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Old 10-31-2002, 02:17 PM   #1
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Hello everyone.

After a few years away from Muds, I have decided to start fresh again with my favorite past time of old. I have been doing a good deal of research on Top Mud Sites, and have even tried a few muds, but I have yet to find one I really like. Perhaps some of you could suggest a mud that fits the following qualifications. Oh before we begin, I would ask that in your replies you say how the mud qualifies for these specifications rather than just saying that they do. I know this subject seems to have been driven to the ground, but I do see a lot of replies that seem like they have absolutely nothing to do with what a potential player asks for.

Things I like in a mud:
1) It must be Roleplaying Mandatory. I am absolutely critical of this effect. If I wanted a hack and slash game I would go play a graphical game where I can more easily develop positional strategy.
2) I love really brain blastingly complex skill and development systems. I have no problem adapting to such things. However, I also like systems that don't require a lot of downtime investment. What I mean by this is that I hate when games use roundtime or large wait times to regulate the use of a skill. I hate sitting in roundtime for a long time on a regular basis.
3) I love games that do not use bland, boring repetition as a way of gaining skills or ranks or whatever. I like levelling/skilling/whatevering to be a more natural process. For example, I like a steady progression of learning new and wholly different techniques within a skill rather than having to make 200 blunt arrowheads then when I gain a rank, use the same verbs 400 more times with different materials to make sharp arrow heads. What I would rather see is a steady progression of learning all the different verbs used in an arrowhead followed by an opportunity to travel to a tribal village where I could learn a wholly different process to making a wholly different type of arrowhead.
4) I like games where I don't have to engage in combat to become skilled in something.
5) I also like games where roleplay events are often scheduled. I particularly liked Inferno's scheduled roleplay policy if you ever played the game.

Now for the don't likes:
1) I hate, absolutely hate time sinks. Like I mentioned earlier I would rather have to learn a jillion new verbs to advance then do the same repetitious process forty jillion times with roundtime as the only preventative measure to me skilling up.
2) I don't really like far future settings with a few very very notable exceptions. I suppose this is because I always liked magic and I dislike using guns in combat. Just a personal thing.
3) I hate it when 95% of a game is designed for the top 5% of the population power wise. Gemstone 3, dragonrealms, and to a large extent everquest (though it is not a Mud in the common defintion) did this. It really angers me to no end. I realize these people play all day and night and therefore have more to say about the game, but for the love of god fix the bugs and improve the overall experience for the majority of your player base before you give in to the constant whinefest of the people with no jobs and no prospects outside of this game.
4) I don't really like long combat. I like my combat to be short and sweet with criticals and such. By the same token I don't like games where the first to attack usually kills and wins, but I don't like to sit there and mash attack, retreat, adv, attack for 3 solid minutes before something I have killed thousands of dies.
5) I am not a big fan on skill hard caps for major skills. I understand that this is sometimes necessary, but I prefer it when games let the ceiling, so to speak, be based entirely on the highest currently implemented challenge available.
6) I also hate it when games apply the law of diminishing marginal utility to the advancement process. What I mean by this is that the first few levels give you a lot of bonus to a skill or trade or whatever, but as you go up, the margin by which you increase in these skills lessens, until you need to gain 10 levels or so to equal the same gain you received by levelling once at low levels. Lets face it, skills and levels are usually harder and harder to get as you level, I think you should either get as much as you got for the earlier, easier levels or even more marginal utitlity out of your greater investment of time. Games like Gemstone 3 use the poor example of this gripe and it just goes to show that the game was designed for up to level 20 and is currently boasting level 200 characters. Such a system is really a pathetic way to balance out powergamers.
7) I am not a big fan of permadeath in games. Then again I am also not a big fan of PK except when it is exceptionally well roleplayed out.

I think thats about it. Thanks for reading my long post (trust me, if I keep posting here you will see that I am pretty long winded). I hope that I can find somewhere nice to settle down and share some quality roleplay with some unique individuals.
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Old 10-31-2002, 02:59 PM   #2
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Hi Slanted -

You might like The Inquisition, which is a Roleplaying required game.

I'll list the pro's which may interest you, then the (few) negatives:

- Roleplaying is, absolutely, required. There's no other way to gain experience. You cannot gain experience through combat; it is only earnable through roleplay (a very advanced, time-tested algorithm is used to award exp), exploration and sometimes while improving or teaching an ability.

- We have an advanced system of skills, following a skill tree design. Skills are theoretically limitless in advancement potential, with real returns on them at all levels.

