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Ron Penton's MUD Game Programming


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#1 andy_boy   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 06:54 AM

I'll be starting Ron Penton's MUD book very soon.

I believe there used to be a website of his that had updated code, errata and bug fixes.

Does anyone know where I can find his site or at least the necessary updates to make the most out of going through his book?

Thanks.

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#2 FLeBlanc   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3101

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 08:58 AM

That book is pretty old. I doubt you're going to find anything for it by now. Ron used to kick around this site, but I don't think he's been around in several years.

#3 hplus0603   Moderators   -  Reputation: 5187

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 02:00 PM

Does anyone know where I can find his site or at least the necessary updates to make the most out of going through his book?


You could check webarchive.org

Regarding the age of the book: I used Berkeley Sockets on BSD UNIX in 1985. The API then was very similar to that API now, and the issues related to network communications were also similar. However, things like versions of operating systems, tools, etc, change all the time, so books that talk about "and in Microsoft Visual Studio version 1.1, you need to add this SET command to your AUTOEXEC.BAT" end up confusing the timeless parts with very dated technology. I don't know whether there's a lot of that in Ron's book, but it's something to watch out for in general.
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#4 andy_boy   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 04:00 PM

That book is pretty old. I doubt you're going to find anything for it by now. Ron used to kick around this site, but I don't think he's been around in several years.


As long as it has basic concepts that are applicable today, how old it is doesn't bother me.

I like that, a text based game, networking and multi-player are all rolled into one book.

I'm not looking to make the latest and greatest at this early stage, I'm just looking to learn solid fundamentals.

If there may be another alternative to Penton's book, feel free to mention it.

You could check webarchive.org

Regarding the age of the book: I used Berkeley Sockets on BSD UNIX in 1985. The API then was very similar to that API now, and the issues related to network communications were also similar. However, things like versions of operating systems, tools, etc, change all the time, so books that talk about "and in Microsoft Visual Studio version 1.1, you need to add this SET command to your AUTOEXEC.BAT" end up confusing the timeless parts with very dated technology. I don't know whether there's a lot of that in Ron's book, but it's something to watch out for in general.


Thanks for the tips.

#5 FLeBlanc   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3101

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 04:27 PM

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with an older book. I'm just saying that bit-rot of the Internet means that if it's older than a couple years, any supporting web sites have probably vanished. Such is life within Al Gore's marvelously flawed intarweb pipes.

#6 andy_boy   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 09:10 AM

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with an older book. I'm just saying that bit-rot of the Internet means that if it's older than a couple years, any supporting web sites have probably vanished. Such is life within Al Gore's marvelously flawed intarweb pipes.


Actually I am having trouble finding anything.

Does anyone know the exact url for Penton's old page with the updated code, as that is what webarchive needs to perform a search.

#7 Antheus   Members   -  Reputation: 2397

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 11:43 AM

Does anyone know the exact url for Penton's old page with the updated code, as that is what webarchive needs to perform a search.


It's quite obvious. Though it doesn't seem as if any kind of additional content was ever published.

As long as it has basic concepts that are applicable today, how old it is doesn't bother me.


Perhaps the biggest difference starting after 2005 or so would be complete absence of C.

Between UTF8, ubiquity of cheap and free hosting, abundant RAM and widely available databases, scripting languages took over for such tasks, allowing same to be achieved with a few lines of code, compared to thousands in C. And often at no real cost at typical scale. MUDs being a dead genre also doesn't do much to warrant extra investment.

What such books will be mostly or completely missing are some of very important changes in development. From cloud hosting, automated deployments, devenv management, version control as integral part of development pipeline, web interfaces and automated testing, the whole management aspect provides more value than code itself and is crucial for rapid development. All of this contributed to projects going from 2 years to 2 months or 2 weeks, idea to completion. It also shifts focus from "doing it perfectly right the first time" towards experimentation and incremental improvement which tend to have positive effect on most projects and drastically reduce effort needed.

#8 hplus0603   Moderators   -  Reputation: 5187

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 09:12 PM

Perhaps the biggest difference starting after 2005 or so would be complete absence of C.




I'm not sure that is entirely true. I'm currently leading distributed projects at work being developed in Python/Twisted, PHP, JavaScript/node.js, Erlang/OTP and C++/boost::asio. Another group uses a bit of Java for distribution, mostly because they can re-use a bunch of open source already in that language.

