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Old 09-15-2003, 04:58 AM   #1
Molly
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Join Date: Apr 2002
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You know how most players hate changes? They may claim they don't, but all experience tells a different story. They want their favourite Mud to stay JUST the way it is. After all, it IS their favourite Mud, right? So even the slightest change, to remove a bug or balance the game, usually spawns lots of complaints. The Administrators' bug is always some player's favourite feature. And unbalance is only a problem to the ones at the lower end of the scale. The ones at the top love it. So, any little change you make; you can bet on at least half the playerbase complaining about it.

But when it comes to bigtime changes, this is what usually makes the playerbase go ballistic, sometimes to the point where they leave the Mud in scores and dozens in protest. At least temporarily. Some of them may come back again when they calmed down a bit, but generally a big code change leads to the loss of a considerable part of the playerbase.

On the other hand; a Mud that doesn't change slowly dies. Not because of the loss of players. Players come and go all the time, and it more or less evens out over time. The reason it dies is because the Administrators lose interest. The day you stop developing your mud is the day boredom starts setting in. Because it is the creative aspect that drives most of us, Coders and Builders alike. (Babysitting an unruly playerbase isn't all that exciting. In fact it is mainly a pain in the behind).

Now, if there is one thing that players hate even MORE than big changes, it is a pwipe. That is a certain and sure way to upset them totally - and small wonder. After all, they may have 'worked' on their chars for years, developing their power, collected all the best equipment they can find. And in one swift stroke, all is gone down the drain, and they are reduced to newbie status again. No wonder they get upset. Who wouldn't be?

So, knowing all this, we went ahead and did both - a massive Code change AND a pwipe.

Why? Well, the first part was obvious. The new code is so much cleaner, faster and more fun, with tons of exciting new features and the potential of adding even more later. It was an easy decision.

But the pwipe? That decision was a lot harder to make. Many of our players have been with us for years. And we COULD actually have salvaged the pfiles, since the new code was implemented on top of the old one. But that would have left us with an unbalanced playerbase; old players that would have been ridiculously overpowered initially, but at a disadvantage in the long run, because they wouldn't be adapted to the majorly different remort system in the new code.

So we went for the less evil choice, and did the pwipe. It will most likely cost us half our current playerbase. But it's worth it, because it left us with a much better mud. Still, it hurt. For the players it was probably traumatic.

We settled for a sort of compromise. We made a Hero offer for the Oldtimers (a sort of low level imm with no powers, but high bragging value). Then everyone was put back at level 1, but the oldtimers got to keep half the tokens they earned over the years. (Token in our mud is a sort of currency, that you get from Questing, and use to buy features, like crash-proof houses, wedding rings and personalised equipment). The oldtimers got to keep the features they bought too. Which of course set some of the newer players complaining about how unfair THAT was... But that was expected too.

I suppose this is a situation most Admin encounter at least once in their Mud's life. It would be interesting to hear how some of you handled a similar situation.
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Old 09-15-2003, 10:12 AM   #2
Adelai
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I can tell everyone how not to handle it :-)

Last MUD I worked at had the slight problem of any mob over level 80 being able to kill any player in two or three hits, a needed power because of the ridiculously unbalanced remort system that was set in place.

Now this was a modestly popular mud, with about 20-30 players at any given time of the day. People complained a little about how if you didn't have the hold spell or the block skill, both of which made the mob unable to hit, you essentially stalled out at 90.

So the admin (all of whom I admired and still do as intelligent people looking out for the best of the MUD) decided to rework the damage system, lower the max allowed +HnD on items and revamp the mobs.

the unfortunate part (as a low-level PR imm I protested this, but eh, they were a bit frazzled by the constant complaints that started as soon as the impending changes were announced) is that they never told the pbase when these things would happen. As a result, items and kits which had once made a player powerful were wildly skewed, to a player's perspective. Mob power was also lowered, so things were easier to kill, but no one knew what was worthwhile anymore. And then the talk of a pwipe...

