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Old 02-22-2010, 07:39 PM   #1
Violette
 
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How do you pay for your mud?

With the state of the global economy, seeing as how it's not going to get better any time soon...I do have to wonder how MUD admins are able to keep their hobby afloat. Is it done out-of-pocket? Donations? Has it been tougher to get one or the other, recently?
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Old 02-22-2010, 09:47 PM   #2
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Re: How do you pay for your mud?

Every expense my MUD incurs, from buying development tools to paying for hosting, comes right out of my pocket. We have not yet solicited donations or any other form of payment.

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Old 02-23-2010, 09:19 AM   #3
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Re: How do you pay for your mud?

We do ask for donations on OtherSpace, with the reward of special badges and (starting recently) special Saga Points that will soon be useful in acquiring some unique items in the game. However, when the donations are scarce (and during a tight economy, that happens), I pay from my own pocket.
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Old 02-24-2010, 12:15 AM   #4
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Re: How do you pay for your mud?

Out of my pocket though I'm always happy to accept donations from the rest of staff (none thus far).
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Old 02-24-2010, 02:59 AM   #5
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Re: How do you pay for your mud?

I've had an easy time on that aspect.

Ironclaw Online is hosted by Skotos, and they pay all the expenses. But, after an initial trial period, it's a pay-to-play mud, so presumably they're making a decent profit. I would have no idea how much.

Since I wasn't interested in the money, this works for me. I get advertising, and a link to an existing playerbase. (Theoretically I also get royalties, but I've asked them to keep the royalties aside, so we can buy gift vouchers for the staffers instead of paying me.)

Much more significantly (to me) I get access to other staff on Ironclaw and the other Skotos MUDs, the community is really what keeps me there.

I have no idea how the economy is hitting Skotos. I haven't noticed us loosing many players, but perhaps we're not gaining as many as we would have?
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Old 02-24-2010, 03:00 AM   #6
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Re: How do you pay for your mud?

As a follow-up question, how much do you guys pay to run your MUDs?

Is it run on an old computer you've got lying at home with your normal internet connection? Dedicated hosting on an expensive server? Were there any setup costs?
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Old 02-24-2010, 09:28 AM   #7
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Re: How do you pay for your mud?

We where going to pay some expenses off of forum Ads (hosted separately from the mud) But google adsense seems to think my players clicking on the ads is fraud *shrug*
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Old 02-24-2010, 10:13 AM   #8
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Re: How do you pay for your mud?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Violette View Post
I do have to wonder how MUD admins are able to keep their hobby afloat. Is it done out-of-pocket?
It only costs the equivalent of about 1 beer per week to host GW2, so I actually save a lot of money by staying home and working on the mud
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Old 02-24-2010, 03:59 PM   #9
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Re: How do you pay for your mud?

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Originally Posted by KaVir View Post
It only costs the equivalent of about 1 beer per week to host GW2, so I actually save a lot of money by staying home and working on the mud
Heh, I was wondering how much the actual cost was! Since I'm on a commercial MUD, we have expenses I'm sure the average hobby MUD wouldn't.

But if you want to offset costs, donations that give a small perk (even if it's an RP perk) should be more than enough. Perks could range from small to large depending on the donation (a custom emote or shout/badges or statues of your character/a small fun artifact/a storage area, etc.).
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Old 02-24-2010, 04:10 PM   #10
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Re: How do you pay for your mud?

Luckily at New Worlds Ateraan we have had a corporate sponser for years now and they have covered all the costs. Hence we have no need for registrations, donations, or any other type of fund raising. Were it not so, I know I couldn't afford the $'s it costs to keep it running. That's usually the reason I will back those commercial MUDs that have hefty expenses. Quality coders, designers, stable systems, and staff don't come cheap.
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Old 02-24-2010, 07:38 PM   #11
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Re: How do you pay for your mud?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Estarra View Post
Heh, I was wondering how much the actual cost was! Since I'm on a commercial MUD, we have expenses I'm sure the average hobby MUD wouldn't.

But if you want to offset costs, donations that give a small perk (even if it's an RP perk) should be more than enough. Perks could range from small to large depending on the donation (a custom emote or shout/badges or statues of your character/a small fun artifact/a storage area, etc.).
Some codebases have licenses expressly forbidding in-game perks in exchange for donations. Also, if you're getting something in exchange for your donation that is "special" for you/your character and other people can't get without having to donate, then it's not a donation. It's a payment. And then the game is no longer "free." It's pay-for-perks.
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Old 02-24-2010, 08:15 PM   #12
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Re: How do you pay for your mud?

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Originally Posted by Jazuela View Post
Some codebases have licenses expressly forbidding in-game perks in exchange for donations. Also, if you're getting something in exchange for your donation that is "special" for you/your character and other people can't get without having to donate, then it's not a donation. It's a payment. And then the game is no longer "free." It's pay-for-perks.
I suppose we could go round and round on this, but if the donations just cover expenses, then in my view that's just what it is... a donation to help cover costs. You can donate to lots of not-for-profits and receive a mug or t-shirt or whatever. So, anyway, I don't think there's a declarative answer that it is or isn't a donation or payment. If the mud operator wants to view it as a donation, then I think he or she certainly has the right.

