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Old 07-15-2003, 06:28 PM   #1
Estarra
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When designing races for a new MUD, what are some thoughts and opinions on having too many races? I’m considering 21 races but it was pointed out that this may overwhelm new players during character creation. I’ve seen some MUDs with many more races and some MUDs with just a few races. I’m wondering what experience others may have had, good and bad, with extended race selection versus limited race selection.

Also, I notice a lot of MUDs have stereotypical D&D races like elf, dwarf, drow, gnome, hobbit, giant, etc. Do you think players expect/prefer/look for these standardized fantasy races or are more excited with original new races (or a mix of the two)?

Thanks for your thoughts!
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Old 07-15-2003, 06:51 PM   #2
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When designing races for a new MUD, what are some thoughts and opinions on having too many races? I’m considering 21 races but it was pointed out that this may overwhelm new players during character creation.
I think the most important thing to keep in mind when deciding how many races to have is that the more you create, the less time you'll have to spend on each.  If you were to have (for example) 7 races instead of 21, that would allow you to put three times as much effort into each - and IMO it's much better to have a small number of highly detailed and individualised races than a large number of generic ones.

What you might consider doing is allowing players to first choose a species (eg elf) and then a specific race (eg sea elf).  That way you can focus on making each species very distinctive from the others, while still having a large variety of races with individual advantages and disadvantages. I actually use a very similar approach for classes, and find it really works quite well.
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Old 07-15-2003, 08:10 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by (KaVir @ July 15 2003,18:51)
I think the most important thing to keep in mind when deciding how many races to have is that the more you create, the less time you'll have to spend on each.  
Excellent point! However, assume for the moment that I can (pathetically) spend enough time to fully develop 21 races.  Soooo....assuming there are 21 equally well-developed races (different stats, benefits, weaknesses, histories, etc.), is this a feature that would engage players or would it be overwhelming and/or annoying?

BTW, funny you should mention races that have sub-species, because I was playing with that idea too (thus, I guess there'd be over 21 races). The sub-species wouldn't be available until certain skills are acquired. Is this called remort? Totally off subject, but where exactly did the term remort come from?
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Old 07-15-2003, 09:15 PM   #4
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However, assume for the moment that I can (pathetically) spend enough time to fully develop 21 races.
IMO the concept of a "fully developed race" is along the same lines as that of a "fully developed mud". There is always something else that can be refined, improved or updated, it's just a matter of where you wish to draw the line. Is there some special significance to having 21 races? Because otherwise, logic dictates that you could instead have 7, each of which has 3 times as many special features/powers, and 3 times as much background story.

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Soooo....assuming there are 21 equally well-developed races (different stats, benefits, weaknesses, histories, etc.), is this a feature that would engage players or would it be overwhelming and/or annoying?
It really depends on a lot of different factors (in particular, how you present it to the players); there is no universal "correct" number of races to have.

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BTW, funny you should mention races that have sub-species, because I was playing with that idea too (thus, I guess there'd be over 21 races). The sub-species wouldn't be available until certain skills are acquired. Is this called remort? Totally off subject, but where exactly did the term remort come from?
I believe "remort" (re-mortal) is the concept of a character reaching top/hero/immortal level, then starting again from scratch, often with some sort of benefit. I first saw this approach used in a regular pen&paper roleplaying game (D&D Immortals Rules boxed set from 1986), but I've no idea which mud first used it (although the usenet archives show evidence that it was in use by 1993).

There have been numerous variations of remort over the years, although I would say your suggestion wouldn't be considered one (people don't restart in any way, they just change). In fact, what you describe sounds more like a tier-system, which is one of the more recent (although equally popular) mud features.

I do find it rather strange that people would be able to specialise their race (or more accurately "species") later on though. For some supernatural races it might make sense, but I cannot logically see how (for example) an "elf" would suddenly turn into a "wood elf" (for starters, what was he beforehand?).
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Old 07-15-2003, 10:23 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by (KaVir @ July 15 2003,21:15)
I do find it rather strange that people would be able to specialise their race (or more accurately "species") later on though.  For some supernatural races it might make sense, but I cannot logically see how (for example) an "elf" would suddenly turn into a "wood elf" (for starters, what was he beforehand?).
Right. In this case, not all races would "tier" up at a certain level, rather just two of the races. As a simplified example, upon gaining a dark mystic combat skill, if a player is one of a race of demon-like creatures, they become large hulk-like demons, gaining strength but losing intelligence. If, on the other hand, a member of this demon-like race takes a magic using path and specializes in dark mystic spellcraft, he likewise changes and transforms, gaining intelligence but losing constitution and strength. In either case, the name of their race changes (Brood Demon or Imperial Demon). The object here is to have a demonic race that are not all geared to be just fighters or just magic-users but are encouraged to become either.

