[MUD-Dev] Something complete different

Brandon J. Rickman ashes at pc4.zennet.com
Wed Oct 8 20:41:33 CEST 1997

On Sun, 5 Oct 1997 03:36:41 PST8PDT Marian Griffith
<gryphon at iaehv.nl> wrote:
>On Thu 18 Sep, Brandon J. Rickman wrote:
>> A newbie area is almost always some specially protected area where larger
>> predators (carnivores, big monsters) are not allowed, and they
>> generally encourage overpopulation (so there is something for newbies to
>> kill).  Given the typically wholesale slaughter that takes place in
>> most newbie areas, there should in fact be *lots* of uneaten and
>> unscavenged corpses lying around, because the scavengers are well fed!
>> But to make the claim that newbie areas are "unnatural" is hardly worth
>> saying.
>If you're after realism then there should be none, or hardly any rabbits
>in that newbie area. Of course that would defeat the purpose of the area
>so that never happens. All this assuming that we are talking about fair-
>ly traditional muds  where the only goal is to kill as many creatures as
>possible in the shortest time.

I am, it turns out, not after realism at all.  I am interested in 
storytelling.  Realism occasionally intersects with storytelling, but
only rarely given the normal definition of realism on muds.  But ignoring
that, if there aren't enough rabbits in the newbie area it won't be very
fun.  To make the newbie area extremely large, avoiding the unnatural
crowding by distributing the rabbits (and their pretators and scavengers)
across space (rabbits in space?), sounds like an interesting solution.  
And in many cases muds are made up of mostly newbie areas.  However, having
a large number of newbie areas creates an expectation for a large
number of non-newbie areas, and (wouldn't you know it!) this leads me
back to a Big Universe problem.

>> Ah, one point I was trying to make was that, in many situations, the
>> players _don't_ care about the details, so you might as well fake them.
>*nod* And I think that all games in fact do just that.  Of course then
>you run into problems if some of those details end up to be not so ob-
>scure as you thought they would be.  Or if you want to give the game a
>broader basis of possible activities.

Somewhere in this lost coversation I mentioned how an undecayed corpse
is easily noticed in a mud where the corpses quickly decay.  And yes,
broadening the game can involve lots of frivolous details.  How do 
you provide interesting details at appropriate moments?  I dunno.

>> >Things decay unless repaired. Living creatures repair themselves
>> >continuously until they stop being living.  Metals and rocks are
>> >very resilient against decay so they stay around longer. Nothing
>> >mysterious about it in my opinion. Of course I am not the person
>> >who has to code this :)
>> I might not have made a clear enough distinction between /objects/
>> that decay and /details/ that decay. 
>Now you are confusing me :(

Objects are basically the traditional physical things that exist in the
mud universe.  A sword, a banana, a rabbit are all objects.  And rooms tend
to be objects.  The decay of objects is related to a change in the state
of the actual object: the sword rusts, but slowly; the banana will rot; a
rabbit, if killed, becomes a corpse (which may or may not be the same 
object... this is not important) that "decays".

Details are typically information about the state of objects or the
universe that just aren't important enough to be their own objects.
Tinyscenery (potted plants in rooms that you can't actually interact with),
clues ("You notice some runes on the stone."), and orientation hints
("There is a forest to the north, a small stream burbles to the west.")
are your typical mud details.

Object decay is usually intergral to the mud universe: too many objects
make things very messy.  One way of decaying objects is to turn them into

Detail decay is a more complicated thing.  How do you know if a detail
is completely uninteresting and irrelevant to the world?  It is hard to
justify throwing away details, partially because the accumulation of 
details creates a certain atmosphere in the game.  Games without details
are sterile.  Too many details also make things very messy, but these
details are only indirectly manipulable by the players so players are more
likely to notice any change of detail. (If a sword disappears you assume
that someone took it.  If the "forest to the north" disappears you get

In a completely excessive restatement: objects are manipulated by the
players; details are manipulated by the game.  These distinctions may
not matter to the programmers, or even the players, but they are useful
for mud design.

- Brandon Rickman - ashes at zennet.com -
While I have never previously found a need for a .sig, this
may be considered one for the purposes of this list

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