Imaginary Realities 2001 August Edition

Summary of August 2001 issue of Imaginary Realities. Imaginary Realities was an ezine dedicated to MUDs.

Summary of "A Revisitation of Help" by Robert Boileau

Robert Boileau was a programmer for The Inquisition MUD.

"When I began the MUD for which I work, I made a resolution to never have obsolete or missing help files.

"Oh, how naive I was."

The MUD brought on an immortal specifically to help players learn the MUD system, and the first thing she did was explain to us, that the 800+ page help system needed fixing. The following is a description of the fixed help system.

The new help system provides a completely editable online interface for updates. All database entries have a "last updated" value, and a "number of views" value, neither of which are editable by admins to maintain honest values.

Here are the editable values in each help file row in the database:

  • Level - minimum level that is required to view this file
  • Keywords - searchable words to find this file. Partial words should work, too.
  • Name - "the name by which the help file is most easily referenced"
  • Brief - "used when the players ask for an index of a word or phrase"
  • Class - the command, or skill prerequisites necessary to understand what abilities are needed to use this skill
  • Syntax - standardized syntax required to use this skill (ie "look (at/in) [object or person]")
  • Text - The main description in the help file.
  • Index - the parent category this file belong to
  • Imminfo - admins/immortal viewable info, not for regular players to know
  • Seealso - links to other related help files
  • Key - boolean value indicating this help file should be displayed above less important, but related, help files.

The 'help' command by itself shows the main categories of help organized in a tree using the index values. Names are displayed with under the index with a brief description. To view the brief description of look, they would use "help index look". It would look like the following.

  Information about how to use the look command.

To view the full description, the player types "help <file name>". To view the brief descriptions of all files in a category, the player types "help <category name>"

Here is the verbose display format of a specific help file copied from the original article.

Help file for LOOK
Class: Command
Syntax: look
        look (at/in) [object or person]
        look [direction]
Look is used any time you wish to view something, be it the room (look without an argument), a book/board (look book, or look board), a specific item or person (look name), or a direction. It is versatile, and you may use "at" to specify an object or person if you wish.

You may specify a particular instance of something to look at also, such as "look" to look at the second book.

See also: GLANCE, PEEK

(Subject area: information Last modified: Sat Jul 7 07:11:28 2001)

Soundex matching for phonetically similar (misspelled) words should be part of the help search.

"If there is no help file found, and no phonetic match, the help file request is sent to all Immortals online, and logged in a file which I view daily."

Summary of "Cartoon - The Mud Simmer" by Rebecca Handcock

Unfortunately, this cartoon appears to have been lost forever, like so many digital copyrighted works.

Summary of "Frag that Knight" by Jenna, Shattered World

Jenna was a Shattered World MUD admin.

MUDs can serve as excellent platforms for mini-games. Shattered World MUD has several creative mini-games embedded in it. One is essentially Quake in MUD format.

"To create this little first-person-shooter, I didn't have to think up weapons, amour, or healing, because our mud already had them. Likewise, I didn't need to write a combat system or player descriptions. I didn't need to do anything to create the base of a functioning virtual world, because our mud (and yours) already has it."

Any genre you can imagine could be written on top of a MUD, including ...

  • Mudcraft - a large scale battle simulator, complete with castle construction and troop training
  • Mud Tycoon - MUDs can have fully functional economies with all businesses owna and operated by players
  • Poker & Five Hundred - card games of all types work well on MUDs.

All of these mini-games are and should be optional, so only players that enjoy them would play.

Summary of "I Want to Forge Swords" by Author

Sie Ming was also the author of "I Want to Bake Bread".

For a crafting skill or class, get resources by using in-game skills like:

  • Gathering - from the wild, and might include abilities like mining, plant lore, electronics. Leveling gathering abilities might result in more or higher quality items found.
  • Looting - some items could require higher looting levels to remove properly
  • Purchasing - encourage player-player purchases, and make sure items are available in the proper quantities for the needs of the community

Design the location of resources properly. "First of all, make locations meaningful. If movement between two locations is quick and easy, then they are --for all intents-- the same location." Make resources location specific. Proper design of location and travel mechanics can naturally lead to Trade, Trade Routes, Trade Houses, Pirates, Bandits, Wagon Trains, and Mercenaries in your game.

