[MUD-Dev] Re: META: list "peerage"

Caliban Tiresias Darklock caliban at darklock.com
Tue Jan 26 10:11:44 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

-----Original Message-----
From: Laurel Fan <lf25+ at andrew.cmu.edu>
To: mud-dev at kanga.nu <mud-dev at kanga.nu>
Date: Tuesday, January 26, 1999 9:26 AM
Subject: [MUD-Dev] Re: META: list "peerage"

>Perhaps there should be some way of showcasing new, original muds, like
>a mudlist in which an imp would submit her mud, and a volunteer would
>evaluate the mud for uniqueness and non-stock-ness, and write a short
>review containing his first impressions.

I seem to recall that at least one person was going around reviewing MUDs
once. I don't remember who it was or where they were, but I definitely
recall that I had serious problems with their taste; it wasn't so much that
the reviews were bad, as that the reviews were specifically oriented toward
people who liked to play the same way the reviewer did. I had expected at
least a cursory nod to impartiality. But I have this problem with most
laypeople's reviews in general, whether they're reviewing software or games
or movies or books or what have you. The real irony is that these reviews
are generally a response to the perception that existing reviewers -- if
they exist -- are not appropriately considering their perspectives. Sort of
like starting a hate group because someone else started a hate group and
hate groups are wrong.

>Excerpts from muddev: 26-Jan-99 [MUD-Dev] Re: META: list "p.. by
>"Matthew D. Fuller"@futu
>> The problem I see with this is a mentality problem.

I agree with this entirely, but I wouldn't concur with your entire position
quite as readily.

>> It's actually the
>> same problem I see in the PC market with Windows (don't get me started on
>> that rant).

Which in turn was the reason many of us old timers shunned the Mac.
Recently, I've been looking at Macs and PCs and seeing so little difference
I'm actually giving serious consideration to the purchase of a G3 box. I
mean, originally, I thought the Mac was ridiculous because of its stupid
interface and paranoid concealment of every O/S aspect behind a thick wall
of chrome. Now I look at Windows and go hey, this is precisely what I hated
about the Mac, and precisely why I didn't buy one, and now I have it anyway.

>> The problem is, that when you don't HAVE to put out effort
>> to get started (or have to put out so little as to be essentially none),
>> there's that much less incentive to learn more.

There's a middle ground, though. I think MS should, for example, be bundling
Visual Basic with Windows instead of IE; IE is primarily a passive,
spectator thing. VB is active. (Posit: The web has made the computer
analogous to the television and the internet analogous to cable. Discuss.
Not on this list, of course, but discuss.) The question is not so much
whether you can set up easily or progress to great heights, the question
falls more along the lines of how much you need to know to start with and
how easy it is to learn more.

Observation: Learning is a skill. If you do a lot of it, you get good at it.
If you don't do any for a while, you get out of practice.

>> That's about the best
>> way I can put it without going on for pages.  There's nothing wrong with
>> a low barrier to entry per se.  The problem is with people who take that
>> as an invitation to STAY at that low level and not try to go higher.

There are opposite ends of the spectrum, neither of which works very well.

On the one hand, you have systems like my own project, which are basically
turnkey. I *want* people to get the server, type one command, and
fuhgeddaboudit. Now you have a game. What you want to do with it is another
matter; but you can do all of that IN the game, not at the source level.
Dropping into the source is discouraged at best and forbidden at worst.
(Worst and best may be reversed there depending on your perspective.) This
allows the administrator to concentrate on running a *game* and not a
*server*. It allows for very little growth, however, and I am planning to
remedy this at a later date.

On the other, you have systems like Diku, where virtually everything you wan
t to add or remove or change or whatever has to be done at a source level.
This imposes a certain barrier to entry: you are *expected* to have a
strong, established level of knowledge and experience in network
configuration, systems administration, C programming, makefile construction,
and server management. Plus you need to learn the syntax of building areas
and writing mobprogs, which has probably been defined by someone with a lot
of interest in "elegant" languages and artificial intelligence -- so the
syntax is riddled with jargon and dependent on several concepts which are
pretty opaque to anyone who doesn't share that interest.

Once upon a time, you could honestly say that probably 80% of the internet's
population had these skills to a reasonable enough degree that they could
either run a MUD immediately or learn to do so in a short period. That's not
the case anymore. We have people on the net who know almost squat. People
who ask how they can use some feature on their web page, and then get
confused by the words "tag" and "code" and ask for explanations of what a
notepad is and how they get their web page to open in it, and what do I mean
by "cut and paste"?

Somewhere between there and here (here being the developer's perspective),
we have players. It's probably a good deal closer to there. The prospect of
setting up a traditional MUD is frightening to the new admin. Likewise, the
prospect of setting up a game like mine is almost TOO accessible. In order
to encourage learning, you must approach the potential admin with a
progression: you can't make a little stepstool and say 'climb up here' -- he
feels cheated, like there is no value to the new skill he has learned. You
also can't present him with a backpack full of gear and point at a two
hundred foot cliff -- that's virtually hopeless, and he may very well give
up even before he starts.

What we need to do is provide a stairstep progression. One step after
another, with each step accessible and easily achieved, building on the
previous height attained. It may be valuable to look at administration as
yet another class or 'ladder' in your game; certainly it would benefit from
many of the same rules and observations made recently about player/character

| Caliban Tiresias Darklock            caliban at darklock.com
| Darklock Communications          http://www.darklock.com/
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