Re: The PerfectMUD? Just an opinion

From: Daniel Koepke (
Date: 10/31/96

On Thu, 31 Oct 1996, Project Leader McCoy wrote:

> > And for a mud where people still debate 
> > over which olc is best, there's NOT that much I would think of adding to 
> > the base.  
> Adding a standard OLC base would be good.  Colors would be.  In fact,
> terminal autodetection would be good, too.  There's a long list of
> features that are mostly under the hood, so to speak, that I feel should
> be added to stock Circle code.  (But I can save the list for Circle 4.0.)

The problem with adding things like terminal auto-detection and
whatnot is that it relies a lot upon telnet codes, which are not
supported by all telnet applications and usually unsupported by
mud clients (eg., tintin++).

I think that terminal auto-detection would thus have to be an
unrequired thing -- if you don't detect anything then allow the
player to pick one.  But when you look, the auto-detection takes
a while to implement, and just forcing the player to pick one
turns out to be easier to code and takes 3 more seconds.

> I wouldn't almost say it.  I'd just say it right out.  There's too much of
> a world to Circle.  A single zone should be available to help new admins
> learn by example, but definitely no more than that.

Then we get the stock zones provided by other people and the
only real difference is that we're forcing people to get more
third party areas that are less reliable than the ones Alex
and Jeremy have provided in the stock distribution.  We don't
gain anything from not having them there and people that do
want them have to go looking for them.  Remember that not every
mud wants to be as unique as I'm certain you and I want our
muds; some just think it'd be cool to have races, clans, three
more classes, a lot of color, a new prompt, a lot of new spells
and skills, and a few new zones over the originals.

> OK, I have two major problems with this.  First, how do you expect him to
> learn how to run a decent MUD without doing it?  We all have to start
> somewhere.  I know that I knew absolutely nothing when I started playing
> with CircleMUD from an admin perspective, and now I think I know quite a
> bit.  Second major problem: why do you feel it's so vitally important to
> limit the CircleMUD admin base to only people who know C?  Most people who
> are extremely creative don't take to the boundaries and limits of computer
> programming very well.  A good MUD world has little to do with computer
> knowledge, and nothing to do with an understanding of C programming.

Not administrators.  I doubt he intended to mean that admins should
know C (although, I think they should, personally).  Most likely he
intended to say that anyone trying to put together a mud should know
what he's getting involved with and have some knowledge of the things
that went into making the mud.  In CircleMUD's instance, this would
require a knowledge (no matter how basic) of how it's coded, and hence,
some kind of background in C.

I've said this once before and a few people agreed, and a host of
others didn't, but I'll repeat it at the cost of getting flamed again.
A mud is not project to learn C on.  It's more complicated than you'll
want to start with.  If you can stick it out and learn to code from
it, more power to you, but don't get agitated when you have a series
of setbacks.  Writing a "hello, world" project is a very beginner
project, a number guessing game should probably come next, then you
can maybe start getting involved in structures, file IO, and work
your way upwards to getting all the skills in each "sub-section" of
programming the mud employs.  Perhaps we should think about writing
a primer pointing out features that CircleMUD employs of the C
language and suggesting ideas and projects to help people learn how
these features are used and how to manipulate them (eg., structures).
And then, perhaps, we should keep on as we are now and tell them to
go read a book on C and then just look at the code until either your
vision goes blurry or you decide to tinker, try to compile, get a
few errors, tinker some more, etc. until you get it right.

> > I think it 
> > should come with 1 room. (grin)   What about races and all this 
> > 'standard' stuff that everyone should have when they start out with a 
> > mud?  
> I'd agree that Circle should come class-less and race-less if it weren't
> for the fact that it's a chore to add classes and races.  Sure, it's
> basically a no-brainer, but it involves lots of grep time, ten minutes of
> mindless drudgery, and half an hour of debugging since it's almost
> impossible to get everything the first time.  In other words: it's
> annoying.
> A better system, which I hope will be in place soon, would allow for much
> simpler modification of existing and addition of new races (or classes, or
> guilds, or clans, or whatever).  This will also cut out about 150 lines of
> useless code (in particular, the level crap) and make the whole thing
> much, much easier to use.

