Imaginary Realities 1999 December Edition

Summary of December 1999 issue of Imaginary Realities. Imaginary Realities was an ezine dedicated to MUDs.

Summary of "Any Publicity is Good Publicity!" by Selina Kelley

Selina worked on The Mud Connectors and was a staff writer for Imaginary Realities.

Any publicity is good publicity is a common phrase, but not true in the author's experience. Bad publicity results in people hating your MUD, and advertising tends to have no real effect a gaining new players.

What does seem to work is word of mouth advertising. Players find quality areas (even if there aren't many of them yet) in a MUD and tell friends and family about it, and word spreads. This also leads to a more positive experience for the admin/creator.

"Promoting growth is a good thing, but to have a mud grow and succeed, it is more the strength of impressing the players you have so they will tell others, than constantly publicizing the mud on bulletin boards and newsgroups. Sure, people will soon enough know and recognize your mud, but without the backbone of good areas, good staff, and good players, a mud that receives only self-touted or negative publicity will never really gain the player base it strives for."

Summary of "Building the Land" by Jeffrey Laikam

Jeff (Ytrewtsu) implmented Adventures Unlimited.

Even stock MUDs can be enjoyable with proper layout and infrastructure. "Begin by laying down a structure that will provide originality for your mud immediately." Start with a network of rivers and roads as a foundation. Next, keep stock areas that fix the MUD's theme, deleting the rest. Make sure the locations of stock areas make sense.

Here are initial tasks to consider:

  • determine areas and terrains
  • map out cities on grid paper
  • add city terrains
  • add roads between cities
  • add rivers
  • determine world boundaries
  • flush out all terrain
  • define difficulty levels of areas
  • when using stock areas, delete unwanted connections
  • build out the map you created
  • reconnect the stock areas
  • ensure connection rooms between areas have lots of flavor
  • add additional connections between areas that make sense, including rivers

Summary of "Deciding on Mud Code Improvements" by John Patrick

John was an electrical engineer, masquerading as a software engineer, and staff writer.

Prioritizing MUD code improvements is a huge challenge. First make a list of all the desired changes including the smallest of changes. Give lots of details about each task in the list.

Split the coding tasks into the following categories.

  1. Code removal - Finish all code removal before opening the MUD for the public. This prevents players that liked a feature from losing it.
  2. Bug fixes - This includes crashes, playability, and annoyances. Fix them in that order.
  3. Improvements - Enhancements to stock code or other features
  4. New code - This can range from high to low priority. The author tries to add some new code at least monthly. New code falls into the following categories by priority: Genre enhancements, Fun features, New skills/abilities/tallents, Reality mimicking, and Pet projects.

Many MUDs have source code and Mobprog (Mobile programs). Source code affects the MUD's rules and features. Mobprog affects the details of the areas and rooms. Source code is harder to write than mobprog. If mobprog will work for the limited scope of the change, like something that only affects an area or a room, then make the change using mobprog instead of source code.

Some MUDs have objprogs and roomprogs, too. They are also a better choice for changes of a small scope than would source code changes.

Some massive changes make previously generated players unusable. Plan on doing a player wipe (pwipe) if this is the case. This will anger many players which will leave your MUD. Do pwipes only as a last resort.

Summary of "The Making of a Pantheon" by Michael A. Hartman (Aristotle@Threshold)

Michael was the admin and author of Threshold RPG and a staff writer.

"Religion is a vital element of any role playing game, as its potential for generating conflicts, quests, and plot lines is basically limitless." A well designed pantheon is critical to fill out a MUD.

First, determine the size of pantheon. Don't dilute your player base with too many deities, or they won't have any measurable effect on game experience.

At the same time, you must have enough diversity of deities to keep conflict alive. "having many interesting and diverse concepts represented by your deities will create many situations where players have a specific deity they can pray or tithe to. They can do this asking or tithing when something they want to do falls within the purview of one of the deities of the campaign world. In such situations, they might need to seek out a cleric of the deity for advice. Such situations create very interesting role play situations for the both the aspirant and the cleric(s) involved, and can result in some very memorable scenarios and player given quests or tasks."

Second, determine the concepts your deities are related to. Create an exhaustive list of possible concepts. Do this by examining historical religions "like Greek, Roman, Norse, Indian, Egyptian, Chinese, and other mythologies."

After creating your list of concepts, determine opposites for each concepts. You need conflict.

Organize your concepts by importance. Determine the deities that will have each (or several) of these concepts related to them. Make a final selection of deities and concepts. Do NOT dilute your pantheon with too many deities for your player base.

Third, come up with names for your deities. Names are important. The names should feel like they are associated with the concepts they represent.

Fourth, "each deity does not exist alone in a vacuum. They should be part of a much larger and more complicated cosmology wherein conflict, alliances, intrigue, and mystery abound. Each deity should have its own history, goals, and motivations that explain the demands it makes upon its clerics and followers." This most of this is for the admin and builder's to know, and NOT for the players to know.

Summary of "The Power of the Written Word" by Kethry

Kethry was a staff writer and could be found on Mystic Adventures MUD.

Actions and speech in real life (IRL) can be accidental or unplanned. In a MUD, speech and actions have to be thought up, typed out, and sent intentionally. "So why is it that even on a mud we have sexual harassment and harassment in general"

Harassment, IRL and in game are harmful and abusive. Also, being "in character" or saying "it is just a game" doesn't give players the right to harass other players. This extends from cursing in the game channels or, at the other extreme, virtual rape.

"Flirtation is a case in which sometimes the envelope can be pushed. There was a female player who was very flirtatious. She enjoyed hugging and kissing players, little things, nothing major, just some innocent flirtation. The player would make many reports to the immortal staff about being harassed. Many people she flirted with took it seriously and would flirt back, sometimes crossing the line. Many times they were unaware they had even crossed the line. The problem was, someone took an innocent flirtation and thought it was more than it was. When they responded, the original female player who had initiated the flirtation got offended and would complain about being harassed."

If there is an issue with players crossing the line, tell them. Be firm, but polite. Say something like "please do not do that, I don't care for that social." Most will be careful and respectful. The ones that won't change their behavior should be dealt with by an admin.

For MUD admins, ... have a clear help file with explanations of what is harassment and what penalties could be enforced. Often, clearly letting individuals know they need to change their behavior is enough. Otherwise, banning or sending a detailed message to their ISP's admin may be needed.

Summary of "Third Person Mudding?" by Ken McQueen

Ken, who also went by Souma and Mokona, was working on a nameless MUD as the head builder.

Most MUDs tell their story as though the player is reading a story in the first person perspective. Though more rare, setting a MUD in the third person is a valid and natural approach.

"This allows for all sorts of informative possibilities. If you treat the "storyteller" as some sort of highly trained bard or traveler replete in the legends and tales of the land as well as place names and the like. It is possible for the player to be regaled with all sorts of information that is completely out of context to the current conditions and what the actual character knows."

Instead of addressing the player directly, tell the story like the player is reading a book.