I would like to take a moment to explain why I dislike the use of sound packs on MUDs. It is common that blind players will often grab a sound pack and play their favorite MUD using said pack. It is also often true that the packs are of good quality, some better than others, but usually in the realm of awesomeness. So, why then, would I not use them, and why then, would I try to sway others from using them?
To answer this, I would first like to draw a comparison to books versus their movie counterparts. When you dive into a book, you take what the author has written, and you fill in the gaps with your own perceptions, your own imagination on how you think the characters are. Not everything about one of your favorite characters in a novel will be filled in by the author, so you naturally tend to fill in those gaps yourself. Now, let’s look at a movie based off of a book. Most things are filled in for us, what the person looks like (as portrayed by the actor or actress), how they sound, and so on. Not only that, but you’re experiencing the producers’ creative license, which doesn’t always align with how the book lays things out, and what’s more, it doesn’t always align with how you imagined certain situations would unfold.
The movie also fits inside a comfortable window for viewing. If its too long, people might get bored and leave prematurely, if they do that, they might talk about their negative experience with the movie, not recommend it to friends, family, co-workers or colleagues. They might post something negative online or on social media. If they do that, and negative opinion begins to grow, box office sales will drop. Cutting the run time also has a drastic effect on what stays in the final cut, and what is scrapped. When you read the book, it is rich with detail, it doesn’t just describe the current conflict that most novels are based on, but how things came to be.
Now, let’s see how we can draw parallels between the book vs. movie analogy and the sound pack vs. no sound pack analogy. Looking on the surface, maybe you don’t see the commonalities here, but just read on. For the first point, a sound pack reflects the creator’s vision on how the game world is supposed to sound. Using the example above, the sound pack is the movie, where not using a sound pack is like the book. Why would you want to experience someone else’s vision, when they have no power to change it, they simply create a pack, and you use that pack. The game staff have the power to change it, and not only that, but the writing skill that is required to bring about plots, or advance the story as time goes on. I don’t know about you, but I play a MUD to experience the creator of that MUD’s vision, or their vision if a team is behind the administration of it, which mostly is the case. I want to know what they think, I want to know the vision they are attempting to convey, the atmosphere they are seeking to cultivate.
I’m not questioning the fact that there are talented people out there, both coding and mixing of audio and creating unique sounds. However, I don’t particularly care about their interpretation of the game world I’m playing in. So, in any case where it is feasible to do so, I don’t use sound packs.
Just to be clear, when I say sound packs, I don’t necessarily mean sound triggers. The difference, at least for me, is that a sound pack is a culmination of triggers, scripts, and sometimes aliases that is designed to enrich your experience. I do use sound triggers on almost every MUD I play. These are what I like to call ‘event triggers’, however. They tip me off to events that can occur while text is rapidly scrolling, such as someone talking over a channel, or certain events I’d need to know about immediately. Channel messages, as well as pages, and sometimes normal say results, I will create buffers for. I will then be able to switch to the buffer and use a command to read the last message that appeared there. I don’t generally use sounds for combat, or reading results from battles unless the MUD’s combat system is so fast paced and offers so much info that it is impossible, or improbable that I would be able to absorb and retain the information. I definitely don’t use ambient sounds, no music, no step sounds, no effect or cast sounds, again unless its part of combat and I feel its a need.
To this end, I feel that I maintain a minimal amount of sounds that don’t interfere with my enjoyment and immersion in the game world I’ve chosen to take part in. I do get notified when certain things happen, I do sometimes get auditory information represented to me to help with combat spam or prompt spam. What this does is helps me not to fall into someone else’s vision of the game world, it lets me fill in the blanks the MUD staff haven’t explicitly stated, or which can’t be gleamed from learning about the lore.
In conclusion, I would simply like to state that I”am not trying to coerce those that do use sound packs to stop using them. It isn’t a bad thing to use a sound pack, just know that you are accepting someone else’s interpretation of the world you play in. If that’s OK for you, that’s your choice. I write this to represent another viewpoint. The power of MUDs is the power of the human mind, and one of the most powerful things about the human mind is its ability to imagine a wide variety of scenarios. You can fill in all this information by yourself, using your own mind, you can generate sounds, smells, landscapes, and more. This power is yours, and all you have to do is reach for it, turn off the sound pack, make a minimal set of triggers that makes the MUD playable for you, and allow your imagination to take over.