Ultima Online (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Progress is continuing nicely on the next version of Sword & Pen MUD. This time I am taking my time with it, instead of rushing to open an inferior MUD. I have been spending some time playing a couple of roleplaying enforced MUDs to help me get a feel for what it will take to run my own MUD with more of an emphasis on roleplaying. I still have not decided if I am actually going to go as far as to enforce roleplaying, but I am strongly considering it. At the very least, I am going to take some very strong steps to encourage and enable roleplaying. This includes things like building a world with a well thought out background story that players can use to craft unique and interesting characters, with strong hooks for roleplaying. I am also taking a look at Armageddon MUD‘s idea of permanent death. It has always been hard for me to reconcile the idea of infinite, and easy resurrections in a serious roleplaying environment. This is something that always seems to challenge my suspension of disbelief. I want to make death in this world be a traumatic experience, that is to be avoided at all costs. If we don’t have permanent death, I will have to look at other ways to achieve this.
I always liked when I played Ultima Online, how when you died, you turn into a ghost, and have to find a healer to resurrect you, before you could go try to retrieve your corpse. With the codebase that Sword & Pen MUD is based on, this would be as simple as changing a setting in the MUD’s .ini file. Still, would this do anything to help make Sword & Pen MUD a more interesting roleplaying environment? What if resurrection services were only available from other players? Then you would have to have at least some interaction with other players if you ever need to be resd. On the down side, this could turn into a huge pain in the ass if you die, and no one is around to res you. How could this system be used, in conjunction with maybe some other ideas I haven’t thought of yet, to help me meet my goals of creating a roleplaying environment that is fun, unique, interesting, and challenging?
Part of my problem at the moment is that some of my goals for this MUD sometimes conflict with each other. I have to make choices, and each choice involves some kind of sacrifice. I really wish I had someone else around, helping me with this project, not because of the workload, although help with that would be nice too, but more because I feel like I need some one just to be a sounding board to bounce ideas off of and get feedback and alternative viewpoints that I wouldn’t think of myself. Posting questions on the various MUD forums I frequent isn’t often as helpful as I would hope in this regard. If there is one revelation that is now finally sinking in, more than a year after first setting out to create my own MUD, it’s that any advice I get on the MUD forums must be taken with a grain of salt.
Up until now, I have avoided asking anyone for any help. There are always people on the boards looking for builders and coders, and I have read the kinds of responses they get, and justifiably so. No good coder or builder wants to get involved with another MUD that, in all likelihood, will just disappear overnight, especially when these days it is so easy for anyone without a lick of skill or talent can start up their own MUD. With this in mind, I have been very reluctant to ask for help, until I have a good bit of work to show for myself. Working by myself is lonely though, and for all the reasons I have stated above, I am getting closer to the point where I will be reaching out, both to the MUD community, and, perhaps even more, outside the MUD community for help on this MUD. I think I need to do things differently though. I can’t go out there with the same lame ass offer of yer another fly by night MUD look for builders to come rescue me from all this work I have to do by myself. No, there has to be a better way.
First, I am not going to pretend like I can guarantee the success of my own MUD. In the past year, I have started MUD projects with nearly half a dozen different MUD codebases, abandoned them, and then came back to the same codebases later, sometimes starting completely over from scratch. This may seem like one big huge waste of time, but I have actually learned allot, and have had allot of fun in the process. I now have a much better idea of what I want my MUD to be like. I have an understanding of the different types of codebases available, and their various pros and cons. I have learned a lot about building, and a fair amount about coding. I am now at the point to were I can develop this project to the next level, whatever that may be.
That being said, there is still no guarantee that this MUD will be successful, whatever that means, anytime soon. It probably won’t be. This is just another project to learn and have fun with. So why should anybody be interested in helping me? Well, that’s really up to you, but for starters, anyone who builds areas, contributes codes, or helps me with this project in any way will own all of their own work, and if this doesn’t work out, you will still have all of your files you can take to any other MUD, especially other coffeeMUDs, and they would be glad to have you. You could easily take any work you do with me, and use it to start your own MUD. Hell, in addition to work you do, I will even give you copies of my own files. Go nuts! Second, I am not looking to be your boss. I want to be your collaborator. I really just want someone, or even better, a few someones, that are interested in the same things I am, to come over to Sword & Pen, hang out on the MUD, chat it up, and come up with cool ideas. Yes, I do have standards for what will go into the public areas on the MUD, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work on any kind of areas you want, at your own pace, and if it happens to be a good fit for the MUD, great! All the better.
Anyway, I am not quite ready to take my pitch to the MUD forums yet, but I am getting close. I still want to have more to show for myself, and I still want to refine my offer in such a way as it might actually interest someone to come an join the team. In the meantime, leave your thoughts and comments.