[MUD-Dev] Depth of realism

Koster Koster
Thu Nov 18 09:57:00 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Joe Kingry [mailto:jkingry at uwaterloo.ca]
> Sent: Thursday, November 18, 1999 3:34 AM
> To: Mud-Dev
> Subject: [MUD-Dev] Depth of realism
> Most modern M*'s strive towards some greater achievement of 
> realism then
> their predecessors.  There are arguments to what is the 
> "right" degree of
> realism.  Too much realism gets in the way of what one would 
> think (I at
> least anyhow) MUD's purpose were, that as a source of escapist
> entertainment/mental exploration etc.

First off, I think that's a narrow definition of MUD's purpose. MUD is a
platform, and therefore has limited purpose in itself. I'd certainly list
"interaction with others" as an intrinsic part of that platform. I would not
include mental exploration (which most Dikus are lacking) or escapist
entertainment (which social muds are not really about).

> I mean if the time on a said MUD progresses at 30 times 
> faster then RL, then
> one couldn't expect players to log on for 4 hours everyday to 
> make the cross
> oceanic journey they are on.  Well feasibly this could be 
> dealt with by
> allowing characters to persist after a player logs out.  But 
> to take another
> example, what of sleep? Characters hardly ever sleep while 
> being played and
> then, only when wounded, totally regardless to the time of 
> day it is. How
> does one deal with this?

Realism is better defined as "internal consistency" than as "mimicry of the
real world." That's how you deal with it. There are many aspects of virtual
spaces (both single- and multi-player) that players are willing to accept as
limitations of the simulation. Size and scale is certainly one of the top
things in that category. In fact, players can and will get actively annoyed
if, in an attempt to provide greater "realism" via a larger scale, the mud's
designers prevent them from the primary mud goal of "interaction with

> Then there are the question of resources and a real economic 
> system.  If a
> player has to chop wood, then feasibly the forest could be 
> depleted at some
> point.  Though it is a given that forests in medieval settings tend to
> greatly outstrip the land area used up by civilisation.  As 
> some one pointed
> out though, if the level of detail is there in which a player 
> could farm for
> instance then there should be also the option to join legions 
> of the army
> etc.

Sure. Neither of the above are that difficult to implement in a literal
sense. What's difficult is providing enough of everything else in the game
so that those two aspects are part of a self-coherent context. You could add
farming into any old Diku. It's not gonna mean much unless it has
interdependencies with the rest of the game and setting (cf EverQuest and
crafting skills).

> Which got me to thinking, can a MUD really handle a battle on 
> the scale of
> two armies?  I don't just mean in pure processing time, but in the
> organisation and handling of multiple groups and units etc.  
> It would seem
> almost an entirely different system. Which is what I suppose 
> most people
> would argue with the modern movement of M*'s seems to be away from the
> heavily combat reliant DIKU base. Large scale battles are not 
> the realm of
> M*'s.  For example, AD&D really isn't designed for large 
> scale battle, and
> it survives myriad adventures without it.

Graphical muds have no problem with large scale battles, and they are quite
common (and extremely fun). It's not a limitation of muds, but a limitation
of your client-side presentation. Yes, arguably text is not well-suited to
presenting the goings-on--but that may also be because nobody has gotten
particularly clever about presenting large-scale combat in a manner
different to small-scale melee.

I'd also question whether the modern movement of muds is away from combat,
or just from the Diku codebase. There's plenty of reasons to move away from
the Diku codebase that have nothing to do with combat. :)

> But then, isn't this a limitation of scale? Isn't that 
> saying, at such and
> such size of a thing, it's not feasible or practical to 
> include in a virtual
> world.  So should we then have anything else in our world 
> that is on that
> scale? If we can't have a working army then should we have 
> working kingdoms?
> Should we have a geographical area which would suggest 
> kingdoms/provinces?

You should check out the current "massively multiplayer online roleplaying
games" wherein you DO have things of that scale. IMHO, there's no reason why
elements like those (which include, btw, mud-wide feudal systems*,
player-run cities and armies**, and large-scale faction warfare between
geographically separated tribes***) couldn't occur in traditional muds with
a sufficiently large playerbase.

* Asheron's Call
** Ultima Online
*** EverQuest


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