MUD1: The omnipotent antagonist   3 comments

This book is the closest we'll get to "cover art" for MUD1. [Source.]

This book is the closest we’ll get to “cover art” for MUD1. [Source.]

MUD1’s parser has a tone I might describe as “harsh.”

*examine bow
You can examine ’til your heart’s content, you won’t find anything special. Heavens, if I let folk examine things they’d spend the whole game doing it!

This effect can lead to some mind-blowing effects in other games (see the bit in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy where a typo destroys a civilization) but here it’s as if the parser is playing along as an ever-present antagonist, ornery about syntax

*burn stick
With what do you want to light the torch? Say things in full, bedlamite!

even when it’s clear the game is capable of understanding but just chooses not to.

*unlock door
Unlock the door with what? If you want to unlock the door with keys, why not say so? Just to please me?

To switch to general theory for moment, I’ve occasionally run into the philosophy that error messages are a good thing and understanding too much will somehow harm the player’s general ability to interact. I’ve never subscribed to that. I feel like if the parser is capable of understanding, it should go ahead and do what the player wants, perhaps indicating what the standard syntax is for future reference.

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Posted February 13, 2015 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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3 responses to “MUD1: The omnipotent antagonist

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  1. I was going to mention “What do you want to unlock the door with?” as one of Jenni Polodna’s pet peeves, and I googled the phrase, and along with one hit from Jenni and one hit from me explaining that Jenni doesn’t like it and one hit from some Black Ops players discovering Zork I found this bit of spam poetry: “What do you want to unlock the door with, try in bed, use your education to achieve, visit canada, try sexually, volunteer, try, visit in the usa, throw out when you …” I can see a game being built around this list, actually.

    What I’m trying to say is, I read and appreciate your blog!

  2. Game is a little empty. If you come back say hello to wave ride.

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