It irritates me to no end when IC (in-character) and OOC (out-out-character) are mixed up. This means that something that is actually player's (the fellow outside the screen) bussiness is made the character's (the fellow inside the screen). It can mean that you have to pay something IC (ie. XP, money) for better UI, or that you will lose parts of UI because of something your character did.

Note that "losing UI" doesn't mean you can't do something you could before. Losing abilities is IC-bussines. Losing UI means that you can do whatever you wanted before, but more inconventiently. Again, more inconveniently in IC-sense; for example, that you can only cast spells with 10kg or less items carried is not "losing UI", but making you click more menus is.

Doesn't sound like a big deal? Let me present some examples:

  • In NetHack, wielding Stormbringer removes the confirmation of "do you want to attack" in case of walking towards friendly person. This is plain stupid, IMO (note that lack of 'H'). This punishes people with slow terminals, or people with tendency to walk faster, or then just inpatient people.

    No, don't tell me that Stormbringer's supposed to do that -attack friendly people- the problem is, it does so based on a mechanical mistake (accidentally moving in friend's direction) instead of any of the IC character's merits. Consider this: the "do you REALLY want to attack this friendly creature?" prompt is an UI feature. Strictly, it would be unnecessary, as player (outside the computer) has already issued the order to attack, which character (inside the computer) will then execute. But players are prone to errors, or, typos. In this case, the UI (nothing to do with character, UI is another OOC feature) detects action it considers likely to be mistake, and asks again. "Please acknowledge".

    Now, bearing in mind that the prompt "do you really want to attack" is just UI-feature, activated before the world inside has seen anything special, now look at how Stormbringer behaves: Stormbringer, with all due respect to its supernatural powers, still is a part of the computer-generated world and nothing more. It can't, I mean, it shouldn't be able to know when the player, who is outside of this world, might potentially want to attack a friendly creature. It's bypassing error correction. It's analogous to online game that turns modem error correction off and puts it back on when player pays 100 gold pieces. "Your packet loss went to 85%? Your effective latency time tripled? Tough, dude, I guess you'll just have to pay then." Amusing, absolutely, but unfair because it puts players in different position based on the quality of their links. Also, I can hear you saying "people with slower links are at disadvantage, deal with it". You were going to say that, weren't you? Now, tell me why that is. No, I'll tell you, because of things the game can't affect. Netlag. Whatever. But now the game is actually intentionally creating even more troubles to already troubled slow-linkers. I'm not saying game should compensate for those with slow links, I'm only saying it shouldn't increase their burden.

    Finally, I'd like to point out that if you react to this ramble with "if it bothers you that much, you suck", you missed the point. It's a logical fallacy to counter seemingly sound argument with that; it's irrelevant whether it bothers me or not and how much. If you say that it doesn't need to get fixed because the effect is trivial, fine, I won't argue with that. But if you say that there is nothing wrong with the behaviour described, then I disagree. Matter of principle.

  • [gray area] In ADOM, exploding doors can destroy items in your inventory, but not in the ground. Now, this is gray area because dropping the items in fact is an IC-action; however, the dropping is so trivial thing IC-wise that it could as well be considered OOC.
  • In BatMUD, there is a feature called 'wimpy'. It works so that if HPs of player in combat drop below a certain limit, player can optionally be set to automatically flee the battle. The helpfile says that it is meant for slow fingers and/or slow links. Now, this is all and well and cool, except that...
    • The fleeing is uncontrollable. To control it, you must get IC-skill to make it controllable and pay XP for it.
    • The fleeing is considered different from simply walking away; monsters are more likely to follow/track you if you wimpy instead of walking away.
    • There is a "bane" that, if enabled, will disallow wimpy. It would take too long to explain banes, suffices to know that player will receive certain bonuses if he disables wimpy from himself.
    Now, feature that's supposed to equalize slow and fast players IC, has a cost OOC.
  • In BatMUD, there is a skill called 'sneaking'. It can be used to 'sneak', that is, remove messages about sneaking person entering the room for those who already are in the room. But, if person already in the room types 'look' to check the contents of the room, he will see the sneaking person. Since 'look' is totally free as far as IC is concerned (you can 'look' to your heart's content), 'look' could be considered OOC feature. Therefore, people who tend to 'look' more often (OOC-trait), are more resistant to 'sneaking' (IC-trait).
There are more, I'm sure, but I think that will suffice for now.

Now, it could be argued that life isn't fair, but my opinions on that you will find on the said node. For example with that wimpy line, you could say "people with lagged links are undercapped; live with it", and I say, shouldn't the code act like a modern society, that is, remove as much of the unfairness as possible? Stating "life isn't fair" isn't an excuse for not doing anything about it. You can't do anything about slow links making slower reaction time directly, but you can soften the impact. That people should pay for a feature IC-wise is just stupid.

Umm, I think that makes enough Bitching as Noding for today.

It's especially frustrating when something as beautiful as IC interaction between player characters is ruined in the name of fair play. For example, on a MUD I play (which shall remain nameless), you will be severely punished for going into an area with other characters who have never been there before, telling them anything about the area, or mentioning anything to do with any of the set "quests" the MUD offers.

As a result, you cannot group up with anyone to go do anything at all. All IC interaction happens in the main town of the game only. People won't tell you anything beyond if they're familiar with a place, in case they let slip something you might not have discovered for yourself. And even then, neither one of you can lead the other anywhere, because they might know something about the place that the other doesn't yet.

Doesn't this defeat the purpose of playing a multiplayer game in the first place? Is this really how "roleplaying" should be? What about the standard "helpful, experienced old guy" whose prototype makes an appearance in so much of the sci-fi/fantasy novels and films? Can't someone roleplay that?

Down with silly rules.

kaatunut and Tentacle Penis neglect to mention how this can also be a good thing. Take the example of Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete for Playstation. When the player talks to his friend before entering the final fortress, he is told a special key combination to activate a hidden game in the "making of" disc -- a clearly intentional example of IC actions leading to OOC benefits. This is a fairly common thing; another example that comes to mind is Kirby's Dream Land for GameBoy. Upon completing the game, the player is told a key combination to activate a harder mode of the game. In my opinion (note that I don't use stupid acronyms), this is a pretty nifty thing: receiving actual information in exchange for simulated actions.

Of course, nothing that has been mentioned on this node actually interferes with the player's ability to interface with a game, you whining crybabies ("Oh no! I have to actually play a game!"). Take the case of Final Fantasy Tactics for Playstation, in which every move takes up precicely one turn of game time (IC) but while a simple movement or physical attack is over in as much time as it takes to enter the command, a Calculator being Mimicked can take minutes (OOC) just to be displayed. This is an atrocity. It slaughters your precious recreational time by forcing you to stand helplessly by while the same cutesy little graphic sequence is displayed over and over again. And they get away with it more and more in each new game, turning once-intelligent players into mindless viewers. Games like NetHack are a blessing by comparison.

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