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Something I've been thinking about...

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Posted by Twisol   USA  (2,257 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Thu 14 Jan 2010 03:06 AM (UTC)

Amended on Thu 14 Jan 2010 03:07 AM (UTC) by Twisol

Message
... and would appreciate some feedback on, if anyone's willing. (I wasn't sure whether to post this in a different subforum, but this one seemed most relevant.)


First, let me preface this by saying that I love MUSHclient. It's powerful, extensible, and my favorite platform to develop on. I've had a slew of ideas over the past week or so, though, and I've been researching into it a lot, and I think it could work quite nicely, given the time and effort.

I'm considering, and working a little bit on, writing a web-based MUD client. Nothing like FMud, which is Flash-based and based entirely in the browser. My plan is to use the browser as the view, and a proxy server which actually implements the client itself. If you've ever used Mibbit.com, you should see the similarities: it's just a web interface to a proxy system that connects to IRC servers for you. Mine would be the same: an HTML/CSS/JavaScript browser view, the proxy which does everything, and the actual MUD servers involved.

I'd like to hear what people think about this. There are a lot of advanced features I have in mind, something rather similar to MUSHclient actually, but I'd like to get some thoughts first. An issue I thought of would be the potential for MUDs to see multiple connections from the proxy client as multiplaying by their users, which would be a rather bad thing. I'm open to suggestions on that front, as my only current solution would be announcing the client in several public places, noting the issue, and explaining how they could deal with it.

'Soludra' on Achaea

Blog: http://jonathan.com/
GitHub: http://github.com/Twisol
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Posted by Zeno   USA  (2,871 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #1 on Thu 14 Jan 2010 04:37 AM (UTC)
Message
How would this be different from MudGamers?

I know what Mibbit is and I know it's not the exact same concept as MudGamers, but it's pretty close.

Zeno McDohl,
Owner of Bleached InuYasha Galaxy
http://www.biyg.org
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Posted by Twisol   USA  (2,257 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #2 on Thu 14 Jan 2010 04:51 AM (UTC)
Message
Not Flash, for one. I know Flash isn't a bad thing, and it's probably not what you meant either, but the client side will be pure HTML/CSS/Javascript.

Features I'd like to include are custom style packs (giving a customized user experience), a certain amount of logging space for members, triggers/aliases, and extensive plugin support including HTML5 Canvas drawing (a la miniwindows). I'd like to have usage by both players and administrators, so a MUD owner could set a 'default' style pack for worlds opened to their MUD (overridable, of course), or customize the protocol pipeline for their MUD (which would include such things as MCCP, ZMP, MXP, and the list goes on) as well as default supplied plugins.

Users would be able to sign up for an account with my client, gaining the ability to save a certain number of 'world' files, a certain amount of log space, and the ability to customize their style pack and plugins.


I might be shooting rather high, but these are all things I'm sure could be done. I don't know if I'll get that far, but it's a project I'm interested in nonetheless.

'Soludra' on Achaea

Blog: http://jonathan.com/
GitHub: http://github.com/Twisol
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Posted by David Haley   USA  (3,881 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #3 on Thu 14 Jan 2010 01:42 PM (UTC)
Message
The question I always ask when looking at a very large project is: why? What problem is this solving? Why can we not solve it already? Can we adapt our current tools to solve it?

Doing something because it would be fun is very different from doing it because it solves a problem. A lot of people confuse those too, and are surprised when others aren't as excited once the project is finished because, after all, it's not solving a problem they really had.

I guess that at the moment I don't really see the point of such a client or what niche it addresses. It's not that it's useless, it's that it's unclear to me at the moment what it solves that isn't solved already. Is it having a client on the go, no matter where you are? Is this really a strong need?

