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Old 07-31-2010, 09:39 PM   #41
Hiddukel
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Re: The "Health," of Muds

Would have to agree with Kavir here..... while a MUD developer may choose not to design their own custom MUD client for users to download and use, if they so choose to do so over the other available MUD clients out there, it brings a more robust and well rounded MUD into the market.... the more the options, the more likely that it'll be a bit easier to attract a new "customer" base. I started writing one for my MUD using Visual Basic... it's still fairly "beta", but completely functional. While I haven't had the time to program features found in other MUD clients, it does allow me to add in more control to what the player sees and hears when using the client... whereas other MUD clients are limited in the sense of what I can communicate to them to do through my MUD's source code. For example, I can implement a text box into my client, and feed into that box, website links throughout my own website (or other websites). These links would scroll (or appear in some other form) depending on a command that the end-user executes. The user types "HELP HIDDUKEL" and a link would appear in the text box, allowing the user to click the link, which would then bring them to a page within my own website that gives more information than I could ever (or would want to) give within the MUD itself. Things like this open doors for a MUD that would otherwise be closed. And as long as it isn't a "required to play" client, users will always have the option to remain with their own MUD client if they so choose to do so.

As for the MUD listings....

I always remembered seeing a lot more than what were listed by Kavir... granted, the list is completely subjective since it's hard to measure a total amount based on MUDs that are actually active and playable... as he had pointed out that while there were a lot listed, some of them listed were defunct listings. But, that's always been the case (even so today), and if you were to look at the trend based on what was listed at TMC (cached pages via web.archive.org), I see numbers that pretty much jive in line with the trend graph listed at findmud.com

I took the total listings from several page caches through several months of every given year from 2001 thru 2010. Put them in Excel and calculated an average. On average, we see something like this:


2001: 1723
2002: 1795
2003: 1903
2004: 1731
2005: 1714
2006: 1690
2007: 1582
2008: 1428
2009: 1119
2010: 1115

Not much of a chance from 2009 to 2010... but a big drop when compared to the peak year of 2003... nearly a 50% drop in listed MUDs. One could say that those listed in 2003 weren't all functional... but the same goes for 2010 as well... while there isn't a constant value of listed MUDs being defunct, I would bet that there's an average percentage for each year.... and with that, you still see a drop over the last 7 years by nearly 50%.

As with Kavir, I too am seeing a lot more blind or partially blind MUD gamers...... using text readers to play. But all in all, I doubt that MUDs will ever get near as popular as what they once were... too many graphical alternatives, and with today's hardware, you don't need to break the bank to get your hands on it.
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Old 07-31-2010, 10:34 PM   #42
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Re: The "Health," of Muds

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Originally Posted by Hiddukel View Post
While I haven't had the time to program features found in other MUD clients, it does allow me to add in more control to what the player sees and hears when using the client... whereas other MUD clients are limited in the sense of what I can communicate to them to do through my MUD's source code.
Actually as I briefly mentioned earlier, several client developers have been working on making their clients easier to customise. This is particularly nice for mud owners, as it allows them to offer the full functionality of a well-established client in combination with a completely customised graphical interface.

In terms of trends, I think it would be more useful to monitor player numbers. Perhaps something like the MudStats player graph, but going back over years. I doubt anyone has collect this information to date, but I'm hoping MudStats will continue to do so, and perhaps in a few years we can see some interesting results.
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Old 08-01-2010, 01:07 AM   #43
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Re: The "Health," of Muds

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In that case I agree. The newer clients are better and if there were a better java client I'd like that as well. The current Java client we use is better than telnet but is missing alot of features that are on the Flash client. I'm not a fan of the flash client - mainly because of the flash security protocol. It would be nice if someone revamped the Java client with the features of the flash. It wouldn't take alot, I just don't have the time or the inclination.
There are some newer JavaScript clients, such as jmud, and the (hopefully forthcoming) in-development Decaf. I think these might successfully replace their Java counterparts.
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Old 08-01-2010, 03:45 AM   #44
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Re: The "Health," of Muds

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There are some newer JavaScript clients, such as jmud, and the (hopefully forthcoming) in-development Decaf. I think these might successfully replace their Java counterparts.
I certainly hope so. I'm all for checking out Decaf if and when it is available.
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Old 08-01-2010, 06:49 AM   #45
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Re: The "Health," of Muds

Why did this turn into a discussion on clients? I mean I understand how the conversation got to that but I disagree with the notion that clients have much of an affect on the number of players available to the MUD community. I don't think the problem personally lies with the way MUDs are presented to people. I mean that can be an issue but it's the type of issue that would pop up with any medium. Interface can always turn some off and appeal to others.

