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Old 01-02-2008, 02:53 AM   #1
bloviate
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Looking for design/builder oriented partners to develop a MUD from the ground up

Hi,

I am looking for some game-design/builder partners to work with on a hobby MUD. As a programmer, my weakness is focusing on the design, particularly driving the development of the theme and world. This means that I tend to happily beaver away on all the code except for the game related code. But I have firm opinions on the game design which is to be developed.

The theme would be medieval fantasy.
  • It would be comparable to Dungeons and Dragons in terms of the types of content used from a mix of medieval time periods. e.g. Plate armor coming from the later medieval time periods, but no guns.
  • Societies would not be mapped from real life. For instance, arabic societies (Al-Qadim) or asian societies (Kara-Tur). I would prefer that humans of all colour were living together in harmonious "melting pots" of medieval europeanness and were instead selectively racist against the non-human races, or culturalist against humans of other cultures.
  • Similarly, game content should not be the melding in of an arbitrary aspect of some existing game world. e.g. Death knights, cyber knights (or for that matter cyber anything), draconiacs through to puss in boots. The general rule I follow is that content should be believable in terms of the game world. Any content designed should be original enough and consistent with the rest of the content in the game world and the theme.
I have written my own code-base in Python which would be used for the project. This would not feature builder scripting, instead building would be done using web pages or online commands. In fact, the goal would be for generic systems to be written in Python and game development done through data entry in one of the given manners. I also have a custom LP mudlib I have written, but I would prefer not to use that as I find the locked down environment constraining.

This would be a long term project. If you are interested, and want to discuss the possibilities, please send me a private message. Or reply to this thread.
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Old 01-02-2008, 09:57 AM   #2
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Re: Looking for design/builder oriented partners to develop a MUD from the ground up

Quote:
Originally Posted by bloviate View Post
This would not feature builder scripting, instead building would be done using web pages or online commands. In fact, the goal would be for generic systems to be written in Python and game development done through data entry in one of the given manners.
Don't mean to hijack your ad, but at what point does a generic system (for an easy example, say a quest system) stop being scripting and become data entry? Wouldn't you agree that the better systems involve scripting? I appreciate the desire to streamline the building process, but I wonder if this approach is going to hamstring the creativity of skilled builders (and consequently not attract them to your project).
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Old 01-03-2008, 01:25 AM   #3
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Re: Looking for design/builder oriented partners to develop a MUD from the ground up

I was going to flesh out my original reply, but had to dash off to the mall to catch a movie.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ide View Post
Don't mean to hijack your ad, but at what point does a generic system (for an easy example, say a quest system) stop being scripting and become data entry?
What is a quest system? To me it is the bare minimum of things. It might handle quest initialisation and completion, but the gameplay which dictates the actions involved in completing the quest would be data driven and only incidentally involved with the quest system itself. And by this I don't mean template entered data but instead crafted game experience.

Let's look at a command based interface approach. I'll describe making a fedex quest as a very simple example. The commands used are of course contrived, this system does not exist and I might not do it like this if I were to implement it. I have implemented systems like this before for graphical games and it took several days at most - doing the same for a text-based game would be simpler.

Quote:
> create room Warrior's Armpit tavern
Created room "Warrior's Armpit tavern". Noted as bookmark #1.
> create room Shady Alleyway
Created room "Shady Alleyway". Noted as bookmark #2.
> create link door #1 east #2 Alleyway door.
Linked rooms "Warrior's Armpit tavern" (#1) and "Shady Alleyway" (#2).
> create npc #1 "Norbert" norb
You place an npc "Norbert" (norb) in "Warrior's Armpit tavern" (#1).
> create npc #2 "Crooked Pete" cp
You place an npc "Crooked Pete" (cp) in "Shady Alleyway" (#2).
> create trigger norb
Adding trigger to npc "Norbert" (norb).
Trigger type? soul
Soul name? wink
Soul target? this npc
> create trigger-event norb
Adding event to last added trigger.
Event type? quest-initialisation
Quest? Norbert's Unrewarding and Unchallenging Bag Delivery
Target? cp
Message? I have been waiting for you $actor, take this $object to $target for me.
> create trigger-event norb
Adding event to last added trigger.
Event type? give-object
Object type? pete's dried plant leaf bag
Message? I have been waiting for you $actor, take this $object to Crooked Pete for me.
> create trigger cp received-object TYPE(pete's dried plant leaf bag)
You have added an object receival trigger (object type 'pete's dried plant leaf bag') to "Crooked Pete".
> create trigger-event cp
Adding event to last added trigger.
Event type? quest-completion
Quest? Norbert's Unrewarding and Unchallenging Bag Delivery
Message? Ah, I have been waiting for $object, many thanks to you $actor
> create item norb "pete's dried plant leaf bag"
You place an item "pete's dried plant leaf bag" in "Norbert" (norb).
And a matching mocked up gameplay transcript:
Quote:
> look
You are in the Warrior's Armpit tavern.

