OtherSpace: Page One

When the MUSH got its start nearly 16 years ago, it was as if I’d dropped players into the middle of a novel in progress.

Yes, their characters were new and no one had previously collaborated on real-time scenes in this setting, but the universe that they helped bring to life already had a lived-in feeling to it. We had interstellar empires that spanned the western spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy, faster-than-light travel, and a timeline full of historic events to get everyone off and running.

Now, we’re shaking the Etch-A-Sketch. We’ve hit rewind and erase on the DVR. We’re sanding through the patina, digging down through the layers upon layers of character interactions and plot twists that have carried the MUSH from 1998 to now. We’re going way, way back to the year 2550 – a hundred years before any of the events that started OtherSpace MUSH.

Welcome to Page One.

This time, we’ve only got one species to choose from: Human. Only one small patch of the Orion Arm to call home: Sol System. No FTL yet. No star-spanning empires. No pirate kings. No first contact with aliens. No colonization of worlds beyond our home system. It’s truly a clean slate for a new beginning to our story.

It’s a great opportunity for new players to get involved without the daunting thought of wading through a decade and a half of in-game history – or the sense that the big stories already have been told. After all, classic OtherSpace saw players faced with the price of alien-supplied FTL technology, an invasion that led to adventures across the multiverse and over the centuries in a colony ship, and a crisis that threatened to tear apart the fabric of reality and an evacuation to the Ancient Expanse and Comorro Station.

It’s also a fantastic chance for veteran players – perhaps especially those who joined within the last few years – to experience the OtherSpace adventure from a fresh perspective.

The official opening is June 28 – the official 16th anniversary of the MUSH. However, today I approved the first player-character for the reboot grid, which is already online for people who want to get an early start.

So, if you enjoy reading, writing, creative real-time collaboration, and space opera, you should download SimpleMU or MUSHClient (both for PC) and point them toward OtherSpace at jointhesaga.com port 1790.

Join the reboot!

Super simple reboot character creation

The new character creation process for rebooted OtherSpace will be non-linear. It’s conceivable that a player can enter just one room before submitting their biography for consideration and entering the grid on Earth, if approved.

Kudos to Coyote and Loki for the general idea, which is to give players less of a cattle chute and more of a simplified, elegant experience. From the main room, we’ll have additional exits that will let players explore other aspects of the game, if they want. But we’re moving away from the largely unnecessary hiking experience of prior character setup areas on the MUSH.

And since that main room is done and the first chunk of grid for Cape Canaveral is online (thanks, Colchek!), we’re going to start accepting new character concepts for Vanguard personnel and research nerds hired as contractors by the military. Consider this the “soft opening” of the OtherSpace reboot!

From the main OOC area, just go through CS to get started!

Tired of people using RP as a political weapon

When a political candidate’s favorite pastime is hunting down and killing animals with a rifle, no one bats an eye.

If a candidate participated in a fraternity in college, unless something criminal happened, we really don’t care.

Or maybe the candidate likes to re-enact famous battles of the U.S. Civil War? No big deal.

But if a candidate has the temerity to enjoy fantasy role-playing – either the live-action variety with costumes and boffer swords, tabletop imaginings or Internet-based experiences such as OtherSpace – suddenly it’s the stuff of giggly gossip.

In 2012, Colleen Lachowicz took flak from the GOP when she ran for Maine’s state Senate because of her affinity for World of Warcraft. And now, Jake Rush, a candidate of the GOP in Florida, comes under fire for LARPing as a vampire as part of the Mind’s Eye Society.

Enough is enough.

It doesn’t take Jim Morrison to know that People Are Strange. Everyone’s got some kind of hang-up.

Alexandra Petri probably put it best in her Washington Post blog about the whole affair:

“People are weird. And now the Internet has made this weirdness searchable. Where once your neighbors wondered why you toted that sword around, now thousands of people can peer at your obsession and declare it odd, never mind what they have open in the next window. Everyone has something open in the next window. If you think you don’t, you’re Anthony Weiner.”

That said: The big winner out of all this latest hoopla has to be the Mind’s Eye Society, with oodles of free publicity.

