I'd like to ask you all, what are the pros and cons of audiogames and MUDs? Maybe development, or gameplay aspects? I'd like what you guys think.
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I'd like to ask you all, what are the pros and cons of audiogames and MUDs? Maybe development, or gameplay aspects? I'd like what you guys think.
Hmmm, while I see while your asking this question, at the same time that's sort of like asking what are the pros and cons of vegetables and frankfurters.
After all, an Audiogame can be pretty much any type of game, programmed in any language that uses sound on any device, on or offline, where as muds are just a specific, type of online game. Indeed in the cases of something like Alteraeon with the mushZ pack and those other muds like Cosmic rage that have really extensive soundpacks, There is even a good argument that functionally there isn't much difference. Indeed, the unfinished and confusingly named "soundmud" which was the early basis for Sound rts was essentially a mud like hack n slash rpg experience programmed as a stand alone audiogame.
Still I'll try and answer your question the best I can.
Since audiogames can come in any shape size and genre, with or without online play, with or without multiplayer support, its a little difficult to talk about "the pros and cons" of audiogames in any general sense, you might as well ask what are the pros and cons of any sort of computer game.
it is possible though to talk about the pros and cons of muds, which I'll attempt to do here.
First, muds are essentially text games. Despite a few notable countable examples as said above, all muds derive their atmosphere and interactions from textual input. This means that if your not interested in reading how things are described at least to some extent, you probably shouldn't be playing muds at all.
As text games, muds have several conventions, one of which is more extensively parsed input. On the one hand this can make for lots of commands, on the other it can make playing or guessing puzzles or complex mechanics somewhat more cumbersom.
These two aspects combined with the fact that muds are realtime also create a potential access barrier given that if the amount of text sent to the player's client exceeds that which can be heard, understood and reacted to an optimum manner for the situation, the mud can be inaccessible, EG if combat is too spammy visually impared players will run into trouble.
There is then also the problem of ascii or matters expressed in inaccessible formats. This is why we specifically list in the db muds with screen reader adaptations to make things fair for blind players.
On the other hand, the fact that muds are! text means that the interactions you can have in a mud can be necessarily more complex than in most games, hence why muds represent some of the most extensive rpg experiences available in an accessible form.
Another fact about muds is that they are! multiplayer. This means that others can be playing at the same time as you. For pvp fans this can lead to pvp (perhaps in some muds too much), for social players or role players this can lead to lots of interactions with others, and even for solitary explorer types it can lead to a little community, for example trading, exchanging quest info etc.
Another fact I personally like about muds, is the variety available and the ease of play. There are muds that are quick hack n slash games, there are muds with detailed crafting and extensively realistic systems of weather and gardening, there are muds that have complex management mechanics, ---- though sadly the muds that also made stratogy games are few and far between.
I always love the variety in muds, both the variety of muds to play, and the variety of places to explore in those muds and activities to carry out.
Finally of course, from a programming perspective, muds have the advantage that they can be worked on by multipple people and that they are usually continually updated with new areas. This is often because they work from central codebase which has been more or less modified.
This means muds can often always have new things to do, new additions of classes, zones etc which makes for great variety.
On the other hand, if the stock codebase is used a little too heavy handedly, or if the developers aren't also decent builders or writers, muds can feel a little samy, especially those that use a recognizable code such as dicu or circle mud.
Okay, there is a brief talk about muds, hope some of it made sense.
I find that, perhaps one of the greatest downsides to muds, more precisely moos, is the heavyhanded policy concerning command stacking, triggering, and scripting in general for the sake of convenience. There's an obvious reason for it; there are people who wish to create bots for the sake of getting ahead without doing any work, thus automating just about every aspect of the game so they can be away from their PC and still be accumulating points, currencies, resources and so on. The catch is that if you sincerely aren't a fast typer you'll want to script to get some things done more quickly and efficiently; there are people who are really fast who do it as well because who wants to type out open such and such and put this into it and get that other thing out of it, when one could just as easily type opg or other such variation called an alias, or even assign a shortcut key that will send this lengthy string of spurious bla to the mud.
the long and short of it is, read up on the policies very carefully and make sure you're not nabbed for it, because doing so depending on the platform you're on can result in some fairly nasty consequences. There are elitist mudders out there who simply say you should play the mud as it's meant to be played, meaning don't bother with any extra convenience and just do it as we do; if you can't you may as well not play. I personally feel this is one place where Alter Aeon actually does have it nailed down properly, since while it is likely you'll get thwacked eventually if you just keep on command stacking and loose tons of XP for it, you don't have to worry about sending any fewer than 10 commands to the server at once. On the other hand, play a game like Miriani and you'll find that what your soundpack can and cannot do is heavily dictated. There are admins who declare it has to do with server resources, while others, as I've said above just tell you it's not fair for you to have an unfair advantage over other players who simply wish to type it all out. Never mind that, you know, for the most part, scripts can be and usually are shared.
