[MUD-Dev] Dynamic Descriptions

Nathan Yospe nyospe at mac.com
Sat Apr 2 06:03:54 New Zealand Daylight Time 2005

On Mar 23, 2005, at 1:12 AM, Bernard Graham wrote:

> Has anyone ever created a workable dynamic description-solution
> for their muds.  I am delving into this and would like to get some
> pointers and ideas.

The more things change...

> Things I have started to think about include having weather, time
> of day and seasons affect the description.  Also, how would you
> properly implement smells and even things like the size of a room,
> for example, if you are in a small room it might feel
> claustrophobic, whereas if you are on a road inside a town it
> might feel "open".

> If anybody has any interesting ideas I would like to hear about
> it.

The thread has already progressed on the line of useful versus
atmospheric descriptions. I'd like to broach another variation on
dynamic content: active descriptions.

Active descriptions are not just dynamic in content. They also
continue to unroll as time progresses, attempting to create an
ongoing narrative by weaving action and description in a flow, so
that a character, when told to walk north along a road, has a
continuous flow of description as he progresses. Rather than rooms,
descriptions focus on objects in the field of view, far off or
immediate, using a calculation of importance... sort of a narration,
rather than a progression of bursts of words.

Now, the archives are currently offline... so I won't be using any
of the older posts on this topic to illustrate. This might be a
blessing... I haven't contributed much new content in the last five
or six years, and pointing back to posts made in '96 might give you
ideas, but could reduce active discussion. That said, I'd like to
mention that this subject has been discussed before, and real
instances have existed. The Eternal City (now part of Skotos) was
doing some impressive active descriptions, as early as the late

I did a presentation on the topic two years ago at the MUD-Dev
conference... not a very good presentation, I'm afraid, but it was
what it was...

In any case, I'd like to hear what others here think of having
descriptions flow in a stream of awareness (from the character
perspective) instead of as a periodic "room" spewed at them...

Nathan F. Yospe
Core Software Developer
SAP Labs, Los Angeles
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