[MUD-Dev] Information sharing (was: Re: Where are we now?)

Derek Licciardi kressilac at home.com
Mon May 7 22:48:59 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

> -----Original Message-----
> From: mud-dev-admin at kanga.nu [mailto:mud-dev-admin at kanga.nu]On Behalf Of
> Koster, Raph
> Sent: Sunday, May 06, 2001 6:49 PM
> To: 'mud-dev at kanga.nu'
> Subject: RE: [MUD-Dev] Information sharing (was: Re: Where are we now?)


> It was definitely new to a large group there. And sometimes you
> can't tell who you'll teach something; Will Wright took copious
> notes during the presentation and told me afterwards that there was
> much new to him. I certainly learned things at his presentation.

> There's only two kinds of information that are useful to share. Raw
> data, and analysis. The raw data is by and large being kept secret
> in the commercial AND hobbyist worlds. There's anecdotal evidence,
> but for a lot of really important kinds of data, there aren't even
> any metrics being gathered, much less publish3ed in a systematic
> manner.

> Analysis, in the absence of publicly available raw data, is even
> scarcer. I mentioned earlier that I'm into taxonomy. To my mind, a
> lot of analysis has to do with classification. Most of what was in
> that presentation was stuff that is publicly available raw data:
> room-based maps versus continuous maps, for example, is something
> that just about anyone on this list could identify as an important
> design difference. But when I went looking for analysis of mud
> design, I found that nobody had even classified those two very basic
> structures.

> That's why the presentation was called "Design Patterns"--this is
> stuff that everybody knows, yup. But I maintain that nobody knows
> how to talk about it because it doesn't even have
> names. Classification in this sense is the art of telling you what
> you already know in a way that makes it comprehensible.  I'd go so
> far as to say this is stuff that nobody knows they already know.

> To engage in an extended analogy--just about everybody knows that
> some music goes ta-DUM ta-DUM and some music goes OOM-pa-pa
> OOm-pa-pa. People more educated in music can even say that the
> latter sounds like a waltz and the former like rock 'n' roll. If you
> had music lessons as a kid, you might say that one is in 4/4 time
> and the other is in 3/4 (or maybe 6/8 given how I wrote it).

> If it's actually USEFUL to you as a musician, then you can easily
> ascertain things like the fact that most Celtic music is in 6/8 and
> and Billy Joel's "Piano Man" is one of the few pop hits in waltz
> time and that most reggae beats break the 2 and 4 beats into a pair
> of eighth notes and so on down the line. And when you go to play,
> write, or arrange a tune, there's common practices and standards
> associated with different time signatures and rhythms.

> Now, everyone KNOWS that some music goes ta-DUM ta-DUM and some
> music goes OOM-pa-pa OOm-pa-pa. And if I got up at a musician's
> convention to share that I was working on something new by saying,
> "well, I'm exploring a new piece that goes DUM-ta-DUM-ta-DUM
> DUM-ta-DUM-ta-DUM" I'd be laughed out of the room. It doesn't matter
> that I use that rhythm regularly in writing guitar pieces (in fact,
> I use it so much I really ought to stop!). What they want to know is
> that it's a syncopated beat in 4/4 with three downbeats to the
> measure and 8th note pickups before the 2nd & 3rd downbeats, etc
> etc.

> Matt, when you say "nobody's sharing anything new and substantive"
> at GDC, all you're saying is, "OOM-pa-pa is useless to me." It's
> especially useless if you've heard the beat a billion times
> before. What I tried to do in that presentation was say, "There's
> two major classes of beats--OOM-pa-pa and ta-DUM. They're both
> great, but they work differently. This beat lends itself to this,
> this other one to that. You can embed triplets in other one.  By the
> way, you can also change time signatures every measure if you want."

> GDC is full of anecdotal raw data. Shaping it into terminology and
> best practice is a necessary step towards innovating in an iterative
> way. It isn't until a musician figures out that you can count
> triplets that they can make an effort towards using them (or fail to
> challenge themselves to use it). 7/8 is not a natural time signature
> to the human mind, and it takes a degree of effort to get there;
> folk musicians don't just stumble across it.

> Similarly, perhaps continuous-map muds with embedded multiple scales
> with flag-based PvP structures and expressive collect 'em all
> mechanics are non-intuitive too. Who knows, might be huge--but
> nobody's made one because right now we're rearranging variables we
> don't even know the names to. We certainly can't analyze without the
> terms.

> On this list, we have an unusual membership in that there's a bit of
> a vocabulary established. But frankly, not much. Hell, consider that
> I know of at least four terms for people who don't engage in PvP
> (non-PvP, carebear, peacenik, socializer) that actually mean
> different things, and yet get used indistinguishably by many. Or
> consider PvPer vs PKer vs Killer vs Grief Player. It's important to
> get those terms straight because otherwise we're not even talking
> the same language, and if we're not talking the same language
> attempts at information sharing and education are bound to fail.

> Of course, you might just be the type who hates memorizing the names
> of metric feet in English class in high school. ;)

I have to agree with this.  If we are to perfect this art of MUD
creation, then we must categorize it, identify what makes it up and
begin to understand the relationships between what we identify.  While
for the most part we do this(albeit in an unorganized, unofficial
way), Raph is hinting at what seems to be a better solution.  Almost a
standards body to set the official meanings of terms used in our
industry.  Without them, we can not hope to carry on efficient
meaningful discussions in an effort to advance our field.  Notice how
many times someone will begin their post to this list by explaining
the definition of something.  They do this not because they think they
are imparting to us something we do not know, but to clear up any of
the variations that exist for the topic that person is about to

>From an admin's point of view, this becomes extremely important when
one wants to get beyond the 200 - 500 active player MUD.  In another
thread on this list discussion was presented about how to build the
next UO/EQ...  Large servers will be needed costing corporations
hundreds of thousands of dollars a piece.  How will future admins
justify to their investors that the configuration they have planned is
the most efficient infrastructure to meet the needs of the game and
the business plan.  Analysis like this needs metrics.  Metrics can't
be derived without definitions.  I took Raph's presentation(Not the
live one but the web published one) as the beginning of the
identification that will allow us to build metrics.  Metrics through
which we can measure the effectiveness of our worlds and improve upon
them in future generations.  In this regard it was tremendously useful
as a starting point.


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