So, my first post on the new Forum, and apparently the first post generally too.
I guess I could use it to promote my own mud - (which actually is in need of some promotion) - but that seems such a waste of “The First Post”.
So instead I’ll say some words about Text Muds in general, the interest that we all share, and love.
But first, a thanks to Icculus for providing us with this site, with listings and reviews and other tools and all the rest we need, for owners to market and develop their game, for players to find a new game of their liking, for new developers to get help and advise. And for the Discussion Forum, where all ideas and methods can be shared and discussed and we can all wallow a bit in nostalgia - for we are an aging population.
The Forum is up again, for the third time. And let’s hope this time it is “Third Time Lucky”.
Because the Text Mud community needs this platform. Let’s face it; We are a bit of a dying breed, but we are also a tough breed that dies hard.
There is something almost magic about Text Muds. Sure, we may all be way out of fashion, the interest of the new generation may be captivated by flashier and faster games, and even though many of our old time players stay on for an amazingly long time, sooner or later that other place known as “Real Life” will take over, and they will fade out. And very few potentially new players are trickling in from the other parts of the net… Still, with all the fast and flashy alternatives offered on the internet, people still stick to Text Muds; hours are spent on playing and developing them.
And people keep working on them for free. Endless hours of unpaid work are put down into expanding the worlds and developing the mechanics, allowing other people to play the game for free. Since traditionally most Text Muds are free. Sure, there are a few commercials, but the vast majority are free, thousands and thousands of them over the years, all the way back to the Diku team and the Diku licence - (which of course was the basis for many games, and also for endless quarrels over license breaking).
For we are a quarreling and competitive breed. We are still wasting breath on internal squabbling, when we should rather try to work together to market and spread the word about our genre, which has survived on the internet for over 25 years, and still refuses to die.
So what is it that makes text Muds so fascinating? Perhaps it is that the written word stimulates the fantasy of the player in a different and more lasting way than pictures do, in the same way that a book usually stays in the memory longer than a film? Because while a picture offers something definitive, the written word sparks the reader’s fantasy to work on and create pictures of their own?
Or is it that the player actually can write their own story? This is of course obvious in the Role Play enforced games, where forging and developing the story is the main goal. But even in a pure hack’n’slash Mud, the player controls his/her progress, by making all those different choices at different times. And in the majority of muds, which are a sort of hybrids between the two extremes, you also control your path through the players you interact with, by hunting together, sharing the same Clan, or just sitting around at the central point chatting about this and that. (On a side note, this is the kind of mud that I prefer myself, but the diversity is fascinating).
The themes are seemingly endless too. There are Text Muds based on books, films, myths, history - or in my own case, all of these. (I have not yet come across a Mud based on a TV series, but I bet there is one around some place). This means that whatever interests a player has, they can pick up a game that matches them, and live out their own fantasies in that environment.
Perhaps it is even these choices that makes Text Muds so captivating? I am not a big player of graphic games, but I assume that in most of them there is a set path for developing. In a Mud you can chose your own path and the choices are many and different in character.
Or is it the relations that you forge while playing a Mud? People from over the world meet in the same place, start to talk, maybe first “in character” or about the game, but sooner or later, depending on whether their personalities “click” - or not, it goes beyond that and you develop lasting friendships - or enmities.
Or is it the complexity of the game? The mix between the written descriptions and the code or script driven mechanism and events? One of my old time players once referred to 4D as a “work of art”. It may sound presumptuous, but there is some truth behind it. A Text Mud is like a large and complex virtual theater, where the scene, wings and back drop are created by some people, the drama plots played on the scene by others, and the mechanisms that control and drive the performance by a third group. Almost all Muds are the result of a long and complex cooperation between a group of people. The quality of the end product may vary, but the massive work, put down by a number of selfless enthusiasts, is a thing that all Text Muds have in common.
Finally; even though Text Muds offer so many different scenarios, they also have similarities that makes it easy to jump from one of them to another. The commands may be slightly different, but there is usually a command list that makes them easy to pick up. That’s is probably why many Text Mudders play actively on two or more games at the same time.
So where am I going with all this?
Really mostly a reminder, about focusing on all the things we have in common rather than our adversities.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could work together on marketing and spreading the knowledge of the genre we all love, rather than squabbling about petty things and fighting over the always fewer players that remain?
Wouldn’t it be nice, if we could make the Third Time Lucky?