Caliban Tiresias Darklock caliban at darklock.com
Tue Jun 3 07:29:54 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

On Mon, 2 Jun 1997 21:02:32 PST8PDT, Marian Griffith <gryphon at iaehv.nl>

>At the moment muds strongly discourage roleplaying. And mushes strongly
>discourage combat-gaming. One way to advance the field is by discussing
>ways to better integrate the two types.  This can be done by asking how
>roleplaying can be encouraged  in more traditional mud settings,  which
>was how this RP discussion started out.  Or by asking how mushes can be
>made more alive (i.e. make things happen there automatically)  which is
>an equally valid question.

MUSHes, speaking as a relatively experienced coder, do not have the
internal support for mobiles that many MUDs take for granted. They do
have a much stronger support for arbitrary programming of objects, which
can provide for some fascinating creations, but there is little or no
combat support except what you build in. The building, however, takes
three simple forms; there are commands, functions, and attributes. Once
you know how these work, you can build just about anything. Online help
is extensive, and commands are usually atomic.

MUDs, on the other hand, lack a lot of flexibility. In order to make
much of any modification to a MUD, you have to drop into the hardcode
and muck around, usually breaking something. When you do go trying to
modify things online in a MUD, you deal with a complex set of cryptic
commands that generally bear close resemblance to the actual
implementation and must be used in proper combination and sequence. On
any MUD mailing list where questions are permitted, you often see
exchanges that go something like this:

	I created a fountain in the middle of one of my areas. It
	doesn't load up into the game when I start the server, though.
	I did an oxlpt of the vnums to my qmrfs, and then a cdrflp of
	the smrflgn. After I assigned the aflexm, I unset the qrblnt
	flag and frmbldorped the horgn. What have I done wrong?

	You have to frmbldorp the horgn before you unset the qrblnt
	flag, and you forgot to hergenfleiss the libbditts. Also, is
	the zorfen properly configured for the shuftel?

(Side note: And you wonder why most MUDs use the same areas.)

This is an interface problem. As I've said before, RPers want to get to
the business of playing the game. In order for a MUD admin to get areas
built, he has to gain a pretty intimate familiarity with the internals
of the code, hack the server itself all to hell, and spend hours on end
playing with these unintuitive and mostly undocumented commands to get
his areas up and working. The reset syntax for areas is a total mess and
looks almost like line noise. 

I think there is a LOT of potential for MUDs as an RP environment. The
problem is mainly that huge bunch of stuff you have to learn; it's not
like gaming, it's like computer science. What this ends up meaning is
that the type of person who makes a good RP-centric game designer is not
generally the type of person who makes a good MUD builder, and the
converse also holds. The learning curve is steep. The problem is not so
much that the commands themselves are bad, but that there's too little
documentation and what there is tends to be incompletely indexed. 

-+[caliban at darklock.com]+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-
 I am here to grind your eyes harder into the miasmic bile of life; to 
 show you the truth and the beauty in the whisper of steel on silk and 
 the crimson scent of blood as it rises to meet the caress of a blade. 

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