Reusing Old Designs

0131018167One of the things I remember Bartle banging on about in his Designing Virtual Worlds book was how many designers simply copied ideas and systems from earlier games without fully understanding why the original designers had implemented them.

I was reminded of this recently when reading about a MUD in development called Casadona.

There’s a thread on their forums discussing what to call their implementation of an inventory space specifically for storing groupable items. Anyone who has ever played an Iron Realms Entertainment MUD in the last few years will probably recognise this as a storage rift.

If you’re an old Achaea player you might remember a time before storage rifts when items such as herbs were kept in pocketbelts, which were themselves a copy of Avalon‘s pouches system. Pouches or pocketbelts probably make more sense thematically, but according to this staff member the storage rift system was introduced for technical reasons to limit the database size and improve server performance.

It may be that Casadona’s designers decided that a storage rift was the best way to handle groupable inventory items on their server, but I expect they just copied it from IRE without understanding why it was implemented in the first place.

[Update 16.04.13] It looks like Casadona have blocked the link to their forums.


9 comments on “Reusing Old Designs

  • Nihasa  says:

    As one of the designers of Casadona, and a long term player of various IRE games, I’d like to say that I completely knew what I was doing in choosing a rift type element, though we will probably be calling it something different. We are actually trying to stay away from terms used in IRE games. Therefore it won’t be a rift or a cache. Though the implementation will be the same idea. I played IRE games back when there were pocketbelts, and the complications it could cause trying to INB herbs into various pocketbelts. Due to this, we chose a rift type element for not only database reasons, but for ease of use to the players.

    Reply
    • Matt  says:

      As a designer if you ask yourself the question “what is the best way for characters to store herbs in their inventory?” I think it’s pretty difficult to arrive at the answer “they store them in a completely abstract space with its own syntax, separate from their regular inventory” unless you are doing it that way because that’s how IRE do it.

      Why not just store herbs in character inventory like other items? Or how about in a container like a satchel or a herb bag? Why does it have to be an abstract space? And why does it need its own syntax? Why INR <HERB> rather than PUT <HERB> IN RIFT for example?

      My post is not a personal criticism of your game and it’s fine to copy IRE if you are intentionally making a game that is similar, but too often designers take designs they are familiar with for granted and given that the history of this design is based on technical requirements that Casadona doesn’t share, it seemed like a good illustration of the point.

      Reply
      • Nihasa  says:

        Casadona may not share any technical requirements as of yet, but the game is going to be very large. And why not a container of some sort? I said that before. I remember how difficult pocketbelts were. Ease of use for the player. So just because you saw a thread on a forum of a game that is in the making, doesn’t mean that you know the technical requirements of it. That was a single thread, discussing what to call the space, and a basic intent of use. Also, that thread is two years old. If you’re going to try to use information from our forums, at least get something that is current.

        Reply
        • Matt  says:

          “And why not a container of some sort? I said that before. I remember how difficult pocketbelts were.”

          You do realise that your design choices aren’t limited to those already made by IRE, right?

          “If you’re going to try to use information from our forums, at least get something that is current.”

          You mean the same forums you just closed off?

          Good luck with your game :)

          Reply
          • Nihasa  says:

            As Athala said, you can still see information that is current on our new website. As far as choices already made by IRE, just because IRE uses it, does not make it exclusive. I stated before, we are actually trying to move away from things IRE. There are going to be similarities, obviously, as there are with most MUD’s, but if you actually knew anything about Casadona, you would realize that the idea of a trans-dimensional space to store things fits right into atmosphere of the game. But please, do check out our new website, I’m actually in the process of updating it right now!

  • Nihasa  says:

    As for your update on the forums being blocked, they should have always been that way. We admins had to go fix it. So thanks for bringing that to our attention!

    Reply
  • Athala  says:

    To add to Nihasa’s statement – Our Forum was meant to be private. It is there for the Casadona team to organize ideas, throw ideas around and flesh out set ideas. We seemed to have encounter an issue somewhere along the line that allowed non-members to read this information and we were not aware of that, which was never intended. However, you’re more than welcome to visit our new webpage: http://casadona.comoj.com/ We will be posting public updates there as they become available.

    Reply
  • KaVir  says:

    Some muds (e.g., SMAUG, I believe) automatically group together identical items such as potions, but this tends to be handled transparently from the player’s perspective, so you wouldn’t realise unless you looked through the code. The IRE approach actually strikes me as unnecessary and klunky, and (perhaps rather ironically, considering your blog entry) could have easily been avoided if they’d just looked at how other codebases handle the same issue.

    But of course now you’ve got people who are used to the way it works, so that’s what they’ll use when they create their own mud – which is another subject Bartle has discussed in the past. I think it’s actually pretty interesting to observe; in the past when people started up their own DikuMUD or LPMud you could never be sure how much was left the same because it came as stock – but IRE never released their code, so now we can see people actively and intentionally *reimplementing* the same features (Casadona certainly isn’t the only one, there have been quite a few others as well).

    Reply
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