You can see Norbert standing here.
> look Norbert
Norbert is carrying a bag.
> wink norbert
Norbert says: I have been waiting for you YOURNAMEHERE, take this bag to Crooked Pete for me.
Norbert gives you a bag.
(EVENT) You are now doing the quest "Norbert's Unrewarding and Unchallenging Bag Delivery"
> inventory
You are carrying:
a spoon
Norbert's bag
> east
You are standing in a shady alleyway.

You can see Crooked Pete standing here.
> give spoon to pete
Pete has no interest in taking your spoon.
> give bag to pete
Pete says: Ah, I have been waiting for Norbert's bag, many thanks to you YOURNAMEHERE
(EVENT) You have completed the quest "Norbert's Unrewarding and Unchallenging Bag Delivery"
Rooms, objects, npcs, triggers, events and whatever else are basic elements a game designer can employ to create an in-game environment and may as well be done with data than code. The quest system itself just exposes a couple of triggers and events to the selection available, and this expands the generic potential of the overall content development environment. In fact this is effectively equivalent to how quests are done in Discworld mudlib based LP mudlibs, except there of course the game play is authored with LPC code rather than data.

The data driven approach has one main difference which many may consider a disadvantage. When you can write code the possibilities are endless, you can implement anything which you have the imagination and skill to. With data you are limited to how you can combine the elements which you have available to compose.

However, I actually see the ditching of the need for code as an advantage myself. With code, you can end up implementing something which has been implemented countless times before in other code. For instance, before the popularity of command systems in LP muds which allowed things like the "search" command to be extracted and made generally available, any room which needed search functionality copied, pasted, adapted and used its own version. Also I don't know about you, but on the MUDs I have programmed, documentation and examples are scarce. Neither ever seemed to cover the aspects I wanted to know about half the time, and I either needed to go searching for use of features in the existing room code (grep), or I needed to dig into the code for the systems myself (grep again) and reverse engineer how I was supposed to use them (read and squint). Newbie builders were often left to their own to learn to program and work out how to use the existing game code to build.

Also with data driven, all the elements you can compose content out of are known to the game engine and can be described to you. Even if they weren't documented, you don't need to go searching for examples, you can just say "show me all the uses of the 'death' trigger" or "show me all the uses of the 'quest-completion' event". Or "show me everything which refers to the npc 'Norbert'". Or "show me all the triggers which are valid for use on this NPC" (this of course corresponds to a drop down list in the web page interface).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ide View Post
Wouldn't you agree that the better systems involve scripting?
No. I would say that the better systems might involve scripting because perhaps the data driven approach has been eschewed for the familiar and known.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ide View Post
I appreciate the desire to streamline the building process, but I wonder if this approach is going to hamstring the creativity of skilled builders (and consequently not attract them to your project).
If anything I would say it removes the shackles which are currently weighing down the skilled builders and is preventing them from being as creative as they can be. What I described above is just a simple system, it can always be extended to allow the skilled builders to do the kind of things they used to do with code instead with data.

Why should the basic elements which make up a mud be coupled to code or to the contents of a file which has to be edited? To me that is a burden and a barrier, one which the data-driven approach done in the described way can do away with.
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Old 01-03-2008, 02:22 PM   #4
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Re: Looking for design/builder oriented partners to develop a MUD from the ground up

Quote:
Originally Posted by bloviate View Post
However, I actually see the ditching of the need for code as an advantage myself. With code, you can end up implementing something which has been implemented countless times before in other code.

....

Also I don't know about you, but on the MUDs I have programmed, documentation and examples are scarce.

....

