[MUD-Dev] code base inquiry

Matthew Mihaly diablo at best.com
Tue Feb 15 14:24:19 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000

On Tue, 15 Feb 2000, Caliban Tiresias Darklock wrote:

> Matthew Mihaly wrote:
> > 
> > On Tue, 16 Nov 1999, Colin Coghill wrote:
> > 
> > > Some of us (including me) feel that the "restricted" ones you mention
> > > are a *good* thing for the community.
> > 
> > How are they good for the community? As far as I can tell, all they do is
> > ensure that the community is full of a bunch of crappy, generic muds that
> > are essentially paint-by-numbers copies of each other.
> Whereas commercially exploitable codebases would ensure that the
> community is full of crappy generic MUDs that are essentially
> paint-by-numbers copies of each other... which you have to pay for.
> Well, gee, you know... given a choice...

I disagree. I think it's pretty damn clear that commercial muds are, on
the average, FAR higher quality than free ones. I would like to see it
become easier for people to start small niche commercial muds, because I
would like to see more of them. No offence to Raph, etc, but the last
thing I want to see in the future of muds is the equivalent of pre-cable
tv, with a handful of networks providing all the content. The solution to
diversity (or at least quality diversity) isn't to have a bunch of people
with low-power transmitters and tv cameras in their homes, recording
whatever low-quality content they feel like broadcasting. The solution is
attracting quality people who have the energy, ability, and money to
produce quality content. This is what happened with cable television. I
don't watch a ton of television, but what I do watch is almost never from
one of the networks. There are tons of niches filled by cable television,
from stuff like ESPN2 for sports fanatics to the History channel to MTV to
Lifetime: Television for Women (always makes me laugh when I'm watching
that and see that logo). You can argue that most of what's on cable tv as
well as network tv is crap, and I'd agree, but it's a LOT better on the
whole than the crap spewed out by Joe Webcam.

Would you still have lots of crappy paint-by-numbers muds if the popular
codebases did not have commercial restrictions? Undoubtedly. Of course,
they'd be mainly free, because hardly anyone is going to pay for something
on par with a standard DIKU. On the other hand, I believe that making it
easier for entrepreneurs to create commercial muds would produce more
commercial muds which will nearly always be of significantly
higher quality than your average free mud. That the profit motive is a
very good and very strong motivator is pretty obvious. Someone using a
stock base to start a commercial mud would be forced to really gussy it
up, or no one is going to pay. He could, of course, code one from scratch,
but this is a much more difficult thing to do. 

There is a large, and very psychologically significant barrier to entry in
creating a mud from scratch for a one-man, or handful-of-men operation,
and that is that it is very difficult, psychologically, to spend a lot of
time in isolation developing a mud with no players on it. It's much more
rewarding to have players there, assisting you in terms of suggestions,
etc. It's also good to start trying to build a team of quality volunteers
as soon as possible, and a player base is the best source for those

I've been thinking about this issue for awhile, and recently paid a bunch
of money to buy the copyright to, and the rights to all extant contracts
for, the engine/scripting language Vortex. I'm considering setting up some
sort of incubator operation, much like VC incubators (but on a MUCH
smaller scale financially and otherwise of course), to assist people in
creating commercial muds with Vortex and possibly with a new
engine/scripting language currently under development for me called
Rapture. I really believe that the mudding world as a whole will be better
served with a lot of smaller commercial niche muds as opposed to a few
big commercial muds that are forced to cater to the lowest common
denominator in their quest for bragging rights to the largest subscriber


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