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Old 09-25-2005, 01:05 PM   #1
Ilkidarios
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You guys have all played MUDs that utilize some sort of time clock inside the game, but have you ever actually payed attention to it? You're never really forced to sleep at night, so how do you effectively role-play the MUD time without compromising your actual playtime?

And another thing, how do you implement time in a MUD in a way that makes it believeable? Should you just change the room description to say "The stars are out", or do something more? One thing I've always wanted to see is darkness at night, in which you'd have to have a torch out to leave the town, but you'd have to do it in a simple way so as not to frustrate night-travelling players. Or maybe even progressive lighting, in which things become more and more visible or less and less visible depending on whether it's morning or evening.

What do you guys think about MUD time?
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Old 09-25-2005, 06:21 PM   #2
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And another thing, how do you implement time in a MUD in a way that makes it believeable?  Should you just change the room description to say "The stars are out", or do something more?
I prefer to also base it on the season and weather, combined with the type of terrain you're in - thus while swimming across a lake you might see the moon reflected in the water, while in the forest you'd hear the sounds of nocturnal animals.  For example, this is what you'd see while walking through a settlement at dawn in winter when it's heavily snowing:

You are walking through a settlement, the paved street thick with snow which crunches beneath your boots.  The sun is beginning to rise on the eastern horizon, its red glow barely visible above the settlement walls. Heavy snowflakes fall all around you, caking the rooftops and carpeting the streets.  Your cloak flaps wildly in the wind, providing little protection against the biting cold.

But transform into a wolf and walk through the same settlement during an autumn night while it's raining and you'd see:

You are stalking through a settlement, the paved street feeling cold beneath your paws.  Scattered lamps mounted on the nearby buildings illuminate the darkness.  Flashes of lightning and the rumble of thunder fill the night air, framed against the backdrop of incessant rain which patters against the buildings and the street.
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Old 09-25-2005, 06:46 PM   #3
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Ilkidarios, Sep. 25 2005,135
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One thing I've always wanted to see is darkness at night, in which you'd have to have a torch out to leave the town, but you'd have to do it in a simple way so as not to frustrate night-travelling players.
What muds have you played? As far as I know darkness at night is part of the stock code in Circle and most other Diku derivates. The one I am playing right now, (which is Circle. although far from stock), certainly has it. And all players naturally bring a lantern with them as soon as they leave town (or rather all the time).

In the mud I played before this one the gates of the main city used to close at 9 PM and not open again until 6 AM. That was rather irritating actually. And I am pretty sure it was part of the stock code too. I actually believe there is a mob_spec that makes the mayor walk trough the streets of Midgard  each morning and night to perform this task.

Nothing revolutionary about that.
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Old 09-26-2005, 02:17 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by (KaVir @ Sep. 25 2005,18:21)
I prefer to also base it on the season and weather, combined with the type of terrain you're in - thus while swimming across a lake you might see the moon reflected in the water, while in the forest you'd hear the sounds of nocturnal animals.  For example, this is what you'd see while walking through a settlement at dawn in winter when it's heavily snowing... But transform into a wolf and walk through the same settlement during an autumn night while it's raining and you'd see.....
The problem is of course that writing room descriptions rapidly becomes intractable for one of several reasons:

- If you're accounting for day/night, seasons, local weather (sunny/cloudy/rain/snow), you're already at 2*4*4=32 possible room states which could possibly require unique descriptions. Obviously they will often be variations on a theme (that huge tree is still there, but the leaves turn) and therefore easier to produce than 32 unique locations, but you're still going to add a lot of overhead to creating a place. Depending on your game's focus, this workload increase may not be worth the immersion difference.

As a micro-example, you mention transforming into a wolf. This might be a good tool for a game where a large percentage of the player characters are werewolves. It would be a horrible tool for us, where a small percentage of characters (maybe 3-4%) belong to a guild that teaches upwards of 100 possible transformations. #### if I want to rewrite that room description for a (typically human-sized) spider monkey, falcon, wolf, armadillo, etc.

- Some people skirt the above by writing automated room generators, or other tools that vary descriptions on the fly based on game states. The problem there is that while any one room can be made to look very convincing, once you've been through a couple dozen, the patterns tend to become predictable and dry. They also tend to be high on choppy declarative statements, lacking the smooth transitions a human author could do with little effort. We've gotten some good results with narrowly-targeted substitutions (for example, those things at the end of your legs might be feet, hooves, hindpaws, or claws, depending on what type of PC you are), but anything "bigger" tends to be ugly.

