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Old 10-02-2007, 12:00 PM   #1
MudMann
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MUD Reviews

IN the quest for a new MUD (still not there yet), I am using TOP MUD SITES and MUD CONNECTOR as my guide. Both these sites are very high profile.

When I want to play a game, invest time in it, and before I invest money I like to see that the long term game is as interesting as the first impressions. Every computer game that is released invariably has a review.. could be good, bad, indifferent, but a review nonethless.

From a previous posting, I spent a lot of time on a new game recently only to find that it was not all it seemed, and would have prefered to read a review (one not 6 years old) about it first.

I am amazed to see that the games in the top 20 are actually able to specify whether or not they accept reviews. If a game makes it to the enviable position of top 20 (something I am sure has a major impact on applications), reviewing should be enabled by default. I want to see what long terms players say about the game before I invest my time in it. Just the same as virtually every other single product in the world.

There are a lot of players 'hunting' for muds if posts on these threads are anything to go by, and reviews help make that decision.

Good, Bad, Indifferent, when I come to a MUD site, I should be able to find a review of a game.. to me no review accepted means something to hide, and quite possibly an infingment of my consumer rights :-D

Last edited by MudMann : 10-02-2007 at 12:21 PM.
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Old 10-02-2007, 01:54 PM   #2
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Re: MUD Reviews

Hehe, I think you'll find you may have just stirred up a hornets nest...

Basically, some will argue that reviews are pointless because they're either written by fanbois who won't have a bad thing to say about their favourite game, or by people who are annoyed at the game for one reason or another and have an axe to grind. Therefore they turn them off to prevent horribly skewed views of how their game actually plays.

Others argue that everyone knows this anyway, and the enthusiasm of current players is at least some indication the MUD has some good points worth looking at.

At the end of the day the only really useful system of MUD reviews is one conducted by a staff that plays each MUD for a week or so and then writes a review based on their initial impressions, before moving on to the next one. Unfortunately, with the large amount of MUDs out there and the relatively limited number of people willing to do such a task, it's extremely difficult to get such a system up and running for more than a month or so.
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Old 10-02-2007, 02:29 PM   #3
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Re: MUD Reviews

I'm of the camp that sees little useful in the reviews and am of the opinion that they do more harm than good. There's been some talk about allowing admins to respond to reviews, but even so I would rather not spend my time defending against review trolls.

In any event, if you want the opinions of other players, most MUDs have forums which are a great place to go to get the PROs and CONs of that particular game. Unless the forums are tyranically moderated to remove posts that dish the game (most aren't), you will find many players willing to help you decide if that game is right for you. I know for a fact (much to my chagrin!) that in the Lusternia Forums they wouldn't be shy to point you to Armageddon if they felt you'd be happier there.

Good luck!
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Old 10-02-2007, 02:35 PM   #4
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Re: MUD Reviews

I can take or leave MUD reviews. Some are just admins or game fans. Some are just disgruntled ex-players. Some are legit, unbiased looks at games. I don't know that they do more harm than good, but I like having the option available.

I agree with Estarra, though - you can learn a lot just by checking out a game's forums to get a sense of the community and how it operates.
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Old 10-02-2007, 02:55 PM   #5
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Re: MUD Reviews

Speaking of MUD reviews, I've been thinking about the review system. Some of the needs we had:

- Let people post a review, but only after their details are verified.
- Allow others to respond to reviews.
- Show most recent reviews on front page.
- Allow reviews to be ranked.

In one of those "that's so obvious I'm mad at myself for not thinking of it months ago" moments, we already have something that meets all those needs, it's called the forum.

Is there really any need for anything other than a "Mud Reviews" forum that has its own "most recent posts" on the main page and a separate search for just that forum?
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Old 10-02-2007, 03:00 PM   #6
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Re: MUD Reviews

If you want to create a section on the forum for MUD Reviews, I strongly suggest coming up with an acceptable policy regarding their postage before doing so. Otherwise it's going to descend into a bottomless pit of flaming and malicious lies, and us poor mods will have a hard time keeping up with it...

Still, you're right. The basic mechanics are already in the forum. How would you link said reviews to their relevant MUD listing though? Just rules about what the topic name could be (Review of <insert MUD name>) and instructions on linking to the DB via BB code?
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Old 10-02-2007, 03:02 PM   #7
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Re: MUD Reviews

Reviews were abused a lot. 90% of any given mud's reviews gave a poor impression of the actual game, by being excessively positive or negative.

