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Old 03-23-2009, 01:12 PM   #1
Newworlds
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How to build your own MUD!

For all of you that have the desire to build a MUD, I thought that I would give you the best advise that I can on the first steps. You may scoff at this and say "NO WAY" but if you are very serious about undertaking this project, read on.

Here is some advice that I always tell people that are debating about playing a MUD or making a MUD: PLAY A MUD! Having run a successful MUD for many years now (and enjoying the headaches somewhat), if I had any tiny inkling of the difficulty in maintaining and running a MUD when I put together NW, I would have run from that project like a forest fire.

The information below is pulled from another thread and placed here for your convenience. Follow what they say and you will not be caught by many surprises.

------------------------------------

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jazuela
Square by square. If you're not willing to map out the game world, don't expect any builder or coder worth hiring to waste their time helping you out.

You can use MS Excel, or any of the dozens of map-creation programs available.

How can you even think to ask someone to help you build, when you can't even tell them exactly what you want to see, and where? I know as a builder if the admin said "create a zone, make it around 50 rooms, and put it northwest somewhere," I'd laugh and walk away. You couldn't even -pay- me to work with someone who doesn't care more about their own mud than I do.

When it comes to owning and running a MUD, there's no such thing as "can't I JUST." Toss that word the heck out of your vocabulary, friend. If you're not willing to put in 110% effort on your own project, don't expect anyone else to either.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Threshold
The #1 MOST important thing to do before starting your own mud is work as a staff member on AT LEAST one other mud for at least 1 year.

You will learn alot from working on another mud. You will see first hand either good or bad staff management (seeing either one is helpful). You will see how people deal with preventing (or failing to prevent) abuse either by players or by staff. You will see how people deal with game and class balance. These are invaluable lessons that cannot be well learned on your own.

By watching what works and doesn't work, you will obtain a greater understanding of what you are doing.

Furthermore, by being a staff member, you will have some understanding of what it is like to be in that position.
------------------------------------

So, my friends, the answer to the question on How to build your own MuD is a process beginning with:
  1. Play on a MUD that has the style of what you want to build
  2. Be a staff member or builder on the above MUD.
  3. Establish your idea for your game.
  4. Create maps and backgrounds for your idea.
  5. Find a Codebase that you can work with.
  6. Make sure you understand you will need a website.
  7. Understand that you will need a host ISP (a paid for location to hold your game and run it).
  8. Understand that you will need to know how to run your game from the host ISP.
  9. Realise that this process will take 1000's of hours of commitment.
  10. Realise that 9 out of 10 MUDs never bring in more than 10 players.
After doing and accepting rules 1 through 10, if you have the heart, patience, and time, GET STARTED!

Good LUCK!
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Old 03-24-2009, 03:56 AM   #2
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Re: How to build your own MUD!

Stickied.

#9 may be a bit of an understatement!
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Old 03-25-2009, 12:30 AM   #3
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Re: How to build your own MUD!

Also bear in mind that #7 and #8 aren't the necessity, especially when you're starting out with little or no playerbase. With the proliferation of broadband, as long as you have a reliable 24/7 connection along with a server or PC that can run your MUD, you should be fine.

Also check that your ISP allows you to host web services of some kind (from both a policy AND a protocol and port-forwarding perspective), and go nuts. Just make sure you backup often to a device that isn't connected to the 'net, since you'll probably get hacked a few times over if you're new to hosting.
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Old 03-25-2009, 02:26 AM   #4
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Re: How to build your own MUD!

Quote:
Originally Posted by gth View Post
Also bear in mind that #7 and #8 aren't the necessity, especially when you're starting out with little or no playerbase. With the proliferation of broadband, as long as you have a reliable 24/7 connection along with a server or PC that can run your MUD, you should be fine.
99.99% of ISP's do not allow IRC or Net Hosting Networks to be setup on a personal computer with a home internet service. Yes, you can do this, but if you are caught you will get shutdown and the openware of your network will often get you hacked and wormed.

Not to mention the fact that every interruption in your service will cause anyone connected to link die or get booted. This can be frustrating with unreliable home internet service.
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Old 03-26-2009, 11:14 AM   #5
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Re: How to build your own MUD!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Newworlds
Understand that you will need a host ISP (a paid for location to hold your game and run it).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newworlds View Post
99.99% of ISP's do not allow IRC or Net Hosting Networks to be setup on a personal computer with a home internet service.
I think the use of the term ISP is adding unnecessary ambiguity.