Introducing the "bubble".

What I think the issue is mainly that MUDs are cut off in their own little "bubble" world unnoticed by most people. That has always been the case true but it has been getting worse along the same line of decline that is easy to notice. If people don't know what MUDs are, that they exist, or that they may interest them then they aren't going to try them out.

Even looking at MUD listings. They advertise to fellow MUD enthusiasts and rarely to people who find them in searches. The "outside" internet isn't easy to break out to with information on MUDs that might grab the attention of people who may indeed be interested. I've met far more people who have never heard of MUDs than I have people who have. Let alone people who have PLAYED a MUD. Not to mention a person I heard from recently who was shocked that MUDs were still even played. That means that person had at one time either played a MUD or been familiar enough with them. Yet they hadn't done either for so long they were shocked.

So that's the million dollar question. What can be done to appeal to those outside the "bubble" information wise. That seems to me to be the best solution. Clients and interfaces are all well and good and have a good chance to appeal to those who happen by but mostly they just will milk the same core of players already in the "bubble". I don't know if there even is a solution to this core issue but it's at least worth talking about.
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Old 08-01-2010, 07:28 AM   #46
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Re: The "Health," of Muds

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Why did this turn into a discussion on clients? I mean I understand how the conversation got to that but I disagree with the notion that clients have much of an affect on the number of players available to the MUD community.
Because, as I said earlier, the main difference between a text mud and a graphical MMO lies in the client.

Offer a graphical downloadable client and you can start breaking into the MMO market.

Offer a graphical web client and you can start breaking into the browser game market.

These markets have a huge number of players who enjoy playing the same sort of games as us, the only difference is that those players expect some degree of graphics.

But because muds can be played with a wide range of different clients, we can cater to those who like graphical interfaces while still catering to those who prefer a pure text interface, simply by offering multiple clients.
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Old 08-01-2010, 07:44 AM   #47
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Re: The "Health," of Muds

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Originally Posted by iovan View Post
Why did this turn into a discussion on clients? I mean I understand how the conversation got to that but I disagree with the notion that clients have much of an affect on the number of players available to the MUD community. I don't think the problem personally lies with the way MUDs are presented to people. I mean that can be an issue but it's the type of issue that would pop up with any medium. Interface can always turn some off and appeal to others.

Introducing the "bubble".

What I think the issue is mainly that MUDs are cut off in their own little "bubble" world unnoticed by most people. That has always been the case true but it has been getting worse along the same line of decline that is easy to notice. If people don't know what MUDs are, that they exist, or that they may interest them then they aren't going to try them out.

Even looking at MUD listings. They advertise to fellow MUD enthusiasts and rarely to people who find them in searches. The "outside" internet isn't easy to break out to with information on MUDs that might grab the attention of people who may indeed be interested. I've met far more people who have never heard of MUDs than I have people who have. Let alone people who have PLAYED a MUD. Not to mention a person I heard from recently who was shocked that MUDs were still even played. That means that person had at one time either played a MUD or been familiar enough with them. Yet they hadn't done either for so long they were shocked.

So that's the million dollar question. What can be done to appeal to those outside the "bubble" information wise. That seems to me to be the best solution. Clients and interfaces are all well and good and have a good chance to appeal to those who happen by but mostly they just will milk the same core of players already in the "bubble". I don't know if there even is a solution to this core issue but it's at least worth talking about.
I agree with the sentiments of this post.