Last edited by Estarra : 02-24-2010 at 09:06 PM.
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Old 02-24-2010, 08:22 PM   #13
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Re: How do you pay for your mud?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jazuela View Post
Some codebases have licenses expressly forbidding in-game perks in exchange for donations. Also, if you're getting something in exchange for your donation that is "special" for you/your character and other people can't get without having to donate, then it's not a donation. It's a payment. And then the game is no longer "free." It's pay-for-perks.
Sure. But of course, that's a sliding scale.

A game where you can donate money with no recognition or thanks is, obviously, entirely free.
A game where you can donate money, and you get an email from the lead staffer thanking you, and maybe your PCs name mentioned on a "wall of honor" to show who donated? There's a strong argument that that's also entirely free.
A game where you get a small statue of your own character? As long as that statue isn't needed in the game for anything specific... is that still entirely free? Probably.

A game where you can't buy any weapons without spending real money, and you can't survive without a weapon? That's obviously not free.

But there's a very broad spectrum between.

I'd make the argument that, if I can log in without paying something, I can interact with the game and other players, I can get some "gameplay" and I can leave, all without paying something - then the game is free.

It might be an *unpleasant* free game, where the others who pay have better skills and items, especially in PvP, but it's still a free game.

This is something I've thought about a fair bit. My game is not free, every player pays a subscription fee - however, players with premium accounts, and players that volunteer their time helping to run the game, get "storypoints" - those storypoints can be cashed in for in-game perks. For example, if you have enough storypoints you can start a new character as a noble, instead of spending the time working your way up to that rank. Or you can get detail modifications (want "piercing black eyes" instead of just "black eyes"? That costs storypoints.)

However, I very VERY strongly want to make sure that if someone pays for a basic subscription they get access to "the whole game" - I don't want anyone feeling like they are at some disadvantage because they don't have a premium account. I want the storypoints to feel like a fun reward in thanks for the extra money, but ENTIRELY an optional extra for those players who want it.

To that extent, storypoints can NOT increase your characters rank once in the game (so no getting in an in-game argument, then paying to become higher ranking than your rival), they can't affect your skills, so you can't pay to be a better fighter or merchant. That includes not buying "custom weapons" that have better statistics in combat. However, they can be used to get custom items. So you could buy a serrated sword, rather than a normal sword. But the serrated sword would be just for roleplay, it wouldn't be any better or worse in combat.

Hopefully (for us) that hits the right balance between allowing perks and rewards, without disadvantaging the players who choose not to donate.

We've actually considered the idea of making the game free, with pay-for-perks - and we've had a lot of players strongly dislike that idea. Right now, even though they're paying, they are all on an even footing. If we made that change, they wouldn't be all competing from the same starting point - even if it would be cheaper for most of the players to play...
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Old 02-24-2010, 09:25 PM   #14
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Re: How do you pay for your mud?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Estarra View Post
I suppose we could go round and round on this, but if the donations just cover expenses, then in my view that's just what it is... a donation to help cover costs. You can donate to lots of not-for-profits and receive a mug or t-shirt or whatever. So, anyway, I don't think there's a declarative answer that it is or isn't a donation or payment. If the mud operator wants to view it as a donation, then I think he or she certainly has the right.
If there's an exchange of any service with the "donation" it is a payment. It doesn't matter if it's covering expenses because that's a part of business. If a business spends $10,000 in expenses for a month and only brings in $8000 that doesn't mean it was a donation. It just means they failed to make as much as they spent. It was still payments totalling $8000.

As for non-profit groups, they don't give out mugs for small donations unless it's part of a marketing plan to promote fundraising. PBS for example will send you a $15 DVD if you donate $100. That's because the donation is not in exchange for the DVD. If someone pays $10 to get something in-game, that's an exchange, not a donation because the money is relating directly to the service received. Donations are given without expectation of reward or at the very least without equal conpensation (ie, you could buy the DVD for $15 on their website and save the additional $85). But whether you donate or not, you still can watch PBS for free. The same experience is available whether you contribute money or not.
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Old 02-24-2010, 09:43 PM   #15
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Re: How do you pay for your mud?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Estarra View Post
Heh, I was wondering how much the actual cost was! Since I'm on a commercial MUD, we have expenses I'm sure the average hobby MUD wouldn't.

But if you want to offset costs, donations that give a small perk (even if it's an RP perk) should be more than enough. Perks could range from small to large depending on the donation (a custom emote or shout/badges or statues of your character/a small fun artifact/a storage area, etc.).
Like Jazuela, I don't consider the sale of specific perks to be "donations". It's really quid pro quo - the player is paying the price you've assigned to a specific perk, and they expect to receive that perk in return.

And yes I could make money through such sales, but I prefer not to run a commercial game - it would add hassle and pressure to something that I currently enjoy as a relaxing hobby, and it's not as if it's breaking the bank (in fact I think it's probably my cheapest hobby).

On a related note, I recently received an email from a company called "Linkstar" that wanted to buy text link advertising space on my mud's website. It struck me as a bit odd, but having googled them a bit they seem legit (although I turned them down anyway, as I hate those sort of adverts).
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Old 02-25-2010, 12:23 AM   #16
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Re: How do you pay for your mud?

Text link advertising? But think of the MXP possibilities...
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Old 02-25-2010, 01:14 PM   #17
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Re: How do you pay for your mud?

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Text link advertising? But think of the MXP possibilities...
We've received a lot of requests to link advertising to our webpage, but turn them all down, mostly due to our contract with the corporate sponser, but I just don't like popup or link ads cluttering the webpages.
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