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Old 02-12-2009, 11:18 PM   #1
MikeRozak
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Graphical “MUD” seeking feedback

I have put up a new pre-release of my virtual world and world-creation toolkit, CircumReality. CircumReality displays static character/object images, and static 360-degree room images. It also uses text-to-speech for the characters’ voices, which you can turn off if you wish.

I would appreciate feedback. After working on the game so long, I have become myopic to its many faults. By the way, “It sucks...” feedback is fine, so long as the feedback is actionable: “It sucks because of A, B, and C.” Please post feedback on this forum or E-mail me.

You can download the software from What is CircumReality?. The web site contains more images and some YouTube videos.






Video, part A - YouTube - CircumReality video 1 - Part A
Video, part B - YouTube - CircumReality video 1 - Part B

PS - CircumReality is a multiplayer virtual world, but not quite a “MUD”, because: (a) It requires a custom (graphical) client. (b) When finished, my content will last players 10 - 20 hours, not 500. (c) My content is more about puzzle solving than slaying monsters for loot.

PS - CircumReality content and mechanics are fully scripted, like LPMUD. You can use CircumReality to create your own worlds, in which case you can make your own gameplay 500 hours long and about monster bashing, if you wish. More information on creating your own world is available from my web site.
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Old 02-13-2009, 12:26 AM   #2
Ide
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Re: Graphical “MUD” seeking feedback

My computer isn't really beefy enough to do this justice, but I do have a question -- it seems from the video that you're almost at a roomless 3D environment anyway (with some PG graphics anyway, or am I mistaken?), so why not use that approach? I would think the average player would enjoy that more.
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Old 02-13-2009, 04:28 AM   #3
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Re: Graphical “MUD” seeking feedback

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ide View Post
My computer isn't really beefy enough to do this justice, but I do have a question -- it seems from the video that you're almost at a roomless 3D environment anyway (with some PG graphics anyway, or am I mistaken?), so why not use that approach? I would think the average player would enjoy that more.
The arrangement is rooms with 360-degree surround image, like Myst I-IV and Zork Nemesis.

I asume PG = pre-generated? The images are rendered on your computer, but then cached away for the next time you wander through the room. I thought about rendering them on the server and downloading them on demand, but the data would be huge.

When I began the project, I thought about doing a standard 3D accelertor game world with WASD and always looking at your character's back, but decided not to because it's a slippery slope as far as authoring difficulty goes. My current graphics implementation is more work than a text MUD, but only slightly.

However, if I went full 3D WASD looking at your character's back, 3D quickly becomes a morass:

- Players can walk everywhere, so the author need to specify where the ground is so they don't fall through. Usually, this specification is trivial (use the ground object's height), but what if there's a cellar that goes below ground. (By the way, once players can walk, need to worry about walking on water, up steep slopes, through lava, etc.) Minor points, but they start adding up...

- Authors have to make sure players can't walk through walls... which is mostly automatic, except for specifying doors that open/close. Are curtains walls?

- What about jumping? Authors have to make sure players can't jump to places they're not allowed.

- And how is climbing ladders handled? (Noticed that most 3D games only have ramps to climb. No stairs. No ladders. Ramps are easier.)

- And shouldn't the grass be blowing in the wind? And the water rippling? And the clouds moving? And flags flapping? And bees buzzing? What if my world doesn't have bees?

- And even with all that, players will find themselves walking around an empty world without objects and NPCS/PCs positioned in the world... (I cheat by showing their images off to the side. I couldn't do that in a 3D WASD world because objects/NPCs/PCs within the 3D is expected.)

- So let players place objects. What about physics modelling when the object is dropped? What if an object is dropped in the water and becomes inaccessible? (What if the author wanted part of the experience in zero-G? Yet another issue.)

- And as far as NPCs... the fact is, that with a shoestring modelling and animation budget, all PCs and NPCs are going to stand erect and wear exactly the same clothing, and hold a sword/axe/bow stiffly in their right hand. (Even with a huge animation budget, PCs/NPCs aren't much better.) I have a rat-humanoid that sulks around the place and sweeps up. (Is a broom a two handed weapon? Does it need special animations when its used to sweep?)

- If animation is limited to standing erect, then it's impossible to make NPCs feel "alive". All they can do is occasionally shift their weight and look around, even in the big-budget games. You can't have some stroll in the room, while others dance in, while some swing their legs while sitting on a chair, etc.

(Hyperbolie) Basically, you follow the slope down to its conclusion and you're spending $100M on a title, and forced to create a WoW clone because that's what people providing the $100M want.

I think Matt Mihaly just said something to the effect that a feature in a 3D MMORPG is 100x-1000x as much work as text. Well, with the limited way I'm doing 3D, features/content are usually only 2x as much work.
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Old 02-13-2009, 04:32 AM   #4
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Re: Graphical “MUD” seeking feedback

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeRozak View Post
I think Matt Mihaly just said something to the effect that a feature in a 3D MMORPG is 100x-1000x as much work as text. Well, with the limited way I'm doing 3D, features/content are usually only 2x as much work.
Forgot to add... The downside with my approach is that i WON'T attract as large a player audience as the WASD 3D world.
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Old 02-13-2009, 07:26 AM   #5
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Re: Graphical “MUD” seeking feedback

I had a look at your site, and read your scenario, and while the concept itself sounds interesting I have to ask - where is the "multiplayer" element?

