This issue took a lot longer than normal to produce. Initially, I was hoping for June or July; my schedule was wrecked, however, by an unexpected encounter with a surgeon's knife (see my column, firstname.lastname@example.org, for the gory details.) Next, several of our key contributors were off on summer vacations, or in the case of Tobias, on a honeymoon (congratulations!)
Oh well, never mind the excuses. Let's talk about serious stuff instead... like MUD.
Recently, players asked a few interesting questions about the legality of certain playing tactics.
The first question concerned the trick of generating an excessive amount of output to make life more difficult to anyone who may be snooping your persona. Is this tactic legal? As usual, there is no clear-cut answer to this question, but I think I can provide a few meaningful guidelines.
The underlying principle is this: MUD players should be rewarded for their ability to play the game, not for the speed or reliability of their Internet connections. This principle, although far from perfect, can help you decide whether a particular method used to shake off snoopers is acceptable.
It all boils down to what you are trying to do. Are you trying to confuse your opponent with an excessive scroll? No problem! Especially as by doing so (for instance, by switching to verbose mode or turning on mapping) you risk getting confused yourself.
Are you turning on mapping mode and using a macro or some other software tool on your end to filter mapping output? Well, that one, I do have a problem with. If I let you get away with this tactic, I allow not the best MUD2 player to win, but the best macro programmer. In case you haven't noticed, MUD2 is a magical role-playing game, not a computer programming contest!
Are you turning on mapping, verbose mode, the works because you're connecting via a cable modem at 3 Megabits per second, whereas you know that your opponent is using a VT100 terminal with a stone-age 2400 bps modem? Shame on you. Once again, I have no intention of rewarding players simply because they have more money for speedy hardware. How about demonstrating your skills instead as a MUD2 player?
If you detect a degree of hostility in my words against macro use, you're probably right. Although I am a programmer myself (and, I dare say, a reasonably competent one) during most of my career as a MUD player I haven't used macros at all (and I still don't.) But that is not to say that I object to the use of simple macros that help you F.QQ in a hurry. However, I am beginning to dislike it when your macro use becomes so excessive that it puts your persona practically on autopilot. We already have plenty of mobiles in the game, thank you very much, and I strongly suspect that Richard's programming of their behaviour is far more sophisticated than any macros most of you can even dream of. When it comes to player personae, we'd prefer to deal with human beings, not moronic software, please!
Of course, there is no way we can police, or prevent, excessive macro use. However, don't be surprised if you see more macro traps in the game in the future. And no, there are no restorals for players who get themselves killed because their autopilot wasn't as smart as they thought!
Fortunately, most of our best players either don't use macros at all, or use them sparingly. This is true for the high mage who recently asked me another interesting question. He was very high, just a few ten thousand points from making wiz; so was another player. The two of them were wondering what would have happened if they decided to fight to the death: one of them would have ended up dead of course, but the other one would have made wiz. Is this legal?
It is very difficult to answer this question without analysing the intent of the players involved. If the intent is to avoid the risk by circumventing the game, the answer is no, it's probably not a legal method of achieving wizdom. But if the fight is an honourable duel (for instance, if two players agree when they're still novices that when they both reach 180,000 points, they'll fight to the death) I see no reason to reject the result.
But what's the difference? A good question. Perhaps the difference lies in the fact that we prefer honourable people as the Land's wizzes, not players who act as jailhouse lawyers, making it to wizdom by circumventing the game's rules. Of course we cannot always tell the two kinds of players apart and, given that this is, after all, just a game not a Washington courthouse, we'd probably accept any outcome unless outright cheating was taking place. But believe me, when you make wiz, you will also feel a lot better if your accomplishment is a result of honourable play.
Viktor the arch-wizard
This Web page copyright © 1998 Viktor T. Toth