David Haley aka Ksilyan
Head Programmer,
Legends of the Darkstone

http://david.the-haleys.org
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Posted by Worstje   Netherlands  (899 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #4 on Thu 14 Jan 2010 03:03 PM (UTC)

Amended on Thu 14 Jan 2010 03:06 PM (UTC) by Worstje

Message
I hate most web applications that are web for the sake of it being web. This one, like so many others, just seems to fit that bill.

There are only a few 'advanced' web applications that deserve to be what they are, and to boot are good executions. The rest tends to be crap due to the javascript not supporting browsers properly, stuff messing up if your internet hiccups somehow, etc.

Slightly (ok, very) offtopic rant follows...

Throw in that there's a lot of different browser engines out there, and that they are incompatible as hell still, or only get worse. IE6 is outdated, IE7+ looks ugly, IE8 crashes (fresh W7 install) every 10 minutes due to its process isolation 'feature'. Oh and it is slow. Firefox is slower than IE these days and has become the new Seamonkey. Safari.. well, no comment on Apples software from me. Google Chrome is a decent thing, but I can't speak for the support it gets from website builders. And likewise, my favorite, Opera, which is lightning fast and stable, tends to get shafted by Javascripts that are unaware it exists.

The modern web is an unstable house of cards and I am just waiting for someone to sneeze and blow the crap all over the table. Give me applications that run natively on my PC -any- day.

Edit: oh, and for as far the client on the go comment goes.. Get a USB stick and throw MUSH on it. Problem solved.
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Posted by Twisol   USA  (2,257 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #5 on Thu 14 Jan 2010 06:22 PM (UTC)
Message
@ David: Well, firstly, this is more of a learning experience for me than anything. Secondly, I've wanted to try building my own client for a while now (for no particular reason other than I think I could do a decent job of it). Thirdly, I thought the interesting features I mentioned - like custom styles as well as MUSHclient-like plugins - would be great to have, because the easily-accessible clients like FMud don't really have those features readily available.

A MUD owner could register their MUD with my client and give users who connect through it a friendly user interface customized to fit the MUD, too; most MUDs otherwise do this by rolling their own web clients (like IRE's Nexus in Java or the Java-based telnet window which I dislike so much), or using a pre-made one like FMud, and working with its developer to customize its appearance and operations. (FMud is rather limited in power and extensibility by the user, though.) MUD owners could theoretically use my client instead, allowing them to create style packs with the ubiquitous HTML/CSS, and create custom plugins.


@ Worstje: So much venom! *laughs* Okay, I take your point. But I've tried my best to consider these things, and will continue to consider these things. Firstly, by offloading everything but the View (think of an MVC architecture) to the server, all the client needs to do is receive content and update the view area. That's relatively basic Javascript. I'll be using JQuery for increased portability, and working something out with long polling over XHR to maintain realtime (or as close as possible) updates.

As far as making things look right on every browser (or as many as possible), that's generally pretty unavoidable when it comes to writing a decent web design, AFAIK.

As far as client-on-the-go, yeah, MUSHclient is awesome in that regard, no doubt about it. But that's still not my primary goal.


Oh, and I use Chrome. Chrome FTW!

'Soludra' on Achaea

Blog: http://jonathan.com/
GitHub: http://github.com/Twisol
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Posted by Twisol   USA  (2,257 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #6 on Thu 14 Jan 2010 07:34 PM (UTC)
Message
In response to something someone mentioned to me...

I probably shouldn't have posted in this particular forum, I'm sorry. I didn't mean any slight to MUSHclient. I just like the people here and I was curious what people thought about its premise.

'Soludra' on Achaea

Blog: http://jonathan.com/
GitHub: http://github.com/Twisol
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Posted by Nick Gammon   Australia  (21,322 posts)  [Biography] bio   Forum Administrator
Date Reply #7 on Thu 14 Jan 2010 11:11 PM (UTC)
Message
I moved you to MUDs -> General, to keep everyone happy. :-)

Perhaps a more major concern is the long-term viability of MUD games. Text-based games are being increasingly challenged by the wide availability of graphical MMORPG games such as World of Warcraft and Runes of Magic. Some of these are free to play, and others have low monthly subscriptions.

