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Old 01-28-2010, 12:41 PM   #21
dranor
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Re: Easing the process for new players.

Quote:
Originally Posted by scandum View Post
I wasn't talking about the user interface, if people new to muds prefer using the mouse that's fine (I personally dislike having to move my hand back and forth between the keyboard and mouse). Books that give chapter titles and page numbers a different color aren't a big issue either. It's when random words or paragraphs are highlighted for emphasis that it starts to annoy some people, particularly builders making forest descriptions green is something that baffles me. Exclamation marks over quest mobs and quest logs takes most of the fun out of questing / exploring, so it's both immersion breaking and dumbing things down to a grade school level, which I guess is fine if that's your target audience.
The key is to design and implement the interface (both the output and input) such that it's unobtrusive and simultaneously intuitive. I agree that random highlighting and colorization can be quite jarring.

I'm not quite sure I agree that clearly delineating quest mobs and/or providing quest logs can take most of the fun out of questing, though. Again, it has to be done well and in a manner that fits your game design, and I suppose every game can be different. It's all about accessibility for me. If I'm having compelling content added to my game in the form of quests, I want to make sure that players are aware of that content and know how to find it. I don't think it's dumbing anything down to find some way to subtly point out to your players that there's something important that they can do.
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Old 01-28-2010, 05:55 PM   #22
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Re: Easing the process for new players.

I just posted an article on the Anvil Blog regarding some things we did that I thought helped ease players into text MUDs: Remember to feed the newbies!
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Old 03-15-2010, 01:59 PM   #23
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Re: Easing the process for new players.

At Armageddon, we're also working toward improving the new player experience, and we added FMUD to our website back in October.

We've found that although we have a lot of new traffic coming to our website and even creating accounts, that hasn't translated well into actual players. Part of this is due to the fact that Armageddon is a niche-market game; only a portion of the total market will be interested in things like the desert theme, permadeath, etc. And we'll likely never see the number of players that popular H&S games do, because most players have been conditioned by graphical gaming (both single- and multi-player) to find gaming fulfillment in level or skill advancement, which we obfuscate.

Nevertheless, it's clear that we could be doing better, especially in the arena of getting players into the game and oriented with the mechanics.

Once that hurdle is past, though, the number one factor we believe contributes to retaining new players, is how much interaction they get from other players. After all, that is why they're multi-user dungeons, rather than single-user.

Perhaps the stereotype of the 'lonely, unattractive, socially-inept geek gamer' is less accurate than it once was (I certainly think so, based on the Armageddon players I've met - we're a hawt group) but people are still coming to these games for socialization. We live in a world where we communicate more by texting, Facebook updates, and IMs than by face-to-face communication, so it shouldn't be that hard to sell text-based gaming, if we can make people feel like they belong and enable them to foster friendships.

In some ways, I think that games with larger playerbases are handicapped in this area, because their games are more like a big city than a small town. I know I started out on Dragonrealms, a Simutronics game, but the last time I went back to try them out, I left again because of lack of player interaction (and their average number of players online is about 10x that of Armageddon, with a gameworld maybe only twice as large). None of the people I'd played with years ago were still around, and I found it hard to make new friends there - so many players focus more on skill macros/scripts than on interaction, those that do interact are very cliqueish, and there's little in that world that encourages cooperation and interaction for more than the few moments it takes to cast a spell on someone else.

By comparison, in a game like Armageddon, making social contacts with other PCs is hugely important to a character's wealth, influence, power, and ability to remain alive. And players are interacting with the same people every day for months, so they have a sense that their character belongs, and that by extension, they do as well. Our players have a strong sense of community and even family (a dysfunctional family, perhaps, but a family nonetheless).

To illustrate this, about 40% of our new players come to us by word-of-mouth recommendations from their friends. But this group makes up 57% of the players we retain. Those new players are sharing a new common interest with their existing friends. What the challenge is, is to facilitate the new people coming in, in creating friendships with those who have an existing common interest (the game).
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Old 03-15-2010, 10:16 PM   #24
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Re: Easing the process for new players.

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Originally Posted by Avasyu View Post
1. What do you think of the MXPed intro. Too much? Not enough?
I thought it was a good tutorial, overall. In a few places the dialogue felt patronizing, especially in the two shops. A few times I felt held back by the slow pacing of the tutorial, especially right at the beginning and end. On the other hand, the librarian's speech went by rather fast, and having lagged out for a few seconds at the beginning, it was difficult to catch up because the flash client kept wanting to jump back to the end although I was trying to scroll up. I felt like the history was conveyed a bit repetitively, especially given the big chunk the librarian does - it doesn't really need to be repeated multiple times in one tutorial.