In a typical MUD players team up, or fight against each other. But if the objective is to interact non-violently with NPCs, I can't see how PCs would interact with each other within the scope of gameplay. In the example scenario you gave, the player is required to boot the town mayor out of office - but does every player have the chance to boot the major out (i.e., instanced quests), or do players compete with each other to see who can do it first?


As an aside (related to some of the overhead comments), when I played with the Spore creature editor my first thought was "This would be perfect for a graphical mud OLC system".
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Old 02-13-2009, 03:51 PM   #6
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Re: Graphical “MUD” seeking feedback

You know... I keep thinking that the #1 reason that Second Life (or OpenSim, and it where) won't work as a platform for this has got to be two things:

1. Protection of user made content requires all generation of data on the server side.

2. There isn't anything "in" the client to support RP.

The irony here is, if someone wanted to make an OpenSim grid where all content was "owned" by the people running the grid, i.e., you can rez objects, do some limited building, etc., but not upload or "own" any of it, then you could eliminate the #1 bottleneck in the system by allowing all content to be cached on the client machines, and only the "location/rotation/physics" of objects sent to the client, once the main content is "local". Mind, the cache system is buggier than hell right now, so fixing that would be a pain. The second irony is, issue #1 is being fixed for CCS (community combat system) players, where the "data" server for combat stats is being integrated to a custom version of the client, so that, when finished, nearly everything involving that stuff will be handled "client side", not in world, which makes it much more efficient and stable. Some talk has been going on of including "restrained life" features into it too, which means ways, when you allow it, for your avatar to be prevented from moving, knocked out, possibly even blinded, etc.

As for NPCs.. Well, if all you want it to do is stand around and respond, no big deal. If you want it to fight, that is a bit trickier, but not impossible (just have to use something like the combat models in modern 3D games), and in principle, a modified client might be able to "log in" 4-5 NPCs, maybe more, at a time.

Basically, limiting attachments, scripts, etc., keeping the prim limits down (instead of allowing the max per region), and having a way to make sure the number of NPCs/players isn't so high its unworkable, you could do some crazy stuff with it. The whole problem with the design, right now, is bottlenecks. Everything from how much stuff has to be constantly "calculated" server side (which something like WoW doesn't need to do at all), to bandwidth, DB accesses, to whether the guy on the client end has decent hardware or not. If you rewrote the server and client "explicitly" to work as a user modifiable "game" world, not one they "own" and "sell" things in, you could reduce probably 50-60% of it almost immediately. EQ2, WoW, etc. run as smooth as they do because, even when you have them set to "download new content as I play", for some things (though not the big zone patches), they don't need to server to *know* anything about what is going on, including the physics of the world, other than where things that "can" move are at any moment, so other players know what is happening. It's SL/OpenSim/Legend City/Whatever's achilles heel. And its entirely the result of "content protection" and "IP ownership".

Kind of makes me wonder. Would modding OpenSim and the clients, that far, be possible... Remove the #1 issue, and gain both user design "and" WoW performance. Heck, without all the extra stuff going on server side, the script system might even be functional enough to run the NPCs itself (since it wouldn't be fighting with data retrieval and physics all the time to get things done).
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Old 02-13-2009, 05:22 PM   #7
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Re: Graphical “MUD” seeking feedback

Quote:
Originally Posted by KaVir View Post
I had a look at your site, and read your scenario, and while the concept itself sounds interesting I have to ask - where is the "multiplayer" element?

In a typical MUD players team up, or fight against each other. But if the objective is to interact non-violently with NPCs, I can't see how PCs would interact with each other within the scope of gameplay. In the example scenario you gave, the player is required to boot the town mayor out of office - but does every player have the chance to boot the major out (i.e., instanced quests), or do players compete with each other to see who can do it first?


As an aside (related to some of the overhead comments), when I played with the Spore creature editor my first thought was "This would be perfect for a graphical mud OLC system".
Good points!

Multiplayer element, player with player - I don't have the usual tank, healer, caster roles. I do have a racial role; Amroth is a very racist place (part of the theme). Being one race helps you in places, and hurts you elsewhere. Therefore, teaming up with members of different races helps (and, of course, is a message about diversity).

And, the same problem can be overcome in different ways. I already have several problems where one solution is to use multiple players working in concert; I probably need more of these though.

Player vs player - Office politics! (And there is PvP combat coded in, though that'll be exposed in my next batch of content.) There are also various ways to put kinks in other players' plans. For example: One quest is for members of the brotherhood (anti-anthro faction) to aggro some dingos into whatever room a small anthro-race character is in. The dingos are smart, know the odds, and will attack small races, but not larger ones. Players can aggro dingos to one of a number of NPCs... or they can aggro the dingos to other players. (I'll have to see how much of a grief-magnet these are though.)

Spore creature creator - I thought exactly the same thing.
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