Imaginary Realities 2000 June Edition

Summary of June 2000 issue of Imaginary Realities. Imaginary Realities was an ezine dedicated to MUDs.

Summary of "A New Paradigm for Levels" by Phinehas

Large level differences between players can damage sense of community in games. Additionally, being lower level can be a source of shame and inferiority. However, level advancement gives players an important goal, and community does not have to be damaged by level differences.

Imagine an empire building system with 7 levels and a king of some sort at the top level. "What if our concept of level is totally uncoupled from things like hit-points, skill, and the various other powers typically associated. What if a character's level only indicated responsibility and authority, but not personal power? What if the peon could take the king in a fair fight? In fact, what if the peon had all of the power and abilities of the king, except one: the ability to promote."

Each level would have the ability to promote the players at the level below them, giving players a reason to fulfil the needs of the players above the in level for the sake of attaining promotions. Promotions could also depend of public opinion, so they are kept honest.

Public opinion might not affect a promotion, but could affect the promoter's chances of being promoted. So, they would need to pay attention to it to keep their own public opinion high. Public opinion could also be affected by charisma, dress and other factors.

NPCs and PCs could both register public opinions of players. Accomplishments and slander could sway public opinion among PCs.

"If you are the king, your life will likely revolve around public opinion issues. Prosperity, employment, success in battle, low taxes, and an expanding empire must all be balanced to ensure that you are loved by your people." Otherwise, a rising lord might take your kingly position.

Motivation of a Peon to do the King's bidding is merely to get levels, but the power to fight and complete quests doesn't come from levels, so the Peon could choose to not seek rank or obey the King.

Summary of "It is not so Simple" by D.A. "Flux" Nissenfeld

Flux was involved with creating the first "twin" MUD, ... I have no idea WHAT that means.

The author loved hack-n-slash (HnS) games, but didn't want a stock MUD, or one with the same fight engine as all the other MUDs.

The author took inspiration from anime and video game fights for his fight engine. Also, he hated systems that involved pushing a button as fast as possible to win and get experience.

"In addition, do not let other people tell you what is wrong with your engine. If you want to have a Dragonball Z-ish fighting engine, so be it. If people do not like that, bad luck. It is your game; you always have to remember that. You can take consolation in the fact that there will be people who find your game interesting. How do you think all those stockish muds have player base."

Summary of "Literary Role Play" by Phil Goetz

Phil Goetze played GarouMUSH spoken of in this article.

"You can tell a lot about a mud by its name. If it ends in 'mud', especially Dikumud, it is Rogue-like. If it is a Tinymud, it could be more Zork-like. And if it ends in 'MUCK', 'MUSH', or 'MOO', it has a lot of talking."

Originally, the author talked of all MUDs as multi-player Zorks. They with the introduction to truly unique MUDs like GarouMUSH, he discovered his error. GarouMUSH heavily enforces role playing based off White Wolf RPG Werewolf that it is based off of. Out-of-character rooms and commands are much more distinct than in other MUSHes.

In GarouMUSH, characters must make sense and be approved.

"A central gathering place is crucial to a MUSH. Spontaneous role playing is much more likely when you have a critical mass of characters in one place. On GarouMUSH, the Caern is the center of Garou life. It is a large, circular grassy area consisting of nine locations, from any one of which you can see what people are doing in the others."

The flirting that often bogs down typical MUSHes doesn't happen on GarouMUSH, because Garou law prevents Garou's mating with each other. This greatly benefits the roleplaying on the MUSH.

Before opening to the public, 30 invite-only players spent a few months ironing out roleplaying difficulties in the game. This meant that new players had a solid group to emulate (or hate and leave.)

Roleplaying in this MUSH faces the challenges you'd expect of not being there in person. Sometimes feeling are hurt because visual clues to irritation or being upset cannot be spotted. On the good side, the players take a more active role in the story, because there is no game master to tell them what their options are.

