Sir, I'd like to make a few comments with reference to Peter Voke's article in your April issue, which compares our multi-user adventure game MUD with Micronet's Shades. This Is the first impartial comparison I have seen, and it made many telling observations about both products. However, since it was written from the point of view of a novice, there are a number of important differences which the author was not in a position to note concerning aspects of play at higher levels.

The top level in MUD, wizard (or witch), offers much more power than the equivalent in Shades, most notably in the ability to snoop on other players, ie, see what they're doing without them knowing. There are other wizard commands available, too, which have no equivalent in Shades. MUD wizards are much better able to exercise control over play than their Shades counterparts.

This brings me to my second point, game management. MUAs allow free interaction between many people; disputes can and do arise. MUD has comprehensive logging facilities which enable speedy investigaIon of players' moans about each other's behaviour. In addition, our substantial experience in managing Essex University MUD means we've seen most of the problems before, and know how to deal with them. Shades is improving, but still has some way to go.

Richard Bartle

Copyright © Richard A. Bartle (
18th August 1999: aujun87.htm