How do people address these issues?
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Old 09-26-2005, 03:24 PM   #5
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- If you're accounting for day/night, seasons, local weather (sunny/cloudy/rain/snow), you're already at 2*4*4=32 possible room states which could possibly require unique descriptions.
Far more than that:

Day/night can be one of night, dawn, morning, afternoon, late afternoon, or evening/dusk.

Each season can be one of start, early, middle or end (eg at the start of autumn you'll see tree leaves turning brown, in early autumn they leaves will all be brown, and in mid- or late autumn there'll be dry leaves scattered around on the ground).

Finally, there are five types of weather: clear sky, light clouds, heavy clouds, rain and thunderstorm (rain becomes snow in winter).

So that would be 6*16*5=480 possibilities for each terrain type - although in practice, I can't think of any which actually use all the possibilities, and the vast majority only use a fraction of them.

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As a micro-example, you mention transforming into a wolf. This might be a good tool for a game where a large percentage of the player characters are werewolves. It would be a horrible tool for us, where a small percentage of characters (maybe 3-4%) belong to a guild that teaches upwards of 100 possible transformations. #### if I want to rewrite that room description for a (typically human-sized) spider monkey, falcon, wolf, armadillo, etc.
It's just a single substition - instead of 'feet', I use '{feet}', and the dynamic description parser swaps it for the appropriate feet type (or footwear, if any). In the case of the falcon, it'd obviously display a different message, as falcons don't walk through settlements - equally if you were mounted, it would take that into account and adjust the description accordingly.

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Some people skirt the above by writing automated room generators, or other tools that vary descriptions on the fly based on game states. The problem there is that while any one room can be made to look very convincing, once you've been through a couple dozen, the patterns tend to become predictable and dry.
I suppose it probably would...I don't use rooms though, so it's not really an issue.
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Old 09-26-2005, 06:22 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by (Anitra @ Sep. 25 2005,18:46)
What muds have you played? As far as I know darkness at night is part of the stock code in Circle and most other Diku derivates.
I've played plenty of MUDs in which you have to carry a torch around at night, but in some of them the torches are a bit of a nuisance.  That's what I meant by implementing them in a simple way.

For instance: automatic torches. Torches that you buy and when you go out at night, they automatically light up without you having to go through a complicated system of commands in order to hold them, get out a tinderbox, lighting them, dousing them before going inside, etc. This would probably hurt some of the Role-playing intensive aspects, but in my mind it would be for the better.

I'm actually pretty sure there's MUDs out there that have done this, but I haven't seen many.
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Old 09-26-2005, 06:31 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by (Ilkidarios @ Sep. 27 2005,00:22)
I've played plenty of MUDs in which you have to carry a torch around at night, but in some of them the torches are a bit of a nuisance.  That's what I meant by implementing them in a simple way.
Well in most Diku derivatives you just hold the light, and that's it - if anything, I think it's oversimplified. I never could understand how someone could use a sword, shield and torch (and in many muds, still have space for another 'held' item).

If you're going to the trouble of implementing a decent light source system then you might as well incorporate it fully into the game, forcing the player to swap their weapon or shield for a torch (although the torch itself could be used as an improvised weapon).
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Old 09-26-2005, 09:39 PM   #8
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Accursed Lands has systems like the ones talked about in the first post. The time of day has a great effect on how far a character can see in the wilderness and what they can do. For instance, moving doesn't require any light at all (pitch blackness conceals all, including room descriptions), but if you want to read, you've got to be in a reasonably well lit room. It can also deal with species that aren't accustomed to light, up to seeing normally lit rooms (to more standard species) as being nearly blindingly bright.

So, in the respect that there's sunlight during the day, but not during the night, yes, time matters quite a bit. The descriptions of nearly all rooms are dynamic (based on time) as well.
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Old 09-27-2005, 06:50 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by (KaVir @ Sep. 26 2005,18:31)
Well in most Diku derivatives you just hold the light, and that's it - if anything, I think it's oversimplified.
Even I'M beginning to wonder what MUDs I've been playing. Somehow I only manage to find the ones with the stuff I don't like.
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Old 09-27-2005, 08:49 PM   #10
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Well in most Diku derivatives you just hold the light, and that's it - if anything, I think it's oversimplified. I never could understand how someone could use a sword, shield and torch (and in many muds, still have space for another 'held' item).
Expediency. Same reason our games don't put a weight limit on how much players can carry in their inventory and the same reason players eat but never have to pass bodily waste.


