“In the age of smart devices and instant entertainment, can a medium as old as MUDs survive?”
“Pull requests have also become the place where the team trains each other peer-to-peer, partially subsuming the role of manager as trainer. It’s one of the primary places where the team’s culture develops, especially if the team is distributed. It’s also the de facto information radiator for a development team, the best way to know how a product and codebase is changing over time is to be inside the code review loop.”
“When the business side “wins”, the developers end up in a death march. When development concerns outweigh business ones, you end up blowing the budget and deadline. Either way you’re broken. Successful software managers find ways to be flexible; to bend without breaking and to resolve the tension gradually. Servant leadership can be a guide to finding this flexibility.”
“The invention of the two day Scrum master training course is probably one of the worst things Scrum has done to agile. If you look at responsibilities, a good scrum master needs to be a strong technical manager with a huge grasp of organisational change, but the role is often fulfilled by a non-technical person with limited management experience from the product side of the organisation who cannot fulfil all of those responsibilities. And the idea that two days of training is sufficient to perfect and advocate major organisational change is laughable. (Indeed, most decent training companies would agree with this, and have plenty more training to sell you.)”
“Let’s chat about the “should I rent or buy?” question using logic, math and reason, rather than ill-informed clichés.”
“There are several articles out there that talk about testing anti-patterns in the software development process. Most of them however deal with the low level details of the programming code, and almost always they focus on a specific technology or programming language.
In this article I wanted to take a step back and catalog some high-level testing anti-patterns that are technology agnostic. Hopefully you will recognize some of these patterns regardless of your favorite programming language.”
“Configuration has always been a challenge for most developers especially when they are starting off. Getting that development environment ready to start coding your ‘visionary’ application is almost equivalent to getting your room clean and tidy before your parents visit you so you can skip the time they would normally utilize to make you aware of ‘what’ a responsible adult you have grown into.”
“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”
To the uninitiated, MUD stands for Multi-User Dungeon. Those of us who were born in the 70s and actually had a computer in the house started off early, with Zork, or Colossal Cave, playing on a text screen for hours on end. The next logical step was connecting the computers and going head-to-head; when modems and networked LANs became popular, so did Richard Bartle’s MUD1, or, in my own case, the Scepter of Goth.
For many of the aging-nerd set, MUDding was the door we stepped through to go on to bigger and better things. Many of my friends went from this, to EverQuest, or Ultima Online, or World of Warcraft, and have been happy gaming with friends and colleagues ever since. The imagination was stirred, and didn’t keep quiet, always questing for a new game, a new setting to play in.
“listen: there’s a hell
of a good universe next door; let’s go”
Looking up the family tree of online games and gaming, MUDs tend to cut across a huge spectrum of categories and games. Reading across the wikipedia article above, the links become very obvious; MUDs fired up the imagination and kept the kettle of the imagination boiling, while tech got better and better.
I stepped away from MUDding in the 80s, and came back to it in the early 2000s for a while; a whole subculture and set of terminologies had sprung up while I was gone. I had to make sense of guilds and ‘remorting’ and all sorts of other things, while figuring out the leveling, RPing, and client mapping as well.
“Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?”
The Matrix, 1999
I’ve been away from MUDding again for a while; I just started to come back to it last year. I really get excited about MUDs less as a player, but more as a designer, or a Dungeon Master (which is the role I traiditonally played with my friends back in the 80s and early 90s). Over the years I’ve been looking at different MUD code bases, starting them up, creating a few areas, pulling them apart in some cases.
MUDding ain’t dead; what we’ve been seeing over the years is a steady progression of the game, from text to graphics, and now from just graphics on a screen to augmented reality/virtual reality. And traditional entertainment has gone along with that; whether it was the Matrix trilogy, which brought along with it several other films in that time period (I’m looking at you, Dark City and Thirteenth Floor) or Westworld garnering Emmy nominations right and left, the popular culture has always found a place for ‘virtual world’ concepts that let the imagination – and its players – run a little wild.
Over a few months, I’ll write more about MUDs from the point of view of world building and designing; the early code bases were interesting beasts, and most of them have been open-source and viewable/downloadable for years.
Looking back at the Zork I code, and what accounted for handling inventory back and the day. Interesting and frustrating all at the same time…
Some more signals that ArsDigita University was ahead of its time.