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Blog Post - Duende - 4/4/18 - Inspirations & Origins

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#1 Duende


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Posted 03 May 2018 - 11:19 PM

 Recently I was asked what the inspiration for some content was.  I've been an imm for 15+ years, so it turns out the answer is "everything, everywhere".  Surprisingly little of the game content reflects my tastes, but I have come to consume a lot of media and third-party content that I wouldn't have been interested in without the presence of MM and the players in my life.

 Because pure text is a relatively rare commodity on the internet in 2018, there are relatively few direct influences there.  I don't play any MUDs or other games even remotely similar to MM, and have a bare passing familiarity with most of the other games in the ecosystem.  Most other games produced today are wildly dissimilar and would have to be heavily modified to make any sort of sense within our world and systems- and tabletop RPGs even moreso.


 Rather, most of the things created in game are created from whole cloth, or logically derived from things elsewhere in the game, which probably didn't have any external origin beyond "somebody's imagination".  This is a random selection of things which provided inspiration, usually out of an attempt to share an idea, emotion or joke in a fresh context.


Perlin Noise: long ago, a friend was telling me about perlin noise, and spent so long between the name and typing out the explanation that by the time he had, I'd already spent a few minutes trying to find out more about the band.  I was heartbroken to learn it's just a modeling technique because the promise of it as a band name was so great. Some friends thought this was hilarious, so they made a band called Perlin Noise and wrote a song just to send to me.  Perlin Noise is definitely dedicated to them.

the hideous screaming skull of regret: courtesy KC Green on Gun Show Comic: http://i.imgur.com/B6x9S.png

wand golem: the dwarves in Oglaf are nothing like those in MM, but the logical progression of their existence is too great to not include: https://www.oglaf.com/cavalcade/ (NSFW)

Sloonsnar, the Star-Eater Supreme: less like Galactus and more like "whatever this is".  I know nothing about this game beyond this cinematic(?) Trailer, and I don't need to:

Straz the Wizard: years before I ever became an imm, I designed an area in Excel. It had 3 phases, starting village-small, and eventually growing in size to a small city, with growth dependent on player activity/reputation and taxes paid.  One of the key elements was a sibling magic company to Focault. All of this (very) eventually turned into Arien'dyth.

Banebeak the Wartoise: every time someone tells me there should be more turtle-based content, I add some more turtle-based content.  This has only happened 3 times in the past 15 years, but I'm currently batting 1.000.

an imp of the perverse: this is a short story by Poe, outlining a demon that embodies l'appel du vide, the call of the void, the urge to jump into an abyss.  It felt like it belonged here.



geisteblitz: this is conceptually associated with the imp of the perverse, but got its own spell just because the german word is both sufficiently distinct and sounds awesome. https://ask.metafilter.com/46983/Does-any-culture-have-a-word-for-that-what-if-I-suddenly-feeling#715776

conjure unicorns: http://pbfcomics.com/comics/nice-shirt/, but moreso

sandblast: Penny Arcade is pretty hit and miss and miss and miss, in the same way I feel South Park is (don't @ me) but

https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-Pc5hjMv/1/94084193/2100x20000/i-Pc5hjMv-2100x20000.jpg is a hit.

demigod visage: "how can a player become Dr. Manhattan".  Turns out 'be halfway omnipotent' is kind of too powerful to grant to anyone regardless of restriction, so a lot of the customized work on this affect goes unnoticed.

Chronomancers: last time I visited Vassago, he gave me a literally incomprehensible amount of old RPG books, despite the fact that neither of us has ever played any of them.  Their implementation is for a d20 RPG with very different mechanics, but was inspirational enough to eventually wring an archon class out of: http://www.mongoosepublishing.com/ebooks/d20/encyclopaedia-arcane/chronomancy.html

martial arts: none of this has actually been added, but one of key influences on where they could eventually go stem from this silly short, which owes a lot to Boots Riley and old Jackie Chan movies:


A lot of the names of bard songs were inspired by real songs, and the functionality emerged from their names.  The origins of most skills and songs are a lot fuzzier than other inspirations, where the functionality is less directly related but is more intended to express some emotion or experience.

pensive dirge: Okkervil River's “Westfall”:

rime of the glacierbreaker: perhaps least surprisingly, this came from the Dandy Warhols' cover of the Gordon Lightfoot song, “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”:

harmonize: this started as a religious chant sung by a couple hundred people for an hour in a buddhist temple, but that eventually morphed into a different song which hasn't been added yet.  Eventually, this became represented by Fissunix' remix of Depeche Mode's “Touch Faith”:

cacophony: Ladytron's White Noise vs. USA.


