Monday, December 16, 2013

Imaginary Realities is back

The Imaginariy Realities webzine was the place to go to for MUD game design articles in the late 90's. Last released in 2001, its articles are still worth the read for any game designers today. 

But guess what - this venerable ezine has now returned! You can find the new issue here.

I think this is a good community initiative worthy of support. I contibuted two articles myself (one of which is about Evennia) and would like to thank the staff/editors who took their work very seriously and did sterling work on getting everything in shape.

Thanks also to the other authors who penned some very interesting articles. Great job guys!

My impressions: 

  • KaVir elaborates in A modern interface for a modern MUD on the advantages of not sticking with an outdated UI just for the sake of it. Adding a more accessible presentation is not that hard and won't ruin your game but rather help it. Whereas I have read his argument about this before, this is a good summary to take to heart. Evennia's javascript web client is currently mainly a telnet clone; there's a lot of things we could offer to make it easier for users to offer a more graphical presentation.
  • Molly O’Hara, in her A well built zone is a work of art, outlines a list of useful things to keep in mind when designing a zone. While some of these vary with game type, others do not. I like the suggestion that scripting bugs need not be the most important aspect - syntactic errors can be handled by automated means as long as the design aspect of the zone is solid.
  • A journey through Paradice [sic] is Matthew Chaplain's entry on designing a dice-roller using the telnet protocol. Some interesting things here, including making creative use of the telnet character-mode and VT100 control sequences. This ties a bit into KaVir's article, in that the interface used for "modern" MUDs are often voefully missing out on a lot of possibilities.
  • Blind accessibility: challenges and opportunities by Matthew “Chaos” Sheahan, is based on interviews with a blind mudder and a game admin having implemented lots of support for seeing-impaired players. This was a really interesting article since I've been pondering myself what could be done from Evennia's core side to help players support players using screen readers. Most seem to be down to configuration options though, and avoiding making colour or ascii art the only sources of information. These are all things Evennia devs implement depend on their game. We may offer some good contribs to build from though.
  • Evennia: an introduction - this is mine. It not-so-briefly sums up stuff about Evennia and the more important systems it relies on.
  • Getting a roleplaying scene going - another article of mine. This is a light-hearted list of tropes for getting a RP scene going on an RP-mud. It's based on things I've tried or seen myself in play. 
  • Darcie “Natilena” Laur laments on the often opaque newbie guides in Introducing new players and redesigning MUD School. It describes how she tested (and improved) her own MUD's starter area while testing it on her kids. It made me think more on having Evennia offering easier ways to dump text logs in all sorts of situations. And we find out that kids have the attention span of zombie squirrels - something new learned every day!
  • Finally, The Hunger Game, or how I learned to break the ship from the bottle is Michael “Drakkos” Heron's epic about his journey developing and releasing his zombie-survival MUD Epitaph. Drakkos is a frequent blogger on the MUD-planet feed, so I knew some of this already, but it's a good read and contains some useful warnings and things-to-think-of for those thinking of starting their own MUD project. We already give some of the same advice (albeit with fewer words) in our wiki but I'm seriously considering linking to Drakkos post from there as well - it gives a more comprehensive treatment and offers a real-world example of the long road to a released game.
The issue also contains a call to help recover old MUDing resources that has gone offline since their heyday. Having browsed through the classic MUD-dev mailing list archives I can agree they are not quite as easily searchable as could be hoped. It would also be great to see the old comment posts tied to the articles of the old Imaginary Realities articles, if those could be found somehow.

This is actually one thing which I do miss with this first Imaginary Realities issue - a way for readers to comment on the articles. This would likely mean a much higher level of complexity and work though, so I can certainly see why it's not there - using the existing MUD forums is probably enough for now.

Anyway, I'm happy to see this thing getting off on a good start. I'm already looking forward to the next issue! 


  1. There should be reddit links at the bottom of each page. Maybe there's a way we can make them more visible?

    1. Hm. I look at various pages and I see no reddit links at the bottom, only the navigation buttons ("<>"). This is under Firefox. Where are those links supposed to be?

    2. They appear at the bottom of the page centered after the content. There was initially a reddit button with number of points and up/down arrows there. Now there's a more explicit link with "Discuss this on Reddit" and a twitter share button underneath that.