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Leather Goddesses of Globus

MMORPGs are computer games that trace their roots to non-graphical online MUD games, to text-based computer games such as Adventure and Zork, and to pen and paper role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons.
-Wikipedia

So, phawkwood has the Forces of The Empire MUSH1 up and running on GECKIES now, with a little help from gondhir and with scottharmon's cooperation.1 I tried connecting using MUSHclient last night and tonight, and it seems to work fine, but I really would like something that logs transparently and doesn't require special quoting of speech and emotes. Suggestions, anyone?

But I digress: Kibbitzing while the FOEMUSH was set up has gotten me to thinking (which, as deire notes, always leads to trouble). What is it about multi-user dimensions and shared worlds that makes them so attractive, even addictive? I posted the question to masteralida and darana for some feedback. Meanwhile, I've been slowly mulling over the question of what attracts me personally to MU*s:

  • World persistence and expandability - including automatically-generated terrain, ecology, building interiors, caverns, etc.

  • Role-playing potential - especially interaction with human agents

  • Interesting plot lines - situations, scripted stories, automatically-generated missions and quests

  • Evocative descriptions - a rich geography, climate, and indoor environment; mobility (starships, sailing ships, and land vehicles)

  • Some combat options - this is not as important as any of the above for me



But you know what I'd really like to see in the way of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs)? Text-based ones. Not combat MUDs, but automatically-generated worlds with scene persistence and evolution. Sort of an interactive fiction version of the current graphics-laden variety. I've been saying for over a decade, since Rheingold's book on virtual communities and J. C. Herz's on the nascent post-web culture, that this will actually require a lot of CPU.

Now I will go out on a limb and say that really making the above five things a reality, especially in a way that meets the exacting standards of primarily text-based interactive fiction, will require a high-performance, parallel and distributed computing environment: to wit, Grid computing.3

Who reading this has read, and remembers, the old USENET newsgroups rec.games.int-fiction (FAQ here) and rec.arts.int-fiction (FAQ here)? I started looking at the interactive fiction (IF) pages at CMU and the IGS games network, this article on storytelling and computer games, and the MMORPG portal, and it's only served to convince me further of my assertion above.

What do you all think?

1 Two good short, introductory articles about MUSHes can be found at Top Mud Sites and the Idyll Mountain MUSH home page.
2 The KDD Elf situation is now:

  • Finarfin (GECKIES): AMD Duron-800 ("Old Elf" group) Slackware Linux; Wiki (GECKIES and RoboSim), PennMUSH

  • Anaire: AMD Duron-800 ("Old Elf" group), currently Red Hat Linux 8, later to be Red Hat Fedora Linux

  • Finrod: AMD Athlon-1GHz ("New Elf" group) WinXP, later to be Slackware Linux

  • Ecthelion: AMD Athlon-1GHz ("New Elf" group) Red Hat Fedora, converted from WinXP


As I told scottharmon and Chris Meyer at our group meeting yesterday, I'd like to get an ircd server set up on this, for conversing with the AIdentity Matrix Medical folks (Harold Sun and Surya Ramachandran). I've ruled out Unreal IRCD, but am still looking at Beward IRCD. Does anyone have any reviews or suggestions?

3 The title of this entry is a play on the old Infocom game Leather Goddesses of Phobos (1986) and the Grid computing toolkit, Globus.

--
Banazîr

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
oxbastetxo
Feb. 26th, 2004 07:47 pm (UTC)
Attractions
< What is it about multi-user dimensions and shared worlds that makes them so attractive, even addictive? >

Interesting question. I think it's the escaping from our own world to one where we set the rules and control what's happening is one of the greatest appeal.

Being a person who continually has to deal with chronic illness and chronic pain, having a place where you have some control of what is happening is very appealing. Real life has no promises of happy endings or epic spanning adventure, whereas RPing and writing does. In an RP, you're not yourself, you're whoever you want to be and can do whatever you want to do. The limitations and restrictions of real life don't apply.

Another appeal is that of interaction. People from literally across the globe can gather in a "room" and interact. The first time I did MUSH was about six or seven years ago. Some old friends of mine from college and I would get into a room and then just hang out and talk, do a little Star Trek RP and just generally be silly like we use to do when we were in college. We were spread between Pennsylvania, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida, but in the MUSH chat room, it was like we were back in the snack shop in college hanging out.