I also want to point out that the websites of most MUDs and our small communities have rather shoddy SEO and do not play well with search engines. I've spent hours sitting on Google sticking in all sorts of keywords, and I usually have to get extremely specific before I make a hit. In fact, it is MUCH easier for me to find information by clicking on random "associates" and ads on various community sites than it is for me to trust a search engine with keywords such as "MUD", "game", "text-based", and "roleplay". In fact, any word that a "n00b" might try usually turns up really crappy results.
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Old 08-01-2010, 07:57 AM   #48
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Re: The "Health," of Muds

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Originally Posted by KaVir View Post
Because, as I said earlier, the main difference between a text mud and a graphical MMO lies in the client.

Offer a graphical downloadable client and you can start breaking into the MMO market.

Offer a graphical web client and you can start breaking into the browser game market.

These markets have a huge number of players who enjoy playing the same sort of games as us, the only difference is that those players expect some degree of graphics.

But because muds can be played with a wide range of different clients, we can cater to those who like graphical interfaces while still catering to those who prefer a pure text interface, simply by offering multiple clients.
I understand that point but I don't happen to agree with it. I mean to a degree that's true but I don't think any level of client is going to make much of an impact. Not to discourage you or anything on making better clients. I can readily agree that a better interface can help draw people in.

I don't think it's so much that people crave graphics (I'm sure that's true in most respects) and are opposed to all text games. I think the main problem is most people don't even know there are text games or how exactly they work. I think it's a simplistic notion to just look at people playing graphical games and think that the graphics in the game is why they play those and not MUDs.

I seriously doubt more than 5% of them have tried a MUD (pulling it from my ass). I seriously doubt likewise that 10% of them have even heard of MUDs in detail (more than a passing comment between a second and third party). I believe that's the main reason MUDs don't get more players than they have anymore. With older players in the MUD community "retiring" and few people penetrating the "bubble" it has lead to this decline.

Text games are neither out of date or left behind by graphical games. They are an entirely different take on games that I believe most people could come to enjoy if they knew enough about them to choose. You can't choose something you know nothing about.

Myself as an example I got into MUDs back in 1999. I found out about MUDs by searching for free online RPGs. I had no idea what a MUD was at the time. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. Now this was back when MUDs had a larger player base in general if I'm not mistaken. Yet I only found out about them on accident then. I was heavily into forum RPing and browser based games like Utopia/Earth 2025 as well. There are still a great number of people like that out there today (greater actually) who would be willing to play MUDs but haven't heard of them.

I'm starting to ramble now but I hope my point was at least understood

Last edited by iovan : 08-01-2010 at 07:59 AM. Reason: Meant to quote
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Old 08-01-2010, 08:45 AM   #49
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Re: The "Health," of Muds

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I understand that point but I don't happen to agree with it. I mean to a degree that's true but I don't think any level of client is going to make much of an impact.
Then we'll have to agree to disagree on that one. You want to attract players from outside of the "bubble"...but where are these people going to come from? What audience are you trying to appeal to? It can't just be "people who haven't tried muds" - that's far too vague, you need a coherent audience that you can explicitly target.

In your case you might try targeting DBZ fans, for example, while a mud based on a novel might try targeting readers of that novel. You know what your target audience likes, and can market your game accordingly, focusing on things that fans of the show/book are likely to find appealing.

But what do you think is more likely to catch the eye of a prospective player who's never tried muds before: A description of the game, or a screenshot of a fancy graphical interface? I think most of us in the mud community recognise that eye candy is no indication of a good game, but the sad fact is that pretty pictures will sell your game far more effectively than pure text.

Appealing to MMO players is difficult, because they tend to have high expectations in terms of graphics - but many of them will have played text muds in the past, and some eventually return to text muds because they know the gameplay tends to be deeper. Offering some sort of text/graphics hybrid, like Primordiax is doing, may provide a more appealing compromise for such players.

On the other hand, browser games are somewhat different. They tend to offer simplistic graphics that are far more achievable for hobby developers, and shallow gameplay that can't compete with most muds. Offering a graphical web client would bring your mud to the attention of players who would otherwise never give it a chance.
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Old 08-01-2010, 08:59 AM   #50
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Re: The "Health," of Muds

When approaching the debate "Why an MMO and not a MUD?" I do think that graphics play heavily into it.

I spent a year recently almost submerged 'in all thing gaming', and when I polled the people around me as to why they chose to play World of Warcraft over another game, the resounding response was "It's pretty!!!" Not, "It's fun to play" or "The mechanics are great," but, "It's pretty!!!" This became even more prevalent in casual gamers - they liked shiny things that they could click or point at.