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If you're going to the trouble of implementing a decent light source system then you might as well incorporate it fully into the game, forcing the player to swap their weapon or shield for a torch (although the torch itself could be used as an improvised weapon).
Why?

More detail and more realism is sometimes better and sometimes worse, and it depends on what crowd you're targetting. Blanket statements involving "should" and design miss out on the vast potential that exists as a result of wildly different preferences among players.


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Old 09-27-2005, 10:06 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by (the_logos @ Sep. 27 2005,20:49)
Blanket statements involving "should" and design miss out on the vast potential that exists as a result of wildly different preferences among players.
Probably true in general, but at least in this case it seems pretty apparent that if you're going to implement lighting, don't oversimplify it like Diku. Make it interesting. That seems to be the real take-home message from KaVir's post.

If the only only way having a light affects you is to allow you to see in dark rooms, you're probably better off without lights or the concept of darkness. All you've done is forced people to make sure their light slot is filled. Much like hunger and thirst in most Dikus, it's more a hassle to players than anything.
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Old 09-27-2005, 11:33 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by (aeonian @ Sep. 27 2005,22[img
http://www.topmudsites.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif[/img]6)]Probably true in general, but at least in this case it seems pretty apparent that if you're going to implement lighting, don't oversimplify it like Diku. Make it interesting. That seems to be the real take-home message from KaVir's post.

If the only only way having a light affects you is to allow you to see in dark rooms, you're probably better off without lights or the concept of darkness. All you've done is forced people to make sure their light slot is filled. Much like hunger and thirst in most Dikus, it's more a hassle to players than anything.
Interesting is a matter of personal preference. I'd also suggest that there is almost no way to "oversimplify" a game in such a way that it won't appeal to anyone. Runescape, the second most popular MUD/MMO in the West is extremely simple, and WoW, the most popular in the world, is also quite simple, if not as simple. Actually, at least in WoW's case, I don't want to use the word simple as it seems derogatory. Call it a well-honed experience instead.

I don't want to get bogged down in the details of darkness and torches, as there are perfectly legitimate reasons for doing it virtually any way you can think of (as with almost any design decision), but think of it this way: Darkness adds to atmosphere for some players. Being able to light your environment is a dramatic way to affect your surroundings, or at least your perception of them (virtually the same thing). So right there, for some players, there's going to be value in having darkness and the ability to light that darkness. Further, there will be some players (most I'd suggest, but the proportion is irrelevant to my point) who are going to find all the unwielding, wielding, etc to be annoying and inconvenient. A handy "light torch" command without having to worry about the mechanics of it all will be appreciated by some players.

Again though, the details of the system are irrelevant. Virtually any design decision can be adequately justified in some conceivable circumstance.

--matt
Edit: Consider Wow's decision not to bother worrying about the size of items in a pack. An apple takes up as much space as an elephant. Completely unrealistic, but it doesn't matter. It was almost certainly the right decision, because it severely reduces the need to spend time fretting about how many more cubic centimeters (or whatever) you have left in your pack, and that kind of simplification tends to be desired by most game players.
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Old 09-28-2005, 12:32 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by (the_logos @ Sep. 27 2005,23:33)
Interesting is a matter of personal preference.
I agree completely. However, I think we'd both also agree that there are some things that simply are not interesting to anyone except for a handful of extremely massochistic mudders. For instance, game features whose only impact on a player is as a nuisance (e.g. food/light in most dikus).


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Originally Posted by (the_logos @ Sep. 27 2005,23:33)
I'd also suggest that there is almost no way to "oversimplify" a game in such a way that it won't appeal to anyone. Runescape, the second most popular MUD/MMO in the West is extremely simple, and WoW, the most popular in the world, is also quite simple, if not as simple.
Fair enough. I guess there is a distinction here between simple in design and simple in terms of the gameplay it offers. The boardgame Go is simple in design, but offers astoundingly complex, (and interesting to some) gameplay. It seems to me the real issue here is gameplay simplicity. In which case, yes, there is a way to oversimplify something: give it no real gameplay value but still have it exist (i.e. lightsources and food/drink in Dikus).


