THE INKY QUILL
I remember, growing up, there was a little family restaurant on the corner. A local family owned it, and they simply had the best food. The atmosphere was very friendly, and the place was decorated with little miniature cowboy boots hanging on the walls.
Some ten years later, I returned to where the restaurant used to be. Now, however, the place was dark and dusky. My favorite childhood restaurant no longer existed; it was now some ugly burger place owned by a guy named Sam.
Good day, folks, my name is Sam and I will be writing British Legend's newest publication.
Congratulations to Exodus, who earned the rank of wizard on Thursday, July 31st at 6:38:05 AM EDT!
The following legends have been spotted this month and are still alive to tell the tale: Beta, Boondock, Dashboard, Jakdaripr, Moneyshot, Sanctuary, Tallyho, Tollbooth, and Wolfhound.
The following legends met their demise this month:
|Name of legend||Points (in thousands)||Killer||Level of killer|
This column will announce players' upcoming birthdays! If you'd like your birthday added to the list, please write me at MV@journalist.com.
British Legends. Fountain room. Tearing through the cave, Exodus the legend was beat up and bleeding. The goblins were in hot pursuit behind him, never relenting.
Just when thinks were at their bleakest, the young legend had an idea. He ran southward to the cannon room, and took careful aim at his assailants. The goblins froze in fear...until both Exodus and the goblins realized that he had neither ammo nor gunpowder!
Exodus slowly backed up and backed up, until he could back no further. Back against the wall and a bunch of angry goblins glaring at the vulnerable legend, he was out of resources. Or was he?
Noticing the fountain in the corner, Exodus quickly entered. Witnesses report seeing a heavenly glow about him as he did so.
The goblins immediately followed their prey, but, upon entering the fountain, were instantly incinerated.
"I wasn't sure what would happened," Exodus told an Inky Quill reporter, "I just said a quick prayer to my lord, and hoped for the best."
He continued, "Upon entering the fountain, I saw a vision of heaven. It was a place where novices killed the game's most fearsome killers. Ah, if only such a place truly existed!"
When Exodus reemerged from the fountain, he found himself within the wizard and witch's hot tub. British Legend's noted chemist, Sparky, explained, "I'm not sure how he got to the hot tub, but once his body interacted with the magical waters of the hot tub, he was instantly made immortal."
Inky Quill reporters attempted to ask Exodus if he felt it was fair to use a hot tub supposedly restricted to wizards and witches to MAKE wizard. Exodus, in response, FODded them.
British Legends. Jetty. It started off innocently enough. A mortal reconstructing the elusive B-29 puzzle. She gathered up all the tin, and painstakingly labored to forge them into the proper shape so as to lift off.
Anita was quoted as saying, "Is puzzle tough! Me get tin! Me make jet! Vroom! Vroom!"
Anita reportedly employed the assistance of several of The Land's zombies and skeletons in creating the B-29. But the undead didn't know what they were getting themselves into.
One skeleton told Inky Quill reporters, "We were working so hard. She promised to take us to her country, where there would be no sweatshops or competition for treasure. We could all be equals! We'd no longer have to put up with this cutthroat capitalism."
Another zombie recalls, "Upon the completion of the B-29, we all hopped aboard. It's a little-known fact that I learned how to fly while thumbing through the books outside the sorcerer's room. Naturally, I was to fly the plane. It was then when terror struck."
The zombie continued, "We were all flying to the nation Anita promised us, when she withdrew her broadsword and held it to my neck, saying 'You undead! You be more dead if you not go where I say! HA HA HA!' Then things took a turn for the worse."
Anita reportedly guided the bomber to the cloud of arch-wizard Viktor. She hovered over his castle, readying to drop the bomb.
Then, the plane exploded with the remains falling on the very jetty it took off from. What happened, exactly, is unknown, but sources have taken note of Viktor's "B-29 Radar and Destroying Device," and his muttering something about never being out-smarted by such low-tech devices as the B-29.
Anita's been seen scampering about the rummage, perhaps trying to reconstruct her jet.
It's not known where Anita comes from, but rumor has it that she's from Island of Kesmai, and has become increasingly jealous of the success IOK's CIS sister game has received outside of CompuServe.
British Legends. Coal bunker. It was a typical day in the life of British Legend's favorite cat-witch, Catsmiaow. After waking up, stretching, licking herself clean, and batting around a ball of yarn, she moved to the coal bunker for live prey.
