[MUD-Dev] Where are we now?

Bruce bruce at puremagic.com
Thu May 3 01:10:54 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

Greg Munt wrote:

> Okay. That wasn't actually my reason for posting. I wanted to ask
> what has changed in mudding in the past two years. It was mentioned
> on DevMUD yesterday that free muds just haven't really changed at
> all - but commercial muds have. Indeed, they have sucked out the
> skills that free muds need to grow and thrive, and left nothing but
> a stagnancy.

The viewpoint that I am about to express is not the usual viewpoint that 
I take on this subject.

Things have changed!

    More interest in online gaming, either text-based or hybrid
    graphical.  Some of this can probably be looked at as people
    becoming interested in the concepts of online games because
    of the more massive titles out in the marketplace.  This
    could also be seen as the result of many more tools being
    accessible to people today, requiring less technical skill
    to get things running in some manner:
    * Shockwave 3D
    * Flash 5
    * Java clients
    * Wild Tangent's stuff
    * GarageGames and their V12 engine.
    * Crystal Space and other free 3D engines.
    * Python
    * XML, XML-rendering browsers via CSS. XSLT. etc.

    There are also the various server emulator projects for
    running your own UO shard and such.  (But are any of
    those people on MUD-Dev?)

I think that if you want to see that things haven't changed, that's
entirely possible.  But similarly, if you're out there looking for the
special projects, the interesting muds, the new things going on,
they'll be found.

None of those things listed above were really in a suitable state (or
available at all) 5 years ago.  Most of them weren't available or
suitable even 2 years ago.

Now .. with respect to the existing servers that were around 2 years ago 
... I'd agree that very little has changed in their technology.

  * MudOS looks dead.
  * Amylaar became LDMud at some point and progresses slowly.
  * DGD picked up atomic methods, one of the most exciting things
    even though it is just bringing the idea of transactions into
    the mud world.
  * MOO hasn't changed much. (At all?)
  * Cold hasn't changed much in any released version.  I've been
    hoarding what amounts to a complete rewrite of various parts
    of the server that were done by Brad Roberts and myself, as
    well as many many feature additions for a more robust server.
    I'm hoping to make a new server release in a month or so.
    Maybe less if someone steps up to help out with some clean
    up issues that I'm procrastinating on. :)
  * Muq looks like it has been in a state of stasis for a while.
  * Devmud is in pretty much the same state.
  * I'm not aware of anything interesting happening among the
    various Diku derivatives.

But is it bad that so little has happened at that level?  Maybe most
of the servers are good enough for most of the projects?  Maybe the
next levels of innovation need to provide stronger advantages over
these current codebases, but in different areas?  DGD's atomic methods
might be an example of this.  I'm hoping that some of the enhancements
to Cold to make it easier to monitor the server internals to get
better performance data will be similarly good for the field.
Alternatively, has MOO really needed changing?  Probably not, as it
works quite well for the current audience.

But, there are also a bunch of new people working on servers.  Most of
them don't appear to have released source though, detailed design
docs, or much of anything. :) On the other hand, a lot of ideas that
were kicked around years ago in various places or codebases are
re-surfacing today in slightly different form, often without their
implementor being aware of the history behind that idea.

There are various muds out there that are doing some interesting
things as well.  I'd like to think that we've done some innovative
stuff on the Eternal City. *shrug*

In some ways, I'm beginning to think that we could be on the verge of
some significantly more interesting things happening with muds given
the advancement of the technology and the ease with which hobbyists
can use some of that technology to produce a good-enough product
without having to be technical wizards.

  - Bruce, slightly more optimistic than usual.

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