Aug 282013

I didn’t plan it this way, but we have two interviews on back to back days! This one was for Adam Tingle over at, and it focuses mostly on MMOs specifically, as you might expect, with a lot of retrospective stuff. You can read it here.

We talk a bit about the making of Ultima Online, the development travails of SWG, the promise of Metaplace, and even the origins of sandboxy features back in LegendMUD. A snippet:

MMORPG: Do you believe in structuring a players experience, or prefer giving them tools to create a more emergent adventure?

Raph Koster: Both, really. But I strongly believe that you can’t build the emergent tools on top of a static world. As soon as you decide to make storytelling or quests or whatever the basis of your experience, you sacrifice having dynamic and emergent things in the game, because you can’t break or upset all the static content. Whereas if you start with a foundation of simulation or UGC, and layer static stuff on top, that works fine, because the static content is built to assume shifting foundations.

Sep 172012

On Saturday I met with the Omaha Game Developers Association in a Google Hangout for a couple of hours of interview-style questions. The whole thing was streamed live on YouTube and also captured afterwards, so here it is for those who have the patience.

Among the things we talked about:

And way more… vid after the break.

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Game talkTwitter, status, and /tell

 Posted by (Visited 8330 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , , , ,
Feb 072009

Hasn’t It Always Been About Status? is a little article tracing the status update mania (such as Twitter) to AIM status messages.

I have now spent two days with Twitter, and I have decided that it is basically guild chat in Internet-the-MMO. It’s a form of /grouptell, and we’re all out slaying bookmarks instead of orcs.

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Game talkSaving mud history

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Jan 132009

After the whole Threshold deal with Wikipedia and losing mud history, a new Wiki was created on Wikia in order to preserve mud history.

I’ve put up a detailed LegendMUD entry with a bunch of citations. Yeah, it’s a conflict of interest, and I am sure I am misremembering stuff or letting my bias show. But it’s also the only way some of this history will be preserved.(And wow, I had forgotten a lot of this stuff!)

Go there, and jump in, and help. And hey, if people do the hard work of finding sources and the like here, then some articles can maybe migrate back to Wikipedia.

Game talkWhat is a Diku?

 Posted by (Visited 31956 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , , ,
Jan 092009

I wish someone who has a good memory of these things and was there, would document that the key game design features of a DIKU are, if everyone is going to refer to MMOs as DIKU derivatives.

— a comment from Daniel Speed on Broken Toys » Wikicrap.

Glossing much here… Edit: this article is getting updated on the fly as people add comments and reminiscences.

DikuMUD was derived from AberMUD, which was similar mechanics, but had more of a scavenger hunt mentality in some ways.

At its core, it is a class-based RPG with the principal classes being fighter, healer, wizard, thief. (Later codebases added more). It was heavily based on the combat portion of Dungeons and Dragons. Advancement handled by earning experience points through combat, reaching a set amount of points, returning to town and “levelling up,” which unlocked new abilities. Classes were immutable (though eventually systems such as remorting, etc were added). Rewards for killing things also included equipment, which affected your stats and damage capability. If you reached the maximum level, common cultural practice was that you were invited to become a game admin (this practice dates back to much earlier, and existed in some form in MUD1).

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Game talkMiscWikipedia, muds, and where the sources are

 Posted by (Visited 12794 times)  Game talk, Misc  Tagged with: , ,
Jan 082009

Edit: slightly updated with one more “what have I learned” and a few more links. But I could add links to this for hours. 😛

So at this point, the whole kerfuffle over the MUD articles on Wikipedia has reached a fever pitch, and I am a bit exhausted by it all. Of course, not so exhausted that I can’t write 2500 more words about it.

But it has been an interesting education for me in how Wikipedia works, and I’d especially like to thank Adam Hyland for his patience explaining it all. I am a bit dismayed that both Richard & I were tagged by some in the debate as biased or “canvassed” or whatever the term is, when I think we both acted in good faith… but there are plenty of folks on the AfD discussion who have pointed this out.

