MUD ideas

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 11:05 pm    Post subject: MUD ideas Reply with quote

While have never run a MUD, and haven't played one in a while, and probably won't play in a while, I want to share a few ideas on the general game design that I've had over the years. So, I'm writing as someone who has no plans of putting my (non-existant) coding skils were my mouth is - still, I hope some of those ideas are helpful, or inspiring, or funny.
I'm a big fan of games with a strict IC/OOC separation, those are the games i was mostly thinking about when writing this.

1. Virtual worlds within MUDs
some cyberpunk-themed MUds have them, they could be reasonable in a fantasy world too (think of a dreamland, or an astral plane, or whatever).
The problem is, in most cycerpunk MUDs I've played (mostly shadowrun themed), they are an addon to the physical world, inhabited only by mobs and very special PCs (at least as far as I'Ve ventured in these games). First, this strikes me as illogica - in 2008, almost anyone can meet other folks online, play silly rpgs and buy viagra, 60 years into the future this hole online-ness is no factor in everyday live (except for some highly equipped uber-cybercriminals)?
The obvious solution would be a game desing that makes those virtual worlds a) availible to practically every player and b) useful - as a place to shop, to meet, to get quests, to do them. the aforementioned uber-hackers would still have their specific niche, namely to do more than sovialising and buying viagra in said virtual worlds.
An approach like this would have an added benefit - it would provide a logical RP-Hub for large worlds, where players would interact seldomly.

The next thing would be to have real world objects (machines, banks, shops) controlled from this virtual world. This would give roleplaying of hacking some depth, and would't make it feel so distached from the rest of the goal oriented playing taking place.
Of course, it would add one hell of complexity to the game.

While so far, this was written with post-today themes in mind, you could have a fantasy equivalent, as mentioned above. Here, it's function would be mainly to interact with other players.

2. Intro system for equipment/clothing/critters
this is straightforward (and, again, lends itself to very modern themes, with tools more complex than a hammer). You have to know a vaccuum cleaner, to know what the "small, wheeled box with a hose attached to one end" is. If you think of the myriad of different specialised tools or weapons in existence, you'll get the drift.
same for clothing - knowing the lay of the land helps you to identify "man with the brown beard wearing a blue jacket and trousers" as "a man with a brown beard in a policeman's uniform." Same could go for ceremonial dresses, gang colours, etc.
Same could go for critters, or for the sex of them.
As the PC (of course she will have some knowledge from start) explores the world, the player will keep a feeling for what his player knows about the world.

3. Selective perception
Instead of one screen full of room desc + list of items + list of mobs and npc, let the things a character perceives trickle through to the player at a pace. basic layout of the room first, stuff that is happening (emotes, actions, dangers) plus who is doing it quickly, stuff and people the char reckognizes next (or with higher priority). How many facts per seconds/tick the player will get could depend on some characteristics of his char (perception, etc.)
A system like this would be somewhat realistical, it would support the player in his reading habits (after all, you read line by line, not page by page), it would sort the info after relevance for the player.
My sketch for an implementation would be like that: every event, with event beeing anything from an emote, to an action, to something just lying there get's a priority, base priority should be slightly random. emotes, actions (especially aggressive ones) are either not filtered at all, or get a huge bonus to their priorities. The other stuff/people get a priority bonus if the char reckognizes them, or if they are very flamboyant, maybe modified by the chars senses. every tick, the player has one, or 2 or 3 items with the highest priorities displayed, and taken off the list.
This couls work well with roomless movement, or somewhat gradual movement withhin rooms - as diferent stuff pops into view as you get near it, and so on. I actually got this idea while thinking about how to improve the roomless feel movement in cerain MUDs had.

4. In-game created content.
I'm thinking mostly about stuff like religious lore, backstories, and so on. implement a command (e.g. preach) that basically logs a players says and emotes, until uttered again. This content is then reviewd by some RP gremium, or admin with RP/theme responisbilities, and if approved, is handed back to the player to be polished. It is then accesible through IC and/or OOC means as canon material. This way, players have the tool to take part in RP sessions (as preachers, bards or maybe just drunkards relaying their war-memories) and to create canon content at the same time. Allowing players to easily create content is one thing that can set MUDs apart from graphical RPGs
Good material should be rewarded, bad material ignored and spamming severly punished. And maybe access to such commands could be limited to the more mature or serious players.

5. down time.
Push all the boring lon time work into the time the player is offline. This applies to crafting, learning skills, working on boring jobs ...The time a player is online, his char should socialise, live trough interesting adventures or die horrible deaths - and not spend his time whittling torches.
Time flows for the char even when the player is offline, possibly at an ever slower speed or only to a certain point, or both - the latter to prevent chars from not playing for ages, and logging in to their uber-chars. The effectiveness of the down-time could also depend on factors like how much the char did do in his up-time.
during this down.time, the char will divide his time between a few tasks, as set by the player - doing the household (unless he or she has a servant), working, trainig this skills, building that stuff, and so on. What tasks are availible will depend on actions the char took in his ctive time, like getting a job, finding a trainer, getting tools and materials. and theri success will depend on his skills, course. Maybe the effectiveness of the down time actions could also depend on roleplaying one of them in the up-time (e.g. a successfull hunting trip, rped, allows a char to live off his hunting skill for a while, rping a training session givres a boost to training - this could be used to get players to roleplay different situations, now and then)
the grinding part will be taken out of the play-time, while still retaining the realistic feel that every achievement takes time. The up-time will represent the shore leave, the day taken off from a project, the drunken night out ...
Another idea, but one I would definitly find hard to implement, is to use this down time for travel. Maybe in a way that the player has to rp a few encounters at the end and the beginning, or inbetween for longer trips.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I forgot:
6. less lethal combat
It would be cool to have a coded system that distinguishes between to kinds af ltality in combat. So, you could customize you char to react to less lethal (will have to be defined in code somhow) attacks likewise, unless explici8tly stated otherwise, and the same goes for mobs. That way, you could have automated police/guard/whatever mobs that quench any pcs killing spree, but still have a bareknuckle fight in public without having your head chopped off by the guard. In a system were chars aren't born again easily, this would provide for a realisticaly feeling way to have lots of fights, including between players, without killing your playerbase. This would also open a niche for several kinds of combat oriented chars, namely for ones who are either good at both ways of fighting, or only one - as not all skills will transfer easily.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First, this strikes me as illogica - in 2008, almost anyone can meet other folks online, play silly rpgs and buy viagra, 60 years into the future this hole online-ness is no factor in everyday live (except for some highly equipped uber-cybercriminals)?

I actually think this is very plausible scenario (although not in the immediate future). The Internet is already becoming a commodity to some extent, no different from clean water or electricity. A lot of us still see the net as a physical network of computers over which we conduct some relatively simple transactions. But by the time our fridges restock themselves and our cars are fully automated there might not be a concept of the Internet or "going online" at all. In such a time you wouldn't know what it meant to be "offline" -- you don't "log on" to Skype and dial a contact, you just make a video call from your wristwatch. You don't direct your browser to Google News and run through the headlines, you bring up the news ticker on your heads-up display.

If that doesn't seem likely, think about how many people alive today understand the telephone network the way millions understand and view and change the Internet every day? Phreaking is a dying art, and in due time manipulating the Internet at such a basic level as creating and viewing websites would be too. It'd just be a transparent service, the "server in the sky" that connects all our appliances.

(Sorry for going off on a rant. I do like the ideas of virtual worlds-within-worlds and selective perception very much.)
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