I recently discovered that you can download, for free, the full source code of an MMO server that allows you to play World of Warcraft by connecting to it -- in other words a private graphical server. Considering that you can purchase the trial version of the World of Warcraft client for around one dollar, the costs of setting up a private 3-D client server game are minimal.

The game data is stored in a mySQL database and you can use administration commands to configure the world to your taste, for example by adding and deleting NPCs and adding other resources such as herbs, mining notes, mailboxes and other things in general.

If nothing else it is interesting to see how the designers have configured their database to allow for the problems of having different NPCs in different parts of the world, spawning NPCs multiple times, changing their appearance depending on certain circumstances and in general handling the requirements of an online game. This includes issues like management of game objects such as chests, and which upon being opened convert into items to be carried by the player.

Even if you have absolutely no intention of ever making a graphical game it's worth looking at the Mangos server just to see how they set up their database design, and it is an interesting proof that it is possible to run an online game using an SQL server as the database back end.


- Nick Gammon

www.gammon.com.au, www.mushclient.com
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Posted by Twisol   USA  (2,257 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #8 on Fri 15 Jan 2010 01:56 AM (UTC)
Message
Nick Gammon said:
Even if you have absolutely no intention of ever making a graphical game it's worth looking at the Mangos server just to see how they set up their database design, and it is an interesting proof that it is possible to run an online game using an SQL server as the database back end.

I did hear about MaNGOS a while back. Definitely a really cool concept. I should check it out again, if at least just to see how it works *nod*.

Well, my client would be open to connect to any MUD, not just one specific one. I might not actually have any intention of writing a text-based game either, when it comes down to it; this would just be a 'proxy server' client, so to speak, which happens to route data through a web browser. At a basic level, the only thing the proxy has to do is route output through triggers, input through aliases, and otherwise provide a friendly interface. Everything else is icing on the cake.

And I did mention that I want to do this for fun and learning, right? Whatever the future of MUDs, I'm positive that experience with a web-based project like this would be very useful experience to have in the future.


(Thanks for moving the topic, Nick!)

'Soludra' on Achaea

Blog: http://jonathan.com/
GitHub: http://github.com/Twisol
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Posted by David Haley   USA  (3,881 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #9 on Fri 15 Jan 2010 03:32 AM (UTC)
Message
Yes, knowing how to do this would indeed be a very valuable skill down the road, there's no question about that.

Nick touched upon another reason I'm skeptical about the practical value of this client for the MUD community as a whole (as opposed to value for you: the fun of doing it and the skills learned, etc.). MUDs aren't exactly a high-growth market segment. Furthermore, it is my strong belief that if a MUD does want to succeed with a fancy client, you need fairly strong customization of the client to the MUD, and very strong integration between the two. MUSHclient as a platform is very interesting in this respect because of its miniwindow system. If the new client merely reimplements the ability to add miniwindows, then IMHO it hasn't added much -- there remains the problem of scripting miniwindows, having decent widget frameworks (hmm :P), etc.

David Haley aka Ksilyan
Head Programmer,
Legends of the Darkstone

http://david.the-haleys.org
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Posted by Twisol   USA  (2,257 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #10 on Fri 15 Jan 2010 06:01 AM (UTC)
Message
When it comes right down to it, I could let plugins use floating <div> elements with HTML stuffs inside (although with a clearly-defined API rather than letting them use raw HTML). That way, they can take direct advantage of what you might call the 'HTML widget framework'. Like I've mentioned a few times, I also have ideas for ways to integrate the client closely with MUD hosts to provide incentive for people to use the client.


David Haley said:
having decent widget frameworks (hmm :P)

Hey, no fair! I'm still working on that, but the event system is killing me.

'Soludra' on Achaea

Blog: http://jonathan.com/
GitHub: http://github.com/Twisol
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