- Our magic system is unique and interesting. Magic is the reason for the game, and a lot of time and thought has been put into this code. However, you won't see magic commonly in the world, as mages are killed when they are discovered. For this reason, magic is esoteric and not well documented - you gain access to specific helpfiles only after you are able to perform the act related to that helpfile.

- We have an in-depth historical backdrop to follow, with comprehensive helpfiles to reference.

- There are over 1000 individual helpfiles, indexed and searchable.

- No OOC channels. The entire game is IC, save a global assistance channel for helping new players.

- Combat is likewise unique, involving use of combat-descriptive emotes to explain what your character is doing. Our combat code will parse the statement for keywords and perform the calculations necessary to determine success or failure of the attack. ("Robbert steps in close and swings his sword in an overhand arc, aiming high for Slanted's head" would find "swing", "sword", "overhand" and "high", and target the success against Slanted's head.)


Negative sides:

- Combat is neither quick nor senseless. When you engage in combat, you have to contribute to it to get out. If you input nothing, your character does nothing (defense is automatic, however). On the plus side, you will not find yourself hitting a rat thirty two thousand times to kill it - it only takes a single good hit on creatues like that; the hard part is landing that hit.

- Although it is possible, it is very very unlikely that you will ever manage to change the mentality created by hundreds of years of persecution of mages, at least not in the lifetime of a single character. This has been complained about ("The Immortals won't let me overthrow the government!"), but is not truly valid. We do allow such acts, but not something which would be patently absurd.


The Inquisition MUD - telnet://
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Old 10-31-2002, 03:36 PM   #3
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I checked out the website you linked and it looks pretty impressive. Although I do have one concern. When it comes to increasing your skills, is there much repetition? It seems as though there might just be, which I would really not enjoy at all. It also seems as though there may be a few time sinks built into the game, but I think I will give it a try to find out. Oh, one more thing, is the roleplay scheduled at all? I have a pretty sporadic schedule and I often do not play video games during primetime.

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Old 10-31-2002, 06:08 PM   #4
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Hi Slanted -

Skills increase through use, so there's no need to follow repitition at all. The majority of our skills - both their use and their improvement - are handled by an event system, which will give varied messages depending upon the phase of the project you are in (ie, during creating a sword with blacksmithing, you first smelt the ore, then hammer it out into a rough shape, work on its tensile strength, ad hominem). So, in one sense there's repitition when using the standard skill-use-improve paradigm.

However, it's entirely possible through the use of inspiration to improve upon a skill or series of skills without once going through any repititon. Inspiration is gained through roleplay with others, and usable to increase any ability further than its current state.

Improvement of skills is not immediate; there is a period of assessment in which the ability is held in a 'pool' of working knowledge, which slowly dissipates into raw actual knowledge.

I'm not sure what you mean by time sinks. There is no period of waiting around in which you can do nothing- all events within the game are handled by a threaded system (an event handler) which spans the passage of the event over a period of time. Thus, when you fish (for example), you cast your line into the water, let it meander, perhaps get a bite, hook the fish, bring it in, etc. - rather than the standard default of "fish -> You caught a grouper!".

So, in one raw sense there is a time-sink, inasmuch that you don't realize immediate gratification for events you begin. Further, if you were to, say, begin mounting your horse, and then decide to cast your fishing line back into the lake, you would cease the mounting before casting.

In the other sense, the one which I think you mean: There is no delay state imposed upon your character for performing an ability, nor is there a hold before other actions can be performed. (By the former, I mean the situation wherein you can do nothing; your client is essentially frozen until the state is elapsed).

Roleplay is consistent - there is always someone on roleplaying. Our playerbase is diverse enough that you will find events occuring round the clock. However, there are occasionally large events, such as the recent Yuletide celebration, which occur during a series of prime times for various persons. The time system inherent to The Inquisition is such that it is daytime at different times each day for the various time zones of the world. You may not always find who you are looking for (a merchant, for example) when you need them, but people all always around.

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Old 11-01-2002, 12:53 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by (Slanted @ Oct. 31 2002,2:17 pm)
1)  I hate, absolutely hate time sinks.  Like I mentioned earlier I would rather have to learn a jillion new verbs to advance then do the same repetitious process forty jillion times with roundtime as the only preventative measure to me skilling up.

3)  I hate it when 95% of a game is designed for the top 5% of the population power wise.