"I...I...I thought it would just be fun. It had been for so long. I had no idea THIS would happen," said a distraught Catsmiaow.
After sufficiently chewing on rats until she was quite literally coughing up mountains of hairballs, Catsmiaow noticed that her prized material possession, her litter box, was missing!
"I don't know what could have possibly happened to it. Maybe the rats stole it as a sort of sick, twisted revenge for my years of abuse!"
When the king rat was questioned about Catsmiaow's litter box, he just snickered, and said, "It just goes to show you...Don't mess with rodents!"
Turning to the foremost expert on rodents, The Inky Quill asked Rikus, Man of Squirrels, what could be done. "I don't know. The rats are fickle creatures. They don't just become your friends at the drop of a nut. Maybe if Catsmiaow unequivocally promises not to harass them, they'll be more cooperative. On the other hand, the rats aren't called 'evil' for nothing! In the time being, I'd suggest our feline friend find a substitute litter box."
When the suggestion was made to Catsmiaow, she bellowed, "But arch-wizard Fnord has previously ordered me to stop desecrating The Land! He ordered me to get a litter box to prevent that from happening."
Sources say that they've seen Catsmiaow meandering around the beach and flower garden in an attempt to find the "substitute." It seemed to have been working, too, until she mistook Sunflower the witch for just another flower, attempting to dig a hole by her feet.
The obviously upset Sunflower said, "I suppose it was a mistake anybody could have made. Nonetheless, I won't call Godsdog off until I grow weary of him chasing her."
British Legends. Narrow road between lands. The annual memorial/good riddance service for Valley was held by the mist-covered gap this last week. The social event attracted wizzes and mortals from all over The Land, both players who had and hadn't seen Valley; the former telling stories of vampires and crossbows to the latter.
All was going according to plan, and all was well. That is, until confused figures appeared to emerge from the other side of the mist-covered gap.
The players present thought that Viktor must have planted these players there as a joke, attempting to fool them into thinking that Valley had been reopened. But these players were neither from Valley, nor a creation of Viktor.
The four players coming out of the mist called themselves Cheule, Daemonic, Daisy, and Dougal.
Daisy spoke for the group when he said, "We don't know what happened. One minute we were in the 1980's, playing on CompuServe, the next minute it was 2003 and we were here. All I know is that a bizarre bald-headed wizard appeared before us with a peculiar machine, and we were here."
There had been rumors on CompuServe that the wizard, LexLuthor, had created a time machine among the other machines he had invented.
In a press conference, the mayor of British Legends, Camber, commented, "This seems to confirm that LexLuthor not only developed a time machine that could propel forward in time, but also could go back in time. This has easily been proven by the fact that LexLuthor did not make wizard until 1996, but somehow managed to visit Cheule, Daemonic, Daisy, and Dougal sometime in the late 80's."
The only side-effect of time travel yet to be determined seems to be memory loss. None of the four players can seem to recall the puzzles they once knew the answers to in the 80's.
British Legends. Rocky beach. "I had just finished dwarves, and was ready to swamp the toils of my labor," recalls Lanouba. "Is that really so much to expect after spending all that time fighting those nasty dwarf guards?"
What Lanouba did not expect came at the sundial. Three broad-shouldered men with combed back black hair and dark suits approached Lanouba. What appeared to be the leader pointed to the sundial, and said, "Yer 'time' is up! We're going to clean your 'clock!'"
After the men took sufficient time to laugh at their horrible puns, Lanouba recalls being forcefully stuffed in the bag, taken to the jetty, and thrown into the sea.
"They left me for dead," he recalls. "Little did they know that I'd swim to this rocky beach, and hire Private Eye Kramer to investigate the situation, so I'll know whom to seek revenge against!"
Kramer was reached for comment. "I have very strong reasons to believe Don Mobster and the BL Mafia were involved in the attempted whacking of my client. This is not an isolated incident, and the BL Mafia is known for stealing both druidical and dwarven treasure." He continued in frustration, "If only we could put a dent in organized crime! Unfortunately, the BL Police force has been seemingly crippled ever since we lost Police Chief Molly on CompuServe."
The Inky Quill attempted to reach Mobster for comment, but all he would say was, "Fuhgeddaboudit! I ain't sayin' nuttin'!"
British Legends. Blue room. Goddess of wisdom, Athena, had slid the panel to the blue room and was shocked to find stacks upon stacks of Dr. Richard Bartle's new book.
