Imaginary Realities 2000 March Edition

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

Summary of "Clans in a Role playing World" by Sanvean (Cat Rambo) and Krrx

Both authors worked on the Armageddon MUD, a Role playing MUD.

"This is the first of three musings on the nature of clans, and what being in/running one means to a player/immortal, with the second discussing a cultural clan, where players begin the game having been born into the clan, and the third outlining some conclusions and problems with clans on role playing muds."

Krrx revived the Byn clan because of fond memories of working together. Clans need to work together to avoid death. The original plans for the clan revival changed over time. The vision for the clan morphed from a high class "elite mercenary unit" to a "down-and-dirty version".

Initial strict rules to benefit the clan members were introduced. Following this, careful selection of clan leaders occurred. Finding players that met the following features were sought. "(1) out of character trustworthiness, (2) a very high standard of role playing, and (3) regular playing."

Determine trustworthiness by checking past characters played, talking to other players about the, and seeing how they behaved in previous clans.

Leaders have to have a high standard of roleplaying, so clan members don't get lax. Good role playing involves immersing yourself in the character.

Regular playing doesn't mean constant playing. It means being on the MUD enough that they can fulfill their roles as clan leaders.

Summary of "Confessions of a Hack 'n Slasher" by D.A. "Flux" Nissenfeld

Flux was a first time submitter looking for feedback.

The author has a long history of gaming, including pen and paper games. The author found MUDs and then spent far more time playing as a hack 'n' slash player than a role player. Finally, the author started a MUD and found that 90% of the players also did the same, so has focused on making the combat more fun in the MUD.

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

Jessica Mulligan originally wrote the article for the Happy Puppy .

1989 - "Bill Louden hires Jessica Mulligan as GEnie's first dedicated games product manager and gives her virtual carte blanche to sign up more online games." GEnie signs Galaxy II, and licenses Avalon Hill's Diplomacy. GEnie launches the first online 3D shooter, A-Maze-ing. "Quantum Computer Services more or less de-emphasizes online games after launching development of NeverWinter Nights." They only finish Hangman.

1990 - GEnie begins development on game that eventually becomes Dragon's Gate on AOL. Diplomacy Online released. Dunnigan delivers The Hundred Years' War that can last 400 real days involving 300 players in a turn based strategy game. GEnie releases Federation II. GEnie experiments with flat rate fees, and overwhelms its servers due to popularity.

1991 - GEnie launches Dragon's Gate. Bill Louden, founder of GEnie, leaves after seven years.

1992 - The Kingdom of Drakkar launches, charges $3-5/hour service. GEnie releases graphics-based RPG, CyberStrike. Quatum Computer Services become America Online (AOL).

By 1992, there are millions of homes actively using modem for connecting to services like AOL, GEnie, Delphi, CompuServe, and Prodigy. DARPA-Net has around 50 MUDs, and is mostly available to universities and their students. Additionally, some two-player, modem-to-modem games exist.

1993 - Everything changes.

Summary of "Instant Combat: Just Add Fudge" by Caliban Tiresias Darklock

Caliban Tiresias Darklock, ... gaming and programming for 23 years, but not at the same time.

"Games, ... are supposed to be fun; they are not necessarily required to be realistic, scientifically accurate, or theoretically sound."

In the real world, combat lasts two or three turns, and combatant typically know if they will win or lose before combat begins. It doesn't take minutes. In a perma-death MUD, not having a sense of what will happen with potential combatants can lead to huge costs.

"When you look into a room, you should be able to tell at a glance what creatures there will or will not attack you, which ones you are likely to be able to defeat, and which ones are likely to make you into an ugly stain on the floor." MOB descriptions without useful combat evaluations are merely cruel tricks.

From a space combat game the author was working on, a sector might have the description "152178 Attack Drones". This is not useful for combat evaluation. A more useful description of a sector is "71178 Attack Drones of the Federation [Attack the Cabal only]".

Some randomness could alter the expected result given in the description, but the combat evaluation description is still useful.

Use statistical iterations to speed up combat resolution. Players want to play the game, not spectate combat for minutes on end.

Summary of "Objects and Trust" by Kevin Littlejohn (Darius)

Kevin Littlejohn was a Moebius developer for a Python MUDdish engine.

Moebius uses MySQL allowing rebinding methods to objects without difficulty. Next, they added the ability for players to add their own scripting, with bizarre permissions issues. Objects couldn't truly be masters of their own data due to security issues.

Next there was an attempt to solve these issues borrowing from a language called E. "One of the core concepts for E is 'capabilities' - sort of like keys for attributes, that an object can hand out to other objects." Essentially, an object has capabilities for some of its data, but not permissions to modify all of its data. Add to that mix, Mediators, which set attributes in other object and have contexts that determine rules for changing attributes.

"Finally, I am still unconvinced regarding security issues .... The crux of distributing objects still seems to be that code running on a platform outside your control cannot be trusted to have done the "right" thing, for any given definition of right."

Summary of "Promoting Your Mud" by Johan J Ingles

Johan J Ingles could be found on Wheel of Time MUD as Nass.

Despite the perception that MUDs are in a decline the total number of players have increase. They are spread over a larger volume of MUDs, hence the misperception.

Graphic games' user base is growing much faster. MUDs suffer from less lag, but poor marketing efforts have resulted in their bad reputation. Much of the pain is self inflicted by the MUD community.

For example, the author put a review of their MUD up on Mud Connector. "Immediately the next morning, two flames went up by people from another mud with the same theme as ours, and my mud was subjected to a Denial of Service attack. Criminal behavior, all in the name of PR."

When promoting a MUD, ... First, have a good product.

Next, create a web presence for your MUD (a website.) Educate new players about MUDding with the website. Provide social interaction for current patrons in the form of boards. Include marketing and friend referral call to action on the site. Provide a web interface to your MUD on the website. Add feedback forms to the site for player feedback. Add profiles of prominent players. Even add a monthly MUDzine. Build a community!

The author provides several examples of learning sources for HTML and explains how to best submit the website to search engines like Yahoo and Altavista.

"Remember, your web site needs to guide these people by the hand, and take them through mudding from top to bottom, even explaining such things as telnet, behavioral norms and the theme, in basic terms. The trick is to imagine that you are coming at mudding without any knowledge of what it is about at all, and your job is to educate and explain, and to make it sound engaging and fun at the same time."

Summary of "The Debate Rages on" by Troy Fisher

Does a MUD admin need to code or is building good enough? "The main mud administrator needs to be neither, it must be a game designer."

The game designer must determine what players do, their rewards, the player's long-term goals, what needs to be learn and improved at as a player, difficulty level, and if the intended actions are really the most fun actions the players can take.

Game designers need to define the theme of the game: social, PvP, mob-kill-fest. The theme defines the motivation of the player to keep playing.

Next design player advancement. Define advancement in terms of money, levels, influence and power. Design the reward system for playing inline with the theme.

Determine the long-term goal of play. What is the end accomplishment of the dedicated player following the theme?

Make the game consistent, and enabling of player's interactions. "If a player tries to jump off of a cliff, and he falls to his death below, he is going to expect the same thing to happen, not a message that reads, 'Sorry, you are not allowed to do that!' If a player is able to feed someone's parrot, he is also going to want to be able to feed a non-intelligent animal mob."

Finally, make the game playable without dying, at least in theory. "The player should not need to die to learn the answer to a puzzle."