[MUD-Dev] Renaming objects.

John Hopson jwh9 at acpub.duke.edu
Mon Mar 22 19:39:22 CET 1999

	Well, it seems the time has come for me to delurk.  The following is a
problem I've encountered in building my mud and a solution I've come up
with, both of which might be useful food for thought for this list.

	A little bit about my mud.  Aarinfel (aarinfel.mudservices.com 4444) is a
(gasp!) Diku derivative, but fairly heavily modified at this point.  It's a
roleplaying mud focusing on court politics in an original fantasy world.
Some things I'm particularly proud of are an accessible newbie process, a
flexible and powerful quest system, and an excellent standard of roleplay.

	A little bit about me.  I'm working on my phd in experimental psychology,
specializing in computer models of animal behavior.  I've been mudding for
about 3 years, and I've worked as a programmer and sysadmin for various
organizations, including private companies and the FAA.


	As the coder for a mud still in beta, I've gotten hordes of requests for
craftsman skills, skills that involve creating or modifying objects.
People want to play smiths, candlemakers, tailors, anything and everything
that involves making something for sale and want some sort of hardcoded
skill that allows them to really create/modify the objects.

	I've put it off until now for three main reasons.  First, I don't want
someone creating anachronistic objects.  It's a fantasy world and people
walking around with renamed rayguns would really break the mood.  I'm not
as worried about this because there's really no way to stop it in the code,
anymore than I can stop players from speaking anachronisms through code.

Second, just letting people rename objects would destroy the game's
economy.  Right now, some types of items are more expensive than others and
looking at a player gives you a good idea of their wealth and status, just
like real life.  If anyone with the tailor skill could rename 'a cheap wool
shirt' into 'an expensive silk shirt', it would make buying expensive
clothes meaningless and every character would be draped in wealth.

	Finally, at the moment the only way to get individualized items is through
the Imms, as a reward for good roleplay.  The system is working fairly well
and I'm not eager to devalue its rewards entirely.

	After long consideration, I've come up with a solution that seems to solve
these problems.  The idea is that players would be able to append the
descriptions of certain, "blank" items.  As an example, "a cloth shirt"
could be appended to "a cloth shirt embroidered with blue flowers".

	This allows a degree of individualization without opening the door to
completely changing the nature of the object.  A shirt couldn't be made
into to a cloak, but could be colored, designs added, etc.  'A steel sabre'
could be customized to 'a steel sabre with a basket hilt' but not to 'a
sharp pencil'.

	This seems to address the three issues I mentioned.  A sword couldn't be
completely renamed into an Uzi.  An item made from tin couldn't be renamed
to one made of gold.  And players would still require an imm to completely
rework an object.

Obviously, there are ways to abuse this system.  'A steel sword' could be
appended to 'a steel sword with a laser-sharpened edge', or 'a cheap cloth
shirt' to 'a cheap cloth shirt with large plates of gold attached'.
However, because the original name of the object is preserved, it is easy
to spot these abuses and correct them.  Due to the basic coding of my mud,
the only way to check what the original name of a completely renamed item
is by checking the object's vnum, which doesn't change when the item is
renamed.  For an Imm to go through a player's items checking their vnums
would be impossibly laborous.  The 'append' method, on the other hand,
allows an imm to glance at a player and spot an abuse right away.

As an additional plus, an "advanced craftsmanship" skill that allows
complete renaming can be given out later to players who show they can
handle the append skill.

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