Imaginary Realities 2000 August Edition

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

Summary of "A Realistic Equipment System" by Logan Lewis (a.k.a. Proxima)

Logan Lewis was a MUD programmer.

If you seek for realism in your MUD, you might want to add a system for equipment to wear out, or expand upon your current system if it already has one.

"For instance, each piece of equipment has an integer value (such as 0-100, 0 being unusable, 100 being perfect) for it's condition. This value, in my opinion, should never be directly shown to the player. It is not too difficult to translate this value to a reasonable set of adjectives. There should be a decent range of them so that players have a feeling when their equipment is going bad, not just "Good" to "Poor"."

Wear and tear on equipment should make sense. Swords wear out faster in combat than in their sheath. Armor wears out slower than a tunic.

Equipment should become less effective at its tasks as it wears out. When an item's condition reaches 0, it would break irrepairably.

Repairs could fall to certain character classes or NPCs for a fee. Make sure the repair system is not overly complex, or it will detract from the MUD's playability.

Summary of "Classless Systems" by Ben Chambers

The author based this article mostly off of Urban Desire MUD's classless system.

In the real world, people are not born into their profession. They grow into their profession based off their skills learned. Doing the same in a classless MUD allows for multi-class benefits without the hassles of a multi-class system. "In a classless system the things each player does molds them into a persona or character."

Skill and level caps need to be in place. "Also in a classless system it may be wise to allow the training of statistics so that if you do have an infinite level system (which I feel is really cool) you need some incentive to continue advancing beyond the skills cap."

In fantasy books, there tend to be no classes, so you end up with things like battle-mages, and paladin-healers. These exotic types of characters are easier to create in a classless system.

In a classless system, everything is skills based. A race may start with a base skill set they have access to learn, and gain access to more skills they can learn as they level up. Different races could have different proficiencies in different categories of skills, so they gain access to the categories quicker. "When you use a skill in a category your overall proficiency in that category expands. Each skill in that category has a specified proficiency that you must have before you can begin using it."

Guilds would be replaced by clans in a classless system. Clan creation could be dependent on having reached a specific level, having a certain number of supporters of a given level, and lots of cash.

Summary of "Growing Your Idea" by Lord Ashon

Lord Ashon was lead developer on WheelMUD.

This is a third installment, based off Dr. Bartle's four types of MUD players: Hearts (socialites), Clubs (PK'ers), Diamonds (achievers), and Spades (explorers).

Putting code change notifications (new quest or area info) in the Message of the Day (MOTD) is fine on hack'n'slash style MUDs, but not on roleplaying MUDs. Roleplayers want to discover changes to the MUD as they explore.

"So, to accomplish this we take our new code, and we write a story about it. The story should include the 5 W's, the Who, the What, the When, the Where, and the Why, and occasionally the How." Use the story you created about the MUD code change to introduce players of the four types to the new quest, area, or mechanic.

Hearts more likely care about the pros and cons of the code change.

Clubs just wait for the new thing to move, and then kill it.

Diamonds only need a hint dropped by a MOB, and they'll be off questing.

Spades will gladly listen to a MOB talking about the new area or quest.

"So to summarize and wrap up these last three articles, Ideas are everywhere you just need to go out and find them. It's easier then it looks. With the new idea you need to PLAN how the idea is going to work in your mud. Then you code the idea. Now that you have it down, make it's introduction part of the mud by getting the players involved in discovering or uncovering the code. With these you create a living, changing mud that your players, and administrators will always remember."

Summary of "Keeping Control of Grief Players" by Patrick Dughi

Patrick Dughi was a player, builder, admin and general programmer on several MUDs for several years. He also owned his own claymore.

Every online game has to figure out how to deal with griefers (including harasment.).

Banishment works by disallowing IP addresses. This becomes difficult if the player is randomizing their IP in some way. In this case, "to successfully ban someone, whole subnets must be disallowed. Imagine having to block all of, for example (though some people have that setup as the default)."

Deletion of characters is usually skipped in favor of banning, but sometimes is used if the player leveled or obtained items by cheating.

Freezing/Jailing is used to let the player watch the game happening, but not allow them to interact.

Weakening removes abilities, items, or levels. This one extremely flexible, but is not used often.

Silenced (also called muting) is often enough to stop problems involving players loudly expressing anger.

Tagged with labels like "Player Killer", "Theif", "Oathbreaker", "Dishonorable", or "Coward" may work wonders, depending on the theme of your game.

Automation of grief prevention should be applied evenly and fairly, such as a a swear filter. It should affect admins and players. Automation of tagging players that loot corpses or otherwise steal, could result in armed guards capturing or killing players that have bad tags.

"In anycase, the biggest source of problems is adverted; the human component. I have seen, in 8 years of MUD experience, 12 separate muds either die completely, split, or otherwise fade away due to what we will term 'politics'. I have heard of many more that suffered the same fate. In every event, it is the same; Administrators do not trust other administators, players do not trust administrators, and administrators does not trust players. This degrades the administration structure, and player base falls off as they experience the fallout from above, and also notice that their problems are not resolved satisfactorily."

