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Old 04-25-2005, 01:02 PM   #1
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Molly O'Hara posted:
I have also seen some very advanced examples of coded, randomised descs that were put together by a number of different elements describing different types of terrain, vegetation, topography etc. I forgot who made them (perhaps it was Ytrewsu?), but they looked really impressive, certainly a lot better than many desc you see in sloppily put together muds. Obviously some skilled writer, with a good sense of the value of words, had been involved in creating the elements that were the foundation for the randomisation.

Personally I feel a bit divided when it comes to code generated descs however. Although they can be made to look pretty good, and I can see the use for them particularly in PK based muds, I still feel that they’ll always be a bit ‘generic’ and repetitive, and never could totally replace a well written individual desc. If you are blessed with a staff of very talented builders, (like we are), I would never want to forfeit the imagination, creativity and ‘flavour’ that a really skilled builder can add to the descriptions. If you have a problem in finding good and active enough builders, I guess that dynamic descs would be a better choice than settling for low quality descriptions.

The only place where I would consider using dynamic descs myself is in grids (large filling zones between the ‘real’ zones. I always disliked repeated descs, so I usually try to write individual ones even for the grids, but that really can be a pain-in-the-ass at times – (I mean how many ways are there to describe a 400 room big prairie or open sea?). So maybe some day we might implement dynamic, sector based descs for our wilderness grids, but I realise that this needs quite a lot of initial work, to write all the random sentence parts and make sure that they always fit together.
A very thoughtful discussion about the use of You in Mudding insued.  It occurs to me that we can assume that there are two types of Administrators and games that have arisen.  

The Classical one, and more common one, is where the Game is more important.  The gameworld, the story(ies) being told.  These games involve a committement of having builders, storytellers, and trying to keep the community in the game.  Games like Molly's 4Dimensions, Wes Platt's Otherworld.  These games are driven by the story and plot in the game.  And require a certain aspects, well developed areas which immerse the character in story.  Intricate Mobiles which add depth and reactive-ness to the story line.

Then there is another small category of muds, one which I would put my own in.  Which is about Gameplay.  Where the point is not so much the story, but interesting game play.  There's a theme, and there's story, but it's not the focal point.  The games worry less about in-depth rooms, they don't fret about scripted mobs.  They spend their time making the game engine itself more interesting and more engaging.  

To explain perhaps more historically, the discussion has in the past come down to the difference between a MUD and a PvP MUD.  But I don't think that this differentiates the two camps very well.  It's true a really good PvP game needs more interesting systems to distinguish it from just any MUD.  And A regular MUD, needs a more intriguing story line, more players, and more inteactiveness to distinguish it.

In my opinion (newly formed of course) is that this could be a reason why a lot of MUD's fail.  They don't detail whether they are more interested in presenting a better story or better gameplay.  I'm by no means suggesting that you can't have both!  But when a new MUD is started, and the founding Administrator picks a theme, they don't realize which type of game they are trying to get.  So they advertise for Builders, and for Coders, and try to balance the two instead of finding which one they should focus on.  Take for example a DBZ MUD vs a WoT MUD.  The DBZ MUD is most likely an example of a Gameplay-focused MUD.  DBZ doesn't have a rich background other then characters in it's Canon.  It's about the mechanics of the game and making it fun and interesting.  WoT on the other hand has some non-standard gameplay systems namely the magic system.  But it's steeped in a Canon that is rich and detailed.  And to focus on only adding gameplay is going to make the game feel less WoT'ish.

Just a rambling thought inspired by years of listening to Molly and KaVir go back and forth.  
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Old 04-26-2005, 08:48 AM   #2
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Then there is another small category of muds, one which I would put my own in. Which is about Gameplay. Where the point is not so much the story, but interesting game play.
I would argue that the 'classic' muds are the ones that focus on gameplay. That's what muds used to be about, before the trend towards roleplaying and story-driven muds.

