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Old 08-30-2002, 12:21 PM   #1
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I’ve seen this in new MU**s, I’ve seen this in MU**s that have been around for years. Code snippets are added or sometimes new code is written. A stated goal (usually stated to players, sometimes only to staff) is to put in something “unique” “different” or “cutting edge”. This can be everything from a craft system “like no other!” to a different type of channel or modification to the commands available or the command names. I can very much understand the desire to stand out from the crowd, but of all the things that one can do to their code, what is actually worthwhile in terms of creating a good quality MU**? Personally, I find non-substantive changes irritating. By substantive, I mean things that fundamentally add to the actions a character can do, the skills a character can learn, the rp environment created for the characters to live in, or the places a character can go and how they get there. I do not go to yet another ROM or other Diku derivative game just to have to figure out a whole new list of commands before I can get out of the newbie area.

How should administrators figure out the balance of “new and unique!” verses “tried and true”. And what is a useful, productive, interesting change verses one that in the end only scratches at the surface of the game?
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Old 08-30-2002, 01:48 PM   #2
Neranz Laverani
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Instead of setting out specifically to do something new and unique, do two things, figure out what your players are interested in having, and look at what you would like to do codewise.

There are two good ways to determine what players want:
1.) Conduct a poll either on your website or you message board. (This is also a good way to increase traffic to your website if you are looking to do so).

2.) Play the game as an anonymous player for about a month. Listen to what other players say is lacking. Be very careful to not reveal your identity. Some players are polite and will not openly challenge immortals on a mud, though they may voice ideas for improvement to other players. If it is known that you are an implementor, you will loose input from this type of player. I have found that this type of player can suggest good, common sense ideas.

Having worked for a few years in the interactive industry, I have noticed one thing. What you and I consider non-substantive changes are sometimes important, substantive changes to the end user. There have been numerous times that I had to get something done right away I considered fluff while major structural changes that were much more important to the overall project were put on hold.

Sometimes slapping a new coat of paint on something is what the users really want. Making changes that only scratch the surface, but appease the users, also affords you time to develop the substantive changes you want to.

As far as code changes you would like to make, I am sure you already have ideas of what you want to do. Coders always get these, especially when reading "other people's code." Evaluate your ideas to decide if it will change your game for the better.

Compare the two lists and estimate how much time each would take. Then see what is dependent on your substantive changes. Do the user requests that are not dependent on your substantive changes first based on the shortest amount of time required to make those changes. This will give you time to develop the changes you want to by showing the users progress on the mud. One thing about substantive changes is that they take longer, and are not always as apparent to the user because most of the changes are behind the scenes. So even though you are working on great improvements, this will not always be apparent to the end user.

Also, instead of labeling something "new and unique" just list a brief description of what it does. Perhaps I am a bit jaded, but there is very little that is actually new and unique in the mud world. Listing the features lets people easily wade through the new combinations of old ideas. New and unique isn't as important in my opinion as progress and logical growth of the codebase.

Neranz Laverani, Seeker of Knowledge
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Old 09-01-2002, 12:59 AM   #3
Alexander Tau
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The previous post was very well written and covers a lot of the topic very well so kudos to the author.

There are just a few additional points I would like to add.

I think the 'tried and true' things should form the core of any game. No game exists in isolation no matter what illusions people like to live under. Unless you have written entirely from scratch you have some competition.

The reality is that it is easy to make a game that fails, most do, so if you do not learn from the accumulated wisdom of past game makers you are just cutting your own throat. Laws are as they are for solid reasons, backed up by real world experience.

But to really succeed you have to take steps outside the box, and actual unique features are a way to do this. Most people would say that it is necessary for a game to mark out some special things if it wants to draw players. and I tend to agree.

What is usually done though is create things that have in fact been done before because the game makers do not have a broad understanding of MU*. While there are people who play dozens of games, most tend to see a much smaller number. It is not at all unusual to see Immortals who have played only a single game before starting to create. These days there are places where you can go to get perspective, like here, so actual time in games can be supported with discussions with other creators.

If there was one thing I could impress on all Admin it would be to remember that Players think differently. How many times have I talked to someone who has spent 6 months on this wonderful update to combat that the players will never even notice? Sure it might give more 'accurate' combat results but the players are looking for FUN. They would be much happier with a simply little command to sneak in a rabbit punch in addition to normal combat.

I know my point of view is a little different, I expect each game to be unique. I loath 'stock MU*' and have never done more than visit them to see what people liked there. So from that perspective the idea of learning new commands has never bothered me and in fact that is something I look for.

What each game should do is outline what sort of play they want to have happening. Then you take the feedback from the playerbase into consideration as discussed above. First keep the game going by dealing with problems and bugs, then look to expand the possibilities.

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Old 09-01-2002, 11:54 AM   #4
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I'm not sure that playing on very few muds necessarily has much effect on whether you can create a mud decently or not. It all depends on what you're trying to create. I've only played on 4 muds really...2 typical hack&slash ones (before I discovered that other types exist), a sort of hybrid mud which is mostly hack&slash with a few nifty RPish type things added on, and finally my favorite, a classless, level-less mud with vast RP potential.

If I want to make my own mud, it's gonna be one of the type I'm playing now, not some hack&slash piece of junk. I suppose there's things I could learn from them, like how to do a more interesting combat system for instance, but I'm not gonna go out and play 50 muds I can't stand when I already have plenty of ideas for innovative stuff. Maybe my ideas are playable, maybe they're not, but either way I wouldn't really know until I had actual players in there giving me feedback. Most people don't like the intricate stuff I like so I wouldn't have many players regardless, but I'd rather have a few players who like what I like thatn 5000 players who just wanna kill stuff anyway.
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Old 09-01-2002, 09:38 PM   #5
Alexander Tau
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I think you sort of missed my point. I was saying that the more you know about the MU* community the better Immortal you will be. Each game is somewhat unique, and all have their good and bad points.