You can run a MUD from your home computer. In fact these days its easier than ever and is the perfect solution especially when becoming familiar with code-bases and general mud development and maintenance.

There are however a plethora of services out there to make the whole experience a lot less hassle and a lot less hazardous. A quick google search for MUD Hosting will give you thousands of results.

For the more technical savvy there's the VPS route. But for any perspective MUD administrators out there. Know that getting hosting, setting up the mud and keeping it running is one of the more trivial parts of the exercise. The real work comes in building that world. That's where you'll lose the man hours.
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Old 03-26-2009, 06:50 PM   #6
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Re: How to build your own MUD!

Quote:
Originally Posted by newbie View Post
I think the use of the term ISP is adding unnecessary ambiguity.

You can run a MUD from your home computer. In fact these days its easier than ever and is the perfect solution especially when becoming familiar with code-bases and general mud development and maintenance.

There are however a plethora of services out there to make the whole experience a lot less hassle and a lot less hazardous. A quick google search for MUD Hosting will give you thousands of results.

For the more technical savvy there's the VPS route. But for any perspective MUD administrators out there. Know that getting hosting, setting up the mud and keeping it running is one of the more trivial parts of the exercise. The real work comes in building that world. That's where you'll lose the man hours.
I have to agree with you here. Getting your codebase up and running is super easy, and you don't even need to pay anymore. There are plenty of people who have built up their games on free hosts, and are now providing free hosts of their own to people. Since slayn.net died, there's been a few free hosts that have popped up. This is a good place to start if you're looking for a free host. There's also LooHosting and a few others.

Now, the hosting part is kinda over-stated, however, some things are extremely understated; #5, and #6. Finding a codebase you can work with is a good start of course, but learning how to program is definitely the kicker. 99% of the "successful" muds out there, aren't running a pure stock codebase. You just don't see it. You have to at least, be able to read over a little code, and be tech savvy enough to understand some of it. Also, creating a website is no easy feat. You have to, at the bare minimum be able to write/modify some HTML to get anywhere close to a usable, interesting website. You can say "oh! we'll get a coder, and a webmaster"... ya, good luck with that .
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Old 02-16-2011, 01:05 PM   #7
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Re: How to build your own MUD!

While at first glance this seemed to me a reasonable list, it occurs to me that my experience basically knocks out nearly everything on this list:

> 1) Play on a MUD that has the style of what you want to build

Yes. I played my first mud for about a year before starting on my own.

> 2) Be a staff member or builder on the above MUD.

No. Not even close.

> 3) Establish your idea for your game.

Sorta. The original mud went down, and I wanted to duplicate the look and feel, with improvements.

> 4) Create maps and backgrounds for your idea.

No. The building group had only the vaguest idea, and everything was built pretty much at random in spite of their attempts to organize.

> 5) Find a Codebase that you can work with.

No. I knew how to write my own programs at a basic level, but I was far too unskilled to understand and modify a codebase written by someone else. Contrary to popular belief, it takes less skill to write your own code than to understand someone else's large codebase, especially if it looks anything like standard mud codebases.

> 6) Make sure you understand you will need a website.

Sorta. We did add a web site later, but it was hardly considered important at the time. Everything was mudlist driven.

> 7) Understand that you will need a host ISP (a paid for location to hold your game and run it).

No. We ran everything on .edu machines for the first few years.

> 8) Understand that you will need to know how to run your game from the host ISP.

N/A. All development work was and is still done from command line tools, there is no difference between local and remote/host ISP. It's not entirely clear to me how this even applies in general.

> 9) Realise that this process will take 1000's of hours of commitment.

Yes.

> 10) Realise that 9 out of 10 MUDs never bring in more than 10 players.

No. It never even occurred to me that we'd fall into this category.


I'd give my overall score 3/9 (half a point for the two 'sorta' answers, N/A removed from both totals), yet AA is fairly successful.


My own list would be one item:

1) Be prepared to do everything, because let's face it, your only other option is give it to a volunteer. Your helpers will be be full of enthusiasm for about three days, then they will burn out. The remaining ones that are not incompetent, will not share your vision or will think they can do better. If you're lucky, you'll acquire good helpers at the rate of one per year. If you're lucky.

