Monday, May 21, 2007

Karinthadillo Returns

I'm quite sure that this won't receive the acclaim that accompanied Batman Returns, but some loyal followers have been clamouring for more armadillo, and it wouldn't be right to keep the faithful waiting any longer. So, I'm sorry for the lengthy Karinthadillo-less interlude there, and we'll get right back into it.

Incidentally, to help keep things fresh and let my fanbase get involved, I'm very willing to take requests for topics that would like my input and discussion here. Any method of getting it to me is fine, the comment section here works, and I will try to add my insights into these questions in later editions of the blog.

One of the major strongholds of the traditional MUD, I believe, is the area. Everyone knows what an area is, they're everywhere, most MUDs are made up of a whole bunch of separate areas all strung together. There are many advantages to this, not least that it neatly lets builders focus on their own areas and get their work done. Everyone has their own little world to build, they beaver away at it, and then they all get attached to form the world at the end. As well, it neatly divides the world up and ensures that everything is tracked and attributed correctly.

So, why challenge this view of the game world, when it seems to have kept MUDs in general in such good stead for years? Partly because I'm just generally a rebel that needs a cause, but moreso: the MUD world, as previously discussed, isn't in such good stead as it was a few years ago. Players, generally, are no longer loyal to games that just do what used to be done, individual zones are no longer enough to keep the attention of those who could easily get them in colourful graphics if they so chose. One area that text games have an advantage over their more illustrious graphical counterparts, as previously discussed, is flexibility. We have the choice to do things differently, a lot more easily than those who are involved with having to design character pictures and so on.

The plan, then, is to create more of a world of its own merit, than one solely based on the areas that make it up. Essentially to break down the arbitrary delineations that separate one area from another, making them seamless rather than instantly recognisable as being built by different people. Having the NPC inhabitants of the area realise that there is a greater world outside, their knowledge not limited solely to their immediate surroundings. Encouraging the player to see this world as a world: something breathing, living, evolving; rather than a bunch of zones to go and kill things in. Well, everyone wants this, right? I mean, we'd all welcome increased immersion and an easier suspension of disbelief, where everything just seems to fit together and be placed logically.

Easier said than done, as with most things, unfortunately. Builders are different people, of course, and it requires a major change in focus to get away from the traditional, technical viewpoint of creating a standalone area, to one that encourages collaboration, knowing what everyone else is building, integrating your area with other areas that it would make sense to integrate with. It takes time, especially when trying to integrate with old areas whose creators are no longer with us. Time that could, following traditional rules, be used in building more areas.

But a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, they say. This is my first step. One small step for the Karinthadillo, one giant leap for MUDkind? Probably not, but let's go with it anyway.


Owl's perch said...

No ideas from this member of the peanut gallery for future posts but as for this one:

Seems rather bold to break apart the traditional area and replace it. It has some nice pro's, to no longer be beholded to specific immediate rooms but instead feel that you are actually a part of the world. That the forest you're in has more of a connection to the neighboring plains than that one path that leads out.

Of course, from a spectator's view still, the cons must be up there too. The difficulty in trying to properly sync the creatures and items as they are introduced instead of measured in the old areas. To maintain proper mob control so that they don't just wander off into the artic from the equator...

It'll be interesting to follow, as it could be a great idea that will shape future muds... or one that is lofty and hard to reach. I don't know how it will turn out, but look forward to discovering it.

Karinthadillo said...

Absolutely, although one thing I'm trying to remember is that it's the player's perspective that matters. The technical boundaries between areas can remain, but my first aim is to make it so that a player can play the game and not be confronted with the fact that different areas were clearly built by different people. From there, the aim is to have these areas interact with one another in an attempt to form a more cohesive world. By doing this I hope to retain the useful guidelines that areas bring to builders, while minimising the barriers that they create for players.