Saturday, October 31, 2009

Resources for Admins, Players, and New Players

If you reading this blog you are probably very interested in online text gaming. I've written quite a few posts and topics that would aid beginners, veteran gamers, and admins. Below are some articles and posted listed by knowledge and interest.

For New Online Text Gamers:
Just What is a MUD?
Why Text Based Games?
Selecting an Online Text Based Game
What is Roleplay?
Acclimating to a MUD Quickly
RP Classifications for MUDs

For MUD Administrators or Staff:
Making an Online Game Welcoming for New Players
Guide to Creating a Safe Online Game Environment
Survival of Online Text Games

For Players:
Top Five Mud Clients
Making your Mark on an Online Text Game
Pay to Play Online Text Games
Gender Bending on Online Games

Happy Reading!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hero by Day, Zombie by Night

In honor of Halloween coming up, I'll let you all know of another one of my other gaming diversions. (As if I don't have enough already!)

I've been playing a simple web browser game called Urban Dead for a couple of years now. Like most zombie themes the premise is simple some awful zombie creating virus spread upon the town of Malton. To protect the rest of the world Malton was quaratined by a large (apparently inpenetradable) fence and the remaining survivors were left to fend for themselves. The game pits zombie against survivor and at times survivor vs. survivor.

The game is a very simple turn based web browser game. Actions points limit the amount of actions a player can take in a day. The max action points a player can have is 50 and they reaccumulate at a rate of one per half an hour or 48 per day. Survivors defend their safe houses by barricading them up and killing attacking zombies. They can take care of each through healing and turn zombies back into humans with revive needles. Zombies shamble around the game trying to eat tasty, tasty brains.

You can play this game very effectively as a loner especially as a zombie and as a survivor as long as you learn how to find revive points. Survivors die a lot in the game so players get used to it! Some players chose to play characters that are described as being "dual natured" they adopt the role of the helpful survivor or the brain eating zombie depending on what side they are on at the moment. For the casual player it does not take a lot of time to play and can be a fun diversion.

More serious players a lot of times end up joining a group. There are plenty of different types out there - Pro-survivor, zombie, player killing, anti-player killing, roleplaying. Whatever your prefered playing style there is a group out there for you.

The community is very active in general. There is a lot of good information on both the game and groups at the Urban Dead Wiki.

If you want some extra help in game while starting I would highly suggest to contacting the Malton College of Medicine to discover where they are headquartered at the given moment. They are a very helpful pro-survivor group that is focused on helping new players. The best way to contact them is on their forums.

I would definitely suggest Urban Dead for a fun gaming distraction!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Six Advantages Text Games Have Over MMORPGs

I’ve heard many speculate that online text games will be extinct in the coming future. The truth is that those online text based games that are keeping for the same exact market of the MMORPGs and graphical web browser games are less likely to survive. If an online text game or the industry in general wants to survive then they need to focus on the advantages that online text games have over flashier graphical games.

Portability, Discrete Gaming, and Customization

Portability, discrete Gaming, and customization are three different advantages to online text gaming that tie together with the way that text games are played. Players can chose from a multitude of different clients for both PC or Mac including java clients and telnet itself (for the really desperate). Online text games are extremely portable. MUD clients can fit easily on and run from a flash drive. In most cases a player only needs an internet connection to play. This means that players can easily access their favorite games from the library, school, work, while traveling, or any where they can get a wi-fi connection. Online text games are much more discrete then any graphical game. If someone is playing a graphical computer or web based game it is very evident at a glance. While the scrolling text can look odd with the proper use of client features an online text based game can look very much like a text document at first glance.

Gaming for Blind Players

There are millions of people in the world that are legally blind or sight impaired. For those individuals that use screen readers to access the internet the only viable multi-user RPG are online text games. Blind gamers can be just as skilled and successful on online text based games. With slight game modifications in some cases and care in game design, a text game can be just as accessible to a blind gamer as anyone else. This is another reason why graphical interfaces should not be required to play an online text game.

Low Cost

Most online text games are free, a minority of games that charge a monthly fee or have a “pay for perks” system. Those text games that are free have an obvious advantage over the graphical games that charge hefty monthly fees. The developers of these “free” games have expenses and still try to make money in a multitude of ways many of which require players to pay to get the most out of the game. There are some gamers out there that don’t want to or can’t pay for those advantages and aren’t willing to play a game in which the playing ground is not even for them.