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In my opinion (newly formed of course) is that this could be a reason why a lot of MUD's fail. They don't detail whether they are more interested in presenting a better story or better gameplay. I'm by no means suggesting that you can't have both! But when a new MUD is started, and the founding Administrator picks a theme, they don't realize which type of game they are trying to get.
I think it's more to do with people designing the mud around the thing they hold to be the most important, which is almost invariably the thing they're best at. A good coder who creates their own mud will typically focus on interesting gameplay and original game mechanics. A good builder who creates their own mud will typically focus on a high-quality world and well designed theme. A good administrator will typically focus on imm-run events and a fostering a good atmosphere for the playerbase. Each of these skills are important, although the distribution of importance depends on the style of mud - however the muds that fail often seem to those run by people who don't really have any of those skills, or who are very badly lacking in one or more.
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Old 04-26-2005, 11:50 AM   #3
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I would argue that the 'classic' muds are the ones that focus on gameplay. That's what muds used to be about, before the trend towards roleplaying and story-driven muds.
Perhaps, as I seem to be prone to, I used the wrong word to describe what I meant. I think the terminology, should be as you stated, "the current Trend" in Mudding is .... gameworld play.

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I think it's more to do with people designing the mud around the thing they hold to be the most important, which is almost invariably the thing they're best at. A good coder who creates their own mud will typically focus on interesting gameplay and original game mechanics. A good builder who creates their own mud will typically focus on a high-quality world and well designed theme. A good administrator will typically focus on imm-run events and a fostering a good atmosphere for the playerbase.
I would almost disagree. I don't think that people focus when creating MUD's. I think that they try more to 'cover' the bases then they do trying to do what they are best at. It seems to me (with the caveat that I am trying to ignore the muds doomed to fail at conception) that many people try unsucessfully, try to do too much at the same time. They don't focus on the one aspect (Gameworld/Gameplay) they try to go full bore into both. Instead of making a defining decision on one aspect or the other.
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Old 04-26-2005, 05:13 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by (Ashon @ April 25 2005,13[img
http://www.topmudsites.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif[/img]2)]The Classical one, and more common one, is where the Game is more important.  The gameworld, the story(ies) being told.  These games involve a committement of having builders, storytellers, and trying to keep the community in the game.  Games like Molly's 4Dimensions, Wes Platt's Otherworld.  These games are driven by the story and plot in the game.  And require a certain aspects, well developed areas which immerse the character in story.  Intricate Mobiles which add depth and reactive-ness to the story line.

Then there is another small category of muds, one which I would put my own in.  Which is about Gameplay.  Where the point is not so much the story, but interesting game play.  There's a theme, and there's story, but it's not the focal point.  The games worry less about in-depth rooms, they don't fret about scripted mobs.  They spend their time making the game engine itself more interesting and more engaging.
Whoa, you got the commonness switched around there. I'm guessing at least 90% of muds focus on "gameplay" over "gameworld". Sure, there are many muds that have stories that are important, but they still tend to focus more on PK, or leveling, or cool skills and abilities. Just look at the advertisements they do. Most muds will advertise their cool skills and abilities way more than their "detailed descs" which are often barely mentioned.

Even their descs under the topmudsites infos show this.
Let's look at Aardwolf for example:
"Established in 1996, Aardwolf has grown to be one of the most popular MUDs online, with over 400 players online at any time. After over 7 years of development, the MUD bears little resemblance to the original - seven classes to remort into and a 'tiers' system allows for a combination of 14,070 total levels, meaning you're going to be busy for quite a few weekends. And with completely revised statistics that actually MEAN something, you'll be able to create the character of your dreams..."

It goes on and on, talking about what you would call "gameplay" for two more paragraphs, never mentioning anything that would be "gameworld".

What about carrion fields, a "roleplaying mandatory" game:
"Adventure, politics and bloody war await you in this life of swords, sorcery, deception, and honor.

