Imaginary Realities 1999 January Edition

The first issue of 1999 was a bit shorter with only four articles.

Summary of "Dangerous Realism" by Scatter ///\oo/\\\

Scatter hides in the UK, and is much better than the real person behind the persona.

"Realism" destroys game enjoyment. Realism can mean like the real world, or believable and consistent. Pursuing the first in an attempt to achieve the second type of realism creates a mud world that "ends up a jarring combination of real world detail and fantasy or sci-fi setting."

Real world details don't necessarily add value to a mud. Making the game more like real life takes away the fun experience for many players. "Another danger of making things realistic is that they become too complicated to be fun." The trick is finding the amount of realism that will be enjoyable to the most potential players.

Players understand that not every detail of the world is modeled by the game. Focus on the second type of realism--believability--and players will forgive missing details of reality. "For example, magic as represented in most muds is impossible in the real world, yet how many players complain that having magic is unrealistic? None, ... The key is that magic can be believable in a mud world, despite being totally implausible in real life."

Realistic details tend to decrease the things players can do in the game. Whereas, adding believable features to the game tends to expand the number of things players can do in the game. As a result, more players are attracted to play the game because of believability than because of real world restrictions.

Summary of "Multilayed Mapping" by Telford Tendys

Traditional mud maps consist of rooms and exits with no regard to sizes or distances involved. Other games often use square or hex grids, but run into scaling issues. For example, a small town in the middle of a vast forest cannot be to scale on the grid with the forest.

The author gets around this scaling issue by using multiple "grids that are based on the powers of two. Each grid is named by a logarithmic scale number such that scale 0 has squares with length of 1 unit, scale 1 has sides with length of 2 units, scale -1 has sides with length 1/2 of a unit."

The author provides diagrams and examples of how this scaling of overlapping grids work. Using this method, grids will overlap. In the case of overlaps, the grids with higher resolution are considered authoritative over the lower resolution grids.

Summary of "NPC Intelligence" by David Bennett

Known as Pinkfish on various MUDs. Also, ran Discworld starting in 1991.

NPCs aren't intelligent, and are hard to create intelligence for. Start with a common library that handles common tasks like greeting behaviors. Custom, individualized code will still be needed for specific NPC behaviors, though.

NPCs don't need much intelligence to give players a good interactive experience. Giving them goals, or priorities will help. These should overlay strategies, "like 'Run away' or 'Heal myself'". "When an NPC receives an event of some form it would ask all the goals if they want to deal with it, each goal would then determine which (if any) strategy is most appropriate."

Putting together a few high level goals and low level strategies can add a lot of depth to you NPCs.

Summary of "The love song of an anonymous mudder" by Twiggy@Discworld

Playful interpretation of TS Eliot's "The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufock" Containing memorable lines such as, "In the chat-room, mudders come and go Talking of lag and data flow."