GameDev: Did I choose wisely?

For years, I’ve searched for the Reese’s Cup of online storytelling: a seamless hybrid of real-time MUSH with the asynchronous convenience of forum-style play-by-post.

At different points in the existence of OtherSpace, we’ve had:

  • A website window that opened a Telnet connection to the game.
  • Forums that players could interact with from within the MUSH or from the web.
  • Character biographies and entire skill systems managed with an external web database.
  • Separate Wiki site for game lore and log storage.

Now, it seems, I’ve happened upon the Holy Grail in AresMUSH.

Years ago, on Tuesday, I announced my plan to develop a new OtherSpace project. Longtime Bugs Bunny proxy, a.k.a. Jess, passed along a tip that I should check out AresMUSH if I was dead-set on charging headlong into the text-based windmill farm again.

The source of that tip, Yam, also used to play on OtherSpace – and currently plays on another game using the AresMUSH platform. I poked around. I was amazed. This platform, developed by Faraday (another former OtherSpace player that I recall seeing on M*U*S*H years ago), has been around for a couple of years. I’m kicking myself for not finding out about it sooner.

It has:

  • A wildly useful web portal that allows players to research game lore and systems, submit character applications, interact in scenes in real-time or as time allows, post on forums, check mail – basically, everything that could only be done using MUSHClient or SimpleMU* when OtherSpace first started.
  • Web-based configuration files for areas, factions, skills, weapons, vehicles – all in easy access for busy admins who remember when this used to require delving into FTP programs and Linux shells, then rebooting the game every time.
  • A broader community with a bunch of different games – some fully open, some (like OtherSpace) still in development.
  • A Discord server for developers and players to help each other.

AresMUSH solves a lot of challenges for me that I couldn’t overcome without a lot more time and expertise.

So, here we are, on Saturday, and Colchek and I – with a huge assist from Faraday – already have the foundations for the new MUSH up and running.

It’s absolutely still a work in progress. We’re not even in alpha, let alone beta. But we’re chugging along on setting up the factions and building the basics of the grid for Meriwether Station and the planet New Amundsen. I haven’t felt this energized about developing a MUSH in a long, long time. So, thanks again to Jess and Yam and Faraday!

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Wes Platt

Lead storyteller. Game designer and journalist. Recovering Floridian.

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