The past that haunts you

 
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ide



Joined: 21 Feb 2006
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Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2007 7:36 pm    Post subject: The past that haunts you Reply with quote

I've been reading some stuff on amnesia lately and, of course, this made me wonder about something in mudding.

It seems like oher than the odd quest here or there the majority of muds have little provision for a character's past. For example, shouldn't it be possible for an old enemy or friend of a character to come back into the character's life, months or years later after the first meeting?

Other than the reason that the developer is busy working on other things, a couple of obvious reasons why this might be hard to add:

  • The character kills all their enemies and doesn't make any friends.

  • The mud's levelling/advancement system doesn't make it practical for a 5th level/50 power rated goblin to come back and harass a 90th level/900 power rated ninja-alchemist-bard.

  • Some other player went and killed all the character's enemies and friends.


So what I'm wondering, does this fall under the perennial non-trivial question of a mud's ability to persist the game world, or is this a feature that could add a lot to a player's experience?

What you could do to get around part of the persistence question is make elements of the player's past more abstract, not tied to a specific mob or item. So it's never a question that the character will meet Alebaric the Thaumaturge again, but someone from the Red Hand, the thaumaturge sect that Alebaric is a member of.

Thoughts?
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KGZotU



Joined: 08 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2007 4:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It seems like the fundamental difficulties here are:

Any given PC kills a _lot_ of NPCs.
and
It would be rather complicated for the MUD to sort out which of those who narrowly escape your wrath constitute noteworthy experiences.

I can see it now.

Quote:

A young man enters from the east, his dark cloak whipping ominously about him in the wind.

>

The young man says, "Kragnar, I've finally found you. Is that fear in your eyes? Hate? I can't imagine you feel sorrow at the sight of me. Yes or no, do you remember me?"

> say No.

You say, "No."

>

The young man says, "It hasn't been so long, Kragnar. Do you remember that night, four years ago, on 5 Winter at 19:48 when you found yourself at the West Stables of Newhaven? You had just finished off the a roughly shaven stable hand, and then you saw a bright smiling stable boy. You eviscerated him, and then you stabbed him in the head, and then you stabbed him in the head, and then you eviscerated him, and then he turned and fled. I was the a bright smiling stable boy, and the a roughly shaven stable hand was my father! I've waited so long for tonight, Kragnar. Prepare to die!"


Actually, I've gotten myself a bit worked up; that sounds terribly exciting. (;

My point, though, is that I think it would require a style of game where killing is much less common. Where those you kill, and those that get away, are much more memorable. That would also address #1 and #3 of your above problems. As for #2, you could plausibly assume that a sufficiently vengeful enemy has both driven themselves to the very edge of study to take you down and that they'd be prepared with as much gear, potions, etc., as they could amass over a couple of years.

--Joe
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2007 10:10 am    Post subject: Re: The past that haunts you Reply with quote

ide wrote:
What you could do to get around part of the persistence question is make elements of the player's past more abstract, not tied to a specific mob or item. So it's never a question that the character will meet Alebaric the Thaumaturge again, but someone from the Red Hand, the thaumaturge sect that Alebaric is a member of.


That seems like a more viable solution for most muds (i.e., muds where people tend to get killed rather often) - but it also strikes me as being conceptually very similar to a reputation system.

To really differentiate it from a regular reputation system and make it feel more like something that happened in the character's past, perhaps it might be fun to let people select background options when they first create their character - not so much a hand-written story like RPIs use, but rather a series of options they can select which actually have a direct impact on gameplay.

On the other hand, if you're creating enemies during character creation anyway, that means you can control when they appear; so you could use instancing to ensure that people don't kill each others personal enemies. Thus I might select a background option "nasty run-in with the Red Hand", and the mud might then give me a series of personal goals culminating in the killing of Alebaric the Thaumaturge - an instanced one-shot quest of a specific level (perhaps scaling in difficulty if I go over that level, so that it'll always be a challenge).
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ide



Joined: 21 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2007 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KaVir, you're right that by abstraction it does look more like a reputation system, and as Joe's rather brilliantly written example illustrates the whole thing could get kind of silly. Not bad in itself but not the greatest if you're aiming for a wide range of moods in a game.

In fact this brings up an interesting paradox, that maybe the best way to make a character's past relevant is to have the player themself customize it as KaVir describes.