Circle should come with much less than what it has, imho.  I think
that it should have two levels (mortal and immortal), one spell and
one skill (to show examples of how they work), no classes, no races,
no world (just a basic template for all objects and how they are
loaded/saved/edited), etc.  I would prefer to just have CircleMUD be
a combination of *potential* features you can employ on your mud,
but have none of these actually employed within the stock code.  But
what I think would be most useful for my mud, is far from being
useful for others.  So maybe it's best that CircleMUD is the way it
is.  If we want something so different that it'd take removing a lot
of the CircleMUD code, either remove it or rewrite from the ground
up.  I've done both, and they are both tedious and impede on the
actual project.  But I didn't have any other choices, unless I wanted
to ove over to LPC -- and I have a disliking (for some unknown
reasoning) of LPs, even if they look exactly like a DIKUMUD or a

> Here, look at it this way.  I feel that CircleMUD should really be
> something more like CircleAPI - we get a set of common functions and use
> that to build our dream MUD.  So it doesn't *come* with races, but it
> comes with a set of functions that will set it up for us.
> Adding races should be this simple:
> racelist.add("elf", "elves", ...);
> Unfortunately, this requires C++, but something very similar and only
> slightly more complex could be done in C.

Well, no, this doesn't require C++, it requires renaming the function
and using a structure instead of a class.  It doesn't become any more
complicated, imho.  Other than that I agree with the above.

> > 	I think that the very 'stock'-ness of circle encourages the right 
> > kinds of behaviors.   It allows good solid coders who want a challenge to 
> > make something new.  And, if you get in-depth enough into it, most 
> > well worked, custom crafted circlemud's DO NOT look alike when you get done
> > with em.   Each can be a work of art on a canvas that just happened to be 
> > supplied by the circle crew.
> I think that the very difficulty of easily modifying CircleMUD to your
> standards encourages the *wrong* kinds of behaviors.  If you can get a
> patch from a friend that does roughly what you want, why not use it?
> Especially if the alternative is spending an hour or two reinventing the
> wheel.

But I *prefer* reinventing the wheel because I'll inevitably see
a better way to do it or *at the least* understand it more.  If I did
it otherwise I'd come away with more feature, but what if there's a
bug in the code?  I didn't write it and people aren't always as neat
as Jeremy when it comes to their code...  Guess what happens then?
I have to learn how it operates just to track down their bugs and I
probably will end up seeing, "Gee, it'd work better if I just
changed this."  I end up rewriting it out of disgust anyway.  But then,
I'm just an anal-retentive ass, I suppose.

> I agree - customizing a MUD is a requirement.  But let's not carry this
> too far and say that everyone has to write his own OLC!  If I visit a MUD
> that has flashy ANSI "graphics," lots of spells, OLC, etc etc, that won't
> convince me to stay there.  What makes me stay on is the quality of the
> writing.  If it reads like a book, I'm STAYING!  But if it reads like a
> Choose-Your-Own-Adventure "book," I'm getting the hell out of there, even
> if the damn thing plays music and dances for me.

Too bad not everyone is seeking the "immersion" of a bookish world,
where things happen that are unpredictable and lead to other events,
that continue the thread onward.  Some people just want to go kill
the Knight of Ambrin to get his broadsword, to use it to kill the
dragon, to get the scale mail, to become nearly invincible, to get
experience, to get levels.  Some people won't care if you tell them
the knights broadsword was made by the most famous blacksmith in Del
Herin before he died in the Invasion of the Outlands; or that the
dragon has had it's egg stolen by an evil wizard commanding armies of
shadow-spawn and that perhaps you can retrieve the egg to get the
dragon to let you fly on her so that you can go to the ruins of Del
Herin and face undead that roam on Dark One's Eve.

> Here's my list of BAD things in a MUD:
> 1. Poor writing
> 2. An admin who can't spell
> 3. Stock areas
> 4. Little or no storyline
> 5. Only slightly modified areas (like "Olympus" for "Valhalla")
> 6. More admins than players (doh!)
> 7. Being overrun by about 30 shouted messages on logon
> 8. Having to go through a 15-minute questionnaire procedure
> 9. Having to be validated by e-mail by a person
> 10. Players with names like "Eidolon who is (bright red) REALLY PISSED at
> (bright white) Trejak now because he's (bright green) SUCH a
> (yellow) JERK!!!!!!!!!!"

Wait a minute...  Ehm, doesn't having stock areas and slighty
modified areas fall under the same area?  I don't see how changing
the name of Midgaard to Gidmaard will make it any less a part of
the stock distribution.

As for number 10, I don't even permit user settable titles, which
cuts down on such silly things.  And although I have on-the-fly
color (and have had it for 2 years) I've never encountered something
where we have player's over-using it to the point of absurdity.  I
make them openly availible for use, though, when someone really
wants to say, "Asshole," in flashing bright red -- but most of my
players didn't even use the color codes unless they are really bored
or they saw a reason to (you have to admit that the clan Shadowcaster
looks that much neater in 'who' when it has a gray fading effect :)).

In summary, though, I suppose everyone has a different idea of how
they want their mud to be, and there's a whole lot of us that don't
want classes, and that want to write in major parts of the mud.  Then
there's people that want the classes.  The latter, I believe, are
more prominent in the Diku field of muds.  Just a fact of life, I

Daniel Koepke
Forgive me father, for I am sin.

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