Wednesday, December 30, 2015

So, what is a MUD?


So, what is a MUD and what does the word MUD mean?

MUD is an acronym that can mean Multi-User Dungeon, Dimension or Domain, other uses for the letter D may be applied as deemed fit (no pun intended).

A MUD is a program that is run in a computer that can be either a low-end PC, which nowadays for 2015 it can even be run smoothly in a Raspberry Pi, or a high-end server. It can be run in different operating systems such as Windows, Mac OS X or Unix/Linux to name the most commonly known and the users access to it by using a Telnet, SSH or GUI (Graphic User Interface) that can connect through a name, commonly known as a DNS (Domain Name Server) such as www.yourmud.com or an IP address.

A MUD can combine and is not exclusive to elements of Role Playing, Hack and Slash and Social Channels, other uses can apply such as the Builder Academy which is, or was, a MUD where one learns how the innards of the MUD work in order to create a world of your own without the need to install it.

Aspects of MUDs can vary as mentioned with the elements of Role Playing being adapted from Dungeons and Dragons, although other systems such as GURPS and BASIC could be used for the purpose of number crunching, which were common in the initial days of MUDs, the Hack and Slashing could be done either PvE (Player versus Environment) or PvP (Player versus Player) using said mechanics. Although Hack and Slash would refer to melee weapons in other cases it also involves ranged weapons and magic, in futuristic settings it could also involve other methods of defeating your opponent such as artillery or bionics but in the end this is more visual than mechanic.

Another important aspect is communication through certain channels, some can only be heard inside a specific range from the player, other can be heard in a region or throughout the entire game, this depends on the channel being used for this purpose.

Communication also helps another aspect of Role-Playing and that is of fleshing your character in order to interact with others being that character. For that purpose there are two additional terms used for this which are known as IC (In-Character) and OOC (Out Of Character). IC means that all interactions and communication with others is done as if you were the character you have built, an OOC interaction is outside of this realm and back into our reality. Some MUDs could be dedicated solely for the purpose of Role-Playing IC with all Hack and Slash stripped out or it could be the other way around where there is no Role-Playing IC and only Hacking and Slashing, the choice is left entirely to those building said games. In other instances the game may have both but Role-Playing IC may not be enforced, in others it could be, or there could be specific areas where Role-Playing IC is mandatory or allowed with Hacking and Slashing, including PvP, is frowned or forbidden.

MUDs have been around for more than thirty years, since the early 80s, while not new to the game genre it belongs to a minimal percentage of the on-line games currently it was back in its day it held the position of “Multi-Undergrad Destroyer” at some campuses where it was common for them to spread, this joke in turn to the time students spent on them.

There are also hundreds of versions that came to life after the official first MUD, which came on-line somewhere in 1980 and ended in 1987. DikuMUD is probably one of the most famous, yet not the first copy, of MUD. Some of the derivate from the original MUD are:

ACK!MUD
AFKMud
AberMUD
CircleMUD
CoffeeMUD
ColdMUD
CoolMUD
Crossfire
DUM
Dead Souls MUDlib
DikuMUD
Discworld Mudlib
EmlenMUD
EnvyMUD
Fuzzball MUCK
GodWars
LPMud
Lima Mudlib
MOO
MUSH
Merc
Merentha Mudlib
MudOS
Mudlib
NiMUD
Nightmare Mudlib
ROM
ROT
SMAUG
Sequent
TMI Mudlib
TinyMUCK

This list of MUDs is just but a few that can be found on the Internet nowadays, the reason why so many of these exists is due to the open nature of the MUD project, one can follow through, for example, on the steps of DikuMUD and create a new version based off from this, such as CircleMUD, as long as the person modifying and renaming the final product retains the name of the original authors giving them credit for their work. An example of this would be the original DikuMUD, created by Sebastian Hammer, Tom Madsen, Katja Nyboe, Michael Seifert, and Hans Henrik and a derivate called CircleMUD created by Jeremy Elson.