When somebody likes the mud they play on, they'll want more players. There's no exception that I know of, every single mud out there needs (or would like) a bigger playerbase. So players who feel positively about their mud will write flowery reviews where they proffer their mud as perfect in every aspect, hoping that it'll attract some players. I don't think it works, both because such reviews are usually rather transparent, and because most mudders can quickly gauge just how true this is after a short time of playing.

When somebody dislikes their mud, usually due to some petty dispute or the fact that they can't be the best player, they'll slander and degrade the mud in a hateful review that displays a long list of purely negative points. While some of these points may be true, there is no mud without negative aspects, and if one simply lists them all then it's easy to make a mud look bad. And it's equally easy to tell that the review was written by some disgruntled pubescent sore loser.

Finally, reviews were all but destroyed when spambots showed up and filled many review sections with promises of willing girls and cheap medication.
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Old 10-02-2007, 03:07 PM   #8
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Re: MUD Reviews

I think this is basically true:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xerihae View Post
Basically, some will argue that reviews are pointless because they're either written by fanbois who won't have a bad thing to say about their favourite game, or by people who are annoyed at the game for one reason or another and have an axe to grind. Therefore they turn them off to prevent horribly skewed views of how their game actually plays.

95+% of MUD reviews are either fan raves or disgruntled player hack-jobs. However, I disagree that this makes them useless.

There's a lot of information in a group of even crappy reviews. (Note: This assumes the reviews are crappy and not wholesale inaccurate. If I review a MUSH and then paste that review for GodWars, obviously that's just inaccurate and moderation is necessary to take care of that.)

For example: if reviews argue about how balanced the PK system is in a game, I can tell that PK is probably an important part of that game (something the limited different choices for PK in the current search/listings doesn't do especially well). Based on the kinds of things people are saying are great or bad about it I can get a sense of their assumptions. Does PK imply a roleplaying context for them? One on one or group on group or anything goes? What kind of restrictions are there? A lot of this is going to come out one way or another if half a dozen reviews for the MUD are up. You can tell a lot in what they say, and in what they take for granted.

If reviews mostly rave about features I know are fairly standard in that kind of MUD, I can guess that it probably has a playerbase that hasn't played too much of the competition. If reviews allege a kind of staff abuse that really bothers me, I know to at least look for another side of that story before getting too invested in the game. Reviews can help convey a sense of the game's RP culture, PK culture, feel in general (i.e., is this the kind of game where people stay logged on idle even if they're not doing anything? Or is this the kind of game where that'd be stupid dangerous?)

Any given review can and probably will be crap. A lot of them will be written by disgruntled newbies who tried the MUD out and really were looking for a different style of game. A lot will be written by players that don't much know better. Taken together, you still can learn a lot that's hard to learn quickly any other way.
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Old 10-02-2007, 03:11 PM   #9
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Re: MUD Reviews

Quote:
Originally Posted by Throttle View Post
Finally, reviews were all but destroyed when spambots showed up and filled many review sections with promises of willing girls and cheap medication.

Wait a minute... you're saying I could have willing girls and cheap medication instead of being here talking about MUDs? Why was I not informed of this earlier?!
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Old 10-02-2007, 03:12 PM   #10
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Re: MUD Reviews

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xerihae View Post
If you want to create a section on the forum for MUD Reviews, I strongly suggest coming up with an acceptable policy regarding their postage before doing so. Otherwise it's going to descend into a bottomless pit of flaming and malicious lies, and us poor mods will have a hard time keeping up with it...

Still, you're right. The basic mechanics are already in the forum. How would you link said reviews to their relevant MUD listing though? Just rules about what the topic name could be (Review of <insert MUD name>) and instructions on linking to the DB via BB code?
All the more reason to use a forum. I think we can set it up so that new posts in a forum require moderator approval but replies to it don't. If not, I can code it that way, just takes longer.

Obviously mod approval would be based on some quality guidelines rather than whether or not we agree with the review itself. It might be a huge can of worms putting ourselves in the place of deciding what is a quality review and what isn't, but I'd rather try it than abandon the review section completely. Review mods wouldn't necessarily have to be existing forum mods either.

For your second question it would have to be via a 'submit a review for this MUD' link from the MUD listing or search.
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Old 10-02-2007, 03:14 PM   #11
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Re: MUD Reviews

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDisciple View Post
Wait a minute... you're saying I could have willing girls and cheap medication instead of
being here talking about MUDs? Why was I not informed of this earlier?!
Don't do it, I just spent a year looking only to find out the spambots were lying If it wasn't for them, reviews would have been working a year ago. Well, that's my excuse...

