Imaginary Realities 2001 March Edition

Summary of March 2001 issue of Imaginary Realities. Imaginary Realities was an ezine dedicated to MUDs.

Summary of "Advancing Advancement" by Tony Wooster

Tony Wooster was found frequently on The Two Towers MUD and Final Realms MUD.

Most MUDs have an advancement system consisting of killing MOBs to get training and experience points. No matter how much time the MUD creators spend improving areas and other elements of game design, they never improve on the same old advancement system.

An alternative could be player ratings of other players, either up or down, within limits. A system like this works best if players can only rate other players of a lower level, with admins rating the top tier of players.

Summary of "Cartoon - The Mud Slinger" by Rebecca Handcock

This cartoon seems to be lost from the Internet. So sad.

Summary of "Mud Schools" by Michael "Talien" Tresca

Michael Tresca was an admin for RetroMUD, and a reviewer for All Game Guide and RPG Net.

MUDs promise fun. MUDs that start with a newbie school are not fun. Expect users to log off very quickly if you don't instantly provide epic battles and heroic feats. "Want to create an introductory system to your mud that allows players to learn your game AND have fun? It's going to take more work. Or, you could just be lazy and continue to lose new players and stick with your boring old mud school."

First step to introducing your new players to your MUD without boring them is to have a good help system. This includes logging help queries that players are looking for, so you can add them if they aren't there. Also, organize your help files into logical categories and sections. Even ask players to write help files for you.

In RetroMUD, they have chatty NPCs that follow new players around telling them about areas they should be interested in and answering questions by quoting the help files. This puts the newbies IN THE GAME with other players instead of sending them to MUD school.

"Code into the game parameters to deal with new players. Introduce concepts slowly, but they should be playing in the same universe as everyone else. Otherwise they're playing the "Newbie School" as a game within the game, and it's probably not a particularly good representation of the game either."

Make sure you have a channel for new players to ask questions. Assign other players as helpers. Prevent other players from treating new players poorly.

New players on your MUD are not infants in real life. The real world person wants entertainment, and that doesn't include MUD school, or slaughtering butterflies and bunnies to level up to something useful.

Summary of "Mutinies and You" by Scott Danzig

Scott Danzig was Vashkar at Split Infinity MUD.

This is a slightly edited version of the Jan 2001 article of the same name.

Summary of "Permanent Death Sliderule" by Eric Rhea

Permanent Player Death (PPD) removes a player's avatar permanently from a game.

By introducing a slide rule of death, each type of death results in a percentage of death, rather than PPD instantly. The types of death are: environmental (ie falling off a cliff), large monsters (ie a dragon), or PvP.

These three types of death would result in decrease in percentage of avatar capacities, scenario flags, and death categories.

Each type of death should result in a flag, a capacity decrease, and a category. If not reset by some in-game method, like visiting a healer, then they add up quickly to a PPD. That would be the end of playing as that avatar.

Summary of "Seek and Discover" by Lord Ashon

Lord Ashon was busy re-inventing the wheel as Wheel MUD.

Some players like exploring. That is their thrill in playing the game.

"Explorers delight in having the game expose its internal machinations to them. They try progressively esoteric actions in wild, out-of-the-way places, looking for interesting features (ie. bugs) and figuring out how things work." -Dr. Bartle

Most games do not reward explorers. Give us travel points or some reward for exploring, and give us some sort of in game advantage for not revealing what we found, if you don't want us sharing it openly.

Travel points could be an invisible object that hands out point for exploring that room, then reloads itself into an new random room somewhere else in the world. Don't require travel points by all players. Just make it a different way to get experience for those that don't enjoy fighting.

Summary of "So, You Want to Be an Admin?" by Jesse Seymour

Jesse Seymour (Grakor) was a MUDless admin, willing to help our on any MUD that needed help.

New MUDs show up at the rate of about 10 per week, and are gone before a week has passed. The reason is a lack of technical knowledge. Also, the admin burns out quickly. It takes a team of at least 10 people to run a MUD, including:

  • dsigners - design of areas, objects and quests
  • builders - code areas, objects and quests
  • MUD engineers - to create new feature of the MUD system (like commands or combat systems)

Volunteer teams are almost impossible to put together, because skilled volunteers are more rare than the number of MUDs looking to get volunteers. To attract volunteers, the admin must code enough to create a unique MUD that attracts players and coders.

First the new admin needs a server. Secondly, a easily modified mudlib, such as TMI is needed. And thirdly, unique areas, commands and skills are needed. The admin needs to know C at the very least. (Summarizer's note: These days MUDs can be found in many languages besides C.) Most importantly, plan/design what you want to do before doing it.

"Once you are able to do all the things I discussed here, then you shouldn't need very many people to help make your mud a success. You should know enough to stand on your own two feet, and shouldn't have to clutter the newsgroups with posts begging for help with all the simple things. Then, you will no longer be regarded as a mere 'newbie', but as someone who is willing to put forth the extra effort and create something unique, something that can grow to take a life of its own, so to speak."

Summary of "Value on a MUD" by MSKing the hellcat

Something in the game must have value that gives players a goal to pursue.

  • Usefulness - levels, houses, clans, etc
  • Bragging Rights - Rarity or difficult of obtaining can be as important as high stats
  • Sentimentality - quest prizes, gifts and rewards/awards. Have events/parties where players can show off these prizes, gifts and rewards. Make the quests memorable, and not just trivia or kill-collect, to increase sentimental value.
  • Location - give something value by its proximity to resources, portals, areas, or quests.

Once you figure out what is valuable in the MUD, spread the word.

"You may be able to neglect your mortals, but immortals need to know a little about value, especially if they aren't long-time players of your MUD. They need to know everything from how high in value an objects stats may be to where they go. They need this information to run quests, build zones, and encourage good behavior."

There should be immortals handbooks and players guides that explain what is valuable in your world. An immortal that doesn't know what is valuable and why it is valuable can damage value/balance in your game.

Don't use signs to tell players what is valuable. Instead, use help files, message boards, prices and word of mouth. In the help files don't say, "Such and such is valuable." Instead, explain the value, and let the players figure it out. In the case of message boards, tell the players what prizes events earned players. The prizes will be inferred to be valuable.

Setting high prices can infer value of things. Also, immortals/admins treating something as valuable will make players treat it as valuable.

"Knowing the values of your MUD will help to keep it in balance. Btw, I meant it when I said don't tell your mortals straight out what's valuable. When you do that, it brings it to their attention and they start to question it. Submit it to their subconscious and they'll be far more likely to accept it."