MUD essential features

From: Fredfish (E. Harper) (
Date: 08/29/00

This is my first post, hi all.

I'm in the process of starting up a MUD, and by now I'm pretty much set on the Circle codebase. I've been thinking though, what exactly does a MUD need to set it apart from the competition? What features are pretty much essential to distinguish J. Random Admin's MUD from stock circle?

This is what I've come up with... and be warned, this will probably be a long post. And I do mean LONG. It's also heavily dosed with my own philosophy of MUDing as a whole, but at least I stopped short of including my entire 'concepts and design principles' file :)

1. Combat

Many MUDs follow the old routine of, 'x hits y <z message describing damage>'. Personally I find this boring, and I think many would agree with me. Partially, this has to do with my belief in Role Playing, but I think on any MUD combat needs to be more dynamic and exciting then just this. Thoughts:

-- Mapped Combat
In combat, players get a little ASCII map, 8x8 or so. Different weapons have different ranges, charging and dodging are now more possible... only there are a few problems. Do you use a random map all the time? Obviously, combat on a winding mountain trail will be as different from combat in an open plain as black and white. How do you assign player starting locations? Do you worry about fields of fire and cover? What about area-affect weapons such as dragon's breath, cannon firing grapeshot, or wide-beam phasers? (Gotta include all the genres, dontcha know :)) Most importantly, how do you code all this? What does this do to your memory requirments?

-- Combat Style
Players can assign different combat 'styles', most likely based on varying the proportions of three or four key factors (ie agressive vs. defensive, power vs. finesse, etc.) For ease of use it might be best to allow players to define two or three optional configurations, such as one for fighting 'chaff' mobs, one for defending allies in a group, one for all-out agressive berserker action... But. How do you balance all of this? Again, how do you code this?

-- Scissors, Paper, Rock
I'm sure you all know the game. In an overanalytical, bad martial-arts movie sort of way, it is a commentary on life. The scissors defeat paper, yet are brought low by the rock. And yet, the very same paper can defeat the rock! (forgive me, folks. It's 2:00AM. I should be in bed.) This sort of situation would work well in a MUD, (IMNSHO) as it would basically force players to co-operate, and would contribute to game balance. Whether the scissors-paper-rock effect is in terms of weaponry, races, classes, or the 'combat style' mentioned above is something I could go into at length (even by my standards) but I'd rather save wear and tear on my optic nerve and my keyboard by letting you guys worry about it.

2. Atmosphere

( note: I don't mean this in terms of 'newbie - friendly', rather in story and background terms. )

One reason I don't intend to use any stock Circle areas in my MUD is I want to have an /atmosphere/. I already have a background stoty for the MUD, (and it's not just an ego trip on my part -- we've all seen these), and I intend to incorporate this into the MUD very fully.

Problem, though: The older a MUD gets, the more 'distributed' it seems to become. I know for the first few months of operation, my MUD will be basically controlled entirely by me. Without imposing utterly draconian controls (unless I really HAVE to) on builders, wizzies, etc, how do I keep the MUD within the historical framework I have set for it?

I'd love to tell you the story of my MUD, as well as how nicely it dovetails with my ultimate plans AND my learning curve as a MUD admin, but then I have to keep some things a surprise :)

3. Atmosphere, Part II

Okay, I've covered the sort of macro-atmosphere of the MUD. The overall guiding principles behind it... now what about the micro-atmosphere?

One of the things that's always irked me about many MUDs is the 'transparent' nature of the items and spells. I mean by this that many people know exactly what 'a jade knife, glistening in the light' is, how much it's worth, what its bonuses and penalties are, etc. When this happens it ceases to be 'a jade knife, glistening in the light' and starts to be '+1 to STR, +30 to HP'. I don't like this - probably my belief in RP again. Any ideas on getting around this? Maybe if people don't KNOW what the knife's stats are, even after a full ID on it... maybe they find out something like 'this knife seems to hold a power coming from within... as you hold it, you feel envigorated'. Now, one has to be careful that 'you feel envigorated' doesn't immediately transfer to a certain amount of stat bonuses. Which brings me to...

4. Keep stuff secret

When players know they have 70 hp left, they're inclined to virtually whip out their calculators, punch in the numbers, and know exactly what the odds are. It's fairly radical, but why not get around this by simply not telling players exactly what the numbers are?

Think about it... if a player knows he has x points of y, he can have it all figured out, and thus pick his fights so he can't lose. Now, if all he has is a rough idea of his stats, suddenly things become more interesting! Now, his decision is not a simple calculation - he must take into account many factors, and if he isn't cautious, he winds up a crispy critter. Kinda puts a damper on 'bunny-bashing' for experience.

Now, to am evil guy like me, this is inherently a good idea. Some of you may disagree... and some of you may not.


Damn, that was longer than I expected... oh well. Please don't get angry if you think it was too long, I *did* just share with you a significant portion of a lot of tough thinking i've been doing.
>> Fredfish <<

"Do not try and bend the spoon, that's impossible. Instead, only try and realise the truth..."

"What truth?"

"The spoon effect will be added later using some kind of CG workstation..."

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