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Old 04-08-2013, 08:12 PM   #1
Threshold
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Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

Plamzi wrote a post in the " In defense of all MUDs" thread that raised an interesting but tangential point. I felt it deserved its own thread rather than derail that thread.

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Originally Posted by plamzi View Post
While I'm sure the bickering doesn't help, I don't think it has much to do with the slow death of MUDs. I think the bottom line is most of us refuse to go where the players are, and if they do go, they refuse to give the players what they want in a 21st Cent. online game.
The wrong answer is transforming MUDs into graphical Facebook social games. That would alienate the people who love MUDs the way they are. There are actually a lot of pros to the traditional pure text interface that most MUDs use.

I probably would not make a *NEW* game using that kind of traditional MUD interface, but I'm not going to take one people have loved for almost 20 years (speaking of Threshold) and warp it into a graphical or pseudo-graphical game. That's not what my players want, and I think it is totally wrong to take away what they've loved and supported loyally.

Last edited by Threshold : 04-25-2013 at 04:06 PM.
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Old 04-08-2013, 08:44 PM   #2
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

I was thinking about this after reading the recent responses to my LFM thread. There are a lot of F2P MMORPG games out there, and they offer what a lot of no-RP MUDs have along with music and graphics. A lot of the players of those MMORPGs are willing to shell out money for micropayments to get an edge in equipment, abilities, and levels. Ask them if they'd try out a MUD which offers more or less the same thing, and they'll say "no" because there's no graphics in a MUD.

I figure the trick is to offer what no other multiplayer game offers. In a gaming world of free games with modern graphics a mere download away, why would someone want to play a MUD?
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Old 04-08-2013, 09:21 PM   #3
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

Why would someone want to play a MUD? Because they want to play a text game. Why a mud as opposed to a graphical game? Because it's their preference. Same reason why they'd want to play a graphics game over a text game. Same reason why they'd play Monopoly over a graphics game, or poker over Monopoly. Same reason why some would prefer to go hunting, over playing a game about hunting.

Different strokes for different folks. They want different things. Just not that many people interested in text games.
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Old 04-08-2013, 09:26 PM   #4
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

Over time, more gamers will expect graphics. Kids don't have to blow cartridges or deal with very low frame rates every time there's an explosion on the screen anymore. Modern games offer what many MUDs have, plus graphics and music.
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Old 04-08-2013, 10:28 PM   #5
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

I play Muds just because a Player's actions have a better chance of actual consequence in a mud much more then in any graphical game simply because its faster to change stuff around in a MUD.
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Old 04-09-2013, 01:24 AM   #6
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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Originally Posted by dark acacia View Post
Over time, more gamers will expect graphics. Kids don't have to blow cartridges or deal with very low frame rates every time there's an explosion on the screen anymore. Modern games offer what many MUDs have, plus graphics and music.
Good point.

Someone tell Amazon to stop making Kindles and Barnes & Noble to stop making Nooks because people are done with text. They only want to watch tv.

That's sarcasm, by the way.

Despite the fact that the vast majority of games are graphical, and most gamers want graphics, there are still a lot of gamers who like the text experience. Text still has a number of unique gameplay benefits:
  1. The world can be altered - dramatically - much easier.
  2. Players can have a much larger impact on the game world and community.
  3. Easier to create complex gameplay systems, abilities, etc.
  4. Far greater emphasis on communication.
  5. The lack of graphics is actually a huge boon to role play. You have infinite emote possibilities and you aren't pulled out of immersion. In graphical games, it is unsettling to attempt RP but all the characters are just standing around in their default idle animation.
  6. Low bandwidth required.
  7. Low system resources/computer power required to play.
  8. Platform agnostic. You can play MUDs via almost any computer or mobile device.

Converting existing MUDs with happy players to some kind of graphical hybrid would be a grave disservice to them.

Last edited by Threshold : 04-09-2013 at 01:29 AM.
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Old 04-09-2013, 02:20 AM   #7
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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Originally Posted by dark acacia View Post
Over time, more gamers will expect graphics. Kids don't have to blow cartridges or deal with very low frame rates every time there's an explosion on the screen anymore. Modern games offer what many MUDs have, plus graphics and music.
One thing that I really hate with most graphic games - and cartoons, for that matter - is actually the sounds. They are annoying, stereotypical and disturbing for the environment. If I want to listen to music, while playing a game, I want to choose my own music.

