All Mudlists Are Not Created Equal
Letters to the editor
- Andrew Cowan
Who are you?
- Michael A. Hartman (Aristotle@Threshold)
Level vs Non-Level
- Zane T. Insane
Wilderness Systems for Muds
- Alex Kallend
- Amanda Carlston
So, you want to code a mud?
- John Patrick
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Level vs Non-Level
by Zane T. Insane
When muds started out, they reflected the early D&D and
Role-playing games (RPGs).
In those days, everything was based on levels. Levels were
an easy way of tracking advancement. Now days, however, the mud
code base is being expanded and customized to the coders'
needs in order to fix bugs, make screens look neater and cleaner,
and just to add new features to make game play more enjoyable.
Coders have explored the realm of level-less play, providing the
player with limitless advancement through skills.
How many levels do you need?
These muds have become very popular among players, many who
wish to join in and role-play intensely. People have felt levels are
just too restricting and limited. What do you do once you have
reached max level? Do you just stop playing? Quit and start all
over again. Some players want a mud where they can keep playing
and keep getting stronger.
Another topic is that of realism. In real life, we do not
sit somewhere and learn some new skill in a few seconds or
we do not suddenly get stronger and more powerful just by
killing a bunch of monsters. We must train hard and practice
every day. How are muds supposed to defend this argument? Well,
I have simple answer from my own opinions as an intelligent
player. I will address each of these topics individually
Levels vs Non-Levels: The everlasting struggle for popularity
I know some of you out there just can't shake the old ways.
Levels have always had a place about Role-Playing games. Some
might even say it is the very core of them. Others would simply
want to do without them. Muds provide us with the "ultimate RPG":
we are able to make/create our own virtual environment and share
game play with people from all over the world. We may compete
with one another or we may cooperate. Our character may be
anything we imagine. But the greatest mud quality is the level
of customization: infinite. Coders and Administrators can change their
code to anything they choose, depending on their level of coding
and imagination. Getting rid of levels is an easy step. The only
problem is that gaining levels is one of the easiest ways of
tracking advancement from a coding viewpoint. Once they are gone,
how do you advance? A meta-type system is usually implemented
to where you use XP gained from monsters to practice and train.
So instead of killing monster after monster to gain a level to gain
the practices and trains to advance, you simply kill monster
after monster to gain XP to practice and train and advance. If
a player looks at it that way, there really isn't much difference
between the two systems. It's all a matter of killing countless
enemy after enemy. So what sets these two apart? That goes into the
Levels: To end or not to end, that is the question
Should there be an end to levels on a mud? By that I mean
a maximum level to achieve. Some players say that they should not
be limited by levels. But in this player's opinion, I would get
seriously tired of that. In theory, if a player were ahead of you
when you started, and both of you kept at a constant rate of
advancement, you would never be able to catch up and thus always
be weaker. With a maximum level, once a player reaches the max,
they can't advance and that gives weaker players a chance to
"catch up." What to do when you reach max level? That is a tough
question for those hack-and-slash adventurers who never took the
time to see what all a mud can offer besides the countless slaying
of mobiles. Muds have one of the greatest features imaginable:
interaction. Players have the ability to talk with one another
and make sentient decisions: something computers have yet to
attain (well, we don't know exactly what the government does
but to the public knowledge AI hasn't been developed). My main goal
when I start a character is to attain maximum level, or at least
a level of power that I feel comfortable with. Once I achieve
that level, I Role-play and player kill more intensely. Player killing does not mean
killing random people. I always have motives and logically player killing (not
just "I'm evil so you must die" or something similar). To me, the
computer-controlled enemies will never match the fun of
a human-controlled enemy. The thrill is in having to use
strategy, because you can never predict with 100% accuracy what
another players next move is. I like surprises. Many players get
so lost in computer games that they forget that interaction is
what muds are about. If I wanted to slaughter thousands of
mindless drones, I'll just turn on a video game.
Realism: The last true limit...
In many muds, Administrators tend to try to make their worlds as
real as possible. Often times, however, they get so caught up
in how real they must make things, they overlook something
even more important: the player's enjoyment. I've heard arguments
that levels aren't realistic. Not to sound like a kindergarten
retort, but in any mud there is always a stray from reality.
How else could you expect to see hit points? In real life if I slashed someone
with a sword I would not do damage to their hit points, they would be
seriously injured. It's just that in a game, it would not
be too fun if you were to be hit one time and die. To me, a
realistic mud isn't the ideal mud. A fun mud is idealistic.
Overbearing Immortals who have no sense of fun generally kill
the mud's player base, this I know from experience. The whole
key to a mud is fun, not realism. A mud is somewhere I can
go to get away for a little while and be someone else. In the
end, we all have to remember that it is just a game and that
although we sometimes get caught up in a mud for a while or
maybe become hard core players, we all have to face the fact
that it is not real. Text on a screen. We all have lives to
live, and having fun is just part of it. No matter how hard you
try, you can never make a mud "real."
The End: One final statement
All I have told you here is the opinion of one player. No
matter what I say, all of you out there will not agree. Some
of you will disagree, which is the entire point of an opinion.
If everyone agreed with an opinion, it would not be an opinion
anymore. I only write this so you will not have a closed mind
about all other types of muds which are different from the type
you play. All I ask is that you keep an open mind about all
types of games. There's every kind of mud imaginable out there,
and everyone will find something they like that may be different
from what I like. Whether it be levels or no, try all kinds of
experiences and see what you like best. And most of all, remember:
it's only a game and there's always "quit."
July 1999 Imaginary Realities, the magazine of your mind.
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