Table of Contents

Seph's Interview of Ptah


Ptah: God of the MUD


Laura C. Mollett

(otherwise known as Seph)

M.U.D. - Multi-User Dungeon
- Newcomers to Legend should read HELP NEWBIE, HELP SKILLS, HELP CHANGES, and HELP STORY.

The Legend MUD Cast of Immortals
IMPLEMENTORS: Sadist, Charity, Ptah, & Kaige
(coding and major policy, general administration, supervision of creation, policy)
ANGELS: Fionn, Flagg
(creation of areas, supervision of creation)
IMMORTALS: Breton, Llew, Parrilyn
(creators, player liaisons)
HEROES: Wraith, Matrix, Rusalka, Bart
(newbie immortals)

These people are the administrators of this Mud, followed by a very simple explanation of their duties. Any questions you have may be directed towards the appropriate immort. You can type HELP IMMORT after level 49 for info on how to get on this wizlist.

The Reception
A long hall lined with doors stretches farther than seems possible in both directions. You get the feeling that there is something wrong with this corridor. It simply shouldn't fit inside a building this size.
[Exits: d]
The Innkeeper stands here behind a small counter absently sharpening a dagger.
Seph has entered the game.

Ptah has arrived from the north.
Ptah smiles at you.
You smile at him.
Ptah sits down on a stool at the bar. Ptah buys a pina colada.
Seph wears her Fedora with a prominent press card.
Seph provides Ptah with an interviewee's cap.
Ptah says, 'Are there such things?'
Ptah chuckles politely.
(HP:20 MV:100 MA:100)> look Ptah

You see nothing special about him.
Ptah is in perfect health.
Ptah is using:
[held]a Royal Navy musket
You say, 'a musket?'
Ptah apologizes for not having any fancy equipment anymore.
Ptah says, 'I was demonstrating how to use guns to someone.'
Ptah stops using a Royal Navy musket.
Ptah holds a guitar in his hands.
Ptah puts a Royal Navy musket in a trash can.
Ptah is using:
[held]a guitar
Seph notes that this seems more Ptah-like.
Ptah plays random doodlings on a guitar.

Ptah says, 'Fire away.'
Ptah smiles at you.

You say, 'To start with, can you tell me something about Ptah? Why did you choose that name?'

Ptah says, 'Well, the name comes from an Egyptian god of builders, of time, and various other things. But in practice, I do not role play very much with my immortal. I think that players have a right to expect consistent and non-arbitrary behavior from an implementor. Of course, some immortals have characters established beforehand--but they have to be fair and non-biased after immorting.'

Ptah shrugs philosophically.

(HP:20 MV:100 MA:100)> help Newbie
Welcome to LegendMUD. Feel free to ask any questions you may have at any time. If you've never played on a mud before, the best course of action is probably to 'CHAT Help! I'm totally new to this.' If an immortal is on- line, they will rush to your aid. Other more experienced players can also help you learn the basics.

[Chat] Beginner: do you get exploration xp for every new place you visit, or just for certain rooms?...:-)
[Chat] Ptah: Only certain rooms
[Chat] Beginner: thank you,Ptah!..:-)

You say, 'How about a little personal background - your childhood and education?'

Ptah says, 'Born on Long Island, moved to Massachusetts at a young age. My mother worked for UNICEF and my parents divorced. The result was that I ended up living in Peru, Tennessee, Barbados, Florida, Georgia, Haiti. I finished off high school in Florida and went to Washington College in Maryland at 17 - small liberal arts school. I left home when I left. While there I studied creative writing, music theory and composition, studio art and art history, and literature in English and Spanish. My majors were in English and Spanish. I was a course shy of a major in music, and one shy of a minor in art.'

You say, 'You've always been interested in everything, hm?'

Ptah says, 'When I graduated, I was 5th in the class, and they gave me the award for 'best liberal arts student' which I think means, most likely to not stick to doing any one thing.'

Ptah grins evilly.

You say, 'So how did you become interested in the computer?'

Ptah says, 'Oh, I started with computers back with Pong.'

You say, 'Pong? The game?'

Ptah says, 'The original home game console. From there in quick progression to an Atari 2600, then to CP/M, 8 bits like the Vic 20, C64 and Atari, IBMs, and Macs. Last few years, it's been Unix and C programming.'

You say, 'How did you join the Internet community?'

