October '98 Mud of the Month

The History Of Vampire Wars, recollected by Archon a member of the admin team.

In october of 1995 I was in my second year of university in Nottingham, and thanks to the wonders of 24 hour computer labs, and a free connection to the internet, heavily into muds. At that time though, I had not found a mud that felt like home. Then I heard from a mudding friend, that someone on another computing course was setting up a mud as his final year project, and was wanting any mudders at the uni to try it out and give him some feedback, and so it was that I was one of the first group of people to play what was to become the Vampire Wars.

The code back then was pretty raw, being a conversion of the early godwars code (merc 2.2 base), that Kavir had generously allowed Joker, our lord and master, the original coder and creator, access to.

Thanks to regular feedback meetings between those players who were at the university, and Joker, the code rapidly began to grow into a new entity, not another godwars clone, but changing into something quite different.

Early on it was discussed whether to add in other classes and races, demons, mages etc. but the general feeling was that it would be better to concentrate on, and develop the vampire clans, and that they should be based on the White Wolf: Vampire the Masquerade roleplaying game. This gave a nice base of ideas to be worked on, and the mud began to develop into what it is today. The first clans were at this time named by their respective founders, however, it was decided that they should be changed over to the proper names of the vampire clans, and so we ended up with the clans of Ventrue, Brujah, Malkavian, Nosferatu, Toreador, Tremere and Gangrel. We also had at that time a clan Caitiff, but this was soon seen as out of place as a proper clan, and so was taken out. The most recent change to the clans was the implementation of clan Cappadocian, a most worthwhile addition.

At this time, more players were appearing from outside the university, and for that matter, outside the country, bringing in fresh ideas, not to mention heating up the player killing side of things 🙂 With a larger player base, it was decided that some sort of permanent player ranking system was needed, so that even if a players rivals were not about on the mud, he/she could still check to see who was ahead, and so the Players League webpage was born.

After about the first year and a half of the mud being up, Joker had moved down to London, and had started a new job. This required much of his time, and so he decided to instate some new admin staff for the mud. To our surprise, myself, Valis and Belladonna were chosen, and Mobieus instated as an assisting god. Recently, Avalon was also promoted to the status of god to help out with the day to day online admin, and the clan leader/deity structures are currently being rehashed to achieve smoother running.

And so we come to the current status of the mud; as always it is like a living, breathing entity, constantly changing as we have new ideas and inspirations. We will always seek to make the best out of the mud, and the constant refinement is I think, one of the main reasons that people like Vampire Wars so much.

1. Describe the backgrounds of the Vampire Wars administration.

Archon:

From a misspent youth playing computer games, I progressed up to ‘online’ bulletin board games at college, and then discovered the wonders of muds at the university. Enjoying both roleplaying and computer games, the world of mudding was an ideal passtime, and in my first year at the university I tried out many different muds, mushes, and moos. Finally I found one that felt like home, Vampire Wars, which just happened to be based at my university. After playing the mud for a year, and participating in its development, I was given the position of a clan deity, and became interested in the admin side of things. Having helped out in a few tight situations over the next year, and also having improved my C coding alot, I suddenly found myself promoted to a god, and from there to a full member of the admin a few months later. Since then, I have worked to maintain the mud, and improve it in any way possible.

Belladonna:

I started mudding back in 1991 on a very archaic circle-based mud called After Hours. I loved it from the beggining, but admit that I never explored much until late 1993 when it crashed (and burned) for the last time. The next three years, I tried many different muds ranging from incredible to unbearable, until someone suggested Vampire Wars. The name attracted me immediatly, but the people kept me coming back. Although it was a player killing mud, I enjoyed the fact that the players and admin would still help you when you were stuck. After playing for a year, and some months, I asked if I could be a deity to help those people who needed it when all the others had gone. At that point, I was in America and the time difference between there and the UK made it easy for me to fill in the gaps. From that I moved up in rank as I thought the need arose. I am still grateful even being part of the admin, now, that they were so approachable in the first place. If I didn’t have the power to change something I thought needed improving, they would listen with open minds and then give me the ability to make a difference. We obviously can’t make everyone admin, but we can take the input and change the mud for the better.

Valis:

I started playing Vampire Wars in my first year of the university and progressed to become clan deity for the, then defunct, Nosferatu. Whilst working at this post I began to develop an interest in the administration and coding side of the mud at a time when the mud was experiencing alot of problems. This resulted in my development of C programming and movement into the role of admin/coder, helping out with bug fixes initially then moving into overall control of the mud’s development with Belladonna and Archon. Before playing Vampire Wars I had no experience as a player or admin/coder.

2. What advice can you offer new players interested in getting started on Vampire Wars?

We strongly recommend using all online help available. Regardless of your previous mudding experience, this is a heavily modified version of the MERC code and, most likely, very dissimilar to any other mud. Also, do not expect the admin/coders/gods to give you freebies when you start, as we have developed a newbie area, which not only contains everything one needs to get started, but is also inaccessable by anyone other than new players, so you can get a good start in safety ( This is a player killing mud after all ).

If you find that you still have questions and/or concerns after progressing out of the newbie area, feel free to ask the other players. Our mud is very friendly and helpful to those just starting.

3. What is it about the game that keeps your players coming back?

This is a question we have asked ourselves from the start! One of the main themes we have identified is the atmosphere of the mud itself. Because the mud actively encourages clan membership, it promotes comeraderie within the clans, yet also leads to a natural competitiveness between them. Vampire clans may be at war one day, but united the next against a threat to all vampire kind. An important aspect of our mud is its ever-evolving nature. In the last three years Vampire Wars has been running, it has never become stagnent, due to this constant evolution. This development is strongly influenced by the suggestions and ideas of our players, this may be particularly appealing to anyone who has experienced muds which are overly-dominant with an unapproachable admin and political squabbles.