When it comes right down to it, I think MUDs take more energy and effort to play and do not offer the same sort of instant gratification that our graphical competitors can provide. To get into a MUD, you have to go through this huge process of typing up a bunch of information (name, email, etc) and reading all sorts of details. (( You may laugh, but to a player used to graphics, or maybe just an impatient one, these are real issues. )) You can often get spammed to death at login with MOTDs and other "read this!" messages. Killing a monster often isn't simply an issue of clicking on it, but rather a complicated series of commands of "e,e,n,hit monster" - and God forbid the thing runs away from you! And even when it's dead, you still have to LOOK at it, read through its inventory, "GET" everything you want (sometimes individually!), and then "sac" it. Of course, if you're on any of the larger roleplaying MUDs, the above scenario is even more complicated.

Then, of course, there is Wall-of-Text Syndrome. Most standard MUD clients do not provide a whole lot of support to combat this. We're keeping our games afloat in an evolving virtual world where the culture has come to frown down upon endless streams of words.


All of that said, I do not think that a custom graphical client, or even more complex clients, are going to give us the "oomph" we need to attract a lot of new players. They will, however, be useful in KEEPING new players and improving our image as a genre.
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Old 08-01-2010, 10:32 AM   #51
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Re: The "Health," of Muds

I complained about this several years ago when commercial MUDs were pouring thousands of dollars into the MUD community, cannibalizing on the steadily dwindling player base. At one point TMC displayed three large banners and several side banners on each forum page, after which I dubbed it TIC (The IRE Connector) and made fun of the sponsors till I got banned.

Nowadays MUD discussion has moved to other sites and TMC (I assume due to traffic loss) lowered its banner price significantly.

It's however well possible that advertising outside the community is not cost effective (nor is advertising within the community in the long run for that matter), in which case the genre is pretty much doomed.
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Old 08-01-2010, 12:25 PM   #52
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Re: The "Health," of Muds

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I've spent hours sitting on Google sticking in all sorts of keywords, and I usually have to get extremely specific before I make a hit. In fact, it is MUCH easier for me to find information by clicking on random "associates" and ads on various community sites than it is for me to trust a search engine with keywords such as "MUD", "game", "text-based", and "roleplay". In fact, any word that a "n00b" might try usually turns up really crappy results.
Not sure how, but in our marketing information on NWA we've had numerous new gamers show up from odd places like google and elsewhere. Not sure how they are finding Ateraan, but they are. Might have something to do with our current campaign to bring in new gamers to Text Roleplaying.

I have none of the same doom and gloom some of you have here. I find our community thriving and growing and we'll continue to try and bring in new players to our Book and perhaps bring some Movie goers in as well.

http://www.topmudsites.com/forums/ro...ook-movie.html
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Old 08-01-2010, 02:19 PM   #53
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Re: The "Health," of Muds

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When it comes right down to it, I think MUDs take more energy and effort to play and do not offer the same sort of instant gratification that our graphical competitors can provide.
This is important. The culture of computers and games, the use of the mouse over the command line, the rise of casual games ('casual' only in the sense of the bits of time devoted to them, I think casual games can be quite 'hardcore' in totality) has completely changed since muds had their heyday in the 90s.

Yet, as browser games attest, text is not itself an impediment to a game's popularity, for example look at Echo Bazaar with 10,000 players. However that game and games like it make good use of text and graphics and a far easier interface than the CLI.

I'm not against the CLI, I use it for daily computing tasks, heck I don't even use the mouse on my desktop. But I know I'm in the minority.

A player may never have heard of muds, but if you sit them in front of one with the current standard of interface, how long are they going to last?
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Old 08-01-2010, 04:55 PM   #54
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Re: The "Health," of Muds

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A player may never have heard of muds, but if you sit them in front of one with the current standard of interface, how long are they going to last?
Depends on the interface and game, I'd guess. We've had 5 new players in the last week that have NEVER played a text MUD before and found our game through other channels besides MUD forums or MUD repositories/locations. All five are still playing and are fascinated by the genre. Small number, yes, compared to likely 500 or 5000 on WoW or Runescape, but still encouraging.
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Old 08-01-2010, 05:19 PM   #55
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Re: The "Health," of Muds

Another issue MUDs might get is that at least some MMOs are changing into "almost-free-to-play"(e.g some use pay for benefits model of some kind). For example LOTRO, Everquest2 Extended, Dungeons & Dragons Online, and more.