After tucking a copy of the critically acclaimed book in her cloak, she ran to grab as many mortals as she could to show her discovery.
As the mortals descended the worn steps, Athena's fellow mortals asked her how she could possibly have missed all the other hundreds of copies thrown against the walls of the cave. She responded, "Uhm...I guess I was in such a hurry to grab the blue room treasure that I just breezed right by them." As the mortals continued their spelunking, Athena exclaimed, "Oh! There's that moss growing on the cave wall that I noticed coming in! That's something you just don't miss!"
Attempting to investigate how the books got in the cave, The Inky Quill asked the cave's inhabitants, the goblins, if they had any knowledge of the books.
"Yeah. We took them all right," sneered one of the goblins. "Richard has always given us goblins a bad name. I mean, just look at the description he gave us: 'evil-looking goblins!'
"This title has brought us nothing but ill. People trying to kill us, plundering our treasure. What's next? A new newsletter portraying us as chasing after a hapless legend? This is ridiculous! Goblins are people, too!...Okay, well, they're not, but we're not bad, we're just misunderstood!
"But now it's time someone taught Richard a lesson! And what better way than to hamper the selling of his new books?"
When Richard was asked just how much this would hurt sales, he just laughed and responded, "There was one flaw in their plan. They PURCHASED the books at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0131018167 before hiding them in their cave. I already have a truckload of books being shipped off to Amazon.com, and I anticipate that, thanks to our goblin friends, they will all be sold by tomorrow."
British Legends. Hall. A petition, signed by a group of mortals, was sent to Mayor Camber's office yesterday. Among other points, the constitution's right to kill and allowing wizzes as the permanently ruling party in politics were brought into question.
Spokesperson, Laura, believes that "it is ridiculous to allow people to kill at the rate they do. Killing is not an essential liberty! And as long as we have the wizzes in power to condone such behavior, we will not make any progress in our fight to make BL more scrupulous like MUD2!"
Lanouba, after uttering a long a string of profanity, continued the thought, "I, for one, am tired of being FODded by unjust wizzes!"
Nightmare, the mortal vehemently against the constitutional rewrite stated, "These mortals are taking us a step backwards. They first claim that they wish to curtail the right to kill, but then ask that we remove the wizzes, the only beings who could possibly enforce such a law!" He continued, "Besides, have you noticed that all the signatures on this petition belong to those people recently killed or FODded for breaking a rule?"
Camber publicly made the following statement: "These mortals bring up interesting points, and they will be considered by me and my administration."
The Inky Quill sent reporters to the meeting in which Camber and his officials were to discuss the suggested changes to The Land's constitution. Questions would have been asked, but the politicians were laughing too hard as they read the petition.
British Legends. Limbo. For some time, British Legends had been without a conference at which mortals could receive hints and generally have a good time together. This month, however, resulted in the reopening of conferences.
"The problem," explained former conference leader Valentine, "is finding someone qualified enough to host such an ordeal."
With those words, British Legends players sought far and wide. Players sailed the seas, flew in the B-29, and even searched deep in the 7th tomb for someone capable of handling such a conference.
When the search seemed most hopeless, it was realized that British Legends had an amazing resource right under its nose the whole time.
Confusion, often noted for his sheer intelligence and outgoing personality (when he's not snarling) was found to be a natural host, and the players couldn't be happier to have him.
So, take an hour and swing on by the conference. It won't be regretted!
Swamp 102,400 points-worth of treasure.
British Legends. Entrance to badger's sett. In a shocking turn of events, the rabbit filed charges of assault against the viper. "For three resets straight, that limb-less fool has eaten me and my rodent brethren! It's time we put an end to this!" Lawyers for the rabbit are to meet...
I apologize. That, of course, was my twisted sense of humor. The story of the rabbit and the viper was entirely fabricated; I cannot believe I plagued the pages of this otherwise credible newsletter with such a story!
Making wiz, as many players have discovered, is not nearly so simple as it appears. Sure, 102,400 is no more than several resets. But getting from point A to point B is a lot more difficult in practice than in theory.
Basically, as I see it, there are five rungs on the ladder to wizdom. They are as follows:
Rung one (Can I PLEASE have a lit brand?): Ah, we've all been here. We all remember our first day in The Land, the first time we saw the tearoom and discovered that there are far more rooms beyond it. During this stage, it is generally best that the player pull out the old pen and paper, and map out each room, discovering how to get to each point they've found in The Land. If only I had a brand for those dark rooms in the mine...
