Online Text Games - Four Common Myths

MUD games myth

By Jonathan Castello 

Online text games, often called text adventures or MUDs, are a notable alternative to graphical games like World of Warcraft. There are literally hundreds of them, and most are free to play! Unfortunately, many people have strange ideas about what a text game is; the opinion I usually hear is that text games are less fun because they lack graphics. That's a shame, because text-based games are just as fun, and they're even better than graphical games in many cases. Here I'll list some common myths and explain why they're untrue.

1. "Text games are hard to play."
Every game is a little difficult the first time you play it! Take baseball, for example: If you've never played baseball before, you definitely won't be able to win the World Series! Yet you only need to learn a few basic rules to start having fun, and text games are the exact same way.

To someone unused to text, of course, the biggest challenge is living without graphics. But once you've played a while, you begin to craft a vision with your imagination, and it becomes second nature. Text adventures are often compared to books because of this, and it's a fair comparison. The difference with text adventures is that you can never tell what happens next!

2. "Nobody else plays text games."
It is true, of course, that fewer people play MUDs than behemoths like RuneScape, but that doesn't mean nobody plays! For example, the Iron Realms games usually have hundreds of players online. Even late at night, it's never a solitary experience. Many online text games are very community-oriented, so you can always find other players to interact with.

3. "You have to use dumb Telnet to connect."
A "telnet" program is a common utility found on most operating systems, like Windows and Mac. It's used completely from a text-only command terminal. While you can use it to play online text adventures, almost nobody does this anymore! Instead, there are several excellent full-featured clients that can be used to connect to any MUD, including Mudlet, CMUD, and a bunch of others. These are very powerful, easy-to-use clients that many people use to play. Of course, just like web browsers, each one is different and everyone has a favorite.

Some MUD owners provide their own custom clients. Iron Realms has two basic quick-start clients called Nexus and FMud, which make their games some of the easiest to jump right into. In fact, they even include graphical widgets that show your information at a glance!

4. "There's nothing fun to do."
Well, "fun" is always subjective, but there are tons of different activities a text-based game can have. In many MUDs, player-versus-player combat - often called PvP - is extremely popular. In others, you might find a focus on player-built organizations and politics. You might find role-playing, quests and achievements, exploration, and more. And because text is so cheap, features and improvements can be added much more quickly than any graphical game! If you've never played any online text-based games, you're doing yourself a disservice. They may be different from what you're used to, but once you make the first step, you'll be glad you did. Find one you like, stick with it for a week, and see what you can learn. You might just find a new virtual home!

To learn more, try out the Iron Realms online text games.

Jonathan Castello is a player and text game enthusiast from www.IronRealms.com.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jonathan_Castello

Poll: 
What do you think the top Myth is?

Comments

There's a "<" at the end of section one.

I have no idea what you are talking about. I guess it just disappeared!

Heh, I screen shotted that Avasyu! I'm a SE too so I know all about them sneakies :P

Dang it!

By the way, thanks for the great article Jonathan.

I agree this is a really cool article.

I enjoyed reading it a great deal as well. 

I admit, it can be hard to get started with the advanced text games of iron realms, but in the end they suck you in and are a ton of fun to play!

"Nothing to do" is pretty hit or miss. Sometimes you've got to amuse yourself.

It's very hit or miss but I find the misses are most often after I've just finished a goal I've set and haven't picked a new one. Find a new goal and the fun will follow.

but that can be said for just about any game in existance. I find it less challenging in Achaea than in WoW to find something to do though! :D

 

I've had loads of people look me over the shoulder and just go 'huh?' at me when I try to explain Achaea to them :(

There's always something to do in Achaea/MKO/IRE title...I can't say the same about WoW...except if you're an achi whore like me but that's because there's nothing ELSE to do when you're done dungeoning/raiding.

Always, always something to do.

Yea, I wouldn't say that most people are negative about it when I try explaining it, they just don't seem to get it or seem to see the appeal.

same here.  I've tried to get a number of people i know to try Achaea out.  A few have done so, but after getting through the trial, they go, meh and go back to their WoW.  Sometimes i think i need to get friends with better imaginations. :(

And sometimes your city is depressingly empty.

 

and how!

