tell, gossip, question, answer) is always in English.


MUD-Dev maillist  -  MUD-Dev at kanga.nu

More information about the mud-dev-archive mailing list