The competition for MUDs is definitely increasing.
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Old 08-01-2010, 06:30 PM   #56
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Re: The "Health," of Muds

As far as the roleplaying encouraged (and up) MUDs go, it seems to me that the segment of the population (out of those that've never tried MUDs before) that would be most receptive to them would be those that love to read. I remember chancing upon DragonRealms back in '99 in what was one of my own first forays online. This long-time reader really appreciated finding what amounted to a multiplayer, choose-your-own-path version of a good fantasy book.
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Old 08-01-2010, 06:52 PM   #57
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Re: The "Health," of Muds

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Then we'll have to agree to disagree on that one. You want to attract players from outside of the "bubble"...but where are these people going to come from? What audience are you trying to appeal to? It can't just be "people who haven't tried muds" - that's far too vague, you need a coherent audience that you can explicitly target.

In your case you might try targeting DBZ fans, for example, while a mud based on a novel might try targeting readers of that novel. You know what your target audience likes, and can market your game accordingly, focusing on things that fans of the show/book are likely to find appealing.

But what do you think is more likely to catch the eye of a prospective player who's never tried muds before: A description of the game, or a screenshot of a fancy graphical interface? I think most of us in the mud community recognise that eye candy is no indication of a good game, but the sad fact is that pretty pictures will sell your game far more effectively than pure text.

Appealing to MMO players is difficult, because they tend to have high expectations in terms of graphics - but many of them will have played text muds in the past, and some eventually return to text muds because they know the gameplay tends to be deeper. Offering some sort of text/graphics hybrid, like Primordiax is doing, may provide a more appealing compromise for such players.

On the other hand, browser games are somewhat different. They tend to offer simplistic graphics that are far more achievable for hobby developers, and shallow gameplay that can't compete with most muds. Offering a graphical web client would bring your mud to the attention of players who would otherwise never give it a chance.
Generally no it won't just be people who haven't tried MUDs that you want to appeal to. Using the appeal of your particular MUD theme (even if custom) is never a bad thing. If there is a group of people who are more inclined to like it that is a good place to start. However I do think that the general population would be inclined to try MUDs if they knew what they were, how they work, and how they might possibly appeal to that person.

I mean there are thousands and thousands of people spending tons of time in forums who haven't tried MUDs. That's a large time sink in its own right in a mainly text based medium. Of course I know that most of the appeal of forums is casual banter, discussion of specific topics, or community based jokes/experiences. I do think though that in general just like a great number of people still read books that a great number of people could get into MUDs.

It's not good for us to be labeling MUDs ourselves as inferior because of their lack of graphics. I know that's not what you think or wish to imply, but it can reinforce such a thought in the uninformed "graphic whores". MUDs are a totally different medium in my opinion. Look at the craze over retro games. Not everyone out there has to have pretty graphics in order to enjoy a game. I think the same can be said of having any graphics at all. The majority can't be reached but we don't need the majority. We just need a percentage of it as new players that can cause an increase.

Having a new pretty client may in fact do that but I think reaching out more as a community couldn't hurt either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Parhelion View Post
When approaching the debate "Why an MMO and not a MUD?" I do think that graphics play heavily into it.

I spent a year recently almost submerged 'in all thing gaming', and when I polled the people around me as to why they chose to play World of Warcraft over another game, the resounding response was "It's pretty!!!" Not, "It's fun to play" or "The mechanics are great," but, "It's pretty!!!" This became even more prevalent in casual gamers - they liked shiny things that they could click or point at.
Yes that is the case with the majority. Most of them haven't really cut their teeth on gaming in general if they are teenagers or younger. They've grown up in the late years of gaming and things are completely different to them than to people from my or earlier generations. However there is still a percentage of them I believe can be reached.

