As a side project, over the past six months, I’ve been working on Seltani: a choice-based multiplayer text game environment. A CYOA MUD, if you like. It’s a Myst fan project; the theme is creating your own (textual) Myst Ages.
Seltani is up to beta status now, so I’m declaring an Age Jam! Stop by, build an Age, show it off. It doesn’t have to be a prize-winner. In fact there will be no prizes. This is an opportunity to try the tools and get some feedback.
I’m not going to get formal about the rules, but I do want to have some fun with it. Therefore, a schedule!
Sunday, Nov 10, 1 pm Eastern time: Opening ceremony in the Seltani district plaza. At that point I will announce the theme.
(The plaza is in the Seltani district. Sign in, link into the Cavern, follow the path along the shoreline and then head right at the fork. Can’t miss it.)
(The theme is just for inspiration. The ceremony is optional, too – I’ll add the theme to this post once I announce it.)
Nov 10-23: Work on your Age! (Or Ages; multiple entries is cool.) When it’s ready, add it to the bookshelf in the Seltani plaza. Or if you want to go for the dramatic reveal, wait and add it on…
Sunday, Nov 24, 1 pm Eastern time: Wrap-up. Meet back in the plaza, start visiting Ages. We can have group tours over the course of the afternoon, and then hang out and discuss what we’ve seen.
(I know that the meeting time is not ideal for everybody in every time zone. I have schedule restrictions too, so I just picked a time. If you can’t be at either ceremony or both, I apologize – follow along on the blog or the forums.)
(Also: yeah, IFComp is still going on. Hopefully everybody can stand the excitement of two overlapping events.)
I will be around these on-line areas (including Seltani itself) to answer questions during the two-week period. Hope to see you there.
EDIT-ADD: Jam theme: “Remaining Light”. (Interpret that however you want.)
I put a bit of the backstory in Seltani itself, in the starting areas. All you really need to know is “Woo magic books are portals to new worlds”. And we (the players) have figured out how to write new magic books; that’s what the event/competition/not-really-a-competition is about.
Jam theme: “Remaining Light”. (Interpret that however you want.)
One of my favorite cool concepts of the Myst lore is that writers are not actually creating an Age. By writing words on paper and describing a place, they were specifying which of an infinite number of parallel universes of every possible description that the book could take them to. Part of the art and skill was to not link somewhere dangerously broken by accident. One would assume many authors met their doom by forgetting to specify “no man-eating pterodactyls”.
Well, I’ve made an account and have started building a world. One question, though: how do I customize the portal description for my world? I’d rather not have the default “destination is hazy”, and I can’t find how to change it in the Wiki.
I have always loved Myst, Riven etc. Just tried this out a little. It seems very cool. It’s weird that the fascination of the Myst setting would survive in textual form given how the main break between it and prior adventure games was the almost complete absence of text of any kind, certainly from the interface. But that doesn’t matter for some reason, I love this and I also love the idea of coding Myst ages into my MUD. (Not that I’ve done so - this just made me think about it and it gave me a little thrill.)
These days most true MUDs can be fairly easily customised to allow point and click navigation very similar to this via web interface (though usually not as slick). I wonder if Ages created in Seltani could also be access via pure parser…
Leaving aside whether what you have already done here qualifies as ‘hybrid’ (the answer to which does not seem obvious to me), what I was thinking of was not exactly a hybrid approach so much as an alternative one. It just strikes me that it all being text and the underlying world model being the same, why shouldn’t a modelled environment be agnostic as to by-what-interface a player chooses to approach it? Wouldn’t that be uncontroversially optimal? (This isn’t really meant as a criticism of this thing in particular, though. It’s just that… well I suppose I’m biased, but wandering around in frame-riddled HTML interfaces always make me feel like I’m experiencing a world from inside a bathysphere, and I long to step outside…)
Alright so I stand corrected I guess and it’s not uncontroversially optimal, but I do take exception to the proclamation that the world model’s design should depend on whether you are clicking the objects’ names or typing them. There are a few scenarioes where that would make a difference (and you can argue that in those cases it should), but in the majority of scenarioes, I can see no appreciable difference between the appropriate world model as practised in CYOA vs. parser games. And the differences I do perceive are usually quantitative not qualitative, i.e. CYOA world models are given less detail. Of course, one could argue that most parser world models are given an unnecessary surfeit of detail, for example differentiating ‘examine’ from ‘search’ from ‘look under’, etc… a practice of which I don’t approve, anyway – although again, not uncontroversially. 8)