Another considerable aspect from the original MUDs back in the late 20th century and the early 21st is the type of players and environment, originally MUDs were restricted to college campuses due to available hardware and software, also being a place where programmers had the opportunity to work on their own projects which included MUDs. At the 21st century the hardware and software necessary for this purpose are readily available through and considerable cheap, the important difference would be the interest there in MUDs and text games in general, with a constantly growing population more interested in graphics and less by a storyline, also an importance would be the way people communicate nowadays.

The inside working of a MUD is quite simple but it doesn't build itself from the ground, there may be a pre-built world or certain inner workings already defined but the world is created by a Game Master or Implementor. The four basic concepts used in a MUD are MOBs, OBJects, ROOMs and TRIGgers.

The first one we would talk about would be an area, an area would be a perimeter of a rectangle, to give us an idea, a ROOM. The way it applies in a MUD is a bit more complicated, while it may put a limit to an area it could be as small as the head of a nail to the whole universe, in a single area or room, there is no up, down, left or right, front or back, not unless you define this inside the room itself. Care must be taken when building and connecting the rooms with one another as it works different to our logic. Room 1 can have an exit to the west but it will take you nowhere until you define Room 1 connects to Room 2 through the west of Room 1 and if you are not careful enough you can be trapped in Room 2 if no exits indicating another room exist.

There is also a peculiar feature in some MUDs, namely CircleMUD, called Buildwalk, inside OasisOLC,. Buildwalk allows you to walk in any particular direction and continue to build connections between rooms, just as if you were creating a mine, but the same care must be taken with rooms and connections as going in circle will not connect the last room with the first one.

MOBs, which could also be known as an NPC (Non Playable Character) are entities inside the game which could be considered as animate objects, persons, monsters, you name it. There is some debate as from what originally the word MOB means and if it's supposed to be written as MOB or simply mob. Some say the word MOB means Monster Or Beast and other say it means Mere Ordinary Beast also it has been said that the acronym MOB comes from the acronym NPC. But what does a MOB/NPC do? Well it can be involved in a rich Role Playing Adventure or it can be just a mere monster that can be killed by a PC (Playable Character). The NPC is much like a PC, it can carry objects, it can speak if programmed to do so and it can even interact with other players, there is a famous case in which Builders and Coders took time, too much time if you ask me, to construct a MOB that would answer back to players and even appear as a playable character if anyone typed the WHO command, WHO allows players to see who is on-line at the moment, their level, their class and even a title, if the MUD allows it.

OBJs, best known as Objects, are items that the player can use inside the game to protect, attack, consume or assemble, can be worn, thrown, burned, etc. ranging from all kind of fantastic weaponry, armors, food and drinks and even some other minor yet interesting objects can enter this definition. It all depends on the Builder, which is the one in charge of constructing them, on how they will look like, what function will it have inside the MUD, and not less important the grammatical ability of whoever is creating the object.

TRIGs, a trigger is an action that runs in the background of the MUD, something such as the weather changing from sunny to rain, a trigger can be activated by the player doing a certain action or by a timer, probably by entering a room or talking to an NPC, the trigger may do nothing more than send text to you or it could probably kill you.

An example of a trigger would be this:

if %actor.is_pc%
     say Metallica rocks!
     emote viciously headbangs while throwing the sign of the beast!
end

First of all this is a MOB trigger and was activated by the player saying the word Metallica. Then the MUD will analyze first of all if the actor that's saying this is a Playable Character, it can also be triggered by other commands and variables, it all depends as stated what the Builder intends to do with it. At the end we see that the MOB says something and then emotes something, we finish this command with the variable end to tell the MUD it's all it’s supposed to do otherwise it could cycle or crash the MUD.

With that said now we have to pass to the Administrative Tree of a MUD. In a MUD there can be personal working directly in the MUD and outside of the MUD. The Inside Section consists of the "Wizards" of the game, also known as Gods and Implementors. The general structure of the MUD consists of at least one Implementor, which is the leading figure, and then the Builder, Moderator and RP Divisions, to call it in a way. The Outside Section consists of the Coders and sometimes Builders and Implementors, who may be doing two jobs by doubling as Coders. These figures are responsible for keeping the MUD running in perfect shape and also of fixing any internal problem, like errors in the code.