Hopefully that made sense. Running on much too little sleep right now and far too much time spent doing data entry and compiling lists and printouts at work today. :-)

Smile!
deire
Feb. 26th, 2004 09:10 pm (UTC)
Re: Attractions
:thinking: Well, the rules thing isn't entirely true. Even a fictional universe has to have some rules to have any coherence.
oxbastetxo
Feb. 27th, 2004 07:57 am (UTC)
Re: Attractions
That's what I was saying, but in a format such as this, the player/creator/writer sets down what those rules are. I.E. this planet has an orange sky because of methane in the atmosphere, people born with blue hair can levitate, etc.
hfx_ben
Feb. 26th, 2004 08:24 pm (UTC)
The one time I got seriously hooked by an online game, it was an MPOG called "Realm" (which, I'm told, became a bit of a legend cum cautionary tale for how it got caught in a corporate re-structuring or buy-out and, well, and died). Not sure that it would rate as an MMPORPG, but what I know of it fits the definition.
My icon is from my player, BTW

There were a couple of smaller MOOs I spent time on ... good fun adding buildings and using the OO to develope new toys ... but neither really took off.

I'm sure the clients have matured wonderfully; I tried a couple some years back, when folks were just starting to use XUL on Mozilla.

The closest I have running currently is Game Never Ending, but this stage of beta has been /extremely/ slow moving ... lots of the original folk hanging from the rafters, but ... well, it's a bio-sync-sym sort of thing, and it's running out of the magically rainbow-colored steam, I'm a feared.
banazir
Feb. 27th, 2004 11:14 pm (UTC)
MMORPGs
The one time I got seriously hooked by an online game, it was an MPOG called "Realm" (which, I'm told, became a bit of a legend cum cautionary tale for how it got caught in a corporate re-structuring or buy-out and, well, and died). Not sure that it would rate as an MMPORPG, but what I know of it fits the definition.
Hrm, I have a tangentially-related story about a local company in Urbana-Champaign whose name I can't recall ATM. I think it was Jackson (not Steve as in GURPS). They got our best programmers - hired them away c. 1996-1997, just before the dotcom boom hit its zenith. Advertiser-driven MUD. Fizzled before most internet startups did, IIRC. (Anyone from KBS or UIUC know?)

There were a couple of smaller MOOs I spent time on ... good fun adding buildings and using the OO to develope new toys ... but neither really took off.
I met Steve Hatfield (Ashari, formerly of TEUNC, fl. 2000) in 1998 on Ancient Lands MUD, a CircleMUD derivative. I was going to code some zones for them, but never quite got to it.

I'm sure the clients have matured wonderfully; I tried a couple some years back, when folks were just starting to use XUL on Mozilla.
I'm not so keen on clients, to this day. A good Trillian Pro plugin and I'd be sold.

The closest I have running currently is Game Never Ending, but this stage of beta has been /extremely/ slow moving ... lots of the original folk hanging from the rafters, but ... well, it's a bio-sync-sym sort of thing, and it's running out of the magically rainbow-colored steam, I'm a feared.
Interesting. Hrm, tell me more about it (I read the intro page but didn't sign up...)

--
Banazir
hfx_ben
Feb. 28th, 2004 06:17 pm (UTC)
Re: MMORPGs
"Advertiser-driven MUD."
Ick ... in the best possible spirit, of course. But really ... I can see it: major corporate sponsors paying for product placement. "You are in a field, alone. The wind rustles in the trees. An empty "Roosters SuperHot Tater Chips" bag flips and tumbles down the road ahead of you."
;-)

The object-oriented coding for objects and behaviours impressed me ... last time I peeked any of that stuff was a couple of years ago ... I'm sure it's only gotten better.

Mmmmmmm, MUD / MOO on Trillian /would/ be nice.

GNE's last beta was grand ... dozens of folk online at any time ... travelling through a really very large map, lots of cities and zones and regions, lots of urban areas, right down to individuals' homes. The one that's running now ... I don't get it ... only 3 zones ... I suspect they're testing the interface; very complex set of character parameters, i.e. belly is distinct from energy is distinct from karma.
Do check it out ... it uses Flash for the game panel.
darana
Feb. 26th, 2004 09:14 pm (UTC)
Well for many folks it's pure and simple escapism, but for others it's the level of detail they can go intom while others it's simply interaction.

