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Old 04-26-2013, 12:53 PM   #101
dentin
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

Everything else looks good, but why in the world do you have compulsory PvP in there?

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Old 04-26-2013, 01:10 PM   #102
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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Originally Posted by dentin View Post
Everything else looks good, but why in the world do you have compulsory PvP in there?

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Because in my observations it is what most players (being teenage boys) expect to get. To be clear, they expect some form of PvP and they expect it to be available easily to them as soon as they master the basic controls. The only way to deliver that, for us devs, is to implement some form of compulsory PvP, or else the newbies who are eager to fight may not find opponents, and the momentum is lost.

I should add that in my observations, a tactic that is hugely successful in mobile games is enabling online players to fight offline ones. Of course, there's protection from being attacked more than once in a row. I think this feature belongs to a separate list: what devs can implement in a 21st century MUD to improve momentum and viral presence.

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Old 04-26-2013, 05:19 PM   #103
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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Originally Posted by ForgottenMUD View Post
You assume that all teenagers are stupid.
Hmm no, actually, I'm assuming that when confronted with something they have never seen before, users need a visual cue. Not only teenagers, but anyone. Even I, who know what MXP is and how it works, would need a cue that *this particular part* of the text is clickable. If there's no such cue then this functionality will be discovered only accidentally, or if someone reads the help files. Of course, if you're aiming your UI at people who read help files in order to find hidden functionality, then you should by no means provide any visual cues. Or, you could just make those numbers look like buttons or links.

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Originally Posted by ForgottenMUD View Post
I think they can be divided into two categories:

1) Those that you describe, who are unable to figure out how an MXP link works, with an extremely short attention span, and who play from a cell phone or Facebook.

2) Teenagers who are into RPGs, fantasy novels and perhaps computers, a.k.a nerds.
It's pretty obvious to me that you're not really big on mobile or social playing yourself. When I play on the cell phone, I definitely fall into your category 1) without ever leaving category 2). I'm not a teenager, but I suspect that most teenagers in your category 2) are also category 1). They want to play a game with an "intuitive" interface, not learn about obscure protocols. Their attention span will always be shorter than you'd like it to be, simply because your game is one of thousands out there and you only get 30 seconds to make an impression.

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I assume that you can write for the first category some sort of mini-game that interacts with your MUD, allows the user to walk around and frag monsters, but will they really want to use the desktop client from playing that?

At that point, you might as well design special programs for them not even related to MUDs.
(I have no idea if that's actually how your mini-client works.)
If you mean my mobile app, it enables a person to experience the game in its fullness. The first person to have max-level characters in all 14 classes used the app 100%. But the UI looks like nothing anyone has seen before, and the complexity is simply too great for most mobile players. There are also many unique challenges stemming from the fact that the screen is so small.

There are 'MMO's' in the app store that look like Bedlam mini-games and have more players than all MUDs combined, then multiplied by 10. I'm trying to tap into those audiences by providing something that looks like those mini-games, but that goes on to deliver surprises long after the first 15 minutes.
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Old 04-27-2013, 07:42 PM   #104
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

(Regarding compulsory PvP

Quote:
Originally Posted by plamzi View Post
Because in my observations it is what most players (being teenage boys) expect to get. To be clear, they expect some form of PvP and they expect it to be available easily to them as soon as they master the basic controls. The only way to deliver that, for us devs, is to implement some form of compulsory PvP, or else the newbies who are eager to fight may not find opponents, and the momentum is lost.
I'm ok with optional PvP and temporary registration based PvP, but in my experience anything other than optional PvP is nothing but a hassle. I'm more than content to let those teenage boys congregate somewhere else for the time being, and if you can provide them an outlet that keeps them away from my servers I'm all for it.

I may try to build a PvP centered world at some point, but it will be independent and isolated, away from AA.

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Old 04-27-2013, 08:28 PM   #105
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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Originally Posted by dentin View Post
(Regarding compulsory PvP

I'm ok with optional PvP and temporary registration based PvP, but in my experience anything other than optional PvP is nothing but a hassle. I'm more than content to let those teenage boys congregate somewhere else for the time being, and if you can provide them an outlet that keeps them away from my servers I'm all for it.

I may try to build a PvP centered world at some point, but it will be independent and isolated, away from AA.

-dentin

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I share your reservations. The game I started out with several years ago was pretty fundamentally co-op PvE, and most of its veterans generally liked it that way. But I think there's a way to preserve the "we're in this together" feeling for those who actually feel it, while making PvP a viable alternative, so I'm going to try a side-by-side approach over the next couple of months.

One thing I saw in some mobile games was PvP in which stats and penalties are somewhat separated from the PvE stats. Those are generally very basic games with 3-4 main stats, so this is pretty easy for them to do. The idea is that PvP doesn't have to inhibit PvE. Instead, one can do PvP while waiting to recharge batteries for PvE. And one can do PvE while waiting for a PvP event.