I think that you should either walk players through guild selection, or drop them in the game and leave selection until later. It felt like that was a fence to climb before entering the world.
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Old 03-16-2010, 12:03 AM   #25
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Re: Easing the process for new players.

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Originally Posted by dranor View Post
If I'm having compelling content added to my game in the form of quests, I want to make sure that players are aware of that content and know how to find it. I don't think it's dumbing anything down to find some way to subtly point out to your players that there's something important that they can do.
You mean that your MUD is a desert of filler space so vast the players need guidance to cover the distance to the next location where they can have some brief interaction.

Which unfortunately is the case for 100% of the MUDs out there.
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Old 03-16-2010, 02:07 PM   #26
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Re: Easing the process for new players.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vanth View Post
I thought it was a good tutorial, overall. In a few places the dialogue felt patronizing, especially in the two shops. A few times I felt held back by the slow pacing of the tutorial, especially right at the beginning and end. On the other hand, the librarian's speech went by rather fast, and having lagged out for a few seconds at the beginning, it was difficult to catch up because the flash client kept wanting to jump back to the end although I was trying to scroll up. I felt like the history was conveyed a bit repetitively, especially given the big chunk the librarian does - it doesn't really need to be repeated multiple times in one tutorial.

I think that you should either walk players through guild selection, or drop them in the game and leave selection until later. It felt like that was a fence to climb before entering the world.
Good points, especially the guild selection part. We decided not to leave it out until later because we would like them to be in a group that will start talking to them right away (the guild members are notified when a new member joins that way). However, you are right, that part could be smoother over considerably.

Thanks
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Old 03-16-2010, 03:19 PM   #27
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Re: Easing the process for new players.

In that case, you might want to have the selection up-front with the race selection, where it's a bit easier to read all the options without the list of options scrolling off the screen...there's just too many options to read more than 4 or 5 of them before this happens.
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Old 03-17-2010, 10:53 PM   #28
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Re: Easing the process for new players.

Yeah, Lusternia does that and we have considered doing that as well.
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Old 04-22-2010, 07:24 PM   #29
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Re: Easing the process for new players.

I sent mail to a few MUD admins about this but since there's a thread I'll reply here too:

I think the best way to make the newbie process better is test, test, test. You can't test your own MUD -- you already know how to play it! What's obvious to you is complete gibberish to someone else. So the best way would be to get people who haven't played your MUD to test the newbie process, and then give you feedback on what confused them personally, where they got lost, where they gave up and lost interest, etc.

I would LOVE to do a one-to-one feedback exchange with any MUD admin who wants it. You come try my MUD for an hour and I'll come try yours. Then we swap notes on how we felt about the process.

Who's in?
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Old 04-23-2010, 09:13 AM   #30
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Re: Easing the process for new players.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gilmore View Post
I sent mail to a few MUD admins about this but since there's a thread I'll reply here too:

I think the best way to make the newbie process better is test, test, test. You can't test your own MUD -- you already know how to play it! What's obvious to you is complete gibberish to someone else. So the best way would be to get people who haven't played your MUD to test the newbie process, and then give you feedback on what confused them personally, where they got lost, where they gave up and lost interest, etc.

I would LOVE to do a one-to-one feedback exchange with any MUD admin who wants it. You come try my MUD for an hour and I'll come try yours. Then we swap notes on how we felt about the process.

Who's in?

I may be interested, however, it may be a few more weeks/months from now when I finish one of the noobie schools in my MUD. I am building 3 at the moment, one per alignment that includes history/religion/politics of the alignment faction, so that new players can also learn about the real storyline of the game. It is a RP Enforced MUD and it is currently under development. But the evil newbie school is nearing completion. I will let you know when it is done. I will also have to run this by several other staff members, as we haven't made our address public yet.

But, ultimately, a fresh look at the newbie portion of the game would be very helpful.
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Old 04-24-2010, 11:34 AM   #31
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Re: Easing the process for new players.

A graphical introduction of the sort you've demoed for Imperian and the other IRE games is something we've discussed a lot for Lithmeria.

It's undoubtedly a gorgeous introduction and whomever made it should be commended for doing a truly wonderful job. It's also a great way of getting people into the 'feel' of Imperian's Lore and giving them a crash course in the races, cities and so forth.

The concern we have is how to draw the line between making an awesome introduction that sucks players in... and creating an introduction that creates an unrealistic and soon dashed expectation of what the game is going to be like. I've played IRE games for more years than I'd admit to an age appropriate female and I can say with confidence that IRE games reach their 'fun' peak well beyond the first week of gameplay. After a player goes through your incredibly shiny introduction and reaches the actual game, they're going to be faced with plain old (comparatively) boring text and the prospect of typing 'SMITE ZEALOT/BAKUL' for 15 levels.