As examples, here is a minimum, non-inclusive list of Stuff You Will Personally Have To Take Care Of:

1.1) You will need to learn to program using a real programming language (anyone you recruit to be a coder will suck)
1.2) You will need to manage the building team (your builders will build garbage or inappropriate things.) It's also a good idea to learn to build yourself, but not IMO critical.
1.3) You will need to manage the server entirely yourself (your admin will be unresponsive when you need him)
1.4) You will need to handle PR and advertizing (because this needs to be done well and noone who does it well will do it for free)
1.5) You will need to construct and maintain the web pages (because they are 3-6 month one shot projects and you'll lose your maintainer in that time)
1.6) You will need to be the top level manager of admin and player problems. Delegate this authority at your own risk.
1.7) You will need to fire volunteer builders and helpers with good intentions and zero skill. You will need to fire lots of them.

You do not have to be an expert in these things, however you will have to do each of them, and you will have to do each of them well. Don't think for a minute you can get by with anything less. When your mud has 100+ players, then you'll have enough quality people to start taking over some of these tasks. Before that, it's all you, or it's nothing.


-dentin
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Old 02-16-2011, 04:04 PM   #8
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Re: How to build your own MUD!

Quote:
Originally Posted by dentin View Post
My own list would be one item:

1) Be prepared to do everything, because let's face it, your only other option is give it to a volunteer. Your helpers will be be full of enthusiasm for about three days, then they will burn out. The remaining ones that are not incompetent, will not share your vision or will think they can do better. If you're lucky, you'll acquire good helpers at the rate of one per year. If you're lucky.
Mostly true. It depends on the amount of interested individuals and how far you go back. You should be prepared to do everything though. If not because other people can be unreliable then you should because those who would be reliable are mostly inspired by the head of the project.

Quote:
1.1) You will need to learn to program using a real programming language (anyone you recruit to be a coder will suck)
They may not suck but from personal experience (and having been burned once) I do not let anyone near my code anymore. The slightest bit of falling out could end up with it stolen or stolen for ****s and giggles anyway. I wouldn't say it's a rule for everyone (not to trust anyone with their code) but it's one I follow. Unless I am releasing something you will not see my code without hacking.

Quote:
1.2) You will need to manage the building team (your builders will build garbage or inappropriate things.) It's also a good idea to learn to build yourself, but not IMO critical.
I agree that you will need to manage the building team. Building projects can drag on too long if you don't keep on builders and you have to set limits on what can and can't be built. It's a good idea to design building primers for various things (like say what are acceptable ranges for equipment) so that your builders have references and guidelines already established.

I do not agree on your suggestion that it's not critical to know how to build. I think you should know every nuance of your own building system. You should be able to teach any builder anything they may need to know about using your building system. That's my opinion.

Quote:
1.3) You will need to manage the server entirely yourself (your admin will be unresponsive when you need him)
See my idea of code security above. The only change between them would be if you have your website account separate from your code account. I deem it alright to give access to someone knowledgeable about website development to such a separate account. The risk is low and the pay off is high. I have no interest in learning website development personally. I have my hands full with the other languages I do care about.

Quote:
1.4) You will need to handle PR and advertizing (because this needs to be done well and noone who does it well will do it for free)
I agree to a point. Initial and major PR/advertising campaigns need to be handled by you. However once you have established yourself well enough you can recruit people to handle it that enjoy your particular MUD. You can check their proposed adverts prior to their being displayed and approve or deny them as needed.

Quote:
1.5) You will need to construct and maintain the web pages (because they are 3-6 month one shot projects and you'll lose your maintainer in that time)
Depends.

Quote:
1.6) You will need to be the top level manager of admin and player problems. Delegate this authority at your own risk.
Yes. However you shouldn't be required to step into every affair. You should set guidelines and rules for your immortals/wizards/admins in dealing with each other and players. You should clearly mark out what rules you do want the players to observe and make it clear to your immortals how they are to be enforced. Then all you need to keep your eye out for is immortals breaking the rules you have set up for them or misinterpreting the rules for players.

Quote:
1.7) You will need to fire volunteer builders and helpers with good intentions and zero skill. You will need to fire lots of them.
Good intentions and zero skill? How do builders get the skill you want unless they are taught or given a chance to learn? Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time I was a newly hired builder on someone's MUD. The owner knew I was new to building (He was not high caliber MUD owner material himself) yet after about an hour of my teaching myself to build (and getting pretty far in learning the commands) I was fired and banned. Why? I was a "newb" builder is all I was told.

