Imaginary Realities 2000 February Edition

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

Summary of "Harvesting Ideas?" by Lord Ashon

"First a Disclaimer: This article walks a thin line. We, the Law, and the Mudding community, find that there is a huge difference between stealing code or ideas, then there is to using and idea. Using an idea means that you come up with your own implementation. Stealing code is using someone else's implementation. Also Note: it is a good policy to get permission from the originator of the idea."

Public mail list archives that relate to MUD development are a good first location to look.

  1. The ROM mailing list. (
  2. The CIRCLE mailing list (
  3. ADV-mud (
  4. DejaNews ( This one is obviously not a mail list but is great for checking the Newsgroups

Try searching: "idea", "feature", "snippet" and variations such as "request for snippet."

Look for web resources for implementing snippets. Look at discussion boards, such as, Imagine Realities's and Mud Connector's discussion boards.

Corner some builders (at least two) in a room and ask, "Are there any features you would like to see added to the mud?" With two or more builders, they'll start bouncing ideas off each other. You just need to make sure you keep a log of the ideas, so you don't forget.

Always write your own implementations of the ideas.

Summary of "Know Thyself" by Carolyn Ebenstein

Played on Discworld MUD as the witch Sibyl.

People need identity. In MUDs, real life social status, background, and name are hidden, and identity is based of what you say. personal insecurities might make even that accurate reflection uncomfortable.

"Identity is often confused with the image one projects. In both muds and in real life a person can be labeled based on how he is dressed and the groups with which he is affiliated, among other things." Projected image can still result in artificial labels imposed on the player due to association.

Even when not insecure, players may search for self-concept. "A person needs a sense of self to keep from feeling lost, useless, and helpless."

James Marcia stated that individuals can find themselves in four states (not stages) when searching for identity.

  • Identity Achievement - well defined self-concept, often occurring after an identity crisis. They arrive at a firm understanding of their own values and goals.
  • Identity Foreclosure - a person accepts the identity and values imposed since birth
  • Identity Diffusion - a person has no goals or clear self-concept, and is not search for them
  • Moratorium - similar to diffusion, except that the individual is searching for self-concept and goals

When in a state of Identity Achievement, a person is more likely to be able to feel real love.

Summary of "History of Online Games" by Jessica Mulligan

Jessica Mulligan was a long time online gamer by the 2000's and originally wrote this article for the Happy Puppy site "Biting the Hand".

1994 and 95 with Doom and Warcraft was not the beginning of online games. The general public and press haven't figured it out, but online gaming began in the 1960's.

Circa 1969 - Spacewar for the Plato Service.

1970-1977 - Star Trek, Avatar (later Wizardry!) for the PLATO service, and Airfight for the PC.

1979 - MUD for the DEC-10 at Essex

1979-1980 More version of MUD. Playing time eventually needs restricting due to popularity and drain on resources

Circa 1982-1983 - source code for MUD gets shared legally and illegally starting the global MUD craze

1982 - Kesmai Corporation contracted to develop text RPG, later released as Islands of Kesmai. DECwars code sold for $50, and later launches as MegaWars I.

1983 - MegaWars * launches on CompuServe and ran until 1998.

1984 - Commercial version of MUD released. CompuServe releases Islands of Kesmai. Later spawned Legends of Kesmai. Aradath set up as home business, charging $40/month to play.

1985 - GEnie and America Online (Quantum Computer Services) launch as competitors to CompuServe

1986 - Stellar Warrior (MegaWar I) launched on GEnie. Rim Worlds War (play by email) launched commercially. Graphics-based, Air Warrior previewed at West Coast Computer Faire. Graphics-based, Rabbit Jack's Casino launched. LucasFilms's Habitat begins development.

1987 - Air Warrior for GEnie released. Rabbit Jack's Casino for QuantumLink released. MegaWars III launches as Stellar Emperor on GEni. British Legends launches on CompuServe.

1988 - Gemstone II launched on GEnie. AD&D: NeverWinter Nights begins development.

To be continued next issue ...

Summary of "If You Don't Like it, Leave!" by Selina Kelley

Selina Kelley was a staff writer and reviewer.

Even calm, rational admins occasionally tell problem players to leave. "It's difficult to just idly sit by and say nothing when a player becomes abusive, but what really is the 'best' way to handle them?"

A player should have a right to express themselves in a non-abusive manner. Also, problems aren't resolved by removing players that complain about them. Most players won't become abusive, if they feel you are listening and talking to them.

"With the general population of muds tending toward younger players these days, you are always going to run into immaturity, and while it would be nicer to receive an intelligent, cohesive, constructive email from a player regarding your mud, you have to understand that the younger player cannot always place their true feelings in words that will not upset you."

