Alternative Formats to MU

  • Pitcrew

    @meg I'm sorry, I must be just straight up missing something. Can you show me where that's happening, here? I am seeing questions being asked and a discussion being had.

  • Pitcrew

    @auspice Ares is shiny and new with bells and whistles that weren't there before, and people overall really love the work Faraday has done on it. Any time a MU* client is created or updated, it's generally increasing ease of use. Probably with bells and whistles that you don't strictly need in order to get to the core of RP. But it makes it easier. Why do we do this? Because making it easier for people to RP makes it so that people are more likely to RP.

    You keep writing responses that are weirdly aggressive with this idea that a web-based MU* experience is "giving the middle finger to the current product userbase." Everyone on this thread who is talking about making some new things is part of that current userbase. What about the people we see say things like "I was really skeptical of the Ares web portal stuff -- I already do everything on my client! -- but then I started using it and wow it makes X and Y so much easier"?

    What's under discussion right now is a new platform. Obviously a platform won't fundamentally change the fact that X game based on X tabletop system has a complicated chargen, or that Y game has long wait times for approval. But this thread is about "alternative formats to MU," not "improving staffing methods on the existing format." Of course the things you're describing are hurdles. I don't disagree! But the idea that any format other than what exists now is just "bells and whistles" and pointless and actually some sort of middle finger to the MU* community is unnecessarily aggressive and naysaying.

  • @sunny It has basically been said over and over in the thread, and numerous people have flat out said that they don't think this should be done.

  • @tragedyjones said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    I am curious what other similar, but not MU based types of formats exist, or that people may have tried.
    I am tinkering with the idea of a multiplayer persistent game using alternative formats, possibly linking multiple resources. One idea I have is to combine a game with a Wiki, a sub-Reddit, and a Discord server, where staff can use Google Drive to track character sheets.

    From there, you will recall, the conversation diverged into distraction, split attention on tools/interfaces, and here we are.

    Conversations naturally wind their way, as people don't just post "Yeah me too" constantly to threads on ideas. That's what Upvotes and Polls are for. Threads are for asking questions, giving two cents' worth, and propositions.

    I asked to see your vision, in order to get an idea of what you foresee. I understand that you don't want to get attacked for it, that's fine. Conversations can be had about innovation outside of this board, but in my experience, most people don't chime in on announced projects here. Not one person has said a word when I mentioned working on a new MU client. When people propose new MU*s, if it is WoD, the conversation invariably shifts to "How are you different", but if you are not WoD, it is invariably "How can you be more mainstream".

    There aren't a lot of developers here, and that is honestly the target of my side of the conversation, not the players, not the theme staffers, but the coders. The people who would be critical to this conversation if anything other than "Wow, would be really nice to have" is to be explored.

  • Pitcrew

    @meg There's not even a solid 'this' here to be poo-poo'd.

  • @auspice said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    By and far, college kids aren't reading and writing like they used to. This is fact.

    Except I've seen plenty of studies that say the reverse. Sunny even quotes one a step or two above. College kids aren't reading print books like they used to, but they read on iPad or iPhone or Kindle quite avidly.

    We're standing around trying to design a new logo for an outdated product when they don't want the product to begin with. This is Marketing 101 and we are failing. If they want our product, they will find it, regardless.

    Except, as Roz has pointed out, there are many demonstrably excellent RPers doing journal RP, Tumblr RP, forum RP, and so on. And as both Roz and I have experienced, if you point them at a MUSH, they go "Wait, I have to download a special program? Okay, how do I set this up. Okay, what's this +cg/adjust stuff I have to do? This is weird." and go back to the familiarity of something in a browser they already know how to use.

    We mostly know how to use +bboard, though as Tat has pointed out, folks sometimes still have to check the particular syntax, especially for +bbnew, +bbsearch, etc. type commands that tend to be custom per-game. But you know what? Everyone pretty much knows how to use a web-forum when it comes to bboards.

    The core of MU is roleplay. None of this enhances or speaks to that core. What would bring people in for roleplay? What are barriers to roleplay? It was brought up earlier, a few things:

    People complain the hobby is dying. That we're RP'ing with the same people over and over again. That there's no new blood.

    If we assume "there's no new blood" is a problem, and that new blood is something that infuses new life (and thus new RP) into the community, then making MU*ing more accessible to people absolutely enhances that core.

    As was pointed out by several others already, T:L&F made a huge concerted effort to find RPers in those environments, to handhold them through the adjustment period, and get them into RP. As a result, it's a fairly large, active game with a lot of young newcomers to MU*ing.

    Now, if you don't feel that the hobby needs new blood that's an entirely different matter. But it felt like that was one of the premises of this thread to start with, and the question was more "If this is true, how do we make it more approachable?"

