Imaginary Realities 2000 April Edition

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

Summary of "An addiction to be proud of" by Selina Kelley

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

" I started being 'online' fairly young, my first experience with 'the internet' was a BBS my brother used to frequent (play? not really sure what you call it). I was fascinated by my super-powerful ability to talk to someone across the world while sitting at the computer. I barely knew how to type, yet I was talking to a guy named 'Manx' that spent his time living in London."

The author was introduced to MUDs by a friend in College. After an hour long introduction to the basics of play, a new love of MUDs was lit. The author moved up the ranks of player and builder in MUDs, and finally built and maintained one for a short two weeks as an experiment.

The author went from a planned career as an English teacher to a software and software management career. A total life trajectory change occurred because of the love of MUDs.

Summary of "Four Steps to Cooler @Descriptions" by Abby Goutal

"To be frank, if you believe that SexyDeath is a really cool name to be roleplaying under, then the finer points of self-description are not what you need to be studying."

Only names and self descriptions are your chance for a first impression on MUDs. When it comes to your @desc, start with the don'ts. Don't tell the player what their response to you is. Don't use a one-line description. Don't say you look like so-and-so.

Instead, do the following.

  • Be correct - Use correct spelling and grammar. MUDs are text games. You wouldn't put up with glitchy avatars in a 3D game, don't put up with bad spelling and grammar in a text game.
  • Be concise - Lengthy descriptions displayed in a telnet client without scroll back don't work well. Include details that players won't assume. Keep to the essential details.
  • Be evocative - Evoking is not the same as cataloguing exhaustively. Choose details that evoke conclusions about the character rather than spelling out everything about the character.
  • Be realistic - Make sure the character's description makes sense given the character's background. "Try not to have innocence shine out of the eyes of Laurene the forty-year-old prostitute."

Summary of "History of Online Games Part III" by Jessica Mulligan

Jessica Mulligan was a longtime online gamer. The article was originally published on "Happy Puppy".

The author started with some additions to the previous two timelines. First Empire appeared in the mid to late 1970s. Second, BBS and DOOR Games were not included, and disappeared by the mid 1990s.

1993 - DARPA-Net now known to the public as the Internet. By the end of the year, four million users are on the Internet. The World Wide Web is still text-based, but MOSAIC (the first web browser) is starting to change the text-based nature of the World Wide Web. modem and LAN connectivity still are gaming staples. Online gaming with GEnie and AOL became more widely used with their price drop to a $3/hour rate.

1994 - Doom by id Software is became popular (released Dec 10, 1993). Warcraft by Blizzard is released. Doom and Doom II are ground breaking with the ability to play against other people over LAN. TCP/IP connectivity comes soon after the release of Doom II. Netscape Navigator is release late in the year. Big, traditional media companies take notice of the Internet and start buying Internet companies to get into the market.

1995 - Quake begins open beta generating immense publicity. CompuServe, Prodigy, and AOL start offering USEnet, gopher, and Internet access. Doom clones become common place. Over 300+ free MUDs are available at this point. Monopoly gains internet access and remains on the top 20 selling games list for years.

1996 - Quake (focusing on Internet play) is release, and shortly there are and estimated 80,000 players per night. Around 20 games have Internet connectivity by the end of the year. Ultima Online gets its first pre-Alpha test version demoed publicly. "AOL buys INN from AT&T for about 20 percent of what AT&T paid Sierra Online for it a couple years previously, proving once again that AT&T couldn't market immortality if it had an exclusive."

1997 - Ultima Online released for Internet play gaining 50,000+ players in three months.

Summary of "I Like to Talk" by D.A. "Flux" Nissenfeld

D.A. was working on Persecutions and Paradoxi/Realms of Insurrection

The admin found a bug on the first day after releasing his new MUD that broke group chat. He went around to every new player talking to them to let them know the issues, and talking about other things. Despite all the problems of the MUD with an original code base, few rooms and few features, a player base developed. Then the admin got sick for a while and the player base left.

Admins need to talk to the players if they want them to stick around. Talking to the players is more important than any other function of builders or admins. "To me, it just makes sense. Originally, I wasn't even going to write this article, I thought it was one of those "duh" things, but apparently, it isn't."

Talking is the key to keeping new players. When coding on the MUD, log in to the MUD and talk to all new players.

"I didn't have enough areas, and I still kept those "too high to level" characters logged in because I sat down and talked with them. There were no skill lists, at one point, so I talked to people about what they would get once I got those skill lists functional. They still leveled, despite the lack of a "goal" or advancement of skills."

Summary of "Planting the Idea" by Lord Ashon

Lord Ashon wrote about finding and gathering ideas in a previous issue of Imaginary Realities.

Jumping into writing code after you have an idea results in incomplete projects and bad code. Use the following two steps to improve code and make projects more likely to be completed.

Step One: Write a fake log of the player and mud input and output using as many scenarios as you can think of. (You're writing "use cases" in the form of fake logs.) Keep the logs to the most general scenarios. Don't get bogged down by too specific of situations.

Step Two: Create a design doc describing details of how the code will work. Include new help files for the new feature. Also, keep change logs for a history of changes to the MUD.

The doc should start with a short summary of the idea, and its objective. Next, document the new or changing functions with short descriptions of the change or additions.

Save the doc with your code for future reference by you and other coders.

Summary of "Promoting Your Mud Part II" by Johan J Ingles-le Nobel

Johan J Ingles-le Nobel plays Wheel of Time MUD as Nass.

"To give an indication of what a web presence can do for you, WoTMud's website gets about 1 million page impressions per year, and was visited by 50,000 unique people last year."

Here are two tips related to developing a web presence: 1) You're website needs unique content from the game, such as, help info not found in the game, or news and gossip sections not found in the game. 2) encourage users to develop websites that link back your website.

Once you have random visitors coming to the site that have no experience with MUDs, you need to help them. Creating an in-MUD atmosphere of aiding newbies is a good start. Also, having specific players assigned to the role of "Helper" is a good idea. Limiting newbies to restricted channels and restricted global features is a worse solution.

Remember to have a script removing disconnected players who just logged on to look, but never quit before closing their telnet connection. It will limit the "offline" players.

Back with the article was written, the MUD Connector was a good way for MUDs to be advertised. Usenet was the second best place to list MUDs.

Don't over do posting to groups about your MUD. Once a month is enough. Make sure your posts about your MUD are accurate. Make sure your posts are well thought out and meaningful or funny. Also, don't post to unrelated groups.

Banner ads bring traffic, if well done. "Other things worth considering are such features as banner ad networks, webrings, awards and leagues, ... it's all just a numbers game and sooner or later someone will come across your site via these that may actually stay and become a member of your mud family."

Summary of "The Mud Administrator" by Joshua "dataw0lf" Simpson

Joshua "dataw0lf" Simpson was an experienced admin and coder.

In the MUD beginning, only programmers could admin. Then MERC and ROM allowed non-programmers to admin MUDs, but all the MUDs were essentially the same.

"Too many experienced players believe they can make a mud, but, once they have their first crash, they are at a loss for words. They flood various discussion groups with questions and position openings for coders. Also, this has led to a new, devious type of con-man: the invisible coder. They trick newbie administrators into giving out their shell password, and then cause havoc to the system."

The author does enjoy teaching new admins how to code, so they can marvel at the code that goes into a good MUD.