Letters Hat


Bartle spekes

LIKED the article by Gren Hatton about Future Gaming, since he managed to contain himself to present technology rather than predict technological advances which are "just around the corner".

He does seem, however, to have an inaccurate view of Essex University's computing facilities. In common with most other universities, we don't have hundreds of megabytes of memory going spare. That's why MUD is only playable at really stupid hours, just because we can't get that kind of memory during the day. Also, games aren't intellectually acceptable on University machines unless they're chess, and it's the computing service people (the ones who maintain the machine and its software) who have given us the support rather than Computing Science academics. Would that I DID have quantities of dumb terminals lying about as Gren seems to believe. Assuming he WAS talking about Essex when he mentioned Universities, of course - we're the only one in Britain doing this sort of thing, but there's at least one in the USA too. And they really DO have the computing power he describes at their disposal!

I'd also like to talk about another of Gren's points, namely that networked systems . are the "next step" after many of the things he mentions in his article have already happened. Although screens full of moving pictures and zappy sound-effects may improve a game, they still don't alter the form of the game itself. 3D films (and games?) are pretty good, but they're still just a variation on a theme. The point about multi-user adventures is that they're not just ordinary games with bells & whistles, they're a kind of game unto themselves, unlike anything else on the market at present. They're so much more fun to play that frankly they leave classic adventures for dead. If you played an adventure with all the equipment Gren envisages, t then played it without, you'd still be able to live with it. Once you've played a multi-user adventure, however, single-user games never look the same again. I realise this sounds a bit like an advert for MUD, and of course I'm biased seeing as how I wrote it, but I hope you can see what I'm getting at.

Richard Bartle
University of Essex

Copyright © Richard A. Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk)
21st January 1999: malsep84.htm