    • Difficult CGs (a web form only gives this a new interface; it doesn't make the core of CG easier)

    I disagree completely, and I have my own personal anecdote to back it up.

    I recently tried my first WoD MUSH. I found the chargen system impenetrable and confusing. And I'm an experienced MUSHer (and codestaffer!). But the chargen just... having never played WoD, much less used that particular chargen system, it felt alien and off-putting to me. I nearly gave up right there in chargen.

    And then I realized, hey, I could make my character using the character sheet plugin in Roll20 and copy it over. And now I had something that did the math for me, which let me pick things and read the definitions from the books as I did so, etc. Suddenly making my character was a great deal easier.

    Those are just a couple that have been brought up in this thread. Once people get past the 'shiny and new,' what's going to keep them around? It's not the bevel on the buttons. It's the roleplay and the people on the game.

    But if they can't get through that initial push they're not going to be on the game in the first place to stick around.

  • @sparks
    For a long time I was REALLY hoping Roll20 would improve its interface for text-based RP/persistent world RP, and become a viable alternative. It's doing something different and not really right for that, though, but I'd have been ALL the fuck over that if it had gotten there.

  • This conversation is 95% over my head, frankly. I'm mostly a graphics nerd, so I comment on graphics and visual layouts (if we ever get thereabouts I'll chime in) and that's about it.

    Not... really seeing this as the same thing as what happened back when, quite. Even so, folks on the whole seemed to decide what happened back then was perfectly fine and dandy, and continue to cheerfully celebrate that outcome, so I dunno if that's the comparison you really want to draw here if you're looking for the thread to be productive. (I'm ripping some of the wiki templates and files off the droplet to get a friend set up with a wiki framework, so if y'all want to see the hilariously and deliberately baroque(n) wiki layout, it is temporarily up. I did at least really like the map.)

  • Admin

    @rook said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    Shift every rule, check and validation into a web client, and you will have a complex web client. Why? CharGen is complex. Shift every +command into a web client, and you will get a complex web client. A window for seeing who's in the room, who's online, including filtering for "Everyone in WHO", "My friends", "Just in this Room", or "My Faction". That alone speaks to things being complex to learn, potentially lending to people missing things.

    Let's take a stab at this. I'll use three separate examples.

    1. "Every +command turned into a web interface"

    Case A: You type "+bbpost 4/Looking for TS" and then "+bb I will TS you if you let me." and then "+bbproof" followed by "+bbpost".
    Case B: You use web form with a subject line, a text box and a submit/cancel button.

    1. "Windows for seeing different kinds of information"

    Case A: You type "who", "who/guild*" or "look" to see different things. The screen scrolls in each instance.
    Case B: You click on a sliding panel where you can filter these things visually. Once done you hide it so it's not in the way until you need it again.

    1. "CGen"

    Case A: You type "raise/lower dexterity", "+merit Contacts=2" and then a syntax I really don't remember at the moment about setting +notes on yourself with the attributes of the merit.
    Case B: You have a nWoD sheet. You click on the dots you want. For merits there's a drop-down with the available ones, and when you select "Professional Training" a second pulldown appears for you to select from.

    It's really not the same.

  • @arkandel said in Alternative Formats to MU:
    Fair points, agreed.

  • In the end, I think that a lot of people either vehemently disagree with the proposed changes, or they are on-board with them. What I am trying to do is bridge a gap, through code, and to do that, I'd need to have a much more concrete conversation about proposed changes, features and expected functionality. It would all need to be examined, just like all code does.

  • Pitcrew

    @auspice said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    You are trying to bring people that do not exist into a hobby by alienating the people that do.

    You want to add ultimately pointless bells and whistles to things that will eliminate the people that phone MU.
    You want to cut out the people that prefer (or can't for health reasons) not to use a mouse just to RP.

    All to gain the one or two college kids that actually do enjoy reading and writing?

    Wow. I mean. I just--

    We know there are good RPers out there. It's a fact. I can link you to games full of people writing stories.

    Speaking of stories people apparently aren't writing... Have you seen Have you seen the drabbles on tumblr? The Secret Santa challenges with dozens, sometimes hundreds, of participants? Have you heard of Nanowrimo? People aren't /writing/? The internet is FULL of people writing! It is FULL of people living and breathing in franchises they love. They are so eager for this experience that they /RP on Tumblr/ where it is /horrible/. Imagine what they can and will do when they are given the tools we take for granted.

    But beyond that, look. I'm pumped about the idea of new blood. But these bells and whistles? I want them for myself.

    I want to be able to read bbs without cluttering my backscroll, I want to be able to arrange combat via dropdown menus instead of remembering commands, I want to look at a HUD without adding a second character to combat while I'm GMing just so I can keep track of the flow of the scene AND who's injured.

    I want a web-based game for purely selfish reasons. Because after 20 years of M*ing, I'm fucking tired of things being harder than they have to be.

