Making Help More Helpful

MUSH help systems are generally pretty… unhelpful.

Traditional MU* help has been based around a screen of disjointed topics.

                                    +help Topics                                 

+BG                       +FINGER                   +DESC
+HELP                     +LIST                     +MAIL

See +help  for more information about a topic.

+BG? +FINGER? If you don’t already know what these things are, this “help” is nonsensical. Your only real option is to just go through them one by one typing ‘+help xxx’ over and over again. And don’t even get me started on ‘help’ vs. ‘+help’.

One of the things I’ve tried to do with Ares is to improve the help system.

The help is very web-centric. Help topics are organized into general categories (Character Creation, Community, etc.) and each display a brief summary.

Help files are Markdown, allowing you to use all sorts of formatting (bold, tables, callouts, etc.), hyperlinks and even images.

Inside the game itself, you can view the topic list organized by category, just like the web view, with links to the web portal.

In the game itself, you can get a link to the web portal using help, or use help/view to display the web text in-game.

And finally, can also do help to display a quick reference for a specific command.

I’m sure there’s still room for improvement, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.