Imaginary Realities 2000 May Edition

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

Summary of "A Working Mud Economy" by Geoff Wong

Geoff Wong is Dredd on Shattered World MUD.

"Most simulation mud economies are total disasters; with money ("gold coins", etc) simply hemorrhaging out of monsters etc. Shops simply create endless amounts of money for worthless items, which players continually bring in and sell at fixed prices. Essentially money is a secondary experience point system rather than a useful unit of trade."

Most muds have a problem with price fixing, because the pool of money keeps going up without affecting the prices of goods. Shattered Worlds fixes this by using the "Loans Standard" based off a paper by L.M. Goldschlager and R. Baxter ("The Evolution of a Pure Credit Monetary System").

The Loans Standard is based off the formula:

Bank Loans = Bank Deposits + Currency

Banks control the total amount of cash in the game based off the number of players with loans. Every business is run by players. Shops are the most lucrative endeavor in the game. Money enters the game in the form of loans from banks. The banks set interest rates and determine risk.

This approach to MUD economy has worked well, with prices reflecting effort to find items.

Financial related crime has popped up, because the financial system has worked so well. A player run legal system has dealt with financial crime.

New players on the MUD have issues with not having a credit record. They can't get loans from banks until they prove they are a regular player. Then the only tasks they can do are the ones that more experienced players don't want to do. This has the downside that new players don't enjoy the game as much. A system of micro loans might fix this in the future.

To reform your MUD's monetary system:

  1. Create a new currency tracked by a factory object. Don't make money out of thin air.
  2. Put players in charge of shops and pricing.
  3. Put players in charge of banks with a central bank that limits loans and charges player banks interest.

Summary of "Need No Justice!" by Erik Jarvi

Erik Jarvi was on Shattered World MUD as an Elder Wizard.

Shattered World's economy and justice system were inspired by an email game, Nomic. The law system has the following types of laws: Immutable, Mutable, common, and non-law.

Immutable laws were created by the MUD admins.

Mutable laws deal regulate citizens and other laws. Each player can have one alt that is a citizen that can vote. "Most of the new proposals / amendments of mutables are for plugging up loopholes in the laws that deal with positions."

Common laws affect everyone.

Non-laws handle admin type features "like election of magistrates."

Here is the MUD hierarchy:

  • Lords
  • King/Queen
  • Duke/Duchess
  • Baron/Baroness
  • Count/Countess
  • Sir/Madam
  • Citizens
  • Non-citizens
  • 1 Chief Magistrate, 4 Magistrates, 1 Constable, 1 Editor, and 1 Town Fool

Citizenship is received by application and a waiting period.

The editor runs the newspaper. Constable's can deputize characters. Constables and magistrates handle punishments within the framework of the law.

Lords are guild members that have completed the requisite quests.

Lords can start cults, and get cult points. The King/Duke/Count ranks are determined by who has the most cult point accumulated.

Other perks of citizen rank are total amount allowed in a bank, and commercial property ownership.

Summary of "Online Relationships" by Selina Kelley

Selina Kelley was a staff writer for Imaginary Realities

The author states in many ways that online relationships and love don't really exist. There is no real consequence for lies online, and no interaction, other than mental, happens online.

The author acknowledges that they did marry someone they met online, but not before spending time with them in the real world.

"Don't get me wrong, Internet relationships can be wonderful things, but they need to be accepted for what they really are - relationships with possibly like minded people, possibly of the age they portray, possibly of the gender they portray, and possibly of any other infinite number of things they tell you."

Summary of "Romancing the Blade" by D.A. "Flux" Nissenfeld

Humans need conflict in stories. Stories without conflict bore us. Most MUDs provide conflict in the form of combat.

Mortal conflict is part of all human history and pre-history. That makes it a logical go-to for MUDs. The author isn't condoning blood and guts mass slaughter of innocent pixels. He wants a digital thrill of conflict with "no winners, no losers, no anger, and definitely no grudges."

Summary of "The Skotos Proximity System" by Skotos Tech Inc

The original article was written byt Skotos gaming company and used with permission.

Good authors immediately give readers a sense of time and place to anchor the rest of the story. See the following example of Dashield Hammet's opening for The Thin Man.

"I was leaning against the bar in a speakeasy on Fifty-second Street, waiting for Nora to finish her Christmas shopping, when a girl got up from the table where she had been sitting with three other people and came over to me."

MUDs give that basic sense of place, but usually fail at integrating that sense of other players in the game. "In multiplayer interactive fiction, everyone is significant, and everyone passes the Turing test (well, almost). So we need to find a way to describe a player's interaction with his environment and with other players in a fashion that is significant to characterization." How does the player fit into the place they find themselves in inside the MUD?

Skotos games uses a Proximity System that allows players to sit at tables, be near doors, or kneel before a bride. Proximity (Prox) determines if a "knive->ON->counter", and then these prox are made into chains of proximities. And then a room will have a tree of proximities, as in the following example from the article.

For example, this is a prox tree of a room:

                 painting->ON-/              |
       spoon->ON-/                           |
     chair->NEAR-/                           |

Proximity determines who hears a whispers and quiet sounds. Vicinity will determine who sees actions. And loud noise can be heard in bordering rooms.

Determining close vs near spaces between objects determines what actions can be performed, such as conversation for near, but a hug or kiss or handing off an item for close proximity. The distinction and a slight pause between passing from "near" to "close" allows a character to get up and leave, preventing close contact.

Skotos games have a Sound System with varying levels of volume. Varying levels of proximity interact with the sound levels to determine what is heard and by whom.

"Proxes are a very useful method for setting up dynamically controled room descriptions. They are a very flexible method of controlling the depth at which you display descriptions and dealing with these sorts of problems in real time. In addition they allow for the creation of more fully modeled systems, such as the consent and sound systems described here."

Summary of "Why Run a Mud?" by Peter Wood

Peter Wood was a college student in the UK. He was writing WoodMUE server, and Arien MUD.

Reasons for running a MUD server.

  • Knowledge/Learning - Such as programming languages, or seeing how people behave
  • Power - Some people like snoop and intimidating
  • Employment - Sometimes you can make a little money at MUD setup and maintenance
  • Challenge - Setting up a MUD and keeping it running is a series of difficult challenges

Finally, getting complements on a MUD creates a wonderful mood. However, insults cause a lot of bad mood days. "At the end of the day, running a mud can be fun, depressing, tiresome, joyful and entertaining. A mud has a lot of good experiences and just needs to be looked at in the correct manner."