[MUD-Dev] Wilderness

Adam Martin ya_hoo_com at yahoo.com
Fri Aug 10 22:52:29 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

----- Original Message -----
From: <luke at rocketship.com>

> There should be more MUDs with more emphasis on thinking and
> learning things that will help you in real life. E.g. deciding
> where to invest the money for your player-run bank, buying and
> selling shares in a trading corperation, that sort of thing. But
> make it interesting and easy enough to figure out so the player
> doesn't get bored right away.

I've been thinking that the Civilopaedia from Civilization makes a
good starting point for this kind of idea; given that learning and
entertainment are a long way from being mutually exclusive, and the
effect on atmosphere that the civilopaedia had, I think this
innovation is one that needs to be resurrected.

Of course, the main areas for thought seem to be:

  1 - Make sure that such a resource fits with the game - if you're
  game doesn't have enough depth to make the entries meaty, and also
  for actions taken IC to have the expected effect given the
  statements within the encyclopaedia, then anything else you do
  with it is worthless - it may get used, but people will quickly
  get turned off to it once it "lets them down" or gives them false
  ideas the first few times

  2 - As I said, the Civilopaedia seems a great starting point, but
  the UI issues are far from trivially solved. I remember a group of
  researchers demonstrating to me a long time ago a new technology
  they'd started using to make encyclopaedia's work a bit better -
  they called them "hyperlinks" :) - but beyond that I haven't been
  exposed to much great leaps in this area. And I've certainly seen
  very little advancement of it within non-text-only computer games;
  so there's the first-of-its-kind problem to deal with.

I think what's needed is for a game to integrate such a resource in
an apparently seamless manner - unlike the "accompanying
encyclopaedia, click here to leave game-playing-mode and go into
encyc-reading-mode" type of interaction you usually see. Ultima's
in-game-books were one of the more interesting improvements I've
seen, but the interface to read a book in say U7/U8 was enough to
drive you mad even with a dozen to read, let alone large amounts of
information. (I'm hoping there are some games I've not played which
go much further than this in integrating the gameplay with the
knowledge-base with the user interface, and that someone's going to
reply with a "but what about X? It does everything you say and
more..." type reply :).

Adam M
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