This isn't a bad thing in and of itself and I think the newbie zones in Imperian offer a cool, gently sloping learning curve for newbies. What concerns is me is how many will be instantly turned off, to the point of quitting, by the contrast between the sleek, shiny graphics of your introduction and the text-based game itself.

I think to some extent IRE can get away with this, because they're so well established that they have a lot of look-ins coming in anyway... and they've got a reputation solid enough to keep someone playing for an extra ten minutes, long enough to get over the shock of the transition and maybe get hooked on the game proper. As a new game, we just don't think we can pull that sort of thing off.

I guess we, and I suspect much of the MUDing community will be looking with interest to see how this front-end interface works out for IRE's games. Do people like it? Do a higher percentage of new players stick around post change? What's the feedback? Etc.
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Old 05-13-2010, 11:33 AM   #32
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Re: Easing the process for new players.

Ok, took me awhile, but I created an account on these forums to specifically answer this thread.

First, a little background. I'm in my late twenties, and one month ago, I had never played a mud ever. I was completely new. I had only once attempted to play some MUD based off the Lord of the Rings when I was 17, and it was a total disaster. My friend tried to get me into it, and he "rushed" me through creation for me, and I was dumped in a game with little to no clue to what I was doing, and I walked into some important Lord's castle wield a weapon and was immediately killed by some super guards. I tried maybe logging in once or twice after that, and bagged it.

Now we fast forward about 10 years ahead, and I was on my Mac doing some work, and wanted to play some games. I dual boot it so I can play games, but it was such a pain to reboot into windows for just 30 minutes of gaming, to reboot back into Mac and open everything up again. So I thought "I should try one of those muds again." I did some googling, found TMS's top mud list, and ended up connecting to New Worlds.

I know the NW owner posts here, and he is very vocal about certain aspects, so I just wanted to disclaim that first. But it is safe to assume that for the vast majority in this forum, their days as a "beginning player" are well behind, and I thought my perspective could be useful.

A few things I noticed that NW does very well in helping new players:

1) Putting them in contact with a REAL human being within second of creating a new player. A guide or another player simply say hello in the question channel, and tell the player they are there for us. I cannot tell you how useful this was in learning a mud for the first time. It also helps establish a commodore with other players quickly. there is a connection when someone helps you over the "question" channel, and then you see them in the tavern.

2) The "creation / intro" process doesn't cater to the lowest common denominator. You just go through a series of rooms that have short descriptions of different things you can do. You practice putting, getting, looking, all the very basic. However, if you don't need a specific area, you can just go "north." The process takes a max of maybe 10-15 minutes if you are new, maybe 20-25 if you really struggle. But it doesn't seem long or tedious.

Also, there are no "timer/timed" things in the intro, slowly giving you text. Both when I tried Archaea over telnet, and Imperian's web client, that drove me nuts, and eventually I didn't put up with it and stopped mid way through the intro, never making it out of the intro for either. Some new players might like the stream of text, but I prefer the small batch of text, and then my action lead to the next batch.

3) The starting town, Gahlen, is also the main town and hub of activity. A new "immigrant" in Gahlen will often run into several new players, who introduce themselves and help them out. Creating these relationships with real players helps a lot with the retention factor, I know it helped me a lot.

4) The town layout is super basic and easy to understand. For a new player, this was the most daunting tasks for me, just bloody moving around. I could get turned around so easily while trying to build these internal maps in my head. I know that MXP has mapping capabilities, but unless it used 100% through the MUD, the process of learning how to navigate a MUD is a crucial skill to learn, and so making an easy to learn town is very helpful.

5) Tours are offered and given to new players when they finish the creation process. Mine was super helpful, and showed me all the different places I would want to go to, and how to navigate to them. It also, once again, is a tool to help create that connection to the rest of the player base.

I recently gave a tour, only after being around for about a month, and that new character messages me over tells several times ICly over several days with simple questions, like finding a leader of the local religion to learn about joining, and how to find a merchant to repair his equipment.

6) Color is used, but the majority is not colored. I think the creators did a good job nailing the use of color in their game. The different colors carry different themes, and "key navigation spots" have color hints to help make certain intersections memorable, and each intersection with colors is different, as to not get confused between them.

7) Everything you need to get to level 10 and join a guild is within the city walls. A special place is created to be more "forgiving" and helpful to newbies to combat. If you die in these training grounds, you can get a new set of equipment to go back in right at the entrance. The place you hunt is very close to the place you train your skills and level. The city was built basically to be easy for new players.