That's just me, of course, but I suppose there are others like me. Plus those that want to play a game discreetely, without everyone else in the same room knowing what they are doing. So adding sounds to a Text Mud is not a way that I'd recommend, even though it probably is easy.

We've added graphical sidebar maps to my Mud, those are really a help while exploring, (providing the rooms are linked in a reasonably logical way, of course). "Buttons" for frequently used commands would probably be nice too. That's as far as I'd like to go into the 21 century.

Anyhow, books survived films and TV, and it's starting to look like text muds will survive graphic games too, albeit with a far smaller total playerbase.
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Old 04-09-2013, 04:54 AM   #8
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

It's pointless to talk about modernizing MUDs on TMS because the games we're discussing here are retro by definition. This has more to do with presentation, user interface and gameplay rather than just a lack of graphics.
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Old 04-09-2013, 05:48 AM   #9
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

The interface is handled by the client, and most muds have little interest in which clients their players use.

If you want graphics and sound, then just download a mud client which supports graphics and sound. Mud owners can certainly make this process easier for those who want it, but it's not going to have any impact on those who prefer a pure text interface.
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Old 04-09-2013, 07:30 AM   #10
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

Not everyone wants music and graphics. Graphic games and text have been running at the same time for a couple of decades now, and muds haven't died out yet. That indicates pretty strongly to me, that some people really just don't want graphics and music in their RP experience. If they did, they wouldn't be playing muds.

Some people like the option to do either - and so they play graphics games sometimes, and text games sometimes. Sort of like how sometimes I play text games, and sometimes I read a book instead. Because sometimes, I want to be directly involved in the story, and sometimes I just want to be the observer in someone eles's story.

I have -never- wanted to play graphics games, other than King's Quest series when it first came out, and Myst. I've never been interested at all, in multi-player graphics games. At age 52, I'm guessing I won't be suddenly waking up one morning with a burning desire to play one any time in the future either. I'm fully entrenched in text, and will remain happily and thusly entrenched until they tell me at the old age home that the computers are gone and I have to revert back to playing parchese with Nurse Dorothy and Marvin from next door.
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Old 04-09-2013, 10:43 AM   #11
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

When Everquest was new, my best friend really got into the game. He had never played a mud before, but we’d grown up playing table top games for ages. He’d been our GM for years. The reason he got into Everquest versus text-based muds wasn’t because the game had graphics (the graphics were subpar anyway). It was because the game had millions of players, an enormous amount of content, and the backing of a major company. It was a real live official computer game, rather than a retro hobbyist’s project he had running in his basement. He didn’t choose Everquest over muds. He didn’t know muds existed at the time, but even if he did, he would have gone with the established, huge MMO game that millions of people, his friends included, were playing. And the reason behind his choice wouldn’t have been the presence of graphics. Everquest resembled the D&D/AD&D games we grew up playing. It was cool navigating a world in first person perspective, but other than the ability to walk around Quake-style rather than typing your way around, the graphics really sucked butt.

My wife and I had a stint playing Legend of the Green Dragon (LOGD) on some server somewhere that I forget. We played for quite some time, actually, and she really liked the game. It’s not so different from a mud, being 99% text-based, except that it’s browser-based and has some mouse-clicking you can do if you don’t care to type the first letter of your menu options. She didn’t know muds existed at the time, but even if she did, she would have gone with this game instead, and it didn’t even have graphics. It was an easy game, with a low entry barrier and learning curve, it had the look and feel of a real live official computer game, rather than a retro hobbyist’s basement project, and a community of other friendly people played it. But my wife thinks actual in character roleplaying is weird and nerdy, and reading room descriptions in a mud is too much reading, so games like LOGD were the limit of her foray into RPGs, unless you count playing Final Fantasy on our Playstation. Same deal there: a real live official game with a following and a playerbase (even if it’s a single-player game, it has a following and a playerbase), rather than a retro hobbyist’s basement project.

Aardwolf did something smart not all that long ago. If you don’t know what muds are and you’re bumming around the app store on your cell phone, you’re going to come across Aardwolf on your list of apps. Not a general mud client, but an actual “game” you download called Aardwolf. The app just logs you into the mud from your phone, but people who don’t know what muds are think they’re logging into a multiplayer app from their phones. A real live official game, rather than a retro hobbyist’s basement project.

