Using MUDs to introduce people to IF?

There’s been some talk about ways to reach a wider audience (this forum being kind of an experiment in that itself) and it’s gotten me thinking of other ways too.

I’ve kind of gotten the impression that MUDs are looked down on by the IF community (I don’t know why; I mean, what’s not to love about a game that has mazes and dragons and hack 'n slash combat and deathtraps and undescribed objects and hunger daemons, right? :smiley:)

But despite that, I still think they’d be an excellent way to introduce people to IF, for several reasons.

1.) I started off playing MUDs. Thanks to this, when I finally discovered IF, there was almost zero learning curve and I was able to get into it right away.

2.) Lots and lots of people play MUDs. Way more than the number of people playing IF, anyway. Why doesn’t anyone ever advertise IF on their forums?

3.) Most MUDs have an area called a newbie school, which is annoying as hell for veteran players, but essential in teaching new players the basics. You learn how to move around, examine things, unlock doors, talk to NPCs, manipulate objects, etc. (And of course you learn about combat, but that’s not really relevant here.) Obviously including this in an IF game would break the hallowed memesis, but I’ve always thought the newbie school was better than tossing someone into a game (which may or may not be completely unsuitable for newbies), and making them reading through a dry and non-interactive help file about basic commands, assuming the game even includes one.

4.) Using one of the global chat systems there are always helpful people around to answer questions about anything the newbie school didn’t cover.

5.) It’s a heck of a lot easier to describe IF to a MUD player than to someone who’s never played a text game. “It’s sort of like a single player MUD, but it’s got a detailed plot that you’re the star of and mostly focuses on puzzles and exploration.” versus, “Well, everything is described with text. It’s like, you have a description of a room, like the main character’s living room, and if there’s a couch mentioned in the description you can type ‘look couch’ to examine it more closely, or you could type ‘north’ to go to the kitchen, …and hey, where are you going?!”

6.) MUD players understand the parser, and the limitations of the parser. It can’t be stressed enough how important this is. I’ve tried showing IF to a few people, and assuming they actually get past the first room they generally wind up phrasing an action in some bizarre way and then get pissed off when the game doesn’t understand them. (This is assuming they even get past the stage where they stare blankly at the starting room. Another nice thing about MUD players is that in order to play MUDs they have to have this little thing called “reading comprehension.”)

So, it’s all well and good to target people who like reading books or whatever, but with MUDs you’ve got a nice cross section of people who consider reading fun, people who are capable of using their imaginations, people who are computer savvy, people who are into obscure hobbies, and people who are into gaming in general.

For those last four reasons I think we should be making more effort to get the word out to communities that are into roguelikes and abandonware too. (The Underdogs has always been great about listing and reviewing IF and other indie games, but we could be hitting the forums a little more aggressively too.)

Also, one idea I posted about on the Adrift forums was fanfic. IF based on Harry Potter, or Buffy or anime or some other godawful trendy thing and then advertised on a couple of fansites would probably bring in hordes of new players. (Maybe not the highest quality of new players, but wanting IF to be appeal to a wider audience and then being really picky about that audience is a conflict of interests.)

I too was a player of MUDs, and got way too addicted for my own good…

These days, IF is more my thing, since I can take it in doses and reach a definite end.

I agree though, the MUD community is screaming to be introduced to IF, at least as something to do when their MUD server is down. :slight_smile:

Not so sure about the fanfic type community though. It might not be worth the trouble to write a “Naruto” IF fanfic-game.

Which ones did you play? I was addicted to Medievia until I realized Michael Krause was the Devil. Then I bounced around for awhile until I settled on 4 Dimensions, but I eventually got so busy with school and work that I had to pretty much give them up.

I still occasionally play 4D with a new character though, and not too long ago a friend introduced me to Carrion Fields. (Which is great up until I hit level 11 and get reduced to a red smear on the ground…PK is not something I’ve ever been good at. :frowning:)

There is always IF MUD it is a rather weird world. I did a bit of building in it a couple of years ago, but probably couldn’t find it again.

