To Jump Or Not To Jump

By Larry Gensch (lar3ry)

When EMuck was started, we had considered implementing a jump command, and ultimately decided against it. This wasn't a decision that was made due to the capriciousness of the admins, but it was discussed and debated at length with the people that attended our initial brainstorming sessions.

I'd like to go into detail what I remember about the issue, and why our current decision on not implementing it was made.

What is Jumping?

Jump is a program that allows people to go directly from one location on EMuck to another place, without having to figure out if there is a valid path to get to that place.

To use the program, a person simply types `jump <playername>', where <playername> is the name of a player that the person wants to visit.

The process gets a bit more involved, however. Some people do not like being jumped to for whatever reason. So, a set of flags can be set/reset to allow a particular person and/or location to be allowed or disallowed use by the jump program. That is, if a person doesn't mind people jumping to his or her location, that person can set the JUMP_OK flag on his or her player. And, there are similar abilities for rooms (even though a person may be set JUMP_OK, if the room where the player is located is not set JUMP_OK, then the command would be disallowed.

The semantics of jump seem simple enough initially, and I must admit that writing such a program doesn't take a lot of effort or time.

One problem with a jump command is that there isn't always an easy way to figure out if a given location or player is "jumpable" -- it usually becomes a matter of hit or miss as to whether or not the command will succeed. This means that there must be more support for the command (additional programs, etc.).

Such a program is available on other MU*s, and it has its adherents and detractors.

Why jump?

Most people that are looking for a jump command have usually had some experience on other MU*s where such a command is available. Usually, the reason for this is that a person wants to communicate privately (using the say or pose commands) with another person; the jump command is a quick way to get from one location to another.

Without a jump command, a player would have to issue a sometimes-confusing set of commands in order to go from one location on EMuck to another. A jump could be considered a short-cut to typing all those commands.

Why not jump?

Jump's detractor's say that a jump command takes away from the theming of EMuck. In real life, if you wish to visit a person in, say, Toronto, and you are living in Atlanta, you cannot simply jump to that person. You'd either need to spend the money to transport yourself to that location (air fare, bus fare, or gasoline if you are driving), or you'd call them up on the phone. Similary, on EMuck, your choices are to figure out the path from your location to the desired location and either type out the commands, or compute a proper "run" command to get there a bit quicker. Or, if you prefer, you could use the page or cb commands to talk "long distance."

If using the page or cb commands is a bit burdensome, jump's detractors say that you need to learn the layout of EMuck... do some exploring. After all, people have built all the rooms on EMuck so that people could visit them. Just jumping from one location to another makes all those people's works for naught. If you are really in a pinch, the robot r.Daneel usually has a useful map and can tell you how to get from point "A" to point "B" (well, most of the time, anyway!).

EMuck's policy

In the end, jump's detractors won the day. The command was disallowed on EMuck, and it has been this way since we opened for general release in 1996.

Every once in a while, we get a request for the command to be implemented. Not so often, those requests become tirades from people who cannot imagine using such a broken-down place like EMuck where jump is not allowed. It's obvious that after hearing the same arguments time after time, some nerves get worn thin on both sides of the issue.

However, the fact remains that no compromise has yet been worked out that would satisfy people on both sides of the issue. I would imagine that some bright thinker may be able to figure out a way to appeal to both sides of the issue, but to date, nobody has done so.

So, the jump program has been disallowed, and unless somebody can advance some new argument or compromise, this policy will remain.

I know that as an admin, I would be willing to hear any commentary from people who think that they can achieve a compromise on the jump program.

lar3ry is the technical support admin on EntertainMUCK, having written a lot of the programming that has gone into the game server. He can be reached at

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