Friday, May 16, 2014

Imaginary realities volume 6, issue 1

I'm a bit late with writing about it, but the latest issue of Imaginary Realities has been out for a month or so now. You can find it here.

Here is a brief summary of the articles in the latest issue. 

  • In A Journey Through Paradice, Part II, Matthew Chaplan continues his description of the C++ codebase Paradice9, notably focusing on its input handling, which uses character-mode telnet to produce plenty of interesting effects in a custom terminal client. There are plenty of interesting features (or potential features) discussed. An example is the client knowing to store the receiver of a "reply" command the moment the command is entered rather than waiting for the player the press return (at which point someone else might have written to you and the reply-to target would have changed in a traditional setup). There is no denying the power of having a custom client for your game. And whereas I think some more secure protocol than telnet would maybe be better to use when you control both server and client anyway, it's really interesting to see the power and features you can achieve with it. 
  • Building a Giant Mech in Evennia - this is my entry for this issue; a short little tutorial on designing a machine of mirth and mayhem in Evennia. 
  • Richard “KaVir” Woolcock's Describing a Virtual World covers the different uses of dynamically created descriptions in text games. He summarizes the types, from the most common, fully static room description up unto the character-dependent procedurally generated descriptions in his own GodWarsII mud. It's a fascinating read since it not only goes into rooms but also how to build piecemeal and situation-aware character and object descriptions as well as procedural help and quest info. The techniques are not for every type of game of course. But a good and informative read for anyone interested in game design.
  • Dynamic room descriptions, by Jana, are also covering room descriptions although takes a more conservative conclusion than the full procedural contruction of KaVir's article. This covers the hybrid hand-written description - that is hand-written text that uses a markup language for optional or situation-dependent text. It makes for a good text on implementing such a system (an Evennia equivalent is found in our contrib folder. 
  • Saddle Up - A Personal Story about Riding Your Demon to Success is a summary and inspirational story by Michael "Drakkos" Heron. It ties back to his work with Epitath and how it has affected and improved (and continues to improve) his personal and professional life. I like that he manages to include his game development work into his teaching and reasearch, a cool way to make use of your hobby. He has a point on the usability of a coding hobby like this: I myself have had lots of use and even landed project work based on my work with Evennia. One of our users landed his current job based on knowledge he learned working with Evennia. So there is definitely an advantage to mud-development outside the hobby realm.
  • The Successful Quest Builder by John "TheDude" Robinette and Joanna "Lorana" Liberty covers the construction of a Quest from the designer's perspective. Rather than focusing on gameplay considerations the authors here focus on the technical aspects; learning the codebase's tools and things to think about debugging and developing something that is enjoyable for the players.
  • The article Your MUD Should Have an Account System finally, is Matthew “Chaos” Sheahan's argument as to why a game should use a single login account system rather than the old way of creating a new account per player. Much of the argument is around converting an old-school code base into this configuration and how it's not as hard as one may think. I fully agree on his assessment (although I wonder just how "easy" it is to patch on such a system on an old-running mud). He even mentions Evennia as an example of a modern codebase having this functionality out of the box (yay!).

Deadline for the next issue is announced to be May 31 2014 so don't be shy to contribute your own article. Richard Tew hints at in his introduction, finding people to write articles is the tricky part still.

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