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So you are bored? You are looking around your mud and then it hits you, I need to add something. But, you are not quite sure what it needs. You have implemented all of your ideas but that something is bugging you. Or, you just want to add a new feature. The question is; where do you get these ideas?
First a Disclaimer: This article walks a thin line. We, the Law, and the Mudding community, find that there is a huge difference between stealing code or ideas, then there is to using and idea. Using an idea means that you come up with your own implementation. Stealing code is using someone else's implementation. Also Note: it is a good policy to get permission from the originator of the idea.
Ready to harvest.
Out there, in the big yonder is 20+ years of ideas floating around, you just need to find them. In this article we will attempt to lead you to the water, but what you do there is your own business.
The first place and probably the best place to find ideas are from Mail list archives. The best archives are from mail list that deal with the development of muds. These development mail list are breeding grounds for ideas. They are were ideas are born, fleshed out and sometimes implemented. It also helps if the mail list is a 'public' list where anyone can participate. Often times in list like these the same idea has been purposed multiple times and you can find more information about it. On a 'closed' list, the members tend to hash together a solution and not think about it again.
Some Example Mail List Include:
The ROM mailing list. (http://www.hypercube.org/tess/rom/)
The CIRCLE mailing list (http://post.queensu.ca/~listserv/wwwarch/circle.html)
DejaNews (http://www.deja.com) This one is obviously not a mail list but is great for checking the Newsgroups.
Beware of archives that have no searchable facilities, they are horrendous resources, simply because it takes forever to find anything. I only suggest mining these archives if you are bored out of your mind! One of the things to note is that this method is the one which requires the most time, and effort, but will undoubtedly turn up the best ideas.
A few pointers to get you started down this path; use search strings that include the word 'Idea' such as, 'New Idea' or 'My Idea'. Some other key words to use when searching archives are 'Features' and 'Snippets'. One of my favorites is 'Request for snippet' this generally turns up ideas in their most infantile stages so you can develop them.
Web resources are perhaps the easiest way to come up with ideas, and directions on how to implement ideas. Snippet pages are an example of this type of resource. Check out a snippet someone has posted and have it inspire you. As an exercise in coding I suggest you not use their snippet but use your own implementation of it.
Another 'Web Resource' is discussion boards. There are quite a few around. Imaginary Realities has one, The Mud Connector, and individual mud projects have them. These are perhaps one of the quickest ways to get ideas. It is easy to find these resources, and even easier to navigate them. One of the things you will note is that these resources tend to be bare bones, simply outlining a system and not fleshing anything of the internals out. This has the added benefit of allowing you to plan your own implementation!
If there is anything that mud Administrators know is that their staff loves to talk! Some of them (Not all them mind you just some) would rather talk then build/code, and here is your chance to reel them in, get them more interested in your project. Simply corner two or more of your staff in a room and ask this simple little question, 'Are there any features you would like to see added to the mud?' The key to this is to have more than one builder in the room! Because one will undoubtedly say, 'Yeah that is great, but what if instead we do this?'
Be sure when using this method of getting ideas that you ask questions from the players perspective. This makes the builders think more, and give you more in-depth explanations. The most important thing to remember is keep asking questions, keep them talking! They have great ideas, you just need to get it out of them! Remember also and this is more important than keeping them talking, Keep a LOG! Of those conversations, if you don not you will lose all your information.
If your mud is established, it is almost better to hold a forum with your players. Ask them what they would like to see, new commands, new skills, or new abilities. If you set Auto-log on and just let them chat, they will fuel their own conversation and will more then likely dissect each others ideas giving you a good idea on how to implement these features!
These are the best ways to harvest your crop of ideas. In the next issue we will discuss how to properly plan and implement these ideas successfully.
Feburary 2000 Imaginary Realities, the magazine of your mind.
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