Rung two (That ram skull keeps killing me!): This is the stage in a player's career when he or she begins solving those puzzles that involve something more than "drink." It is at this stage that a player first discovers how to get to the game's various treasure chambers, and learns just how to get the most valuable items! There are points when it is frustrating, but to attain wizdom, these puzzles must be solved.
Rung three (Okay, I know how to get the points -- now what?): This may come as something of a shocker, but once a player's solved the game's puzzles, he or she should...TAKE A STEP BACK! Go back to mapping. Now that the player knows of all these new rooms, it's once again time to map them out. During the first mapping stage, it should largely be viewed as simply finding A path to each room. This time, the player should be looking for THE shortest path to each room. For example, how many players know that the shortest route from the concealed inlet to the isle of woe consists of only four directions? (If you didn't know that, start mapping!) Also during this stage, the player should pull out the wand, the rug, the horse, and find several other teleportation devices that will make him or her move that much quicker. Players often undervalue this rung, but it is quite important. If a player can clear out the entire reset before a killer shows up, he or she is that much more likely to make wiz!
Rung four (These killers are just TOO good!): By now the player should be quite proficient in earning points, and necros and legends will be coming easily. But there's still another obstacle in the form of those nasty killers. I look back reminiscently at the number of legends I lost as a mortal. (And if you're wondering just what that number is, I'll give you a hint: it's more than twenty!) So, what can you possibly do about it? Well, you'll need to learn the tricks of the trade. And what better way to do so than to run a killer yourself! Attack all the game's biggest killers, and see how they turn your traps. Try different things, experiment, and learn to fight. You won't regret it during your wiz run when you're able to kill the once fearsome killers!
Rung five (Now comes the time to shine): This final rung is the wiz run itself. Now that you know The Land like the back of your hand and are able to fend off those killers, you're about ready to aim for those robes and wands. Good luck!
Of course, these rungs are not necessarily distinct, and can be blended together. It is, for example, possible for a player to be both solving puzzles and experimenting with the horse to get back to those puzzles quicker!
Generally speaking, it may be best to stick around the lower levels until rung five. That way, you can explore and experiment without fear of a big, mean killer's ambush.
If you follow these rungs, you should find yourself quite confident by the time you actually take that final step and go for your wiz run. Just remember, you're only a mortal once, and if you make wiz too early, you'll never get a second chance to learn what you missed out on.
So, to simplify, there are three basic areas in which one must excel to make wiz:
NB: These are three of the four personality types of MUD players, reported by Richard Bartle at http://mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm. If you're interested in determining which type you are, take the test at http://www.andreasen.org/bartle/.
Incidentally, these three areas will be covered in depth in the next three issues' advice column!
British Legends. Valve on staircase. One week ago, late in the reset, Boring flooded the mine. It wasn't the first time the mine had been flooded that reset. In fact, it wasn't the twenty-first. There were so many floodings that old players looked around to make sure Pilfer hadn't returned.
What made this flood different from the others was that Blackhole was wandering through the mine with the wand and pillar. The result wasn't pretty.
The flood water hit the wand, causing a bolt to come out of it. The glorious firework reflected off the pillar, but, not finding a target, hit the flood water, which only magnified it. The resulting amount of electricity used by the bolt was staggering, enough to knock out electricity from the rest of The Land for hours.
The resulting outage had harmful effects on several of The Land's inhabitants...
The dragon sighed and said, "Now I'll have to go back to HAWUMPHing fireballs the old-fashioned way."
The snake moaned, "How will I get around?! My electric wheelchair no longer works, and I have no legs!"
The rabbit was forced to shut off the machine that gives mortals a warm feeling when they return it to its home.
The dwarf queen complained, "Look at this beard! I won't be able to shave it now since my razor requires electricity."
Off the record, the dwarf king commented, "She looks like that anyway, and she certainly hasn't used that razor for years!"
[Editor's note: This article is by Dr. Richard A. Bartle, the game's creator, regarding the recent publishing of his book, Designing Virtual Worlds. It was originally written for mud2.co.uk's newsletter, Muddled Times. It is reprinted with permission from Muddled Times and Dr. Bartle]
Between June 2002 to April 2003, I wrote a book.
