[MUD-Dev] Parser engines

Malcolm W. Tester II malcolm.tester at comcast.net
Wed Mar 10 11:11:09 CET 2004

Brian Hook wrote:

> So several questions:

>   - what MUDs do have IF-quality parsers?

>   - assuming I'm correct that most MUDs (Diku and LP derivatives)
>   don't have IF-quality parsers, is there a good reason for this
>   and is this an impediment to less combat oriented, more puzzle
>   oriented play?

I've been involved with a couple of places, both LP derived, who
have quite a bit more intelligence than just 'kill orc'.  Syntax
such as "take the sword 3 from bag 5" or "put sword on ground in bag
2" or "get torch from bag on ground" or "search under [the] [blue]
bed", "search behind [the] [blue] bed", "search [the] [blue] bed",
which produce 3 different results.

The muds are not identical, since written by different people,
obviously.  But much more advanced than the average mud, imo.  The
biggest difference I see between crappy parsers and decent parsers,
is the type of person who codes it.  And in general, it seems
Americans are lazier about it.  I am an American, so I have a right
to call us lazy :) Both of the parsers in these muds were written by
other nationalitys.  One was by a German guy, the other was by a
Swedish guy.  Both are based off the original lp 2.4.5.  Could they
be even better?  Yeah.  Re-write them from scratch, use the modern
LDmud driver (if you're going LP), and they could be improved.  But,
it's been 10-12 years since these muds were started, and now they
are huge and full of things, and it's quite possible something as
integral as the parser, being re-written, could break things.  So it
isn't likely to happen when you have 10,000+ rooms.

> My guess for the second question above is that many players don't
> care about the quality of a parser so long as the basic commands
> they want are there ("kill orc"), and that a lot of the features
> in IF-engines (which are normally puzzle oriented, not combat
> oriented), are considered fluff or irrelevant to most combat MUD
> players.

As far as combat is concerned, one of the muds has a great parser
because it is as much quest-centric as it is combat-centric.  Quests
are pushed there, and they are smart and challenging.  Some of which
wouldn't be possible without a decent parser.  On the other mud,
quests aren't pushed as hard, but they still tend to be smarter than
otherwise possible if you used a generic parser.  I think that Dikus
tend to be more combat "KILL KILL KILL" than LPs, except for the
countless muds with less-than-knowledgable admins who cannot do
anything except make k3wl monsters.

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