Also, 'compulsory PvP' sounds harsh but there are ways to implement it that really take the edge out. PvP defeats don't have to involve huge penalties or downtimes: they can just be a point for the winner, short downtime for the loser. If someone attacks and defeats another PC, or several other PC's in a row, they should be OK with making themselves a target, even if they log off in their attempts to avoid repercussions. One can still be given the option to turn off a PvP flag after they mow down a bunch of other PC's, but that flag can come into effect only after someone has been given a chance to attack them and take revenge.

I'm actually pretty excited about the PvP changes, especially the challenges of implementing some form of combat between online and offline PC's.
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Old 04-29-2013, 12:58 AM   #106
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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Originally Posted by plamzi View Post
Did you miss the parts of this thread where we discussed making the client more visually appealing to today's teenagers? If you think things are fine as they are, do you also think that we have a healthy, growing community of players that will ensure, among other things, that *your* favorite MUD won't suddenly close doors one of these days?
No, actually I didn't. However, whatever you 'think' might be more visually appealing to today's teenagers may very well not. The concept of appeal is wholly subjective. And, at the end of the day, if the 'gameplay' sucks, then no beautiful graphics will keep players around any longer than the initial "holy cow, this is a beautiful game!" stage.

Its been a long while since I have been a teenager, and as a matter of fact, I have two of my own. And, they have friends. They all play games. I will tell you for sure that the teenagers who love FPS type games aren't interested in reading the amount of text required of MUDs. Any teen who has grown up with a console controller in their hand really won't give two ****es about MUDs. On the flip side, the teens that love to read and roleplay/cosplay actually do enjoy MUDs, regardless of needing to read walls of text. How well do you know your intended audience?

I'm not sure why you're so hung up on today's teenagers(as a whole). They really seem like the wrong target audience for this genre. You're more likely to have better success in marketing to their mothers. Based on what I know the teen masses love to play, you'll have the change the genre a *lot*. Once you evolve it far enough, though, its really no longer a MUD, right?

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Originally Posted by plamzi View Post
Again, I believe that any efforts to bring MUDs into this century do not include appealing to experienced mudders like you. In fact, I believe that many of the efforts by admins to appeal to people like you are holding the community back because that same effort could have been spent on trying to reach people born in this century.
Hmmm. You know, I think there are only a few things holding MUDs/ MUD Community back:

1). The MUD community.
2). The MUD community.
3). The MUD community.

Of course, those are the same reasons MUDs haven't died out entirely.

While I whole-heartedly support the notion of writing custom clients and servers, ditching telnet and branding a MUD through its UI, giving the game a nice window-wrapping, etc, I cannot support the idea of removing the input/command line or removing the scrolling output while still attempting to classify the game as a MUD.

Whatever the case, good luck with your endeavors, Plazmi. Oh, one last note: It will be a long while before my favorite MUD closes its doors, and here's why: They have a superb game that their small, curated community absolutely loves; the MUD is also run as a business - that means the owners will do everything in their power to keep it running. Strong user community, niche target audience, commercial - three ideas to keep *your* favorite MUD afloat, and you won't even have to change the UI. :-)
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Old 05-01-2013, 12:41 PM   #107
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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However, whatever you 'think' might be more visually appealing to today's teenagers may very well not. The concept of appeal is wholly subjective. And, at the end of the day, if the 'gameplay' sucks, then no beautiful graphics will keep players around any longer than the initial "holy cow, this is a beautiful game!" stage.
Well, duh, but we're talking here about really good games, some developed for over 20 years, that currently present today's teenagers with 0 or next-to-none visual stimulation. In this context, isn't it a bit of a no-brainer that *any* visual stimulation allows the game to reach people who would have otherwise disqualified it at a first glance?

Again, I'm not talking about ditching the text UI necessarily, just pointing out the painfully obvious fact that when 10,000 teenagers talk about a game being "immersive", only one of them means "like a good book". The rest mean "professional graphics that excite me long enough to find out how good the game actually is." How can it be a waste of time to try and tap into those wider audiences?

To me, what you've written above boils down to another argument for doing nothing with graphics, of which we've already had plenty in this thread. Let me be direct. You don't need justifications for doing nothing, just go ahead and do it. It's fine by me, and I'm sure it's fine by everyone else. But don't try to sway others to do nothing with the argument that, at the end of the day, what they are doing may not work. That's just nay-saying, and not something any of us knows.

What we *do* know is that doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome doesn't work. If you expect the same outcome, the same <100 people logging for decades, then you're fine. But this thread is about engaging wider audiences.