OK, so I did other things too, but during working hours I wrote a book. The book concerns the design of virtual worlds; indeed, I wanted to call it The Design of Virtual Worlds, but my publisher assured me that no reference book with "The" as the first word of its title ever sells. I guess I can't use that as an excuse if it bombs, then ...
I'm not normally one to promote my own work; I find it stomach-churningly embarrassing. However, FODDY [Foddy is an arch-wizard and co-owner of mud2.co.uk --ed.] has asked me to write an introduction for Muddled Times, with the veiled threat that if I didn't do it now then he would when it came out, so here I am.
First, then, I suppose I ought to explain what I mean by the term "virtual world". Basically, I mean any and all flavours of MUDs -- what people variously refer to as text MUDs, graphical MUDs, social MUDs, adventure MUDs, MU*s, MOOs, MUCKs, MUSHes, MUGs, MUAs, MOGs, MMOGs, MMORPGs and Persistent Worlds. Although the formal name for all of these is MUDs, I couldn't use that: because of the various name wars that have taken place over the past two decades, if I said that I was writing about MUDs then some people would think I only meant combat MUDs, or adventure MUDs, or text MUDs; they'd probably have said the D stood for "dimension" or "domain", too. Therefore, I called them Virtual Worlds, in the hope that this will be the end of it (which, of course, it won't be).
The book is aimed at virtual world designers. Given that there aren't enough virtual world designers in the world to fill a scout hut, on the face of it this isn't all that clever a move on my part. However, although it's aimed at designers, it's of interest to many more people. In particular, players and academics will (hopefully) find it worth reading.
My basic strategy was to start with the concrete and gradually work my way through to the abstract. Thus, Chapter 1 begins with a history of virtual worlds and explains why I get to write the book instead of anyone else. Actually, virtual worlds have been invented at least 7 times; it's just that Roy Trubshaw and I were the ones who got there first. If we hadn't, people would be playing SOGs now (from Sceptre of Goth [a game created by Alan Kleitz around the time that MUD1 was created. The software was sold to another company, which ran into legal problems, and the game was passed on to a creditor, never to be released again. --ed) rather than MUDs, in terms of nomenclature, that maybe wouldn't have been so bad a thing ...
After giving a history of virtual worlds and explaining the main differences between them ("these have text, these have graphics", that kind of thing), I go on in Chapter 2 to describe how to make one. This is incredibly dry and incredibly boring -- exactly the kind of thing designers hate. However, it's also a test of their resolve: if you want to be a designer so much that you actually take the time to understand this stuff, well, that shows how passionate to become a designer you really are.
Fortunately, Chapter 2 is not very long.
Things start to pick up big time in Chapter 3. Here, I introduce my old player types model [This model is available, as mentioned earlier, at http://mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm --ed.] and point out its shortcomings. In particular, although it describes the various player types and how they interact with one another, it doesn't explain how people change player type over time. From the very early days of MUD1, we noticed how when people were introduced to the game they all tended to follow the same pattern of behaviour: they would start off killing one another, then explore, then start racking up points trying to "win", then sit around chatting with their friends. Individuals may be one player type for a long period, but they usually do change over time. What drives that change?
To describe what happens, I improved on my player types model by adding a new dimension. Actually, it's an old dimension: I created it at the same time I did the work for the "classic" player types, except then I applied it only to wizzes. This time, I apply it to mortals, too, and thus we get a 3D player types graph instead of a 2D one.
Using this 3D graph, I derive four main paths that players seem to follow from newbie to oldbie. I stick these all together and get what I call player development tracks. These show which (of two) more advanced types a player could go to next (assuming they do develop; some don't). Player development tracks are closely linked to the concept of immersion, i.e. the sense of being in a virtual world (see my earlier Muddled Times article on the subject). My grand theory is almost complete at this point, as it explains fairly well how players develop over time. It's still missing a final piece, though: an explanation of why they develop. That comes in Chapter 5.
However, before then we get Chapter 4.
Chapter 3 was about the players; Chapter 4 is about the world. It describes the many things that designers must consider when they are creating a living, breathing environment: geography, physics and economy. Well, and a bunch of other stuff too. This is the chapter that explorer-type players will like the most. In terms of design, I wouldn't really have to write any of it at all if virtual world designers knew their stuff. Sadly, far too many actual and wannabe designers think it's easier than it is and don't find out they're wrong until the players rip through their finished world like a chainsaw through butter.
