[MUD-Dev] Current Projects

Niklas Elmqvist d97elm at dtek.chalmers.se
Fri Oct 16 12:52:08 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998

On Thu, 8 Oct 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? 

Well, you certainly opened a Pandora's Box, at least in my case. I've been
eagerly awaiting an excuse for spewing a long tirade about my system. ;)

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

Well, my current project is a MUD server called MoleMUD. I call it
"server" because it consists of two parts: the core engine (driver),
called MoleCore, and the world, MoleMUD (the latter is discussed in more
depth below). Please excuse any over-enthusiastic statements, lenghty and
boring descriptions and uncalled self-praise about subjects which might be
old hat to some people -- this is *my* project and I am excited about
it. :)

>  * Why?

Why (the short version)? Well, I want to create the MUD *I* want to play,
and I believe MoleMUD will be just that -- if I ever finish it. Oh, and I
cherish the type of programming and design I come across when developing a
MUD like this.

>  * What are its features?

I am focusing on creating an *extremely* generic server architecture (the
MoleCore). I've been told it looks very much like Cold and LP MUD drivers,
but I couldn't tell -- never worked with any of them. It does actually
resemble conventional OS architecture in many aspects. My aim is to have
the MoleCore consist of a select few components such as an event manager
for the event-handling (duh), a byte-code virtual machine for my internal
O-O programming language, a plugin manager for dynamically adding and
removing shared libs to the core (actually, handler objects contained in
shared libs), and a request chain for passing messages between plugins in
a decoupled fashion. By itself and all alone, the MoleCore is not good for
anything. Instead, the entire game will then be modelled on this basic
architecture using plugins. A "normal" MUD server would typically have a
DatabasePlugin, a NetworkPlugin, a ParserPlugin, and so on. The cool thing
is that these plugins can be all added and removed at run-time, and can be
recompiled without ever having to restart to main executable. Done right,
updates, bug fixes and extensions would never require the server to be
rebooted, only the plugins to be recompiled and reloaded. New features can
be added on the basis of "now you see it, now you don't" (actually, the
other way around, but you get the picture).


> This question obvously applies more to the technological side of things,
> though that's not to say that world builders shouldn't post too, if they
> feel so inclined (particularly if there are neat/new concepts involved). 
> Obviously, some people won't be able to answer in great detail for
> things which may be under NDAs, but even a general description of what's
> going on in the field would be interesting. 

As for my MUD world, I might as well mention a few things about it since
it is kind of... well, different. :) Since I'm trying to keep a very clear
distinction between the core engine and the world, this part deserves a
special section...

MoleMUD, as the name suggests, focuses on the Duncton Wood moledom as
depicted by the English author William Horwood. In this world, moles are
sentient creatures and live their lives in their burrows (connected into
whole systems) scattered around the English countryside. Moledom, as the
world is called, consists of thousands of systems, the Seven Ancient
Systems being the foremost of these. Most fabled among these is, in turn,
the venerable Duncton Wood where the most potent Stone -- the omnipotent
deity of the moles -- of moledom can be found rising high on Duncton Hill.
However, at the time when MoleMUD takes place, the evil grikes, mole
worshippers of the dread Word, threatens to invade the peaceful systems of
the south. 

Central in the Duncton Wood books, and thus central to MoleMUD, is the
concept of generations and heritage. So instead of having the player
control a single character/mole, I will have them control mole families.
That is, the player is in control of only one specific member of the mole
family at any one time, but may "switch" to potential off-spring (a
character switch is permanent, however). This way, the player will start
off with a single mole with some abilities and characteristics and can
then find mates, mate and get offspring. The offspring will inherit a mix
of the parent's genes, allowing the player to mold his family towards
areas such as fighting, delving, scribing, magic (in the form of Dark
Sound), healing, and so on over a long period of time. I intend to have
the behavior of the player's mole (=the mind/disposition of the mole)
affect the characterisitics of its offspring. 

Whenever the mole character dies for some reason, be it from violence or
from natural reasons, control will be transferred to the successor of the
mole (one of its offspring). In case the mole lacks offspring or appointed
successor, the mole family will "die" -- permanently. Of course, players
will only be allowed to choose a single successor in each generation
(otherwise, fighting moles which tend to die a lot would walk around and
mate like crazy), and choosing a successor will be an irrevocable act (so
even if the player gets a more promising pup later on in his life, he will
be forced to stick to his earlier decision). In addition, moles can only
get offspring when they reach a certain age (duh), which somewhat solves
the problem of a player quickly walking through a line of generations
until he gets a mole character with the desired characteristics. 

Oh well, that's my basic idea. As I get closer to implementation, I'm
going to flesh it out and do some other things to the moledom world. Any
comments, suggestions and criticism are of course welcome. 

>      Alex Stewart - riche at crl.com - Richelieu @ Diversity University MOO

-- Niklas Elmqvist (d97elm at dtek.chalmers.se) ----------------------
  "Nanny Ogg looked under her bed in case there was a man there. 
   Well, you never knew your luck."
		-- Terry Pratchett, Lords and Ladies

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