[MUD-Dev] Clients

Jon A. Lambert jlsysinc at ix.netcom.com
Mon Feb 16 23:02:58 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998

On 16 Feb 98 at 14:48, coder at ibm.net wrote:
> On 12/02/98 at 10:45 AM, Mike Sellers <mike at online-alchemy.com> said: >At
> 10:08 PM 2/11/98 PST8PDT, Caliban Tiresias Darklock wrote: 
> >Is this humor?  This is a pretty easily refuted assertion (if anything
> >the IQ of the average US adult has risen slightly in the past 20-30
> >years).  
> This is a tough one to define given the poor state of the definition of
> IQ, how to measure it, and what relevance its attempted measurement has to
> its definition.  There is also significant question on the validity of
> there being one universally applicable definition of intelligence as vs
> several definitions each of which applies partially and to different
> extents to each individual.
> Note for starters how dependant IQ tests are on education and (often)
> cultural assumptions.

I don't think IQ as traditionally used and measured has any relevance 
whatsoever in grammar school education.  However it does have some use in 
early identification of children who are far off the mean in either 

> >I think Jon's last statement above is to the point: it's not that the
> >average IQ has gone down, it's more the case that the average
> >geek-quotient of people on the Net has gone down dramatically in the past
> >few years, and will continue to do so.  With this, their tolerance for
> >obscure interfaces goes down, and the demand for clearer, more usable
> >interfaces goes up.  
> There's an implicit assumption in there that an interface which is more
> readily understandable and usable without aforethought or education is
> necessarily better.  I question this with the case of language itself
> being my best example.

It depends on one viewpoint as to what constitutes better.  A case in
point would be the cash register at a McDonald's fast food chain.  
Typically there is rubber overlay with happy pictures of every item
on the menu.  Change is of course automatically calculated.
I don't think it's arguable that, from a business perspective, the user
interface is less error prone, more efficient and "better".  Even someone 
who is mildy retarded can successfully operate such a machine and in fact

>From another viewpoint such interfaces, or even computer automation in 
general, can be looked at as the "dumbing down of a civilization".  
When the mental exercises of reading and maths fall into atrophy or are 
obsoleted, it makes higher-level mental gymnastics a bit tougher to 
execute.  I think this is irrespective of tested IQ measurements which, if 
they are accurate at all, only indicate a general potential.  There are in 
fact an awful lot of 'morons' running around with IQs well over 100.  

> The command line is an obscure and austere interface, useless without
> education (training), and forethough (needed to assemble the command prior
> to entry).  It is also powerful and capable of fluently stating processes
> which are difficult if not impossible to state in a general purpose
> graphical environ.  Are GUI's necessarily better?  Or do they merely
> present a lower inital learning curve?  How valuable in an absolute sense
> (I'm not talking marketing here) is that initial lower learning curve? 
> How important is the lack of a matching learning curve (due to missing
> functionality) at the upper end?
> The CLI is not a holy mandate.  GUI's ala WIMP's are certainly not an
> ultimate answer or anthing even remotely close.  What is?  Why?

Muds are games.  Games are fun.  Some games require a higher thought than
others and might require more elaborate interfaces.  A game GUI need not 
reflect the generalized nature of its GUI OS parent (if it has one).  It
may adopt standards of use or comfort from the parent OS (cut, paste, 
familiar menu tags, etc.)  Yet operations that are required in a more
specific application context (the game) need not resemble those adopted
in the parent system (the OS).  

One should begin to ask the following questions.  I believe someone
brought this up earlier no.  What metaphors are appropriate for the mud 
player?  More specifically on "your" mud?  Does it make sense to present 
the game player with "the desktop" metaphor?  Does it make sense to present 
the game player with a blinking prompt?  Come to think of it, is a 
command-line interface a metaphor for anything other than than a 
typewriter.  The interface has nothing to do with game (unless you're 
simulating a mud version of Neuromancer or Newsroom).
I believe BOB was brought up.  For those that don't know, BOB was a 
much-maligned windows interface designed for kids or heavily 
computer-phobic users. It presented the OS interface using a "room/office" 
metaphor.  It IS possible that such an interface would be very appropriate 
to a mud or room-type game.  

> I strongly recommend anyone intersted in this area investigate IBM's
> Visual Age products.  Their visual builder concept (which has no parallel
> or equivalent in the MS/Borland/Symantec world) does a lot to narrow the
> functional gap between CLI and WIMP GUI.

I will be using Visual Age for Java on OS/2 in about 3 weeks.  Client
request. <kof>  I have a strong dislike for Design Studio, yet I like 
the Borland offerings very much.  It will be interesting to see where the 
VA fits in.

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