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Seltani: a quick introduction

#1 User is offline   belford 

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 11:19 AM

The one-liner:

"Seltani is an online, shared, text-based, open-source fan project based on the Myst series of games. In this environment, players can create and share explorable worlds."

Server: http://dev.seltani.net/
The one-hour talk I gave at Mysterium: See the youtube links in this post: http://www.mysterium...mysterium-2013/

Okay, you don't want to sit through a one-hour videolog of me saying "um" a lot. I will have a web intro up soon, but for now, here's the story.

Seltani is a confluence of three familiar ideas: MUDs, Twine, and Uru.

- MUDs are a kind of multiplayer text game that's been around since the 80s. They're generally derived from old-style interactive fiction (Adventure, Zork) but many players can log into the server and explore together.
- Twine is a tool for creating HTML Choose-Your-Own-Adventure games. It's very easy to use; there's some programming, but it's more like creating wiki pages than writing software.
- We know what Myst Online is. :)

All of these things are cool but they have problems. MUDs use a command-line interface which is clumsy and hard to learn. Twine only supports single-player games(*). Building Myst Online worlds is a slow, high-effort, finicky process.

I saw a way to put the ideas together in a way that collected the strengths and avoided the weaknesses. Seltani is a web service; it runs in any web browser(**). It's fully multiplayer with chat in the usual way. It is hypertext, or CYOA-style; you click on links rather than typing commands. The Age-creation process is rather like building wiki pages. You type in the descriptions of rooms and then add simple markup for links (actions and exits). Anybody can do it(***), and building a starter one-room Age will take you about ten minutes.

I launched the server at the beginning of June, with a handful of sample Ages that I built. The Age-creation interface was ready in July, and since then players have built quite a few new areas. (I have mostly been posting about this on the GoW forum.)

I could talk a whole lot about the system, but that's the overview. Create an account and you can start messing around with it.

(* There are multiplayer extensions for Twine, but they don't create an MMO-style social environment.)
(** But you need a pretty up-to-date web browser. The system uses websockets, which were introduced fairly recently. So you need Safari 6 rather than Safari 5, for example.)
(*** Right now you can't start building until I set a flag on your account. Feel free to ask here or PM me. This is a temporary restriction as I scale the system up; I hope to remove it this month sometime.)

This post has been edited by belford: 08 August 2013 - 11:21 AM

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#2 User is offline   Tenreh 

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Posted 12 August 2013 - 12:22 PM

Were you a member of of Writers of D'ni MOO back in the 90's?
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#3 User is offline   belford 

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 10:23 PM

Nope! Sorry.

There's an interactive fiction MUD that I hang out on regularly. That's the only one I've been on since the TinyMUD/Islandia days.
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#4 User is offline   belford 

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 01:29 PM

Seltani has been cruising along, although I haven't been posting here about it. (Discussion has primarily been on the GoW forum.) It's now more or less at beta status.

To celebrate this, I am declaring an Age Jam! Stop by, build an Age, show it off. It doesn't have to be a prize-winner. In fact there will be no prizes. This is an opportunity to try the tools and get some feedback.

I'm not going to get formal about the rules, but I do want to have some fun with it. Therefore, a schedule!

- Sunday, Nov 10, 1 pm Eastern time: Opening ceremony in the Seltani district plaza. At that point I will announce the theme.

(The plaza is in the Seltani district. Sign in, link into the Cavern, follow the path along the shoreline and then head right at the fork. Can't miss it.)

(The theme is just for inspiration. The ceremony is optional, too -- I'll add the theme to this post once I announce it.)

- Nov 10-23: Work on your Age! (Or Ages; multiple entries is cool.) When it's ready, add it to the bookshelf in the Seltani plaza. Or if you want to go for the dramatic reveal, wait and add it on...

- Sunday, Nov 24, 1 pm Eastern time: Wrap-up. Meet back in the plaza, start visiting Ages. We can have group tours over the course of the afternoon, and then hang out and discuss what we've seen.

(I know that the meeting time is not ideal for everybody in every time zone. I have schedule restrictions too, so I just picked a time. If you can't be at either ceremony or both, I apologize -- follow along on the blog or the forums.)

I will be around these on-line areas (including Seltani itself) to answer questions during the two-week period. Hope to see you there.
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#5 User is offline   Capella 

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 05:46 PM

The Jam idea sounds fantastic!
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#6 User is offline   belford 

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Posted 10 November 2013 - 12:32 PM

The jam theme is: "Remaining Light". (Interpret that however you want.)
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