Sunday, October 11, 2015

Illustrations and soaps

I recently made an article presenting the infrastructure and main coding features of Evennia using a series of nifty diagrams.

It can hopefully help newcomers get a feeling for the grand structure of an Evennia server/game a little easier. It's published as a feature on Optional Realities and you can find the article here: Evennia Illustrated.

I also recently joined MU Soapbox, a forum predominantly discussing MUSH games, to answer some technical questions on Evennia. Unsurprisingly, some (although so far surprisingly few) MUSHers express concern about Evennia's explicit lack of softcode (that is, the ability for players to use a safe in-game language to code their game rather than to use external Python modules). Their argument is sound:  They are used to in-game coding as a way to easily express creatitivy and easily garner help from players.

Evennia's stance here clash a bit with those opinions: Our philosophy is that our command system is powerful enough to offer players any complexity of build commands they want. The design/coding of the game itself should be done using proper coding IDEs and modern version control tools.

There is no denying that compared to a softcode-coded game, a player-level contributor to an Evennia game needs some extra tools to create and contribute code over version control. The admin also needs to check such contributions for malicious code before merging it into their running game. Now, these are differences I actually consider advantages from a code-quality perspective. And for finding help, people on average are more likely to know Python than a custom softcode language. But here opinions differ and in a given game community those language adoption numbers can be severely skewed.

So far, the MUSHers that have adopted Evennia seems to have done so very much to get away from softcode. It will be interesting to see if things like Kelketek's in-development Group building Evennia contrib will be stirring some interest from those on the fence, or if coding their entire game in softcode is indeed an irreplaceable source of their gaming fun.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Emoting system, or how to chat up a girl

A few days ago I pushed an emoting contribution to Evennia. A "contrib" is an optional plugin system that is not part of core Evennia but is meant to be easily picked up and used in people's own designs.

If you are not familiar with what an emoting system does, it is a way to decribe the actions of a character in the game. The simplest form of emote is a single command (like the command dance leading to some canned response, or in the case of a graphical game, a dance animation). This contribution offers a more sophisticated system though, allowing input like the following:

emote /me smiles at /cheerful as he sits at her table. "Hello!" he says.

Now, this includes /keywords that relate to the objects in the room. So assuming there is a very cheerful girl in the room, this string will come out as 

Griatch smiles at a very cheerful girl as he sits at her table. "Hello!" he says. 

But she will actually see only my outward appearance (the short description) since she doesn't know me. So the cheerful girl (let's say her name is Sandra) would for example see

A man in flowing robes smiles at Sandra as he sits at her table. "Hello!" he says.

The emoting system has the following features: 

  • Short description replacement in emotes and in searches, as seen above. This means that you can do look cute and the system will know what you want to look at (in vanilla Evennia you'd need to use look Sandra).
  • Multi-word searching and disambiguation. If there is a cute girl and a cute puppy both in the same room, your referencing of /cute will  give an error listing the alternatives. You can then either include more words to make your reference unique or use an index (1-cute, 2-cute) to make it clear who you mean. This mimics normal object-key disambiguation in Evennia.
  • Recognition. You can assign your own aliases to people. If Sandra introduces herself you could assign her the name Sandra and henceforth be able to reference her as such and see that name appear. But you could also name her The girl calling herself Sandra if you didn't believe that's her actual name.
  • Languages. Everything within double-quotes is parsed as spoken language (like the Hello! above). By using writing this as (elvish)"Hello!", this could be spoken in another language and those who don't speak elvish would receive an obfuscated string.
  • Masking. A person wearing a mask can force people's recognition replacement to deactivate so that they are not recognized anymore.
The emoting contrib comes as two files in evennia/contrib/: and To use them fully, make your Characters and Rooms inherit from the supplied classes and/or add the new commands to the Character command set. Enjoy!

image ©Griatch, from