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Old 10-23-2003, 04:03 AM   #41
markizs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
Whats wrong with making important things stick out as actual items for once?

You see: A large tree.

While you are at it, why not have some sort of analyze command...

>analyze tree
You see a tree
You can push it
You can climb it
It looks like you can burn it

Heck, whats wrong with making mobs you can analyze?

>analyze jewler
he appears to be looking for an item
he wants to talk about beer
thats all makes game way too easy. way too fast for players to explore and master in all ways.
and important things as actual items makes it even simpler. we use that approach only in newbie areas. and analyse command....sounds like it would ruin all the fun of mud. and you would need extreamly large mud world to keep players busy with such analyse feature.
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Old 10-23-2003, 04:19 AM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (markizs @ Oct. 23 2003,04:03)
and you would need extreamly large mud world to keep players busy with such analyse feature.
Nice assumption.

I mean really. I want nothing more than to sit around all day being kept busy. Real fun.

You can ignore me on this, but you are ignroing the opinion of a huge amount of mud players.

There are tons of ways you can make quests interesting besides making players brute force 1000 commands to get something to simply interact.

Furthermore, tons of power players like me already have a set of macros which will make 95% of items in most muds do something. And we solve all your quests very quickly, part of playing these types of games over 10 years.
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Old 10-23-2003, 04:58 AM   #43
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"A trick, if done well, is as good as magic, In fact, a trick, if done well, can BE magic"
"People will believe what they want to believe, or what they fear to believe is true."
(From Terry Goodkind’s Wizard’s First Rule)

Many of the things we do as builders are illusions. We can make it look like something that’s in the room appears not to be there – or that something that seems to be there really isn’t.

Below is an example of a pretty neat illusion – the ‘untouchable’ Mob.

The background story is as follows:.
The setting of the zone is a funky future city, with two rivalling youth gangs, one of which is a bunch of rather nasty neo-Nazis. The leader of the second gang approaches you, complaining about the Nazi Fuehrer having bought one of these ‘fancy new forcefields that protects you from all damage’. Since he cannot kill him by himself, he asks you to help, and bring him the arm tattoo of the Fuehrer as proof.
So you poke around a bit and finally locate the Fuehrer, in the Sauna of the Health Club that the Nazi gang frequents.

Here is what the room looks like.

The Sauna
[ Exits: W ]
The Sauna is furnished in the usual way; wooden benches at different heights, to allow each person to select their favourite temperature. On the lowest bench the heat is fairly tolerable, close to the ceiling it becomes scalding, and after a few minutes you feel like the albumins in your system are starting to coagulate. Only the toughest people can stick it up there for more than ten minutes, so naturally it gets to be a competition between the tough guys, who can endure it the longest. Maybe this accounts for the general syndrome of braindeadness among the Goliath members. Having your brain cooked regularly clearly cannot be good for the grey matter.
The House Goliath gang leader occupies the top shelf - where else?
A Goliath member is tossing some water on the stones with a ladle.
The Goliath lieutenant is reclining on the middle shelf.

Looking at the Leader provides the following info:

The naked, muscular body of the Goliath 'Fuehrer' is glistening with sweat. His head is shaved, he has swastika tattoos all over his body and his face is set in a constant sneer. He hates tourists, and above all he hates being disturbed in the Sauna. But he would never stoop to actually attacking you himself, that's what his minions are for. In fact, he is protected by a forcefield, that won't even allow YOU to attack him. Too bad, since you'd really like that tattoo on his arm for your collection. Oh well, there just MIGHT be a way of getting to him, if you can just figure it out...
The Leader is in excellent condition.

The Leader is using:
<worn on arms>     a Goliath gang tattoo

Next you naturally try ‘kill leader’ or ‘kill fuehrer’ and get the message;
‘The Goliath leader is protected by a strong forcefield. You cannot touch him.’

Next the inventive player might try a ‘room spell’, like fireball. This will provoke an attack from the two lesser mobs, but the Leader won’t even bat an eyelid.

Very frustrating for the poor player...
So how do you think this illusion is set up?
And how do you go about kill this mob? For he IS killable...
Suggestions, anyone?