Also with data driven, all the elements you can compose content out of are known to the game engine and can be described to you.
There is no doubt that scripting can create an environment where many things are needlessly repeated. On the other hand I don't see that as a disadvantage of scripting per se. I don't know if you've used OLCs on DIKU-like muds but it's fairly typical to find multiples of unique 'common' mob and item types such as dogs, cats, rats, cloaks, etcetera. The correct approach is to create for example a rat property that a builder applies to an animal so they don't have to redefine multiple parameters on a new mob. But just because a mud uses a data-driven approach (OLC) doesn't mean you'll end up with a clean environment.

In a scripting environment you just would want to create templated scripts -- retaining the flexibility of scripting while keeping things clean and streamlined. On second thought you probably would want templated 'scripts' in a data-driven environment as well -- no need to make data entry more onerous than it should be.

I admit I haven't seen what a fully-featured data-driven environment would look like and the idea is very intriguing; even with templated scripts it's true a scripting system would get bloated after a while.
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Old 01-04-2008, 01:58 AM   #5
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Thumbs up Re: Looking for design/builder oriented partners to develop a MUD from the ground up

How much experience are you looking for in your builders? I have been muddding for over 10 years now, and have an extensive imagination, but I can't say that I have done much building. I have wanted to find a mud where I can release my creativity, as well as discover how the inner workings of a mud function.
I would be very interested in trying my hand at building if this meets with your approval.

Thanks
Brawny
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Old 01-04-2008, 11:02 PM   #6
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Re: Looking for design/builder oriented partners to develop a MUD from the ground up

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brawndel View Post
How much experience are you looking for in your builders? I have been muddding for over 10 years now, and have an extensive imagination, but I can't say that I have done much building. I have wanted to find a mud where I can release my creativity, as well as discover how the inner workings of a mud function.
I would be very interested in trying my hand at building if this meets with your approval.
Experience as a builder is not that important to me. What is important is a demonstratable ability to work with me to flesh out a fantasy world which all parties would be interested in. And I don't mean flesh out in the building sense, but rather developing it through discussion in a forum, over IRC, email and compiling the results in a wiki. This high level information would when ready, be used to write the game code and help generate a base game world. Given that this type of abstract development will be done first, I do not have a need for anyone who cannot provide the ability I described at this time.

The code would be only accessible to me (at least until the point a partner had proved their worth). There would be no opportunity to discover the inner workings of a MUD because of this. And even if there were, the code would be somewhat more complex than existing MUDs and would not helpfully demonstrate the aspects which are straightforwardly implemented within them. If you have an interest in learning how to implement a MUD, then I recommend you become a creator on a reasonably popular one and dig into its code base.

If you want to see if your imagination and sense of believability in the context of a fantasy work (as I outlined roughly in my first post) fit with mine, then you might try your hand at mocking up an original fantasy world. Nothing too extensive, just a concise brainstormed train of thought type thing. I'll give an outline of the sorts of things which I hope will demonstrate your personal vision, choices and taste below. Anyone else who is interested is welcome to do it as well, even if you have no interest in partnering up with me. I will only use what is provided for the sake of evaluating potential partners, in case there is any worry about that.

Describe a world of your own design, and give it a name. Describe the nations found within it, and the societies found within each nation. Describe the races found within the world, what makes them different, how they relate to each other and the societies. Sketch a map of the world, even if you have to do it with a paint program on your computer, and mark in the nations. Describe some locations of interest within the world and mark them on the map. Take it a little bit further in a direction that interests you, once you get into the flow of it. Put the map up on a free image hosting site, I recommend ImageShack - if you can't scan it, just take a picture with your camera or phone.

Last edited by bloviate : 01-04-2008 at 11:52 PM. Reason: Added ImageShack link.
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Old 02-12-2008, 08:14 AM   #7
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Re: Looking for design/builder oriented partners to develop a MUD from the ground up

Do you have a forum in which the discussion can start?
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Old 02-12-2008, 01:25 PM   #8
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Re: Looking for design/builder oriented partners to develop a MUD from the ground up

Long have I been in the midst of creating landscapes and inhabiting them with friends and foes.

Your words are quite intriguing to me and I would very much enjoy speaking with you further in their regard. If you have a temporary MUD connection or the like where we may meet, or would place here an e-mail of sorts, this could be made a reality.