I think that the most difficult thing is to get used to the kind of reading that a text MUD requires. It isn't like reading a book, where you read most every word; you develop expectations about what will happen when you enter a particular command, and these expectations allow you to quickly glean the information you want without reading all the text that scrolls across the screen. When things get active, I think new players are apt to get overwhelmed: "The text is scrolling faster than I can possibly read it!" It takes a while to learn to just keep cool and pick your spots. It helps to use clients to create BIG FLASHING WARNING SIGNS, and the various text colors are essential. Maybe some explanation of this necessary skill during the newbie intros would be positive.

Definately agree with that. My dad was watching once during some combat, and asked, "Are you actually reading all of that?" Heh, absolutely not! I'm only looking for certain flashes of colur.

Yeah, people at work say the same about me. "How can you possibly understand anything with all that scrolling text which you can't read?". Well, you DON'T have to read it. A word is often enough, or the ending of a line or even the way a paragraph is formatted will tell you enough about what's going on.

MUDs allow you to sit aroudn and do nothing and yet still have some sort of fun. most graphical MMO's don't offer much substance when you are standing around doing nothing.

I think the text game offers a variety of control impossible with graphic games, especially considering perception is everything, and that will vary from person to person. Text games are exotic book-games that allow you to manipulate your fantasy in a reality of sorts.

It can be overwhelming at first but it pays off in the end. I compare it to reading a book a that changes every time you open it. You never know what is going to happen.

That's always how I've tried to describe it every time somebody asks what the heck I'm playing. It's like... Epic fantasty, but a little less convoluted!

gets boring after awhile

The creativity in text games sets them apart.  The level of customisation for items across all IRE games is something I have yet to really find matched in any other online game (save maybe things like Second Life where you have to be a graphic designer to accomplish it).

Trying to compare IRE games to Blizzard games is like trying to compare apples to oranges; their only likeness is that they are fruits. So it is with IRE and Blizzard--their similarities begin and end with the fact that they are both RPGs.

Well said.

Aye

Very true..

It can be sometimes overwhelming to start a Mudd especially for the first time, its such an in depth world and can look a daunting task. Fortunately, most mudds are full of helpful and friendly people who are more than willing to help.

I started Mudding at a young age (11, 12, or so) and have been an addict of various small games since. Achaea was my first real big MUD, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The vast vocabulary helped me out through middle and high school. I couldn't ever really get any of my friends into them, but I met many more friends by doing so.

Exact same story here.

 

My Year 7 friends used to give me such odd looks when I started making comments about the 'lattice of clouds in the firmanent', and the 'foliage'.

I like the point about the speed with which new developments can be added compared to other games. Also, the producers aren't shy about demolishing and re-moulding parts of the world as part of various events - after all, it's only text!

The CIJ estate being blown up and rebuilt springs to mind...

If you've ever played a graphical game where you install the program, then spend hours downloading updates, you will see the benefits of point #4.

And aye, plenty of people still play text games. I find them far more engaging still.

So true on your first point!

I remember how overwhelming MUDs were at first - I had a friend introduce me to the game, and for the first 10 minutes I didn't eveb figure out that she was the person in the MUD teaching me lessons.

 

But there's an odd replay quality associated with them. I played Aetolia 2003-2007 ish, quit when school started getting intense, and now I'm back in another IRE and enjoying it just as much as the first go. Can't say the same about many graphics games.

Text games ARE hard to play compared to many other games. Text game combat is probably the most difficult kind of gaming I've come across. I've shown it to a few people, and they just lose interest as soon as the text starts streaming down the screen. Can't really blame 'em.

Ha!

Text games are only hard if you don't take the time to understand them, and they are the best, in my opinion.  I think anybody could learn to paly, have fun, and learn a great deal about typing and such by invilving themselves in one.

I remember when I first learned about combat, I thought it was just being able to type really fast and read really fast. The one thing that I dislike about text games is the advantage that coders have over everyone else! One of the things that I like is getting to learn something new while enjoying the marvels of a MUD

The complexity of the game is something that actually makes it enjoyable after you get used to it

This is exactly why I still play text based games. I find them much more engaging, much more difficult, and I personally remember words a lot better than pictures for some odd reason. They keep my mind consistantly busy, and at the same time allow me to always learn a new bit of something about the 'world' around me. (Not to mention being able to constantly affect the world around me with choices, and possible rp with the Gods/admins around controlling things...just way to much fun!)

