[MUD-Dev] Next gen MUD wishlist

Bruce bruce at puremagic.com
Sat Feb 19 05:39:11 CET 2000

Bryce Harrington wrote:
> Licensing / General
>    * Freely available codebase
>    * Ability to use codebase commercially, but is more hobby-oriented
>      than commercial-oriented.
>    * Allows/encourages sense-of-community (the key to success)
>    * Allows/encourages player-world-building (the key to uniqueness)
>    * Allows/encourages community to establish and enforce its own
>      rules (the key to avoiding burdensome administration)

One problem that I have is that many people equate the above to being a
server under the GPL.  Since I'm approaching this with a highly
commercial bent (and plan to announce our open source project
real-soon-now), that really doesn't work well for me.  I much prefer a
highly modular system with well defined APIs, licensed under either the
LPGL or the Mozilla Public License (with the appropriate modifications
to the boilerplate).

The suitability of the GPL and LGPL is a good subject for debate as well
in a system that has a very dynamic runtime.  They aren't very clear
about the boundaries of what is allowed and what isn't, and when mixed
with a system where there aren't any real files and you can dynamically
replace any bit of code that you like, things can be interesting from
the perspective of licensing.

> Server
>    * Should support on the order of 100-500 simultaneous players
>      (Is this a realistic number?)

This is easily doable with any of a number of servers around today.  My
goal is to scale well past that.  My base requirements are to be able to
support at least 5000 users in a single world.  I'd be happy to support
ten times that.

>    * Should permit scripting in easy to learn, existing language

There are some other options here.  Customization (not extension) need
not involve scripting.  Rules-based authoring systems can provide for
customization in an even easier way than scripting.

>    * (Desired) should allow use of any arbitrary scripting language(?)

I'd rather have one well done, consistent system.  I want a single clean
object model that fits the requirements of my system, not a hodge-podge
that was jury-rigged to make it work with any given scripting language. 
But, I might be odd in that I don't mind learning new languages and new
object models to get a job done.

>    * Should abstract rules in a way that allow modular replacement
>    * Should be genre-generic, and even game-generic, at the core
>    * A stock world/rules should be provided, as a basis to work from.
>      Further, it should include all graphics, music, and text media to
>      characterize that world.

This shouldn't be seen as an excuse to avoid documenting the server
though as happens all too often. :)

>    * In general, the server should be easily customizable by the admin,
>      so that new wannabe admins can take a stock world and immediately
>      and quickly turn it into something interesting and unique.

(A topic to avoid, but what are the odds that this will happen or that
it will be within the capabilities of the average newbie admin?)

>    * As much as possible, customization and editing should be doable
>      while the game is still running.

Of course.  To do otherwise would be to ignore the fine heritage of MOO,
Cold and LPC.

>    * Allows "building" and "inventing"
>    * Free market, player-driven economic system
>    * Allows for creation/optimization of sophisticated AI's
>    * Dialectization - Modify player speech to suit the race/nationality
>      they're playing (orcs speak orcish, etc.)
>    * Coordinate-based rather than room-based.
>    * Able to make large scale world changes (meteorites, massive weather
>      changes, etc.)
>    ? Server distribution?  Should it be possible to link several
>      different people's servers together?

There's a lot of fun technical issues here, but what does it really add
to a game?

> Client Interface
>    * Should support graphics (to compete with UO/EQ/etc.)
>    * Cross platform playable
>    * Don't forget about importance of text and text interfaces

Don't forget that the availability of a text interface doesn't excuse
the lack of a good graphical interface for most things.  Widespread
consumer acceptance doesn't typically involve a command line.

>    * Can't trust client (treat it as already hacked; it _will_ be)
>    * Configurable dynamic music (music changes to suit the scene,
>      and can download new tunes between play sessions as they become
>      available)

Some of the new stuff in DirectX (some of which is still forthcoming)
looks really useful for this type of thing.  Of course, there goes your

>    * Semi-dynamic graphics:  can upload your character portrait or
>      animation to a central server, for others to (auto?)download.
>      (This encourages the players to generate the hardest artwork -
>      character animations - themselves.)

If all of this is to be the 'Next generation' of MUDs, then we (the mud
world) are largely already there.  MOO and Cold have been here at this
level for some time, or had the capabilities of being at this level at
the core architecture level.  They've had graphical clients.  Some of
them have had coordinate based systems.  They've been able to handle
100-500 users.  That said, I've moved on from those systems for reasons
explained in the list archives.

Isn't it time to really move on to the next generation?

 - Bruce

MUD-Dev maillist  -  MUD-Dev at kanga.nu

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