TMC: Daedalian Musing – Setting Theft

Setting Theft
by Delphine Lynx November 25, 2002

We all have our pet peeves; this happens to be one of mine. That said, the rant does eventually relate itself to MUDs. I’d also like to apologize in advance to those of you out there who are attempting to faithfully recreate a world; this isn’t targeted specifically at you.

“I argue very well. Ask any of my remaining friends. I can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this, and steer clear of me at parties. Often, as a sign of their great respect, they don’t even invite me.”

I was all set. After four days of procrastinating, I finally went to see Die Another Day yesterday… Which brings us to the ranting portion of this article.

What on earth was that? Certainly not a James Bond movie. It violated the formula in every way imagineable; no one has the right to do that. James Bond doesn’t bleed; he doesn’t get captured for months on end. He doesn’t go an entire movie without making a glib remark. He shouldn’t be the costar beside Halle Berry.

Now, I’m not the type to do nothing but watch mindless movies – I appreciate fine films. I appreciate fine literature. I read Shakespeare. But that isn’t what you look for in a James Bond movie. And how dare they attempt to get creative? Before they started changing things, there were a good 10-16 good ones. Even after that, they managed two decent ones. And the last one didn’t quite kill the series. But it’s now over…. An ironic movie to have killed it, given the title.

…And the fencing was horrible. For the budget they have, they ought to’ve hired some gentlemen who actually knew how to fence – at least for the bit with epees, when they were masked. If nothing else, no one fences that slowly.

Right… well, before I go on for pages more than is necessary, let me get to my point.

In creating a work, we have certain ideas for it. We create a type set, which, if the work is popularized, is apparently a good type set. But in the same vein, it also – by definition – becomes cliche. As such, further contributors attempt to change it. To modernize and bring it up to date. And it is there we have a problem.

If there is a work you enjoy – and I’m sure there is – don’t disrespect it by attempting to create a MUD of it. The changes made, be they by necessity or not, will no doubt be seen as inconsistent with the author’s ideas by some. And, after all, does the world need a 345353rd DBZ MUD? I should think not.

Even if you are able to find a world which needs little enough modification to be made into a MUD that it remains recognizable, you are still left with a world which preexists – and a world which will confine your possible improvements later. While a thematic framework is good to have, if you’ve created your own it may be changed. If you use the framework of another, then the entire world can check to see if what you do is ‘valid’ and ‘legal’. There is, I should think, enough complaining about changes when the players don’t have a sound basis for it.

But suppose we do so anyhow. If we do choose a world created by another, we are left to remain entirely faithful to it. Assuming, for argument’s sake, that we were able to… we would then have the exact same MUD that every other lover of that world would create. There is no originality to it.

Therefore, even in it’s intended form it falls short to borrow another world. But the flaws go beyond that, for the simple fact that we inevitably do make changes. We stray from what the world was intended as – and in doing so, cause more disrespect than anything else to that we are trying to honor.

Still, let us be practical – those planning to create the next DBZ or Tolkein MUD know all this, and don’t consider it valid. For those, let me put forth one last thought: Even with all the tweaking in the world, it’s still a DBZ or Tolkein MUD. And because of that, you will always be seen as having that generic aspect to your world. Thus, purely from a playerbase standpoint, it is in your own interest to create a world from scratch.

Do the author – and the rest of us – a favor, then, and do so.

Setting Theft – copyright © 2002 by Delphine Lynx – All rights reserved.

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