Anyway, I'm not married to this idea but just playing around with it. Obviously, as you described re-mort, it's not re-mort. I guess its a tier system.
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Old 07-16-2003, 12:09 AM   #6
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This is mainly my oppinion, but if I see a MUD that even mentions 'halfling' or 'elf' I don't give it anymore of my time and go on. This goes double if you have more than one type of elf. Originality is what I mainly go for.

Armegeddon is one I'd have to make an exception of of course. It has most of the annoyingly standard races, but they are so different in general from the norm, and the world is nicely original, that I can tolerate it.

Now, as for how many races... on my home MUD (which is not Armegeddon) there are 12. Or, actually, there will eventually be 12. So far only 5 have been introduced as a playable race. It has taken since the start, around 1996 I think it is, to develop these and wright enough background, history, quirks, behaviors, etc etc to make each one original. So pretty much, it depends on how in depth-you want your races to be and how much work your willing to put into them. Each race fills a niche in the world, from an aquatic eel-like people of utterly erratic, err, well, ok, insane, thought processes, to deep dwelling arachnid-like species that thinks in fractal chaos logic, to an angry aerial species peeved because they can't really find a niche not already being utilized by others and desperately craving something to call their own.

Now, if you have 10 different kinds of elves, one with wings, one with fins, and one with big bunny ears from Happy Land, no, I'd say 21 is too much. It all depends on their quality and how they are fitted into the world.
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Old 07-16-2003, 01:26 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by (The Vorpal Tribble @ July 16 2003,00<!--emo&[img
http://www.topmudsites.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif[/img])]This is mainly my oppinion, but if I see a MUD that even mentions 'halfling' or 'elf' I don't give it anymore of my time and go on. This goes double if you have more than one type of elf. Originality is what I mainly go for.
Yeah, I feel the same way. Elves don't bother me as much as hobbits (unless it's specifically a Middle Earth setting) and drows (not sure why they bother me). For some reason, dwarves I have no problem with. That being said, I do have friends that *always* play a dwarf warrior or an elven mage, etc. So I'd like a happy medium where a few races are at least similar to the stock races that some players crave.
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Old 07-16-2003, 03:02 AM   #8
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I don't think it's the name so much as the niche the race is supposed to fill. Elves just tend to be annoying in most MUDs because of the source material being drawn upon to define them as a race.

In Tolkien, for example, Elves are the ultimate warriors, archers, mages, artificers, rangers, are all geniuses, can control forces on par with those of the "gods" (e.g., Feanor and the Silmarils), are practically immortal, the most aesthetically pleasing, etc., etc. In fantasy literature, the only disadvantages Elves typically have are racial (such as slow rate of reproduction). Such disadvantages, however, do not affect individuals, and therefore never affect an individual character in a MUD.

Races are made interesting by their weaknesses as much as their strengths. Elves based on Tolkien are boring because they often have too much of the former and none (of consequence) of the latter--or, if the stat system is zero sum, end up being long-lived humans with pointy ears.
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Old 07-16-2003, 04:19 AM   #9
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As a simplified example, upon gaining a dark mystic combat skill, if a player is one of a race of demon-like creatures, they become large hulk-like demons, gaining strength but losing intelligence. If, on the other hand, a member of this demon-like race takes a magic using path and specializes in dark mystic spellcraft, he likewise changes and transforms, gaining intelligence but losing constitution and strength. In either case, the name of their race changes (Brood Demon or Imperial Demon). The object here is to have a demonic race that are not all geared to be just fighters or just magic-users but are encouraged to become either.
Sounds remarkably similar to what I'm working on I have a Demon class ("class" as in "classification of supernatural being" before someone decides to flame me - I don't have races) which starts off as a Lesser Demon, but at Age (sort of like an inverted level) 200 can choose to take one of four possible paths - Devil (specialising in combat), Infernalist (specialising in magic), Corruptor (specialising in blessings and curses) and Soulforger (specialising in minions and magic items). Further specialisation can be taken at Age 300, 400 and 500, improving variety between characters without requiring the creation of hundreds of unique classes (it took me only a few hours to implement the system and add 153 subclasses).