Gaming without Cutting Edge Technology

We have all been witness to the fast pace of technological advances, but there still will be for some time those individuals that have limitations because of the system resources of their computer or the internet connections that they use. The newer MMORPGs are in competition with each other on the cutting edge and that often means a player needs to have an upgraded computer and a high speed internet connection to play or optimally play a newer MMORPG. In some rural areas and parts of the world high speed internet connections are not even available. In some cases online text gaming is the only viable option for those who can’t get past the technical limitations of their connection or don’t have the resources to upgrade computers or internet lines.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gender Bending on Online Games

If you are unfamiliar with the term "gender bending" it is an informal or slang term for an individual of one gender adopting common mannerisms, dress, or behaviors of another gender. On an online game the term is used for players who decide to play characters of an opposite gender.

There are many reasons for someone to play a character of an opposite gender to themselves including roleplay challenges and experimentation, while some male gamers claim that playing a female character gives them a game advantage. Personally I don't have a major problem with players who attempt to play another gender, but there are some behaviors of gender benders that myself and other players find annoying.

The worst issue in my opinion, involves male players playing female characters on games where romantic or sexual roleplay is common or allowed that hide their "real life" gender. As long as a gender bender isn't engaging in romantic or sexual roleplay this is fine, but far too often we see these individuals actively seeking romantic relationships with individuals without divulging information about themselves that could be very important to their fellow players. From experience as a game admin, I've found this behavior far more common for males and when they are actively seeking out relationships with males and females. If you happen to be playing a character of another gender is simply a matter of common courtesy and respect that you divulge to other players your gender if you get any where close to romantic or sexual role playing.

The other aspect of gender bending that I find disappointing is when players create characters that are more like parodies of the other gender. As a female gamer it is particularly annoying to see a male playing a female with an over the top "sex pot" description or behaving in stereotypical ways. But because these descriptions and behaviors can be so over the top, it is sometimes a good way to identify a hidden gender bender. The female running around in a chainmail bikini with the over explained attributes is most likely being played by a male player.

Some games have rules against gender bending, in fact I read one article about a Chinese MMO called "King of the World" that confirms the gender players of female characters through webcam. These games are in the minority though. The bottom line for most games is that if players don't want to get in romantic relationships with characters that are being played by the opposite sex they need to go out of their way to ask. Even then that individual could be lying. (I've personally known of cases where a player has done so.) You would think that players would have the common courtesy to tell at that point, but the sad reality is that the majority won't.

Romantic RP - Engage in it at your own risk!

Courtesy of Penny Arcade - Click to Read!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Making Gaming Environments Safe for Players

I am a female gamer and I've been playing online text games for over 18 years. The internet provides many freedoms including anonymity to an extent. Because games are recreation, many players believe it gives them a license to do whatever they wish. Having held the job myself, game administration can be very busy working on online games and handling players issues can be frustrating. If the administration of a game wishes to keep gamers, especially female gamers, they do need to spend time creating and maintaining a safe environment for them.

The three main areas that are important to making a game environment safe for players is game design, rules, and rule enforcement. All do take some thought and effort but they are important to creating a safe environment for players.

Game Design

If admins want to make players feel comfortable, the game should not encourage any sexist or inappropriate behavior. The female gamer population is growing every day. If a game admin doesn’t want to alienate these potential players they need to consider what message the game is presenting to them. While the environment seems to be getting better with each passing year, females still deal with a fair amount of inappropriate behaviors in real life including being disregarded by male peers or being regarded for the wrong attributes. In our fantasy worlds, most women don’t want to deal with the issues we have to deal with in real life.

• Give female characters equal oportunity for success on the game.
• Make sure that NPCs are not designed in offensive ways nor model inappropriate

There should be clear rules of conduct on any online text based game. I can tell you from experience that while certain things should be considered common sense, that common sense is not common especially online. Players will do things inappropriate all the time. Online text games players come from a multitude of countries and cultures with varying rules of conduct. If a game has clear and specific rules of conduct then it is much cleaner and easier for administrators to deal with inappropriate behavior.

• Model good behavior by respecting your players.
• Create a no tolerance policy for disrespect in all out of character
• Don't allow sexual RP on games with underage players.
• Have clear rules on sexual RP on games just for those over 18.

Rule Enforcement

Rules are not worth anything if the game administration does not enforce them. There are many degrees of game rules. Some warrant tolerance and multiple chances. But if you do not catch and stop the disrespect and disregard of fellow players the problem can very easily spiral out of control.