I look forward to hearing from you soon,

-Homer
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Old 02-13-2008, 11:30 PM   #9
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Re: Looking for design/builder oriented partners to develop a MUD from the ground up

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Originally Posted by newbie View Post
Do you have a forum in which the discussion can start?
You can send me private messages or post to this thread if you have something to propose.

However, in order to prevent people from wasting their time, I should state that I favour predominantly human worlds. Non-human races of custom design are not appealing to me, although if they are fleshed out well, this is not set in stone. Some example races I can visualise due to their established place in fantasy settings I am familiar with are elves, dwarves, orcs, ogres, goblins and hobgoblins. Although I do find elves and dwarves rather unexciting and would prefer they were taken in interesting directions from the standard.

The creators on my MUD also tended to find elves disinteresting, so with their encouragement I wrote up a variant of elves for us to use which gave them a darker slant. I am not a writer so it is just a few sections of text I whipped together. We never got to the point where we fleshed out human civilisations in the world. Here it is for the sake of example.

Cut and pastes of old setting related posts:

In the distant past it is known there was an empire of the Eldar race,
with magic as a basic part of society. How its ruin came about is
unknown but many thousands of years have passed since then.
Today, the only remnants of the Eldar race can be found in the
stagnant and regressed people known as Elves.

Where I was going to go next with the elves was that they had
stagnated from a glorious society where most of everyday life is
made easy by the perhaps what would be considered wasteful
overuse of magic. Somewhere along the line from their proposed
ancestors it all took a wrong path and they grew lazy and vain
considering themselves to be a higher form of life than others.

- Perhaps ruins are still around, long past looted or perhaps too
dangerous to loot.

- Maybe a current city is built overtop the ruins of an Eldar city, and
below the current city and its sewers, the remnants of an Eldar
complex can be found.

- Can use the Eldar race as justification for otherwise wondrous things
that still remain. Like a sky city found way up amongst the clouds,
once an island torn from the earth/sea with powerfull magics, now one
of the few still thriving centers of Elven civilisation.

What magic exists in other societies at the current point in time in our
world is derived from what was somehow handed down to them from the Eldar.

What types of magic are there?
-----------------------------

I'd like to suggest that we have three differing types.

o pure faith
----------

Invoked by reciting a prayer to the deity worshipped. Prayers have to be
learnt to be used and are not magically realised. There is no way of
modifying prayers to affect different results, prayers are just a method
used to cause an effect at the whim of the relevant deity. Perhaps if not
recited correctly, prayers may not work or may work with a lesser effect,
after all this does follow on from the part where prayers are a fixed
method for gaining a given effect.

o partial faith
-------------

While the recipient may not worship the relevant deity per se, they are
granted the ability to invoke magic sourced from that deity in some way.
Perhaps so long as the recipient doesn't go against the deity and has
the required skill/knowledge to use draw from the deity. Not a lot of
thought has been put into the detail of partial magic at this stage,
but perhaps these ideas might be used in the development.

- If a pure magic user or priest were cut off their source of magic,
another deity might step in and decide to for their reasons cause the
desired effect to happen.

- There might be a deity that lets its worshippers draw on his power
using a combination of the methods of pure magic and pure faith.

o pure magic
----------

This is power drawn from a source (not a deity) used to cause a desired
effect. Still got to work out where it comes from. While the Eldar race
had the almost unimaginable level of ability needed to cause any effect
at will, the understanding and raw ability possessed by the Eldar race
no longer exists in any known form. Current practitioners of magic have a
limited or non-existant understanding of the workings of their chosen
technique and perform it for the most part at a rote level. This means that
a given spell known by more than one practitioner would most likely be the
exact same spell technique wise, as there is no real understanding of how
a given spell works that could be used to modify or adapt it possibly
resulting in alternate versions.

The perfect Eldar master could achieve a desired effect with but a thought,
this potentially provided an almost godlike power - only limited by the
talent, skill and endurance/constitution of the master. But there was also
the danger that a normal thought could accidently be invoked in this manner
if perfect control was not maintained.

