Imaginary Realities 1999 November Edition

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

Summary of "A Player's Right To Privacy" by Selina Kelley

Selina was a staff writer.

"I've always felt that snooping is wrong and that it is a gross invasion of privacy. Difficult as it may have been to stop snooping, once I had done that, it was as if a great burden had been lifted from me--the burden of guilt."

The author follows her journey of becoming and admin and snooping as part of the job, to snooping as a hobby, and eventually turning her back on the practice of casual snooping. The turning point was realizing players didn't like her anymore, and losing some friends due to snooping.

Arguments for snooping are to fix bugs, track balance, and catch code thieves. There is always a better solution than snooping. "If you have a snoop command in the game, it will be used. No matter what restrictions are in place, there is always a way to get around them and a way to insist that it's "OK" because of "XYZ-lame reason".

[Summarizer's note: The author never addresses the situation of proving sexual harassment and other vile forms of online abuse.]

Summary of "Around the World in 24 Hours" by Marcie Kligman

Marcie edited for Imaginary Realities and played Discworld MUD.

MUDs attract players from all nations and backgrounds. They are international communities that share their own unique cultural experiences with everyone on the MUD. As an American on a British MUD, the author found out how much America is not the center of the universe or world. "Simply declaring myself as an American on a chat channel can result in comments like 'I'm so sorry', 'I'll use shorter words then', and 'we'll try not to hold it against you'. Experiences like these have taught me that the American educational system is quite bereft of real education about the international community"

Playing a MUD with an international community can teach more about international relations and politics than any class.

Summary of "Communicating on a Mud" by Tilly

Tilly was a Discworld MUD player.

MUDs in the late 1990's were often the first form of real-time text communication that people had seen, including the author. Real-time text communication presents a new problem, snail mail didn't have. The texts happen so fast, that writers don't spend nearly as much time as necessary to make sure their messages are clear, typo-free, and carefully thought out. The problems with real-time, text-based communication are similar to spoken language.

Misunderstandings happen more in this new real-time, text-based communication. However, visual and audible clues about what the speaker was saying and the reader's reaction are completely missing, so miscommunications in rea-time text based communication are more severe than in oral communication. Emojis and emotes help get around the barrier, but aren't as useful as verbal and visual clues.

"We would all do well to keep these limitations in mind, both when saying things ourselves and when interpreting things that others say to us."

Summary of "Creators vs Players" by Anthony Peck

Anthony was a Discworld MUD playtester.

Players need to remember that creators spend massive amounts of time improving the MUD without compensation. Creators need to remember to play the game. Be curteous to each other.

Summary of "Denumerization of Muds" by Brad Smith

This is Brad's second article.

"Does giving players access to all of their statistics in numerical form draw away from the ability to role-play?"

Describing stats without numbers helps force players to roleplay. The characters can't spout stats about their stats that way.

"I will concede that some numbers are necessary. Not having of idea at your hit points pushes the fine balance between role playing and realism. Hit points, Mana, and Stamina are three statistics that hiding would cause more trouble than benefit."

Summary of "Use Your GDI!" by Aaron "Ajax" Berkowitz

Ajax was a builder at Questionable Sanity MUD.

This article is a response to a Game Commandos article, "Fix Your Room Descriptions" by Natalia. Natalia, in the original article, pointed to eight distracting description features found in many gloomy forests. They are: Typos, Addition of Emotion, Time of Day, Wrong Word Choice, Built-in Actions, Implied Direction, Seasons, AND Incorrect Exit Descriptions

The author accepts that typos, wrong words (there/they're/their), and inaccurate exit descriptions should be fixed.

Time of day and season issues that create inconsistencies when compared to the room description (ie it's noon but the room is bathed in moonlight) are minor, but are distracting.

Addition of Emotion means, the builder is explicitly telling the player what they feel, rather than letting the reader come to their own conclusion.

Built-in Actions that describe what the occupants (that might not even be present) are doing in the room as part of the static room description.

Implied Direction in the room description, assuming the character is always coming from the same entrance. This should be part of the entrance description, not the room description.

Using Dynamic Room Descriptions (DRD) fixes time, direction, and action description issues. The room descriptions can morph based on time, weather, season, race, etc. However, this is hard, and most builders hate writing room descriptions to begin with.

As stated by the author ... A common rule of thumb for the inclusion of any feature in a mud is:

    if benefit > effort, Implement; else 'thank you for your idea!'

"Use your Gosh-Darned Imagination!" and get over it.

As for the remaining issue of describing what the player feels. That doesn't matter either, because no one is going to think the macho character was afraid or homesick unless they start doing in-game actions like sniffing or crying.

Just be glad when a decent effort was put into writing a description, because most builders don't bother doing that much.

Summary of "Why use Artificial Intelligence?" by Tony Wilkinson

Ran as Bagpuss.

Player Kills (PK) fall into four categories.

  1. Players have more loot.
  2. The killer likes being mean.
  3. Players want to prove they are the best.
  4. Monster are boring

Reasons 1, 3, and 4 are fixable by improving the MUD. Better quests and good MOB AI would work.

On most MUDs and other online games, ... "The problem is in the monster bashing. There are only so many times that you can kill the same monster using the same tactic before it becomes boring. The monsters in most muds use virtually no tactics."

Another approach to prevent PKs would be to reward good behavior. Some power weapons might only work for "good" players, for instance. Make it more rewarding to avoid PK'ing than to do it.