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Originally Posted by (the_logos @ Sep. 27 2005,23:33)
Darkness adds to atmosphere for some players. Being able to light your environment is a dramatic way to affect your surroundings, or at least your perception of them
I'll buy that. However, Dikus don't even allow for this, as most do not allow lights to be turned on/off. In fact, most have permentant lights that never need to be removed, and always supply illumination to your room. They are oversimplified (in terms of their impact on gameplay). They add nothing to gameplay - not even this extremely basic imaginitive component.

I guess the bottom line is that, yeah, things can be oversimplified. Maybe not in terms of their design, but definitely in terms of the gameplay they offer. How light works on most dikus is a great example.
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Old 09-28-2005, 04:17 AM   #14
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I agree completely. However, I think we'd both also agree that there are some things that simply are not interesting to anyone except for a handful of extremely massochistic mudders.
It's not really fair to dismiss the desires of some MUDers because you don't think much of their preferences. By that logic, all text MUDs can be dismissed out of hand given their extreme unpopularity in the wider MUD/MMO world.

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For instance, game features whose only impact on a player is as a nuisance (e.g. food/light in most dikus).
Well, no, that's not the only impact. Other impacts include things like gold drains on the economy (if you have to buy food or torches) and increased immersion for some players. You might decide that, in aggregate, more players are being annoyed by this than are being helped, but then, that's just a function of your playerbase. The same logic you're using there would say that all RPIs are just nuisances, since they represent one of the most extreme forms of using virtual worlds (and appeal to very few people compared to virtual worlds based on, say, monster bashing).



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Fair enough. I guess there is a distinction here between simple in design and simple in terms of the gameplay it offers. The boardgame Go is simple in design, but offers astoundingly complex, (and interesting to some) gameplay. It seems to me the real issue here is gameplay simplicity. In which case, yes, there is a way to oversimplify something: give it no real gameplay value but still have it exist (i.e. lightsources and food/drink in Dikus).
To say that food, drink, and light have no value is a bit narrow-minded, with all due respect. As a player, for instance, I always enjoyed having food and drink available and feeling like the game required me to eat. It increased my immersion without rising to the point of irritation. That ideal cost/benefit analysis point is going to be different for nearly every player. What might be overcomplicated to you may be ideal to someone else, and vice versa.


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I'll buy that. However, Dikus don't even allow for this, as most do not allow lights to be turned on/off. In fact, most have permentant lights that never need to be removed, and always supply illumination to your room. They are oversimplified (in terms of their impact on gameplay). They add nothing to gameplay - not even this extremely basic imaginitive component.
Whether they have an effect on gameplay is worth considering, but gameplay is merely one aspect of participation in a virtual world. I guarantee you there are people out there that enjoy that particular setup. Given the # of people playing virtual worlds, virtually any design decision is going to be appreciated by some players, just like there are people out there who are turned on sexually by almost anything you or I can think of, and a whole bunch of things we can't. It then merely comes down to whom you're trying to appeal to.

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I guess the bottom line is that, yeah, things can be oversimplified. Maybe not in terms of their design, but definitely in terms of the gameplay they offer. How light works on most dikus is a great example.
Sure, it's oversimplified for you, but your preferences are just that: your preferences. I mean, just about everyone would tend to say that they prefer being able to communicate verbally to not being able to communicate verbally with people. And yet, there is Age of Reptiles, with, at most, a handful of players, and without the ability to use 'say'. For virtually all virtual worlds, including probably theirs (as much as I respect them for doing it), this decision is death. And yet, I know I went there and tried it out specifically because of that feature that would be beyond annoying to 99.999% of virtual world users.

There's more out there in terms of human preference than any of us can really encompass or understand. It's too easy to dismiss what we don't like as 'wrong' and I think it's a tendency to be avoided in the names of both innovation and general acceptance of diversity.

--matt
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Old 09-28-2005, 06:18 AM   #15
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It's too easy to dismiss what we don't like as 'wrong' and I think it's a tendency to be avoided in the names of both innovation and general acceptance of diversity.
However, if the 'wrong' line isn't drawn somewhere, we're just doing random, willy-nilly development. This is just as bad for innovation since progress is random. It's also just as bad for general acceptance of diversity, since you'll quickly run out of people to accept the diversity if nothing substanially interesting arises.