This godlike ability some of the Eldar masters had, had no need of
abstractions or intermediate means to help achieve the effect and ensure
that exactly that which was desired, was what actually happened. But, less
skilled Eldar did have such a need; while having the inherent racial ability
but not the raw talent of the masters, they needed those abstractions and
intermediate means. Many differing kinds of intermediate means evolved into
use out of need from uncountable possibilities, as physical expressions of
magic able to achieve a desired effect in a set safe way if methods were
adhered to. A written form of magic capable of storing an expression of
magic was developed, enabling physical expressions of magic to be specified
for later reference after perhaps being laboriously researched. Even some of
the masters adopted their own intermediate means, runes they literally drew
into the very substance of the air in front of them was the most common,
intermediate means like these indirectly effected their desires rather than
the more dangerous direct method.

The way the intermediate means worked was that they were actual physical
forms of magical expression, capable with the right knowledge of being used
to express almost any desired result. While what the masters appeared to
draw in mid-air appeared to be runes, they were actually an effective spell
when completed. Likewise the current traditional form of spell, with the
possible components and the vocal incantation. Not that presence of
components is mandatory, if the researcher of the spell is skilled enough,
they can develop a version without the need. However, it takes a lot more
time and skill to research a version without physical objects as components.
If use of a spell containing components is at a skilled level, this can never
mean that the components can be left out - they are an essential part of the
spell and as crucial to its form as any magical syllable in the incantation.
Spells containing components also tend to be safer, leading to most magic
users actually preferring those versions. The reason for this is that with
physical components, the incantation is shorter with less to stuff up, so
the spells are considered easier so long as the component part is rendered
correctly of course. Obviously, novice magic users are taught the component
version as they can develop their casting skill with less danger.

It is worth noting that there are of course as mentioned other possible
alternative forms of magical expression and most likely many variations on
the already mentioned forms. The mentioned runar form was what was evolved
into use by the masters and the traditional spell form evolved for general
use by some of the more benevolent masters for use by the other less skilled
Eldar to survive as the primary form of pure magic.

--

What form does elven life take today? The inherent racial ability having
dwindled to a microscopic level compared to what it once was, magic use
amongst the elves is crude at best. Slowly as this happened, where once
magic eased their lifes now slaves take its place. Slavery is an accepted part
of their life, with at least one slave market in every city.

As for the pointy ears? For looks of elves, I propose that they are as ?
stated still humanoid, but yet inhuman to look at while eerily beautiful in a
cold-hearted and cruel sort of way. Perhaps taller, skinnier and spindlier than
humans. Pointy ears, do we want them folks?

--

Perhaps they keep to themselves in their decadent lifestyles, human
bandits and whatnot bring slaves they've acquired, raided or whatever to
the elven cities. It would be rare for an elf to leave the city or want
to, except for perhaps hunting parties.

Would elves be set upon if they enter a mainly human city? Well, since
the elves stick to themselves and it would be rare if not unknown for a
slave to escape them - or for the bandits to talk as if they advertised
the elves the slavery might come to light, then its not inconceivable to
say that they would not be set upon. In fact they would be accepted, but
of course people would stare and keep a distance due to the cold cruel
sneer of disdain they would have on their faces at having to mingle with
lesser beings. Even an elf not sneering would still have their racial
cold and cruel look.

--

> OK, so who are the slaves?

Well, we can go either way. A subservient humanoid race bred for the
purpose, perhaps not unlike humonculouses; Or, just people captured and
put into bondage. I like the first, as it allows us to keep Elves as a
relatively unknown race since slavery doesn't make them visible.
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Old 02-13-2008, 11:33 PM   #10
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Re: Looking for design/builder oriented partners to develop a MUD from the ground up

Quote:
Originally Posted by Homer View Post
Long have I been in the midst of creating landscapes and inhabiting them with friends and foes.

Your words are quite intriguing to me and I would very much enjoy speaking with you further in their regard. If you have a temporary MUD connection or the like where we may meet, or would place here an e-mail of sorts, this could be made a reality.
You can send me private messages or post to this thread if you have something to propose. I prefer you write in plain english though. I failed high school english and fancy talk is hard for me to read
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Old 02-15-2008, 01:48 PM   #11
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Re: Looking for design/builder oriented partners to develop a MUD from the ground up

Quote:
Originally Posted by bloviate View Post
You can send me private messages or post to this thread if you have something to propose. I prefer you write in plain english though. I failed high school english and fancy talk is hard for me to read
That was plain english.
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