For all of the above I try to stick mainly to fully functional clients or well put together brwoser games in which someone who can type faster than I can doesn't necessarly have a huge lead just because of it. I come from mainstream consoles, so that may have a bit to do with it; I prefer button smashing to having to type out a ton of characters over a short period of time while trying to think about what my character is going to do when finish the sequence and hope I've got it right and that there's no mistake in it so I have to retype it again.
Funny nocturnus, I have never bothered with scripting, since to me the inconvenience of learning either the client or mud specific scripting has always negated any benefit from learning to type the actual commands out myself, indeed any mud that is not playable without scripting due to textual speed or overdone information is a mud which needs interface fixes (I'm looking at you Epitaph).
I did try a couple of aliases in alteraeon, but usually only for occasions when I need to do things like swap equipment sets which took a lot of typing the same commands over again, and I don't think I've bothered in other muds.
the same goes for combat and automation, indeed I'm not a fan of automation, and again any mud that requires automated scripting to play is not accessible, neither is it one I'm interested in since to me one interesting thing playing muds is reacting at speed and reading a situation, for example seeing when I'm running low on hp and casting a quick heal spell etc.
Ironically, I used to put this down to my liking for playing mainstream console games, I remember for example playing many of the mega man and metroid games and having to use a specific item at a specific time and keep a careful watch on things like your energy gage or weapon ammo.
Then again, I'd always rather have muds that require slightly slower, more tactical combat than ultra fast typing frenzies, and for the most part the muds I've spent time with have been just that, heck in Flexible survival combat is entirely turn based, while in something like 4dimensions its mildly slower.
Personally I think that the reason for not allowing scripting because of "server resources" is utter BS. Why, you might ask? Simple: for one, if your going to host a MUD, MOO, MUSH, or any other form of a text game, you're bound to have a lot of bandwidth, to such a degree that you'll most likely never exceed it within the next 30 years unless your server hosts half the internet (I have, if I'm not mistaken, 4 TB free bandwidth before I'm charged... think I've only used about 5GB or so of that); and if you do host your server at home, you'll either have a really fast internet connection or the MUD/MOO/MUSH/... will be for private use only. Second, MUDs/MOOs/MUSHs have a bad history of taking up a lot of resources when it comes to memory, so if you're hosting a game like that chances are you'll have twice, if not 3-5 times, the amount of resources the MUD/MOO/MUSH uses while running. So yeah... my opinion.
One major conn, I think, to MUDs/MOOs/MUSHs is that, due to us having to script soundpacks and such, you can never get the full immersion that an audiogame or videogame provides (i.e. you can here the echo of your footsteps, the distant booms and rumbles of outside warfare filling your ears, etc). We can accomplish some of this via preset ambience files, but that can only go so far. And let's not forget the complete lack of any "dimensional" sound (1D, 2D, 3D).
I'm afraid I disagree with you about the lack of sound in muds being automatically a con ethin.
You might as well then say books are automatically worse than audio dramas since they don't have sound effects.
The fact is muds are text games, yes, sound packs are a nice thing to have when you can have them , but ultimately the main interface in a mud is a textual one, the descriptions are written in text, the game uses text for commands etc.
This is one reason why I always get irritated at muds, browser games or any other sort of text game that really skimps on description, since when you've got the entire English language to play with, and the best you can come up with is "you are fighting a goblin, it attacks and does two damage" there is really something wrong with you .
That in a way is also a possible plus of text games in general and muds in particular, since hay its probably rather different to find sounds for a manticore, a chimera or some alien beasty, but with text you can put in the game whatever sort of thing you like, indeed in that sense audiogames always run into problems since while its possible to create whatever you can with text, and while graphical game designers can put in whatever they can get someone to animate, audiogame designers are always limited by sound availability.
Of course, unlike with gamebooks, browser games etc muds do have the problem that when your looking at real time events you can't always take time to read descriptions, though this is where commands such as alteraeon's review corpse command come in handy, since that way you can have your cake and eat it to and is likewise a reason I prefer slower, more tactical muds than those full of agro mobs who jump on you and begin super fast combat out of no where, or require you to hop your spaceship around like a demented bumble bee just to survive.
This is one reason why I always get irritated at muds, browser games or any other sort of text game that really skimps on description, since when you've got the entire English language to play with, and the best you can come up with is "you are fighting a goblin, it attacks and does two damage" there is really something wrong with you!
You have encountered a green, short, scrawny creature with an oversized hairless head and yelow eyes. It's voracious appetite compels it to rush you and deal you 2 damage as it latches on to your ear with its jagged teeth.
My point exunctly, Why the hell so many text games skimp on the text I really don't know.
it actually is quite depressing, especially in games that have great systems and mechanics to see that sort of laziness. Heck, 7th plane would be an awesome game if it actually had writing to back it up.
I suppose because in order to truly get the enjoyment out of that you'd have to be a speed reader? In a book, well, the book's not going anywhere unless you put it away, throw it away, give it away, sell it, return it to the library, or you are dealing with some natural disaster or act of God... Insert random freak tornado while I read some more Narnia.