Chapter 5 moves on to discussing characters (as opposed to players). It covers things like character creation, advancement and organisation, along with combat, crafting and what to do in the "elder game" when the players have experienced all the content. Much of this is stating what to many designers is the obvious but to most readers won't be. The bit where it gets suddenly original is the final tying-up of the loose ends of Chapter 3's theory. Here, I pull in the well-known "Hero's journey" model, which was derived by anthropologist Joseph Campbell as a template to fit the ancient myths of an astonishing array of different cultures. It has since been famously applied to create such works as Star Wars, but crops up time and time again elsewhere whether the author knew about it or not (The Matrix, the Harry Potter series). It has been used in virtual worlds before, too, except not how I use it here ...
Briefly, the hero's journey consists of 3 stages:
* In the departure stage, the hero leaves his (sorry, hers, but since "hero" is a sexist term...) own world and enters a new one.
* In the initiation stage (which is the main one), the hero undergoes many trials and temptations, until eventually facing whatever entity is the supreme power in his life. Thereupon, he gains an understanding of himself that he didn't have before.
* In the return stage, he goes back to his own world, using the knowledge he acquired on his quest to achieve a spiritual balance and the freedom to live.
In the past, virtual worlds that have implemented the hero's journey have done so faithfully at the character level. All the various steps associated with each stage are reproduced, so (in the person of your character) you will initially be called to adventure, given the opportunity to refuse, acquire a supernatural guide when you accept, make a conscious decision to cross a threshold, then be symbolically reborn in some womb-like setting such as a cave or the belly of a whale. That's the departure stage; the other two stages are choreographed similarly.
This isn't how it should be, though. Players undertake a hero's journey, not characters. For players, the virtual world is where they go for adventure; the departure stage takes place in reality, and the return stage concerns the return to reality. The player development tracks I constructed in Chapter 3 fit the middle, initiation stage. Players play virtual worlds to develop as people, and the hero's journey is the algorithm that helps them do it.
Yes, sorry: you'll just have to read the book if you want any of that to make any sense ...
Chapter 6 is an academic section that took me the longest two [sic] write -- several months. My goal here is to show that virtual worlds are valid objects of study, and therefore I look at what people who have studied virtual worlds from the perspective of other disciplines have to say about them. At times, this was something of an ordeal: feminist theory, for example, was not written with me in mind... Still, I think I succeed in showing that:
* There are academic fields of study that find virtual worlds interesting in a way that they wouldn't find, say, homeopathic medicine interesting. Virtual worlds fit into existing science and social science paradigms.
* None of those fields that study virtual worlds completely subsume it. Poetry is a sub-field of literature, but the study of virtual worlds isn't a sub-field of anything: it's a new field unto itself.
Academics will enjoy this chapter, if only because of the ease with which they'll be able to shred my scholarship. Still, I think it makes its overall point.
Chapter 7 develops a critical aesthetic for virtual worlds. Say what?
A critical aesthetic is basically a way of making sense of the symbols that an artist puts into their art. The consumers of the art recognise the symbols and, because of the critical aesthetic, divine their meaning.
Here's an example. In a movie, a little girl gets on her bicycle while her vest-wearing father reads a newspaper on the porch. "Be careful, honey", he says, glancing up then returning to his newspaper. What's going to happen?
In real life, the little girl notes that her father doesn't want to go with her, so she goes for a ride and comes back safe and sound. In the movie, she is flattened by booze-fuelled rednecks driving a stolen pick-up truck the moment she turns a corner. How did you just know something awful was going to happen to her? Because the director told you. The safety of the porch, the complacent father, the dialogue, the fact it was a little girl and not a little boy -- it all presaged some ghastly accident. If she had [been] smiling 15 minutes later, you'd have felt cheated.
You understand the symbols in movies. You also understand the symbols in virtual worlds. You didn't think virtual worlds had them? OK, look at MUD2 [With the exception of the reference to the inn and the giants, this example can be applied to MUD1/British Legends as well --ed.]: have you noticed how the older something is, the more dangerous it is? The cottage is vaguely 1930s, and is quite safe. The inn is perhaps a little older, but you're not going to get killed there. The tin mine is maybe from the 1800s, and it leads to the dwarfs. The idol is far older, and leads to the goblins and ultimately the giants. The most dangerous part of The Land is the island, where we're back into druidical times. MUD2 deliberately uses time as a metaphor for danger, and players pick up on it subconsciously if not consciously.