• Be firm but fair with your players when enforcing rules.
• Don’t be afraid to delete the characters of players that are repeat offenders
and be prepared to ban certain IPs.
• Make it as equally evident that false accusations will be dealt with just as
• Game staff should be approachable about harassment issues and make the players
feel as if such complaints are taken seriously.
• Don’t get involved in player issues that happen outside of the game.

For a more indepth advice for making gaming environments safe -

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pay to Play Online Text Games

There are a lot of online text games or MUDs that can be played for free. There are some games out there that are still charging players to play.

Monthly subscription:
This model for making money on online text based gaming seems to be a dying breed but there are still a few MUDs out there that require a monthly subscription fee to play in the full version of the game. Many games in this model will have additional monthly fees for access to special features or areas. A few examples are:

DragonRealms: $14.95 - $49.95 per month
GemStone IV: $14.95 - $49.95 per month

Pay for Perks:
Some other online text games charge for either monthly or one time fees for "perks". Such perks can be experience points, coin, storage for items, extra or bonus items, higher quality equipment, player houses, access to premium areas, or inclusion in staff run events or roleplaying. Examples of these games are:

All of the Iron Realm Entertainment Games -

Per-minute or hour Charges: I don't know of any MUDs that actually require players to pay by the minute, but I am including this for historical reasons. Back in the 80's and 90's there were online text based games associated with online services. As examples Dragon's Gate was available first on GEnie and then on America Online (AOL), Isle of Kesmai was available on CompuServ and Gemstone II was available on GEnie. These games could be very expensive at $6 to $36 dollars an hour. That is more than what most MMORPGs ask for as a monthly subscription now a days. Times have certainly changed!

Most pay to play games have free trials and pay for perk games are free to play. It can sometimes be hard for a player to tell what type of game they are on. I would recommend talking to game staff in the first couple of hours of play to determine if they have any sort of pay systems in place.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

MUSHclient Review

There are may good MUD clients out there to use. I used GMUD for years until it stopped working well with the newer operating systems. (I can no longer recommend GMUD at this time because of it.) While I use ALclient occassionaly, I've been happily using MUSHclient as my primary client for years. While the program used to delay opening if you used an unregistered version, it has been changed so there is no difference between a registered and unregistered copy. I would still encourage everyone to donate to the developer if you end up using it often!

MUSHclient only takes up 11MB on a hard drive or flash drive. Having played MUDs before on telnet I would not want to do so again without a mud client again! If you like to MUD I would suggest carrying around a flash drive with a client, you never know when you may have free time. All mud clients I have tested will run right off a flash drive.

Aliases (command shorthands)
Triggers (auto-reponse to keywords)
Timers (send commands at intervals)
Keypad-navigation (use numeric keypad to go North, South, etc.)
Tab-completion (press to have a word completed from recent MUD output)
Speed-walking (quickly move by typing speed walks, like 4n 5w)
Auto-say. Having a long conversation? Let MUSHclient put "say" in front of everything you type.
Graphical bars (health bars, experience bars etc.) implemented by miniwindows

For those who are active scripters, MUSHclient supports JScript, Lua, PerlScript, PhpScript, Python, VBscript. It runs with Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP/Vista and under Wine on Linux.

There is even a chat feature in which you can speak to others with MUSHclient and allow them to view your screen as well. I've played around with this feature but not used it much.

MUSHClient has a 500,000 line buffer. Depending on how active you are this allows for days of playing to still be accessible on the client. Coupled with the search text feature it can be incredibly useful.

I also enjoy the ability to change all the presented colors on the client. To avoid mistakes I change the color of my backgrounds for different characters and accounts.

I've enjoyed using MUSHclient for years and it meets my needs very well!

*From the MUSHclient website

Friday, October 23, 2009

Five Great Comics for Online Gamers

Every mu* player needs a fun distraction from time to time. One of the great things about online text games is that it is very possible to surf the web while doing so. Below is a list of webcomics that many gamers will enjoy.

In quasi- order of online gaming relevance:

1.) The Noob
A webcomic about a fictional MMORPG called Clichequest. It follows the
characters and the game staff. Not specifically about online text games, but many
of the humor still applies.

2.) Elf Only Inn
Elf Only Inn follows a group of individuals in a fantasy based chat room. At
some point in the strip the group moves to play an MMORPG. If you have spent a
good deal of time in a theme based chat room, MMORPG, or like to roleplay you
will find this comic particularly humorous.

