On the Treatment of Coders
Letters to the editor
Applying for Wizardhood
- Selina Kelley
Playing vs Coding
- Arjen Reudink
Starting a Clan
- Shade of Nessalin
The Only Two Guilds on Your Mud
Explorers have more fun.
- Lord Ashon
An Introduction to MUSHes
- Ervin Hearn III
Cartoon - The Mud Slinger
- Rebecca Handcock
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An Introduction to MUSHes
by Ervin Hearn III
Section I: What is a MUSH?
MUSH stands for
Multi-User Shared Hallucination, and is derived from the mud
family of online games. They are text based programs which
allow multiple people to simultaneously interact within an
artificial environment. This article will be focused on
role playing MUSHes using the PennMUSH code base, although the
TinyMUSH and TinyMUX code bases bear enough resemblance for
this to be applicable.
In general these MUSHes focus more on character
role playing, though building and coding are also important
parts of a MUSH. Building and role playing will be discussed in
sections below, however role playing is the focus of this
article and will receive the greater attention.
Watching the sun go down over some mush in a pen (with goats).
Often MUSHes settings include a vast
amount of detail, recreating entire worlds from literature,
movies, or the creators' imaginations. Many MUSHes select a
literary work to base their theme upon, for example Tolkien's
Middle Earth, Star Wars, Star Trek, and Dragonlance.
Several other MUSH Administrators (commonly
referred to as Wizards) choose to create their own worlds
for their players to role play in. Not all MUSHes, however,
restrict themselves to a specified theme, they offer
character interaction in a free form environment which has
its details chosen by the players. Having a free form
environment allows them to select
the situation and setting that best suits their mood and
role playing (often referred to as role playing).
Section II: Role playing
The art of role playing is the lifeblood of numerous MUSHes
on the Internet. Large numbers of people connect to role play
on MUSHes of various themes every day, quite a few have a
range of 20 to 100 people connected simultaneously, the
majority of which are looking for role playing. As this is such an
important part of the MUSH experience, we will detail what
role playing is and common definitions of how to 'properly' role play a
Role playing on a MUSH is similar to what an actor or actress
does, becoming a different character.
The player attempts to assume the mentality of their
character, and portray their actions accurately within the situations
which arise in the role playing session. Skilled role players are capable of
capturing the essence of their alter-egos and their
environment to such a degree that logs of the role playing
read like a well written novel. While playing the role of
their chosen character, the player uses only the knowledge
they believe their character would possess about a given
situation, ignoring Out Of Character (OOC) chatter and
information. Any action taken by the role players character is
considered In Character (IC), and is reacted to as such by
the other characters taking part in the role playing
scenario. It is considered bad form to mix OOC and IC
matters while role playing. Many MUSHes provide a means of
communicating in an OOC manner even while IC, with any
information transmitted by such ways being totally ignored
by the player's character. Often the most trying experience
for a new MUSHer is learning to distinguish OOC and IC, as
well as separating the 'Player' from the 'Character'.
There is much debate about what 'proper' role play is, with
no definite answer. However, there
are many factors which are agreed upon as being required for
quality role playing. The first has already been discussed,
the separation of IC and OOC. If a player cannot keep OOC
matters out of their character's IC actions they are often
regarded as poor role players and may eventually be shunned if they
do not learn to distinguish between the two. The second mark
of quality role playing is detail. If a player's poses, the actions
their character takes within the role playing session,
involve vivid detail that make visualization and
understanding of both the setting and the character's
actions easily possible. This sort of posing is considered to
add to the role playing experience and therefor be a quality pose.
One point of debate is pose length, it is
held by some 'authorities' on role playing that lengthy, detailed, and
well written poses are the pinnacle of excellent
role playing. However, others argue that writing short,
concise poses which convey the same meaning as a more
lengthy pose is the best indication of a high quality role player.
It has been the experience of the author, that there are
situations where lengthy detail rich poses are the best
choice, while in others smaller yet still descriptive poses
are wise. The final point that must be made about role playing is an
important one: Never pose the actions of another character.
Do not include a character's reaction to the actions your
character performs. Doing so will lead to arguments and on
most role play oriented MUSHes disciplinary action.
Section III: Building
One of the more useful skills for a MUSH player to possess,
after skill at role playing, is Building. Each MUSH requires
a large amount of building before it even opens to the
public for role play. The rooms and objects which make up the world
of the MUSH must all be created by its Administrators before
they can welcome players onto it for role playing. However, a
large number of MUSHes continue to grow even after opening,
expanding the world which they offer. Building is
accomplished by using a set of commands which enable a
player to create rooms, exits, and objects as well as add
descriptions and other details to them. On some MUSHes any
player may build while on others it is restricted to those
with the Building Power, the decision is made by the Wizards
which create the MUSH. Another possible limitation on player
building are quotas, where each player is allowed to own
only a specified number of rooms, objects, and exits.
Building can often be beyond the interest or capabilities of
many MUSHers, and should generally be approached by new
players only after they are familiar with the commands and
procedures of the MUSH on which they play. Though not
directly tied to MUSHcode it can be used to its fullest by
combining the two skills.
Section IV: MUSHCoding
The majority of players on a MUSH have no interest in
MUSHcode, and as such it will only be briefly discussed
within this article. The MUSH environment makes it possible
for players to use commands and functions of the embedded
programming 'language' known as MUSHcode or soft code. The
complexity allowed by these tools nearly match that of the
hard code, the actual source code written in C or C++.
Many MUSH Wizards choose to use
soft code to write the global commands which are unique to
their MUSH, or which are not included within the hard code of
the code base. Normal players may also take advantage of
MUSHcode and create personal commands that make various
tasks on the MUSH easier for them. Those interested in
learning more about MUSHcode may read Amberyl's MUSH Manual
which is available on Internet. They can also read the help files
pertaining to commands and functions on a MUSH, or to find a
skilled MUSHcoder willing to teach them. The author is
planning a future article about learning to use MUSHcode
where the initial steps of coding will
be outlined as well as including various hints and tips for
Section V: Conclusion
MUSHing can be an entertaining and rewarding pastime.
It allows players to express their creativity and literary
skills while also enjoying the company of other players in
a role playing environment.
Role playing, building, and coding are important
parts of a successful MUSH. The most important keys to
quality role playing are detail and distinction between IC and OOC
matters. Building is used to make the world in the MUSH take
on a virtual existence, while coding enables players to have
access to useful commands which make interaction easier and
April 2001 Imaginary Realities, the magazine of your mind.
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