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Anyway, I'm not married to this idea but just playing around with it.
Based on the results of early beta testing, it seems to work well (and proves popular with the players), so I can certainly recommend it. It does require some extra work, but nowhere near as much as it would if you created each class/race from scratch. The main problem I can see for you is that not every race within your mud would allow for such specialisation, which might cause some balance issues if you're not careful (particularly if you have multiple tier levels).
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Old 07-16-2003, 09:59 AM   #10
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The mud I play has somewhere around 13 (so sue me, I'm not awake enough to remember all of them ) playable races (more if you can find a body to stick yourself into later on and don't get turned into a newt because of it ). Some of these are traditional or relatively so, however there's also some original ones (catfolk, rowan, braman, spyder, mohnkee, and I guess you could count sasquatch since no one else ever seems to use those). Also, some of the traditional behaviors of the races have been redone, i.e. the elves dislike not dwarves, but rowans (meanwhile the dwarves are busy sticking their noses up at orcs, and vice versa).

I rather like the way it's done, because there's enough traditional races (even hobbits, although they're called halflings instead) to keep the traditionalists busy, and yet enough outlandish ones to keep the weirdos happy. Most of the races have some sort of history, although it's not really done in depth, or if it is you have to hunt all over for books talking about it which most players don't tend to do. However the races are all pretty unique in terms of strengths & weaknesses. (Note that if you plan to have lots of races, you'll need to figure out a more complicated stat system than D&D uses, because with only 6 stats there's not gonna be as much differentiation between your races.)

With that said, as long as each race fulfills some niche and/or is obviously different from the others, I see nothing wrong with having a whole lot of races. The problem is when you decide to put in a race that's exactly like some other race only with 3 eyes or a tail or something, just to pad your number of races to make it look cooler.
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Old 07-16-2003, 10:26 AM   #11
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Note that if you plan to have lots of races, you'll need to figure out a more complicated stat system than D&D uses, because with only 6 stats there's not gonna be as much differentiation between your races.
Differentiation should be about far more than just stats - different wear locations (eg for centaur, mermaid, dragon, etc), bonuses for typical racial weapons (eg bows for elves, axes for dwarves, klaives for werewolves, etc), different size requirements for equipment, natural racial powers and permanent affects (eg racial spells or skills (or modifiers to such), infravision, flight, shapechanging between specific forms, etc), resistances and vulnerabilities (eg vampires burned by sunlight, faeries taking longer to heal from damage caused by iron, werewolves finding it harder to control shapechanging during a full moon, dryads taking extra damage from fire but less damage from water, etc), special modifiers within certain environments (eg wood elves gaining stealth modifiers and improved speed while in forests), racial languages, cosmetic adjustments (eg modified speech, ranges of eye/hair colour, etc), modifiers to natural capabilities (eg holding your breath under water, jumping long distances, etc), restrictions on class choices (or skill/spell choices for classless muds), standing with other races (automated for use by mob AI), etc, etc, etc...

There are many, many ways to make a race unique.
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Old 07-16-2003, 06:25 PM   #12
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There are many, many ways to make a race unique.
When I ran a local gaming store there were a couple of us who would throw together a basic codebase and have LAN gaming session with each base until people grew tired of it.  The first one I put together was an expansion of Gladiator Pits that featured a "create-your-own-race" customization.  Each player could choose from several dozen perks and flaws (with a simple point system to attempt balance) and a name generator for the race.  One of the traits people had the most fun/debate about deciding on was the homeworld enviornment (extremely hot planet, high gravity planet, acidic atmosphere, etc)  which altered stats, resists and vulns.
 I think towards the end someone said there was upwards of 50K available races, many extremely similar and some vastly different.  While of course this is no attempt to prove you should throw as many races as you can think of into a game, under some settings (an intergalatic Street Fighter clone or many other basic pk games I've played) the background of the races don't really mean much.  What most players care about is what the race allows you to do and that the races are balanced.
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Old 07-16-2003, 07:05 PM   #13
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Hey, Estarra, why don't you contact me and we'll make up a few races? It'd be better than using dull stock :|
scribesnake@yahoo.com is my email I'd love to hear from you.
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Old 07-17-2003, 09:58 AM   #14
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Good point KaVir, however I just don't tend to think that way because that's not how it works on my mud. Our races are differentiated by size (which is also a stat), number of grasping limbs, wearable items (a braman has to wear 2 pairs of pants to be fully covered, only catfolk can wear a weapon known as claw covers, etc), appearance, and language, in addition to stats, and that's about it. We don't have a full blown damage type system, and it's very rare that anyone would wanna sneak through the woods, so I just tend not to think about that stuff.
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Old 07-17-2003, 08:29 PM   #15
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Going back to the original post and the context, I would recommend starting out with a few, maybe 6-8 well crafted, well thought out races and expand on that slowly to fill in the roleplay or combatant types deemed necessary.