Established in 1994, Carrion Fields has evolved immensely over the years. With over 200 areas (all written for CF), 18 races, 16 classes, 11 cabals, and a solid playerbase we continually improve. Roleplaying is enforced and playerkilling makes life a challenge when you battle for some of the rare items in the land. Carrion Fields is completely free to play, and has a deep help system and a large Immortal staff for assisting new players in learning the ropes."

18 races, 16 classes? Where do they mention storylines or detailed descriptions in rooms? Sure, they might have those, but that isn't what their designers focused on as the most important thing.


You mentioned 4Dimensions. When I played there I saw a definite focus on "Gameplay" over "Gameworld" and so I looked at it's TMS description to see what they showed as their most important things. 28 bullets full of game features and not a single mention of game descriptions. Sure, Molly might want to aid her mud by writing really good descriptions, but is that the focus of it? No. I'll bet a large portion of the people who play there don't even bother to read the descriptions, they play there cause of the features.

The vast majority of muds focus on what you would call "Gameplay", muds that focus more on "Gameworld" are definitely more rare. It's for the same reasons that many kids would rather play video games than read books. (and when you look at mudders in general, I'll bet that holds even more true)
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Old 04-26-2005, 06:36 PM   #5
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Ashon wrote; April 25 2005,13,02
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Just a rambling thought inspired by years of listening to Molly and KaVir go back and forth.  
LOL... It may seem like KaVir and I are bickering most of the time, but actually we agree on a lot more things than you may think. I have the deepest respect for KaVir even when we disagree (which is quite often), and I hope that respect is mutual, at least to some extent.

And although I am flattered about having 4D bunched together with a roleplay focused Mud like Brody's Otherworld, I have to admit that roleplay in 4D is pretty rudimentary.

Dragonmaster is right in that we are focused a lot more on Gameplay than Roleplay. However I think that he is wrong in that we are more focused on Gameplay than Gameworld.  In fact most of our main features are based on exploring and questing, and the descriptions play a really large part in that. To us descriptions are not just 'creative writing', meant to conjure a vision of the virtual environment. We use the descs and extra descs actively, sometimes to tell a story, but mostly to give hints about concealed objects or key phrases that you need to solve the many built-in quests in the zones.

I honestly think it's mostly coincidence and a question of what staff you have available at the start that decides which way a Mud is going to develop.

For many years 4D lived with a pretty inactive coder, but a set of very active builders. This lead to a focus on the world rather than the code, but it also lead to us developing scripting abilities that I believe are quite a bit above the average. We have loads of interactive mobs that you not only can talk to, but which may also present you with some pretty nasty surprises in a combat situation. And those advanced scripts would probably never have been developed, if the coder hadn't been so tied up in RL.

During the last 1-2 years however we have gained an inventive, talented and active new coder, which means that the code is now being brought up to par with the zones, and hopefully a bit further. And this is probably what out game description on this site reflects right now.

I don't really believe in categorising muds, like Ashon does. The best results are usually achieved when coders and builders work very closely together, respecting and inspiring each other.

And I never was any fan of one-track themed muds, I like diversity. Roleplay is fine, but if there is nobody I like to roleplay with on line, I want the option to explore or even bashing a few mobs instead. That's what I've got mostly against Mushes and pure RP enforced muds, there don't seem to be much to do, if you tire of the roleplay. And the same thing goes for pure PK. I like to have as many alternatives as possible.

In fact I think a good mud should present several  options to entertain a player, even if he happens to be the only person on line at the moment.
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Old 04-26-2005, 07:17 PM   #6
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Hrm. I seem to be lacking the cognitive ability to communicate my thoughts properly. For this I apologize.

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Whoa, you got the commonness switched around there. I'm guessing at least 90% of muds focus on "gameplay" over "gameworld". Sure, there are many muds that have stories that are important, but they still tend to focus more on PK, or leveling, or cool skills and abilities. Just look at the advertisements they do. Most muds will advertise their cool skills and abilities way more than their "detailed descs" which are often barely mentioned.
Cool Skills, and Cool abilities, new races, new classes, are not what I would term gameplay additions. They are Gameworld, themed additions to the game. They usually do not extend the gameplay beyond any other derivative MUD. I seem to have made a bigger deal about the detail in gameworld focused muds, then I probably should have. Perhaps, I should have said something along the lines of:

In a MUD where the gameworld interaction is more paramount, the code focuses on providing more intriguing Gameworld content.

