Archive for the ‘Play-by-Post’ Category

the social space of muds

is an oxymoron, right? Maybe I should call this the social space of text games, but…I don’t know.

I’m bringing this up after reading a Matthew Stadler essay at the new Rosa B. (thanks to if:book for the link), a French/English magazine whose layout seems at first quite psychotic — no, perhaps psychedelic, but I grew to like it.

Later in the night after reading the Stadler I read Ursula K. LeGuin’s recent piece in Harper’s. Both this interview of Stadler and LeGuin’s essay rest in part on the social space of art — reading, and discussion.

Looking at muds, here you have a somewhat unique phenomena — people reading collectively, synchronously. And talking about it, maybe not directly, but around it, through it. The pre-existing text is not a novel or a single story, it is a series of points on this graph of experience. Why call it a narrative? For that matter why call it an experience? Is this a fundamental difference between text muds and graphical muds — the social space of reading occurs simultaneously with the text itself. How is this different from the social space of play occurring simultaneously with play in WoW? Is someone who plays WoW out there?

Digressing a bit, I am constantly amazed to discover these new continents of text gaming — does Jove, Digichat, or SEAchat ring a bell for anyone? They didn’t for me until a day ago. And the constant refrain in the mudding community — are text games dead? How can you tell if you never knew who were the living?.

web-IF-mux-PBP-PBC-PBBG thing

I’m getting more into the idea of some Noah’s Ark of text gaming. It would work something like this.

You run a mush server as a back-end for the persistent world. Players connect with a Flash or equivalent client on the web site, where you have forums, help files, player wiki and player character pages. So people are playing on the web site in something that looks like a mush — room descriptions, poses, and so on. If the player wants to they can connect to the game with their normal client. I guess it would be somewhat trivial to mirror help files and bboard between the web and the mush server — but this would be for advanced players who are coming in with their own clients and some mushing history. The Flash client lets you log, quote in, and configure the display.

In the forums you have PbP games running — it would be possible for these games to affect the mush world, but a little more difficult I think. On the site you have a library of IF the player can play solo with a Flash client as well — these could affect the mush game. Meanwhile there’s some strategy-based persistent browser-based game also running. This affects properties in the mush game in which people are RPing.

playtext

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Anyway, I’d like to see a site that covers all the playable text and text-based games — IF, muds, browser-based games, playable text, text-art, something that has commercial advertising and forums. Like GTxA on a 48 hour coke-fueled rampage through the streets of some anonymous city.

Enter the PbP

Somehow I’ve managed to stay away from Play-by-Post games all these years, vaguely associating them with some amorphous blob of fanfic and freeform roleplaying that I’m just not interested in. But in reality there are all kinds of gaming going on via PbP. I see this as going back to my Play-by-Mail roots from childhood, where I would sign up for games I found advertised on the back of Savage Sword of Conan magazine.

Here are some of the sites I’ve found for PbP — you’ll notice an emphasis on story games:

RPG.net (big)

Snail’s Pace (story games, new)

RPG Crossroads (long-running and cozy)

RPOL.net (big, not so many story games, but a wide variety nonetheless)

PbP House (fancy)