Similarly, if I want to imply action or get players moving, I make room descriptions not very long; if I want to slow down the pace or to let players know they're safe, I use more words. In this way, I, as a designer, can send messages to the players that they can pick up on. A system of such messages is a critical aesthetic. The existence of a critical aesthetic demonstrates that an activity is an art.
Showing that virtual world design is an art is what I really hoped to do with Chapter 7.
I could have stopped at Chapter 7, too. Its final conclusions are quite powerful (well, I think so, anyway) and would easily support the entire book. However, I wanted one more chapter, concerning the ethics of virtual world design. This is Chapter 8, and it's almost all questions with no answers. It's hugely important, but I suspect only in a "this is hugely important" way. I don't expect any of it will make any actual difference: designers will read it and decide they ought to reflect on the ethical implications of their work, then carry on just as they did before. Still, if it helps set the boundaries of acceptable behaviour, it may have some influence in the long term (I'm sure litigation lawyers will like it!).
And that's what I wrote: 792 pages of it, according to amazon.com. I ought to mention that the publication date they give is 14th July, but according to amazon.co.uk it won't hit these shores until November 30th.
So, plenty of time to save up your pennies!
Athena. Working hard to become the goddess of wisdom she's named for. Seen working on the new mausoleum.
Otay. This fledgling killer is one not to be messed with. Otay?
Chuele. This long-time player has been seen wandering around The Land a lot recently. Now if she could recall the puzzles and avoid Otay and the goat, she may just make witch in this version!
Jane. This often sorceress and enchantress has been seen wandering about the druid island. Expect necromancesses to come upon solving druids.
Anita. Me not understand! Me not understand no thing Anita say!
Tiltowait. a minute! This guy is just plain strange!
Locke. Defies Hobbes by claiming that anarchy in British Legends would be preferable to having Camber as mayor. Camber responded by FODding Locke, saying, "How's THIS for a social contract?"
Mobster. Agrees with Hobbes that the state of nature anarchy would be preferable, saying, "How's dis for a social contract? You give me yo' treasure, and I won' send the mob after you?"
British Legends. Elizabethan tearoom. Midlife turned out the big winner of this obscure competition, having risen from superhero to sorcerer in a mere hour. The other players, Lanouba, Sloppyjoe, Demented, Cheule, and Lugh all came out on the positive side after an hour of play.
So, what is the Goat Hour? Midlife was quoted as saying, "It's the craziest hour of British Legends EVER! Anything can happen!" Meanwhile, Cheule was continually muttering, "I hate the goat. I hate the goat. I hate the goat..."
The best way to learn about the Goat Hour is to play it yourself! Look for a game, as they will be popping up spontaneously whenever a good number of players are available. Who knows? Perhaps you will be the next winner of the rare jade and gold-plated goat!
For this month, try to think of all the random noises you hear in the game. These must be noises that are broadcasted to the entire game at once, and not just a single player.
Whoever sends me the most sounds will receive a crown on a non-legend persona. Tie-breaking question: In the event of a tie, it will be broken by whoever answers this question correctly. The Inky Quill was actually suggested as the name for another British Legends publication that never got off the ground. Tell me who suggested this name. (Hint: check out the old Yahoo! Group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/British Legends.) Please only make one guess for the tie-breaking question. If you put down multiple guesses, all will be disqualified. Please send all entries to MV@journalist.com.
How did you come up with the name of your current or favorite persona? Send me your name and a brief explanation of the origin of that name. All entries will be compiled into the next month's issue, so that each BL player can get to know his or her fellow players a bit better! But if that's not enough to get you sending those entries my way, a gem will be awarded as well for your efforts!
What did the wolf cough up after eating the rabbit?
To find out the answer to the above riddle, rearrange the letters in the words below to find names mentioned somewhere in this issue. Then rearrange the boxed letters to form the answer to the riddle.
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
* Answer can be found at the bottom of this issue.
Novice. After discovering that you do not know what to do with the groats, you decide to summon a legend for assistance; surely the game's highest level will have some idea! Seven hours later, your spell finally works. Unfortunately, the legend does not take kindly to being summoned and promptly retrieves and shows you his longsword.
Warrior. Having been repeatedly attacked by the eagle at spring, you grow frustrated. Attempting to find out the reason for the eagle's aggressiveness, you engage in a deep psychological session with it. You realize that the eagle's aggressive tendencies are primarily a result of its anxiety of the imminent hatching of its egg. In an attempt to put an end to the eagle's worries, you trick it into thinking the seagull is its baby. Realizing that the baby eagle will not have a parent, you deliver it to the dragon. It was a brilliant plan in theory, except that, first, the dragon ate the egg, and, second, the dragon ate you.
