I have spent a notable amount of my life in virtual worlds. One of my games, and my upcoming novel, are set in one, in fact. The big ones:
- I dallied a year in World of Warcraft, which was essentially running around in a fantasy world and wondering when my friends were jumping on. Meh.
- I spent many moons in Second Life, which allowed me to actually make stuff. I built a few airships, and a little brass orb that followed me around and talked to people. This was fun.
Fun, but limited. At a certain point in WoW, I had done everything that didn’t require a three-hour minimum play time. I didn’t want to start paying for space in Second Life, and most of places I went were pretty barren.
This is what I want — to jump in as I see fit, be able to get together with friends, and see a ton of content, preferably user-made.
I recently read this article on MicroMUSE, a 1990-era text-based MUD which allowed users to build their own environment. Come on, now. Green-on-black text and freedom to create? This sounds perfect.
Having never played on a MUD (“played a MUD”? “been in a MUD”?), I figured it was time. I found a list and got to it.
I set up a character and played about fifteen minutes on a Tolkien MUD, right up until the NPC Numenorean who was showing me around ordered a beer and it came in a bottle. Napes.
Then I came across a cyberpunk-themed thing. Oh, why not.
So, this MUD, which I choose not to name, starts you off on a street filled with strip clubs, prostitution, and sex acts right out in the open. Fine. Sure. Dark streets, seedy underbellies, glowing neon. Straight pantone. But, the very first area you enter is the sex industry neighborhood?
Before long, an admin pulled me out of the game and put me in some sort of holding center until I wrote a history for my character. I did. Ah, but it was not good enough.
So I fleshed it out. And then received revision notes. This process took two days.
Finally, having passed this enforced-character-background barrier, I got back to it. Where “it” was wandering around from street to street watching kidnappings and harassment I could do nothing to stop. Just background text, apparently; the same way you might see “there is a tapestry on the wall”.
And here’s the kicker — the in-character chat was lame at best. Discussion of how fat a character is. Claims of sexual prowess. When I asked in the out-of -character help chat where I could buy a sword (this is cyberpunk, after all), I was told to look in stores. Oh, and anything can be a weapon in this game. And that’s an in-character question and should be asked somewhere else and here’s a link to the rules.
This is my problem with virtual worlds. The internet is other people, just like Hell.
I hear good things about Minecraft, but I don’t particularly want to play shared Legos. Something text-based seems perfect, or even something with basic graphics. Something we can jump in on from a handheld or phone. Where I don’t have to interface with anyone I don’t want to, but can easily join groups etc. Second Life without the graphics engine.
Wait, did I just describe Facebook?