In a game, however, unless the thing is turnbased or is simply one of those interactive stories, well, most things are occuring at realtime speed, so having to read a chunk of text that contains two, possibly three lines in it like that on, say, a mud, isn't something just anyone can do. This is much of the reason I apreciate all of the depth that has gone into the mushZ soundpack because, without it, I would never have dreamed of playing Alter. I remember testing a soundpack made for VIPMud back in late 2010, early 2011 and thinking to myself that it just, wasn't enough. While you can get away with reading that much text at lower levels, once you reach level 25 or so you have to figure out something a litle more efficient.
Actually Alteraeon is one of the few games where combat occurs at macro speed, and even Dentin introduced the review corpse command precisely so you can look at mobs.
Lots of muds have combat at a slower pace or fewer agro creatures than Alter, indeed alter is definitely on the higher end of both agro and speed. Then of course, combat is only one part of a game, there is also exploring, items, npcs etc.
Then, even if we're talking combat its surprising how much difference an adjective can make.
For instance if I were playing a wizard character and used a lightning balt on my character I'd much rather see:
"You shock your enemy for 150 damage"
or even something like "You strike with arcing blue lightning 159 damage"
Than just "You cast lightning bolt 159 damage"
Different strokes for different folks, as they say. To me, text scrolling by and being read by a screen reader will never convey to me, personally, what sound can, probably because I'm a sound geek anyway. that having been said, I believe what philosopher and speaker Ravi Zacharias says concerning graphics and video in general versus text applys here as well. Movies tell you what the author wants you to see, hear, know and experience. Text at least, allows you to infer any number of imaginative ideas about what you're reading, unless you're reading an instructions manual. Sound is limited; imagination is not. Text will, therefor, always have the edge in that regard.
and now I'll slink away and leave this discussion to everyone else; let the text keep scrolling!
I wonder if this would still be the case if everyone had access to a braille display, probably not.
Seeing as everyone reads at a different speed, plus the whole moving your hands from the display to a keyboard constantly would slow you down.
I like text because, yeah, it gets you to use your imagination, but you can skim through the large blocks of descriptive content if you've seen it enough times.
I'm still holding out for a cat simulator.
I know we have choice of the cat, but it's not as openworld as I like.
You're just going through the story.
I think the clocest to an openworld text game that isn't a mud i played is Inheritance, and that's a work in progress.
@kool_turk, a braille display might actually be a very bad idea; you'd need a large braille display. A screen reader would be constantly refreshing the braille display -- you'd only be able to read about 1/4 of a line before it vanished and was replaced with another. Text games are simply too action-packed and too fast for those kinds of real-time things.
@Nocturnus, I'm certainly not against sound or music in games at all, heck it was playing shades of doom that first got me interested in audiogames, its just that when used properly, text can convey a lot of information that sound can't.
To take one example I recently noticed. One environment I had to go through in 4dimensions was the android factory. Now, of course a good sound designer could make a pretty cool sounding android factory, lots of machinery clanking, android voices saying phrases, hell the other day my lady and I watched rise of the cybermen and the age of steel from new doctor who which did a wonderfully macabre job of sort of sound ambience.
And yet, exploring the factory in 4d every room was different. They could explain what the machines were doing, how different parts of androids were put together, they could show you a bin full of rejected android heads or an android arm that fell off the conveyer belt and walked towards you on its fingers like The Thing from Adams family, or an android leg that hopped towards you and tried to kick you.
This is what I mean by text and atmosphere and why i think particularly enjoy exploring in text games.
In terms of presentation, assuming you had a large enough display you could probably read the static parts of a mud, but to be honest I've never found braille reading fast or efficient enough myself. Then again Mrs. Dark swares by her braille display and wouldn't be without it.
Perhaps if anyone ever comes up with that full screen display I'll give it another try, hell if that ever happens ascii graphics will be pretty cool I think.
Unfortunately though, even in the slower paced muds I doubt the scrolling text would be slow enough to read with a braille display even if you did! have a large enough one.
@Ethin that's true, at least with the single line displays, which is why I'm holding out for those multi line displays like the blitab or the Graphiti.
I'm probably going to be waiting a long, long time though, because, it looks like those won't be released for quite some time, if ever.
Graphiti appears to sound promising, since I beleave they're looking for testers now.
And now, I've gone off topic, but yeah, we need something like a tactile monitor.
For m, sound actually puts us on an equal playing field to the sighted. Sighted folks can look at a line of text in a split second. It may take our screen reader 3 or 4 seconds to read it. Of course, can can gag combat output to a point, but then combat becomes boring. So, to me, sound speeds us up, while keeping the feeling of the game, combat and such. Of course, no sound packs have really gotten past small stereo sound, into surround sound using Windows Sonic for Headphones or Dolby and such, to convey adjacent rooms, good for archery and such I'd think, and there could always be different attack/hit/near-death/death sounds for different mobs: rats, dogs, wolves, cats, people, trolls, monsters, fish, ETC. So even Mush-Z has a long way to go to max out its potential.
Also, you can also look at it like different interfaces. Sighted people have printed text, and that works well for them, with colors, maps, such like that. We have audio, with sounds and music.
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