People with a wide range of experience are better prepared to create things that will work. You should not visit a bunch of places that you are not interested in, but perhaps seeing a few more in the style you do like would provide some benefits.

For example if you are looking at doing a serious RP game then you might want to visit a few MUSH games. They may not be what you want to create, but they are THE place for RP and they know what it takes to do it well.

Without a good grounding in what has been done you are doomed to repeat mistakes and your game will suffer for it. Everyone has the right to learn the hard way, but it does not have to be that way.

A multiplayer online MU* is a complex beast, nobody knows it all and we all make mistakes. Good Admin are those people who do whatever they can to avoid problems and to make sure that their players have a enjoyable time. To anyone that wants to make a good game, put your ego aside, realize there is a lot to learn and do your best to take in all the resources that are available.

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Old 09-02-2002, 05:02 AM   #6
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I definitely agree with Alexander Tau on this point. When the MMORPGs started turning up in 1995*, they quickly started to stumble into numerous problems - problems which had been encountered and solved years earlier by most text-based muds.

Adding features to a mud simply to make it appear "unique" is a rather silly gesture. The idea should be to create a game based around a specific vision, and create the features (unique or otherwise) which help realise that goal. In this respect, previous experience gives no real advantage.

However the issue which the MMORPGs stumbled on is to learn from mistakes - and not just your own, but those of others before you. Without knowledge of other muds you might well be able to create a unique and conceptually good mud, but you're also going to be starting back at the beginning of the learning curve; even the Diku team "learned" from the mistakes of AberMUD before they began developing their mud.

OnyxFlame's derogatory comment towards hack & slash muds only exemplifies the point. There is no "right" or "wrong" type of mud, no "better" or "worse" approach - only variations in vision and style. Ignoring or dismissing one type of mud only results in a narrower vision and less potential creativity on your own behalf. Even if an individual mud is a complete failure, it still serves as a valuable lesson for those with an open mind.

* Although the earliest graphical mud appeared in 1985, it was really around 1995 that the whole MMORPG thing started to kick off and become popular.
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Old 09-02-2002, 01:20 PM   #7
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Well, I've talked to a lot of people who've played a whole lot of muds, and according to them, if I tried looking for more muds of the type I like to play, I'd be looking for years. Apparently the one I play is pretty unique, and my ideas are mostly based on things I'd like to see on it that will probably never get coded even if they let me code on it.

As for my opinion of hack & slash muds, that's all it opinion. A lot of people like them, or at least tolerate them, but I don't happen to be one of those people. If I was going to play them in order to learn how to more effectively create and run a mud, I'd look at them as an example of what *not* to do. I know they have the same issues of balance and players who do whatever they can get away with, I'm just not into sitting there all day just killing stuff. (On another note, maybe it wouldn't be so bad if I was like most people and only had time to play a few hours a day. But sometimes I'm online for like 12 hours straight and I hafta have something more involving than just killing stuff or I fall asleep.)

As for trying a MUSH, I wouldn't mind doing that if I knew of a good one with a decent amount of players. A long time ago I tried one that was basically for players to code their own areas and about all I did was make a place with a toilet item that acted as a portal to the Toilet Zone. (Yes it was retarded but I was trying to learn the code, not create a work of art. ) I pretty much gave up on it though because there were only like 3 people on at any given time, and there wasn't much room for interaction other than trying to help each other figure out how to make our areas. The problem with pure RP (meaning most stuff isn't actually hard-coded) is that people tend to use it as an arena for acting out soap operas of who's sleeping with who, or acting out really munchkiny fights. (The "your atomic fireball of dastardly doom missed me!" syndrome.) I have enough years of experience RPing in places other than MUSHes to know that much.

Basically what it all boils down to is if you wanna build a house, you don't use a recipe for chocolate cake as your model. I'm not saying that nothing exists for me to base my ideas on, however if I did what you're advocating, I'd have to spend months or years playing a lot of games I don't really enjoy in hopes that I'd find some useful fragments in some of them. And let's face it, I already have enough ideas to give 10 people ulcers trying to code them. I don't think I could handle any MORE.

(Just a note: I doubt I'll ever actually code anything I have ideas for, because even if I knew lpc inside and out it'd take years to do it all the way I'd want it. It'd be a pain to get my own mud, I'd hafta see if my ex would host it, and then there's the problem of finding a decent lpc thingy that runs on windows, nevermind how long it'd take me to learn to code unless I could somehow get some lpc guru in on it. My other option would be going creator on the mud I play, and even if I managed to survive the selection/training process, I doubt they'd let me change the mud all around just to suit my whims. So all this stuff is sort of academic, it's just my opinions of stuff I'll more than likely never be able to do anyway.)
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Old 09-10-2002, 05:26 AM   #8
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Heya all,

Sorry for getting off subject.

Although I understand what you are saying from one view, Onyxflame, I still don't understand you. *grin*

If you got great ideas, then there are several ways of distributing those. Like here on this forum. You could also work out the ideas and have your implementor look at it. If you think it won't work in advance then it might not be such a good idea after all. If it is a good idea, some people will implement it.

On the subject, I think Neranz mostly said it all.

With all the muds out there it's hard to see what's good and original and what's not. Original and good are two different things though. If you make a mud based on ocean creatures where you can play a dolphin or a whale it might be very original and creative, but if it's based on tinymud code base and you can only swim around it's not good. Like Alexander said, good admins have ideas of what they want to do, and start working on it in a slow way, and use experience from themselves and others to speed it up in any way they can.

Greetings Dre
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