Planet Mud-Dev

August 27, 2015

thecodelizard

Accounting Department

Accounts are now a thing; players will first log into (or create) an account, and then can choose which character to play as from there. As a result, Accounts now have passwords on them and Players no longer do. The game now contains a list of all online accounts as well as players. There will be more changes down the line (particularly moving administrator privileges to the account instead of the character) but the core mechanic is done.

August 27, 2015 09:10 PM

Epitaph

Miles To Go Before We Sleep

So, first the bad news – I’ve been humming and hawing over whether it’s worth patching this month. Nothing that’s currently being developed is ready for the game, and so it would be a case of doing a weekend of bug-fixing and then releasing a patch that is incredibly slim – slimmer than anything we’ve put out before. Seriously, even if we fixed every outstanding bug it would be a shockingly small set of patch notes. So, I just decided that no, there will be no patch this month. This is pretty typical for this time of year – August/September … Continue reading

by drakkos at August 27, 2015 04:15 PM

Evennia

A wagon-load of post-summer updates

Summer vacations are over and work resumes in Evennia land! Here's a wagon-load of small updates on what's going on.
 

Ainneve

The Ainneve project, the creation of an official, open-source Evennia demo game, has gotten going. The lead devs of the project are keen to make this a collaborative effort and there is a lot of good discussion and code being written. After some slowdown at the end of summer it's bound to pick up again. 

Ainneve's a rare chance to see a full MUD getting developed from scratch out in the open. The current issue list includes tags for difficulty and allows also newbie Python coders to jump in. Not to mention you have a chance to get valuable feedback on your work by seasoned coders!

So if you are at all interested in making a MUD, try out Python/Evennia or just get involved in a semi-big programming project, this is a great chance to do so.

Imaginary Realities

Since a few weeks, there is a new issue of Imaginary realities (vol 7, issue 3) is out. As usual I have an article in it. This venerable e-zine was revitalized to include articles on both MU* as well as roguelikes, Interactive fiction and others. Not only is this issue the most content-rich since the reboot, with this issue they have also spruced up their interface to make past issues easier to navigate.

  • "A text MUD with a working ecology system" - in this article Molly O'Hara  details the concepts behind simulating a functioning ecologic network in a game. Interesting stuff and some parts of this is certainly worth considering for any open-world game design. I wonder at which level of detail the system become more complex than the players can appreciate though.
  • "Dispelling the gloom" by Tomasz Gruca is an interesting essay on the author's history growing up in the former Soviet Union and eventually finding text adventure games and interactive fiction, a passion he has apparently lately re-kindled. He makes the observation that the current "retro" trend of games have not really reached back to the text-based game world when it comes to mainstream acceptance.
  • "How integral are letters and text to ASCII gaming?"by Mark R. Johnson goes into the practical use of ASCII in traditional rogue-like games (beyond nostalgia). This is a meaty article that goes into both text-as-graphics as well as the use of text for aiding imagination and suggest subtle puzzles in some classic rogue-likes. 
  • "Legend and the lore" (Hugo Zombiestalker) proclaims the death of the traditional point-and-click adventure game and but then moves on to try to distill just why those games nevertheless was so appealing to him and how it can be applied in modern game designs like zombie-survival MUD Epitath which he is a senior developer for. Plenty of good observations here!
  • "The bonds of mudding" by Clint Itan Kuranes Knapp writes about the community that can spring up on a long-running MUD, the interactions the friends and the relationships that could persist already long before "social media" became a buzz word. A warm text with plenty of anecdotes and examples and things to ponder for both designers and staff when wanting to cater for this type of player bonding. 
  • "The mercurial temperament at the end of the world" (Drakkos) discusses NPCs and how they rarely are as interactive as one would want (the term "vend a chat" is a good one I think). He then goes on to how they have implemented their "Mercurial" system for NPCs in Epitath. This seems to be a state-AI system where NPCs have moods that affects what they say based on their circumstance and relation to other actors in the world. Sounds really cool and since he goes into some details on the implementation there is a lot to ponder here. 
  • "Where do I begin?" by me, Griatch, discusses one of the more common questions we get in the Evennia chat - 'I want to make a MUD, but how do I begin?' This article starts before Evennia's Game planning wiki page - it discusses assessing your capabilities and resources in the form of programming skills, code bases and motivations to help you figure out what you can realistically accomplish. 

 

Evennia Web client

In the pipeline I have some updates to Evennia's websocket/JSON MUD-web client component. These are changes that are intended to make the webclient easier to customize and hook into Evennia output using only HTML/CSS. More details on this will be forthcoming when I have more solid stuff to show.

