Some of the first MMORPGs were the ASCII games, and there were many variations catering to combat achievement, social kicking back, various roleplay settings based on popular books or movies, and the like. There was even a game that rewarded simply doing nothing with style called LambdaMOO. These MU*’s (either MUD, MOO, MUSH, MUX, etc) were low bandwidth, light on hardware, and unlimited on imagination, as long as you were a decent typist.
Fast forward twenty years, and the PC gaming industry literally drives hardware advancements. We’ve all drooled over a brand new game and found it needed an upgrade of some computer component to play well or at all. The shiny gameplay demanded another kind of shiny; cash.
Most gamers who only started gaming on the internet in the past five or ten years may not have ever even stepped foot on a MU*. Who wanted to play something that was all typing, no graphics at all, even if it was free?
I started playing them in 1992 and have been playing and programming on them since. I’ve also gone into WoW, Second Life, and other networked graphical games online. I still, oddly, prefer the old text games hands down, and it isn’t because of the costs. I’ll focus on the MUSH variant, because that’s what I’ve played the most.
When you compile the MUSH server on an internet-connected machine and first login, you’re a room called Limbo and your character name, #1, is often “God”. There are some basic commands common to all games running that flavor of server, but no other rooms, no RPG system, no helpful files. Nothing. There’s an underlying programming language that can make all things possible (except graphics) if you know how to use it, but no books teaching it, just some arcanely written help files. There is nothing in Limbo but potential.
It’s a unique environment in today’s massive gaming world, where we pay for downloadable content and the ability to connect to someone else’s server to play in a world they create and control. While anyone who has played a MU* knows that players have limited choice in the world once it’s built by the staff, the real beauty is that just about anyone with a world-scale idea and the energy can create their own game, run the way they want, and have people connect to it and have fun. There is no server farm, team of game developers, financial costs, nothing. Just the right machine with a permanent connection and a free download of the MUSH server code. It’s like Open Source MMORPG.
I’ve seen quite a few of these player-created games. There’s games based on books and movies, games using commercial RPG rules and concepts, and some that are entirely original. A lot of them use existing theme but try to spin it a little with an original RPG system. The result is undeniably run by the love of fans and makers. It’s no small effort to do this either; most games are hundreds of hours of unpaid work. However, the result is something that the creators can watch work in front of them, and enjoy and improve themselves without working for Blizzard Inc.
If you’ve played a MU* or he graphic MMORPGs and have some thoughts on why both are still being played in this day and age, please share in the comments!
Yesterday two things happened: our new, fresh blood for the Shadowrun game my husband runs arrived at my house to work on his character, and so did my new ATI 5770 card as well as my stonky new headphones from Sound Blaster. The former was very quiet and my husband got off work late so we didn’t get much done — but there’ll be more on tabletop in the coming weekend. No, today’s post is about technology! Shiny, shiny technology.
I was nerd enough to take the plunge on the WoW headset. I didn’t do it just for the geek factor, though. No! I researched. I had originally been intending to buy a RAZER product, but while we’ve done well with Razer mice, the headphones came fairly poorly reviewed, especially in the range I was looking at (around $70). The mic break and there were a lot of failed headsets within the first six months of use. So I looked up some other headsets and found that the headphones were fairly well rated and I decided ‘what the hell’. Why not.
I could not be happier with these babies, let me tell you. They’re large, and encompass my whole ear, but don’t GRAB my tiny little head like it’s in a vice. It’s comfortable even with my glasses on. I have some complaints with the mic position, but the noise canceling works; I popped on to an allied guild’s vent, said hello to some friends and talked with them for a while in a way I could never have done before. The sound incoming was excellent and from all reports, the outgoing was also good, I was very clear. The THX and other items also really helps crisp up the sound, so if you have the urge to play with those, I assure you, this is not a bad buy!
Being a cord sound purist, though, I did not get the wireless ones. USB cable plugs right into the front of my box, I don’t have to fuss with unplugging my speakers, and BAM! I’m good to go. I’m pretty pleased with the purchase– we’ll see if they last. But honestly, after my last headset– that I could only wear without pain for about thirty minutes–it’s a really nice change.
