[MUD-Dev] In-Game Languages

Michael Hohensee michael at sparta.mainstream.net
Tue Apr 6 06:27:51 CEST 1999

Ben Greear wrote:
> Michael Hohensee wrote:
> >
> > We must be careful in how we implement this, however.  If you're doing a
> > simple rot-X or substitution code, enterprising players might deduce it
> > through learning the language, writing one letter in it, and showing it
> > to an ignorant character.  The player might then write a script for some
> > client which translates the language on the fly, and that would kinda
> > ruin the neatness of languages.
> It would seem to me that the player's decoding of the language is
> an adequate step to 'learn' the language.  If that seems too easy, then
> make the hashing more difficult to decode (though not impossible, that
> would be frusterating and would offer no opportunity to think on the
> problem.)

Correct, but you don't want a player running Bubba the elf to learn to
decode dwarvish and then be able to run Buffy the Human and still be
able to decode it.  Suppose Buffy has never heard a word of dwarvish in
her life?  Heck, the player running Bubba might spill the beans to every
other player in existance by writing a auto-translate client, as I said.

The idea is that the _character_ is the one who's supposed to know the
language, not the player.  The nice thing about what I outlined is that
while the player is still capable of decoding the language in a usable
fashion without having formally aquired the language skill, he only
learns languages in terms of which player he's running.

This means that I, the player running Bubba and Buffy, aside from having
a sexual identity crisis, can learn a few words of dwarvish as Bubba,
but if I want to be able to use those words as Buffy, I'll have to have
some dwarf (or someone else who knows the words) recite them to me so I
can learn them.

The actual hashing of the language can be as simple as you like. 
Everything gets retranslated by the MUD before it's sent out again in
any case.  Bubba could figure out that "kjahnnesl" means "dog" (kja = d,
hnn = o, esl = g) in dwarvish, and use it as often as he likes.  He can
even rearrange things and say "eslhnnkja" or "god".  He just can't
switch over to Buffy and do the same thing.  In fact, the mere attempt
should leave Buffy spouting gibberish, since kja, hnn, and esl will
belong to separate languages for Buffy, and hence not be translated into

It's still crackable, of course.  All someone has to do is figure out
how a character's name is related to the languages, or if we hand each
character a random, unique ID number instead, he can simply do a brute
force attack with a hacked version of the translation algorithm.  (I'm
sure that there exists at least *one* player rabid enough to do this,
which could be fun. ;)

I think it's a neat way to enforce RP as well as add very detailed and
consistent language support to a MUD.

Michael Hohensee
michael at sparta.mainstream.net

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

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