______
Image: The troll here a-cometh by Griatch

by Griatch Art (noreply@blogger.com) at August 27, 2015 03:36 PM

August 21, 2015

Optional Realities

Editorial: Staff Ethics, the Hows and Whys

written by Samantha Rae Crowley (“Leah”)

 

Consider the can of worms opened. Fair staff ethics is an ugly beast of a controversy that has reared its ugly head in every MUDing community since the birth of the genre. Why does staff need to do to be ethical? What equates to fairness? The answers are not so simple, because there are variables to every situation, and the definition of what is ethical is almost always subjective.

 

To me, it’s obvious what is unethical: giving the same players in your game positions of power time after time, showing abject favoritism (or hate) towards individuals publicly or privately, breaking your own player and staff policies. Perhaps you have no staff policies, but you do things for your own characters that your players cannot do themselves, or perhaps you avert your eyes when your fellow admnistrators break the game’s policies. Of course, all of the above choices are a big ‘no’, and will cause you to lose your players’ loyalty and your game’s credibility. Quickly.

 

It can be necessary to take a step back from your game if you find yourself crossing ethical lines. You might need to remove yourself from your mortal characters, your fellow staff and players, and even your administrative duties for a time; use your break to take a long, hard look at the way you do business. If you weren’t the administrator of a MUD, but were just, say, a manager for a Human Resources firm, would the things you do fly with the rest of the company and its clients, or would you find yourself in hot water with your bosses?

 

Every game administrator, new or old, can benefit from a critical analysis of their administrative habits. Things that you may have thought were perfectly fine for you might not be perfectly fine for your players. And while you’re not likely to ever find an unanimous opinion in our community on fair staff ethics and policies, forcing yourself to consider all of the different viewpoints can be a very useful tool in sidestepping the biases of your (unfortunately) flawed, human brain. 

 

 

It needs to be asked: what constitues an ethical staff? Due to aforementioned biases it can be hard to tell, but measures can be taken to optimize fairness in your game. Automation of as many systems as possible, democratic approaches to various game problems, and clearly defined letter-of-the-law (LOTL) policies are all good places to start, but beyond that you need to identify how you handle the business of your game.

 

Is your organization a hobby, or a business? People tend to take their hobbies less seriously than their business, and that’s okay. It’s when you let other people participate in your hobbies that it becomes unfair to them not to take it absolutely seriously. Treat your game like a business (even a nonprofit business) and you will find that professionalism becomes your standard. Your players will notice. They are your business’s clients, and they deserve your respect. After all, without them, you’re just wasting your life administrating GhostTownMUSH, and that’s not fun for anybody.

 

Are your players your associates, or your friends, or your subjects? It can be equally dangerous for you to befriend players as it can be to alienate them. By becoming friends with your players, you set a precedence for bias, and at the very least the game’s morale will suffer for the knowledge of your inevitable friendship with some, but not all. On the other side of things, you cannot treat your players like you are above them. They are not your employees, not your children, and not the serfs out working the land for m’lord. In fact, you work for them. Again, GhostTownMUSH is no fun for anybody, and that’s where you’re headed if you subscribe to the mind set that running a game makes you some sort of Internet King.

 

Instead, it might be beneficial to you and your game if you treat your players like your associates. You’re all members of the same community; you serve different functions, and you are capable of some things that they are not (and, vice versa, players are capable of a lot of things that the staff are not) but you and Joe MUDer are in the same place, doing the same thing. Respect each other, as associates, and flourish.

 

Accountability is the lifeblood of staff-to-staff policing. Make your hierarchy as horizontal as possible and put into place system of democratic checks and balances. A lot of the time, it really only takes your associates calling you out for you to stop your shenanigans, and the same goes for your associates. There needs to be someone with a gavel at the head of the table, but the vote is what runs the room — provided you didn’t hire a full team of crooks.

 

And finally, the key to keeping staff cheating (for either their own characters or their friends) to a minimum level, is to design a game where the sole source of fun does not lie in the ownership of in-game resources. Design a game that doesn’t need to be won — especially not by you! Design a game where everyone can have a good time regardless of statistics or currencies. Make it fulfilling to be weak, or injured, or incarcerated, or broke, or despised by the other characters in the game. Players will find out which characters the staff plays, they will find out if the staff cheats, and you’ll be on the train home to GhostTownMUSH faster than you can type ‘medit Pedro strength 1000.’ It’s happened at least 9,001 times through the history of our genre.

 

In short, be fair, be free. Make it so that everyone’s investment into their characters, their experience, their fun, isn’t trampled underneath your own personal agenda. After all, isn’t the point of developing a game to ensure that as many people as possible enjoy it?

 


Samantha Rae Crowley began building and programming eight years ago on the original Dragonball Infinite MUD. Since then, she has ran numerous games, and works as a developer for the private C2K World of Warcraft server. She enjoys Kit Harrington’s face, muay thai, and Vampire: the Masquerade.


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The post Editorial: Staff Ethics, the Hows and Whys appeared first on Optional Realities.

by Jaunt at August 21, 2015 09:39 PM