[MUD-Dev] Custom Client or Plain ole' Telnet?

Edward Glowacki glowack2 at gmail.com
Tue Sep 20 14:58:14 CEST 2005

On 9/17/05, Matt Chatterley <matt.chatterley at gmail.com> wrote:

> Simply put - do I go with a custom client, or implement a telnet
> interface?

You could build for both.  Nothing says you have to have the same
stream of data/text going to both your custom client and telnet.=20
There is also nothing that says you have to stick to linear text,
you could always go with screen positioning stuff on top of telnet
(most telnet/terminals support VT100, ANSI, etc.).  That of course
kills MUD clients though... =3D(

Another alternative is to build for telnet, then do your "custom
client" portion as add-ons to a normal MUD client.  You could for
example release a ZMUD package that includes a bunch of stuff to
make the mapping work, add some GUI-like menus, etc. to do your
"enhanced" stuff.

On a more divergent note, depending on the specifics of your game,
you could deliver it over the web.  You get all the "can access from
just about anywhere" bonuses of telnet with the GUI point-and-click
stuff.=20 With good use of javascript, you can make the interface
pretty responsive too (e.g. gmail and Google maps).

Worldforge (worldforge.org) I thought used to have a text-based
client, though I didn't see it when I did a quick check this
morning.=20 They do have different types of clients, and at one
point I think that included 2D/3D/isometric/text all running from
the same server.  Might be worth a look for information.

> Telnet's main advantage is that it makes the game immediately
> accesible to people playing in many, many places, and on all sorts
> of different systems. There are well-written, stable, mature Mud
> clients which use Telnet readily available for all major platforms
> - someone else has done all of the hard work for me here. Almost a
> dream come true!

Telnet is immediately accessible, yes, but it is also not the most
desirable way to play. =3D( A MUD client is almost a necessity

> The main disadvantage is that this restricts me to a text-only set
> of input/output streams. Administrators and Builders at least will
> require a custom client to perform additional functions (e.g. Area
> design is graphical, using a layout tool), and many of my
> "coolest" ideas require "extra content" which could not be
> delivered via telnet - for example a 'mini map' showing the area
> around the player from the top down - as the game is part strategy
> in design, and the position of opponents relative to yourself in
> combat (for example) can be relevant - this is difficult to relay
> concisely in text alone.

You can do a minimap over telnet.  Medievia has had one for a long
time as just output among the scrolling text.  Also, if you go with
VT100/ANSI/etc., you get the nice text positioning features and
could make a decent map that way.

> That said, it isn't going to be (and never will be) a graphical
> game - at least 75% of the content is descriptive text - no images
> for rooms or monsters and so forth - I'm approaching this from an
> Interactive Fiction perspective as much as Strategy or RPG.

Just because the content is text doesn't mean the interface has to
be.  Look at email.  It's completely text-based, but the graphical
interface of an email client like Outlook or Thunderbird or Pegasus
makes dealing with all that text much nicer.  The other side of that
is email clients like PINE, ELM, and MUTT, which do the interactive
text display thing.  PINE in particular has a pretty nice text-based
interface that might supply some inspiration if you want to stick to
just text.

> So, are the 'bells and whistles' worth the extra work creating a
> good quality, stable client, and the limitation that it will not
> be available for all platforms (currently planning to implement
> the project in .NET, therefore aiming at windows, possibly Linux,
> depending on how the open source .NET implementation is going
> these days). Players would also have to download and install the
> program - does this prevent people from playing?

That's a question of where do you want to spend your time
developing.=20 Making your own custom client means that you will
have that much less time to work on your server, which includes game
mechanics, storyline, etc.

> Some of the bells/whistles/etc in my notes are:

(snip) Most of those can be implemented either with a custom client,
a MUD client with add-ons, or server-side with screen positioning
(VT100/ANSI), or even the web.

Guess that's it for now.  Hope the feedback helps!

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