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BAT Mud

Reviews Section
OtherSpace Interactive SF Saga by Jinyu

A Month in Space

In which Jinyu is sucked into the vortex of OtherSpace addiction, and lives to tell the tale - just barely...

I grew up with all those classic tabletop RP games. The Dungeons & Dragons boxed set! AD&D. MERP. Rolemaster. Spacemaster. Traveller. Paranoia. Even (*gasp*) the official Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles roleplaying game. Usually, I was the referee because I had a large room at my house with a nice big table, and a roaring fire for those cold New Zealand nights. At least, that's why they told me I had to be Gamemaster, Dungeon master, or The Computer ("The Computer is your friend! Trust the Computer!")

The occasions when I could just relax and be a player were few and far between. I'm not really complaining - I learned to generate roleplay scenarios out of nothing, writing adventures and conflicts on the fly, managing to stay just two steps ahead of my players for the most part. I wasn't really one of those super-organised GM's who plans everything in advance... mostly, I just used to wing it.

I drifted away from roleplaying gradually, mostly because as we all grew older, the player group wasn't really interested in the kind of RP I wanted to pursue. But I always kind of missed it, missed the generation of something from nothing, instant creation.

Then, on a warm Friday evening in March, I discovered OtherSpace (otherspace.org:1790). I'd been idly sifting through MUD's, curious about whether in fact any true RP was taking place on them. The described original future alternate-reality theme of OtherSpace sparked flashbacks to memorable Traveller campaigns, and I logged on.

Immediately, I was placed in a Newbie channel and greeted by a staffer (Wik'ikik!)  Any questions I had about the game or the character generation process were swiftly answered. RP aides started paging me with suggestions and helpful advice. All this before I'd even created a character, a wonderful support network of interested enthusiastic players.

And what characters! Insectoids, reptillians, a bunch of humanoid races, mechanoids... the list goes on. I wrote a bio in an hour, after having some questions answered by staffers and reading the Survival Guide at http://otherspace.org/sg40.htm , and logged off. When I logged back in the next day, my bio had been accepted and I was already on my way down the slippery slope of addiction.

Over the past month I've been corrupted by a seductive "financial restructurer", inducted into a criminal organisation, danced at an alien funeral, gotten drunk in seedy bars, had my arm broken in two places by a monolithic Zangali, witnessed the arrival of a mysterious alien artifact, used a dingy back alley on a distant planet for pulse assault pistol target practice, and so much more. I get to be a player again, but with many of the creative elements that make being a referee so much fun. Want an NPC to spice up your scene? No problem, just write him or her into the story!

OtherSpace is not "hard SF". You won't find a Greg Bear-esque exploration of scientific possibility here. (Although, wouldn't it be cool if the asteroid from Eon showed up in Mars orbit? Hey, Wes?)  OtherSpace is Space Opera, in the grand tradition of Star Wars, Farscape and Babylon 5. It's energy weapons and jumpships, power and political intrigue, love and lasers. You can play a pacifist or a pirate, OS has the flexibility and the room to move in pretty much any direction you care to create.

And it has Wes Platt, journalist-turned-MUSH-creator. Wes is the mind that drove the initial game and continues to participate in its development, writing story arcs which give some structure to the player-generated RP. Few online environments can boast such a dedicated patriarch.

OtherSpace is not a free ride. It won't do the writing for you. If you ignore the setting or act in twinkish fashion, you won't last long. However, if you love to write and can think for yourself, if you don't need everything handed to you on a silver platter, you'll thrive! OtherSpace gives you a blank personal data entry device and a stylus, and with a swift kick in the backside deposits you in a thick ectoplasmic goo filled with all the ingredients for a great storyline.

What you create from there is up to you. Excuse me, I have to finish cleaning up the mess in the crew quarters. Somebody got themselves shot in there, and frankly getting the blood stains out of the deck is going to take some elbow grease.

Jinyu Arxx, flunky to the underworld.