In a MUD where Game where gameplay is more important, the code focuses on providing a more detailed interaction with game elements.

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I honestly think it's mostly coincidence and a question of what staff you have available at the start that decides which way a Mud is going to develop.
I hadn't considered this option. Interesting insight.

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I don't really believe in categorising muds, like Ashon does. The best results are usually achieved when coders and builders work very closely together, respecting and inspiring each other.
I agree. The couple of times I tried to work with other people on their MUD's, well the lot of times that I did, I didn't get the respect for my thoughts on the process of developing the code to meet the needs of the game. And so my interest in the project lapsed.
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In fact I think a good mud should present several options to entertain a player, even if he happens to be the only person on line at the moment.
I agree again, that there should be many avenues of progress or entertainment in a game to make it successful, and even fun to play.
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Old 04-27-2005, 08:17 AM   #7
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Cool Skills, and Cool abilities, new races, new classes, are not what I would term gameplay additions. They are Gameworld, themed additions to the game. They usually do not extend the gameplay beyond any other derivative MUD.
Hrm, I think its difficult to define it as clearly as that - skills, abilities, races and classes are often the means used to extend the gameplay. Archery skills and elven lore to utilise your ranged combat system, darkvision and lycanthrope senses to take advantage of your line-of-sight code, magic-using classes and associated skills as the means to access your original magic system, and so on.

I suppose you could argue that in such cases the skills, races, etc are simply the interfaces through which you access the gameplay, but if you do that it raises the question of what exactly a 'class' or 'race' is.
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Old 04-28-2005, 12:34 PM   #8
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suppose you could argue that in such cases the skills, races, etc are simply the interfaces through which you access the gameplay, but if you do that it raises the question of what exactly a 'class' or 'race' is.
I think that might be what I'm trying to get at. Are Races and classes simply being developed for the purpose of the gameworld? Simple change of features, walking messages, available skills, added or subtracted stats or are they more unique then that? Does being a Dwarf give the character an ability that actually makes them a dwarf?

I want to draw a parallel between MUDs and Tabletops on this subject, but I'm not sure if it is completely justifiable. Take for instance D&D. The difference between playing a Human and an Elf, are a couple of changes in stats, higher dex, lower con (If I recall), and the ability to sense hidden doors and being more immune to charm spells. The differences here are more superficial. And that's the reason that they balance so well against each other. This would be in my evaluation A gameworld focused change.

The Difference however between a Human and say a Shapeshifter, is much different. All of a sudden a whole new aspect of Gameplay is opened up to the player. The change isn't superficial.

It's the difference between playing a fighter and a mage. The gameplay between the two is drastically different. But the gameplay between a Mage and Cleric, or a Fighter and a Monk are not much different. They are gameworld changes.
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Old 04-28-2005, 03:29 PM   #9
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Established in 1994, Carrion Fields has evolved immensely over the years. With over 200 areas (all written for CF), 18 races, 16 classes, 11 cabals, and a solid playerbase we continually improve. Roleplaying is enforced and playerkilling makes life a challenge when you battle for some of the rare items in the land. Carrion Fields is completely free to play, and has a deep help system and a large Immortal staff for assisting new players in learning the ropes."

18 races, 16 classes? Where do they mention storylines or detailed descriptions in rooms? Sure, they might have those, but that isn't what their designers focused on as the most important thing.
As a designer...

Well, the first thing we mentioned is that we bothered to have 200 full-sized areas written for us.  (I believe when you add in religious shrines, cabals, and other smaller areas, we're closer to 300.)  When a roleplay-mandatory MUD puts that up front, it's a good bet storyline is pretty important.  Please don't (mis)characterize us otherwise.