That MUD doesn't exist anymore (never got off the ground actually) and my MUD does extremely well. I am an expert at the OLC system for my MUD (and others with the same system), I know several programming languages, and I am experienced in managing people to achieve a goal. I hire newb builders. I teach them how to not be newb anymore or have one of my experienced builders teach them. I don't just fire them and hope for some taught builder who is free from a MUD to show up.

The way I handle it does a number of things. 1: It increases the total of available builders for that OLC system. 2: It makes sure I can get builders without having to wait on them to just show up. 3: A good number of those newb builders who get taught are grateful and more dedicated to my project than an already skilled builder would have been.

I still fire people who do not meet the requirements I set or break timelines they agreed to meet (I'm a little forgiving on that but only when it wasn't a super important timeline). However I never fire someone just for having good intentions and zero skill. That's inefficient and unhelpful to both parties. Even the most uncreative builder who is at least taught can be helpful to me if they are assigned to do something minor but necessary.
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Old 02-17-2011, 01:54 AM   #9
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Re: How to build your own MUD!

This response is for Dentin.

1st. Dentin, the purpose of this thread is for people thinking about building a MUD to consider several key points on building. It is not directed at which of the points you didn't choose when you started building as a complete newbie. Your failures that you explain are the exact reason for this thread.

2nd. Your problems with staff, the lack of design, the lack of quality builders, the lack of knowledge of code, the lack of advertising, the lack of your own training and expertise with administration are the exact reasons for the top 10 recommendations.

3rd. I disagree emphatically with nearly every point you made in your post as you were a neophyte when you started making your game and had you followed the ten key points you would have bypassed alot of the difficulties and problems you went through the last 10 to 15 years.

4th. All of your complaints are based around point 2: Be a staff member or builder on the MUD you like. Had you done this you might have gained the administrative skillset and knowledge to properly admin your own game more effectively.

That is the point of this thread, to guide new administrators past hardships and give them a reality prior to learning that reality two to five years into building.
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Old 02-17-2011, 11:21 AM   #10
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Re: How to build your own MUD!

Quote:
1st. Dentin, the purpose of this thread is for people thinking about building a MUD to consider several key points on building. It is not directed at which of the points you didn't choose when you started building as a complete newbie. Your failures that you explain are the exact reason for this thread.
None of the actual problems I encountered are addressed by your list.

Quote:
2nd. Your problems with staff, the lack of design, the lack of quality builders, the lack of knowledge of code, the lack of advertising, the lack of your own training and expertise with administration are the exact reasons for the top 10 recommendations.
None of the actual problems I encountered are addressed by your list.

Quote:
3rd. I disagree emphatically with nearly every point you made in your post as you were a neophyte when you started making your game and had you followed the ten key points you would have bypassed alot of the difficulties and problems you went through the last 10 to 15 years.
None of the actual problems I encountered would have been helped by reading your list. They were, however, helped by reading other lists as the problems arose, lists with relevant solutions.

Quote:
4th. All of your complaints are based around point 2: Be a staff member or builder on the MUD you like. Had you done this you might have gained the administrative skillset and knowledge to properly admin your own game more effectively.
Yes, the bulk of my issues were related to people. However, assuming that being a staff member for a year on a mud you've likely never heard of in 1994 would have magically made me a better admin is crap of the highest order. If the other imms from that time on that game are any indicator, I would have learned bad habits instead.

And who are you to say that I didn't admin my own game effectively?

Quote:
That is the point of this thread, to guide new administrators past hardships and give them a reality prior to learning that reality two to five years into building.
Then be blunt about the true hardship: You will have to be a jack of all trades, able to do any and everything; further, you'll have to do any and everything for at least several months, until you can find qualified helpers that help more than they hinder.

How many muds have you seen come and go through your playerbase? I've seen hundreds. What's the overriding theme? "Me and some friends are going to start our own mud" Two weeks later: "I was the only one doing anything so I quit"

That's the real reason people fail with new muds. Not because they didn't have an idea for their game or because they forgot to create maps.

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Old 02-18-2011, 03:05 AM   #11
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Re: How to build your own MUD!

Getting back on track, if you truly are interested in building your own MUD, take it from the experts, read the first post on this thread, and GOOD LUCK!

"We'll see you at the TOP!"
-Zig Ziglar
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