I've been taking a brief break from writing to work on the literacy system. This is for two reasons, the first and most important of which is that the written text is such a critical part of the life of a modern human and in the LabMUD setting, it should be present. It's actually necessary for a few of the thematic elements to work well.
The second reason is that I want to put in tattoos and scars and I had been delaying doing that until I got reading in, so people could get tattoos of writing.
So a brief overview of the system:
- All characters in LabMUD are literate by default. This is a MUD-wide setting but it's appropriate for LabMUD. There will be an illiterate flaw.
- Literacy is a skill, which all literate characters will begin with. The higher your literacy, the easier your writings are to understand to others. I may make a setting for people to purposefully lower their literacy. High literacy also may allow you to guess at some things about the author of the text, such as their skill levels and possibly even cross-analysing texts to determine if they were written by the same person (easier with longer texts).
- Handwriting is another skill, which all literate characters begin with. The higher your handwriting, the better the "styles" you can select for your writing. This will start low for most characters and you'll have to pick modifiers like "Sloppy", "Childlike", "Block Letters" etc. for your style. As you level up your handwriting you will be able to write in Cursive (hard for people with low literacy to read) as well as stylistic writing like calligraphy.
- All writing is in a style, in a script and in a language. So for example a piece of writing might be in Neat Semi-Cursive style in the Latin script and the English language.
- Scripts are unlocked via knowledges. Literate characters will start with scripts appropriate to their languages. As these are knowledges they can be taught to other characters in game.
- There are a variety of writing implements and written object types. At the moment I am working on pencils and paper. By launch I will have quill pens, biro-style pens, paint brushes, as well as books and forms for writing.
- Individual sheets of paper have a total capacity in characters. You can write on the same bit of paper multiple times until you fill it up. Each time you write it can be a different language or script.
- Books can be opened or closed, and have pages that you TURN. When open, they function like an individual sheet of paper for the current page.
- Book binding will be a thing. You'll be able to take individual bits of paper and bind them together into books. You'll also be able to tear pages out of books.
- Forms are special kinds of written text which have "spaces" to be filled in. For example, there might be a short-form contract template which requires a few fields to be filled in, and then reads as one big text. You'll be able to copy templates to blank sheets of paper too - so you can have templates for a ledger, for a sign-in book, etc.
- You can get basic information about a piece of writing by LOOKing at it, but you need to READ it to see the text.
- You can WRITE, ANALYSE and COPY texts.
- I'm also considering the ability to "read aloud" a text in a language you don't know but a script you do, so that other people who know that language (but may not be literate) can tell you (with difficulty) what it might mean.
- I will probably have writing in tattoos and writing "graffiti" in by launch. I expect to see the in-game toilets plastered in crude poetry.
- Eventually this system will extend to computer-generated text (such as printing out a document or just writing something with a typewriter so your handwriting can't be traced).