Replayability discussion

In (checks watch) about 3 hours (8 PM British, noon Pacific) we have an ifMUD discussion club meetup on replayability. More here:

This is a fantastic topic and I wish I could be there! I’ll be fascinated to read the log after.

Ditto, please ping when the log is up.

Log is here.

There’s also some discussion in there about what to do next, given that the topic-based approach feels a bit aimless and doesn’t have the level of participation that we might like, even if there’s a posted “suggested reading” list in advance. What we’re going to do for next time is an IF Comp debrief on Nov 22, so that we’re guaranteed a shared set of games to talk about; but the longer-term direction of this project is still under review.

Thanks, this was…


(Ducks thrown tomato(e)s.)

You can say that again! (I’m so sorry guys)

I really like these, though I usually cannot participate, and would like to see them continue! (Is that "Hey guys keep doing the work for me?)

(But man, linking to Kitten Game was NOT COOL. I have work to do! I did not need to be informed that there is a candyboxlike about a kitten village!)


I like these too but I wish it happened on something easier to join in on than a MUD.

What do you have in mind and/or what issues do you have with the MUD?

Agree - I’m not a fan of the MUD interface. I’d rather use Skype IM or IRC or another basic chat program that accommodates groups.

(Disclaimer: I do not think anyone should make changes on my account, as moving to a different system would not resolve my incredibly unreliable schedule. But I wanted to add a supporting voice.)

A mud-channel <=> XMPP chat room gateway wouldn’t be hard to set up. (You can join an XMPP/Jabber chat room with Google chat or any number of standard chat clients.)

I found the MUD interface similarly frustrating and eventually wrote an IRC proxy for it. It’s still a work in progress – in particular, it’s very bad at figuring out who is in a given room or channel – but I’ve been using it happily for a while. A few days ago I did a big dependency and netcode cleanup and officially released it.

It is worth noting that it does require a MUD login (unlike, say, something that bridges an ifMUD channel to an existing IRC network). is a proxy that lets you connect to IFMUD using an IRC client.

Even once I’m connected to the ifMUD, I find it difficult to deal with the MUD commands–how to talk in the right channel, how to direct comments to particular people, etc. It gives me a sense of how newbies feel about dealing with the parser (except I have to do it in real time if I want to participate in a conversation).

Anyway, I think the MUDdiness itself can be an obstacle, even once you’re connected.

Like Carolyn, I’m just being a supporting voice here–my schedule is more reliable than hers in that I reliably can’t participate. Also chats/IRCs wouldn’t be particularly good for me either; something I can get through through the web is much nicer for me. The livechats I’ve found most congenial have been CoverItLive chats hosted on Fangraphs, where someone puts a liveblog up on a website and people can comment… but that involves a lot of background work, I think, and isn’t free, and is just totally not suitable. But is there anything like that that can deliver a similar experience?

Another alternative might be a Twitter hashtag conversation, since I probably won’t be taking part anyway–aren’t the rest of you on Twitter?

ifIRC helps some with that, if you’re already used to IRC, but it does assume at least enough knowledge of the MUD to move around, join/leave channels, and read the bulletin board. I am open to suggestions on how to improve this.

If you mean web-accessible chat like kiwiirc, you could always run a net-facing ifirc instance and point kiwi at it, or use a web-based telnet or mud client (I’m pretty sure those exist, right?). If you mean “persistent web-page-based” rather than “a chat I can get at from a web browser”, isn’t that what these forums are? In that case you just need to convince people to have these discussions on the forum instead of realtime. :slight_smile:

Twitter is much more restrictive in what you can say, and also much harder to follow conversations in. Personally, I’m very glad it’s not used for this.

Yeah, I find Twitter a really really difficult context for extended dialogue, and it would be nearly impossible to transcript meaningfully. (I mean, yeah, you can spend a lot of effort pulling something together in storify, but it tends to get confusing with the replies to replies to replies.)