Threshold is on the right track by starting a company and making some other games (however simple and uninteresting some of them might be to a hardcore roleplaying mud aficionado). If I didn’t know what muds were but I stumbled across Frogdice on the internet, I’d think I found a real live official game rather than some outdated nerd hobby. If there’s an official looking website, a browser-based interface, and a fairly simple learning curve, I could almost trick my wife into playing a mud if she weren’t roleplaying-adverse.

The reason the public’s not into muds isn’t because they lack graphics. It’s because muds are sitting all exclusive and walled off in a corner. If a mud styled itself as a game like any other, rather than some special category, had a web interface or an easily downloadable client that I automatically acquired from their website when I tried to play, lots of web documentation, a really low entry barrier, and a site that made the game and company look like some big official and well accepted thing, there’d be more public interest from people who just plain don’t know what a mud is, but would be turned off if they knew that a game is 20 years old and an outdated hobby.

But most mudders here don’t want the general public coming in and joining their games. Most of us like exclusive, roleplay-required games. We want people who know what a mud is, know what roleplaying is, and are looking specifically for a roleplaying mud to find our game and join it. We don’t want strangers on the internet who don’t know the first thing about muds or roleplaying showing up in large numbers and ruining the atmosphere and games we’ve come to love. We say we want that, but we don’t really. At best, we maybe want former table top gamers, RPG console nerds, and other people who are heavily into RPGs but possibly unfamiliar with muds to give us a try. But we definitely don't want my wife and her friends stumbling across your favorite RPI on the internet, thinking it's a "regular game," and polluting your atmosphere.
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Old 04-09-2013, 12:16 PM   #12
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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It's pointless to talk about modernizing MUDs on TMS because the games we're discussing here are retro by definition. This has more to do with presentation, user interface and gameplay rather than just a lack of graphics.
Amen my brotha.
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Old 04-09-2013, 12:38 PM   #13
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

NO NO NO NO NO
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Old 04-09-2013, 07:09 PM   #14
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

I'm going to chime in, here, in no particular order:
Muds will always have a home among the blind and visually impaired, if nothing else. That's not the main point, but I seem to have gradually become the mud accessibility advocate, so I mention it where I can.