I did meet a nice lady in Nigeria who is going to send me some diamonds once my check (cheque for those back home) clears though.
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Old 10-02-2007, 03:17 PM   #12
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Re: MUD Reviews

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xerihae View Post
If you want to create a section on the forum for MUD Reviews, I strongly suggest coming up with an acceptable policy regarding their postage before doing so. Otherwise it's going to descend into a bottomless pit of flaming and malicious lies, and us poor mods will have a hard time keeping up with it...
I definitely agree with this because I could easily write up some very legitimate looking reviews trashing MU*s I've played for barely more than 15 minutes. The problem with reviews is if you don't have a review staff with specific guidelines, the system is very abusable and are extremely inaccurate. Also, if you're using a verification system, then the admins of the muds involve will have to commit the time to doing this. For some of us, having no reviews is much more time efficient than having to police the reviews.

A lot of people seem to forget that MU*s who turn off reviews don't get the GOOD reviews either. Some choose to sacrifice good reviews in order to not have to police the reviews at all. That means that they are giving up the good press that other admins get by allowing reviews. And perhaps some players will simply not play games that cannot be reviewed. That's just what games that don't allow reviews get. That's the sacrifice they make in order to save time by not having to police the accuracy of the review system and waste hours defending their games from people with a vendetta, people who are bored, or people who simply feel that they can write a decent review about the game after playing for very little time. There are MANY good reviewers out there, but it only takes 1 or 2 people to eat up a ton of time.

I honestly believe that if the site is sponsoring a review system, it needs to either be done professionally (by staff), or games can opt out.
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Old 10-02-2007, 03:26 PM   #13
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Re: MUD Reviews

Yes, it would be great to have a new one or one in the Forums. I think we've have that "negative" player review for our game on the TMS front page for a year now. While fun to see and even using the old advertising adage "who cares about what someone says, as long as they spell our name right," it can be a misleading to what one really finds.

What I fear about forum reviews is the back and forth arguments between a stalwart player and a disgruntled x player of a game which sometimes ends up childish and personal.

Last edited by Newworlds : 10-02-2007 at 03:59 PM.
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Old 10-02-2007, 04:37 PM   #14
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Re: MUD Reviews

I've used to go through the whole list of ranked MUDs on TMS and try them out as well as through the search engine on TMC. Overall, I tried about 900+ MUDs (I'll be conservative here even though it may well be more than a thousand) over the last 9 years, most for probably 2-3 hours average (the really bad ones less than an hour, and I mean REALLY BAD). I've played 50-60 of them for at least 10-15 hours each and about half of those for more than 100 hours each.

At one point I considered writing short reviews of most and longer reviews of the ranked ones. I submitted some reviews to TMC but quit because the problem I most frequently saw was that admins would simply lie in response. One once claimed "it used to be that way when Jason played but it's changed since then". I had last played only 2 days before posting the review. As the problem with that game was a massively vindictive and immature playerbase who'd sooner harass and drive off new players than help them ("newbie-friendly" my arse) and a staff that used their positions to make changes advantageous to their own characters, they'd have had to replace most of the people playing/imming in 2 days to alleviate the problems I had mentioned. In other words, the admin simply lied.

It would be nice to see more oversight in the community but it'll be a hard and thankless job for the reviewers. There are hundreds of MUDs and the vast majority of them suck like a White House intern. Even the "average" ones are often pretty difficult to stomach. Heck, of the Top 20, I'd only give 2 or so of them anything higher than ** out of ****. With admin responses, a review system would be crippled even worse. We've seen how resistant a few games can be toward greater honesty in search engine options. Imagine how many games would be resistant if they couldn't spin honest reviews that didn't paint a rosy picture of their game?

As almost always with the MUD community, the lack of quality control is too institutionalized. Would be a massive job to reverse that but I for one would love to see it happen.

