Imaginary Realities 2000 July Edition

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

Summary of "Acting Casual About Casual Gamers" by Brian Green

Brian Green was a developer for Meridian 59 and later

"Definition: Casual gamers are people who like games but do not have the time or inclination to play them obsessively." This includes people that are hard core in some games, but only casually play MUDs.

Increasing a game's player base requires getting more casual players to join. Many people think they need to attract potential players. Casual gamers are already interested in the game, but need it to improve before committing more time.

Attracting casual gamers needs a better social environment online, and less focus on advancement. "People feel penalized for only playing a couple hours (only?!?) per night. Why? Because they can not keep up with the advancement of other players they know. Every hour they are not playing that someone else is is an hour they are behind. The only way to catch up is to spend an extra hour playing that their friends do not. If their friends spend 10 hours per day compared to 2 hours, you can see how quickly they fall behind."

Having characters persist while the player is offline is not a good solution to characters falling behind because players don't have time to play. However, characters could take care of repetitive tasks that benefit the character while the player is not present, such as repairing armor or trading to earn money. Keep the player doing fun stuff while in game, and have the character to the boring stuff while the player is away.

Communication with other players is another key to having better social engagement in the game. "I have found it useful to divide in-game communication into four categories: instant vs. persistent, and personal vs. broadcast. Instant messages happen in real time, while persistent messages are stored for viewing at any time. Personal messages are "private" messages between specified recipients, which can include a small, select group. Broadcast messages are messages viewable by anyone (or members of a large group) in range of the message."

Despite having to moderate message boards, providing adequate communications options for socializing is key to retaining an active, committed player base.

"If the casual gamer cannot find his or her friends, he or she will not be playing our game for long."

Summary of "Automating NPCs" by Zykes

NPC's shouldn't hangout at the same location all the time. They would likely need to eat, drink, work, sleep and possibly other things. Set up a state machine based off the individualized NPC stereotype and trigger their current activity based off the time of day.

For example (from the article):

FARMER (stereotype)

   EAT (need that is activated at 07.00, 12.00 and 17.00)
   DRINK (need that is activated 14.00 supposing he drinks while he eats too)
   WORK (need that is activated after every meal he eats except the last one)
   SLEEP (need that is activated after his last meal)

Using rules based off the stereotype, ... "maybe you just want to remove him from the room telling everyone there that Joe leaves for supper, or if you want a routing system that allows Joe to walk all the rooms to his home and there start a supper scene with his wife and all the kids"

Summary of "Ciara's Folly" by Scatter ///\oo/\\\

Scatter ran the Dawn Whispers MUD and was a staff writer for Imaginary Realities.

The article starts with a call for MUD related story submissions. This article is a story written and based off the author's experience early in his MUDing career. I give a very brief overview and synopsis of the story, but due to copyright laws can't reproduce the story here.

The story follows a wizard, a priestess and a warrior in Comgal. New artifacts from a strange place call Vzar started appearing in the region. The three took leave of their training and commitments, secured an inadequate boat and set sail on the high seas with no experience and no idea where they were going.

On the fifth night at sea, something with tentacles attached to their boat and proceeded to climb in. A dangerous battle ensued, with the warrior being the only one that could directly damage the monster. The wizard and priestess both healed and strengthened the warrior with their own crafts until the monster died and sank back into the sea.

With the ship's sails gone, supplies destroyed, and anchor missing, the three began to row for home. When they finally found land, they got caught in dangerous currents near deadly rocky cliffs. The boat was destroyed on the rocks, but amazingly everyone made it to shore alive.

"This column will depend on your contribution - all of you out there who are exploring, adventuring, creating legends on muds every day. Send in your stories and become a part of the bigger myth. We can polish any rough spots, smooth out any bumps - or if you wish, even write your story for you if you give us enough detail of what happened and why. Simply use the form provided, or send in your story via email."

Summary of "Online Relationships - Part II" by Selina Kelley

Selina Kelley spent a lot of time on ProphecyMUD.

"I have noticed something that wasn't quite as clear to me before-- that while an online romantic relationship is not similar to a real-life romantic relationship, that online relationships as groups can certainly lead to what I would call an online community."

The reason for the new opinion was a player she referred to as, "Bob". Bob did not adhere to the common rules of the online community, nor to the rules of society as a whole. Bob engaged with a large number of the online community that tried to change him to fit, but failed and became a source of online consternation for the greater online community.

The situation finally escalated to an effort to bar him from the community. Efforts were made to report Bob to his ISP, police, and the news. So the relationships Bob created had a very real world impact.

"So, is an online community the same as the community you live in? Maybe. The main difference seems to be that most online communities are made up of groups of people that have interests in common, while the community you live in mostly has just its surrounding area in common."

Summary of "Til Death do us Part" by Andrew Ritchie

Andrew Ritchie was designing a MUD at the time of writing this article.

Almost all death systems fall into "permadeath" or "non-permadeath" categories. Permadeath is found on RPG type MUDs for believability. Non-permadeath systems are found on hack-n-slash style MUDs because it makes the game more playable.

Permadeath systems tend to have a fixed number of deaths before the character does not respawn. Ten lives is common. Also, permadeath systems often have a way to get more lives by completing quests or other tasks.

Consequences of death tend to fall into eight categories. The character ...

  • respawns somewhere else.
  • loses something like levels or experience.
  • loses valuables like equipment.
  • cannot do something for a fixed period of time
  • goes to an afterlife to perform a task to get reanimated.
  • must wait for resurrection or a cool down period
  • loses a life permanently.
  • dies forever.

Death should have severe consequences, or it is meaningless. Some sort of permadeath should be possible in all MUDs.

Summary of "Why Deal With Harassment When You Are Having Fun?" by Ucchan Tsukino

Ucchan Tsukino played as Nerissa on Redemption MUD.

The entire article is a persuasive rant about caustic, NSFW players ruining the MUD experience for everyone else, and admins that punish the victims. The author wants to stop seeing players needing to 'hush' other players, or quitting because of the abusive behavior of other players.

"People play muds to have fun. What is wrong with that? I do not want a player killer to embrace every pacifist they encounter thus abolishing the very essence of role-playing, but I want people to stop mistreating one another and start displaying the little bit of respect that everyone deserves."