[MUD-Dev] Re: State of the art?

Caliban Tiresias Darklock caliban at darklock.com
Tue Feb 16 08:29:28 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999


-----Original Message-----
From: diablo at best.com <diablo at best.com>
To: mud-dev at kanga.nu <mud-dev at kanga.nu>
Date: Tuesday, February 16, 1999 12:47 AM
Subject: [MUD-Dev] Re: State of the art?


>I think part of what you are saying depends on whether you wish to talk of
>a MUD-in-whole, or about aspects of a MUD.

I think state-of-the-art has several connotations which at least partially
conflict, especially when applied to technology. A state-of-the-art program
may represent the current "hot" technology, the current "hot" theme, or
something radically new and different in either area. The first question is
whether by "art" we mean the art of game design or the art of *server*
design. The second question is whether by "state" we mean the currently
accepted wisdom, or the latest promising departure from the norm. The latter
concept doesn't make any sense to me -- the art, as a whole, is by
definition *not* in the same state as such a departure.

A MUD, as I perceive it, has two parts: a server, which is judged on
technological merit; and a game, which is judged on entertainment value. It
is entirely possible that a MUD may have great merit in one area, but not in
the other -- as the examples Andy Cink quotes show. His MUD A is a
state-of-the-art server, while MUD B is a state-of-the-art game. Either has
merit as a state-of-the-art MUD, but to have one and not the other is to
miss the point. If you advance one area to the detriment of the other, you
destroy the MUD.

I would say MUD B -- the stock Envy with lots of neat stuff -- is more
state-of-the-art. My reasoning is that the server is "good enough" and the
game is great. MUD A, on the other hand, has an insanely great server but a
crappy game; the server has been developed to the detriment of the game. If
MUD B ports its areas over to MUD A, then MUD AB would be a great MUD
without question. But then, consider that a great game on a great server is
NOT the norm -- the state of the art is *not* reflected by this MUD. Is it
state-of-the-art?

Where do we draw the line between art and administration? Certainly there
are people building MUDs who don't think of it as art in the first place,
people who are writing a server only to do the job and not to be some
fantastic piece of exemplary work. People who are building areas and game
structures in a very scientific and regimented fashion, perhaps to duplicate
some book they once read. Are such MUDs even eligible?

It is debatable whether the internal game system itself is relevant. Given
the general resistance to Race/Class/Level systems these days, is the RCL
form of character definition and advancement eligible for state of the art?
Would other people, like myself, feel somehow embarrassed to be part of a
community that -- if such a system were indeed state of the art -- really
has never done better than the D&D set released in 1973? *Have* we ever done
better?

A related question: is the portability of a MUD server relevant? When you
examine Valhalla, which runs on Intel Linux and that's *all*, does PennMUSH
one-up it in any significant fashion by virtue of its multiple O/S
compatibility?

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