Ptah says, 'Well, it started small, with the local area network on my undergrad campus. I met my wife that way actually. Once we graduated, we kept in touch with friends still there via Internet email. They introduced us to muds. While I worked on my graduate degree in creative writing, I studied hypertext theory, and worked even more with muds, and now I'm doing it semi-professionally. I'm hoping to hear soon about getting hired to do building for one of the first commercial graphical mud systems. In the meantime I am working in exchange for facilities with my local access provider, designing a virtual mall providing library and other features that I see as conducive to developing muds further.'

(HP:20 MV:100 MA:100)> help Newbie
LegendMUD is a highly modified mud. Be sure to read HELP STORY to see how this mud differs from most of the rest out there. Many of the 'standard' ways of doing things like skills and learning them are drastically different here.

You say, 'How does this mud differ from others, and how would you like it to be different?'

Ptah says, 'Muds till now have been primarily either games or social spaces. This mud attempts to combine the three main aspects of mudding--a gaming system, a system for social interaction, and a system for fantasy roleplaying. It offers much more flexibility for social interaction than your usual gaming mud--perhaps less than a social mud. It tries to strike a balance, in other words. The historical theme we use also puts it outside the realm of any of those types at times.'

(HP:20 MV:100 MA:100)> help story
LegendMUD is based not on fantasy, and not on SF, but rather on history. To be exact, our areas are built to try to duplicate not the world as it was, but the world as it was thought to be at the time. Thus it is that you may very well find creatures or places considered legendary today, but that were deemed to exist at the time the area is set in. You can get an idea of when an area is set by using the TIME command. Legendary areas (Beowulf, Arabian Nights, and so on) will usually not give a year, but other areas will.

Ptah says, 'My goal for this place is to make it social, political, game, roleplaying, educational, the works. Perhaps I will incorporate the library function into here too.'

You say, 'True virtual reality - everything at once?'

Ptah says, 'Sure why not?'

Ptah says, 'Just today I wrote a post on Usenet about the state of the art in muds--about how there wasn't one. The mudding community offers no real self-evaluation, has no clear vision of its role within the Net. There is no standard set as to what is competent. There are no critics. I believe that mud design is game design--for which there is a well-established tradition of criticism and it is also more--world design and server design--for which no basis exists yet. Muds cannot mature until the people who work on them agree to reward the good themselves . All the effort to take muds seriously has sprung from outside the community. Academics jumped on muds as a fascinating experiment -- but they approach it as that, too distanced to try to develop them. No sense of fun :)'

You smile at him.

[Auction] Beginner: Food please?...:-)
[Auction] Razoul is offering some small worms up for auction with a minimum bid of 1 gp.
[Auction] Razoul: Food
[Auction] SOLD! Razoul accepts Beginner's bid of 10 gp for some small worms.
[Auction] Beginner: Thanks!

You say, 'How does a MUD differ from, say, a Bulletin Board System (BBS)?'

Ptah says, 'Most net functions are solitary. The standard setters know this and are working on interactivity--but the fact is that this sort of virtual face-to-face communication is probably the most powerful attractor in the Net. Communication, be it by publication, by email or face-to-virtual-face, is the true draw. Information is only secondary. It is the human contact that keeps the Net-addicted coming back. BBSes offer chat, and online services offer chat and forums and newsgroups. Muds cannot replace the multi-threaded hypertextual conversation that listserves and newsgroups give, but they give instant reaction and interactivity.'

Martin appears in the room.
Martin smiles at you.
You smile at him.
Martin sits down and rests.
Martin buys a bottle of Guinness Stout.
(HP:20 MV:100 MA:100)> look Martin

You see nothing special about him.
Martin is in perfect health.
Martin is using:
[used as light] (Glowing) (Humming) world peace
[worn on arms] rolled up shirt sleeves
[worn on finger] a copper ring
[worn about body] a black London Fog (tm)
[worn on finger] an amethyst ring
[worn about waist] a tooled leather belt
[worn around neck] a kestrel-shaped good luck charm
[worn around wrist] the bracelet of Hercules
[worn around neck] a silver pentacle on a leather thong
[worn around wrist] a wooden bracelet
[worn on body] a white oxford
[wielded] a katana
[worn on head] the crown of Clovis
[held] a wakizashi
[worn on face] (Glowing) small black round sunglasses
[held] Plato: The Collected Dialogues
[worn on legs] a pair of faded old jeans
[worn on ear] a tiny silver cobra
[worn on feet] black motorcycle boots
[worn on ear] a tiny jeweled skull
[worn on hands] black motorcycle gloves
[worn on arm] The white shield of the holy
You say, 'The collected works of Plato!'
Martin brandishes Plato: The Collected Dialogues menacingly.
You giggle.
Martin says, 'It should keep most folks away.'
You say, 'It bores them to death?'
Martin throws his head back and cackles with insane glee!
Martin says, 'He's not boring!'
Martin pouts.
Martin snuggles up to Plato: The Collected Dialogues - you've heard of strange bedfellows, but REALLY!

