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.