MugScan Hat

In previous MugScan features, I have mentioned a new type of MUG in which the Mug-Operator can alter and add to the adventure structure whilst the game is running. In this issue I want to tell you about developments on this idea, where the players themselves completely create the land and where there is only a minimal location structure made by the MUG-Operator...


by Pippin


Chaos World of Wizards is a MUPEG (otherwise known as a Multi-User Player Extensible Game) and game language, in which your most treasured fantasies can come true. The game language is not restricted to any particular time or type and you can create Sci-Fi lands just as easy as you can portray fantasy scenarios. In normal MUGs, most player's dream of becoming a Wizard, but in Chaos every player starts his adventure as a full-blown, powerful Wizard able to create spells, objects, monsters, weapons and locations.

The system has a very sophisticated editor which allows on-line creation. Since all locations and objects are saved, once you have created a spell or object, that item remains available to you permanently. For example, if you create a horse and build a stable beside your house to keep it in, the horse will remain in the stable until you take it out for a ride, or sell it or dispose of it by some means. Having made arrangements with a friend or even paying a stables to feed your horse whilst you are away on holiday for a month, adds an entirely new dimension to adventure games.

Since you already have your heart's desire in being an immensely powerful being from the outset, you may wonder where you will find the adventure or challenge in this game. The excitement comes from several activities. If you create a spell to paralyse an enemy, you could expect that your foe will prepare a magical defence against your spell. Cunning spell casting is a major preoccupation in a Chaotic game. Then again, there are many other things to do in a land where the locations have not been created for you. Castle, cottage and road building take a great deal of creative effort. Creating eerie dungeons beset with clever traps for your enemies is another exciting Chaotic pastime.

As in all MUGs, personal combat with weapons play an important part, as do the alliances you form with friendly players. But of course in this game you have to create a weapon before you can use it and that makes quite a difference. Spawning new monsters and giving them personalities and powers is another interesting occupation. Puzzle generation is fun because there is little limitation to the kind of puzzle that you can build. Keys or locks with combinations or mysteries requiring the acquisition of particular objects are all part of the delight of the universe. The size of the land and the number of spells and objects are only limited by the size of the host computer that the adventure is run on - and since Chaos currently runs on a Sun Work Station, that can be very large indeed.

By the way, the name Chaos refers to one of the features of the game and not the mathematical expression. One of the problems with MUPEG's is that they become disjointed and dog-eared if not adequately controlled. Some of the games now have a game committee which authorises players to link their particular development area with the body of the game.

Here is a typical origination sequence for a first-time player: You are in a void and you see and feel nothing. Suddenly your form takes shape and a mist emerges swirling and curling over your feet. The mist darkens and eddies to one side revealing the ground beneath. The ground shakes violently, and a crack appears a few feet away from you. There is a devastating explosion and large pieces of rock and boulders are hurled into the air from the crack.

Around you mountains begin to form out of the rock and boulders spewed by the explosion. Green shadows solidify into green fields and dazzling beams of light coalesce into a serene silver stream, turning and bending between the boulders. You look out now across mountains and streams towards the peak where you see one solitary black tower piercing the blue sky. You know that you have witnessed creation and you look for some tell-tale sign that will give away the name of the creator. On a ledge above you see a black cloak hanging by a thread. You search for many hours and in caves to the north you find one tail feather from an eagle, a bag of salt, an orchid petal and a magic wand. Which curiously enough, happen to be the very ingredients needed to cast a spell to enable you to fly like an eagle. You put one pinch of salt in the orchid petal essence. You then recite: Oh spirits of wind, set me free, Of earthly bindings, release me, From this essence, hold the might, To grant the precious gift of flight. You dip the feather in the essence. You then wave the wand. You rise above the ground upwards towards the cloak, and in a moment it is within your grasp. After lowering yourself to the ground you incant, "Easgle begone, myself return", and you are once again free of the spell. You examine the cloak and find a name written on the hook: Herival Wizard Lord of Summits.

MUPEG's are still very new and only a few of them exist at this moment. Chaos World of Wizards is being developed on the Iowa system and it is available from time to time for game testing. It is expected that a first full version will come up on-line some time in June. Variations of a game system called 'Tiny Mud' also exist in the confines of a number of universities and they are MUPEG's. Since I first introduced the idea and later wrote about it in Confidential, a number of traditional MUG's have adopted some of the ideas and are introducing MUPEG-like features. This can only add to player and Mugop enjoyment - and I am delighted to see it happening.

Richard A. Bartle (
21st January 1999: cnfjun90.htm