[MUD-Dev] New laws. (was: Player Manipulation of Environment)

Hans-Henrik Staerfeldt hhs at cbs.dtu.dk
Thu Nov 29 15:38:22 CET 2001

On Wed, 28 Nov 2001, Marian Griffith wrote:
> With hundreds or even thousands of actors you have not only a
> logistical nightmare to tell the story, you also have a situation
> where each player does not have the proper distance to the events
> to "grasp" what is going on with the story.

This is very true. I totally agree. The logistics to pull off
telling a single story involving everybody is not easily
accomplished. On the other hand, 'logistical nightmares' are often
successfully left to computers.

> For a narrative to work there has to be a certain distance between
> events and audience, even if the outcome of the events is of great
> importance to them.  The audience needs to be able to reflect on
> the story as it is told, so techniques like character development,
> creating sympathy or antipathy, disclosure and building tension
> can work.  Being the subject of the story, you are involved,
> possibly with the exclusion of all else, in survival. While that
> can make for a very engaging (or terrifying) experience, it is not
> a good situation for a narrative.  You certainly can not build a
> mud that is focused on a single story.

I agree; trying to tell a 'single story' within a MUD would probably
fail, if everyone had the singular perspective of their character in
the game.

However in my opinion, telling an interactive story for each player
with a different perspective is actually what the current technology
does now (but from a story perspective, the story is often _very_
poorly written).  None the less, you are in fact able to pick up
your logfile and read through it again.

Things such as character development, sympathy or antipathy, can
also be incoorperated in an interactive manner. Some examples have
already been seen in f.inst. Planescape:Torment, where the same
action can be done with different pretence;

  Bluff: "I'm gonna kill ya if you don't tell me" Sincere: "I'm
  gonna kill ya if you don't tell me"

Such techniques could also be done to query the player for her
characters development, thus influencing the storyline. This idea is
not limited by working in a MUD.

As for distance between events and audience. It is the job of the
narrative to provide the distance that is needed. You can easily
fail in a narrative because you do not provide that distance (say;
elucidate why a certain event is important for the
player/audience/character). I do not agree that the players _need_
to be 'living' the game through their characters. Its an option, but
not a demand.

There is also no problem in incoorperating information about events
that the player/audience/character would 'naturally' not have access
to, like say explain that;

  "Since you yesterday convinced the guard not to show up for duty,
  he has now indeed not shown up and the entrance is left unguarded"

Even if the player/audience/character have no 'natural/physical' way
of knowing it. That trick has been used in many singleplayer games,
and would not suffer too much if incoorperated into multiplayer
games.  (I know that some list members would shiver of the idea of
moving away from 'simulation' this way, but its a neat narrative
trick that just works too well not to use it).

Hans Henrik Stærfeldt   |    bombman at diku.dk    | work:  hhs at cbs.dtu.dk      |
Address:                |___  +45 40383492    __|__       +45 45252425     __|
DTU, Kemitorvet,        | Scientific programmer at Center for Biological     |
bygn 208, CBS.          |  Sequence Analysis, Technical University of Denmark|

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