In a short blurb like that, we focus on easily quantified or classified items, because we want to get information across concisely.  Free.  No stock.  RP required.  PK.  Etc.  The format of the text you chose to quote forces this on the designer.  Saying we don't care about our gameworld because we don't mention room descriptions is arbitrary and meaningless.

In contrast, in our ads (like this one) give us a lot more room to play with, and we make an effort to show things holistically, as in "We have thieves, and they have all these features and code support, and there's all these factions and guilds, and we support a range of roles, and...".
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Old 04-28-2005, 04:50 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by (Valg @ April 28 2005,15:29)
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Established in 1994, Carrion Fields has evolved immensely over the years. With over 200 areas (all written for CF), 18 races, 16 classes, 11 cabals, and a solid playerbase we continually improve. Roleplaying is enforced and playerkilling makes life a challenge when you battle for some of the rare items in the land. Carrion Fields is completely free to play, and has a deep help system and a large Immortal staff for assisting new players in learning the ropes."

18 races, 16 classes? Where do they mention storylines or detailed descriptions in rooms? Sure, they might have those, but that isn't what their designers focused on as the most important thing.
As a designer...

Well, the first thing we mentioned is that we bothered to have 200 full-sized areas written for us.  (I believe when you add in religious shrines, cabals, and other smaller areas, we're closer to 300.)  When a roleplay-mandatory MUD puts that up front, it's a good bet storyline is pretty important.  Please don't (mis)characterize us otherwise.

In a short blurb like that, we focus on easily quantified or classified items, because we want to get information across concisely.  Free.  No stock.  RP required.  PK.  Etc.  The format of the text you chose to quote forces this on the designer.  Saying we don't care about our gameworld because we don't mention room descriptions is arbitrary and meaningless.

In contrast, in our ads (like this one) give us a lot more room to play with, and we make an effort to show things holistically, as in "We have thieves, and they have all these features and code support, and there's all these factions and guilds, and we support a range of roles, and...".
I think you misunderstood me. I am in no way saying Carrion Fields has a small emphasis on the gameworld. I know it has a pretty large one. But, correct me if I'm wrong, it also tries to provide very strong gameplay with interesting PK situations, tactics for winning and stuff like that. I was saying that muds in general tend to focus more on gameplay then game world, using Carrion Fields as an example, showing that even in an RP mandatory game like CF, a very heavy emphasis on gameplay can be seen. I am in no way trying to say CF didn't put much detail into their gameworld, but rather trying to show that even RP muds (which are probably considered to be more strong in "gameworld" and lacking in "gameplay") can have a large focus on gameplay.

If the posters statement was true and gameworld was more often the focus than gameplay, you'd expect that in an RP mud like CF, there would be practically no focus on gameplay at all, which I was attempting to point out was obviously not the case. Therefore the original posters statement couldn't be true. From what I have seen of Carrion Fields, it looks like a very well created game and I did not mean to insult or downplay it's gameworld.
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Old 04-28-2005, 06:53 PM   #11
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Why is it that every single discussion about MUDs always seems to turn into two developers bickering with each other? In any manner, I think that a gameworld and gameplay must coexist in order to greatly enhance the experience. But if pressed to pick one, I would invariably go with gameworld.
I enjoy a deep story and variety in races which lend a sort of life to the MUD. These things make a story, when I play a MUD I want to make a story. I want my little puppet to act out things that I would want to do. But that is where the gameplay comes in. How can I have my puppet act out a play with no stage directions?
That is why gameplay and gameworld must exist hand in hand. I do not wish to be hacking away at goblins for no reason, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy hacking away at goblins. I want, maybe, the goblin to be my archenemy who I have been fighting with because he killed my brother, or because he stole my magical shield. This way I enjoy myself and feel useful all at the same time.
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Old 05-14-2005, 06:24 PM   #12
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I think its clearly shown if the MUD chooses to advertise with:

"Over X races, and Y rooms, and.."

Or "An in-depth immersion into the world of X where the.."
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