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It then merely comes down to whom you're trying to appeal to.
I wholeheartedly agree with that. However, the point makes for rather boring discussion. It essentially makes any argument invincible, the conversation ends, and none of us come away any wiser...

I'd say the more interesting approach would be to identify who you're trying to appeal to, and figure out the best way to appeal to them. We haven't identified the target group yet, but given that how most dikus handle lights isn't going to be the best way to appeal to (m)any people, we can say with probabilistic certainty that it is uninteresting - probabily because it is oversimplified.
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Old 09-28-2005, 08:59 AM   #16
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If you're going to the trouble of implementing a decent light source system then you might as well incorporate it fully into the game, forcing the player to swap their weapon or shield for a torch (although the torch itself could be used as an improvised weapon).

Why?
I will use Merc as an example, as it's the Diku derivative I'm most familiar with, and is the codebase that the majority of todays active Diku muds are derived from.  In Merc, every creature has four hands - one for a weapon, one for a shield, one for a 'held' item (trophy, rock, etc) and one for a light source.  You cannot use your light source slot for anything other than a light, and using a light has absolutely no affect on the rest of your setup.  As such, there is no advantage whatsoever in not having a light - and so, everyone has one.

Some lights in Merc are permanent, while others gradually run out (and cannot be turned off).  The latter reduces the light&dark feature to no more than an inconvenience which typically only affects newbies (who have little enough gold as it is), while the former (permanent lights) renders the light/dark feature completely obsolete.

Either way, the feature adds nothing to the gameplay; instead of going to all the trouble of implementing a light&dark system, the Merc team could have achieved practically the same result just by subtracting a few gold pieces each hour from all players below level 3.


As a counter-example, consider my mud; in God Wars II a humanoid has only two hands, and each is capable of holding any item.  From a combat perspective, this divides your hand setup into the following choices:

1) Pure magic: Both hands are being used for casting spells.

2) Semi-magic (offensive): One hand for spellcasting, the other holding a weapon.

3) Semi-magic (defensive): One hand for spellcasting, the other holding a shield.

4) Unarmed: Fighting with fists, gloves, gauntlets, talons, etc.

5) Weapon: Using a weapon in one hand, the other fighting unarmed.

6) Shield: Using a shield in one hand, the other fighting unarmed.

7) Dual-weapon: Using two weapons.

9) Turtle: Using two shields.

9) Weapon+shield: A weapon in one hand and a shield in the other.

10) Two-handed: One weapon being used in a two-handed grip.

Each of the above have their own pros and cons, providing an wide array of possible tactics.  Bring a light source into the equation and you add a whole range of new options.  Consider for a moment what sort of light sources there are - for example (off the top of my head):

a) Torch: As well as providing light, a torch can also be used as an improvised club, although this will likely extinguish it.  The flame itself can be used to burn, however, providing a good weapon against wild animals and certain undead.  Goes out if left on the ground for more than a short time, although man-made dungeons may have brackets on the walls where the torch can be placed during battle.

b) Glass lantern: Can be placed on the ground during combat, although there is the risk of it being knocked over.  May be hurled at an opponent, with a chance of breaking and engulfing them in fire - but opponents may also target your lantern, making it a potential liability.  May be easily extinguished by the holder and hung from the belt.  May also be lit and hung from the end of a pole.

c) Brass lamp: Much like the glass lantern, but more resilient, rending it ineffective as a weapon but more reliable as a light source.  The lamp may also be reinforced and/or made from stronger materials.

d) Magical glowing items: Weapons, shields, armour and other items might glow as part of their magical bonus.  This power would be at the expense of other magical bonuses, but would allow the character to utilise both hands for other activities.

e) Magic candles: These items could come in a variety of scents, providing bonuses to the party as well as illumination.  A candle that keeps insect swarms at bay could be a life-saver, while others might ward off fear affects or provide other benefits.  An excellent candidate for a crafting skill.

f) Natural illumination: Glowing moss or glowworms could be collected and placed in jars to provide light without the risk of fire.  A wise choice when exploring gas-filled caverns.

g) Night vision: Certain races might have the ability to see in the dark naturally, allowing them to utilise both hands for other activities.  The drawback, of course, is that this ability wouldn't extend to other members of your group/party - although on the plus side, it wouldn't extend to your enemies either.

h) Spells: Certain spells might provide a light source that follows the caster around, or allow the mage to imbue his party with night vision.

i) Pets/servants: That summoned fire elemental who follows you around would be more than just cannon fodder - it'd also be a living torch.  Those without such resources could hire NPCs to act as torchbearers.

