[MUD-Dev] Re: Mudschool

John Bertoglio alexb at internetcds.com
Thu May 14 09:02:33 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

From: Travis S. Casey <efindel at io.com>
Date: Thursday, May 14, 1998 6:16 AM

>On Tue, 12 May 1998, Richard Woolcock wrote:
>>    Enter your name: Bubba
>>    New character!  Enter a password: *****
>>    [Press enter to enter the game]
>The "enter your name" prompt is something that's always bothered me about
>many muds.  The first time I ever got on a mud, I saw "enter your name",
>and naturally entered "Travis Casey" (after all, it's asking for *my*
>name, not a *character's* name).  It then told me that names could only be
>one word.  So I entered "Travis".
>I went through the character generation process, expecting it to ask me at
>some point what I'd like my character's name to be.  Of course, it never
>did, but it did eventually ask me "enter your real name".  At that point,
>of course, I knew what they had meant.
>So, I went through and made a character again, while muttering aspersions
>on whoever chose to put "enter your name" instead of "enter your
>character's name" or something else that would let me know it wasn't *my*
>name they wanted.
>The moral is:  explain things clearly during character generation.

A classic example of what Dr. Cat (and others) have stated about the
insular nature of most muds. Traditional muds were made by skilled mudders
for other skilled mudders and to impress that same group with how clever
they are. Newbies, (the life blood of any hobby) are frustrated at every
turn. Notice the kinds of people who frequent muds: students, IT people,
creative types, etc. These are people whose lives cause them constantly be
challenged by new ideas. They are used to feeling inadequate when faced
with a new technical challenge and accept it as part of the experience. I
consider it a bad day if I don't feel utterly stupid at least once because
of some (currently) incomprehensible concept I am trying to learn or
actually use. Learning a goofy mud interface is just one more challenge.
But I suggest that goofy (read: incomprehensible or vague) interface is a
mistake if it can be made more understandable.

Most people have the *luxury* of avoiding situations where they feel
stupid. When faced with a leisure activity, they don't enjoy the "guess the
parser" notion present in early text adventure games. When they see "I
don't understand understand", they are put off. This is why good user
interface design is so very close to real work. I advocate a multilevel
interface with virtually all commands accessable from menus, contex
sensitive help and other helps for beginners. A standard command line
interface is a powerful tool which should also be included. In some cases a
hybrid is used. You can type [GIVE SWORD TO BUBBA] (of course the words can
be abbreviated). This is quicker than clicking on the GIVE command, having
a menu come up with items you control and characters to whom they can be
given. On the other hand, the GUI interface is more efficient if you are
not sure what you are giving or want to transfer many (but not all) items.

>MUD-Dev: Advancing an unrealised future.

MUD-Dev: Advancing an unrealised future.

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