6) I also hate it when games apply the law of diminishing marginal utility to the advancement process.  
#1 Could you elaborate on your gripe regarding RT's?  It seems plausible to me that engaging in an action takes time.  Spamming verbs (or even worse, using a bot to do it) no matter how many different ones you can justify in a practical sense makes little sense to me.  

Since you are familiar with Inferno and I know they use RT's in conjunction with just about everything, consider the repetitive nature of developing skill as a weaponsmith.  After heating a forge, you have to go through a process of heating, hammering, tempering, annealing etc.  Each of these 'steps' in the process of forging a weapon involve RT.  You ARE able to interact via emotes, whispers, says, etc. with other characters.  Forging a weapon IRL takes much time, why should it not be so IC?  

RT's are extremely useful for combat... of COURSE it takes someone using a polearm longer to attack than someone of equivalent relevant combat skills to use a dirk.

RT's not only allow a MUD to simulate the time element of crafting goods, but they also play a part in the internal game economics and balance issues.  If a mage could learn a jillion verbs to advance without any time restraints, you would have instant god characters... without even botting/scripting it for players who for whatever reason, have 60-80 hours a week to devote to building a character.  Think of all the +5 Flame enhanced Bastard Swords of instant PK there could be floating around.

RT may be a preventative to keep a player from skilling up... but from doing so too quickly, or in an unrealistic fashion.

How do you propose a PC go about learning a jillion new verbs to skill up?  What is the process?

Tedious repetition is part of learning.  What makes it tolerable in RL is that at a given skill level, you are not restricted to say,  weaving a pair of baby booties for weeks or months.

I don't mind RT's as long as a specified level of skill allows for a sufficiently interesting variety of craftable items, or in the case of combat, a variety of hunting areas/creatures.

#3 I cannot agree with you more.  I have played on MUDs where this is true, and others where new development issues that only affect a minority of players take a back seat... for long periods even. (smile)

6) marginal utility is real life.  The first candy bar may be delicious and satisfying, but at some point, even one more candy bar will give you no satisfaction.  My father caught my brother smoking when we were kids; he used the 'sit down and smoke till you puke right in front of me' method of dealing with it.

RL skills are similar.  The writing of someone who is completely illiterate and someone with 6th grade level skills is STARK.  The apparent difference in skill between a Ph.D. in English and another who stopped short at a Master's degree is negligible.

In game terms, an herbalist with enough skill to create a minor healing potion is, marginally speaking, far superior to an herbalist with no skill; when comparing a expert herbalist who can mix poisons to an master herbalist who can mix stronger poisons, the marginal utility of the skill has diminished. After all, both are able to create poisons.

Learning does not increase in a linear fashion as you suggest should be the case for a MUD skill.  The obvious benefit of such an implementation would be the ability to reach the highest levels of skill more quickly.  IMO, needing to take 2-3 years or more IRL to develop a character to a high level in an RP intensive MUD is a good thing. It is more realistic; it weeds out power players in favor or RP players; it encourages more rounded players; and it keeps things interesting for players because there is no 'quick and easy' path to mastery... there is always more to learn.  Cool.
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Old 11-01-2002, 10:39 AM   #6
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My gripe about RT's is not so much that they are unrealistic, just that they are incredibly boring when used in conjunction with boring repetition. My gripe is with systems whose ONLY way to prevent powergamers from advancing is to give them horrendous roundtimes between verbs. Essentially in games where you follow the same process at all skill levels this is usually evident and I don't like it. To give you a more elaborate example, let me give an example of a system I don't like and one that I do:

First, the repetitious roundtime system for smithing:
1)There is a set list of verbs to creating, oh, a shortsword..
You smelt the ore at a forge (100 second roundtime)
you purify it somehow (200 second roundtime)
You make the mold (500 second roundtime)
you pour the metal ( 500 second roundtime)
Then you let it cool for 4 realtime hours.
When your done you follow a set of similiar verbs with inherent roundtimes to assemble the hilt and sword.

As a smith progresses he uses the exact same verbs for every single short sword he will ever make. The only difference is usually the type of raw materials he uses (skill level determines what he can or cannot work with). In fact, the process will be similiar for all blades, and most of the time for all weapons of any type. The ONLY thing that prevents him from advancing at a brain blastingly huge rate is a simulated time when he can do nothing but talk (if there is someone else around) or sit there and do emotes.