Ptah says, 'The role of muds can and should be educational, political, social--everything in the virtual world that gatherings serve for in real life.'

You say, 'Do you think that muds could turn into virtual libraries or classrooms, then?'

Ptah says, 'Can? They have. I'm working on a mud that is a virtual library right now actually. And several universities have used mud interfaces for their campus tours or their libraries. There have been many initiatives to get the basic texts of our culture onto computer form. Currently, you can read these texts by downloading them to your home computer, through the World Wide Web, or Gopher. Muds already have built in the ability to send you large amounts of text. And adding the capability to read something like, say, Hamlet, in a mud, is trivial. I expect to have it added into Legend in a month or less.'

You say, 'You majored in creative writing. Do you consider yourself primarily an author?'

Ptah says, 'In many ways, yes. But hypertextual authoring is very different from conventional storytelling. Also, I do a lot of the system design these days, so I approach it from the standpoint of handling both medium and message.'

You say, 'Can you describe some of the differences in writing styles?'

Ptah says, 'Writing for a mud is primarily non-narrative. In fact, you have to avoid narrative in most cases. In the cases where you do use narrative, you have to consider the possibility of approaching the same point from different directions. In its most basic level, you may have to describe a slope, but you cannot say that you are walking up or down it.'

You say, 'What do you try to accomplish in your writing?'

Ptah says, 'Well, I try to pull people in. My early areas for Legend were rather flatly descriptive. I have moved more and more towards a more poetic or flowery style. My unfinished Victorian London has a lot of long descriptions and extra descriptions in it.'

You say, 'You built the out-of-character lounge, yes?'

Ptah says, 'Yes, but it's not exactly my best work--it's mostly descriptive :).'

Ptah looks around.

The Wild Boar Tavern
A circular wooden bar sits in the center of this opulently appointed tavern. Stools stand in polite rows around it like mushrooms, and a vast mirror hangs behind the rows upon rows of bottles and drinks the bar stocks. Doorways lead out in all directions. A sign hangs prominently on the wall.
[Exits: n e s w]
A trash can stands discreetly in the corner.
Ptah is here, sitting on a stool at the bar.
A fellow with twinkling blue eyes is here tending bar.
(HP:20 MV:99 MA:100)> look sign

The Wild Boar tavern is offered as an Out-Of-Character, Out-Of-Time lounge. Because this lounge is not part of the game, we ask that players follow the rules:
* You won't be able to heal, fight, rent, steal or chant spells here.
* You will find that the only items you will be able to give to others in these rooms are notes and the items you can buy at the flower shop.
* Please don't come here to drop link and leave the game.
* You can eat or drink in the tavern, but you will find it is 'faerie food and drink' and won't help your hunger
or thirst in the main mud. Inside the tavern you will never get hungry or thirsty anyway.
* Please keep the tavern clean! Put empty glasses and used notes in the trash can.
* To leave this region, simply ask any of the Beatles 'return' and you will return to the place you came from.
(HP:20 MV:100 MA:100)> look fellow
Paul doesn't have his Rickenbacker bass with him, unfortunately.
Paul the bartender is in perfect health.

Ptah says, 'But for example--simile and metaphor are very important to me. I think that this room would be much blander if it followed typical mud style and the stools didn't 'stand in polite rows like mushrooms'. I think the imaginative imagery is very important, because without that sort of connection, people do not immerse themselves well in the environment.'

Seph seems to remember the players awarding this area in your newsletter.

Ptah says, 'No, it was just nominated :)'

You say, 'Can you show me a place you created you think is exceptional?'

Ptah says, 'Sure, let me take you to the one that won the award.'

Ptah chuckles politely.

Ptah says, 'I hope you like bugs.'

Someone has transferred you.
It is too dark to see ...
(HP:20 MV:100 MA:100)> hold lamp
You hold a terra-cotta oil lamp in your hands.
You light a terra-cotta oil lamp.

