THE town of Flanto in the county of Naedarak came alive last week as Bloodstone went on-line for the first time, over a year after Popular Computing Weekly first reported on it.

Bloodstone is a new multi-user game and (MUG) on Microlink, the on-line service riding on the back of the Istel network. The game is revolutionary in that it is massive and has huge expansion potential.

Like other MUGs, Bloodstone allows playersto interact with each other in both speech and actions but it goes further in that it strives to create a living environment. All objects are created from different parts, for instance a human player has many different parts - arm, legs, fingers, eyes etc - 260 in all.

All these parts can be affected in combat and you could survive with a broken arm or a severed leg. A broken arm would heal but a leg would grow back. Similarly all other objects in the environment are made up of finite sections.

The system controls a number of computer mobiles tnat wander around carrying out daytime chores. These too can be interacted with. Mobiles can be of many different races and there are 37 races in all from humans to trolls, birds to flying insects.

Commands are given in the standard adventure-type format although the system can understand English sentences using a 25,000 word dictionary. Robert Muir, creator of Bloodstone, said: "We feel we have a powerful enough parser for anyone."

The system has been delayed in its launch because it was originally to be based on fast transputer hardware. However, these were not implemented as they (somehow) managed to slow it down. The MUG is now run on a customised 386 PC running at between 6 and 7 MIPS. The computer is estimated to have cost over £20,000.

Microlink registration costs £15 and has a £7 monthly standing charge, plus on-lins charges which vary. Call Microlink on (0527) 28515 For further details. Our letters page will welcome any comparisons with games like Shades, the Micronet MUG.

Richard A. Bartle (
18th August 1999: pcwfeb90.htm