Quote:
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Furthermore, tons of power players like me already have a set of macros which will make 95% of items in most muds do something. And we solve all your quests very quickly, part of playing these types of games over 10 years.
And no, the macros won't work here. In fact, most of the illusions I set up myself are done to thwart the powerplayers that use macros.
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Old 10-23-2003, 04:59 AM   #44
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Furthermore, tons of power players like me already have a set of macros which will make 95% of items in most muds do something. And we solve all your quests very quickly, part of playing these types of games over 10 years.
so you assume that 95% of items in most muds are similar? holly smoke. sounds liek you have played some very crapy and stocky muds out there :) come to our mud and solve all quests then. we got only 25 quests or so. but they take #### lot of a time to do :) and not by 1000 stupid command syou need to find out. you need to explore, search and then interract with lots of mobs. and sure, there are no 'annalyse' commands. and our mud isnt like 100% rp enforced. more like hack and slash with forced questing :)
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Old 10-23-2003, 12:59 PM   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Derk @ Oct. 23 2003,04<!--emo&[img
http://www.topmudsites.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif[/img])]That is exactly my point.. thump tree? What if I tried kicking the tree, punching the tree, hitting the tree with a sword, running into it with a jeep, grabing a bull dozer and smashing it, shooting peas at it... or ####, climibing it and grabing the egg myself.
Fair enough. Though perhaps there is a crazy elf that wanders the forest muttering, "When you thump. Thump. Thump. The egg makes a bump. Bump. Bump." Anyway, there could be clues on what to do somewhere.

In any event, these types of quests are generally puzzles or mysteries that are meant for those who enjoy figuring out puzzles or mysteries to solve. If you are not a player who enjoys solving puzzles then of course this type of quest isn't for you. But to make all quests a walkthrough would turn off those who appreciate a challenge.
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Old 10-23-2003, 01:06 PM   #46
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thats all makes game way too easy. way too fast for players to explore and master in all ways.
"Guess the verb" games aren't fun and they aren't hard. They're tedious and are poor design.

--matt
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Old 10-23-2003, 04:55 PM   #47
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"Guess the verb" games aren't fun and they aren't hard. They're tedious and are poor design.
In my experience players that think that quests are solved by "guess the verb" are poor players.

As Estarra pointed out, there is usually a clue about what to do somewhere. The players that don’t bother to look for clues resort to tedious, mechanic and brainless actions, like typing in 1000 random commands. It’s their own fault if that gets boring, and perhaps that type of players should stick to pure hack’n’slash instead.

Of course, if there ISN’T a clue hidden somewhere, THEN it’s poor design.
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Old 10-23-2003, 05:09 PM   #48
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Also, some things are just logical and don't need clues. For instance, if you read as part of a room description, "there is a crank sticking out of the wall", it's a good bet that you should turn the crank and not sit on it. If you read a box description and see "a lever juts out of the top of the box", chances are you should pull or push the lever and not suck on it. Even something more obscure like "there is a twig stuck between the cracks" may need to be twisted out (which I think is fair game to have the players puzzle it out, though maybe some sort of hint that they're on the right track if they try to pull it--"You pull on the twig but it stubbornly won't budge, though it wiggles a little.").
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Old 10-29-2003, 01:04 PM   #49
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Two ideas from my own building experience…

1. Build into a zone and its back story the ability for change. Some of the exits are blocked off by boulders that the cave trolls pushed there to turn the caves into a maze to confuse the jackalmen who also live there? Well, make a set of Jackelmen mobs as well, and once in a while, switch the mobs that load, open some exits and close off others. This could reinvent the area for people to visit, and has the added benifit of messing up all those silly people who build macros to fastwalk to an area on the other said of said caves.

2. At DF we employ “Room swaps”, which started out as a way to get bored builders to do some work. Two builders will agree to swap a certain amount of rooms, usually 3-5. They meet, explain the type of rooms they want, then go at it. They have to finish the swapped rooms that same evening. The thing is, when someone else comes into your zone knowing they only have to describe five rooms, they pay more attention to the surroundings and to details. When you go back and see what they did, sometimes you’re disappointed, but many of our builders have said they get new ideas from what the other builder wrote.

Hope those are on topic...
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Old 01-31-2004, 08:40 PM   #50
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I was perusing some of the old posts and found this absolute gem. I figured it was worthwhile to revive it from it's ashes. Lots of good, helpful information here.