A Hidden Tunnel
It feels like a feather, but you know it must be a leg. Probably a cockroach leg, long and spiny, delicately rubbing against your ear. You can't feel the beetles and larvae crawling over your hair except when they weigh down one strand or another and a lock dangles before your face, holding multifaceted eyes inches from your nose. Slimy trails of gunk drip from your hands as you climb, crushing bugs with every grunting inch you move. Long legged creatures whisper their trails along your cheek and brush the palm of your hand, bubbling and boiling all around you in a metallic refracting mass of black and brown and feathered antennae and pincer legs.
[Exits: d]
Ptah is standing here.
(HP:20 MV:100 MA:100)> shiver

Ptah says, 'Now, this place is sort of over the top, of course :).'

You say, 'Over the top?'

Ptah says, 'Rather than physical description of the location, you get description of physical sensations. Most rooms need a balance of both, and it is very risky, artistically, to portray only sensations, as you run the risk of imposing them on someone who does not feel that way.'

All around you the sounds of the jungle suddenly hush, then resume.

Ptah says, 'Atmosphere is crucial, for me. In the jungle, for example, there are two controlling metaphors. One is that the jungle is alive. In the descriptions throughout the jungle, it breathes, it moves, it slithers, it bleeds. Another is that when seen from outside, the jungle resembles an ocean. There are constant descriptions of trees like waves, of a cliff like a breaker, etc. etc., giving the sense of warm, sticky, constantly in motion, salty :).'

Ptah has transferred you.

The Bottom of the Stairs
The heat is oppressive, slick and humid. Sweat pools on the floor, as the rocks themselves release what moisture they hold. Spittle on the rocks vanishes in an instant without even having time to become mist and smoke. Something moving in the dark to the west generates this hideous warmth, with sulfurous breath; all thought of the cross and the coolness of blue and pastel shaded depictions of Christ are gone, and here you can only think of the muspilli of old tales, the destroyers of the world. Perhaps one lurks here, to provide the unearthly fires that must heat the metals worked by the svart alfs deep in the underground.
[Exits: w u]

You say, 'Is this in the Vikings area?'

Ptah says, 'No, this is in Beowulf. Beowulf is largely written in the style of the poem. A controlling idea for the area's writing, aside from emulating the style, which is stronger in some parts than others, is to emphasize the conflict between the Christian ideas and the older ones. It's a tension inherent in the poem itself, and the design of the quest and the map purposely plays with it, particularly here in this vicinity, near the Nordic part. There are less Anglo-Saxon kennings and more references to religion and mythology. Whereas out in the Geatish village, Christ is mentioned more often and the style of the poem is adhered to more closely.'

A ferret has arrived from the west.

You say, 'I'd like to discuss the future of muds and your own personal goals for Legend. Where are you hoping to go from here?'

Ptah says, 'I want Legend to keep expanding, of course, but I always am looking for ways to increase the depth and by that I mean ways for people to get caught up in it. For example, I feel a terrible tension right now between the caliber of the writing in some areas, and in others. Or, worse still--between the writing in the areas and the stock messages given by the server.'

You say, 'What is the server and what does it do?'

Ptah says, 'The server is a program that sits there waiting for people to connect to it. It sends messages such as the descriptions of 'places' and the things that people do to you. Everything that happens on a mud goes through the server. It is the 'meeting place' so to speak. It consists of a program that accepts connections via the Internet, a game engine that handles things like moving around and speech and other commands, and a database of critters and places.'

You say, 'The game engine is based on game design - originally fantasy role-playing like Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D)?'

Ptah says, 'Yes. Most muds still follow AD&D pretty closely. Most 'gaming' muds, let's put it that way.'

You say, 'So mobiles (mobs, or non-player-characters controlled by the computer) are part of the server?'

Ptah nods solemnly.

Ptah says, 'Everything except other people.'

Ptah chuckles politely.

Rusalka says, 'Sometimes it is hard to tell players from mobs.'
Rusalka chuckles politely.
You nod agreement with her.
'I mistook Tika when I first visited here,' you say to Rusalka. 'I forgot how real some of the computer-run characters are.'
'I get mistaken for mobs.' Rusalka says to you. 'My characters do anyway.'

