The search for identity
Letters to the editor
- Scatter ///\oo/\\\
Guide to Roleplaying
Waltzing on with the mud client
- Andy Lewis
Rule making of roleplaying
- Michael A. Hartman (Aristotle@Threshold)
Beyond Player Killing
The Writer's Block
- Daniel McIver
Enter your email to be informed when this site is updated.
The Writer's Block
by Daniel McIver
It's pretty boring here...
One thing that has always annoyed me about
descriptions on muds has been the plethora of "Itís pretty boring here..."
and "There isnít much to see here..." descriptions. If youíve been
mudding for any length of time youíll be well accustomed to these.
An obvious easy way out for the area builder when they run out of inspiration
is to go to great lengths in explaining how boring and non-descript the
playerís surroundings are. This is okay if only featured in one or
two areas in the whole mud, but it all to often becomes a regular occurrence,
and really begs the question why the player is bothering to enter this
exciting game world if only be to confronted with locations filled with
not so exciting monotony. Basically, try to avoid writing descriptions
with how boring a place is as the focal point, and concentrate on describing
the boring things there may be to see there in as interesting a way as
possible. Even descriptions based around such mundane things such
as tree bark and peeling paint can provide the basis for an atmospheric
(and usually quite amusing) description.
Car flying in a most exciting way.
Adjectives to the rescue!
A nice way to spice up a dull description
is pack in adjectives at just about every appropriate opportunity.
While this may seem a little fabricated, it often does wonders in improving
the interest level of a place. While this may seem obvious to a lot
of people, a thesaurus is also an invaluable tool when struggling with
your thirty-fifth "road through forest" description. So try to make
that stove squat, those cliffs loom, and the trees tower. Then, once
youíve used up all the stereo-typical adjectives, consult your thesaurus
for more interesting ways of describing more of the same. Try to
avoid rewriting the same information in a different way, however.
This really only helps if youíre continually mentioning the same things
throughout an area, but wonít do much for making each description suitably
ASCII art is quite common on muds, and in
small doses can look quite pretty. The real appeal it seems, is not that
it looks good, but that someone actually managed to make text resemble
a picture. Even a hastily drawn black and white bitmap usually looks
a lot nicer than ASCII art, so if you want to use a lot of ASCII art on
your mud, maybe you should investigate some of the newer graphical muds,
or include support for mud clients like Pueblo, which are capable of presenting
ASCII art has a lot of problems associated
with it. If the player isnít using a fixed width font, or if their
column length is different, your meticulously drawn ASCII picture may be
presented as a meaningless jumble of text on the screen. This could
give an especially bad impression if your login screen has an ASCII picture
on it, and could potentially cause people to dismiss your mud before they
even create a character. At the end of the day, text-based games
arenít good at showing graphics, and the appeal should really come from
nicely written and presented text. I usually relegate ASCII art for
use only in signs and the occasional map.
Continued next month...
November 1998 Imaginary Realities, the magazine of your mind.
© Copyright Information