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Characters (and other objects) on MU*s typically have descriptions which players can look at, to tell them what they're seeing in the text-based virtual environment. Although there may be programs such as "editplayer" which perform technical functions for players, these descriptions are usually set in place using a command such as @desc or @describe, like so:
@desc me=A beautiful male okapi stands here.
The abbreviated form, "desc", comes from this; it can be used to refer to any written description of a character regardless of origin, including text from MUCKs, comics, or even an artist's sketchbook.
A character (and player by connection) will often be judged based on their description. This may explain the abundance of critiques on peoples' descs. Occasionally, a player might seek out an experienced writer willing to take commissions, in order to acquire a satisfactory desc.
A description is not necessarily static. It may change (or morph) according to the character's shape or clothing, or even indicate body positions (sitting, standing, sleeping). Using MPI, it can also change according to the location, time of the day, or show different texts for different lookers.
Some players include ASCII art in their descriptions. This is only displayed correctly in clients with fixed width fonts with similar use of colors.
A description should be long enough to identify the character and mention all specific features, but should not be overly long: many readers don't want to spend time looking for information in long, complex descriptions.
- Twinkdesc is a mailing list for commentary on poor descs.