The Mantle of Omnipotence
With your ideas in one hand, and MUDzilla events
in the other, you will wield absolute power within any simulation you create. This is a mighty responsibility,
as you will become master of as many universes as you care to create or destroy. Such an awesome role often
demands privacy to be effective, where you cannot be seen fiddling with the controls which guide
Or, you may decide your simulation requires your august presence among the simulation's
participants to convey the underlying story. Whatever your manifestation, you will have total control
of all simulation objects, including your participants. Fortunately, MUDzilla contains many
elements, both systemic and political, to help you become an effective
and avoid the primary pitfall of absolute power, that being the tendency to corrupt absolutely!
The Rite of Assumption
In terms of power, MUDzilla divides all
avatar objects into two camps:
Administrators. By default, administrative avatars are empowered with complete and total control
over all aspects of the simulation. They can be visible or invisible to the simlation's other participants,
depending on your exact needs. Your own presence within the simulation will be contained within an
Participants. Non-administrative avatars represent most simulation participants. Anyone you
invite to participate in your simulation will take on the role of their non-administrative avatar, ready
to encounter the fate you have defined for them.
The simulation enforces a strict separation between administrators and participants. With the flip
of a switch, you can render all your administrative avatars completely and utterly invisible to the
simulation's other participants. Not all avatars within the simulation will have a human presence
behind them. So-called non-player characters (NPCs), these avatars function as automatons,
robots configured to act in accordance with your underlying story.
By virtue of your administrative
avatar, you gain the power of assumption, the ability to assume the role of any
non-administrative avatar within the simulation. While you are assuming another avatar, you gain
all of the avatar's abilities, while retaining your administrative authority. This allows you
to enter the context of the simulation without disrupting the flow of the underlying story. To a simulation
participant, the assumption process is completely invisible.
In a place the size and scale of a Multiverse, anything can happen. Being prepared for anything
is perhaps the greatest challenge, you, the simulation designer, must face. Among the possible outcomes
of running a simulation is that your simulation's data may become compromised by some outside, uncontrollable
force in a fashion which does not match your vision. Unfortunately, this pattern of behavior follows an axiom
which governs computer data networks of all types:
"There exists no computer data network that stays up 100% of the time, nor
does there exist any computer data network that cannot be hacked."
This bitter truth, though often hard to swallow, is easy to understand, as every web site on the internet
is open to hundrends of millions of users. We regard user action as perhaps the
unpredictable force in nature, and the sheer numbers of internet users, combined with the
Sound of Silence
indicates a balanced approach to managing simulation security. With this in mind, we have developed
four main types of security management for MUDzilla
1. User Access. To access a simulation, a participant must enter a valid userid and password.
Long a staple of computer security, passwords work fairly well, right up to the point where a user divulges a
password, or some ingenious hacker manages to obtain a list of passwords. Frequent, mandatory password
changes can circumvent this, but forces users to manage numerous passwords over the long haul. Using MUDzilla, you can
configure account password behavior to include minimum lengths, maximum number of password retries, and
2. Network Access. You can control from which internet networks you will allow access to the simulation.
MUDzila tracks the source internet protocol (IP) address of each user when they log in. If you determine
a hacker is originating from some IP network, you can block access from that entire network, along with
blocking the offending userid as well. Such site bans can also be instrumental in dealing with
so-called troublesome users, individuals you have identified as disruptive to your notion of how
your simulation should work.
3. Object Access. For participants, access to simulation data is controlled through events, so
all non-administrative object modifications are completed within the context of the simulation.
Where object access becomes important is on the administrative side of the equation.
If your simulation supports many designers, each will have, by default, absolute access to all
aspects of the simulation. If you wish to establish some sort of security such that a designer's
work remains protected from other designers, you can use MUDzilla's object security.
While we include a robust mechanism for shielding objects, we estimate that simulations will
likely have few administrators, allowing simple trust to become perhaps the
best form of object security.
4. Security Policy. Before you open your simulation, even to other administrators, we
highly recommend you establish a written security policy, and follow it. Security policies exist outside
the simulation, and include such things as intent, identifiying proper access to simulation data,
and specifying the consequences of breaching the policy. Let everyone understand from the
outset what you are willing to tolerate, and state it with authority. Your security policy
will likely evolve as your simulation grows, so it should be treated as a living, breathing
entity, able to adapt to changes in its environment.
Mana From Heaven
Creating something the size and scale of a Multiverse is an ambitous undertaking, without doubt.
Managing such a tremendous cosmos once you have it up and running is a monumental task. As your simulation
grows, you will become futher removed from the objects you create, just from sheer numbers alone.
An ideal management infrastructure must therefore include the following elements:
1. Multiversial Scope. Any simulation management scheme must be usable across the entire
width and breadth of the Multiverse, and provide a consistent methodology.
2. Participant Invisibility. Simulation participants must be unaware of any attempts to
manage them, or your underlying story could be compromised. An example of this comes from
The Wizard of Oz, in which the man behind the curtain was discovered.
3. Depth of Meaning. The best way to disguise a management scheme is to conceal it within
the context of the underlying story, where its invisibility is assured, following the old axoim
the best place to hide something is in plain sight.. Such a system would
reflect the meaning of the objects it manages.
To meet these challenges, we have developed the MUDzilla
Power System, a mana-based object
management system that lets you control the flow of power through the entire simulation.
All the people, places, and things within a MUDzilla simulation are imbued with a mana pool,
a container which represents the life force of an object. A single point of mana is
the smallest unit of measure of this force. MUDzilla uses mana to quantify measurements associated
items, such as
alignment. The characteristics of mana contained by a mana pool
influences how the simulation treats the owning object, and participants remain unaware
they even possess a mana pool, much less how it affects them.
To connect these mana pools together, MUDzilla specifies a special object called
a conduit, a pipe for passing mana in one direction from one mana pool to another.
Mana conduits have no direct manifestation within a simulation, they only exist within
the context of the simulation's database, rendering them completely invisible to the
simulation's participants. By creating events which depend on the flow of mana,
you will regulate power withinin the simulation in a manner that cannot be detected.
Mana itself cannot control the behavior of simulation participants,
but it can help you limit the scope of the consequences derived from participant action.
One application of mana involves the implementation of so-called magic, which is simply
technology whose function and purpose remain shrouded in ignorance. By requiring users of magic to gather
and manipulate mana, you can control their access to mana by managing the conduits connecting the
magic user to the rest of the simulation. The magic user will only perceieve changes
within the context of the magic itself, remaining oblivious to the underlying mana conduits.
Another use of mana applies
to the creation of a deity, a god-like being which may possess a number of worshipers.
By linking the deity to its followers through mana conduits, a deity can expect to manage its
worshipers. By linking yourself to the deity, you can expect to manage the deity!
The MUDzilla Power System is designed to be flexible, scalable, and invisible. However, if you
cannot determine a use for mana pools, and the conduits which connect them, within the context of
your vision, you can shut the entire power system off with a single switch.