The Silver Branch Inn
A huge common room fills three quarters of the first floor of this building. A roaring hearth takes up the south wall of the room. A swinging door leads to the kitchen on the west side of the building. Tables and benches fill the remaining space. Lanterns hang from the ceiling to brighten the room.
[Exits: n u]
A mailbox sits in the corner here.
The welcome board is standing in the corner here.
A tired serving maid is here, thinking quiet thoughts at her overworked feet.
Tika says to you, 'The Ard-righ stuck up a sheepskin on the dun door, he posts important notices there. You might want to go take a look at it.' Tika says to you, 'The mail carrier stopped by today. You might want to check your mail.'
(HP:20 MV:98 MA:100)> look Tika
A warm, but tired smile draws your eyes from her amply displayed bosom.
Tika is in perfect health.
(HP:20 MV:98 MA:100)> look north
Through the doorway you see the main path through Tara continuing on its way.
You hear a cry of outrage in the distance, 'FITH-FATH! Ye bloody cutpurse!'

You say to Ptah, 'So as implementer, you are working on mud design (the way the server interacts with the players), game design and world design (building the areas) all at once?'

Ptah says, 'Yes. I've been working gradually on things like adding player descriptions, and adding cosmetic skills like play instrument or whatever. There is a lot of debate about realism on muds, as it applies to the gaming part--a lot of valid and tangled debate. What I worry about lately, I find, is realism in environment.'

(HP:20 MV:100 MA:100)> help socials
Below is a list of actions used mainly for social interaction with other players. Many of these actions can also be performed on objects. In addition, some mobs respond to certain actions being performed on them.
You say, 'Can you strum the guitar for a second?'
Seph wants to add the effect.
Ptah plays a snatch of Bach on a guitar.
Ptah plays Michael Hedges 'Breakfast in the Fields' on a guitar--he is quite good at it.
(HP:20 MV:100 MA:100)> applaud
Clap, clap, clap.
You smile at him.

Ptah says, 'I've been working for the last week on a speech system that permits the use of tags in different places, punctuates more normally, and adds emotional content. In other words, makes our usual communications resemble conventional prose. I want to add a weather system that has more flexibility and reality, in other words, environment. Some of these things do impinge upon gameplay of course--a better system for how you learn to do things (i.e. skills) for example.'

You say, 'Can you explain what you mean by realism?'

Ptah says. 'Adding depth to the interface and the game mechanics--believability more than realism. Making the quality of writing higher thus encouraging the suspension of disbelief, giving the server the ability to send more complex and varied messages, and increasing the number of options available to players.'

You say, 'Making the server-commands for mobs seem like they are coming from real people?'

Ptah nods solemnly.

You say, 'Let's go back to the social aspects for a moment.'

Ptah chuckles politely.

Ptah says, 'Sure.'

You say, 'How do you thinks muds affect people's perceptions of each other?'

Ptah says, 'Trick question.'

You say, 'Not intended as such...shall I rephrase?'

Ptah shakes his head.

Ptah says, 'No, because it gets at the heart of the issue. People tend to think that muds alter how people perceive one another. That gender and race and handicaps cease to matter. It is a noble vision, sure, one shared in general by these frontier netters. In truth, muds reveal the self in rather disturbing ways. We all construct 'faces' and masks to deal with others. Usually in interpersonal relationships, the masks can slip, they evolve and react, and they have body language and cues. On a mud, on the net, whatever---they cannot. And people see specifically this: what you choose to represent yourself as, and THAT is more revealing of your true nature than gender, race, age, or anything else.'

A blue-haired clown appears in the room.
(HP:20 MV:100 MA:100)>look clown

You see nothing special about him.
A blue-haired clown is in perfect health.
A blue-haired clown is using:
[used as light]a glowing orb of light
[worn on hands]a pair of worn riding gloves
[worn on finger]a twisted gold ring
[worn on arms]Nuada's silver arm
[worn on finger]a gold ring
[worn about waist]a jiggling beer belly
[worn around neck]the head of Gabbo on a chain
[worn around wrist]a nicotine patch
[worn around neck]a polka dot bow-tie
[worn around wrist]a nicotine patch
[worn on body]a dirty white undershirt
[wielded]a big wooden mallet
[worn on head]a mane of blue hair that sticks out to either side
[held]a can of Duff's beer
[worn on face]a black lace veil
[held]a pack of Lucky's
[worn on legs]a pair of colorful baggy pants
[worn on ear]an earring of Morrigan
[worn on feet]a big pair of red floppy shoes
[worn on ear]a miniature skull of a demon
[worn about body]a huge camping backpack (slightly damaged)
[worn on arm]Sideshow Bob
A blue-haired clown smiles happily.
You say, 'What are you doing as a blue-haired clown anyways?'
A blue-haired clown says, 'I'm Krusty...from the Simpsons.'
A blue-haired clown somersaults across the ground, whirling about, and finally lands on his feet.
You say, 'I've got a complex role-playing idea.'
A blue-haired clown says, 'Any more complex than your Real Life?'
A blue-haired clown giggles.
You roll around on the ground with laughter.
You say, 'No, not really.'