Now, let me outline a system that has less repetition and instead of roundtime, uses other methods to control power gamers. First, I must say this is in a fantastical world with magical metals (which I like for the most part a lot more). I also assume that becoming proficient with normal steel will be easy, because, quite frankly, I do NOT play muds to simulate reality exactly. I want to play a fantastical character in a fantastical world. I want to spend my time doing things that I could not do in the real world, such as forging magical metals. Anyway.

A smith learns the basics of forming steel as the beginning of his career. For example, he first learns varous techniques used to smelt metal. He first learns different verbs associated with different purifying alchemical solutions. He melts some metal into some sort of container (basically he puts the metal into the container, puts it on a forge and can then leave it there while he goes to gather ingredients for the purifying mixes. During this time he can act normally, but he must wait a short time for the metal to be ready. However, that time is not long and usually if he spends it getting whatever ingredients he wishes to experiment with during the purification. He then pours the first purifying mix. He must wait for the mix to seep, but again it is not a roundtime, but a set time he must wait before the next process. During this time he can either mix together some other ingredients for the next step or he can clean his forge hammers or whatever. The key here is that each step might take a short amount of time, but it gives the player an opportunity to be doing different things that lead up to the end product while he is waiting. It is certainly my opinion that being able to constantly work towards a goal is a lot better than a few short steps with a lot of boring waiting.

Also, note that during these first few steps the player is not following the same process over and over again. He has the option to experiment with a 'pour', 'drip', 'cover' or any number of verbs depending on what he thinks will work. Also each step in the process is unique and produces a different component for the final product.

When the person has mastered steel (which, is when he is truly able to call himself a smith), things get really exciting. Each metal would require wholly unique processes during each step. For example, lets say Boringium needs to be cooled in a certain type of purified water that only gathers in a certain type of cave. Or emailium requires a certain type of fungus to be mixed with it during the purifying stage within a few minutes after it is picked. Sure its a lot to remember, but it ensures that people are doing new things all the time as they progress in skill and that they are not just sitting around waiting for an RT counter to elapse.

Is this complex and hard to code? Yup. Is it possible? Yup, just hard. It is because I have such high standards that I am willing to pay for gaming hehe.

As for smaller roundtimes, during such times as combat, I don't really mind them terribly. Well that is to say I don't mind them terribly if they are not used in conjunction with the same verb being essentially delayed spammed over and over and over again. It is for this reason that I didn't like inferno. All I did in combat was type maybe one of three verbs over and over and over again for endless hours while i waited the obligitory 6 seconds. What I would like better is to be able to have a wide variety of combat options that incurred a roundtime, but also have a large list of options that can be used during roundtime. For example, lets say I have a spell that makes the ground rumble, but I must spend 6 seconds gathering energy for it. During this time, I would not think it adverse to a game for me to be able to angle my shield downward to protect from rocks or to conversely draw my cloak around my face tightly to protect my eyes.

Essentially I like to have options other than talking while I wait for things to happen. Sure in reality it takes a few seconds to angle a sword for the perfect blow. However in that time I am not simply angling the sword. I am moving about, I am dodging rocks, I am adjusting my armor etc. I like to have the option to simulate those actions rather than have it abstracted to the level where it assumes I do all of these and gives me a roundtime where all I can do is watch and comment.

Now, for diminishing marginal utility-

I can see what you are saying, it is after all, a law of the perceptive world to some extent. However, again, I play fantasy games not to simulate reality, but to superceed it. Perhaps perceptively the difference between a head nurse and a senior nurse is much harder to see skillwise than the difference between a nurse and a layman. However, there is most certainly a difference in skills. The problem is not so much that the degree of differences is so disparate, it is just that only the truly skilled can perceive the differences.

For example, I have good friend who is an author. When he and I compare books he notices and appreciates differences in style of which I have no clue to their very existance. By the same token, I am a computer programmer, so when we compare programs I am a lot more perceptive to the various techniques that one program uses in conjunction to another that are better or more appropriate. There is still a noticable difference between a master and a grand master, but perhaps only those two can appreciate it fully.

How does this relate to games? Quite frankly its only a matter of scaling challenges and progression proportionately at all levels. If a skill raise gives you 5 points at level 2, it should at level 400 also. By the same token the things you will be doing with that skill should also increase proportionately. I like to know that my effort to make the perfect broadsword is just as worthwhile as my effort to learn how to sharpen a blade at all. Perhaps its is a bit unrealistic, but by the same token so is escaping into an alternate reality and doing things that have been obsolete technologically for hundreds of years in real life.

I thank you very much for your post though, there were a lot of good points contained therein.
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