The first line, the so-called front line, consists of the Moderators which are the ones to keep everything in control inside the game, mostly the channels and teaching a lesson to players that just keep bugging everyone (guilty as charged there). They are probably the least admired or considered but their job is important in order to keep balance and order.

Second, also very important, are the Builders. They are in charge of constructing the MUD infrastructure, they are the architects. Their design comes to life with time and effort, sometimes they are free to build up whatever they want, sometimes they have to build what they are told, it differs but the last one can be very annoying especially if you can't let your imagination run wild.

The Role Player Gods are considered to be expert in the topic and also have extended knowledge of the storyline, when it's an original storyline it would be recommended that the creator of the story explained his ideas and was the Head of Role Playing to keep everything under control until the other responsible for Role Playing can get up to date.

The Coders are probably the most important thing in a MUD, without them the MUD doesn't exist or expand, internal issues such as that MOB that shows up for no reason after 6 AM at the newbie area and kills everyone or PvP being removed at random intervals, maybe that Sword of Orcs +3 you have crashes the server whenever you hit something that isn't an orc, all these are verified, or can be verified, by the Coder to understand the source of the problem. Of course there are several MUD types out there and are free but those who can create an original code for a game, for example EldhaMUD which uses an original code, could be known as Gods of MUDding for this simple fact.

The last is the Implementor yet he is the leader of everything, he can be head of Role Playing, Head of the Builders and Head of the Coders, although without knowing much about these subjects it's of no use but many Implementors like these exist.

With this I conclude my little review of MUDs and how they work, I hope this has given you a little insight as to what it is and how it works and if anything is missing do let me know.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Trivium Concert Review (2006/2007)


[This review was done somewhere back in 2006 or 2007, I don't have the exact date but from a note about Trivium new album (The Crusade) coming out I would say it was either November or December of 2006. Text has been left mostly as is except for grammatical corrections where needed, comments are in parenthesis. -2015]

Trivium at SOMA with Guest Bands The Sword and Protest the Hero

Now business as usual with this review, let me begin from the point of exit which was Tijuana.

We had decided to gather at Bola’s house at 3:30 PM. Originally 6 of us would cross the border… only 4 crossed in the end, at 4 PM we had quickly made our way across the international border of San Ysidro by foot and awaited for Chopper, a friend of ours, to meet us. By 4:15 – 4:20 we took the trolley from San Ysidro International Border and made our way to the San Diego Old Town Station. Something I loved about the trolley is that we crossed through Little Italy and Barrio Logan, I always wanted to see Barrio Logan and now I can proudly say I made it out alive!

By around 5:30 we had reached the station and the bus delivered our sorry asses to SOMA, oh sweet SOMA, at around 5:45… we had about an hour and fifteen minutes free so we just roamed the fuck around and went to a Target nearby where Bola and Edgar bought Trivium's new album, The Crusade, which many consider a complete rip off of Metallica… some consider it the best material from Trivium. Your choice. I myself bought Slayer Christ Illusion and I can call it respectable.

At around 7 PM we went inside SOMA and saw this band playing some Rock and Roll which we didn’t get the name but they had this small pit going around. (And I never got the name of the band so to this date they remain unknown to me)

A little later we would see Protest the Hero which actually made a really short set list due to their second guitar player being trapped in transit across the San Ysidro border, quite ironic in fact, and due to this they played a song called “Fuck the Border”. I can’t say much about them as I had never heard them but they had their thing and the bass player was insane. Also they had this I just don’t give a fuck about you attitude which made me laugh. (Traffic across the border has always been an issue, we laughed quite a bit at the comment and the cover song, to this date, evades me but it was fucking great)

Next was The Sword… and being honest their life show wasn’t that good… there was too much fucking distortion and you couldn’t hear the voice of the vocalist which was actually one of the guitar players. They had their thing going on and actually some of their songs made me headbang but there was no pit with these guys… pity for them to be honest.

