users persist space persists users

Raph Koster threw down a pretty good post today. In the light of developing this RP mush (if you don’t know a RP (roleplay) mush is a mud with less emphasis on coded systems and more emphasis on player collaboration, storytelling, etc.) I’m thinking about these very concepts:

  • space
  • persistence
  • users

Space is at the top of the list and the top of my mind lately. Historically space in a mush game has gone through some twists and turns, from the free-for-all anything goes topologies of early social mushes, to strictly laid out game grids, to dynamic space creating and destroying rooms to save on DB space while simulating a huge world, to RP ‘stages’ and philosophies that decried large grids as a RP killer.

While I agree in principal with the idea of RP stages, I don’t think it takes advantage of the space that you can represent in a mush game. However some mush players are not interested in typical mud areas, zork-like adventures, or anything so rigidly defined. So the idea would be to take advantage of the mush space without really representing the game world as either a straight-up grid or a series of interconnected stages (which, when you get down to it, is just a game grid anyway).

To go off on a tangent: forgetting about the virtual physical space for a second, take a look at Raph Koster’s list of what we talk about when we talk about space:

* distance
* vectors
* relationships
* sizes
* eyelines

How could you transform these concepts to suit the strengths of a mush game?

One word: Shock.

Shock: Social Science Fiction is a fiction game of culture and future shock. Based on the works of Bruce Sterling, Kim Stanley Robinson, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Philip K. Dick, the game pushes the players to make stories that matter to them — stories about politics, philosophy, love, and death.

I’m kind of….uh, amazed that this theme describes the mush I have in mind pretty well. The Shock system even uses some of the same mechanic concepts I’ve come up with so far.

I’ve yet to get my copy of the game, but one thing that leapt out at me from reading the reviews is the description of the Grid, a table of issues (e.g. morality) across the top row and shocks (e.g. religious domination, basically an aspect of the future world) down the left column. Players occupy the intersections of issues and shocks, and each player has narrative control over some issue and/or shock. So basically you have a web of players on this grid; you can define relationships, vectors, distances.

This system looks really good — there are a lot of things that could suit a mush. I’ll have to give a detailed review later.

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