[WF-General] Group ownership of characters

John Tillman speedbump0619 at hotmail.com
Mon Oct 9 19:43:26 PDT 2000

>Previously Tess commented:
> > 1) Is it possible for more than one person to be allowed to play a
> > character?  One person would be the "owner," but they could allow 
> > people to run the character when they were not.  It is, of course, 
> > that the "owner" would trust these players to make reasonable decisions, 
> > that is the "owner's" responsibility.
>Now, this gets pretty tricky.  In a face-to-face (FTF) game, it is easy to
>keep track of the established history and personality of a given
>character.  As a fellow player in the game, you've seen how this character
>acts, and you know what has happened to this character in the past.  If
>you missed anything, you can always skim campaign logs to see what
>happened in past sessions.
>In a persistent online world, it becomes much more difficult to assume
>another person's character.  This is because the characters develop rich
>and complex histories and personality traits, over time, having
>considerably more play hours than a FTF character, and hundreds more
>other player characters to interact with.  While I certainly don't think
>we should *prohibit* this, I think that it would be extremely challenging
>to pull it off well, unless the character in question was a minor
>character who didn't have much on-screen history.

I will preface my remarks with: I am not wholly familiar with current 
online/persistant games so I do not have a full grasp of how players and 
characters interact in this environment.

     The intention of this would be to allow someone who had a good 
understanding of the history and personality of a char to "carry" it until 
it's creator returned.  This is really only useful with long term groups.  I 
would also think that this would tend to cause players to join larger groups 
rather than go solo, since someone would have the ability to look out for 
their character, or even notify the owner when something important was about 
to happen.
     One of the most interesting points of all RPGs are the group dynamics.  
This is usually lost in single player games.  Everquest was the last online 
game I have seen played, and I was disappointed to see the lack of 
cooperation among different players/characters.  It seems that most players 
spend more time developing the technical (gold / hit points / level / land / 
spells / etc) aspects than they do developing recognizable personalities.  
This may be just in that instance of this genre, but that is not my 

> > 2) Is it possible for one player to direct multiple players at one time?
> > This seems like a combination client and server task.  The server has to
> > allow it, the client has to facilitate it.  For example a client could
> > provide the ability to switch between the two+ characters, and see their
> > current stats, view, etc.  When the player was not "watching" a 
>character it
> > would be controlled by it's scripting/AI.  This is something that a good 
> > would be able to use to great advantage, both in directed combat vs. his
> > players, and in role-playing his NPC's.
>Let's look at it this way (and I've heard this discussed before on IRC):
>We certainly can't *prevent* it, even if we don't put in the tools to
>promote it.  There's no way to tell whether Joe's friend Jack is playing
>on the second computer in his basement, or whether Joe, himself, is
>controlling that second instance of the client.  People will do this
>whether we give them the tools or not.
>Whether or not it's a good idea for a player to do this depends a lot on
>what kind of game it is.  For example, it's not unusual for a MUSHer to be
>logged into multiple games (or multiple times on the same game) at once,
>thought it's rare for them to try to juggle two characters in the same
>scene (too easy to screw up).  On the other hand, you generally don't see
>hack-and-slasher LP MUDders doing lots of multi-mudding; honestly, AI or
>not, it's a good way to get killed.  MUSHers will sometimes get angry with
>other MUSHers if they feel that a scene is going too slowly because of
>multi-mudding; some feel that it is disrespectful.
>That all said, I agree that there is certainly some benefit to being able
>to juggle a clutch of puppets for an event, and I have been known to do
>such things, myself.  Whether these should be handled like puppets, or
>like multiple connected character instances, I'm not sure.  The
>control-of-movement issue would recommend character instances, but I'm not
>sure I like that.

     This is never a substitution for one person playing one character, but 
it does allow group cohesion in the absence of the whole group.  I 
(personally) cannot stand role-playing more than one character at a 
time...it is distracting.  But there are people who are good at it, and 
there are times when it is useful, even needed.
     Again the main intention (from a gamer's point of view) is to promote 
group interaction.  If I have to have everybody who is on my spaceship 
there, in game, before I am able to do anything I will avoid being placed in 
such a group.  It limits the times and places when I can play my character 
and it limits my friends' ability to enjoy the game..
     People do (hopefully) have lives, which occasionally interfere with 
their arranged RPG times.  If there is nothing that can be done about that 
persons absence there are only a few options...most of which are not 
pleasing to that person's character: death, abandonment, dragged by the 
     Most of this is projection...the lack of group dynamic is why *I* do 
not play online games.  In reality it is very often advantageous to tackle 
dangerous situations in groups (not always), but in online games this is 
hardly ever true...there might be lots of people in one place...but they are 
not a group.

     From a GM/director's point of view this would seem to be invaluble.  
The ability to find out where each of your NPC's are, to be able to take 
them over, and "depossess" them, to have a group of players who can bounce 
back and forth directing the evil nemsis's minions.  These chars usually 
have little (interesting) past history, and minimal personality.  They are 
an excellent outlet for the people who have little desire to role play and 
just wish to hack-n-slash.

Again I am not the voice of experience.  I have not seen UO, I have not 
actively played anyof these games.  My opinions are from observationof other 
(role-playing) gamers, most of whom seem to get frustrated at the online 
world's lack of cooperation and group unity.

I just wanted to clarify...I promise I won't ramble again on this thread.
-Scott Tillman
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