Yeah, ifMUD at this point is much more of a place for people to hang out and chat rather than do LP-style MUD hacking and slashing.

I don’t know if a MUD would be the best way to introduct people. My thinking is that MUDs are geared toward multiplayer and combat, where IF is geared toward neither. Also, unless they’ve improved, MUD command parsing isn’t close to the sophistication of IF command parsing. About the only thing shared between MUDs and IF – from what I’ve seen – is that both are text-based.

Granted, I haven’t played a MUD in a long time, and wasn’t a big fan even then. Maybe I’m missing the appeal.

I tried a couple of MUDs a few years ago but never really warmed to them. The idea seemed amazing - an IF world containing thousands of locations with NPCs who are actually other people - but the reality didn’t seem anywhere near as exciting.

Maybe I just picked some of the bad ones and missed out on the real classics.

Well, from what I’ve seen, the ‘text-based’ thing is one of the biggest hurdles to introducing new people to IF. :slight_smile:

And I wouldn’t say MUDs aren’t sophisticated, just different. MUDs can actually be very complex, except most of the creativity is poured into the combat system. Take a look at this:

Those are just the unique skills and spells for rangers. Can you imagine making IF where the PC has that many abilities? Now multiply that by twenty, to include the other classes, add in some more unique things for the eighteen races, and program in ways for all of those spells and skills to interact with each other, and you start getting pretty sophisticated.

Anyway, MUDs use the same VERB NOUN type of commands, as well as several a basic IF parser does; look, look in/under/behind, examine, search, get, drop, climb, push, pull, say/tell/ask about, unlock, wear, remove, eat, drink, read, n, e, s, w, etc. It also teaches players that they have to pay close attention to room descriptions. (And if you think thinking in terms of compass directions and figuring out what to do from lines like ‘the road continues to the east and west’ and ‘something metal glitters in the grass’ is no big deal, it’s because it’s been awhile since you tried showing a complete newb how to play, assuming you could get them to stay in the computer chair once they realized you weren’t kidding about there being no graphics. :slight_smile:)

And while the vast majority of MUDs are mainly about combat and roleplaying, there are quite a few that have areas devoted to puzzles and quests, though they’re generally not as complex as the ones expected in a good IF game.

Notwithstanding that there’s no reason you shouldn’t promote IF in a mud forum, still there’s less crossover between IF and mudding than you might think. Most IF is a solitary, fiddly, non-networked narrative experience that defies many of the conventions of most muds, the big one being that most muds are multiplayer, highly social, community-intensive grindfests.

However, I am a long time mudder (play Carrion Fields too) that ‘discovered’ IF for the first time in the last year, so like some of the others that wrote in this thread I’m an example of someone who could be successfully advertised to. Undoubtedly there are many players like me.

Just as a little background I have posted on mud forums about IF, to what you might call a deafening silence. Here’s one post: … 5160#15160

Here’s another:

Though Electric Soup doesn’t get a lot of traffic, the MudConnector does. Frankly I was surprised that more people didn’t respond. From conversations with other mudders I think there are a few older players who have played the classic games, but not many who play modern IF. Similarly there is a subset of mudders who enjoy exploring (cf. Bartle’s test), but you could just as easily say there’s a subset of IF-readers that enjoy exploring (e.g. a game such as Zork).

Multi-player IF (a la an IF mud, not IFmud as it currently stands, but a mud where you can play IF) would be great, but of the multi-player systems I’ve looked at (there doesn’t seem to be many) I haven’t found any that really appear to have got off the ground. Also there has been much discussion of multiplayer IF on Usenet so perhaps a diligent team could put all the good ideas together and figure out a good design for the first quality multiplayer IF. My point being that a multiplayer game would be a good first step for mudders toward an appreciation of the breadth and depth of modern IF.

Anyway, apologies for jumping on an old thread, but it touched a couple of my interests all at once.

best, GO