The use of emotion

 
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
Location: Munich

PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 11:47 am    Post subject: The use of emotion Reply with quote

One of the rules I commonly hear from builders is "You shouldn't force emotion on the reader". But what about optional emotion?

Imagine we have the following description:

You are standing in Blackwood Forest, the trees lush with the new growth of spring. The sounds of nocturnal animals echo through the trees from time to time. Rain falls all around you, running off the trees and forming puddles on the ground.

Now let us add an emotional element:

You are standing in Blackwood Forest, the trees lush with the new growth of spring. The sounds of nocturnal animals echo through the trees from time to time, sending a shiver of apprehension up your spine. Rain falls all around you, running off the trees and forming puddles on the ground.

Some people would say that such a description is bad, because many viewers wouldn't be afraid of nocturnal animals. But what if the player had previously specified this:

> setemotion agrizoophobia
Ok - your character is afraid of wild animals.


If the player hadn't selected that option, they would see the first description - but by explicitly specifying that they're afraid of wild animals, the second description would be activated, much like any other dynamic description. Now suppose we took it a step further:

> setemotion agrizoophobia childhood
Ok - your character is afraid of wild animals due to a childhood incident.


You are standing in Blackwood Forest, the trees lush with the new growth of spring. The sounds of nocturnal animals echo eerily through the trees from time to time, bringing back the horrifying memories of your childhood. Rain falls all around you, running off the trees and forming puddles on the ground.

Now obviously you can't cover everything - but then, you don't need to; you could simply add new phobias, fears, or other emotions, as needed.

If you wanted the phobias to have an in-game affect, you could also specify them as options in a Merits and Flaws system. They could also be the result of spells or other supernatural powers.

How would people feel about something like this?
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shasarak



Joined: 29 Jun 2005
Posts: 134
Location: Emily's Shop

PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 12:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure how many people would voluntarily give themselves a phobia. But it could be an interestingly unconventional magical curse to inflict a phobia on another player.

I think it's also reasonable to assume that (say) a player who is a werewolf might react with a sense of anticipation to the presence of prey.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
Location: Munich

PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 12:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

shasarak wrote:
I'm not sure how many people would voluntarily give themselves a phobia.


Some might, for a roleplaying mud, particularly if it was purely cosmetic or else provided some form of compensation (such as extra points for buying advantages). Obviously you'd have to be careful of min-maxing.

You could also use it as an alternative way of representing the 'defensive stance' that some muds use, giving the player a stronger defence against the appropriate creatures at the expense of a weak offense.

Another option would be to tie it into some sort of adrenaline system, giving the player a short-term boost (eg faster movement rate and reduced pain penalties) when they encounter the creature, followed by a period of exhaustion (with appropriate penalties). For example, having recently been bitten and webbed by a giant spider (and then, fortunately, rescued) you decide to add "Arachnaphobia" to your character - the OOC hope being that next time you stumble across a giant spider, you'll have a better chance of escaping.
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Vopisk



Joined: 22 Aug 2005
Posts: 99
Location: Golden Valley, Arizona, USA

PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KaVir wrote:
shasarak wrote:
I'm not sure how many people would voluntarily give themselves a phobia.


Some might, for a roleplaying mud, particularly if it was purely cosmetic or else provided some form of compensation (such as extra points for buying advantages). Obviously you'd have to be careful of min-maxing.

You could also use it as an alternative way of representing the 'defensive stance' that some muds use, giving the player a stronger defence against the appropriate creatures at the expense of a weak offense.

Another option would be to tie it into some sort of adrenaline system, giving the player a short-term boost (eg faster movement rate and reduced pain penalties) when they encounter the creature, followed by a period of exhaustion (with appropriate penalties). For example, having recently been bitten and webbed by a giant spider (and then, fortunately, rescued) you decide to add "Arachnaphobia" to your character - the OOC hope being that next time you stumble across a giant spider, you'll have a better chance of escaping.


Wow, I've thought about this a lot actually, and I'm glad we're finally having a discussion about it. White Wolf, in all of their systems, use merits and flaws to really flesh out characters at the cost of experience/creation points. So taking a flaw might get you enough points to get that next level in the skill you feel that your character needs while at the same time letting you play out an aspect of your character that you feel makes them who they are. This becomes more important in the terms of a MUD in that, you can set degrees of severity for flaws and merits and let the game determine how the character would react.

Using the given example of arachnophobia: A player with a Level 1 Flaw of Arachnophobia might be given a boost to their offense against spiders (owing to the wild flailing and stomping that they will employ to try and kill the icky spider). A player with a Level 5 Flaw of Arachnophobia might be paralyzed with fear upon sight of a spider (particularly a rather large and nasty looking one) and have only the recourse to flee, screaming in terror until they are certain to have escaped.

Allowing players to choose these themselves would allow them a greater degree of character customization and, if coupled with dynamic descriptions as KaVir has already highlighted, enhance the feel of the game as it becomes even more personal to their character.

I also thought of the system along the lines of allowing fears to be dynamically added in the course of the game, say by your encounters with certain types of beasts. Let's say you do get webbed up and "killed" (rescued in the nick of time) by Shelob the Giant Spider, well then, after that horrifying encounter, you gain Arachnophobia +1, you could remove your fear by killing spiders and convincing yourself that it was just a single, one-time incident that you won't ever allow to happen again, or if you are again caught in the web of a giant spider and nearly eaten, you may gain another level of Arachnophobia, increasing your fear and subsequently, your subconscious reaction to being in the presence of spiders.

I think that adding emotion to the game in this way is a really neat idea, I can think of times when playing games (particularly of the video variety) where I just knew that one of those big horrible bad guys that killed me or nearly killed me every time MUST be around that next corner, and so I creep up to the corner and do my best to get a glimpse, just to be sure, usually jumping out of my chair when they do spring out from around the corner and start wailing on me.

Specifically I like the idea of being able to specify where the fear originated from say: childhood event, near-death encounter, ingrained. If I selected near-death encounter for my arachnophobia I might get a message like:

You see a giant tarantula skitter into the room.

The images of dripping fangs flashes through your mind and you feel that your arms and legs are once again bound within the silken embrace of the spider's cocoon as it lowers to eat you. Your breathing becomes shallow and your chest constricts with fear.


Or something like that, obviously that it probably more than what anyone would want to see every time they encountered a spider, but perhaps you could keep a short list of different messages that might be displayed to the user, each of which would have their own "reaction" modifiers as it were.

Some might cause temporary paralysis, while others might increase your adrenaline and give you a bonus in "fighting for your life" or so on and so forth.

To address the subject of min-maxing, you might want to keep these things in such a perspective that taking flaws and merits are only comparable to each other, so that, if you want a new merit (say the ambidextrous merit) you would need to take on a flaw. Also, for those unfamiliar with White Wolf games (who are the best example of the use of these that I am aware of) other things aside from fears could also be added as flaws. So if you survive a particularly nasty encounter with a dragon, you might give your character the Limp flaw, representing that horrible gash that the dragon gave your left leg and so your character now permanently limps, reducing his speed in movement and perhaps some of his dexterity in battle.

While a lot of players would probably view this as stupidly crippling your character for no benefit, as KaVir mentioned, on a roleplaying mud it would probably be pretty neat, this definitely gives you a way to make your character really unique to your vision of him, rather than just a hollow vessel containing stats that you give life solely through your speech and emotes.

Just some thoughts,

Vopisk
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