Rent

meaning and definition

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    What is rent?

    Rent in the context of multi-user dungeons (MUDs) refers to a game mechanic where players pay in-game currency to secure their inventory and equipment at an inn or similar safe location before logging out.

    By paying rent, players could ensure that their items persist in the game world between sessions.

    Originally, rent was implemented to manage memory usage limitations in early computer systems, as it minimized the amount of data that needed to be actively stored when the player was not logged in.

    Although mostly considered obsolete, rent still appears in some older games and is often viewed as an inconvenient relic from the past.

    Modern games may include a housing feature (which may or may not include paying rent), but this is often optional and allows players the convenience of storing more items in a safe place. Even if they log out outside of their designated “home,” they will retain all their equipment.


    Rent FAQs

    Why was rent originally implemented in MUDs?

    Rent was implemented to cope with the limited RAM and processing power of earlier computers. By requiring characters to pay to save their items, developers could more easily manage server load and data storage, ensuring smoother gameplay for those logged in.

    What happens if a player does not pay rent?

    If a player does not pay rent before logging out, typically, their character’s carried items and equipment would not be saved. This meant that upon returning to the game, they would find themselves potentially starting over with default equipment or even losing the character’s progress.

    How do modern games handle inventory persistence?

    Modern games generally have done away with the rent system due to advancements in technology that allow for greater memory capacity and more sophisticated data management techniques. Inventory and character states are now automatically saved continuously or at specific milestones without needing the player to pay in-game currency.

    Is there any benefit to having a rent system in a game?

    While generally seen as a nuisance, the rent system can add a layer of strategic depth to a game. It forces players to consider carefully what items are worth keeping and paying for, adding a financial management aspect to character progression and resource allocation.

    For an interesting look at different types of in-game currency in games, check out this article.

    Are there any games that still use rent?

    Yes, some older MUDs or those aiming to provide a nostalgic or particularly challenging experience might still employ the rent system. However, it is increasingly rare in newer games, which prefer more user-friendly methods of inventory management. In these newer games, housing is often made available as a convenience to players, not as a constraint.

    Myths about rent

    One myth is that the rent system was created as a gameplay feature to enhance realism or add difficulty. In reality, it was a technical workaround necessitated by hardware limitations of the time.

    Another misconception is that losing items due to not paying rent can completely reset a player’s progress; typically, key progressions like levels and completed quests would persist.

    Rent examples

    • In a classic fantasy MUD, a player must calculate the cost of renting space at an inn for their rare armor and weapons, ensuring they can afford it upon each logout to prevent item loss.
    • A player in an adventure-themed MUD frequents an inn where they pay gold to keep their enchanted items safe. Failing to pay rent results in starting the next session with only basic gear.
    • In a historical MUD, players use inns not only for renting storage for their items but also as strategic locations for forming alliances and planning quests, integrating rent into broader gameplay dynamics.

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    About the author

    Andruid is a writer, roleplayer, storyteller, and nerd who tries to live by Bill and Ted wisdom, i.e. "Be excellent to each other."