Ptah says, 'Does it affect people's perceptions of others? Sure. But a more valid question is, how does it affect our perceptions of ourselves? Take the typical mud character. 95% of the women of muds are beautiful. If not beautiful, they are cute. If not cute they are perky, or mysterious. They are all attractive. And what's more, the difference between the females played by men and women is minimal. It's mostly a matter of experience. The men who play women mostly have the experience in flirting of a four- year-old. They are too crude and too direct.'

You roll around on the ground with laughter.

You tell Krusty, 'Hey there Krusty!'
Krusty tells you, 'Hiya sweetie'
Krusty tells you, 'Where ya at hon?'
You tell Krusty, 'Out-Of-Character lounge - I'm still not really playing yet.'
A blue-haired clown appears in the room.
A blue-haired clown gives you a warm and loving embrace.
You smile at him.
You hug him.
A blue-haired clown giggles.
You tickle him.
A blue-haired clown bounces onto your lap.
A blue-haired clown purrs contentedly in your lap.
You pet him lovingly.

Ptah says, 'Interestingly, it doesn't take long to learn. Now, consider the men. They are also all handsome or mysterious, or terribly scarred. People talk a lot about how on muds, gender relations are altered. The sexual interactions become more important. There is more stereotyping. The blame usually falls on the men who pursue the female characters. But the fact is, I have rarely seen a mud player whose self-image was not sexually attractive and, therefore, I have to wonder, who's doing the stereotyping, and are the sexual interactions more important--or just more visible? In a sense, the characters we construct for ourselves on muds are ones that permit us to live out what we would like to be or do.'

[Auction] Sorka: I think I need a dagger.
[Auction] Sorka: None of you big warriors can find a dagger for a young lass?
You say, 'Do you think anonymity is affecting this?'

Ptah says, 'Certainly. But I have to reiterate, it's not a matter of how we hide, it's a matter of how we are revealing ourselves. In face-to-face, you present a front, but it is never perfect. Who knows, it may come down to pheromones and subliminal emotional messages. The basic fact is, face-to-face, you cannot truly end up with a recognizance of what this person wants to be quite as clearly.'

[Chat] Kiera: I am such an Idiot!!!!!!
[Chat] Brainstorm: If you say so ;)
[Chat] Sorka: Would it be bad to agree?
You say, 'Can you comment then, on what happens when these mud-friends meet Real Life?'

Ptah says, 'Sure. I can comment from two angles actually. People I knew in real life BEFORE going on the mud have become much clearer to me now, enough so that I can explain to others, who know them only on the mud, something of their motivation and manner on the mud. People I knew on the mud first and met later, well, there the things you thought you knew sink into the general, more complete impression of their character. You see the things that they purposely do not show. You understand why they emphasize one part of themselves more than anther part on the mud. On muds you meet who people want to be, even if only subconsciously; in Real Life, you meet who they are and rarely get to know what they want to be. And the complexity of personalities means that there are many people a single individual can want to be of course.'

Ptah chuckles politely.

You say, 'Do you think there is a large difference in seeing people as an Immortal and in player-to-player interactions?'

Ptah says, 'Certainly. Because as an immortal I have to express a different part of who I want to be :). I have to be more serious, more intellectual, more focused. It means I read people very differently. It means I read them the way I have just been telling you about. When I play a mortal, hell, I play it fair :). I let my wish-fulfillment meet their wish-fulfillment and skip the analysis.'

Ptah grins evilly.

You smile at him.

You giggle.

You say, 'How about dealing with troublesome people problems--those who cheat etc. Can you comment on that aspect?'

