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I've been pondering a redesign of our MUD's light/dark system. Our current system accommodates new players by simply not saddling them with being unable to see should they happen to wander outside of a populated area at night. I would like, in redesigning the light system, to stop making accommodations. I take the accommodations as a sign the system is less than ideal for everyone.

I appreciate the way visual games are afforded to handle this; we can generally see the area around our character, and in some cases can obtain bonuses to the radius within which we can see. I haven't been able to come up with a good way to port this concept to a MUD, at least without a concept of relative position that our current code-base just doesn't support. If we didn't have multiple player sub-classes based on the darkness they can create, I would be inclined to make it so all players can see the room they're in, get rid of torches, and be done with it.

I've spent a few hours searching and have failed to dig up compelling discussions on the topic. I'm sure they exist--I find it hard to believe the topic hasn't been aired somewhere. I'm curious how others would approach a light/dark system needing no exceptions for newbies, while still being able to accommodate classes, such as the undead, which need darkness (indeed, part of their power comes from their ability to keep others from seeing.)

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You could have alternative, very short, vague descriptions of locations for use at night. Also available interactions with elements of the room could be different. This way the player could be able to for example notice that there is some road sign pointing to some important location (which might be the city) and during day the player could be able to read that sign.

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You could provide players with some easy to obtain equipment to see in the dark (a torch, for example), but discourage its use for advanced players by making other equipment options available which result in superior character performance, but do not have the light perk.

An easy to acquire torch, for example, could be useful as a weapon itself in the beginning, so it's dual-use light source and weapon. Or it could fill the offhand equipment slot which a newbie has no use for, because two-handed weapons, shields or dual-wielding weapons aren't available to them yet.

But a player who has progressed further might opt to use a harder to acquire two-handed sword instead which is a much superior weapon, but doesn't create light, so the player has to learn how to navigate the world without the aid of light in exchange for more combat ability.

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Torches could also be disfavored by higher-level characters who can afford alternatives because a light source attracts wandering monsters. – user16989 Mar 19 '13 at 12:58
In one game I remember there was a 'utility' slot for which items were rare and high-level...with the exception of a light-rod, which you could get from a newbie quest. Invariably Low-level characters always used the light since they had absolutely nothing better to equip in that slot, but higher-level characters had access to much better items, which they equipped instead. – Textmode Aug 29 '13 at 15:00

I'm going to make a presumption here, in that experienced players can cope with the dark. What I'd do is follow the route of several other games, and give a one week grace period, for example. During this time, new players can get used to playing the game - note that there would only be a limited amount of light, and this could possibly even be shrunk down over time to acclimatise players to the game. In this way, new players aren't faced with a seemingly impossible game to start with, but after a while they can then play evenly with other people.

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