Now as far as Molly's scenario, I'd say to cast charm on the lieutenant and have him attack the leader. Failing that I would crank up the heat in the sauna and just cook the rotten bastards

Actually I think it has something to do with the water being ladled onto the rocks, but I'm not sure what.
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Old 02-01-2004, 05:44 AM   #51
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Now as far as Molly's scenario, I'd say to cast charm on the lieutenant and have him attack the leader. Failing that I would crank up the heat in the sauna and just cook the rotten bastards
*LOL*

Nice try, Kelthan, but that wouldn't work.
Perhaps I should put up a reward for the first one to mail me the right solution.
:-P
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Old 02-01-2004, 09:12 AM   #52
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Six pages and I didn't look to see if I already posted here, so forgive me for being lazy at 9 on a Sunday morning <grin>

As Sanvean said in the first page, invoke all the senses in descriptions.

However, don't tell the player what he hears, smells, tastes, feels - or how he reacts to those stimulii. Instead, tell him what is available for him to hear, smell, taste, and feel. Let him decide if he actually hears, tastes, smells, and feels it, and let him decide how, if at all, he will react to it.

Tell the reader what exists. Let the reader do the thinking and deciding about it. This might sound confusing to a new builder, or a builder who has little experience in prose (as opposed to mechanical or spec writing). It isn't really, you just have to get used to doing it and eventually everything clicks.

As for the quips about forest writing, I say booya! A 20 room forest area can be daunting, but I assure you there -are- 20 different ways to say the exact same thing. Further - if the forest is 10 rooms long by 4 rooms deep, the view from the westernmost room is going to be much different from the view on the east. Consider the horizon line. What's there? A mountain range? A valley? An ocean? A desert? There's -something- out there, even if it's just "the end of the world." In each room in the forest, the reader has a different vantage point of that horizon.

In object-oriented code, IMBED! Imbed objects in each room description! Since I'm on a roll with forests, we'll stick with that. If "this" room has an unusual bush that bears a rare flower, imbed a bush object. Make it sniffable. If it has thorns, make it so that if you try to pluck the flower you get pricked! If "that" room is less dense of trees than most of the other rooms for some reason, perhaps add an imbedded "grass" object that people can sit on, picnic on. Include a few dozen atmospheric echoes of ants running in and out of a tiny anthole, or the sound of small animals scurrying through the distant wood. Maybe a squirrel (or whatever cute thing that could possibly be feral but for now is just cute in your game) peeks out from behind a tree, takes a furtive sniff, and scampers back up and out of sight.

That brings me to atmosphere echoes: If you're going to include them, include as many as possible. The "tick" of the game that makes these things show up are going to annoy the heck out of your reader if they're stuck seeing the same 2 or 3 over and over again. 20 echoes -per room- is not unreasonable, even if half of them are repeated in conjoining rooms. If you can't think up that many, just don't do it at all. Your readers will thank you.

That's all I have for now, as I read the first page and most of the people there covered the other things I would've mentioned.
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Old 02-01-2004, 10:51 AM   #53
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Wow, nice to see this thread brought back to life! :)

Here is something which transcends codebase. Read my comments below before reading the artical.

http://www.math.upenn.edu/%7Ewilf/we...KendallWei.pdf

Remember the days when a search for just about anything on the net resulted in a million sites which flooded their meta tags with bogus generic search words? Notice that that's much less of a problem now? This is because Google uses a beautiful mathematical technique, described in the above artical, where a site is "weighted" based on the sum of the weights of the sites which link to it. Yes, this definition is circular! But it works. Read the artical for more info.

So how does this apply to building tricks?! Use a similar method to "weight" the rooms on your mud, where instead of counting hyperlinks, you count exits, portals, transport progs, etc. Then, use the weights to determine how much effort to put into designing those rooms.

Keep posting your own building ideas: for we are the disciples of Aule and Yavanna, and must ever strive for greater subtlety and beauty in all that we devise.
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Old 02-02-2004, 10:55 AM   #54
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By that method you would spend the most time describing open plains, forests, oceans, etc. Hidden rooms would be barely described at all.