I can count on one hand the number of muds with a unique gameplay feature. Unique interface? no problem, but unique features, that is features that stretch the boundaries of the medium, are rare. They have been rare for as long as I've been playing muds--the most unique feature I've seen is godwars2's lack of rooms (this is pretty unique). The second most unique feature is possibly avendar's alchemy system or Lost souls's subjective world. I'm ranking them by how they might affect the player, that is how someone might look at them and go "Wow, that's cool," and how they affect strategies. Don't get me wrong. Other muds have unique features, they just don't stretch the boundary of text much.
I'm going to come at my point from an unexpected direction. let's talk about graphical games for a moment. Graphical games tend to offer, for starters, positional combat--is that an incoming fireball? we can dodge it. This isn't based on the dodge skill, it's based on the skill of the player. I can move left/right/etc. Everything tends to have polish. The graphics, in the bigger MMOs, or so I've heard, can be quite impressive. Weapons look different, as do attacks. I have input over what happens in combat at the cost of worse RP.
let's compare this to muds. In most cases, you type kill rabbit. You get back "You hit the rabbit. The rabbit hits you. You miss." What. That's informative. Maybe I'm using a light saber, maybe I'm wielding the honest to god moon itself. The mud doesn't care, I still "hit the rabbit." In many cases, that is just about every warrior class I've ever seen, you can get by and often do by just watching as your character goes right along hitting the rabbit and the rabbit hits you, and then: "You die." Sorry, but where's the immersion? In the graphical game over there, i can watch as the sword wielded by the giant animated glowing soldier thing chops my head off. There's probably blood. My character might, in some of the ones rated pg13, scream. Everyone and most of the mud websites go on about how text is better because you can imagine, but for 95% of muds, there's not enough to work with to get to that point.
What about this, instead, just as a starting point--I'm coming up with it on the spot. A chacrum, which I may be misspelling or misremembering the name of, is a medieval bladed disk, a bit like a Frisbee:
Camlorn winds up and throws the chacrum, spinning it around his wrist before skillfully letting it go.
<a few seconds later>
The chacrum (thrown by Camlorn) glances off the helm of the knight of oblivion, striking his hand edgewise as it falls (type retrieve to retrieve your chacrum).
<I wait too long>
The knight of oblivion retrieves your chacrum before you can retrieve it, spinning it around his wrist. With a flick just so, he releases it.
It strikes your unprotected head, and you feel an instant of pain as the Chacrum's edge penetrates your skull. You see yourself from above, the chacrum splitting your head down the middle like some sort of ghastly dinner plate, inserted into your brain pan. Congratulations, you have died to your own weapon.
I think that that's a good example of what I mean. I'm not going to outline a hypothetical combat system to go with it, not unless someone really, really wants me to for some reason, but I think it makes my point. It looks like a novel. We could advertise it as a game that focuses on deep immersion through text with an emphasis on placing you in the position of a barbarian hero, with simulated gruesome combat. We could make quests that act like stories instead of just go get the 5 newt eyeballs for the alchemist. We could put it on the IiPhone. We are now above many of the games on the iPhone in terms of quality. Nowhere in my description did I use the word mud. Nothing stops someone from adding sounds or throwing inventory icons in or making combat animations. You could animate the player and his opponent or opponents on a 2d plane with 2d graphics, and (as final fantasy 13 did) not allow the player to control movement. This is still at heart a mud, and a text interface could still be offered.
I was going to go on more about stretching the boundaries of text--I have ideas about this and how it could be implemented--but I'm' going to wrap up with this. For once, I have to disagree with KaVir. Interface is a lot. It can change the way the game is played. It's quicker to click a mouse for starters, and if the server wants it can just assume that the client already knows how to display the messages. I'm not going to say that a mud with a graphical custom client isn't a mud, but the line is blurry. I'm sure that there's cases where knowing that a player is using graphics will change game balance entirely, and where knowing that a player is using a mouse may limit or allow the expansion of a complex gameplay feature or puzzle.
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Old 04-09-2013, 08:49 PM   #15
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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Plamzi wrote a Top Mud Sites - MUD and RPG Rankings - Mud Database, RPG & MUD Forums, MUD Articles, MUD Reviews in the " In defense of all MUDs" thread that raised an interesting but tangential point. I felt it deserved its own thread rather than derail that thread.

The wrong answer is transforming MUDs into graphical Facebook social games. That would alienate the people who love MUDs the way they are. There are actually a lot of pros to the traditional pure text interface that most MUDs use.

I probably would not make a *NEW* game using that kind of traditional MUD interface, but I'm not going to take one people have loved for almost 20 years (speaking of Threshold) and warp it into a graphical or pseudo-graphical game. That's not what my players want, and I think it is totally wrong to take away what they've loved and supported loyally.
This is a remarkably telling post. It captures the prevailing attitude among many MUD admins. Let's set aside for a moment the fact that you can do a thousand things to go after new players without changing the in-game experience for your 20-year vets. Let's forget that one of those things, forking off a separate server instance, takes about 30 seconds. Let's instead assume that all of your current players will quit the moment you offer a Facebook app with a single picture in it, or the moment your game starts auto-posting events to its FB wall, or the moment you offer a way to sync in-game player alliances with people's FB friend lists.

The basic motif here is that any change is bad because it may alienate existing players, even if (or maybe especially if) it brings new ones! There's something fundamentally wrong about a game that believes it owes its current players unchanging, lifelong entertainment. It's an almost irrational viewpoint given that players, even in RPI games, are consumers of entertainment that the admins provide/enable. And given that virtual worlds live and die by their ability to attract new players, letting yourself be held hostage to what you feel your current players want, assuming that any gesture to appeal to a non-vet is an act of betrayal, those are all the makings of a virtual world that will be a little more dead tomorrow that it was today.

