2018-07-25 MUD

I remember in the early days – back when I didn’t have email and nobody had Internet at home and FidoNet was a thing – I was at the University of Zürich and me and my friends, we knew about free computer access in a room at the ETH (the “university for science and technology”) and we went there and we played in the LochNess MUD. Apparently it’s still up!?

Anyway, I recently decided what with the weather being so hot and me having a lot of free time at hand that I wanted to give it a try. I asked around on Mastodon and @ersatzmaus suggested Nanvaent and @klaatu suggested Ancient Anguish. I created characters on both and took a look around. Nanvaent seemed livelier than Ancient Anguish and so I spent three hours on Nanvaent, explored the starting village, the forest, the wuzzie village, the lake in the south, walked along the abyss in the east, killed a few orcs and bandits... and... I don’t know. Nothing?

I guess I was bored. A MUSH or MUD should shrink when fewer people play. As it is, the map is huge and thus you’re lonely. I guess I’m comparing it to the constant stream of new and exciting things in Skyrim: places to discover, quests both big and small to do, interesting dialogue... That’s what I would like to foster, if I were to run a MUD. But here, you see a score of people on who but most are idle, a few nice high level wizards, maybe a newbie like me on the channel, asking questions, and I’ve spent three hours in this world and haven’t found a simple quest to solve.

Later, I discovered that at the bottom of the tower is a library where you can get a little blurb for all the quests. But you have to read all the quest infos... and they are cryptic, referring to people and places I haven’t seen. And I got tired.

Perhaps I’m too simple minded for these setups. I like the text interface, but I also like the easy sliding into the world, the drawing into it, the starting experience modern computer role-playing games provide.

I was talking to @jos about shrinking worlds. Jos mentioned vast and abandoned areas in Second Life. That’s exactly what I mean. And I don’t want it to be populated by artificial intelligence (AI). Wouldn’t it feel strange to be playing in a world populated by thousands of of slightly stupid AI characters and a bunch of characters run by humans? I think I’d like to know that most characters are run by a human. Thus, making sure that I will meet humans is important.

I guess what I would like to do is for the world to “forget” connections to coherent chunks of abandoned areas. These lands slowly go offline. We think that the work we put into them is so wonderful but really, if there’s nobody to look at it, does second life still exist in meaningful way? Is there a sound if nobody hears it?

The only reason I don’t want to downright delete swathes of virtual land is that it might be interesting to still find your way into these abandoned lands at a later point, if and only if player population rises again.

In other news, I killed Alduin in Skyrim. I guess there’s no point in continuing to play, now? Perhaps I should get the old Xbox (the first one!) and play Morrowind? I think I still have that game somewhere.



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