The thing is they don't know enough about it to be reached. They follow the path of least resistance. A lot of them have friends who play game X and so they got into game X. I've talked to a lot of people myself who have played WoW and can't believe they wasted so much time on such a simple game except for the friends they had there. Like I said earlier there is so many people who haven't even heard of MUDs let alone tried them. It's pure folly to assume that the reason is graphics and not just because word of mouth doesn't reach them.

Graphics can be why they enjoy a particular game but it doesn't mean that's the only thing that can appeal to them.
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Old 08-01-2010, 07:49 PM   #58
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Re: The "Health," of Muds

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Having a new pretty client may in fact do that but I think reaching out more as a community couldn't hurt either.
I hope this won't start a flame war, but what community?

There really hasn't been a MUD community (at least not in a positive sense) for many, many years. Most efforts to do anything for the shared benefit of MUDs as a whole have died in the crib.

The sad truth about our "community" is that many (most?) of its members would rather smash their nuts with a hammer than see someone else's MUD succeed.

Its like a pot of lobsters in a cookpot. If one starts to climb its way out, the others will grab it and drag it down. Not for their own benefit, but just to make sure the other guy isn't doing better than they are.

I could go into specifics, but I think most of the people reading this thread remember countless examples of incidents, flame wars, and controversies from the last 10 years that demonstrate this unfortunate fact. To be honest, I'm not sure if the "MUD community" ever had a true sense of community or a belief in doing things to grow our overall market.

Before we can do anything together as a community we would need to actually forge a viable community. Right now we are like a bitter, hateful married couple that needs massive couples therapy before we even THINK of having kids.
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Old 08-01-2010, 08:01 PM   #59
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Re: The "Health," of Muds

Quote:
Originally Posted by Threshold View Post
I hope this won't start a flame war, but what community?

There really hasn't been a MUD community (at least not in a positive sense) for many, many years. Most efforts to do anything for the shared benefit of MUDs as a whole have died in the crib.

The sad truth about our "community" is that many (most?) of its members would rather smash their nuts with a hammer than see someone else's MUD succeed.

Its like a pot of lobsters in a cookpot. If one starts to climb its way out, the others will grab it and drag it down. Not for their own benefit, but just to make sure the other guy isn't doing better than they are.

I could go into specifics, but I think most of the people reading this thread remember countless examples of incidents, flame wars, and controversies from the last 10 years that demonstrate this unfortunate fact. To be honest, I'm not sure if the "MUD community" ever had a true sense of community or a belief in doing things to grow our overall market.

Before we can do anything together as a community we would need to actually forge a viable community. Right now we are like a bitter, hateful married couple that needs massive couples therapy before we even THINK of having kids.
Believe me I know how this community works. I know exactly how bitter, hateful, selfish, and trivial members of it can and have been. My "block" of the community is probably the worst. With thefts, sabotage, flames, etc.

Initiatives have to start somewhere though and what I am talking about wouldn't have to benefit a single MUD anyway. It would be some sort of movement to inform outsiders of MUDs in general. Increase the player pool for all of the "community" to share. If anyone doesn't want to do that for spiteful reasons I don't know what to say.

Usually it takes a problem to bring people together. If everyone is fat and happy on their own then they are usually more free to be assholes to everyone else. I know some people are still optimistic and I know there isn't any real "crisis" going on, but still. While some MUDs may be getting more players (mine being one of them) the player base of the entire "community" is shrinking.

What do businesses do? Even though they directly compete with one another they start associations that help their entire market flourish. It's the smart thing to do.
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Old 08-01-2010, 09:41 PM   #60
Newworlds
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Re: The "Health," of Muds

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Originally Posted by Threshold View Post
I hope this won't start a flame war, but what community?
True. But I'm all for working with others and Admins that I respect as colleaques. I constantly will promote other viable games on TMS and TMC and even elsewhere. Namely those are Threshold, 4Dimensions, God Wars II, and a few others that have always been cordial and professional. I don't think your comment will start a flame war, but your premise is valid. There is alot of infighting within the "community".

Perhaps one day we'll have some sort of Association. I don't know. The RPMUD network seemed to want to do that, I just found that many of the leaders there were biased, opinionated, and wrong in many assessments, so I never felt a reason to support or be a part of it.
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