I think what happened was that the memory and I/O hierarchy disparities kept growing -- The speed difference between L1 and DRAM are insane these days, and the differences from there to disk (especially spinny disks) and networking are even more exaggerated. Thus, the constant-term overhead of interpreted systems and bytecode machines ends up being hidden behind the cost of I/O. This means that a lot of more platforms became possible contenders for solving a lot more different projects -- and the world is doing a lot more distributed computing projects now, than 10 or 20 years ago.

However, systems that still need to be written in C/C++, are still written in C/C++. There are some cases where controlling bits and bytes will give you an order of magnitude of efficiency difference, and that order of magnitude will be the difference between "can do it on $15k of commercial hardware" or "not economically feasible for the next 5 years."


What such books will be mostly or completely missing are some of very important changes in development.


The thing is, if you throw yourself right into the NoSQL / cloud / distributed / agile / A-B-testing / minimum-viable-product paradigm, without understanding what underlies it, you *will* end up choking yourself on misconceptions and poor judgement. I think that starting with a good understanding of C/C++ as it relates to sockets is a fantastic base on which to build distributed systems knowledge. Doing threading in C is also something that will give you a good undersanding of fundamental building blocks.

And, yes, I also think that a good systems programmer should know what a gate is and how it works; what an ALU is and how it works; what a cache is and how it works; what assembly language is and how it works; in addition to all the way up through C; C++; LISP/JavaScript/SmallTalk; Erlang/OCaml/Haskell/SQL.
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#9 Antheus   Members   -  Reputation: 2397

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 11:05 AM

Relevant knowledge, especially for someone in lead and expert position.

But isn't that asking a bit much from a single book on MUD programming?

if you throw yourself right into the NoSQL / cloud / distributed / agile / A-B-testing / minimum-viable-product paradigm,


Not *that* extreme.

In last couple of years ability to have arbitrary, effectively dedicated server became free. What used to be reserved to enterprises in 2003 is available via HTML link to everyone anywhere. Between ubiquitous hosting, automated deployment and testing toolkits and general accessibility of once high-end services, the workflow has changed. Especially since it allows to develop on actual remote servers to avoid the "works on my machine" type of problems. Obviously, given a lot of repetition in such tasks, it makes sense looking into automation which also became very accessible. All of this simply didn't exist or wasn't available to an individual a few years ago.

Kinda like using make files, build systems or IDEs vs. compiling individual files manually or having them shipped to computer operators to punch the cards.

#10 andy_boy   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 05:51 PM

It's quite obvious. Though it doesn't seem as if any kind of additional content was ever published.


Thanks. Unfortunately only the home page has been archived and it looks to be from 2003, so even if any updates were made, at least in regards to web.archive, they are not available.

Perhaps the biggest difference starting after 2005 or so would be complete absence of C.

Between UTF8, ubiquity of cheap and free hosting, abundant RAM and widely available databases, scripting languages took over for such tasks, allowing same to be achieved with a few lines of code, compared to thousands in C. And often at no real cost at typical scale. MUDs being a dead genre also doesn't do much to warrant extra investment.

What such books will be mostly or completely missing are some of very important changes in development. From cloud hosting, automated deployments, devenv management, version control as integral part of development pipeline, web interfaces and automated testing, the whole management aspect provides more value than code itself and is crucial for rapid development. All of this contributed to projects going from 2 years to 2 months or 2 weeks, idea to completion. It also shifts focus from "doing it perfectly right the first time" towards experimentation and incremental improvement which tend to have positive effect on most projects and drastically reduce effort needed.


I'm pretty much in agreement with hplus0603 about building a solid foundation.

So if the Penton book is outdated, please feel free to make any recommendations about any more up to date books that are available AND beginner friendly .

#11 hplus0603   Moderators   -  Reputation: 5187

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 12:04 PM

Thanks. Unfortunately only the home page has been archived and it looks to be from 2003, so even if any updates were made, at least in regards to web.archive, they are not available.


It's been my experience that if webarchive.org doesn't have a newer version, there probably never were a newer version.
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#12 andy_boy   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 08:16 AM

It's been my experience that if webarchive.org doesn't have a newer version, there probably never were a newer version.


You might just be correct.

Still, if you or anyone else has any other book suggestions, I'm all ears. :)




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