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Thursday, March 12, 2009

online megadungeon vs MUD

I'm not gonna try to call the winner on this one, but the recent online megadungeon zeitgeistery at Grognardia, the Stonehells (one of the best back-stories for dungeon-rationale I've ever read), Castle of the Mad Archmage, etc - made me think of the time I used to spend playing MUDS.

MUDS (multi-user dungeons, just in case you're unfamiliar with this ancestor of the MMORPG) can be as small or large, explanations as tense or verbose as desired. It's a question of code-base. How difficult would S&W be to turn into a code base? With the simplicity of the rules, it seems it would not be too difficult (for programmers, that is, familiar with MUDS - I am a neophyte).

The point (if any) is that the talk of online megadungeons as resources makes me wish that megadungeons would go up on the internet to be crawled through.

Now no MUD in (my limited experience) re-created the feel of table-top play.
#1 - there is no DM - so there is no ruling, only rules (this inversion of an old-school ethic being an unforunate side-effect of the fact that we've not yet invented a human computer...someday...someday...).
#2 - as far as I know, the player of a MUD could only play one character - so henchmen, hirelings, torchbearers, etc is a no go - as is a balanced party...of course, MUDS are made with this fact in mind. But then, there was also the ability to follow other groups weren't impossible, but their actions were pretty monolithic I think.
#3 - automation is not intelligence (see lament in #1). Monsters (called 'mobs', short for 'mobile' things) are not cunning, not smart, and dangerous in senses other than combat. Maybe this is something that could be improved with some really ingenious integration of code-base and AI - hmmm...

I'm behind the curve on technology. Maybe there are such things on the Internet right now and I am wasting my time complaining about the lack of them - I dunno. I've tried some on-line games (of the strategy ilk) and they are cool (Lords is really fun in a kinda brain-dead way...) -
I can't help but think that an interesting way to introduce more people to old-school ideas would be to let them experience it first hand as a player - much in the same way that I was introduced to D&D (Holmes): by playing in it.

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