Look and Feel

larnen
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Look and Feel

Post by larnen » Sun Feb 13, 2011 9:51 pm

Hi,
Long long time mud admin here who has been watching the evolution of various mud clients over the years with great despondency. Back in the early 1990's Zmud launched their client, which was a great innovation, and which changed mudding for many people in a positive way. 20 years later the vast majority of mud clients still look like zmud.

Mudlet offers far far better gui customization than zmud or most of its competitors, but while the background functionality is superb, the extensibility good and the scripting/triggers etc best in class - it still looks, fundamentally, like a modified zmud.

That may sound an unfair comment, and let me be clear - Im extremely impressed with Mudlet, but put it side by side with the Batclient from BatMud and it looks like a history lesson vs a modern client. And this at its heart is the key issue in mud clients that I see at the moment. They are all (mudlet included) designed for us old school die hard mudders - a role in suceeds at admirably. But what we need is new blood, new players brought up on WoW, Everquest, Guild Wars etc, who fully expect a slick, polished client with drag and drop customizations. Having massive complex scripting ability is fantastic, but little use to someone without a coding background. The addins forum is a good start, but again - graphically there are only a couple of examples that stand out, and even those are a little dated.

Please dont take this as somehow knocking Mudlet, as I said its one of the best things Ive seen in a long time, but more a call to arms. Im not a graphic designer, that has never been my strongpoint, but surely there is something we can do to make a truely modern looking gui that would excite (or at least not alienate) the kids who frankly we need to hook to keep mudding alive. Mudlet seems to have the backend capability to accomplish this - so here is a challenge. Can anyone design a gui for Mudlet that looks as good as Batclient? If not what is missing from Mudlet to allow this to succeed and is this something we can add?

Feeback welcome, but please dont just respond with 'there is more to muds than graphics'. Trust me, I was waving that banner in 1993 when my own one was new, but action bars, non-ascii maps, decent graphical buff displays, party frames etc - all have been in Batclient for years, and every single non mudder I have canvassed has said theyd be 10 times more likely to play using that than anything else they have seen.

Keep up the great work and crossed fingers for something beautiful graphically as well as functionally ;)
Larnen

ps Mythicscape who made Batclient also were working on a framework for a client, but I believe that has fallen by the wayside. Mudlet functionality with ScrapeFX (which is what it was called) look and feel would be an absolute mountain of win ;)

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tsuujin
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Re: Look and Feel

Post by tsuujin » Sun Feb 13, 2011 11:53 pm

You've missed the point of Mudlet, I'm afraid.

The point was the create an extremely fast, extremely powerful MUD client that functions on any given OS and to allow the system builders the freedom to do the rest. This has already been done, and to such an extent that it is possible to script an entire GUI inside of the client itself with relative ease.

larnen
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Re: Look and Feel

Post by larnen » Mon Feb 14, 2011 12:11 am

Id argue that rather than missing the point, I'm highlighting that the possibilities have run far ahead of the implementation. Its great to have a powerful client that can do wonderful things. Im highlighting that the wonderful things tend to fall very far short of what is needed for new users. As I went to great lengths to explain thats not a criticism of mudlet itself, but rather that it hasnt (yet) been used to fill what is a very very very obvious gap.

Ive been heavily involved in muds since 1991, but to grab the attention of new players we need to be hitting them with slick user interfaces. Batclient did that admirably, even if the actual functionality is less than Mudlet. Im just suggesting that across the community there has to surely be a handful of people with solid graphic design skills who can write ui elemnts that can rival that.

To make this point again, im not saying Mudlet should do this natively. If i was then sure, I missed the point. But im not, im saying that Mudlet is not at present meeting the ui requirements that many new players will expect, not because it CANT but because nobody HAS. Batclient is literally a decade ahead in terms of user interface for this type of user, and Id love to see that gap closed.

As i said, in terms of raw potenial Mudlet is great. Id just like to see it gain the gloss needed (via extension) to catch the attention of the mmorpg crowd.

Larnen

Iocun
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Re: Look and Feel

Post by Iocun » Mon Feb 14, 2011 12:59 am

larnen wrote: To make this point again, im not saying Mudlet should do this natively. If i was then sure, I missed the point. But im not, im saying that Mudlet is not at present meeting the ui requirements that many new players will expect, not because it CANT but because nobody HAS.
How can you be sure of that? Only a very small portion of the scripts people make for Mudlet are posted online. There may be many people with pretty amazing Mudlet GUIs out there.

Sure, that doesn't help with the "attracting new customers" thing. But that's hard to achieve if it isn't done natively. Batclient has the great advantage here that it's a client designed specifically for a certain Mud, so it can provide a UI that is polished and tailored to that mud. Mudlet can't (and shouldn't) do this. The only real solution here would be for the Mud creators to go ahead and provide GUI scripts for various clients, in order to attract customers. But that's difficult, with the different, constantly changing clients out there, so many go the simpler route of just creating a client of their own (Batclient, Nexus, whatever).

