No, that e-mail address is not available yet. Real Soon Now, assures my ISP, busy with major equipment upgrades and a change to a fully digital system.


Those familiar with quantum physics must have encountered this strange term before. In the everyday macroscopic world, physical phenomena are decidedly local. When something happens, it will be those nearest to the event who will be the most affected, and the effects diminish over distance. A bullet fired from a gun loses its momentum, a shout loses its strength, distant radio signals require ever larger antennae to be received, and so on. Moreover, it takes time for any effect to propagate: the sound of thunder travels slower that the flash of lightning, but even light itself travels at a finite speed - and a very finite one at that, at least when it comes to astronomical distances.

In contrast, quantum mechanics exhibits some very different phenomena. Surely, any regular reader of Scientific American would have heard about the infamous "EPR" (Einstein-Podolski-Rosen) thought experiment, where determining the polarisation state of a particle has an immediate, instantaneous effect on a corresponding particle elsewhere, even though that particle may by light-years away. Don't expect this to be used in Star Trek like subspace communicators anytime soon (the effect cannot be used to transmit information) but even so, it is still rather startling to encounter something in nature that, in effect, is everywhere at once; in other words, non-local.

But what does it all have to do with MUD? Has your arch-wiz completely lost his mind? No, it is not necessary to graduate with a PhD in quantum mechanics in order to become a MUD2 wiz (although some would argue that certain aspects of wizzing can be almost as difficult!) However, locality and non-locality are concepts that are encountered by MUD2 players every day. Just think of the difference between the effects of the SAY and SHOUT commands, for instance!

When it comes to MUD2's players, on one end of the spectrum are brand new novices to the game, with a very minimal, pronouncedly local understanding of the game. A novice during his very first game of MUD2 is barely aware of the room he is in, and has no knowledge whatsoever of other locations in the game, their contents, and the (possibly dramatic) events that are unfolding elsewhere at the very moment. In fact, a novice player can easily be compared to a small child whose world consists mostly of his parents' house, with a dim awareness of other houses nearby, and no knowledge whatsoever of other parts of the city, the country, the world. On the other end of the spectrum are MUD2's wizzes, aided both by their game experience and a powerful set of wiz-only commands (which, almost without exception, are non-local in nature), constantly maintaining a complete, global awareness of the entire game during their game play, with their actual whereabouts in the game being almost completely irrelevant.

Indeed, the development of a MUD2 player can be viewed as a gradual progress from a very local view of the Land to an increasingly non-local one. As the child grows and obtains knowledge, his awareness expands; soon he'll be asking his parents about the different customs of people on other continents and has no trouble understanding the significance of distant events brought to him by television news. The learning process for MUD2 players is very similar. Soon after your first game, you will develop a rudimentary understanding of the Land's geography. You will begin to understand that there are other players in the game, doing other things elsewhere. One day (perhaps after experiencing being on the wrong end of the longsword a few times) it will become a habit for you to regularly type QU (to see who else is in the game) and use the WHere spell to continuously check the whereabouts of other players and important objects. In short, your awareness of the game becomes increasingly non-local.

And this is exactly the point I wanted to arrive at today. Not only is non-local awareness the mark of a great MUD2 player, such awareness is also an essential tool for survival. Here are some points of advice from a veteran arch-wiz:

  1. Regularly check the user list by typing QU (or the equivalent command of your choice)
  2. Make sure you are aware of any invisible players who may be in the game
  3. Keep track of essential tools; know what they are, where they are, who might be using them
  4. Use the OBIT command to stay informed of successful kills
  5. Know what important pieces of treasure might have been swamped and what important puzzles might have been solved already.
  6. Once you obtain the necessary magic level, learn how to use the WHere, SNoop, TRACK, DETECT spells to your advantage.

In other words, try to stay on top of things! If you make wiz one day, you will find these skills invaluable.

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This Web page copyright 1997 Starquest & Viktor
MUD2 is copyright 1997 Multi-User Entertainment Limited
Page last modified: August 05, 1997