Maybe I should run for public office.

Can you imagine the negative campaign ads?

This candidate:

  • Threw numerous journalists out of skyscraper windows.
  • Boiled tiny people.
  • Killed a man with alien fish sperm.
  • Allowed a madman to destroy his own planet.
  • Ripped entire universes apart.

Clearly, not someone to be trusted, right?

No more leaving things lying around

This column appeared in The Herald-Sun in April 2014:

Back in the 1980s, I didn’t think twice about stashing my blue Jansport book bag under a bench outside the public library while I wandered around downtown Orlando.

Today, though, it’s a different world.

So I can only imagine the horror that a man from Akron, waiting on a Megabus to take him away from the Bull City, must’ve felt on Monday when he came back to see what a seemingly innocuous act had wrought.

He had stashed a suitcase full of clothes and a laptop computer under the steps outside the N.C. Mutual Life building on Chapel Hill Street – between the Durham Police Department and the Durham Area Transit Authority terminal.

No malice intended, police say. He was just a regular guy, waiting on a bus, wanting to leave his stuff somewhere safe while he killed time walking around.

By the time he came back, though, a few city blocks were cordoned off, workers in the building had been evacuated, a bomb-sniffing robot whirred around, a Durham County Sheriff’s deputy walked up Duke Street dressed like he was in “The Hurt Locker” and television news helicopters buzzed overhead.

Imagine how that must’ve looked. Just think what ran through his mind as it dawned on him what was going on and why.

I suspect it was similar to what I felt as a kid when I flashed my Dad’s Magic Kingdom security badge to stop a train full of tourists from leaving Frontierland so I could get aboard with my friends.

I almost immediately realized that my father’s compatriots in security didn’t find this act nearly as amusing as I did. He didn’t find it funny, either.

Now that I have a son, I’m pretty sure my father can’t wait to see what mischief John Michael can get into using my press pass so he can claim payback.

The traveler in Durham meant no harm, but the man’s actions shut down a small chunk of the city for about three hours. Durham Police weren’t able to tell me if he ultimately made it to his bus on time, only that they wouldn’t press charges against him.

I feel a little sorry for him, but I think it should surprise no one — after 9/11, after the Boston Marathon bombing — that we’re going to react this way to reports of packages left where they don’t belong.

It’s unfortunate that the incident inconvenienced drivers and wrecked productivity for workers Monday afternoon. But I think we can all breathe a little easier knowing that it wasn’t an act of terrorism in our back yard and that law enforcement calmly and efficiently managed the brief crisis.

Maybe it ended up being nothing more than clothes and a computer, but I have to agree with the woman from the Veterans Affairs office who told me: “Better safe than sorry.”

Wes Platt can be reached at wplatt@heraldsun.com or 919-419-6684. Follow on Twitter at @HS_WesPlatt. Connect on Facebook at facebook.com/wesplattheraldsun. 

New pose-length limit

In preparation for the launch of our newest roleplaying-outreach initiative, we’ve hardcoded a new feature into OtherSpace MUSH. From now on, all poses and lines of dialogue are limited to no longer than 140 characters.

It’s in the best interest of broadening our RP accessibility that we make this move, so that we can provide real-time interactions on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook as we maximize our connections to modern social media.

Understandably, this may prove challenging for those who like to write more detailed poses or lengthier lines of dialogue. To that end, we’ve developed a new shorthand for roleplayers to use so that they can conserve characters in their activities. Examples include:

  • O: My character says something.
  • D: My character does something.
  • R: My character does something that requires moderation by a referee.
  • E: My character exposes something emotional about his or her past.
  • P: My character references a pet.
  • B: My character sips a beverage.

Previously, we might type out a full pose, such as: “It’s sultry out,” I say, uncrossing my arms and throwing a dagger at Bob. “Did you know I was trampled by a moose as a child? It left me scarred, both physically and emotionally. What made it so much worse? That moose was Clementine, a pet. I loved him so.” I sip my appletini.

Now, with the new method, we could simply shorten it to: O D R E P B. And then others react accordingly with their responses.

I think this is a great opportunity to take OtherSpace in new directions!