And then, excuse me like half an hour later or a little more, Trivium. I personally can't say they’re good or bad but Trivium have their thing going… whatever it is. As I have always said even if I don’t know the god damn song I’ll headbang to it and yet again I was right in the fucking front of the stage where I was throwing my horns (This happens to me a lot, for whatever reason I end up at the front). To me the highlight of the show were the covers, we were all fucking confused when they began playing random shit and specially with the dammit and sweet home Alabama, but when Master of Puppets came it was the shit… except for the asshole they brought up on the stage to sing who had a really fucked up voice (Who am I to talk, right?). And we were making fun of Edgar because we wanted to throw him onto the stage so he would “sing” a song from a group he doesn’t like :D

Set List

enter of the conflagration
detonation
like light to the flies
suffocation sight
ember to inferno
becoming the dragon
a gun shot to the head of trepidation
covers: judas priest "breaking the law", blink 182 "dammit", rammstein "du hast", metallica "seek and destroy", megadeath "symphony of destruction", Sweet Home Alabama and master of puppets"
dying in your arms
to the rats
anthem (we are the fire)
pull harder on the strings of your martyr

Yet again the fucking pit went brutal and in the end the pit expanded business like usual like in SOTU (Sounds of the Underground) and this time Edgar and Chopper were on the fucking pit during the entire concert. (I have never had the condition to run around for more than a couple of songs, respect to those who keep at it all night long)

In the end we had a shit load of fun. Bola and Edgar actually got their new record signed by the members of Trivium. Some pictures were also delivered which have been annexed to this review! (Pictures are somewhere but for privacy I did not add them)

Now after this Bola and I had the wonderful idea of going to an AM/PM to eat some shit which made us lose a bus and then we went to Tower Records, which is going “Out of Business!” (The store actually closed next day) which made us lose another bus. We managed to reach the damn trolley just to be informed it would be detoured into a different route. At 1 fucking AM we were informed there were no more trolleys to San Ysidro so we had to get a cab to the border and then another cab to get back to our respective places… fuck it was a good time. (And I had to work the next day in the morning, falling asleep at work had never been so fun)

Loot of ye concert!

1 unused Trivium ticket
1 used Trivium ticket
1 In Flames, Come Clarity CD
1 Slayer, Christ Illusion CD
1 The Sword, Age of Winters CD
1 Protest the Hero, Kezia CD
1 “Never Trust Public Transportation” memory attached to my brain (Not that I trust public transportation much for that matter)
Unknown Quantity of Water Bottles that were flying all over the fucking place (I remember keeping a bottle all the way through, unopened, lol)
-67 Dollars used to buy the discs, public transportation and food… mmm food

Yet another good show that we managed to get to even with all the adversities. Fuck yeah, we also had a chat with the guys from Trivium (and a small cultural barrier to say thanks to each other that ended up in a fist bump) and I told the bass player (Paolo Gregoletto).

“Dude we made an hour and a half from Tijuana across the border using the trolley… we’re happy to be here man”

The First (Re-)Encounter - Part I

The First (Re-)Encounter

A black-clad figure, face unseen, walked slowly through the empty and forgotten streets of the city of Agnos. He avoided no one, not that there was much life left around, but he managed to pass through unsee through what little was left around without getting their attention. Eventually the figure reached what liked like a hole carved on the side of a building which led to a dimly light reinforce concrete hall

Once in front of the hole he placed himself just in front of two cylindrical robots standing still with long assault rifles being held, their eyes, a simple red crystal ball in the middle of the cylinder, produced mechanical winces every now and then as if looking for something, their bodies or extremities not moving.

“I must speak with him” Said the figure covered in dark robes, his voice was deep and strangely hollow, when he spoke his squared jaw was slightly visible, a marking glowing when light hit, then it was all back to darkness. When he spoke the robots immediately pointed their rifles at him, the one on the left turned on floodlights on his shoulders in order to blind him and submit him but as soon as he approached the figure gave a few steps back. “I must speak with him” He repeated and the robots remained still.