Of course for any combination of the three there is the whole self-validation issue that come into play and many come in and out looking for social acceptance. Mainstream public muds I have played on were more about testosterone driven hacking and slashing and sex than they were about interaction or role-play.

Of course on things Like EQ and it's kin there are groups that go head to head and others who play the field politic within the worlds themselves to gain as much notoriety as possible. There are those select few there for the pure interaction and rp, but I think the dedicated ones care more about rank advancement and what's in it for their character than they do the RP and Interaction. Again a level of self validation and escapism.
masteralida
Feb. 26th, 2004 09:16 pm (UTC)
I don't know about addictive, but for me, the interest is in seeing where things go. How they turn out in the end. A place to play knowing that even if things go sour, well... it's a chance to explore options and opportunities and see how things affect the outcome. It's all about the journey :)
banazir
Feb. 27th, 2004 10:18 am (UTC)
The journey
I don't know about addictive, but for me, the interest is in seeing where things go. How they turn out in the end.
Oh, yes, just so.
I'll bet you like Corwin of Amber and perhaps even Elric of Melniboné because "seeing where the road takes them" is one of their life motivations...

A place to play knowing that even if things go sour, well... it's a chance to explore options and opportunities and see how things affect the outcome. It's all about the journey :)
I personally love a good mystery or a suspenseful race against time - desperate alliances, sieges, murder investigations (heh), exile to a far exotic land, and of course epic artifact quests are my favorites.

Almost time for the ghost of Joseph Campell to put in an appearance, but I've got lecture in 12 minutes... ;-)

--
Banazir
masteralida
Feb. 27th, 2004 12:31 pm (UTC)
Re: The journey
I personally love a good mystery or a suspenseful race against time - desperate alliances, sieges, murder investigations (heh), exile to a far exotic land, and of course epic artifact quests are my favorites.

Murder investigations, huh? Do tell! Never woulda thunk it.

Speaking of... I think... could it be? Maybe! Could we be at day 12??? Wheeeeeeee!

Hope the lecture went well :)
banazir
Feb. 27th, 2004 11:18 pm (UTC)
Are we theeeeeeeere yet?
Murder investigations, huh? Do tell! Never woulda thunk it.
:-D *nirg*

Speaking of... I think... could it be? Maybe!
Could we be at day 12??? Wheeeeeeee!

Jack: Nooooot yeeeeeet!
Quiet! :-)

Hope the lecture went well :)
Not bad atoll.
I showed a computer animation video for half the class and took screen shots out of my textbook for the other half. Buuuuut... next Monday, it's meshes and B-splines and NURBS, oh, my!

--
Banazir
deire
Feb. 26th, 2004 09:20 pm (UTC)
For me, it's the chance to observe and create stories, rather than escapism per se. "Seeing what happens."
banazir
Feb. 26th, 2004 09:46 pm (UTC)
See what develops
For me, it's the chance to observe and create stories, rather than escapism per se. "Seeing what happens."
Absolutely.
I have yet to see a good plot generator - I mean one that can handle intricate mysteries or plot devices and actually produce a coherent story outline or script, even one to be acted out by human players. It would be something.

--
Banazir
vretallin
Feb. 27th, 2004 07:15 pm (UTC)
Re: See what develops
Plot generators only give you a starting point. Nothing more. It's the players that make it alive and give it true direction and outcome.
banazir
Feb. 27th, 2004 08:05 pm (UTC)
Aulehini
Plot generators only give you a starting point. Nothing more.
Oh, absolutely.
I just haven't seen any really good ones, is all.

It's the players that make it alive and give it true direction and outcome.
Just so, and when they abrogate RP, the game or world can fall into mindless automation or inactivity, cf. Aule (Tolkien's Maker of the Dwarves) and the Dwarves before Eru breathed life (free will) into them.

--
Banazir
angharad
Sep. 1st, 2004 02:30 pm (UTC)
Old they may be, but those groosnewps are still active (for some value of). Or at least they were last year when I took the time to read Usenet. Um.
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