If I were to add light&dark support, I'd also be introducing the following options:

11) Semi-magic (lightbearer): One hand for spellcasting, the other holding a light source.

12) Light: One hand holding a light source, the other fighting unarmed.

13) Paired lights: A light source in each hand (think Aragorn vs the ring wraiths).

14) Weapon+light: A weapon in one hand, a light source in the other.

15) Light+shield: A light source in one hand, a shield in the other.

A torchbearer NPC might well use a torch and shield, reducing them to a mostly defensive role, while a typical adventurer exploring a dungeon solo might be more likely to pick a sword and torch, or a sword and lantern with a shield strapped across his back.  Nightvision would suddenly become a really useful asset (as opposed to the completely redundant feature it is in Merc), and a glowing sword would become a coveted treasure.


Like all features, a light&dark system can be implemented well, or it can be implemented badly.  In Merc, the entire feature is reduced to little more than a minor inconvenience for newbies, which is a shame IMO.

Merc does pretty much the same thing with eating and drinking - these are little more than irritating spam for most player - and as a result you'll see many people claiming that such a system should be removed.  My view, however, is that there are few (if any) bad features, only bad implementations.

If a mud lacks the ability to design a creative light&dark system, or eating/drinking system, then sure - remove it.  It'd be better than a bad implementation.  However there's no reason why you can't turn such a feature into a strong asset for the mud, making it an integrated part of the overall game.

Your 'bodily waste' comment is another example of this - as a feature it's inherently neither good nor bad.  Other than being potentially rather tasteless, there is no reason why such a feature cannot be integrated into a mud, other than lack of imagination or technical ability.
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Old 09-28-2005, 02:01 PM   #17
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However, if the 'wrong' line isn't drawn somewhere, we're just doing random, willy-nilly development. This is just as bad for innovation since progress is random. It's also just as bad for general acceptance of diversity, since you'll quickly run out of people to accept the diversity if nothing substanially interesting arises.
Well, "we" aren't doing willy-nilly development. You may be developing one thing with a goal in mind, I may be developing another thing with a goal in mind, and someone else may be developing some third thing with his own goal in mind.


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I wholeheartedly agree with that. However, the point makes for rather boring discussion. It essentially makes any argument invincible, the conversation ends, and none of us come away any wiser...
If we're taking positions just to argue, it's pointless anyway.


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I'd say the more interesting approach would be to identify who you're trying to appeal to, and figure out the best way to appeal to them. We haven't identified the target group yet, but given that how most dikus handle lights isn't going to be the best way to appeal to (m)any people, we can say with probabilistic certainty that it is uninteresting - probabily because it is oversimplified.
Yes, I agree that one has to identify one's market and said as much previously. Design decisions depend on your target audience and what your goals are as a designer.

I disagree that anything in DIKU or in virtually any game system you can imagine is inherently and objectively uninteresting. Nearly all of DIKU is uninteresting to ME, but it's clearly interesting to a lot of other people.

--matt
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Old 09-28-2005, 02:10 PM   #18
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I will use Merc as an example, as it's the Diku derivative I'm most familiar with, and is the codebase that the majority of todays active Diku muds are derived from. In Merc, every creature has four hands - one for a weapon, one for a shield, one for a 'held' item (trophy, rock, etc) and one for a light source. You cannot use your light source slot for anything other than a light, and using a light has absolutely no affect on the rest of your setup. As such, there is no advantage whatsoever in not having a light - and so, everyone has one.
Well, again, I'm not interesting in discussing the details of light systems, as they're not relevant to my point. There are enough MERC players out there that I'm sure the system has its fans, and that's all the justification one needs really.

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Either way, the feature adds nothing to the gameplay; instead of going to all the trouble of implementing a light&dark system, the Merc team could have achieved practically the same result just by subtracting a few gold pieces each hour from all players below level 3.
Same with food, and yet I know that I, personally, always enjoyed having to eat, regardless of whether my fellow players did or not. So while it may not add to the gameplay, it adds to the experience (for me, and for others one presumes), of which the gameplay is only part.