A better estimate might be the average value of objects transacted in a room per visit. A person dying would count as the transaction of all the objects on their possession. This estimate would not count the transaction of dialogue or emotes, for in rooms with a lot of roleplay, the dialogue and emotes themselves act as the description of the most important things in the room.
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Old 02-02-2004, 05:55 PM   #55
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By that method you would spend the most time describing open plains, forests, oceans, etc.  Hidden rooms would be barely described at all.

A better estimate might be the average value of objects transacted in a room per visit.
What we usually do in my mud is to estimate how long TIME a player is likely to stay in a room. As much as I'd like all the rooms in our mud to have the depth that Jazuela describes above, it is not realistic to put that amount of work into everyone of them if the world is large. After all, building is very time consuming, and our time IS limited. Also it would be more or less a waste of time, because few players, even the really good ones, actually check for extra descs in every room, especially not in what I'd refer to as 'travel' zones. There are lots of rooms that are just hunting grounds, or wilderness that you just pass on your way from one 'real' zone to another.

I save the extra efforts for rooms where the players are likely to spend quite some time, trying to solve a puzzle, checking for hidden exits, looking for clues to a quest etc. Usually there is something in the main desc that tells the players where it is worth the effort to check a bit extra. This also means that the 'hidden rooms' - and the entrance rooms to those - would be the ones most likely to be fully fleshed out with descs for 'look window', 'look behind cupboard' and 'look under bed' etc.

We do have listen and smell descs in all rooms, but in 'space areas' like forests, deserts, open sea etc. they are usually generic, unless again there is something special with one room. I dislike repeated room descs myself, but it bothers me a lot less if the listen/smell descs are the same in an entire forest, or if 'look tree' produces a similar extra desc in most of the forest rooms.

The same thing applies to mobs. It's a waste of time and effort to have a long, elaborate or witty desc on an aggressive mob. Nobody will get a chance to read it anyhow, since the mob attacks the minute you enter the room.

So save your best efforts for where it really matters, would be my advice. And I don't really think you need any theoretical formulas to figure out where it does matter. Common sense goes a very long way.
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Old 02-19-2004, 12:26 AM   #56
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Umm, Jazzy, you make me sweat just reading about how you write a room. I totally agree in concept but then again it's wize to consider your audience. My crowd is in the 16-24 age bracket and unless all the frills lead to some uber-eq, they could care less.

Connecting zones have to be the most boring things in the world to write especially when your standards are high and duplication is kept low. The thing to me though is they really do need to be precursors to what to expect in the adjacent zones. If the targeted zone after the connector is complex with multiple embedded descriptions I think it's important to make the connector have some embedded stuff too. I usually like to throw in a few 'special' mobs along the way too, just to break the monotony as well as some real flavor as to the type of area you're travelling through.

I recently found a neat trick with coded 10x10 maze zone that allows it to go outside the 'box' of 10x10 and still resets all room connections within the zone each reboot. It's fun and you can easily get away with 12-15 orginal, complex rooms and have them duped into the full 100 which only adds to the maze effect. My first is forest, I look forward to 1k or so for an ocean.
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Old 11-11-2004, 10:11 PM   #57
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Ahh, the always entertainng discussion on how to improve as a builder in an age where it seems improvement is always non-existannt. By all means, I shall add this with a broken hand, so forgive the typos if I miss them.

I've been at the helm of building nirvana for four years now, skilled on at least four different MUDs and starting on my fifth. And in this time, I too have seen my share of wannabes and know-it-alls, but the best I've seen are the ones who try to cheat their way around doing things that really require time and effort into perfecting to make the area more unique and interesting. I've tried my best to show and teach the newer builders and who's, how's, why's and if's of the building realm but alot of them never really seem to grasp the concept.

I've gone as far as creating whole files for MUD clients to better the experience, like a makemob and makeobj template that Zmud reads off of. It's simple to modify for codebases that have drifted off of the base SMAUG look and helps immensely when you want to make a skeleton area and then come back and re-examine to improve little by little.

I think when you look at it from all angles, there's no real tricks or traps to make building easier or better...all it takes is alot of elbow grease and a vivid imagination, along with some really wicked examples.
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Old 11-12-2004, 05:59 PM   #58
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Kariyana:  Nov. 11 2004,22:11
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I think when you look at it from all angles, there's no real tricks or traps to make building easier or better...all it takes is alot of elbow grease and a vivid imagination, along with some really wicked examples.
Umm… yes, there is.

