[MUD-Dev] MUD client popularity

Edward Glowacki glowack2 at msu.edu
Mon Feb 2 11:27:51 New Zealand Daylight Time 2004

On Thu, 2004-01-29 at 12:13, Brian Hook wrote:

> And the clients I've looked at really haven't been much friendlier
> than telnet -- they're often overwhelming with the sheer number of
> options and configurability.

MUD clients are a general-purpose tool for accessing any
MUD/MUSH/MOO, so they usually have to be customized for each
specific game they play. Thus options and configurability would be
essential for MUD clients to be successful.  That said, I agree
wholeheartedly that they are overwhelming! =)

The problem is that MUD clients are written by programmers.
Programmers value configurability, flexibility, and power above all
else.  So they design MUD clients that have those values at their
core, building for other people like themselves.  They expect users
to be able to write scripts and tweak things and have fun doing it.
Unfortunately, every non-programmer out there has a completely
different set of core values they want to see in software, things
like "easy to use" and "care-free" and "just works when I plug it

To satisfy the mass audience, you need to have your interface built
by a good UI designer.  Someone who understands the audience and
their needs, and knows the ins and outs of how interfaces should
behave.  Programmers are not good UI designers.  It's a different
skill set and a different way of thinking.  UI design is more
closely akin to things like ergonomics than it is to computer
programming.  Programmers and UI designers form a team to build good
software the same way carpenters and architects form a team to build
good houses.  Neither is necessarily any more or less skilled than
the other, and you need the appropriate mix of both for the project
to succeed.

Unfortunately, MUD clients (as well as MUDs themselves, Open Source
software, and many relatively small budget projects) often don't
have the resources to hire or attract a true UI designer, or perhaps
nobody on the project understands, or is willing to admit, the need
for one. So you often end up with software that is very
programmer-centric: configurable, scriptable, and powerful, but not
very friendly.


Edward Glowacki			glowack2 at msu.edu
A PBS mind in an MTV world. 
	-- Author unknown
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