Me being who I am, it of course led me to dig deeper into citations there in Wikipedia (hey look, ma, I’m a reliable source! No, wait, I’m not!). I think at this point that in theory, I’m a valid source. This may seem like an odd thing to wonder about or worry about, but hey, how can I help issues like this if not? I mean, this is right at the top of the whole MUD category:

MUDs and Notability — It Ain’t Gonna Work

Alright, I’ve been pondering this for several days, and I gotta tell you, I’ve got next to nothing. I’ve been in the Mudding community for over eight years at this point, and I’ve been a Mud administrator/coder/builder for over four years. I’d like to think I know the community pretty well. Here’s the dilemma: wikipedia guidelines require that articles on subjects maintain a certain level of notability. That is there are sources not directly related to the subject of the article. In the case of Muds this means we need to find some sort of third party source (be it a review, a listing, etc…) for each and every MUD listed on wikipedia that wasn’t written by players or staff of the MUD in question.

Well, that’s bloody near impossible.

— from the Talk page for the entire MUD category

So I decided to take a look at sourcing. I picked LegendMUD and my name, because though I may not be able to edit those articles, I do know the topics! In fact, I am an expert on me, though biased. 🙂 Continue reading »

Game talkA brief history of botting

 Posted by (Visited 16436 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , , , ,
Mar 252008

It’s funny to see how the old debates sometimes just don’t change — they just move from being flamewars on forums to being flamewars couched in more polite language, as in the case of the Blizzard vs WoWGlider lawsuit.

The issue of running bots or enhanced clients is very very old. MUDs originally were played via vanilla Telnet. Vanilla Telnet is extremely annoying, because there’s no separate input bar from your output. Given that writing a vanilla Telnet client is very easy, it was not long before there were dedicated clients that wrapped Telnet with additional functionality. The best known of these were TinyFugue and TinTin, and today it seems like zMud is still retaining dedicated users.

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Game talkMihaly interviews Bartle

 Posted by (Visited 5653 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , , , ,
Sep 222006

A Chat with Richard Bartle. Among other things, it discussed the possibility of WoW having an “honorouable retirement” system.

Progenitor says, “OK, well at the moment the top level is 60. I’d like for it to keep accumulating points until you got enough for level 61.”

Progenitor says, “At that point, it would ask you if you wanted to retire with honour. if you said yes, you’d go on the high score list and that would be that, you could come back to chat and stuff but no more achievement-oriented play.”

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Nov 022000

As usual, I did the annual live storytelling thing on LegendMUD this year. Every year since 1994, I’ve gone to the graveyard there, and in front of an audience, improvised a spooky story on the spot. This year the story was called Sugarheart, and I’ve posted it here under Stories/Live.

If you like these stories, head on over to and check out the spooky story contest. Alice is one of my favorite online comic strips, and voting ends today–the prize is some original artwork from the strip, I believe.

I got permission from the Rantings of Lum the Mad site to reprint the Roundtable on Fiction in MMORPGs so look for that under the Gaming/Talks section. I also reprinted the RPGVault interview I did a little over a month ago. You can find it under Gaming/Talks, as usual.

I’ve also updated the Online Worlds Timeline with a bunch of new info from folks like Daniel James (formerly of Avalon & Middle-Earth Online), David R. Woolley (long-time developer on PLATO), and a great set of dates for Ted Nelson’s Xanadu project supplide by KaVir aka Richard Woolcock. And more… so if you’re into the whole history bit like I am, you may want to check out the latest there. There’s even one new law, named Dundee’s Law, since he spotted it fly by on Mud-Dev.

Lastly, today I found a UO emulator shard that is using the “Advice to Virtual World Admins” from the article on Declaring the Rights of Players as the basis of their code of conduct. Yipes.

Game talkMiscWritingRecent News

 Posted by (Visited 9228 times)  Game talk, Misc, Writing  Tagged with: , ,
Aug 272000

Well, a major new essay is up. I hope I don’t get in too much trouble over it. 🙂 We’ll see! You can find it under Gaming/Essays/Declaring the Rights of Players.

I have several big updates to do to the Online World Timeline; I just got in a bunch of new data on PLATO to incorporate.

The machine the website is hosted on moved locations today, from Austin to Chicago. The domain names should still work fine, but the IP address has changed.

There’s now a search facility on the main LegendMUD site which also spiders these pages, so if you need to search the site, you can do it from there.

It’s time to submit talk proposals to the Game Developer’s Conference again. Any developers out there who have requests for topics to cover, post on the Guestbook and I’ll see if I can get it past Alan Yu! 🙂