So, everyone got mad, and everyone but 2 or 3 left. The imms followed suit after a few months tweaking an empty MUD :-) It's now officially dead and gone.

and yeah, so that's my story of what not to do to keep your MUD running - inform! The players may not like what they hear, they may protest or leave, but if you inform and involve them (especially making concessions as your MUD did) they're mor likely to eventually drift back and try again.
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Old 09-15-2003, 11:17 AM   #3
OnyxFlame
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DM has lately gone through a fairly major reworking that could've caused a lot of players to leave, but you know what? It's actually caused old players who hadn't played for months or years to start playing again. Here's why.

Recently it had come to the attention of creators that certain players were heinously cheating, so they launched a big investigation and sitebanned several people over the course of a few days. One of the cheaters then decided that if he was gonna get sitebanned, he might as well go out with a bang, so he ran around killing everyone he could first.

The mud was subsequently closed to players for a day or so, while the creators sitebanned the rest of the cheaters and decided what to do with the ones who were killed by the mainiac. Someone on our board asked for an official reason, so the creators decided to post a notice on the mud when you tried to log in that a comet had hit the world, thus explaining why players couldn't log in. I don't know if this comet thing was something they were gonna do anyway or if it was just a spur of the moment IC excuse created after someone asked about it.

When the mud came back up, everything was changed. Not only were about 20 chars deleted, but all the people killed just before were suddenly supposed to have been killed by the comet instead of the maniac, and it was up to the other players to figure out where they'd been buried and rescue them. The city that had existed since the mud began and was the general populace's main hangout was suddenly no more, and half the castles were destroyed as well. Some of the quests were buried in rubble, and once-verdant plains were now wastelands. Smoke filled the air and made farming almost impossible, and instabilities in the earth caused by the comet made mining harder and more dangerous. A plot involving the saving of the earth from the ravages of the comet was started, and many players spent days trying to accomplish probably the biggest quest-type thing in the mud's history.

Many people at first whined about how everything was different, and how this or that sucked. But you know what? We've had the highest amount of players online since the rampage of the vampire some months ago. Current players have become more excited about playing, and old players who'd stopped playing have decided to come back now that the cheaters are gone to see what all the new stuff is like. And the creators still have many many ideas for new things to add or change.

DM could've easily been ruined by the cheaters, but with these new developments I think it's safe to say that it was reborn from the ashes produced by the comet, heh.
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Old 09-15-2003, 11:30 AM   #4
Sidmouth
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I helped out on a big pwipe/code change on my old mud.  Overall, I think the end result was pretty positive.

In the short run quite a few players were lost.  However, I think the pwipe was the very least of this loss.  If you warn players for quite some time in advance that a pwipe is imminent, the majority of them get used to the idea and are able to prepare themselves mentally.  We made sure to have a cataclysmic rp battle right before the pwipe that helped us to retain people up to that point, which is important. Your risk losing players immediately when you announce a pwipe, and anything you can do to get them to at least try the new mud is essential.

The more damaging part was the code change.  There were two big reasons for this.  First, the game was made more difficult.  It was no longer a power levelling mud, and a fair number of people gave up when they realized they weren't going to be able to make up what they lost overnight.  Second, and more importantly, the pwipe was rushed, because we had put it off forever and we really wanted to get it over with, and so the code was full of bugs.  Some of them were minor, some were crippling.  Rushing the new code out was a big mistake.

In short, prepare prepare prepare.  Prepare the players and prepare your new features.  Ultimately, I think both of these things are great for muds.  You're bound to lose players in the short run, but if the changes you're making are essential to your staff's mud philosophy, you'll find that eventually the players will come back, and they'll be players better suited to the kind of game/atmosphere/roleplay/whatever that you want, because they were drawn by your current environment and not sentimental attachment to your old one.

EDIT: I can't type.
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