The card is also very awesome; I now run WoW on max settings without any issues at all. In fact, it’s made play easier. I got popped into Heroic Halls of Reflection, which with it’s tight LOS mechanics, has always been a cluster of magical effects that choked my older card and caused lag issue. Not good when you’re on DPS, and death when you’re heals! But I ran it TWICE yesterday and not only did I get to really appreciate the gorgeous mist affect laying over the floor of the instance, but I didn’t have any graphic lag at all. We smoked both runs and I consider that card $120 well spent. I shortly booted up Dragon Age: Awakenings and gloried in the smoother movement, the prettier graphics (also at max!) and tonight, I’m probably going to buy the Dawn of War II pack off Steam (since my DoW2 is attatched to my husband’s Steam account, from when we were sharing one) and glory in commanding my tiny marines up close and personal.
The next purchase will be a new monitor. I’m eyeing a 22″ widescreen from Samsung; currently I’m running on a 19″ that’s about 3-4 years old, and it’s a little trooper. Not a single dead pixel! Samsung’s goods have really impressed me, so I will probably stick with them (or possibly go Toshiba; our TV is Toshiba and oh the prettiness when I pop in a PS2 or 3 game!)
Speaking of PS3 — I haven’t had time to pick up Heavy Rain again; the frustration lingers, and weirdly, I don’t like to play it alone. I like having my husband there to sort of ‘co-op’ it, with ‘look at that’, ‘X, X, HIT X!” and so forth. Maybe it’s beacuse I haven’t been on a console regularly in about a year and a half, and maybe because the game regularly creeps me out. I really do want to finish it. I think I’ll make it a priority over my four day birthday weekend when I’m home waiting for things.
I completely forgot to let people know that the Look at Book 7 piece for Lord of the Rings Online was up.
Book 7 is live in the States, but we’re still waiting for Codemasters to pull ther finger out so we can have it here in Europe. One of these days we may actually get a book release when Turbine actually releases it instead of a week or two later, but I won’t hold my breath.
So today I got to have a special guided tour with the Turbine devs of the upcoming Book 7 for LotRO. I’m absolutely in awe of what they’ve done with Lothlorien. It’s beautiful beyond words. They’re doing a lot of work with this book and I’m more impressed than I ever was.
Whenever I feel my interest in LotRO waning it seems that I get a chance to interact with the Devs for the game. They always manage to inspire me and make me fall in love with the game all over again.
I’ll be writing an overview of Book 7 for MMORPG.com soon, so I’ll let you know when that’s up.
Today was my last day at the piece of hell I’ve called a job for the last 2.5 years. On monday I start for real as the CS Manager for an online game that’s coming out soon. I wish I could share what the game is because it’s quite good. It’s not my normal game genre, but it’s fun and interesting.
Still now both of my jobs are in games and I’m returning to somehting I enjoy in an industry I enjoy.
I’ve jsut quit my day job today. Two weeks notice. Normally I wouldn’t give such short notice when my contract explicitly states 4 weeks but I really don’t have any other option.
So why am I posting about such a mundane thing? Well the new job is the reason. You’re now looking at the new CS Manager for Dexterity Networks. Basically, I’ll be handling the online game support. Of course I can’t say for what game(s), but if you look hard enough you may find me. (Not that I’d tell you if you did find me)
So the countdown to leaving hell begins now.
Yea well I’ve been lazy about posting. Busy with work lately and real life gets in the way and some days I jsut don’t feel like going near my computer when I get home.
I went to Connect ’08 a couple weeks ago. Birmingham is such an ugly ugly ugly city. But it is the best place to have any kind of convention since it’s in the middle of the country. Here are the 3 pieces that came out of that though.
Dungeon & Dragons Online
It was a good time and I got to meet people and play games and get paid for it. Oh what a horrible job I have. I have to play games and write about them. Or the horror.