Online Text Games: Performing in a Role Playing MUD

Role Playing Games Troll

By Seth R. Cooke

Despite the non-visual nature of text games, it is entirely plausible to roleplay a wandering minstrel or a performer of sorts. There are a few things that must be done to ensure that the performance is effective, and there is a very real and noticeable difference between a well-rehearsed skit and an unfinished, unpracticed one. The intent of this guide is to instruct the reader in three important parts of planned performing: audience appeal, descriptiveness, and timing.

Like writing a paper, perhaps the most important aspect of a performance is to consider the audience. If you are performing for the High Priests of the God of Justice, it would quite possibly be poor form to deliver a performance warning of the dangers of following the rules too strictly. Consider what your audience would find appealing and identify any touchy subjects to avoid. There is little worse than offending a group of people while performing. Mocking their enemies, singing of their side's exploits, or offering a non-aligned story is perhaps the safest way to proceed. It is, of course, possible to gently tease those you are performing for, but care must be taken. Remember, an offended audience will quite probably not pay!

Descriptiveness is the second most important part of any skit. No matter how witty your message or clever your puns, if the audience has no idea what you are doing (or worse yet, cant bring themselves to care!), it is all for nothing. Because of this, all emotes should have two goals. The first is to convey your message. The audience should be able to tell what you are doing, how you are doing it, and other things of note. This is done so that they can properly visualize your performance.

However, the second goal is to keep it relatively brief. Once an emote exceeds five or six lines, your audience tends to tune out. Length is a matter of style, but aiming between 4 and 6 lines ensures that your actions are both long enough to convey actions and still short enough to keep the attention of those watching.

Timing is likewise important. When delivering a performance of any substance, the preferred method is to have it bound to a single alias, which will set off the performance one emote at a time, with a delay between each emote. The delay is important because if the audience waits too long for the next emote, they will begin to lose interest. Conversely, if the emotes bombard them rapid-fire, they will feel overwhelmed and struggle to keep up, possibly missing important parts of the show.

Because of this, it is recommended that you allot five to seven seconds per line, rounding up to the nearest five. For instance, an emote of four lines means that the delay should be anywhere from twenty to twenty-eight seconds, rounding up to thirty if you have seven. The length of time should be based on the complexity of the line. If you have a series of short, simple words describing a basic action, five seconds is fine.

However, the more complex or important the line is (larger words, vital bits of the show), the longer the delay should be set for. This allows ample time for the audience to read and process what has been done, without boring them with long delays. When in doubt, practice it with a friend. Someone reading for the first time will read slower than you, someone who is familiar with the work, and they will be able to advise you on when to speed up or slow down the speed of your emotes.

Keeping these few basic principles in mind will allow you to write technically correct and effective performances. By understanding your audience, you will be able to effectively aim your performances. Being descriptive will ensure that your point does not miss the mark and that your audience understands what you are attempting to do. And finally, by using efficient timing, your performances will keep the attention of the audience while ensuring that your message is not missed.

If performing in text appeals to you, give it a shot in some of the most sophisticated and flexible role playing MUDs available.

Seth R. Cooke is a text game enthusiast and currently plays games from

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Hadn't considered in-game theatre or productions before, but might try my hand at writing something now. Hmmm, what to write about.....

The trick to putting on a good play is an Illusionist. Generally, you will have your actors or actresses in whatever garb they need for the part, speaking or emoting. However, there will be time you need something to happen that doesn't begin with Adramm did blah. That's where the illusion steps in. Think subterfuge or creator tarot. Also it's a good idea to have him hidden for obvious reasons. It's actually rather fun, but can be quite challenging. The obvious advantage is nobody has to memorize any lines. Good luck!

This makes me want to make a play.

This calls for more plays and productions - even short improv is good!


On the other hand.. one plays a character, who in a theatre setting might play several characters... possibly a character in a character in a character... o.o

Pretty good read.


helpful info here

Thank you!

Great article, well written and really informative.


All of this is very good advice! I took most of it into account when I started my performances in Midkemia, but there is a lot more too! Like if half of your city is off fighting then your performance will not get very many people so planning when to host it is pretty important too! But playing a performing character like a bard is a lot of fun and I would suggest it for anybody to try.


Another incredible possibilty text gaming has to offer!

Writing and performing plays is an aspect of the non-combative part of Lusty's RP that I just haven't been able to get into...I just have no idea how I'd sort of relate that real theatre feel to people who are essentially reading text. In the end, it's just another written piece, but with the illusion of the theatre included...and I'm not sure I'm good enough to encapsulate that to my satisfaction, yet. Props to everyone who can!

I think you've identified the key point of performances just being another form of written text just with an extended dimension. That's kind of why I never got into the whole "let's watch a play" phase in Lusternia even with stages... even if had culture points associated with it =(

On Achaea. I make instruments on Aetolia.


Still, the only game I ever did a performance in was Imperian.

I've wanted to act in a play or two, but the timing of the event was just never right for me.

Really cool! I might actually want to try doing something like that using mudlet stuff, sort of as an illusionist mage. :3

I bet that you can have a lot of fun with magic illusions! But if you would like some help please let me know in character!

This is great advice for anyone using the Illusions skillset as well!

Um does anybody have tips for making good emotes for music? Like if I wanted to do a concert and describe out the tune?