    Difficult CGs (a web form only gives this a new interface; it doesn't make the core of CG easier)

    No. Sorry. Totally not true.

    I've run the same CG on Ares via telnet and via the web. I can tell you which one is a BILLION times easier. It's not the telnet.

    And that's a pretty simple system. The numbers aren't complicated, there's not a lot of math to be done. But the UI makes it SO MUCH EASIER to track where I am, what I have left to spend, what things are at the right levels, etc. And I'm pretty sure that there's lots of room for improvement on what Ares has so far, even. Helpful error messages, tips and hints, auto-calculators, ALL KINDS OF THINGS.

    I for one am PUMPED to welcome new players into this hobby, and I'm PUMPED to get to use these bells and whistles for myself.

  • @thenomain said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    Usually I say that when players are all, "Nyeh, this code is broken! Nyeeehhhh, I want phone and IM code! Nnnyeeehhh!"

    (For those who don't watch Venture Bros, you really should. Nyeh is the sound that Shoreleave makes when mocking someone's whining.)

    I thought you were channeling the ghost of Edward G. Robinson.

  • My favorite thing on these forums is when people are allowed to use hyperbole extensively for themselves, but they get so bent out of shape when someone else uses it.

    Of course other people are writing. I was a municipal liaison for NaNoWriMo for years. I have, for my job, moderated forums.

    But the numbers of people who are writing is on the decline.

    At the kick-off for NaNo in Austin this year, do you know how many were present that were under the 25~ range?


    I met them both (teenagers love me despite my being terrified of them).

    But here's the secret:
    They don't use tumblr or forums or similar because of the tools.

    They use them for the same reason most of us began MU*ing back in the day. They can dive right in. There's no extensive application process. No back and forth. No sheets. No backgrounds. No poorly designed website to dig through to learn an original theme setting.

    They just see a post on a forum of 'I want someone to RP with, here's my character: <two sentence description>' and boom, off they go.

    We used to just dive in, often with just a name and description, in an established setting.

    Places like Shang flourish because it's the same thing. You can have a single name there and be anyone you wish; just jump in and RP with someone, be it sex or not.

    The barrier isn't the tools. It's the approach to how we play.

  • Pitcrew


    For the record, I did not take 'people aren't writing' and 'they don't exist' literally.

    I did take them to mean that you think there are not ENOUGH people writing and interested in RP to be bothered with. If that's not what you meant, I apologize for misunderstanding.

    And it changes nothing about my reply. There are forum games out there with far more complicate CG processes than many M*s. Journal games, too.

    So perhaps we have a disagreement here. You don't think there are enough to make an effort to bring into the fold. I do. I've had a couple on a game I run, and I enjoyed them, and I felt continually bad about how hard it was to learn things I've taken for granted for decades.

    But again, let me reiterate: I want these fun toys mostly so I can use them myself.

  • Admin

    @meg said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    Legit, no. No. You may think this is all fine, but it's not. It isn't like walking into a developer meeting and raising your hand and whatever. Someone asked a question, specifically, about what people had tried in other formats. They suggested an idea that they were tinkering with.

    They didn't ask, 'please list all the reasons you think I am wrong for wanting to develop this thing'.

    That's true. This is a conversation guys, please don't make it personal or paint anyone disagreeing as if they're having some kind of agenda here.

    Please debate the issue, not the debaters.

  • @auspice Yes, your anecdotal evidence is the correct basis for all the factual statements you've made in your posts so far in this thread. The sheer disrespect and dismissiveness of those not in this hobby, but perhaps interested, matched to the misplaced sense of writing superiority, is infuriating. I'm obviously of the belief that telnet is no longer where I'd like to see the hobby go, but when you adamantly state it's not for you, I can't say I'll be sorry if that turns out to be true.

    Someone more even-tempered at the moment might suggest that they hope you're so impressed by new developments that you change your mind, but I think your attitude toward new people will only ever be detrimental. And I'd rather take my chances with them.

  • So back to my point: I am happy to debate this from a technical perspective. If you envision ways that things can be done better, start with some constructive mockups.

    In @Arkandel's web-based CharGen, someone start building a webpage with all of the data, and we can start looking at ways to interface that submission with the MUSH.

    Again, happy to help here. In fact, this sounds like a good project for my own game. I'll start on it this afternoon, and see how feasible things are. It just so happens that it will actually help my project(s) effort(s) to lay this out more.

  • Pitcrew

    @rook If you want to see how it's working with telnet based games, take a look at BSU's web CG (

    You'll have to register to peek, but it's pretty cool and a very solid beginning to something. I suspect even a non-telnet version would look something like this.

  • @tat
    Oops! Something has gone wrong. Please check your error logs. uninitialized constant AresMUSH::WebApp::Engine

Log in to reply