Putting the Band Together
How many posts like this have you seen on Top MUD Sites and The MUD Connector?
"I have n idea 4 a kewl mud. Need coderz, bilderz, n00b helperz, webmasterz, plotterz."
Too many, right?
Way too many.
How do I put this politely? Screw it. There's not polite way to say it:
If you're the person who posts that sort of thing, STOP IT! Quite cluttering up the Internet's precious bandwidth supply! Suck it up! Go back to the MUD you used to love that pissed you off so badly and keep on playing!
Still reading? Then you must not be that guy. Or, you are that guy, but you recognize you've got a problem, you need help, and you want to know what to do.
Either way, listen up:
If you ever want to start your own game, you really can't start it alone. The odds already are stacked so high against text-based games these days without putting yourself further in the hole at the outset.
Just because you've got one half-baked idea for a game and a server to host it on doesn't make you ready for primetime. Hell, you may have the World's Most Original MUD Idea, and people might drop in to look - but will they stay? Will they stick around, if all they've got to deal with is you and your empty promise that one day, players will come?
Before you post anything anywhere, you need a team. You need people who already know each other, who can work well together and who share your common cause and vision. Without that core, your first cluster of loyal fans, you might as well hang it up.
It took me about a year to work up a team just to start developing my original MUSH, OtherSpace. I didn't run rampant in forums trying desperately to get coders or builders. I built a team of like-minded players from another game we all played together. With that team, we bashed out coding ideas, thematic concepts, policies, spaceflight systems - the works. Our energy and enthusiasm fed each our momentum. We roleplayed characters together. We opened the doors, invited new people to come in and share the energy and excitement. It snowballed. Now, five years later, OtherSpace is probably the most successful original-theme space fantasy MUSH around.
Quite a few core staffers remain. All the rest have come from the playerbase over time. We NEVER take someone onto the staff who isn't a player first. Grooming people to come up through the ranks takes longer, requires patience and infuriates the occasional egomaniac who hasn't played your game but firmly believes he is God's gift to coding.
If you don't have a team to start with, it's too soon to start.
If you don't have the patience to wait for a core team to form, then, I'm sorry, but you deserve every crash, server breach, database wipe, temper tantrum and theme change you must endure until 1) dumb luck blesses you with a miraculous Team To Save Everything or 2) Darwinism prevails and you shut down in disgrace.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.