3.) Looking for Group
A webcomic that follows an elven hunter and an evil warlock in an MMORPG. Filled
with onling gaming humor and fantasy and pop culture references, this comic is an
entertaining read.

4.) PVP (Player vs. Player) Online
PVP online is about a video game magazine and its employees. The webcomic is
about video games with other "geek" references to comics and RPGs. One of the
main characters, Jade, plays online roleplaying games.

5.) Order of the Stick
Order of the Stick follows an adventuring group playing Dungeons and Dragons.
The audience for this webcomic is D&D players (a must read for them) and table
top RPG players.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

ASUS 1000HE Netbook Review

After abandoning my laptop for classes because it was too heavy, I went on the look out for a netbook. After weeks of research I settled on the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE Asus 1000HE netbook. This is a great machine for portable online gaming! Overall, I have not been displeased with this netbook.

Processor: 1.66GHz Intel Atom N280
Hard Drive: 160GB 5,400rpm
Graphics: Mobile Intel GMA 950 (integrated)
Operating System: Windows XP
Memory: 1GB, 667MHz DDR2
Screen: 10 inch
Battery Life: 8 - 9 hours
Cost: Approx. $400.00

One of the main selling points on this netbook for me was the nearly normal size keyboard. While I do find that I fumble a bit more then on a full size keyboard, it is rare. My biggest complaint in that regard is that with the compressed area I accidentally hit the touch pad far more, but that is mostly because I am able to type at regular speed on this netbook.

The battery life on this netbook is very good. I regularly take it with me all day without the power cord and I have never had any battery issues. I use the computer for a couple of hours and have it in standby the rest of the time.

I was able to easily upgrade the memory on this netbook to 2GB. All I had to do was remove a couple of screws on the back panel and snap it the memory card. It only took a couple of minutes!

Because of the larger size (you can get netbooks smaller) and the extended battery this netbook is heavier than the average netbook at 3 pounds. After lugging around a laptop it seems incredibly light to me! I've been able to fit this netbook comfortably into my moderate size purse.

My only real complaint about this netbook is that it does not work very well with my home wireless network. Since I use it at home in the room with my wireless router I have opted for a hard connection, but I'm hoping to find a solution for the issue when I have the time. I have used it successfully on public wireless networks and my laptop works just fine on my wireless network at home, so I've determined that my netbook and wireless router don't want to play nice with each other.

With the Asus 1000HE all you need is a mud client and a wireless connection and you will be able to ready for gaming on the go!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

U.S. Military Targeting Gamers

Recently, I lost a good friend and fellow gamer to the conflict in Afghanistan. He was far too great a guy and far too young at 21 to be taken from us. It made me sit and reflect more about the fact that it seems like a much higher percentage of the gamer population vs. general population ends up in the military. There are many things that could account for this, but one fact that I've discovered is that the United States Military is heavily targeting gamers for recruitment.

For years the military has had TV commercials targeting gamers by equating the games they play and their fantasies to life in the military. Just like the video below.


Commercial directly targeting video gamers

In July of 2002 the U.S. Army launched "America's Army: Special Forces" a free video game specifically designed to influence and recruit young gamers into the armed forces. Millions of people have downloaded this game to date. The free game comes with sacrificed privacy. The military tracks and stores game statitistics on each user. Avid players that do very well are even sent e-mails asking if they wish for more information on the Army.


Trailer for the Game America's Army: Special Forces

The last recruitment tool I will mention is the Virtual Army Experience. VAE is a mobile exhibit with a lifesize version of America's Army video game. To be able to participate individual's must give their personal information to recruiters. After a mock briefing, game participants sit in replicas of army vehicles and Black Hawk helicopters shooting game automatic weapons at 180 degree screens.


Wall Street Journal Report on the Virtual Army Experience

Ironically enough these gaming experiences are even less realistic then the plethora of military games on the market. While the military claims to be giving gamers a "real" experience they are only showing the side of war they want participants to see.

Please don't get me wrong. I have great respect for those who join the military. I recognize that our country needs an armed forces. I just strongly believe that the military shouldn't sugar coat military life with inaccurate and flashy depictions of war. I greatly worry for my fellow gamers that have joined the armed forces for adventure.

For those that are out there already, my prayers are with you every day. For one soldier I held dear his adventure is over. Rest in Peace, James, we miss you dearly.

My thanks to the following sites for information:

The Kool Skool Blog