…or graphical games like EverQuest and Ultima Online, which are mostly combat-based with a smattering of role-playing thrown in.

Yes… and that’s the fault of the system and game type, not the players. Mmm. I hate to break it to this author, but the only way to make a truly successful multiplayer game is to cater to the lowest common denominator – and the lowest common denominator don’t ArrPee, k? I’ve pondered the idea of forced roleplay server before, and I think it can work if it were slightly higher priced (to cover the cost of additional staff) where roleplay would be enforced through Game Masters. Now all we need is one of these games to take the risk and try it out.

Skotos intends to create a wide range of these games, from conversation-heavy court intrigues to computer-run simulations of feudal economies and society. Think of them as next-generation MUDs, combining traditional MUD gameplay with some of the story aspects of text adventures.

In other words, Skotos intends to make MUDs.

They’ve licensed several traditional role-playing games: Og, Lovecraft Country, and Paranoia.

This isn’t anything new. There’s a reason Mythic decided to go graphical, boys and girls, take note.

As Skotos moves forward, there are still a lot of unanswered questions, chief among them whether or not people pay $10 a month to play so-called “multiplayer interactive fiction.” In this era of EverQuest and Asheron’s Call, can Skotos make a living peddling their vision of what MUDs should be?


There are three types of Skotos games: Stages, Grand Theatres, and Worlds. Stages are the smallest, and the most like a traditional table-top role-playing game.

I call him, “Mini-MUD.”

Stages run for a limited amount of time, such as a weekend or four successive Saturday nights, and are open to a limited number of players. There is a set plot and definite goals.

In other words, Skotos intends to make MUDs with Quests (dynamic even!). Sounds innovative to me.

Worlds are the largest and most epic type of planned games. They are similar in spirit to massively-multiplayer online roleplaying games (MMORPG’s), in that most of the world’s mechanics are computer moderated. Skotos hopes to simulate economies, ecologies, and more within their worlds.

In other words, Big Muds\’e2\’84\’a2.

The mechanics of the game are very much like a traditional text adventure or MUD.

Ya think?

The most obvious change is the addition of adverbs to communication. You can “brusquely question” someone, or “bow deeply.” While overuse of adverbs can leech the life out of static fiction (as witness a transcript from the game), in online games they can convey shades of emotion which would otherwise be lost.

I really should have been a consultant to these guys, because LPMuds have been offering “adverbs” as part of the stock code for years now.

Most of these changes add color to interactions with other players rather than directly affecting events in the game world, as is appropriate for a game focused on social interactions. Skills such as swimming, dancing, or stealth do affect what you can and cannot do in the game world.

What? You mean my sword of +9 break dancing is useless? Dammit. At least there’s always this game if I wanna dance.

Looming over all of this is the most important question from the point of view of Skotos: Will people pay to play an all-text online game?


Brian Moriarty, the new Director of Game Development for Skotos said, “After several months of sitting in the hot tub I decided it was time to go out and find something useful to do with myself.”

I’d have something witty to say here, but much like a MUD, your imagination is the key.

One problem which plagues online role-playing games is the time factor. If I want to get the coolest stuff, or take part in the exciting events — indeed, if I want to have much fun at all — I have to be online a lot. According to Brian, this should not be the case. While you want to reward players for playing more, the base experience must be fun as well.

That’s the first genuinely good comment I read – and hopefully, upcoming MMOG’s will be developed in such a manner.

One way of doing so would be to design quests that anyone can do, but that can only be done once by any one player.

So how does Skotos plan to finance enough developers to develop infinite quests? There’s a reason quests can be repeated.

“Some of the most addicted [computer game] players are addicted to text MUDs.”

Someone give this guy Smedley’s or McQuaid’s email address. Someone needs to bring him into our decade.

“Those are some of the things that need to be thought of. I believe there is a business there. Not a big business, not even as big a business as we [Infocom] had, but I think that a small company could survive and be profitable. In fact, I’m sure of it.”

Yes, there’s room for a business, and Simutronics is it. The market isn’t large enough for any more glorified MUDs. Believe you me, if it were, David Whatley would have been all over it long ago, Mythic would not be developing DAoC, and I’d be in some dark damp basement somewhere in front of a computer, fearing light.

This is a painful subject for me, as MUDs are my roots. From your average free stock mud, to paying up to nine dollars an hour for Simutronics games through GEnie, to beta testing Darkness Falls, Dragon’s Gate, and Terris on AOL – I love and have loved MUDs for quite some time now. Indeed, they were often bastions of great RolePlay – but only because they were moderately (read: barely) successful. Once the numbers grew (as was evident on the AOL MUDs when they went flat rate), the quality of people deteriorated.

The term “next generation” or “second generation” MUDs is in itself insulting. A mud is a mud is a mud. There’s nothing “innovative” that can be done with a MUD that can’t be done better through a graphical MMORPG. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled, perhaps I’ve grown up, perhaps I’ve just moved on – but, for me, my expectations have now risen. I expect quality graphics as well as quality gameplay. There’s a reason we don’t own black and white televisions anymore.

I’m going to miss the MUD, I really am. Someone please notify Skotos of the funeral.