...Extra Client Dilemna...

From: Tony Robbins (robbinwa@mailbox.orst.edu)
Date: 03/23/01

I've found than one frustrating part of being a telnet-
based application is that MUDs are extremely limited in
medium.  Before that line spawns a debate on text as a
medium itself, what I'm actually referring to is the
inability to do other things along with text.  A well-
written description can convey a lot about an image or

But music is nice.  But to do that, I've got a
streaming mp3 system (that caches the files), but that
adds a freeAMP/mudAMP (this was written and implemented
by a friend of mine) client.  And I want to be able to
provide more data in the form of graphics, i.e. maps.

So far, my best solution is to provide a maintained
connection to my server, and then tell the client to
get more information.  But now we're at _3_ clients to
play a MUD.

Obviously, writing my own client is an option.  But now
we face a couple fairly painful facts: telnet works on
all platforms and most people have a preferred client
already.  zMUD allows writing modules, but zMUD is not
free, and I don't think the 'vast majority' of players
have tossed out the crash to use it.

Of course, if the MUD's services were good enough, I
could become a zMUD affiliate and sell zMUD on my MUD
web site, but will I be violating the CircleMUD license?

In the end, I'm probably going to have to write my own
client, and most likely it will be in Java.  The
inherent slowness of Java will turn most people off to
it, I fear.  But everybody will have access to it.

Do extra clients bother players?  (For Windows,) I'm
envisioning a mini-browser (approximately 150x150
pixels of viewing area) that you can set to 'Always on
Top', then set it up in a corner of your screen so that
it doesn't interfere with your "regular" playing, but
displays what you request (a map, images of
weapons/armor, etc.).  The RoAClient has a lot of this
functionality, but is remarkably unbeautiful.

These are the questions I'm trying to point out, in a
remarkably roundabout manner:
1. Do people actually buy zMUD?  Is it worth developing
for a specific _client_?
2. What kind of client things could be added (music,
graphics, etc) without being considered annoyances?
3. How would you address the fact that telnet is a
widely supported, cross-platform protocol, without
writing clients for each platform?
4. I remember discussion of an actual MUD protocol (not
MSP, MXP, etc).  Does the community need an open-source
MUD client available across platforms, etc?  Will this
5. What other problems could you see in this?

Anyway, just about any input on the topic would be
interesting to see.  I have a slight fear that Zugg's
zMUD would put a lot of strain on trying to use any
other client in Windows.  Oh, and I'm definitely not
advocating turning the MUD away from text-based, so
these are just additions, that one can live without
(does that become my ultimate excuse?).

-Tony (ending message before rambling further).


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