(HP:20 MV:100 MA:100)> help cheating
LegendMUD does NOT allow multiplaying. You can have more than one character, but _only one may be online at a time_. Trading equipment between characters is cheating. Quitting several newbies merely to acquire gold and/or equipment is also considered cheating, as is trading equipment between your own characters, by dropping equipment from one and picking it up with the other.
Giving away excessive amounts of equipment to characters who cannot rent what they are holding is also considered a violation. It's more a violation of the unsuspecting character who is put at risk of losing any equipment, experience or gold that they may have earned on their own before they were 'helped out.' In the event of a crash where ALL of their equipment will vanish and no successful saves will have been made for them in the meantime.
We also would appreciate it if only one player plays a given character. They may be permanently given away, but sharing a single character between two or more players is also considered cheating. Asking gods to fix, tell, or change your stats or even skills is considered cheating, as is getting them to load items or mobs for you.
Any players caught cheating will be dealt with on a individual basis. But the basic violations listed above are all call for character deletion. Punitive actions can include any and all of the following: removal of equipment, alteration of stats, denied access to mud commands, denied access for a character, deletion of character, demotion of level status, banning of a site if repeated violations occur with multiple characters. We don't like to have to use any of these options, but remember we can.
Ptah says, 'I treat it as a park and a system. People who cheat are ripping up the lawn, ruining the picnic tables. So I first take them aside and ask them to stop, then I kick 'em out. I hate doing it though.'

[Info]: Darwin has advanced a level!
[Info] Elanor: grats
[Info] Beginner: Grats!..:-)
[Info] Stephen: Evolution again asserts itself...
[Info] Elanor:

(HP:20 MV:100 MA:100)> help level

Your character advances in power by gaining experience. You gain experience by: being part of a group that kills a monster, completing certain quests or puzzles in the game. You lose experience by: fleeing from combat, being the target of certain spells, dying in combat, dying from bleeding to death, dying from being poisoned. The experience you get from a kill depends on several things: how many players are in your group; your level versus the level of the monster; and some random variation.
You say, 'How would you describe communication on the internet in general?'

Ptah looks up into the sky and ponders.

Ptah says, 'Sometimes I think it is a venue of publication. Other times I think it is a more direct communications medium. I think that if that tension could be resolved, legislation of it would be simpler. And muds, I tend to think of as parks :). Playgrounds.'

You say, 'Up to now the Net has run in its own anarchic way. Do you think there is a *need* for legislation?'

Ptah says, 'There is really only one valid purpose for legislation of any sort, and that is to protect. The Net constituency is quite sure that it does not need protection--just as with any frontier people. But the frontier is getting settled, and that means that there will be people in need of protection--including the naive frontier people. Whether or not we need it, it will happen. What's more, it will function no better and no worse than any other legislation designed to protect. Which is to say, you can only protect people willing to hide behind the laws and even then, not against determined parties.'

You say, 'Since the government seems determined, what effect to you think this legislation will have on the developing society?'

Ptah says, 'Oh, the dinos will complain that it ain't like the old days when everyone was honest, quick with a flamethrower, and stood up for themselves and they'll be right--the net won't be as callous, as cruel--not as honest. And the people who seek out the stuff likely to be restricted, such as porn, will have to go to red light districts and show IDs, just like they do on a street.'

[Auction] Donat: anyone want a fighting club?
[Auction] Donat is offering a fighting club up for auction with a minimum bid of 225 gp.
[Auction] Donat: I don't know how good it is so here it's half price!
[Auction] Til: any better than a dagger?
You say, 'Copyright is a big issue here?'

Ptah says, 'Certainly. Who copyrights this interview? You the author?'

[Auction] Donat: does no one want the club?
[Auction] Til bids 225 gp! Do I hear 247 gp?
[Auction] Donat: all right!
Ptah says, 'Does Donat, who just dropped a chat into the middle of it, have any say?'

Seph hands Ptah a copyright release.

[Auction] The current bid is 225 gp for a fighting club, if I don't hear 247 from anyone, Til is going to get this fine item.
[Auction] SOLD! Donat accepts Til's bid of 225 gp for a fighting club.
Ptah says, 'Is this public speech? Is this publication? Can it be freely reproduced? If I chatted out the source code to some Microsoft program, would it be illegal? If I chatted out the code to the PGP key, a common encryption standard, and some of our players were in Australia, that WOULD be illegal, according to the laws on the books.'

You say, 'Is such a law enforceable?'

Ptah chuckles politely.

Ptah says, 'Of course it is not enforceable. That's the problem with Net legislation. Well, no more enforceable surely than someone slipping the PGP code to Canada.'

Ptah chuckles politely.

You say, 'So how do you think these issues should be handled? Who would you say owns the copyright on this conversation?.'

Ptah says, 'I would tend to regard this as public conversation--muds as PLACES and I would regard Usenet and listserves as publication and hence protected speech. This would be protected assembly. Unfortunately, under current law, none of them are either. They are all simply telecommunication, on par with a phone conversation or a fax, not only subpoenable, but also unprotectable by most any constitutional right.'

You say, 'So you regard MUDs as places of assembly. As an implementer of one of the most unique MUDs on the net, what purpose do you think they serve?'