Hero/Heroine. Thumbing through the wonderfully-written, but defunct, Micro Adventurer, you realize that British Legends is void of a decent publication. You quickly begin work on the "Hero's Herald." MV, attempting to remove all competition, FODs you.
Champion. Forgetting what gender you are, you begin to ask the other players of The Land, but none of the mortals are able to help and none of the wizzes can stop laughing at your predicament. So, you take a guess, and kiss all players of what you think to be the opposite gender. When you make superhero or superheroine, you discover that you were wrong.
Superhero/Superheroine. Frustrated by the inability to gain points from the spring, you set out in search of treasure. Grabbing a lit brand, you begin to search the yew tree...
Enchanter/Enchantress. Unable to find any tool to bypass the badger in its sett., you decide that you might be able to tempt it out. Hearing that badgers eat voles and marmots, you find the closest thing available in The Land, the rats. With the flute, you play Pied Piper, and attract the rats to the surface of the sett. The badger hops out, and, mistaking you for a rat, scratches your face and drags you back with it. At least you got in!
Sorcerer/Sorceress. After reading the horoscopes of the first six levels, you realize that there isn't a single happy ending thus far. You, therefore, set out to find a way to use your "sorcery" to create a positive horoscope for yourself. You visit the room of the original sorcerer in the cottage, and begin playing with his old books and vials. Realizing that you don't have all the ingredients for such as spell, you search far and wide to obtain all the rarest game items. You begin to mix all of them together, and just when the spell is nearly completed, the entire room explodes. Teaches you to tamper with fate!
Necromancer/Necromancess. Practicing your new powers of necromancy, you make contact with one of your dead personae. The persona insists that you seek vengeance on its killer. Results unknown (or perhaps undesired, from your perspective!)
Legend. Inspired by the show, Survivor, you gather up a bunch of buddies and commence to vote them off the druid's island. Unfortunately, no one thinks to vote off the dragon...
Wizard/Witch. A mortal enters the game and complains of a bad connection. When the mortal returns under another name to tell you that the first name is ghosted, you're more than happy to perform the exorcism. After exorcising the name, though, it returns! You continually exorcise it, and in your over-zealousness, you find The Land completely exorcised as well; no zombies, no skeletons, no ghouls remaining. An arch-wizard comes in to see how you've ruined the game. The only thing you can think to do is exorcise the arch-wizard as well...
Arch-wizard. You FOD a wiz after he or she attempts to exorcise you.
LOST AND FOUND:
Answer to riddle: HARE BALLS
The Inky Quill is published monthly. All references to real people are intended to be humorous and satirical; no malice is intended.
The Inky Quill Staff:
Writers: Richard [Just think that if you submit an article, your name will appear here!]
Special thanks: To Richard for writing the synopsis of his book, and Karya (the editor of Muddled Times) for allowing me to reprint it. To Random, Threnody, Adrienne, Buglady, Tyrant, Ladeadah, Thufir, Bonsai, Maidmaria, Leonardo, Tjalfi, Valentine, Barnacles, Jillithe, Karya, Hawumph, and all the other former and current British Legends and MUD2 editors and writers who inspired me in more ways than they can possible know. To Armand and Elf, who assisted me with my computer troubles (even if they didn't know that I was using my computer for this!). To Confusion and Archmage, for lending me support (again, even if they didn't knowingly do so).
Articles: Please send all articles to MV@journalist.com by the 20th of the month. It was a lot of work putting together this month's newsletter all by myself, so if you have any ideas for articles, they'd be very much appreciated!
Logo: If you specialize in the creation of computer images, I'm looking for a picture logo for The Inky Quill. If your logo is selected, you will receive a crown! Please send pictures to MV@journalist.com
Birthday list: Want your birthday announced in the Inky Quill? Please send your birthday to MV@journalist.com!
Survey and contest of the month: Please send your responses to MV@journalist.com -- remember, prizes are awarded!
Announcements and letters to the editor: If you have an announcement you'd like placed in the confidentials, or a letter you'd like to write to the editor, please send them to MV@journalist.com
Have you not figured out my e-mail address yet? It's MV@journalist.com!
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All articles are copyright © 2003 by their respective authors and The Inky Quill. All rights reserved.