 

Add to that the ability to create our own items/clothes/etc... and well, I'm sure you all know.

+1

+1

Text games have a harder learning curve than graphical games, but once you get the hang of stuff they're definitely a ton more fun and in-depth. Just the complexity of text game combat alone makes them worth checking out. Y'know, I've always PASSIONATELY HATED turn-based RPG games like Final Fantasy, but the whole regaining balance/equilibrium thing could be considered a super advanced version of turn-based combat. Unlike graphical games where you either take turns attacking or you just watch your 3d avatar hack away at something until it dies, text games offer something so much deeper. TEXT GAMES FTW.

but I like your comparison of text games to the WoW-type graphical RPGs and FF (tho, I still <3 FFIII)  

 

The complexity of the different balances and that having multiple strategies for both curing and offense make you actually have to think about the details of combat. I realize that might not be for everyone, but for those folks, there is always Vadi. 

I remember when I first started to play a MUD.. here I am years later.. still in the same MUD and still mostly without a clue. I can't fight, I am not great at finding things. I am no super big name that rules the lands. But my point is, is that I hope new players will consider and understand it takes a very very long time to ease into a game like this if you have never been exposed to one before. Also you don't have to be so freak pker or artied out bully to have fun. There are many sides to the game and that is what I love. Where else can I tame and train mammoths and behemoths.

Great article. 

And yes, some aspects of text games are harder (like PvP combat, which I still haven't figure out how to survive longer than 5 seconds), but Text games are fun anyway.

How many people don't play text-based games for these reasons, I wonder. Or are run off because of the difficulty sometimes involved? :S

Good article, certainly covers the basic questions for getting players who are completely new to MUDs. Point 4 was my favorite. There is certainly always something fun to do, even little things like card games are often added to the games. I personally prefer hunting and helping others in the game for a fun time.

I started text games in High School, and tried I think Achaea as my first.  It was alright, but back then, the popularity was still low, and I never saw many people about.  I guild hopped a lot, and kind of got bored with it.  I tried other text games for a while, being drawn into odd ones like Harry Potter and such, but the memories of Achaea stuck with me, because it had so much potential.  So I tried another Iron Realms game next, Aetolia, which I quickly grew bored with.  Then, I saw Lusternia.  I was immediately drawn in by the unique histories and such, and have been here since!

It's not that hard to get into a MUD if you give it a chance and ask people to help you when needed. There's plenty of people online at all hours - the least I've ever seen was just under 150. Give it a try!

With so much to do, if you get bored, it's unlikely that text games are not for you, but any sort of game without a clear track to follow. Lusternia, for lack of knowledge on the other IRE titles, offers that pefect mix of both tracked paths (quests, leveling) and the sanbox (design, politics). 

Seems to be about the Neverending Story...

 

Also, yes, great article. I can't even think of a good snide remark to throw at it.

I can remember getting afflicted with shyness at the Entrance to Minia and somone snapping me to burrow and I couldn't get free. It was interesting to say the least.

It took a few tried to get the hang of playing a text game. It reminded me a lot of writing in novel rpgs back in the day only it's constantly interactive. 

 

I wouldn't say that its terrible harder though. It just requires a completely different mindset than other games.

One of my favourite aspects of text games is the customisability you have on the client end. With triggers/aliases/highlighters, etc, you can change the game completely, in a sense. And in that sense, the 'walls of text' of text games are far superior to the indeterminate pixels of a graphical one.

I always liked how you had to use your imagination for Achaea, when I compare it to other rp games that use graphics I realize how limited you are since most of the actions are limited to what the game designers put in the game. Like... World of Warcraft, there are rp servers there but the emotes are pretty limited. There is a form of em, but your character doesn't actually do them :P

I'd say one of the more enjoyable aspects for me is how a lot of the skill/ability texts are extremely pretty. There has yet to be a graphical MMO out there that can match the imagery evoked in my mind by being hit by a meteor in Lusternia (or watching someone else get hit!) - not to mention, there is no better graphics engine than the imagination!