Nor would you have to limit 'history creation' to the character generation process; much as with the selection of skills, there's no reason you couldn't let players choose 'histories' at any time as long as they weren't mutually exclusive. This brings to mind something KaVir posted a while back about a character background/creation system, only this could involve actual game NPCs/events/items. The effect might be somewhat novelistic, as when you learn pieces of a character's past as the story rolls along.
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KaVir



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PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2007 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ide wrote:
Nor would you have to limit 'history creation' to the character generation process; much as with the selection of skills, there's no reason you couldn't let players choose 'histories' at any time as long as they weren't mutually exclusive.


That's a rather interesting idea, and could get around the entry barrier required by having to create your character's background up front. In my tabletop roleplaying games, the players tend to shape and polish their character history during play, as by that time they've got a better feeling for their characters as well as the world in which they live.

ide wrote:
This brings to mind something KaVir posted a while back about a character background/creation system, only this could involve actual game NPCs/events/items. The effect might be somewhat novelistic, as when you learn pieces of a character's past as the story rolls along.


I like that - it could even be handled a selection of mutually exclusive quests. People could then use them to take a break from regular play, or when they wanted to earn some extra exp, etc. Depending on the theme, you probably couldn't allow someone to literally die during such a flashback quest, but they could certainly be knocked unconscious or in some other way temporarily incapacitated.

The nature of such quests would likely make them one-shot, regardless of whether you won or lost, but each outcome could introduce certain NPCs that might later come back to haunt you - whether it was Alebaric the Thaumaturge who you fought again, General Talmaric who you fought under, or Doctor Morgalrim who saved your life after your body was dragged from the battlefield.
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Tonitrus



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been fond of this concept since I first read these posts, but recently I've been thinking about a possible expansion on this idea, and how feasible it'd be.

The Fate 3.0 system has a bit of an unusual character creation system. It has "aspects" which are backgrounds, etc, and can be good or bad. Part of the character creation system is rather interesting. I instantly hated it when I first read about it. As part of your character creation, you had to write a brief summary (on a notecard) of a "novel" that your character starred in, describing his past exploits. Then the "novels" would be shuffled up and dealt out to the other players, who'd each put in their own "guest starring" role in the "novel" they'd received. They'd add a new aspect for this, then shuffle them up and deal them out again, with a second "guest starring" role for the new "novel". They'd add a new aspect for this, also.

Initially I hated this concept and considered it a waste of time, but after my initial hatred of it wore off and I thought about it, it seemed like a very interesting way to give players a shared background history with one another, and have them potentially affected by one another's histories.

That brings me back to the topic at hand: I wonder if it is feasible to have a system such as the one described above where MORE THAN ONE PERSON can participate in the backstories. I'm thinking that maybe generated quests that overlap could be used for this. The overlapping could be complimentary or oppositional. With this being part of character creation, it seems like this would be difficult to coordinate different characters into these mini-quests. It could possibly done the way many games have newbie-areas for non-authorized characters, only instanced with a few characters sharing an instance. They could be given separate quests to solve. Whether they succeed in the quest or fail should be secondary to the act of participation. Trying to schedule more backstory quests after the characters have entered the game, especially ones with multiple participants would probably prove rather difficult, but could still be interesting.

There's no reason why people couldn't have overlapping quests later on that could give a similar bonus (like opening up an already-allowed talent slot) for participating, with other bonuses/drawbacks for success or failure. Questing tends to be a solo activity, and that's fine; I personally like going off and doing quests by myself. The trouble with the standard questing model is that it's an entirely solo style of gameplay. I'd like to see a questing system that creates overlaps that give people opportunities to assist or interfere with other individuals on intersecting quests.

While all of this sounds great and interesting, the task of auto-generating interesting quests for single individuals sounds like a nightmare, much less quests that allow multiple individuals to play a role. The only reliable way I can think to do this offhand is non-feasible. Namely, a member of the game's staff would have to tailor quests to allow multiple entities to play a role. That's not ultimately workable, unless there are ways to streamline that that I'm overlooking.
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KaVir



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 12:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tonitrus wrote:
That brings me back to the topic at hand: I wonder if it is feasible to have a system such as the one described above where MORE THAN ONE PERSON can participate in the backstories.

I think you could, but it'd probably be easier if each backstory focused on one character, with other characters having the choice of playing supporting roles. That way you'd have a single player driving each story, rather than trying to calculate backgrounds from some sort of complicated character network.

Actually the concept reminds me a bit of my Immortals theme proposal:

"Thus two players might meet in the present, and agree OOC that their characters had met once before. They decide when and where, then both use the 'flashback' command to jump back to that date, where they can roleplay out their original encounter - very much like the flashbacks in Highlander, Forever Knight, etc, where a new character is introduced in both the past and the present at the same time."
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