[MUD-Dev] Re: Introducing the background hook

Matt Chatterley chattemp at ee.port.ac.uk
Thu Oct 1 16:17:23 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998

On Sun, 13 Sep 1998, Ling wrote:

> Unlike fantasy muds that can assume some cliches are universal, eg:
> dwarves are short, elves have pointy ears, I have a sci-fi mud which has a
> huge unknown factor.  Absolutely nothing can be assumed so somehow, I must
> introduce an almost entirely different universe to the players.
> Does anyone have any suggestions?

I have a very similar problem, in that my fantasy environment is very 
non-standard. Elves are gentle, intelligent, beautiful folk who do good, 
and Trolls are great hulking furry things. Yup. Except that Elf over 
there would rather skin you than talk to you, and the tree you're leaning 
against right now? It's a snoozing Troll. Oh, and that big bug you 
swatted? That was a Pixie.
> What I don't want is to have a whole bunch of help/info files that the
> player is forced to read thru before playing (eg: DartMUD).  It looks like
> a webpage with lots of pretty pictures is a must-have...

Right. Some sort of 'crash course' giving the very fundamentals is 
probably essential (ie, they'll have to read *some* documentation), after 
which you could perhaps drop them into an introductory region which eases 
them into the game, providing information about the surroundings in such 
a way which leads to reasonably obvious judgements about how things are.

Provide more documentation for when (hopefully when) they get curious and 
want to know more.

> Apart from that, are there any tricks I can use to teach the player how my
> imagined world works?  My current ideas include having excerpts from an
> 'Encyleopedia Galactica' appear around login screen and menu as well as
> having in-game news broadcasts but this is too 'in yer face' for my
> liking.  I'd ideally want background information to creep in, as naturally
> as possible, eg: Bubba books a cruise to England and gets given an
> interactive pamphlet for his perusal.  One of the coolest tutorials I've
> seen is on Final Fantasy VII when your hero, an ex-super trooper person,
> teaches other people how to fight, thereby informing the player how to do
> things.  That's the kinda thing I'm looking for but for the background
> theme, not just for the mechanics. 

I think you're onto the best thing here, really - in-game lessons to the 
character which indirectly educate the player. This doesn't have to all 
be hands on stuff, it could just be NPCs chatting about things which have 
happened, and so forth.

One of the first things you need to work out is just how much players 
need to know to play - make a list (or summary) of the main points, and 
break it down into a set of facts, if possible. Then you know what you 
have to achieve, and can set about it - you'll want to keep the required 
knowledge list as small as possible of course; the more you have to teach 
a player, the longer and harder the process will be.

	-Matt Chatterley

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