8) There are signs everywhere in the starting areas with short, concise information that a new player would need. I learned very quickly that if there is a sign, I could read it and it would tell me everything I needed to know about that room.

Now, it isn't all sunshine and rainbows over at NW, there are a few draw backs you have to mitigate to making their system work. Support heavily relies on the players of the game, which comes with a slew of challenges.

1) The A**hole Syndrome - Lets be honest, some players are strait up asshats at times, and veteran players just ignore them. However, there was an instance where I was in the tavern talking with other people, and another player entered, I spoke to them for a bit, and he left. Then over the OOC chat channel, he made a remark something to the tune of "why some new players ever bother playing their worthless characters." I knew that remark was about me, and it was frustrating being "looked down" on by a 'veteran' player.

2) The Nazi Syndrome - The rules are pretty strict about certain things that happen in game, especially when it comes to Roleplaying. At the time I had joined a guild, and was working hard on getting my character to a certain level so I could join some of the harder fights, I was discussing all the work my character was putting in ICly. Talking about "game mechanics", such as level, xp, hp, etc., in an IC context is extremely taboo and against the rules in NW. A veteran player walked by and her one sentence of our conversation, and walked on. Then over the OOC channel he stated, to the entire server, that "doing blah blah is really bad RP and ruins the game." Then it spun up all sorts of heated discussion on the OOC channel about the issue, and being called out like that over a single sentence which in context of the conversation was completely fine was frustrating. Its okay to guide new players, but being nice about it is super important. Players that are critical of new players in a rude way, no matter how justified, can demoralize new players.

3) The Elite Syndrome - You can have many players who have played for multiple years that can have their groups of friends and such, which is normal. What can be a challenge is when a new player comes in, and really can't break into a group of friends. I honestly don't think most players intend to do this, its just easier to RP and play with an already established group of people. But if your game relies heavily on RP, it can be hard for new players to fit in.

I think NW does a pretty good job with these issues, but they do exist.

Hopefully my insights and opinions can be helpful.
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Old 06-08-2010, 07:40 AM   #33
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Re: Easing the process for new players.

I don't have much to say regarding extremely early attraction of brand-new players.

However, I've noticed several issues — specifically in IRE MUDs, but I'm sure they could crop up anywhere — which nevertheless effect the retention of these brand-new players far more so than retention of new (but experienced) MUDders. That's because experienced MUDders are wise enough not to be put off by what I'm about to outline.



The first problem I've noticed is simply that two of IRE's MUDs have far too many player guilds and/or organizations (cities, etc.) available. Lusternia has 24 guilds (soon to be 26), to serve a player base that averages approximately 80 people online at any given time. That's an average three online players per guild at any given time, but naturally, some guilds are more popular than others. Thus, the least popular guilds are completely empty during the quiet hours, almost empty during off-peak times, and maybe see a bit of activity during peak times. Even the more popular guilds are spread rather thin, no matter the time of day.

Imperian also has a lot of guilds (26), and its player base is actually 12% smaller than Lusternia's. The same difficulties outlined above apply to it, too.

This is a problem because guilds aren't just a character class in IRE MUDs. They're a critical and essential part of gameplay, and having active members within your guild is important. You get a brand-new player in one of these deserted guilds, and they may quit on you because of it... if not immediately, perhaps later.

The solution is fairly simple: Bite the bullet and downsize these games to properly fit the player base. Having an oversized set of guilds doesn't help the MUD grow, instead hindering it by spreading players too thinly.



Another significant problem I've seen in IRE MUDs is private OOC clans and equivalents. It's probably far too late to get rid of these, as doing so would anger older players, but I feel that they're detrimental to the MUDs.

While OOC clans look good on paper, they turn quite a few people (and groups of people) into great swatches of silence that brand-new players don't understand. The newbies don't realize why people are so (relatively) quiet on IC channels or at places where players tend to congregate.

In Lusternia, for example, I have stood at my organization's nexus (major congregation area) to observe the SAYS in that room, the org's main channel, my guild's main channel, all of the org's various sub-channels, and the newbie channel.

Complete silence can reign for minutes at a stretch (longer during quiet hours, shorter during peak hours).

As well, keep in mind that these two issues actually compound and reinforce each other. Having a ton of guilds and/or too many orgs means even fewer people on the various chat channels.



=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=



Well, that's all I've got for now, though I can't help feeling I forgot one more item. I hope these constructive criticisms are least give you some food for thought.

Last edited by Suicide Boy : 06-08-2010 at 05:20 PM.
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