[MUD-Dev] Re: MUD Design doc - Combat

Dr. Cat cat at oldzoom.bga.com
Tue Jan 26 14:56:59 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999


Raph Koster wrote:
> It would be worth debating whether speech should need a command at all;
> just typing talks, and all other commands require a prefixed symbol
> instead.

Ok, let's say I'm re-inventing the telephone and I want to decide whether 
my default action during a phone call should be to try to parse what I 
say as a command to pick up a call waiting call or bring up a web page on 
the phone's mini-screen or activate my toaster or something, and I need 
to press the "talk" button before saying something to my red-headed 
sweetie Olivia, or use a prefix command in my speech like "say Hi honey, 
how was your day today?"

Or should I be able to talk and talk like now, and if I want to do 
something *else* I have to press a button or mumble an arcane prefix?

I trust that for telephones, the answer is sufficiently obvious that it 
requires no debate.  I feel that it's the same for MUDs also.  Certainly 
in every chat system I ever used, talking was the default action, and 
people would have been baffled if anyone suggested doing otherwise in an 
interface design.  To me MUDs are communications systems with "some other 
stuff to do besides talking" added in.  Though this particular list has a 
strong bias towards combat and towards simulating immensely complex world 
ecosystems, economies, and/or laws of physics, I think that what most MUD 
players primarily want to do is talk to other people - and this will only 
increase as a focus as the demographics of the Internet shift more and 
more away from the early adopters, and towards the demographics of the 
average human.  (Or at least, for now, towards the demographics of the 
average first-world human.  The third world won't be ordering much from 
amazon.com for a while yet.)

When the primary means for chatting is by voice, as it will be, the 
question of default for text-mode input defaults might be in a somewhat 
different light.  But I think most command entry would be through mouse 
or alt and control key combinations (I use control keys and cursor keys 
in Furcadia right now), and typing to talk will still be a desirable 
default for the people that prefer some text-chatting to voice chatting 
for various reasons.  Certainly a system that has a DOS style command 
line interface for entering commands should still have an "enter talk 
mode" command that would treat all further typing as speech until the 
mode is exited.  But I don't think command line interfaces will be 
desired much by the general public in the MUD world, any more than they 
want them as an alternative to Windows/MacOS/Xwindows in the OS world.
Most humans don't want a command line interface, they want a graphic 
interface.

I have to go now.  My toaster is ringing, I think it's a long distance call.

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