[MUD-Dev] Forks or Frameworks?

gmiller at classic-games.com gmiller at classic-games.com
Tue Dec 26 09:39:34 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000

Note: This message was written via the list web archives.  There is
no guarantee that the claimed author is actually the author.
Original message: http://www.kanga.nu/archives/MUD-Dev-L/2000Q4/msg00585.php

On Sat, 23 Dec 2000 21:35:42 -0800 (PST)
"Koster, Raph" <rkoster at verant.com> wrote:

> Mike had a very negative reaction, because he saw what Bruce
> represented (the "elite" of SF) as being snobbish and very
> hoity-toity towards those like him that he saw making an honest
> living as a WRITER fer gossake, doing what they love with nice
> fast-moving plots.

And I agree with him. It's long been my contention that there are
numerous ways for a book, movie, or game to be truly great. There's a
long tradition of valuing original plots, good acting, etc. above
impressive visuals or well- choreographed action. I think if you do
any of them well, you've accomplished more than the vast majority of
your competitors. I rank The Matrix similarly to The Sixth Sense, for
example. They do different things, but do them well.

> I never mentioned that reaction to Bruce. I don't know how he'd feel
> about it, but I have a suspicion that if not him, some of his peers
> might have something to say about unoriginal writers who fail to
> contribute anything to the field and who engage in mere hackwork.

"SF is Dying" summarizes a long list of articles in the field, and
most seem to feel Star Wars and The X-Files novelizations are the
prime culprit.

> Personally, I read all three. I also know that Mike sells more
> copies of anything he does than Margaret Atwood does. He may be
> forgotten sooner, but I wouldn't say that it's "a very bad thing for
> the community" that they are all out there.

That depends on who the community is. "Serious" SF is being
strangled. "Light" SF is thriving.

> A lot of people think that all fantasy is Dragonlance and all
> science fiction is Star Trek, too. And yeah, I bet some are chased
> away forever. But I also bet that the number of readers of Gene
> Wolfe or Bruce Sterling (or Greg Egan or John Crowley or Sheri
> Tepper or whoever) would be LOWER if there were no Star Trek and no
> Dragonlance, not higher. Maybe the same can be said for muds.

For a few stars like Sterling? I agree. For the rest? Not
likely. Financially, they don't seem to be any better off than they
were before popular SF reasserted itself.

> In other words, I think the clones may serve as entry points to
> mudding, breeding those discerning players you need (who surely
> don't spring fully formed into being). They also likely absorb the
> overflow of players you really don't want. And of course, I
> definitely think that they are the breeding ground for those who
> write the more advanced codebases. It's a lot easier to write a good
> codebase if you've had to work with a bad one, don't you think?

Twenty years ago, many people in SF said the same thing about
novelizations and series fiction. You don't hear that argument made
very often any more.

There's also a key difference here. Stackpole is good at what he
does. I've read a couple of his novels myself. It's simply a different
*kind* of writing.  StockMUDs (and I don't simply mean things that
sprang out of a standard codebase, but rather muds that are set up and
never see any serious enhancement) simply aren't good at
anything. They're not a different kind of mud, they're a bad version
of the same kinds of muds that the rest of us run/develop/plan to
develop/whatever. That could mean that people will move from the bad
implementation to the good one, but it could also mean that people
simply abandon anything that gets the label "mud". People who follow
the latter pattern seem to be more common. Maybe you guys are right to
use that hideous MMORPG abomination.

So what can we do about it? The only options I see are to distance
ourselves from them and (for commercial ventures) to market
aggressively in order to reach people before they've had a chance to
develop a negative image of mudding.
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