You can have 50+ NPC type races but carefully choose and develop those you allow PCs to become. By development I mean establish a value, a unique function in the world, a unique spell/skill tree etc and modify the world to accomodate the unique aspects of those new races. IMHO it's much better to make what exists rewarding and playworthy THEN expand it to make it a superlative of the original.

The same tenets apply to classes, make the first few awesome and expand slowly making the new ones fit into the world before you actually enable them.

I view it all as an empiricle process and I've been well served by that view. If you jump in over your head from the start, it's really hard to ever get ahead of the issues created.
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Old 07-18-2003, 02:14 PM   #16
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Anyone know anything about Retromud? I've been browsing how others handle races and it appears to me Retromud is hands down the leader in quantity (dunno about quality) with 60 races. They seem pretty successful in terms of having a high player base.
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Old 07-18-2003, 02:34 PM   #17
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Suprisingly, from what I've seen, Retromud seems to have good, well-developed, and interesting races. Most races have skills that make sense for them, there aren't twelve kinds of elves, and they seem pretty balanced, along with a bit of history. The same with the guilds. A lot of unique skills, even for sub-guilds, are available, and most have their own agenda suggested by the help files. The problem is that not everyone pays attention to it all. It's pretty chaotic for a newbie having that many guilds and races. You don't know what to expect, since you have only looked at a few other races besides the one you chose (For example, "WTF is a <race>? Should I be scared that it's glaring at me balefully, or amused?"). Eventually, though, I think that people get used to it. They're not as deeply developed as they would be had they made 6 races, but how far can you plot a race's history before you have a book a player needs to read before playing the game? It's impressive what they've done.

I never really got in to Retromud, though, because their equipment doesn't save. It bugs me to play MUDs that don't save equipment.
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Old 07-18-2003, 05:01 PM   #18
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Don't make tons of races just for the sole sake of having tons of races. Alot of people who make MUDs have this mentality that they have to have tons and tons of everything and as soon as some half-baked idea for a race or class pops into their head it's "BLAAARGH! Must code new race/class!" and you end up with some kind of "mindflayer" race or "viking" class which is basically completely identical to some prior race or class. I know of a MUD which has, among tons and tons of other classes, "Dragonslayer", "Demonslayer", and "Undeadslayer"... and guess what, theyre all just about identical. God, it's no wonder muds are going to sh!t these days. I pretty much gave up coding when I realized that it was embarrassing and dorky to show my real life friends "what i did" as a hobby. It's kind of like walking around speaking Klingon or carrying a huge pile of AD&D manuals, except increase the nerdiness factor by 10000. The innovative people in this field have all moved on to MMORPGs, because they've realized that these days if you want to show your friends the game you've been working on, it better at least have some #### graphics/titties. What's left is a bunch of whiny lamers who download other peoples' codebases and see how many races and classes they can churn out before that initial "free AV to all new players" burst of players dies away leaving the MUD a ghosttown.
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Old 07-18-2003, 05:37 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by (KaVir @ July 16 2003,10:26)
Differentiation should be about far more than just stats -
Actually, differentiation should be about whatever is appropriate to the genre, game, and target audience. To many, if not most, players of muds, a race is a collection of stats and possibly a graphic and that's about it. Go watch how most people talk about their races on Everquest for instance, if they even bother acknowledging they even HAVE a race.
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Old 07-18-2003, 05:45 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by (erdos @ July 18 2003,17:01)
I pretty much gave up coding when I realized that it was embarrassing and dorky to show my real life friends "what i did" as a hobby. It's kind of like walking around speaking Klingon or carrying a huge pile of AD&D manuals, except increase the nerdiness factor by 10000. The innovative people in this field have all moved on to MMORPGs, because they've realized that these days if you want to show your friends the game you've been working on, it better at least have some #### graphics/titties.
Bitterness ahoy!

I wouldn't trade my job running and producing text muds for anything. And, every single one of my real-life friends thinks I have the world's best job (stay at home, make good money, set my own schedule, work on something I enjoy, etc.)

And if you think that the AAA graphical muds being relesaed are innovative I think you should spend more time playing them and text muds both. Innovation is not a word to be applied to Everquest and company.

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