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As a counter-example, consider my mud; in God Wars II a humanoid has only two hands, and each is capable of holding any item. From a combat perspective, this divides your hand setup into the following choices:

<snip snip>

A torchbearer NPC might well use a torch and shield, reducing them to a mostly defensive role, while a typical adventurer exploring a dungeon solo might be more likely to pick a sword and torch, or a sword and lantern with a shield strapped across his back. Nightvision would suddenly become a really useful asset (as opposed to the completely redundant feature it is in Merc), and a glowing sword would become a coveted treasure.
And that's your preference. I haven't played your game, but that aspect of it would turn me off as it sounds overly-tedious to me. That's my preference. I enjoy being equipped for dungeoneering, but I really don't want to worry about unwielding and unwielding constantly anymore than I want to worry about wielding/unwielding whenever I want to eat something or whenever I want to do an emote that couldn't "realistically" be done with a sword and shield in hand.

It's all just preference.

--matt
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Old 09-28-2005, 04:31 PM   #19
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If we're taking positions just to argue, it's pointless anyway
assertation, case, claim, thesis, reasoning... pick your more appropriate synonym of choice. Presenting an argument doesn't neccessarily mean you plan on arguing.

So, anyways, the point still stands: while it may be true that - in the grand scheme of things - no design choice is universally bad, it makes for a rather boring conversation piece since it can be used to justify any and all claims. Or, to rephrase: talking about design choices outside of a context is pointless. Since we haven't established a context yet, why don't we? I'm open to any of the major (and minor) playing styles found in MUDs: hack'n'slash, pvp, exploration-focused, roleplay, RPI, chatter, BSDM, and all the permutations thereof. That should cover 99.9% of muds out there. Are there any other types? I fail to see how the Diku implementation of lights is interesting to any of these types of games.
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Old 09-29-2005, 06:00 AM   #20
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Well, again, I'm not interesting in discussing the details of light systems, as they're not relevant to my point.
You joined the thread by asking me "Why?" in response to my opinion on light systems...

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There are enough MERC players out there that I'm sure the system has its fans, and that's all the justification one needs really.
I'm sure it's the justification many use, but if everyone took that stance there would be no further innovation in the mud community - everyone would be running stock muds. Furthermore, just because a codebase is successful on the whole doesn't mean that all of its features are well-liked or even worthwhile. Take my old GW codebase for example - pretty popular, but full of bugs. I'm sure there aren't many players to enjoy the frequent crashes, and that's certainly not a feature I would encourage others to copy.

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Same with food, and yet I know that I, personally, always enjoyed having to eat, regardless of whether my fellow players did or not. So while it may not add to the gameplay, it adds to the experience (for me, and for others one presumes), of which the gameplay is only part.
I can imagine several ways of designing an interesting food system. I can also see how roleplayers might want the option to eat for RP purposes. I can even understand muds which started out with the standard food system in place and felt they had better things to spend their time on that reworking it.

But in over a decade of mudding, you're the first person I've encountered who's specifically said they enjoyed a system which literally consists of typing 'eat pie' every few minutes to avoid being spammed with 'you are hungry' messages - and I'd have serious concerns about the enjoyability of a game in which that was considered one of the highlights.

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And that's your preference. I haven't played your game, but that aspect of it would turn me off as it sounds overly-tedious to me. That's my preference. I enjoy being equipped for dungeoneering, but I really don't want to worry about unwielding and unwielding constantly
But you're missing the point - the way the light source system is designed in Merc makes it a completely redundant feature. Everyone has access to a light source, and there are no drawbacks to having one, therefore Merc might as well not even have bothered with it at all. And if it's just the RP aspects you like, you could just have an item called a 'torch' and the result would be the same.

It would be comparible with implementing dozens of attack spells, then making the lowest level spell the most powerful in all situations - the other spells would become redundant. Or it'd be like making the starting equipment the best in the game - the whole concept of gathering equipment would become obsolete. Or how about giving people more exp for being logged off than they could earn from playing the game - a great way to discourage the players from putting lots of time into the game!

Much of it comes down to personal preference, I agree - but creating a feature which renders itself or another part of the game obsolete is simply poor design, not to mention a waste of time that could be better spent on improving other aspects of the game.
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