[MUD-Dev] Hoping for more... (interfaces)

Jon Morrow Jon at Morrow.net
Wed Aug 1 21:29:41 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Tommy Wang

> In a text-interface game (such as a MUD, and all its derivatives),
> I consider interface among one of its most hindering qualities.
> As I understand, we want to "immerse" a player in an online
> environment, via means of text.  Lets just assume, for a moment,
> that 99% of your players DO read the descriptions, and
> whatnot....does that truly build an immersive environment?

I don't think so.  From my experience, players are drawn more into
the world by bantering NPCs, loaded interaction with objects, and,
most of all, other players that roleplay.

What are we to do about descriptions?  I don't know.  They don't
seem to be worth the effort, but I haven't figured out anything good
beyond graphics to get rid of them.

> Perhaps a lot of reality vs. fantasy arguments will spawn out of
> that answer -- but the idea is generally right down the middle.
> A) we want to have a relationship to reality so that players can
> understand whats going on, relate it back, or simply for things to
> "make sense" -- thats probably why a lot of people play MUDs in
> the first place: escapism (taken from another thread).  B) we want
> the environment to be loose enough so it doesn't restrict player
> imaginations.  strict definitions (possible vs impossible) of our
> world sometimes makes things boring...or, at the very least...in
> the words of a teenager: "suck"

In my mind, different parts of MUDs have a different interaction
with realism.  The immersive elements I mentioned above are
important when designing the *world*.  I don't think *game
mechanics*, on the other hand, are dependent at all on realism.  As
other people on this list have said, consistency is much more
important.  Create the rules your game systems work by, such as
combat equations or advancement structure, and stick to them.

> To either of these goals, we're limited by difficulties presenting
> our world to the user, as well as problem in recieving feedback
> from them.  A 2D grid that most MUDs use (rooms, areas) seems to
> be a conter-logical choice in creating a immersive world. The 2D
> grid (although, everyone is nicely familiar & comfortable with it)
> actually gives most attention at describing relationships between
> rooms, and such.  And while, thats nice -- usually any character
> in a game should be most concerned his immediate surroundings:
> within the room.  Inter-room relationships are developed on exits
> (primarily) while intra-room relationships are just listed in a
> couple of lines following a (generally speaking) ungracious room
> description.

So, describe the immediate surroundings in your room descriptions
and the relationship with other rooms in your exit descriptions.  If
I want to see what is through a door, I could type "look through
door".  This is the system I use.  :)

> So, back to the title of this thread.  I'm currently struggling
> with concepts that resolve this problem.  Some of my preliminary
> ideas are:

I wouldn't be so arrogant to critique your ideas.  Here's what I
believe to be the most important question to ask yourself though:

Is it fun?

Unless your goal is to create a simulation, I recommend
concentrating on making your game fun.  Personally, I've experienced
more complicated object and room relationship systems, and I hated
them.  But that isn't to say I represent the players you are
targeting or that you cannot make this system fun.

> Of course, I'm no longer talking about easy building. Builders
> unfortunately will encounter a much higher learning curve, and
> areas will generally be smaller (in room count).  There are also
> some issues that the wilderness system encountered, such as exits
> that take you to once place, but when you go back, you end up
> somewhere else (not in the room u started in)...

As for the learning curve and room count, how much have you played
or built on a MOO?  Some builders have gone so far to create rooms
that you can tinker with for hours.  For example, I might be able to
lie on the bed, flip the light switch, turn on an alarm and wait for
someone to set it off, snoop through drawers, look under the bed,
and interact with a maid that comes in every few hours.  It's
marvelously fun.



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