“Entrance is forbidden” Replied the robot on the left with an almost human voice, his rifle still pointing at the robbed figure and almost eager to pull the trigger. “No humans allowed, leave”

“Calling me human is slightly offensive but I will let this pass, this time” Replied the figure again and raised his right arm, a sleeve with two white lines at the end of them came down to reveal an almost bone like hand with silver like markings that glowed with the light. “I must speak to him out of an old promise and business that we accorded a long time ago”

“Entrance is forbidden, fleshling” Replied the left robot and before he could continue the figure interrupted him.

“Stop waisting my time!” The robots fired a couple of shots at him but nothing happened, it was as if they had gone through him with no effect, the sensors on both units indicated there had been rapid movement for an instance but it was too fast to calculate the trajectory, by the time they tried to release a second burst the right unit had suddenly been pushed against the concrete wall with arms and legs dismembered, the left unit floating slightly above the ground with no arms or legs either. “You will serve me well”

“Stop this, I order you to stop this” Said the left robot in a strangely preoccupied tone, the figure laughed at the request and walked towards the hallway, the robot went in first before the figure managed to reach the entrance and violently flew through the hallway triggering machine guns and lasers to fire at him as he crossed, by the time the robot hit the ground it was nothing more than a bunch of scrap metal.

“Paranoia is the drink of mad kings” Said the figure as he crossed through the hallway without any sort of response from the mechanisms installed throughout the hallway, he kept going through the bunker like structure until he reached the end, into what looked like some sort of vault that could withstand a nuclear strike or something of the same caliber, inside of it strange filaments hung from the ceiling and the walls, their neon purple and blue pulsated rapidly as if they were sending something to a central monolith like structure that glowed in a strange yellow and green pattern, a massive humanoid like figure standing just in front of it as if it was examining the structure for something, it was covered in giant slabs darkened metal and unknown white markings, on his right hand he held a long staff with a golden sphere on the top that swirled, clock-work pieces moving slowly and ticking at strange seconds with a white glow produced every time they moved.

“You” Said the humanoid figure in a strange mechanized voice with no visible accent, he turned around and hit the ground with his staff, at the center of his chest a steel circle covered in some sort of transparent glass and inside a swirling dark sphere, his face seemed human but as his chest, arms and legs, it was covered in the same type of pulsating filament surrounding the room. “What do you wish of me, Prophet? Your time is long gone in this world and the other”

“How long has it been, Lord of Machines, was it since the Battle of Agnos that we have not seen each other?” The Lord of Machines remained silent, it gave a few steps towards the dark-clad figure and hit the ground with his staff.

“When you betrayed us” Replied the Lord of Machines in a sober tone, the dark-clad figure laughed and walked towards the Lord of Machines who did nothing in return.

“Lord, I did not betray you, I gave you the possible outcome of the battle if you followed through with what I had proposed, not if you did what you deemed logical or fit in your situation” The dark-clad figure went around the Lord of Machines and then stood a few feet away from the monolith, standing still in front of it he removed his hood to reveal a face made of pure evil, skin sticking back to the skull, beard reaching almost the upper part of the chest, eyes with nine iris forming a cross of sorts, elongated eyebrows and a series of silver like dots surrounding his eyes, nose gone and instead a small hole in its place, ears sticking to the back of the head as if held by something and hair reaching below his shoulders. “You did not forget your end of the bargain, did you?”

“The treaty became null the moment you betrayed us” Replied the Lord of Machines, the Lord walked towards the figure and stood next to it also looking at the monolith.

“Following orders is a basic necessity for the success of the plan which in turn takes me to the reason of my visit. I need the favor repaid and before you say no I have a proposition for you”

“Continue”

“It has been a long time since the Battle of Agnos and I know you with to have complete control of it, for the last five hundred years it has been your only purpose and I can help you achieve it”

“I will not be led into another trap”

“It is that or nothing, Lord, and at this point in your career there is little space for you to negotiate. Should I keep you calling Lord of Machines or shall I baptize you as King of Nothing?” The Lord of Machines violently hit the ground with the staff, breaking a small portion of the concrete, his right arm shaking from the impact as the staff kept vibrating in position.

