The forum poster topozan started a thread on the MMOPRGmaker.com the other day that made me think. The issue was about hard coded character names; the floaty names above characters’ heads that are nearly ubiquitous. This is often the source of gripes by roleplayers; mostly because people can’t help but metagame them. Common gripes include people knowing names before being told to becoming extra suspicious about disguise attempts to plain old fashioned acting differently when they know that there is a PC around instead of the NPCs that they usually ignore. (one could turn this last one on its head and ask why players are so prone to metagaming NPCs as furniture)
To get names “right”, we have to contend with several issues:
- If I introduce myself as bob to another character and bump into that character again, it is reasonable for that player to see “Bob” floating above my character.
- If I’m wearing a mask, it is not reasonable for him to see “Bob”. If I remove the mask, he should recognize me.
- What about if I’m wearing a mask, but I’m also wearing distinctive clothing? That guy is the mask is probably Bob.
- What about if that character tells a third character my name?
- What about nicknames and aliases? How many people do you know by nicknames or short forms and were surprised to find out their real, full names?
- What if you “know” the disguised variant as one person under one name and the undisguised version under a different name?
- What if you recognize the face, but don’t know the name?
- And so on…
We actually have two separate levels of information in the above example. First, the observer will have to notice the character in the first place. When I mean “notice”; what I actually mean is notice more than . In real life, this depends on many factors. In a crowd, we are likely not to notice the people we don’t know and may even miss ones we know. If the observer is busy or daydreaming, the likelihood of noting the facial features of strangers or recognizing friends goes down. Distance plays a role. Lastly, physical attractiveness. An attractive woman is certainly much more likely to be noticed by either gender. For our example, let’s take the least complicated approach and lump everything into “observer perceptiveness”. Then there is the question of knowing the name of the person you recognize. The logic flow of facial recognition to name association looks something like the chart below:
We can accomplish this fairly easily with Memotica stimuli. Our character is represented by an Agent entity. One of the child memes of the meme Memotica.Agent is Memotica.StimulusChoice. The Memotica.StimulusChoice is a device for allowing us to attach any number of stimuli to an agent. Each StimulusChoice has any number of Memotica. ConditionalStimulus members. The ConditionalStimulus in turn contains a condition/stimulus pair. In plain English, if the condition is met, then the stimulus is broadcast to the observer. ConditionalStimulus tests are evaluated in order of their declared priority, with the one that is first valid being the one sent to the observer. In Memotica parlance, checking stimulus condition and encoding it in an appropriate manner for the observer’s client technology is called “resolving” the stimulus.
We have two separate levels of stimuli in our example. Since the alias of an agent is dependent on the observer recognizing her and then associating that recognition with a name, we’ll need to process this in two phases. Fortunately, Memotica gives us a tool for doing this. A stimulus may be given an anchor. A stimulus with an anchor requires that other stimulus to be resolved before it can even be checked. You might want to do this in the case of resolving different meshes as stimuli; such as whether an agent is seen as a little girl or a demon by the observer. In this case, the texture would be dependent on which mesh was chosen. In our example, the name alias of the agent is dependent on the choice of recognition level: anonymous, fooled by disguise and real person noted.
In tomorrow’s episode, we’ll build the Memotica diagrams.