Nepotism, hypocrisy, trust issues and player angst can kill an otherwise successful server. Admins that play the game, too, often take advantage unfairly of their knowledge of the game to acquire more power and better equipment than other players.

Nepotism, hypocrisy, and trust issues can mostly be removed by having an automated anti-griefing system that applies to ALL player, even the admins that play. This only leaves player angst as an issue, and that is usually a personal problem of the player that the admin can't resolve through automated tools.

Admins cannot personally stop players that grief, unless they happen to be online and witness the behavior. Otherwise, they are relying on second hand information. Logging may help.

One approach used is "god hate" that silently reduces all stat acquisition and combat abilities by 20%. This gave admins time to deal with a potentially problem player before they became more influential in the game. It worked very well on the MUD it was implemented on.

Bad guesswork and bad politics can get in the way of any anti-griefing system.

Another approach is player decide which administrative actions are taken against other players. This usually devolves into very childish behavior that does bad things to the game. A hybrid system of having players be sheriffs could work, provided regular players do not have the ability to mute, ban, or delete other players.

Summary of "Cymoc's Favor" by Scatter ///\oo/\\\

Scatter ///\oo/\\\ wrote this story based off mud adventure from October of 1995.

This is a story of a thief returning to her town to find it overrun by undead, and most of the inhabitants hiding, dead, or fighting for their lives. It is an exciting story with a good ending.

Summary of "The Numbers Game" by Michael "Talien" Tresca

Michael was a staff writer for imaginary Realities, a reviewer for, and an admin for RetroMUD.

The most leveled player on a MUD often develops a cult following. Other players do and believe whatever that player does or believes. Also, once one player figures out how to defeat your MUD, word spreads, and every player is playing the MUD exactly the same way.

In the case of RetroMUD, there are 13 damage types, but the popular players only used electrical and fire, so everyone stopped using the other types of damage.

To encourage the use of all damage types, one of the popular playing areas was modified to create a dynamic damage behavior. "Whenever a spell is cast, it adds to the pile of spells previously cast. The more the total player populace uses a particular spell, the less effective it becomes. Similarly, unused spells become more effective. The end result makes the magic system less predictable and more dynamic."

This worked well, but a modified version of this damage scaling approached worked even better. "n RetroMUD, Rayzam, one of our administrators, took this concept a step further by creating an Elemental Damage Economy. Whenever something inflicts damage, be it through a spell, through the Damage Type of a weapon, or through the Damage Type of a monster, it is checked against the balance of elemental Damage Types. If more damage was done with opposing elements, it gains a bonus to damage (up to 120%), making it do greater damage. If that Damage Type's element is over used, it will do less damage (down to 60%)."

This balanced damage scale affects monsters, too. So they might cause less damage due to damage type scaling, or receive abnormally large amounts of damage due to damage type scaling.

Some areas may have monster that use all of one type of damage, so the opposite damage type becomes the most powerful, and predictable, go-to damage type. This get's boring. In these cases, just make the monster immune to the obvious choice for playability's sake.

The "Number Economy" approach can be applied to MOB kills. For example, a "Slayer System" might keep track of the number of each type of monster killed, and decrease experience for that MOB if that is all the players are killing.

Summary of "Why Socializers are our Comrades" by Brian Green

Brian (AKA Psychochild) was a developer for Meridian 59 and Also, he was a frequent poster to MUD-Dev.

The author took the Bartle-quotient test and found himself to be a SEK even though he shied away from Mushes and chats. Even though the author is not much of a socializer, socializing is the whole point of putting a game online.

"I advance the notion that we worry too much about the other types defined by Bartle to the exclusion of the Socializer type. We constantly ponder the problems caused by unrestrained Killers, we tend to focus our games on keeping the Achievers happy, and we always want Explorers to grace our games. Explorers are the fun and interesting players. But, when is the last time you heard any mud developer consider, 'How can I make my game more attractive to Socializers?'"

Developers need to get involved in the creation of positive communities, rather than let any random community form spontaneously. In Meridian 59, a small tight knit positive community was allowed to play and get established before the game was opened to the larger public. This meant that a few toxic players joining the game, couldn't take over the already-established, positive social network.

Attract Socializer type players. Give them access to individual and broadcast forms of communication. "This also brings up another important concept: that we need to make sure that Socializers are able to meet new people and make new friends if they want, just as Achievers want new powers, Explorers want new areas, and Killers want new victims. Much of the focus I have personally seen in discussing systems for empowering social groups talk about allowing people to keep in contact with their existing friends. However, I know from personal experience that meeting new people is a large part of why I enjoy socializing with others."

Don't exclude the other three types of players from your game designs and goals. Also, don't forget the importance of the Socializer for long term success of the game.