DESIGN: The purpose of MUDding?

coder at coder at
Thu Jul 31 19:23:57 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

Brandon, who just joined us on the list, (we have 4 or 5 Bandons here
now?) just plopped the following in r.g.m.a.  Copied here for better

From: "Brandon Van Every" <vanevery at>
Subject: DESIGN: The purpose of MUDding?

A reflective question: what is the purpose of MUDding?  An immediate
and tempting answer is "it varies from person to person."  That's
true, but how many different approaches to MUDding are there nowadays,
really?  Leaving the "serious and scholarly" applications of MUDs
aside for the moment, I've seen most people do MUDs for one of the
following reasons:

	- to socialize in a "real-life" style
	- to play a "wealth and combat" game
	- to role-play
	- to code and build

I have a somewhat different interest in MUDs: "to transform the
ordinary forms of online community interaction."  There are a lot of
accepted conventions about how people and objects should behave on
MUDs, mirroring the way people behave in the real world.  I'm
interested more in stepping through the mirror, and seeing what's on
the other side.  This can turn a lot of MUDding's "sacred cows" upside
down: spoofing becomes an ordinary form of perception, player-killing
becomes a non-issue because "death" isn't really separable from
"life," the centrality of player and object ownership is not
particularly important, and anyone might as well have just as much
power as anyone else.

Are there other admins out there who are interested in exploring a
"Through The Looking Glass" approach to social interaction?  Or if
not, would you care to discuss your reasons for not wanting to engage
in such experiments?

Here's an idea for a world that's borne out of the technical
limitations of my computing environment.  I have a PPP connection and
a clunker 486 that I'm due to replace.  Since I'm not willing to shell
out mega-$$$$ for a dedicated line or a T1 link out of my home, this
leaves me with very limited bandwidth to run a MUD.  Using a
store-and-forward approach off my ISP's UNIX server, it might be
possible to squeeze up to 4 people online at some off-hour time of
day.  So, how would one successfully populate such a world?  I'm
thinking with automatons.  Wherein players can connect into various
automatons, control them, and nobody's really quite sure if they're
interacting with an automaton or a real human being.  In the absence
of controlling players, the automatons keep trundling along by
themselves.  The universe itself would be similarly "screwy and
suspect," to keep life interesting.

Brandon J. Van Every  <vanevery at>      DEC Commodity Graphics                  Windows NT Alpha  OpenGL
The anvil upon which you hammer another's words is as hard or as soft
as you care to make it.  Wherein lies insight?

J C Lawrence                               Internet: claw at
----------(*)                              Internet: coder at
...Honourary Member of Clan McFud -- Teamer's Avenging Monolith...

J C Lawrence                               Internet: claw at
----------(*)                              Internet: coder at
...Honourary Member of Clan McFud -- Teamer's Avenging Monolith...

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