This is in danger of turning into “What can we do to make TheoryClub easier for someone who isn’t likely to be able to participate in TheoryClub no matter what we do,” but anyway:

Well maybe the problem is that I’m not used to IRC (I may be a dinosaur), but moving and joining channels has been a problem for me on the MUD. And in the little IRC experience I’ve had, it does seem more accessible than the MUD; I can just type and have it show up, though I do make lots of typos and send things off in the middle when I forget that return means “send.”

Well, problem one is that I don’t understand the first half of that sentence at all, and problem two is that it sounds like a bunch of work. But this in particular isn’t a problem I have with the MUD–there’s a web-based ifMUD client somewhere which is how I’ve always logged in in the past, though apparently it’s considered less than ideal. I was talking about IRC conversations that weren’t on the MUD. But again, I’m probably not participating anyway, so if IRC is better for everyone else that’s probably the way to go. And maybe KiwiIRC would let me get onto one of those, if I mysteriously found the time to do it?

I’m just trying to point out where there might be obstacles to people participating – if you have to install something or learn a new command syntax to participate, you’re less likely to participate.

I don’t use Twitter myself – how is it restrictive? Maybe I’m underestimating the average length of what people say in these conversations. I don’t find the MUD conversations very easy to follow – I guess a problem with Twitter is that people will forget the hashtag, or not click reply to the tweets they’re replying to, so that will make it a non-starter.

I think being used to Twitter but not IRC makes you whatever the opposite of a dinosaur is; IRC’s been around since the 80s.

I think ifirc would be most of the way there if (a) it automatically put you in the lounge when you connected (since that’s where most conversation happens) and (b) it automatically joined you to MUD channels when you joined the corresponding channel in your IRC client. Maybe. I think what I really need to do here is talk to people who are both comfortable with IRC, and familiar enough with the MUD to know what they want out of it without being so familiar that they don’t care about accessing it through IRC at all.

I wonder if it would be worthwhile for me to run a public ifirc instance, publish a Kiwi link for it, and collect feedback from users? Or is there just not enough demand to be useful?

Kiwi is a web-based IRC client; you go to the KiwiIRC website, enter your info (name, network to connect to, channels to join), and it gives you an IRC client in your browser. This eliminates the “install something” hurdle, at least, and it can be preconfigured to automate the network/channel selection. Of course, as you point out, there’s a web-based ifMUD client as well – so the question is whether IRC is sufficiently more accessible than the MUD to be worth using.

If conversations move off the MUD entirely and use IRC as the backend, then something like Kiwi is the obvious choice for “zero barrier to entry” stuff – people can install more capable clients locally if they want, but aren’t obligated to just to participate. But I haven’t seen much IF-related traffic on IRC, nor much interest among the IF community in moving there.

The 140 character limit is brutal.

Apart from that, it takes much more effort to compose a tweet (and make sure all your replies and hashtags are wired up right) than to simply type in what you want to say and press enter. And it’s much harder to follow the course of the conversation afterwards, too; it gets fragmented into lots of mini-conversations based on what “reply” people clicked on, and the huge text and wasted screen space for all the extra twitter widgets means you’re constantly scrolling around. Storify helps some, but not nearly enough. And this assumes that everyone is, as you say, including the hashtag and using reply-to properly; if they aren’t you’re completely doomed.

(I find twitter most readable when I use something like bitlbee to access it via IRC, as it happens.)

When I visit the mud (for the occasional club Floyd or awards ceremony - I haven’t been able to attend one of these discussions yet), I always have ifMUD for beginners open in a browser window. That helps. (It’s still slightly complicated, but I don’t think any other form of real time text chat would be easier for me. The biggest obstacle is the real time component. When my sister starts chatting with me on Facebook - a simple two person chat in my native language: it can’t get easier than that - I still have trouble with the method of communication, and may end up calling her instead.)

I connect through Atlantis, which is the friendliest mud-client I’ve found. I’m far from an expert on the topic though, so if anyone have better suggestions…