This MUSH often is more writing than roleplay. "You sit there, watching the cursor blink while you figure out what to say, and how to say it. You type a line, but before you press return, the urge to edit takes over. And before you know it, you are not just playing, you are writing." The game becomes a work of literature.

The author gives extensive examples from the MUSH of using character actions and descriptions to replace the in-person experience that is missed out on when playing a roleplaying game remotely. The game logs become works of omniscient viewpoint literature, often devoid of fighting, sleuthing and confrontation.

"People stop acting like puzzle-solvers when they start acting like authors, and they start acting like authors when they have a good medium and an audience." Though it suffers a little from a lack of a central director.

Summary of "Room for Improvement" by Donky + Scatter ///\oo/\\\

Donky was considered one of the best MUD coders, period.

Progress in MUD development is not adding a new area or small features. Progress is creation of game-wide, depth features that affect the structure of the game itself.

The MUD the author worked on added attempted to add these type of game-wide, structural changes. The first was to introduce new rooms that were computer generated rather than laboriously, hand-built.

Computer-generated terrain could handle the creation of a whole area or biome, then the builders would add finishing touches, such as hand-built ruins or other hand-built places of interest. A challenge to computer generated terrain is that the player must find interesting rooms, or the computer is only generating boredom. Also, large wilderness areas would need the 'travelto' command to work even when the player is offline, so traveling doesn't get too boring.

"The resulting backdrop gained from this does not have to be bland filler that merely enables a player to get lost or at best take an unconventional route from A to B, it can also provide places for" resource harvesting or activities central to the game.

Computer- generated oceans riddled with hand-built (and generated) islands could provide the ability to own and navigate your own ship. Computer-generated skies open up the possibility of flight (and falling)

Another feature the author is adding to their MUD is movement and positioning within a room. This allows for multiple exits from a single direction, and ability to hang out by a door to ambush players coming through the door. A challenge to this system is that navigation commands need to be added or modified to make moving around the room easier for the player.

Wilderness areas, oceans and even rooms can have coordinates. This can become a challenge for the builders.

"Obviously, this profusion of coordinates can rapidly become a confusing pile of numbers facing creators in a text-based mud.

"The numbers alone are not the only complication. There are many other issues to take into account as well. For example, rooms have to be placed exactly beside each other with appropriately positioned doors between them for the exits to work. If the structure is a certain size, the rooms within cannot be allowed to exceed that size in total. Structures can not exceed the islands, and so forth. The jump from simply specifying a room with some exits to other rooms is fairly monumental."

Summary of "See Timmy Run" by David Bennett

David Bennet was a Discworld MUD admin.

"There have been a couple of newspaper articles recently about online games showing the addictive side of the game. Where people have been so caught up in the game they have forgotten about life and removed them selves from their previous social life. In some cases people have lost jobs, marriages and money to online games. The question is, does the administrator have an obligation to do anything about this."

Should admins cut off overly immersed players? How would they know the players are out of control in the real lives?

Creators could design play to allow players to take breaks every two or three hours, and continue from where they left off. Ultima Online implemented a feature that allows players to make skill advancements fastest during their first hour, and then skill advancement drops off to slower and slower rates the longer the playing session lasts, until all advancement stops after a certain length of session play time.

"There is a delicate balance between having a game that is too addictive and a game which is not addictive at all. You want you players to keep coming back week after week, but it would also be advantageous if they could play in small doses."

Summary of "Wanted. Area Creator. Dead or Alive" by Selina Kelley

Selina Kelley was a staff writer and editor for Imaginary Realities.

The author has a well built MUD, but no area creators. It is difficult to get area creators to join your MUD.

"Am I expecting too much from the current area creators I have? All I really want, is an area every, say, three months. I do not feel that I am asking too much, but it seems as soon as an area creator that I have "hired" completes their first apprentice area, they suddenly become "too busy in real life" to build more areas. Not too busy to log in and chat though. Or they become more interested in creating "mudlib" than building areas. You know the type, too "good" to make areas, but that is the reason you hired them? Argh!"

The author laments not being able to hire and retain any area builders, and has only two new area she did not build herself in the last year.