[MUD-Dev] Striving for originality

Matt Chatterley matt at eldoops.co.uk
Tue Jun 4 03:21:03 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

Hi again folks! Long time silent, I know. Lots of new faces since I
last regularly paid attention to the list, too. Same high quality

In short, I've been out of the Mud scene for a couple of years,
although I've still been actively designing and writing software (a
lot of it still gaming orientated, although I've branched out into
applications more).

Suddenly, I seem to have a little window of space in my daily
timetables, and I find myself once more bitten with the urge to try
and create a fun, new Mud experience. Or at least, to have a go.

I've dredged up lots of old ideas, plans and segments of
source-code, but have hit one major stumbling block. Something very
important to me with my designs is to try and be as original and
inventive as possible, creating something a little fresher and
exciting, both for me as an 'author' and for any potential players,
should it get that far.

In terms of theme, I'm almost certainly opting for a fantasy style
theme with a bit of a gritty 'edge' to it, and a style of game which
is action-adventure based (hopefully equally attractive to several
types of players - combatants, explorers and even the power players
to a degree).  High magic, lots of explosions and cool effects, a
large, non-repetative world filled with dynamic, adaptive quests and
creatures. Or at least, thats the dream.

When it comes down to implementing sections of the game, I find
myself a little more stuck, and have decided to open up a few
questions to an audience, just to see if I'm the only one to find
that this is an interesting area.

How do you go about implementing similar features to hundreds of
existing games, but at the same time making them new, interesting
and innovative, without being overly complex for a player to
understand, learn and enjoy?

A magic system based on material components, syllable-stringing and
gestures (or any of these) might require real brain power behind it,
quick thinking and creativity from a player (I'm certainly planning
some sort of free form magical interaction along these lines), but
to gain this new style of play, will it take too long for the
average player to pick up and use? Instead of typing 'fireball
<target>', they find that they have to acquire the spell, its
ingredients, and then perform the right sequence to use it .. would
this put them off?

Is time-scheduling a good thing for a semi action centered game?
Initiative based handling of combat allows sequencing of attacks,
and a structured approach to what can sometimes simply become a
speed-typing competition. Or will the lack of macro-able situations
and more complex combat requiring some planning and forward thinking
not be appealing to people who want to play the barbarian hero and
rampage a path of destruction through hordes of orcs?

The old player-killing chestnut pops up too -- should I choose to
allow or disallow it? If disallowed, should it be in-game 'illegal',
out-game 'illegal' (fairly pointless?) or just not possible? What
can this add to a games atmosphere -- and does it scale badly to
certain playerbase sizes?

I have many more questions to mull over, and some ideas that I'd
like to throw out to the list for feedback -- I'll work on writing
some of these up. For now, do you have any thoughts on the questions
above? How have you gone about these things -- have you identified
any of your past choices to be mistakes in these areas, or noticed
anything worth considering in the design stage?

My respect, as always,

Matt Chatterley

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