After receiving the poorly worded complaint stating the MUD sucks, ask "why?" Encourage respectful dialog. Don't lose your temper. Improvements to your MUD won't happen if no one tells you what is wrong with it.

Summary of "Mud-Area Style Guide" by Marshall Buhl

Marshall Buhl was one of the creators of Discworld MUD.

The following are elements that make for a good area in a MUD.

  • Know basic MUD programming concepts
  • Check your grammar and spelling. Long descriptions should always use full sentences.
  • Don't use names in short descriptions, and use names sparingly in long descriptions. For example, don't describe it as Marshall's Study, instead mention envelopes addressed to Marshall in the description. Or "A cluttered study", instead of "Marshall's study" in the short description.
  • Add items to look at. If the description has a waterfall, you should be able to 'look waterfall' and get meaningful information instead of a message stating that is not here.
  • Players need reasons to search. Add little micro-quests to rooms. Make hidden items a standard for most rooms. Useful (like change in couches) or useless (a tissue in the couch) items are fun to find.
  • Make things interactive. Make sinks work. Make standing in the rain cause the players to 'squelch'.
  • Make entrance descriptions match direction traveled, or don't include direction in the descriptions. When heading out of a forest, the player should not read descriptions about heading deeper into the forest.
  • Add humor. Subtle or overt humor helps improve the areas. Leave a table at the fork in the road, or anthropomorphize objects in the descriptions.
  • Give hints of danger. Don't put characters in situations where they walk into a room and die instantly, unless they had hints that this might be dangerous. Don't be overt with 4th wall breaking descriptions, instead make it part of the game. For example, a guard could sum up a player (check their level) and warn them they might die if they go exploring ahead. Feelings of dread are useful, too.
  • Be consistent across areas. Weapons, MOBs, and armor should not vary wildly from area to area.

Summary of "Taking Muds to the Next Level" by Nolan Darilek

Ten years have brought great improvements to 3D games, but not MUDs. The solution to MUDs' lag is to create a new platform for MUDs to run on top of. The author is working on such a solution.

"Coordinate-based mechanics can serve to eliminate the room-based environment which dominates the arena of text-based games. By defining area boundaries in terms of maps, and attaching descriptions and dimensions to these maps, it is possible to retain the basic, vividly-described feel of a room-based game while enhancing it to include a true coordinate system with real-time movement."

NPCs typically fall into the assistant and target categories. This interaction could be expanded on to allow groups of NPCs to at together or even communicate with each other, creating intelligent agents for more interesting behavior.

Event based systems could modify NPCs behavior, so changes in weather or time of day would affect their reactions.

Summary of "Roleplayability in Muds" by Tommi Leino

Tommi Leino helped develop Magik 3d's gaming system.

The game "Adventure" was the first adventure game, and as such, quite popular. Even though it ran on a server, everyone played a solo game. It isn't surprising that soon after, the first multi-user dungeon appeared.

"The Adventure game and others of its kind still share the same user interface with muds. Everything is text-based and centered around 'rooms'. A room can lead to various directions and it can have objects you can pick up, monsters you can kill or puzzles you can solve. The only difference between these games is that muds are capable of having multiple simultaneous users and thus lack a linear story or any kind of story at all. A good story always has a beginning and an ending. In a mud, if there would be an end to the story, it would also be the end of the mud which is not at all suitable for a multi-user environment."

MUDs have stories, but they reset after a time. So that players don't get bored with the same stories, advancement systems keep players receiving new rewards. This leads to selections of difficulties for players ranging from training areas and newbie areas to hard areas.

Player interaction is a big reason players keep coming back to a MUD that isn't changing. Also, the gaming system keeps them coming back by dangling more rewards for more play.

Gaming systems originate in Role-Playing Games (RPGs). These were just advanced interactive stories, at first, and were played using pen and paper.

In MUDs, the carrot of better stats or treasure drives the story. In true RPGs, the story itself is modified by the players' decisions. Some MUDs try to encourage better Role Playing by hiding the numbers that the players see, but this doesn't change the carrot players are pursuing, just the way they speak about the carrot. The story isn't significantly modified by the players' actions. Hiding the truth about the carrot players are pursuing by hiding numbers, generally leads to role-playing-required MUDs being less popular that ones that don't hide the numbers.

To bridge the gap between MUDs and RPGs, the MUD worlds need to be modifiable by the players themselves. "For this to truly work, everything must be changeable for real so in practice you would need to be able to burn cities or make new ones. Then here would be stories such as wars between two of the cities, trading, making alliances and such at the higher positions and if you would be just a beginner you would do things for the players in the higher positions or just for yourself".