Have a diversity of resources. For example, not only hides, but rabbit pelts, antlers, dragon scales.

Make sure the things crafted have a diversity of traits. For example, don't have level 1 - level 10 armor. Have various armors with some having features that vary, such as weight, flexibility, colors, protections of various sorts, etc. This means that there are several types of great armors with trade offs that players need to choose from based off what the armor was crafted from.

There shouldn't be just one best type of some item that everyone in the game wants, to the exclusion of all other types of that crafted armor.

Consider adding a "quality" attribute to your items. "The quality of the resources used by a crafter would effect the quality of the item produced. At high levels of ability, you might need higher quality resources to produce certain items. This could be accomplished by using only high quality resources or by using a larger --perhaps much larger-- number of normal quality resources. This usage of a larger number of normal quality resources would be an expression of the crafter sifting through to find the best or distilling lower quality resources into higher."

Crafters could have the options for speed vs quality.

Quality resources could be located in dangerous locations. Quality could result in higher selling prices or resources and final crafted products.

Blueprints add another dimension to the Crafter's class. They could start with some basic blueprints/recipes and gather more through purchases, looting, in-game research, and copying from other players.

Blueprints could also have a quality score associated with them. "The quality of the blueprint might affect the resources consumed when making the item, the quality of the item produced, the amount of time it takes to make the item, the ability level required to make the item, the chance of succeeding at making the item, or anything else that makes sense in your game."

Blueprints of low quality, might require generic resources to use. High quality blueprints might require specific rare items to follow.

The crafter's research process might include buying a "research log". Tools and resources could iteratively be used to increase the quality of the research log, until finally the research log gains the custom blueprint status. Test with questions/answers could be part of the research process. Simple items would require few rounds of research, while complex item blueprints would require much more research.

Make the actual crafting process relaxed, rather than complex or stressful. Combine the blueprint, resources and a fixed amount of game time to have a chance of success when crafting items.

Give players to ability to cancel crafting projects. Also, give them the ability to use multiple blueprints to engage in multiple crafting projects at the same time. Base crafting time off resource quality, blueprint quality, and complexity of the item being crafted. Allow crafting to continue even when the player is logged out.

Remember the crafter should be able to make as much money as other classes. Balance the costs and selling prices appropriately.

Complex crafting projects could require players to switch tools, add additional ingredients, do quick quality tests. This prevents all projects from being completed with the player offline.

"Players should be given a means of specifying the amount of attention that their character is giving to Item Quality, Ability Training, and Construction Speed."

Summary of "Mudding with Language Barriers" by Ntanel StormBlade

Nthanial Stormblade ran MudWorld.

The author did not come from a home that spoke standard American English, and had to expend a lot of effort to learn to speak clearly so that everyone understood what was said. The author also spends a lot of time avoiding typos and any sentences that could unintentionally offend other people.

A lot of users on MUDs speak in abbreviations, and emojis. This is not clear language and could lead to misunderstandings.

Summary of "Second Semi-Annual MU* Excellence Awards:" by Andy Awards

The first MU* Awards was held April 7, 2001. It was three hours long. The second was to be held on October 6, 2001.

Here are the winners from the first awards ceremony.

  • Best Overall: OtherSpace

  • Best Fantasy: Aether

  • Best Sci-fi: Otherspace

  • Best Social: M*U*S*H

  • Best Horror: Cajun Nights

  • Best Other Genre: Chicago MUSH

  • Most Original: Chicago MUSH

  • Most Helpful Staff: Aether

  • Most Newbie-friendly: Firan

Summary of "Role playing" by Luis Branco

Luis Branco was a 22-year-old MUDder from Portugal. He was tall and liked girls.

A touching tribute poem to role playing.