[MUD-Dev] DESIGN: The purpose of MUDding?

clawrenc at cup.hp.com clawrenc at cup.hp.com
Mon Aug 11 14:59:44 New Zealand Standard Time 1997


In <199708010225.CAA29060 at out2.ibm.net>, on 07/31/97 
   at 07:41 PM, coder at ibm.net said:

>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
>response:

And has now unfortuantely left before I made reply to the post that
caused his invitation...

>From: "Brandon Van Every" <vanevery at blarg.net>
>Newsgroups: rec.games.mud.admin
>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

Missing are simulation and puzzle solving.

>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.

We agree on a lot here.  This is one of the reasons the base model for
my world has become so alien to the rest of the MUDding community. 
Examples:

  Free user programming.

  Goal oriented game.

  Perma death.

  Multiple characters may be played by one human player on one
connection.

  Multiple bodies may be controlled by each character on that
connection.

  Players and mobiles can steal/borrow each other's bodies.

  Characters are not tied to any particular bodies.

  Multiple body types including swarm bodies which *can* seperate into
useful fragments.

  No global namespace.
 
  Stats are seperated into body specific, character specific, and
account (human player) specific.

  No assumed sim-peep population.

  Highly interactive combat.
  
  High magic world.  

  No concept of rooms -- all coordinate based.

  Combat is now mostly indirect.  Bashing someone with a sword is most
likley to get you a curious look.  Arranging for all their magic to
suddenly fail, throwing various magic assaults at them, *and* bashing
them at with a sword is a much more likely approach.

The world story is:

  The shared reality experienced in the MUD is a physical construct
resulting purely from the mutual mental actions of the players. 
Probably this will be presented in much the manner of (all) the
players being once near-omnipitent (demi-)gods who were mutually
responsible for the initial creation of the  universe, but are now
much descended from their former stature and power and concomittantly
bereft of much of their memory.  Players are the only actual
intelligences in the game, and that this is a known feature of the
world (cf a multi-player Myst).  Mobiles are the shadows of deranged
and descended intelligences (cf Heinleinian Puppet Masters,
David-brin-esque raised chimps/dogs, demons nailed to this weary
mortal coil).

>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?

One of my assumptions for my players is that world is almost never
what it appears to be, it almost always is doing what it appears to be
doing, but is almost never doing so for the reasons you think it is. 
If you get a chance look back thru the archives at my discussions of
controlling mana as a method of deception, attack, defence etc.

Or to look at it another way:  Why attempt to model our normal RL
universe when we can have so much more fun with the various logical
toys that a virtual environment allows?

>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.  

One of the side-effects of my body-stealing and lack of a global
namespace is that while you can assign names to bodies, you can never
be entirely sure WHO is controlling that body.

Conversely, I have a "spirit world", where you can assign names to
other characters, but you also have no way of determining what bodies
those characters are controlling.

>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.

We should talk more.

--
J C Lawrence                           Internet: claw at null.net
(Contractor)                           Internet: coder at ibm.net
---------------(*)               Internet: clawrenc at cup.hp.com
...Honorary Member Clan McFUD -- Teamer's Avenging Monolith...




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