[MUD-Dev] Re: Current Projects

Michael.Willey at abnamro.com Michael.Willey at abnamro.com
Tue Oct 13 12:18:55 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998

Alex Stewart wrote:
>What are your current projects?  For those of us
>out here pushing the technological envelope (or
>just hacking around), what are we up to, anyway?

My ongoing project is Dreamshadow, an LP-Mud we've
been hacking around on since '91.  We started with
LP 3.1.4, eventually moved to MudOS, and have managed
to rewrite every scrap of mudlib code at least twice.
At least part of our team has been on since the very
beginning, and the game has evolved along with our
changing ideas of what it should be.  As you can
imagine, by now it's becoming an overwhelming mess.
Tangled webs of legacy code and long forgotten functionality
have stagnated new development and frightened off
much of our building talent.

So I'm also working on a new project: Dreamshadow II.
Essentially we're rewriting the game, refining all
of the tried and true concepts that have worked for
us for so many years and working in all the new
concepts and features we've wanted, but would have
broken the old mud.  The development watchwords
are simplicity and modularity.  We're building a
pretty simple and open framework, and people who
want nifty feature-of-the-month X can work it in

>In particular:
> * What kind of software are you working on? (MUD
>driver, MUD client, etc?)

Original game concepts built on top of pre-packaged
MudOS driver and (probably) stripped down Lima mudlib.

> * Why?
Unlike much of the community, we have no interest
in developing new servers, administration tools,
communication protocols, security schemes, or whatever.
We're world builders.  We want a package that provides
that "unimportant" stuff, that we're familiar with,
and that doesn't get in the way.

> * What are its features?
> * What does it do (will it do) differently than
>other things do?
> * Any neat concepts involved?
> * Any boring concepts being used in neat ways?

Ok, here goes...

Dreamshadow is based on the idea that each "area"
is a separate universe with it own physical/metaphysical
laws and identity.  The mechanics for interaction
between universes (also called "cosms") is based
on some of the basic ideas from WEG's Torg game.
If you're not familiar with that source, I'll explain
quickly.  Each world has a set of three axioms that
dictate it's potential in three areas: technological
progress(TECH), magical power(MAGIC), and spiritual
influence(SPIRIT).  Each object, power, ability, or
whathaveyou is rated on these scales.  If the world
you are in doesn't support the required axioms of
what you're trying to do, it doesn't work.  If you
take a laser pistol from some space opera world and
venture to the land of the dinosaurs, don't expect
it to still fire laser beams.  In fact, it won't
even be recognizable as a laser pistol - It'll be
a "shiny stick" or something akin.  "Darn", you say,
but it prevents the vision of the designer of the
land of the dinosaurs from being disrupted by people
hauling around shoulder-launched missiles.  ("Storm
Knights", you say if you're familiar with Torg.
We don't have them.)

That's the whole point - we want to encourage people
to build individual worlds based on different concepts,
without worrying that it's not powerful enough to
compete with players who've armed themselves up in
the Quake cosm or that it doesn't mesh with the theme
of the baseworld.

Most of the other features are side effects of this
underlying concept - Over the years we've worked
in damage type flags to differentiate between a
kevlar vest stopping a bullet and a magic shield
protecting against dragon breath, a skill tree system
that tries to cover everything from starship piloting
to spellcasting, a economic system that allows for
differing currencies in each world and a changing
relationship between their values, and player races
in differing sizes and shapes from the norm.

The new project's goal is to keep this spirit, but
design for it from the beginning.  We're designing
a very basic framework for interactions between
objects, and leaving room for future builders to
expand within their creations without having to
rewrite the basic system to handle their special
cases. (The reward here is getting to write up our
own favorite special cases and immortalize them in
a library of useful extras.  Many of the great ideas
being passed around here will show up in that library.)

My current stage in the DS2 project is writing up
a new game mechanic system, since we've become very
dissatisfied with the balance of the system we're
using now.

I'm eliminating experience points in favor of pure
advancement through use (we currently use a system
with both), re-scaling the skill system (I recently
discussed a logarithmic progression, where chance
to advance from X to X+1 is 1 in e^X per use), revising
a lot of the game concepts, and converting the base
probability checking mechanisms from a combination
of linear and bell curve probabilities to a recursive
die rolling function ala Torg or Shadowrun (roll():
x=rand(0..MAX), if (x=MAX) x=x+roll()).  I like the
way each of these systems levels out at the high ends
without ever completely stopping progress.

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