plodding fugue: Coil's “Careful What You Wish For”.  The first exposure I had to this was a music video incorporating parts of “Fire Walk With Me”, oddly enough, and the oddity of the video probably accounts for half of why this stuck in my craw long enough to become a spell.


soothing nocturne: 16 Horsepower's “Outlaw Song”.  A surprising amount of my "cowboy murder ballad" music makes it into the game:


epiphany: Milkman's Revelry:


battle march: this is expressed more like a Bousa march, but the original inspiration from NIN's Just Like You Imagined.  Tragically, this probably has roots in the 300 trailer, which was so bad I didn't even watch to the end.


ode to the moon: Fever Ray's “If I Had a Heart”:


drop the bass: equal parts Schoolboy's “Zombies Ate My Neighbors” and Griz' “Blastaa”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQuVlT-A9Go &



the black lodge: this is the black lodge from Twin Peaks.  I haven't seen the new one yet.

Metonychoseuthis: squid are terrifying https://www.metafilter.com/24828/Beware-the-giant-squid

Grimbold's annex: This has the exact same layout as my grandpa's bookstore.  And just about as many silverfish.

Gourevitch's hideaway: Philip Gourevitch wrote a &$*#ing heartbreaking book about the rwandan genocide, entitled "We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families".

Berkeley, where I lived for several years, has a surfeit of retail shops with great names, including the bookstore "Ten Thousand Minds on Fire" and the yarn store "A Verb for Staying Warm".  The former became a light from Kessarian, and the latter became the name of a Xazra demon.

Guards in alliance strongholds: 'sweding' definitely has dickish connotations, especially given how eloquent, well-read and well-spoken a lot of our players who don't speak english as a first language are, but the following exchange

[PKTALK C] Bamse: 'ok.. what should i not have on brief to se mob
 description?? combat mode?'

[PKTALK C] An ominously powerful voice: 'ksdf mksdf msdfkms?'

[PKTALK C] Dwarfius: 'owned =('

[PKTALK C] An ominously powerful voice: 'no owning, I just didn't understand
 wth he was saying'

was too funny to not bring into the game itself, eventually become the alliance stronghold guards.


 Various items released over the years have had some measures of sentience, but Iain M.  Banks' Lazy Gun is a great inspiration for something that I've always wanted to make, but could never (sanely, reasonably) mechanically capture the greatness of its premise:



 Thoughts on MM as a (very, very) long-term project: http://twitter.com/m...531297816682496

 The rest of this list notwithstanding, relatively little of the content created in the past several years directly correlates to specific pieces of inspiration.  Instead, we've been identifying cool things that are more one-offs than systems, and attempting to generalize them into well-supported systems. A big implication of this is "when you do something once, do it

everywhere", which also ties in pretty well to one of the more important Mud Laws: https://www.raphkoster.com/games/laws-of-online-world-design/the-laws-of-online-world-design/

 Generalizing systems is sort of a mechanical thing, in that we want to fulfill your natural expectation that if something works somewhere, it works everywhere, and the work involved in "make one thing be everything" is non-trivial, to say the least.  When worldbuilding, there is the world that you focus on- in 3.2 we had racial cities for dwarves and elves and minotaurs, and that was sort of it. In the past several years we've taken PC races that were more on the narrative periphery, because they lacked racial hometowns, and given them some: we have ogre Darksea, and Arien'dyth, and before that Ogre Village and Vir.

 As we pull more into focus, we also need to be developing more on the periphery, hence the centaurs clan which has taken over the Awesome clanhall, the Vizra demons which I have plans to start developing more, and the Crocodilian Empire.  The decision to focus on these things emerged with the help of a tool I've been building for a while, which basically takes a corpus and randomly mashes up elements from it, the enumeration of which is really helpful for rapidly iterating on concepts.

"Talk to your dreams" and "enumerate combinatorics" approach the same idea

from different ends: http://twitter.com/samir/status/628964482920919041 &


Most remaining work comes out of the Regret and Carpe Diem toolboxes:

http://twitter.com/maxlinsky/status/611635270971211777 &


And now, two closing thoughts:

http://twitter.com/mccv/status/565574573543153664 &