True enough building is a time-consuming and often tedious task. But there are several things that Muds can implement to make the life of the Builder a bit easier. Things like buildwalk, which creates a new room with two-way exits as you walk in one direction, or the ability to copy rooms, mobs and objects. Or the option to edit your zone directly in the file, which saves a lot of time.

But this thread isn’t mainly about saving time, in fact most of the ‘tricks and traps’ we use to make our zones more interesting, challenging and multi-faceted just add to the time it takes to create a zone. And many of those tricks are things that you only learn after you’ve been building for quite some time. The majority of all Builders, (the ones who never finish more than one zone), never even get to that stage. This is what this thread is about, to give some pointers and ideas to inexperienced Builders, to help them make better zones.

I have watched a lot of new Builders over the years, and in general their first zone is never up to their full potential. They may be very talented and creative, have lots of fresh ideas and write excellent descriptions, but usually they are not fully aware of all the tools that are available, and how to use them.

Things like listen/smell/taste descs, or descs for look behind/under/above things don’t even exist in most muds, they have to be implemented by the coder and then the Builders have to be instructed when and how to use them. Few new builder know how to create a truly invisible object (whether you do it using the ‘colour code trick’ or by using a !display flag). Stay_sector is another useful flag that keeps the mobs in their place, so that fish don’t walk on dry land for instance, but that usually has to be implemented too. If the Builders and the Coders don’t work closely together and listen to each other’s ideas, you’ll miss out on a lot of opportunities in creating good zones.

Most Muds are very ‘two-dimensional’, and few Builders think about working in three dimensions, except for the occasional tower zone. But if you for instance create a toilet facility in a medieval castle, in the form of an oriel with a hole in the floor, I like the water in the mote directly under that hole to be exceptionally muddy and foul-smelling. And if the room desc tells you that there is a precipice to the north of you, with the opportunities do go either north or down, I like to see going north make you fall to the bottom of the ravine and die on the spot. Whereas going down might result in a message like ‘You start to descend the cliff face, but slip and fall halfway’ and the loss of a third of your hitpoints. And the third option, ‘descend cliff’, would land you safely on the bottom.

This of course has to be done with scripts. And almost all new Builders have problems with scripts. They usually don’t even realise how much can be done with a script; for instance that it can keep you from taking an object, even if it has a TAKE flag, or delay your entrance to a new room while some messages are run.

I have a nice example of a 3-dimensional design, using scripts and climb objects, but since this post is already long enough, I’ll save it for my next post.
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Old 11-13-2004, 08:10 PM   #59
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Hmm...

I think part of the problem with those sorts of ideas (although they're good in principle) is that they really need to be there throughout the Mud to work. If you've got a 10,000 room mud and only have one room in which you need to 'descend cliff', then players are going to either throw tantrums that you 'tricked' them or else just use the down exit without realising there's another way. Same goes for tastes and smells etc, they need to be uniformly on everything which (as I've just found out in Lusternia) is a #### of a lot of work if they're not there already.

But yeah, most muds are far too flat. It's nice to have cliffs you can go up and down, valleys that are below ground level, and so on.

And progs are a great tool for doing all sorts of things with hidden rooms and secret areas, revealing history and so on. I do think instakilling someone for walking north is a bit mean
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Old 11-14-2004, 05:13 PM   #60
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Auseklis: Nov. 13 2004,20:10
[quote]I think part of the problem with those sorts of ideas (although they're good in principle) is that they really need to be there throughout the Mud to work. If you've got a 10,000 room mud and only have one room in which you need to 'descend cliff', then players are going to either throw tantrums that you 'tricked' them or else just use the down exit without realising there's another way. Same goes for tastes and smells etc, they need to be uniformly on everything which (as I've just found out in Lusternia) is a #### of a lot of work if they're not there already.[quote]

I don’t agree with this. The main thing - as many posters have already pointed out in this thread - is that you need some really solid hints in the main descs about what to do. If the room desc mentions ‘a gnarled old tree’ and ‘look tree’ produces some info like ‘the branches grow all the way down to the ground, which makes this tree easy to climb’ it shouldn’t really matter if it is the only climbable tree in the mud.

