Marketing Your MU**
So, you've built your MUD/MUX/MUSH/MOO, what have you, and what you need now are people to bring your creation to life: Players.
How do you do it? How do you raise interest in your game?
You might think because it's based on Star Wars: Episode I that you'll get an automatic boost. And, to an extent, you might be right. Star Wars comes with a built-in audience, after all. And you might think because it's an original theme, something of your own creation, that you'll have be operating from a position of weakness because yours *doesn't* have a built-in audience. You would also be right.
But when you poke around that great big growing world of text-based games (competing with a growing contingent of graphics-oriented games), you're going to make a discovery. I know I did, when I began the process of marketing OtherSpace.
Remember that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, when Indy is trying to catch up with Marion (she's been hauled away by Nazis in a straw basket)? And Indy runs into the plaza and sees dozens and dozens of identical baskets being carried around. His eyes get about *this* big and his mouth drops open. *I* knew that feeling two years ago when my efforts to get attention for my game began.
The first stop for most people marketing their games is The Mud Connector (www.mudconnect.com). It's a good starting point. There, you can enter your game into a searchable database of games that is frequently accessed by people looking specifically for online text-based gaming. That is, after all, your general audience.
But you must do more.
Let's say you run a game based on an established theme. Run a search at TMC for games of the same, or similar, theme. Star Wars, for example, at the time of this writing, is the theme of 37 listed games. Sixteen Star Trek games. World of Darkness is featured in 42 games. And, overall, there are 1,628 games total listed at TMC - at this writing. More will be coming.
Getting your game listed at TMC is a lot like getting your name and number in the local phone book. It guarantees that if people know to look for you, they will find you. But how do you get them to look for you? And what else can you do to raise awareness about your game?
Regardless of your theme, you must take advantage of every venue of free advertising you can find - and there are more than you might think.
You're reading this, so you know about Top Mud Sites. It's another valuable resource, with the benefit for those getting in on the ground floor of being among the relative few (348 games listed here so far at this writing). Get listed here. Encourage your players to show support for the game - and raise awareness about it - by voting here.
Get yourself a website, present it well, and submit it to every search engine you can think of (Yahoo, Infoseek, Northern Light, Hotbot, Google, et. al.). Use those search engines to find other MU** list opportunities.
At my website, www.otherspace.org, you'll find lists for OtherSpace Originals (games based on original themes) and Online Escapes MU** List (games based on established themes). These lists are free. Get on them. You can pay money and get a few extras (a web page, a review of your game), but without spending a dime, you get your game's name and web address on one more list. Also, under Recommended Links on the OtherSpace page, you'll find links to Online Gaming Resource and Astra's Realms of Imagination. Get listed there!
Once a month, take advantage of USENET, by sending news releases about your game to such groups as rec.games.mud.announce.
Then, when you've done all that, do more.
I can't stress enough the importance of getting your name out there as a valuable commodity in the MU**ing community. It often means a great deal of extra effort on your part as game operator, but in the long run, it is worth it.
Get involved in discussions in the Mud Connector and Top Mud Site forums that don't necessarily have to do with your game. If you run a game, throw in your two cents about issues raised by others in various threads along your same interests. Offer helpful advice to newbies trying to run their own games. Give opinions about roleplaying.
By doing this, you show people that you aren't *just* about getting people in the door of your game. You're deeper than that, and they get to see your philosophy, your way of thinking. Folks who like your way of thinking will visit your game, and they might actually stick around.
Brody (Wes Platt) is the creator and chief storyteller at OtherSpace MUSH. He has been MUSHing for about six years (four as a player and two as the top staffer at OtherSpace). Although he is part of the OS staff, Brody continues to stay involved in roleplaying - he can often be found playing a variety of characters from his RP repertoire at OtherSpace. He's also responsible for the OS website (www.otherspace.org), news updates, mailing list, RP log archives, and OtherSpace Originals MU** Library (www.otherspace.org/osorlib.htm) and Online Escapes MU** List (www.online-escapes.com). Besides that, he's writing "The Stolen Warriors" serialized novel based on the original OS story arc. Send email to him at email@example.com>. You can visit the MUSH at otherspace.org:1790.