And you can't just expect the scripting userbase to come up with "attractive GUIs" and post them online for an advertising effect. Personally, I have no interest in creating such a GUI because that's not what I personally -want- design-wise. I want what I have, which looks good to me, but which probably isn't very flashy or "sleek".

larnen
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Re: Look and Feel

Post by larnen » Mon Feb 14, 2011 1:10 am

Iocun wrote:
larnen wrote: To make this point again, im not saying Mudlet should do this natively. If i was then sure, I missed the point. But im not, im saying that Mudlet is not at present meeting the ui requirements that many new players will expect, not because it CANT but because nobody HAS.
How can you be sure of that? Only a very small portion of the scripts people make for Mudlet are posted online. There may be many people with pretty amazing Mudlet GUIs out there.
Ok, let me be even clearer. If anyone has, they havent shared their work. Given that there are 'share your ui' and 'extensions' forums here Im working on the basis that if these things existed and were being shared, that this would be a good place to find them.

Im not expecting the *scripting* community to necessarily contribute here. This forum is for all users and stakeholders in mudlet, not just scripters. Thus my question as to whether there are people interested in mudlet whose skillsets lie in the graphic design arena. Why would people contribute their work for free? No reason, but the same can be said of mud admin, the mudlet team, scripters etc.

If you guys honestly feel that Mudlet is not missing an opportunity here then fine, I'll keep my opinions to myself. I just know what it is that the non mudders ive spoken to want, and thats a familiar, slick ui. As a mud head admin for nearly 20 years Im very familiar with the history, progression, pros and cons of the various clients over the years. But I can say for nothing, put Batclient side by side with any Mudlet ui ive seen, ask a non-mudder to choose which game theyd play and honestly tell me itd be mudlet.

If i was a graphic designer id be doing my damndest to create and share one. But im not, my 20 year contribution to mudding has been my mud, input into protocols, contributions to TMI, mudconnector etc, so im just hoping that someone else takes up that cause and helps turn mudlet from a very cool mudders client, into something that can catch the eye of non-mudders. Which is surely something we all want?

Larnen

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Omit
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Re: Look and Feel

Post by Omit » Mon Feb 14, 2011 1:36 am

IMHO, Mudlet is a great starting point if someone wanted to develop a mud specific mud client. I would think that the way to do this would be to take the current version of mudlet, compile it with the profile you want for the mud you are designing for(could even remove other profiles, setting the one you want as default), hide/show the menu's you desire, add additional menus/gui elements with Lua, add whatever custom scripting you want for the mud you are designing for.... Doing it this way, you should even be able to make a mud specific client that would run on a 'droid phone.
(The Look and Feel is up to the user... Mudlet is flexable enough to look however you would like.)

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tsuujin
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Re: Look and Feel

Post by tsuujin » Mon Feb 14, 2011 6:14 am

The functionality is already there to match the UI feel of any client that I've seen. When 2D drawing functions are finally implemented this will become practical as well as possible. Simply because nobody has contributed something you feel is up to your standard doesn't imply a lack of functionality in the client.

The fact is that players who design systems are already used to a text based interface, and the games themselves are so in depth and complicated that (from the perspective of a designer) functionality is going to take priority over being pretty. Some people have combined the two in a decent fashion, already.

larnen
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Re: Look and Feel

Post by larnen » Mon Feb 14, 2011 10:52 am

I think Ive been pretty consistent in saying I wasnt talking about functionality in the client, but rather what has been done with it. The reason I even raised this thread was to highlight that there is a real opportunity here and see if there was anyone who had the graphical skills to sieze it.

Yes most mudders are used to text interfaces, but the number of mudders is dwindling and aging. The enthusiasm shown by people here demonstrates that Im not alone in wanting that to halt or even reverse, but the way to do that is to get new players, and new players have expectations very different from people brought up on muds.

My desire in drawing attention to a shortfall in what is available for use was not to criticise the client for not having pretty graphics bundled, but rather to highlight that there is a HUGE win available if someone with the right skills put their energy into this.

This isnt about it being up to my standard - personally Ive used tinyfugue for 2 decades quite happily. This is about being up to the standards of the sort of people we need to attract to the genre. Most of you guys are techies, Im a techy, and the one failure that we all have normally is failing to understand what non-techies want and that those non-techies are 99% of the population out there.

Im going to say this one last time and then shut up :) I am NOT CRITICISING MUDLET. I only raised this because mudlet has opened the door potentially to that holy grail for mud clients - superb functionality and modern, mmo-friendly interface. The first bit is going great, now lets ask who can push the second bit. When we reach a point where a user can download mudlet (tweaked for their specific mud) and have something that looks as slick as Batclient, then you will have the whole client scene well and truely sewn up.

Larnen

Yetzederixx
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Re: Look and Feel

Post by Yetzederixx » Tue Feb 15, 2011 1:38 am

Larnen, Batclient is for Batmud, as has been mentioned.

Not all mud bases provide the same information in the same manner to script/hard code some generic interface. I know there's a nice set-up someone did for Aardwolf, and Vadi retails an interface to some IRE(s).

So, if you want new players to play your MUD then you'll have to make a setup, for that mud, I'm afraid.

larnen
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Re: Look and Feel

Post by larnen » Tue Feb 15, 2011 2:39 am

Ok I officially give up. People are either missing what im saying deliberately in their haste to defend a client that I have only actually praised, or just have no frame of reference for what Im talking about. Which is a real shame, as this, in my opinion, is the largest barrier to increasing playerbase numbers across the genre.

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