And you have to start somewhere. Sure, it is a lot of work, but Builders who take pride in their work shouldn’t let themselves be stopped by that – nor by deficiencies in the code. Most of the tricks we use could also be done with command scripts, but of course it is a lot better if you can set them in OLC. It is a pretty easy addition, which can be added ‘on top’ of the existing code, so that the old zones still will work. In a Mud where Builders are respected for their work, the Coders usually listen to their ideas and implement the tools they need on demand.

All it took for me was a casual remark to the Coder; ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if…’ and the day after I had my extra features. We already had a pretty large world with over 7,000 rooms at that time, and several of the oldest zones are still not up to our present standards. But all the new zones have them, and whenever we update one of these old zones, we also add the listen/smell/taste descs. Up till then you just get a generic message like; ‘You hear nothing special.’ when you type LISTEN in a room.

The first time I used the new features, I made a ‘Tourist Brochure’ for the pioneer zone, to alert the players of the addition. It read something like:

---------------------
‘Welcome to Fenizia, the City of Light – and Darkness!
To get along in this city you need to be very cautious. You have to use all your senses. Don't eat anything without first smelling and tasting it. Don't enter unknown territory without first listening. And if you are looking for something hidden, it might not be enough to just look in the room. You may have to look behind, under and above things.
Expect to find hidden doors and secret passages. You might even have to climb the rooftops to find out the deepest secrets of this city. And while you are exploring - watch your back!
Remember that this is the City of the Poison and the Dagger. Or the old saying "See Fenizia and then die!" might take on a new and more sinister meaning.’
---------------------------

Since then our players have become so used to our extra features that they even whine about not finding them in other Muds they play. Some players will whine about anything, hehe…

Anyhow, here is my 3-dimensional trick – the ‘unreachable’ object. It’s nothing fancy, but the illusion looks nice, and it might inspire some players to look a bit closer at things in a room in the future. Since Jazuela started out with forests, I’ll stick to that in the example too. You could probably make better descs, the ones below I made on the fly, just to illustrate the trick.

You need 3 rooms and 4 objects for it. The first room might look like this:

In A Dense Forest
The forest is very dense here, the trees growing so close to one another that their crowns form a canopy overhead that almost completely blocks out the sun. Many of the trees are ancient, with gnarled trunks and twisted branches. Because of the deep shade the ground vegetation is sparse and straggly. A strange object protrudes from the canopy above; it looks almost like the blade of a sword.

Looking at the sword gives a description of just the blade, since the rest is hidden in the foliage. You can ID it with a Scroll of Identification, but the command ‘get sword’ produces the message ‘It is out of your reach’. (This is done with a script with a GET trigger, because it looks better than the usual ‘You can’t take that!’ on an object without a TAKE flag.)

At this stage the average player might move on, possibly after filing a bug report about ‘the sloppy builder forgot to set the take flag on the sword in this room’. Most players in our mud would however try to ‘climb tree’. This would work fine, since there actually is a climbable tree in the room, although it’s flagged !display, (which is how we usually set these things up, to avoid them being too obvious).

So next you find yourself in the crown of the tree, and the room desc mentions ‘What looks like the hilt of the sword can be discerned among the foliage a bit out on the branch to the east’. Again you can ID it, and this time ‘look sword’ gives a description of just the hilt, while ‘get sword’ again produces the message ‘It is out of your reach’.

If you go east, you’ll just fall to the ground and hurt yourself a bit, and again a few players might give up here, but the majority would probably try to ‘enter branch’, which again will work fine. The branch is not a portal, however, which of course would have worked too. Instead there’s a command script with the argument ‘enter branch’ set on the tree-crown room, to create a bit extra fun. So entering the branch will have about 30% rate of success, otherwise you slip and fall to the ground, twisting an ankle or something. Sooner or later however you’ll get out on the branch and finally be able to grab the sword.

This could be the end of a mini-quest, where you just end up with a fairly decent sword. But it could also be the start of a Quest to find the real owner of the sword. Clues to the ownership could be a name engraved in the hilt, an inscription on the trunk of the tree, or some story told in the nearest city Tavern… Or you could simply try to find a wandering knight with an empty scabbard. There are lots of possibilities.
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