Ptah says, 'I don't think they serve a fraction of their purpose yet. They may never be fulfilled in text form--but the fact is, when we talk virtual reality, we mean muds--full immersion ones, but muds nonetheless.'

You say, 'Do you think we will eventually have a VR5-type environment, like the TV show?'<[> Ptah says, 'Eventually, sure. Ten years.'

Ptah shrugs philosophically.

You say, 'That long?'

Ptah says, 'Maybe less. Let me clarify. The ability to give us fully rendered realistic landscape we can move in and interact in--full 3D virtual space--oh , we could build it now. The ability to have the DEGREE of interaction represented in VR 5--the amount of expressions, of ranges, of contact, of pain stimuli, all that stuff, that is a longer ways away. Right now it takes electrodes slapped all over one's face to get something as advanced as Moxy on the Cartoon Network and that is really, cartoonish. As cartoonish, approximately, as the socials system used on muds. VR5 implies the capability to 'emote' and it is gonna take a while to be able to represent that :)'

(HP:20 MV:100 MA:100)> help emote

Syntax: emote [action]
EMOTE is used to express emotions or actions. EMOTE automatically prefaces the action with your name. Besides EMOTE, there are several dozen built-in social commands, such as CACKLE, HUG, and THANK. See HELP SOCIALS or HELP ACTIONS for a complete list.
You say, 'Do you think this mud will become a commercial (for a fee) provider?'

Ptah says, 'I think that this mud is of a caliber that could go commercial, yes. I do not think it will. The mud right now is made up of frontiers people. Commercial would imply taxes :). It would imply laws. And that means that some of the frontier people would move on to a new frontier. I like them, and don't want to see them go. Nor do I feel it is entirely fair to confiscate their homesteading for a new city hall.'

Ptah chuckles politely.

Can you briefly describe the difference between immortals (immorts) and implementers (imps)?' you say.

Ptah says, 'The difference is largely one of who is in charge. Often the implementor is just the lucky person who had a place for the server. Imps or head wizards or whatever are just the people in charge, and often it is because they are the ones who started the server up or have the facilities to run it. Some places, you can get to be an imp through talent and hard work. I think that one thing to emphasize is that net or mud, we are still talking about community. Some communities are ruled from outside and it's never very healthy, and some are unwilling to impose rules upon themselves. What the mud or the Net ENFORCES on us, oddly, is a hierarchy. There's never been a human society where there was not one, of course. Anarchy tends to kill itself. But the Net's communities find themselves in the inevitable position of having people make laws not because they are some poor slob who got elected, and not because they are acclaimed to the position...'

You say, 'You could say we (the citizens) insist upon a hierarchy - we ask you immortals to rule us :).'

Ptah says, 'And not because they were savvy enough to get there, but simply because they had the technical know-how to set up an environment. The fact is, that is just as poor a basis for letting them set SOCIETAL laws as all of the above. Yet this cannot be avoided. That may be the final flaw in virtual reality. Until a system is established that is powerful and flexible and NEEDS NO SUPERVISION, the community cannot rule itself fairly and we'll never know. One MUST be technically savvy enough to enforce and make the 'laws' (system rules, whatever) to take the job. It may be the key to why so many mud admins on so many muds are lousy with people.'

[Chat] Jeffrey: on
[Chat] Charity: Channels are toggles - you just type the name by itself to turn it on from off or off from on.
[Auction] Jeffrey: on

You say, 'You don't think you have to be (at least somewhat) people-conscious to *keep* the position?'

Ptah says, 'Nope.'

Ptah chuckles politely.

Ptah says, 'There are plenty of people willing to live under the rule of jerks.'

Ptah shrugs philosophically.

Ptah says, 'An issue in the whole political debate right now is that it's the techies carrying the crusade. The net community reacted, but it still did it because the immortals said to. Someday the Net , and muds, will have an environment stable enough, extensible enough, real enough, that they can rule themselves--but right now, the implementors still call the shots and it is hard to tell how much that has stunted the growth of virtual realities as a viable political and social force.'

Ptah stands up.

You stand up.

Ptah says, 'And I have new email now, better go read it. :)'

Ptah waves goodbye to you - have a good journey!

You wave happily.

Foul wyrm, the greed-eaten dragon that is the soul of a dead man, flies overhead, flame belching from its mouth! Ptah sees it and seizes ahold of its mighty tail, to be dragged away into the endless sky-garth, the heavens.