Also, jumping - no silliness like everyone being able to jump two character-heights into the air, like some graphical MMOs!

Unlock the power of your imagination, lose the limitations of the sprites provided by other game companies and create your fun for yourself. MUDs rock.

The times I've played MUD's and someone has seen the screen and said, "THAT LOOKS HARD!!!" .. oh man.. I could fill a room with those words..

I gotta say that sometimes these myths (1 and 4) can be true and sometimes they aren't. They all depend on the person.

agree with above

(un)fortunately most people I know don't know about these myths largely because they have no clue text games beyond Zork exist.

the one where I think my friends will think I'm weird for enjoying MUDs. >_< Or that I shall be shunned. D: I got over it, though, mostly because of the FB credits. >_>

It adds to my geek cred >:3 Not nearly as much as AD&Ding when I was five, though. D:

Text games are stupid hard to play. I can pick up a FPS and be decent at it quickly enough. Video games are designed to be intuitive. I can pick up WoW and someone else has done all the modding for me, for free. If I want to PK in Achaea I need to do all my own 3rd party support. Triggers aren't hard, but I practically need to take a class to script a system, then I'm stuck tinkering with it forever.

If people (me included) didn't like them anyway, IRE would be out of business. I do wish they'd lower the barrier of entry a bit though.

Most people I try to get to play IRE games, or text-games in general just say they're not fun, as though "reading" isn't cool.

Its kinda like a book. That you care about. And you participate in :P And its a book you can ragequit ever so easily...

some don't understand text based games, but once you play and get over the stress of learning, it can be fun and increase your imagination.

I think that most people are put off by not only the "no graphics" thing, but also the fact that it is something new, and thus it will take learning. I've seen it a lot now, people don't like to read. They just want to pick it up and play it.

 

I know somebody who loves to read, create and design, and is even a writer. I've told this person all the things about an IRE game, and how it'd suit them. They hate that it has no picture. Didn't even try it for more than an hour.

And yet the biggest draw of the 'text game' is the ability to get closer to the people you interact with than you can with a non-text game. We're a social group. People will flock to social networking, yet the text game offers a lot more, it offers a shared creative environment,

Really difficult to explain how much fun these games are, but all it takes is getting someone to try it once. I've seen several people become converts in a matter of minutes after trying a MUD for the first time.

Good article. I've played MUD's for years and years now, these IRE games are by far the most challenging. The curing system  has me all boggled. But still fun.

When i first heard of Achaea and created a character, i quit after just a few hours. At first it was very overwhelming, and I thought I had to read every help file before I could play. Two weeks later I tried again, wised up and just played. I've been playing seven years now and I've never enjoyed a game so much.

Text games are AWESOME

they are difficult to learn, because unlike going from softball to hard ball , it is more like going from a softball competition to a tango compitition: It is completly different than other video games out there.

 

Don't even remember what it was like when I first started. Probably similar to starting a new IRE or even worse any other new MUD..

Should show this when trying to get somebody new onto text games.

True

Not only do people play text games, we are also all extremely attractive.

 

No myths

That's what I hear most often.

This is the one I hear

Lack of graphics is what I hear

on number 3: thank god i wasn't into text games then.

I mention a text game to anyone, the number one response is: it's a what? that doesn't  any good.

Lol I remember when I used to use Telnet.

Some things are easier..

these are myths, but still is hard to make friends start playing because of them..

^

^

eh people who won't play because of myth's aren't people I want infecting my rp world anyway!

"how is this fun? It looks so lame!" I've never been able to convince anyone to play. I play in secret now, Achaea has become my dirty little secret. 

this alone makes it look "boring" to people who are used to modern computer or console games.  And if you can get them to sample it, there is still a steepish learning curve to get into combat, at least compared to a point-and-click interface.

Kind of sad that the games best feature it's lack of graphics is it's biggest weakness.

yeah

Is saying that it has no graphics. People look at me crazy when I'm like "It's a book... that you can play! How cool is that?"

yes

I think muds you get out what you put into it. If you rush to pass house or guild requirements you might miss out on something else entirely. So take your time and get your requirements done right but, let loose every now and then. You might be surprised at what you learn.