4. Does the admin also play mortal characters, and if so, from a player’s perspective, what would you like to see changed about Vampire Wars?

Valis:

Yes I play a mortal character, the same one that I started with on day one. I always try to view the mud through the eyes of a player when considering mud development. As such I would like to see the vampire discipline system developed much further than it currently is, it is the one part of the early code that has changed very little. It is already under development to dramatically improve it, but I would like to see that continue to expand and really create some depth to the vampire system.

Belladonna:

Yes I play a mortal character on the mud. She’s the same character I’ve always had, in fact, with the exeption of a name change. I find that having my playable character, in addition to my coder entity, gives me the ability to view the mud from a player’s perspective.

Personally, I find this to be one of the most important aspects of running a mud. Too often the admin find themselves so caught up in the implementing, they tend to forget that the players should get the last word. I blatantly refuse to let that happen on Vampire Wars. From a playing perspective, I was able to see that there simply weren’t enough areas suitable for middle-range players. This is now being rectified through a complete re-balance of the mud, not only benefitting the mid-range players, but the whole mud in general.

My new project now, is to work towards some more complex areas where you must use your skill to explore the area. For some players the thrill of the kill is enough, but I would also like to give people an option where simply staying alive in an area itself, takes some thought and planning rather than a fast walk.

Archon:

Like my fellow admin staff, I believe that the only way to keep in touch with the ‘mood’ of the mud, and see where improvements can be made, is to play a regular character. I still play my original character who I had way before I had any sort of divine character, and who is only a week younger than the mud itself.

The main things that I, as a player would like to see on the mud, are, as it happens already under development, namely the structuring of the mud to ensure a balance of areas across the board of player’s abilities, and the further development of the vampire specific code.

There are, as always, many many other little bits and pieces I would like to see. Some of which are mearely fanciful, and impracticle to code on a mud ( vampire powers that wipe the memory of one’s opponent ? ), and others that I know are just beyond our ability to code at this point. However, thanks to the imagination of the admin team, and that of our ever expanding player base, we have never, and will never, be short of ideas for new things to implement to keep the mud interesting.

5. What major problems have you had in running Vampire Wars.

The first major problem we face is the obstacles incessantly present in developing a mud as it is running. The insertion of new code whilst maintaining the existing code demands heavy concentration, with continuous testing, and a vigilant observation for any conflicts when the new code is finally implemented. Despite its downside, we have already seen how this makes the mud more enjoyable. That in itself, makes it worth all of the effort.

The second serious problem we have faced in the past is player cheating. Botting and usage of bugs for illegal gain (instead of reporting them) forced us, with the backing of the majority of our players, who stick to the rules, to implement a very strict system to prevent the mud from declining and becoming ‘run’ by the small problem element. Consequently, we have found that our players, like us, have a zero-tolerance for cheaters. As with most muds, the rewards for reporting a bug, instead of abusing it are far greater.

Kidd (a.k.a. Mike Hiatt):

I have played the MUD ‘The Vampire Wars’ for over two years now, starting in August ’96. Since that time I have put well over a thousand hours of playing time in. That number even astonishes myself sometimes. Vampire Wars is quite addictive =). The thing about the MUD that makes it so addictive is that it is different from almost all other MUDs I have ever seen. The biggest difference is that there are no levels in the usual meaning. You don’t endlessly kill mobs to get to Hero. Instead you kill mobs to get bigger. The only levels are status levels, which you get for killing people. There is a questing system which helps people explore more of the realm. Even though it is a Player Killing (PK) MUD, there is alot of friendliness, there aren’t any people who go out of their way to make playing unpleasant like there is on other MUDs. The newbie-help is excellent and the Imps & Gods are fair and always improving the MUD. One advantage Vampire Wars has over other God-Wars style muds is that it is vampire only. It reduces the stress caused by picking a class and there will never be a question over whether one class is unbalanced. There is still room for differences between individual vampires, depending on your clan. There are so many things about the MUD that I like that this would get quite long. Don’t take my word for it, go and try it out yourself!

Turalyon:

I really like this mud because of the options it offers and how its not too complicated yet still hard and challenging.. there are many aspects to this game..not just levelling.. there’s questing, stances, etc that gives it all these different views.

I also like it because there are a good number of players, not too much..not too few.. the clans are definitely a plus.. the mud is generally very good..

I also really love the idea of how it follows along with the White Wolf book. The idea of the clan leaders is also very interesting and the thought the rumoured “new code” is really appealing, especially with what I hear, the aspects of 13 generations, the importance of balancing (how a 10k/10k/10k player would beat a 13/5/5 player, etc.)

Overall, in conclusion, keeping the good aspects and possibly furthering them would make the mud really rock.. throwing in more “new” things like the ones I kinda mentioned would shake things up and possibly cause more attraction..

Happybell:

My buds introduced me to vampirewars about six months ago… and since then I’ve been logging in almost every night. The mud to me isn’t just a role playing game, it’s a chance for me to talk to different types of people from all over the world.

I have gotten the chance to be in a clan (GANGREL!!!) and that is something that is a different experience than just meeting people.

Being in a clan has allowed me to get to know people, care about people, and TRUST people that I’m almost positive I am never going to meet in real life. I’ve talked to people on the mud who have known each other for years online, but never seen each other in real life, which is something that really interests me.

The mud also gives me and my buds something to talk about during the boring times of school, becuase there are some nights on the mud that are really fun, or really exciting, or really annoying, which is another reason why I like the mud so much. Often times I am laughing out loud at what another player has done or said, or getting really jumpy and exhausted by someone hunting me.

The interaction between the characters on this mud is one of the best features of Vampire Wars. It challenges me, makes me think and use my head,and it’s made my typing really really good, hehe.

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