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Alter Aeon
BAT Mud

Articles Section
Cat Herding

For nearly five years, I've managed one MUSH.

Nowadays, I manage three.

I wouldn't do it if, on some level at least, I didn't love it.

Or maybe it's just that the management gigs are a necessary evil in bringing certain visions to life online. I think that's much more like it. Because, to be quite frank: I *hate* the management crap.

Managing an online game isn't just like herding cats. It's like herding one fairly large group of cats, some of which hate each other and lash about with their claws while others are yowling in heat or hiding under the bed or hanging from the chandelier or tearing through your closet - and you get to play referee.

That means picking sides. You're either with the scratchers or the yowlers or the hiders or the hangers or the tearers. Oh, sure, you can try to be neutral, The Portrait of Objectivity - and that's when ALL the cats start pissing on you.

Gee, guess I *am* slightly jaded on the management side of things.

If you're thinking about running your own game - let alone three - make sure you're ready for life in the trenches. Make sure you've got a thick skin. Make sure you're ready to make mistakes on your own terms. And make sure you're prepared to swallow your pride and fix things you break, if it benefits the game.

Because you will be attacked. You will be questioned. You will be second-guessed. You will be undercut. You will be backstabbed.

You will do some things just because you want to, the hell with what anyone else thinks.

And you will be faced with choices that will determine the fate of your game. If you stubbornly refuse to fix problems out of pride, then you condemn your game to acrimony and mediocrity.

So, that brings me to why I'm here.

I want to help.

In the past, I've focused more on storytelling and plot-management. I'll still do that in these columns. But I plan to spend at least as much time sharing my own adventures in MUSH management - the good, the bad, and the ugly - so that maybe you can learn from what I've done right and what I've done wrong.

All experiences, good or bad, are valuable. Maybe you'll read these columns and get a hint about how to steer clear of certain pitfalls.

Running a game can be rewarding. No matter how nasty it sometimes gets, I'm still doing it - in triplicate! So, with that in mind, you can either consider my sage advice to be worthy of consideration, or you can write me off as an absolute nutcase who is too much of a glutton for punishment to be granted any serious credibility.

Either way, I hope at least to be entertaining and informative.

Welcome Backstage!

Now, pass the Tylenol.

Wes Platt is the creator of OtherSpace: The Interactive SF Saga and Chiaroscuro: The Interactive Fantasy Saga. He's a head-wiz on Star Wars: Reach of the Empire. (All games can be reached through his official site at www.jointhesaga.com.) He also produces Brody's MUD Index (mudindex.jointhesaga.com), a free quarterly periodical in PDF format that offers MUD listing opportunities. His e-mail address is wesplatt@jointhesaga.com.

Part 2 - Putting the Band Together