Twenty years from now, veteran mudders will be twenty years older. There will be even fewer of them than there are now to fight over. There may still be thousands of MUDs running, just because it's so easy to keep a server going indefinitely. There will be some amazingly detailed worlds floating out there, and a dozen 50 and 60-year-old children server-hopping around, hoping to meet another human being they can play with.
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Old 04-09-2013, 10:06 PM   #16
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

In my opinion what is really needed is some way to play muds off a browser that non Pay to play mud can access. The biggest barrier in my opinion to increasing a Mud's population is quite simply the inconvenience of having to download a client. It might sound petty but inconvenience is a huge barrier. Because when trying to attract new players Muds aren't competing with the likes of World of WArcraft or anything like that. Muds are competing with the likes of Runescape and Kongregate and the other millions of relatively easy to access games meant to mostly pass the time. Mud do have the potential to lead to far deeper experiences, especially in regards to roleplay, but still people need to try muds before they have any chance of 'liking' muds. And they are far more likely to try a mud if it doesn't require a prior download.

Thats like the only modernization I think MUDs need.
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Old 04-09-2013, 10:37 PM   #17
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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In my opinion what is really needed is some way to play muds off a browser that non Pay to play mud can access. The biggest barrier in my opinion to increasing a Mud's population is quite simply the inconvenience of having to download a client. It might sound petty but inconvenience is a huge barrier. Because when trying to attract new players Muds aren't competing with the likes of World of WArcraft or anything like that. Muds are competing with the likes of Runescape and Kongregate and the other millions of relatively easy to access games meant to mostly pass the time. Mud do have the potential to lead to far deeper experiences, especially in regards to roleplay, but still people need to try muds before they have any chance of 'liking' muds. And they are far more likely to try a mud if it doesn't require a prior download.

Thats like the only modernization I think MUDs need.
Some muds have java browser clients. I know Armageddon has one, and as far as I know, it's always had one, and it's been around for almost two decades so it isn't something new. You just go to their main website, click the Play button, and log in right on your browser. I'm pretty sure there are a bunch of other MU*s that have their own browser-based interface.
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Old 04-10-2013, 03:54 AM   #18
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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In my opinion what is really needed is some way to play muds off a browser that non Pay to play mud can access.
There already is - TMC and MudGamers have a built-in browser client that allows you to connect to any mud in their listings.
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Old 04-10-2013, 08:10 PM   #19
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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There already is - TMC and MudGamers have a built-in browser client that allows you to connect to any mud in their listings.
Regrettably, those clients, as well pretty much any web GUI for a MUD I've seen (mine included), fall into the category of "refuse to look like a normal game".

I think what will really move us forward is a portal site with a very visual web app (minimal text in its "newbie mode") and at least 6-7 participating games that can pool resources together for promotions on web gaming portals and for some actual paid advertising.

Ideally, this web app will also double as a Facebook app and will support different views branded after different games so each game can deep-link directly to their own version of the app.

I already have a lot of code to contribute towards such an app. I have a browser-based solution that supports compression and GMCP. I have a websocket proxy that can be used to connect the app to any telnet server. I have a minimap renderer that can be passed location data, render surroundings, and call back the parent frame with click events (to support movement via click). I am also running a fantasy art server that can be asked for "a gargoyle" at 200x200 res, and will return an image for it.

I have too much going on to be a lead on such a project, but I can also contribute free hosting (with MySQL & SVN for development), basic maintenance, and maybe some web design work.
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Old 04-10-2013, 10:01 PM   #20
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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Originally Posted by plamzi View Post
Regrettably, those clients, as well pretty much any web GUI for a MUD I've seen (mine included), fall into the category of "refuse to look like a normal game".

I think what will really move us forward is a portal site with a very visual web app (minimal text in its "newbie mode") and at least 6-7 participating games that can pool resources together for promotions on web gaming portals and for some actual paid advertising.

Ideally, this web app will also double as a Facebook app and will support different views branded after different games so each game can deep-link directly to their own version of the app.

I already have a lot of code to contribute towards such an app. I have a browser-based solution that supports compression and GMCP. I have a websocket proxy that can be used to connect the app to any telnet server. I have a minimap renderer that can be passed location data, render surroundings, and call back the parent frame with click events (to support movement via click). I am also running a fantasy art server that can be asked for "a gargoyle" at 200x200 res, and will return an image for it.

I have too much going on to be a lead on such a project, but I can also contribute free hosting (with MySQL & SVN for development), basic maintenance, and maybe some web design work.

A word of advice is to copyright everything you mentioned. That way you don't loose it,.

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