Take care,

Jason
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Old 10-02-2007, 04:56 PM   #15
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Re: MUD Reviews

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There are hundreds of MUDs and the vast majority of them suck like a White House intern.
Oh man, that was classic. I wouldn't mind you spending some time on NW and writing a review good or bad as long as it made me laugh like that did. Hell, I wouldn't even critique it. Maybe your review is the one that has been up there for a year.
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Old 10-02-2007, 05:05 PM   #16
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Re: MUD Reviews

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It would be nice to see more oversight in the community but it'll be a hard and thankless job for the reviewers.
That rather reminds me of the (now long defunct) Game Commandos mud review site - I recall hearing that they received a great deal of hatemail in response to their reviews. I got a fair taste of it myself just auditing muds for TMC, and that's done mostly anonymously...you'd have to have really thick skin to create public reviews.
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Old 10-02-2007, 05:56 PM   #17
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Re: MUD Reviews

Moved the thread to Bugs & Suggestions, since it seems to be more about whether/how reviews are implemented on TMS rather than a newbie question The link from Newbie Help will expire in 1 week to give people who wonder where the thread went time to adjust!
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Old 10-02-2007, 06:17 PM   #18
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Re: MUD Reviews

Quote:
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In other words, the admin simply lied.
Yes, and that's the other problem with these review systems. Admins can lie just as well as anyone. In fact, we encountered an incident a LONG time ago where two admins were basically posting false reviews about each other's MUDs on MMPOD (I think) because of some on-going feud. They were going as far as to ask their players to post a negative review for the other MUD, and unfortunately, they both had knowledge about each other's MUDs because this was another one of those cases where one side claimed that the other side stole their codebase. (Does anyone else remember this?) Anyway, from what I recall, players on both side, sick of the arguments and just wanting to play, blew the whistle on the admins. Of course, both of them denied posting and asking for negative reviews to be posted about the other MUD.

So, with a review system that is not written by staff, you have the dual problem of quality control and misinformation. Even if you have staff review, you have problems in that a PvP player would have issues with an RP mud, or an RP staffer could simply enjoy a very specific kind of RP and declare another MUD to be "fluffy and light". I personally detest some of the MUDs that I have tried, but I know that there are others who LOVE their mud. I could write a very convincing review about why I hated it and have it be accurate as well as thorough. Normally, I don't bother to write a review. I will email the admins with my opinion if I feel that there are game-breaking issues, and then I move on.

Anyway, with most systems, I think the GOOD reviewers can get shafted as much as the MUDs. The difference is the reviewer can just choose not to review and not waste their time on lying admins. In several sites, the MUDs don't get that option.
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Old 10-02-2007, 07:35 PM   #19
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Re: MUD Reviews

Woah, a lot of responses. I think the crux is noone can really get a feel for a MUD without playing for a long time.. and for casual players, thats a serious investment of free time to realise first appearances were not all they seem.

I think we have to remember that most people who read reviews will make up their own mind, and are intelligent enough to filter dross.. but MUD's are games, and games get reviews. Yes, allow admin to refute LIES through a procedure if necessary.. but between the Die hard fans who will say the game is best in the world, and disgruntled players who may still have a genuine point we get a picture of the MUD.

I played the top games.. hundreds of points ahead of the rest , and believe you me I put a lot of hours into some..and I must have missed something cos they were not that great and I played one of the lowest ranking and was blow away by how superior it was.. so I want to read what I was missing, have someone to tell me why they think it was great. I dont mind investing days and days if I know a whole new 'something' is going to spring forth.

Reviews can be rigged? Yes, but its not as easy as rigging the voting if you had a mind to do it. If a MUD is in the top 20, I, as a casual gamer would like to know why and have real reasons why I should try it as opposed to a statistic. If your game is Good, have faith that reviews will show that.. if you think they will be bad, then sort out your game and shame on you for hiding it behind a tick in box assuming thats what it is :-)

As one of the most recognised MUD sites, with a lot of mud-affecting-power, i just think that it is the most informative thing to offer than a table with numbers.
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Old 10-03-2007, 02:50 AM   #20
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Re: MUD Reviews

So rather than start a completely new thread, this seems like a good thread to ask what would people like to see in a fair and detailed review? What are the guidelines? Are there a minimum number of hours a reviewer should play? Do they need to play long enough to remort if a mud has a remorting system to give a fair review? How many classes would they have to play? How many races?

Just to talk specifics, let's take four muds, Carrion Fields, 4 Dimensions, God Wars II, and Achaea. What in your mind does a reviewer have to do to give a fair review of each of these games?

Here are my general thoughts on reviews. No reviewer will ever be totally impartial -- in fact it would be a dull reviewer who had a completely neutral perspective. However it should be possible to write a fair and nuanced review of a game, that is enjoyable to read, that can help a player determine if they would like the game, and that would give feedback to the game itself on what it's doing.

A 'review site', or a review section of a site, shouldn't just focus on full detailed reviews either. I think I would like to see regular full reviews along with 'capsule reviews' that are more like teasers, which the player will know is not a full review, but still retains the fair perspective that the longer reviews have.
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