“State your business then!” Replied the Lord of Machines seeing the man at his left side.

“It is time to fully claim your title, Lord of Machines” The man grinned as he turned to his right side to see the massive hulk standing next to him.

“For what purpose?”

“I need you to come with me to another planet, we have chaos to bring forth and you are the agent of destruction that I need. Imagine, a new planet, resources to bring forth your Empire to others, subjects to do this task for you, what else could you ask for?”

“Your inhuman age and purpose have always intrigued me, you are indeed the Destroyer if you wish me to come forth with said purpose. Tell me, how do you plan for this to happen?”

“In due time, Lord, in due time you will come to fully understand my powers at full capacity. For now I ask you to gather all your troops and get ready for the incoming battle to retake Agnos”

“Words come easy out of your mouth”

“Words are simple connections of actions, metaphysical taken to the realm of possibility, what I say is true because I have said so”

“I remember the same five hundred years ago but not the same result you proposed”

“Proposing” The Destroyed walked to the monolith and turned back to the Lord of Machines. “Is not what I do, I give you facts that if run through as I speak them will give you what you wish for. If you do not follow through as I state then only doom awaits”

“Following through with your plans is illogical, the end result is not what you promise” The Destroyer smiled at the remark and while doing so shook his head.

“It never ceases to amaze me how mechanical and cold you are, doing the logical thing is not always the answer to a problem, a problem has many solutions not just the one that seems the obvious to you”

“Logic and mathematics are the key cornerstones of the universe, everything else is just a flaw with poor to no results obtainable”

“While I do not debate either one of them you are to fight as I tell you in order to win, if you win at Agnos you win at Apacea, if you win at Apacea you win at Emersons Gate and if you win at Emergons Gate you have an open road to Cydonia”

The Lord of Machines remained silent, he processed the idea of slowly managing to obtain those victories and eventually pushing through to Cydonia and then out of Mars. Mars had become a human colony hundreds of years ago and while devoid of the most important minerals it served as a base of operations for further exploration of the galaxy, it also served as a safe-zone for dangerous theoretical experiments that could produce cataclysms on Earth. One of the most important experiments was undertaken by a group of scientists at Cydonia which managed to create a sort of two-way gate to travel through to unknown spaces, the problem with the gate was the consumption of energy and becoming unstable too fast for long travels, that taken into consideration it was a one way trip for the Lord of Machines and his army, if they could produce enough energy and maintain it stable for long enough it would be no problem to go through with this plan.

“What is your grand plan?” Asked the Lord of Machines, no tone of excitement, intrigue, nothing, a plain monotone tone of voice.

“Settle the dispute in Agnos first and then we shall speak about ”

“You are, in human terms, a despicable creature who gives drops of water to a thirsty traveler of the deserts. In time we shall see if what you speak is true”

“Have faith, Lord, for it is a necessity that drives me to you and your success is part of that necessity, deliver to me this first instance and I shall reward you accordingly” The Destroyer covered himself again and walked back to the hallway. “End the dispute, unite the greater race of the machines and destroy all living things”

“You mentioned that the last time, your failure to end the human race means only victory to us” Replied back the Lord of Machines, silence. The Destroyer disappeared in the hallway, the Lord of Machines could not sense him further down or across the hallway, he had banished just as he had done the first time they had met.

[[MESSAGE TO: (ALL), GATHER AT ARMORY, LOAD ALL WEAPONS, BRING ADDITIONAL AMMUNITION, HEAVY ARTILLERY AT THE READY, GATHER THEN AT THRONE ROOM. END OF MESSAGE]]

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Pulsar es morir

Cada vez duele vivir mas, cada pulso duele mas, cada respiración me hunde mas hacia un banco de arena donde me desvanezco, un grano de arena mas en un mar perdido en la eternidad del tiempo, donde uno se derrota a uno mismo paso a paso y donde la piedra se quiebra tan duro que se debe empezar desde el polvo que queda.

Death does not always mean change

The city changes and I feel nostalgia, I am starting to understand why it becomes such a big thing when one grows up and sees everything s...