Quote:
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I will tell you for sure that the teenagers who love FPS type games aren't interested in reading the amount of text required of MUDs. Any teen who has grown up with a console controller in their hand really won't give two ****es about MUDs. On the flip side, the teens that love to read and roleplay/cosplay actually do enjoy MUDs, regardless of needing to read walls of text. How well do you know your intended audience?
This is a version of the "two categories" argument we already got from ForgottenMUD. The problem with this kind of thinking is not so much that it's super-simplistic, but that it is actually pretty clearly another justification for doing nothing to broaden your game's appeal. Dividing teenagers into "those who won't play my game no matter what" vs. "those who would play my game without me having to change a thing" is very easy. It affirms that you are an infallible game designer, and reveals that you feel comfortable with whatever you have already achieved so far with your game. The argument makes no sense for anyone who is actively trying to reach more players.

I have spent 3 years observing my intended audience. It includes people who love to read as well as the majority, who don't, and have to be eased in. It includes people who want to play for 12 hrs straight as well as people who have 5 min. while standing in line, want to pop in, do something meaningful, and pop out. It includes people of many categories and of varying desires, who on any given day may behave like casual players, or hardcore ones, play on desktop in all text, as well as on the GUI when they are on the move or in the park.

What I've learned by observing my audience is that there are many things I can do to cater to different tastes without compromising the quality or depth of the game. I'm trying to share some of that insight in this thread in order to encourage others to think out of the box a little bit.

Quote:
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I'm not sure why you're so hung up on today's teenagers(as a whole). They really seem like the wrong target audience for this genre. You're more likely to have better success in marketing to their mothers.
I'm hung up on "post-desktop" players in general more than just teenagers. But teenagers are the Holy Grail because they ensure a healthy influx of people who have a long playing career in front of them. Teenagers are the vets of tomorrow, and they wield the most viral power. But their mothers would also be nice. And in fact, it is one of the things that is already happening in my game, cross-generational gameplay. It's pretty commonplace, thanks to the game offering visual means to play *as well as* supporting all traditional text-based clients (many with enhancements).

On the topic of graphical clients alongside text ones again, I just want to wrap up by saying that it doesn't matter how many people tell me that 1 + 1 < 1. I will not believe it. More different clients = more reach. That's what I believe.

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Based on what I know the teen masses love to play, you'll have the change the genre a *lot*.
It's not at all about giving the masses what they want (Madden NFL #26?). It's about giving them what they didn't realize they were missing. Wrap a great game in the same packaging that they are used to not throwing away immediately, provide the most visually appealing first 10 min. you can, the lowest learning curve, and *then* begin to unravel the depth of the game. The genre doesn't have to change in the least bit--the presentation absolutely must!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchPrime View Post
Once you evolve it far enough, though, its really no longer a MUD, right?
I'm going to pretend you didn't just insult my favorite genre horribly But seriously, are you the same person who wrote this description of AoA: Archons of Avenshar | OnRPG

I notice that whoever wrote that didn't mention at all that the game is a MUD. And that is the right move, because when you walk two steps outside of this very tiny hovel that we call the MUD Community, no-one knows or cares if a game is 'fully qualified' to call itself a MUD.

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Originally Posted by ArchPrime View Post
Hmmm. You know, I think there are only a few things holding MUDs/ MUD Community back:

1). The MUD community.
2). The MUD community.
3). The MUD community.
I agree. And part of the problem is people jumping on devs about their ideas/projects not being real MUDs instead of jumping to point out to *broader audiences* out there how MUD-like some of the most successful MMOs are. The former just makes people who do innovative things on the client side want to leave this community. The latter, who knows, might actually get us some new players!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchPrime View Post
While I whole-heartedly support the notion of writing custom clients and servers, ditching telnet and branding a MUD through its UI, giving the game a nice window-wrapping, etc, I cannot support the idea of removing the input/command line or removing the scrolling output while still attempting to classify the game as a MUD.
I feel discussions of MUD clients that remove the input command line and the scrolling output absolutely belong under "Advanced MUD Concepts". If the site admins side with you on that one, we may see this thread deleted. If not, I will continue to argue that a game doesn't stop being a MUD just because one of the ways to play involves less than 60% reading, 80% typing. Or 70% reading, 90% typing. Or, <increase the percentages here until your own game stops being a MUD :>.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchPrime View Post
Whatever the case, good luck with your endeavors, Plazmi.
Thank you. I'll try to keep everyone posted once in a while. My nick is 'plamzi'.

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Originally Posted by ArchPrime View Post
Oh, one last note: It will be a long while before my favorite MUD closes its doors, and here's why: They have a superb game that their small, curated community absolutely loves...
I already have that. Now I want a superb game with a *huge* community that more and more people absolutely love
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Old 05-01-2013, 01:27 PM   #108
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

There is probably not a single demographic I am *LESS* interested in serving than teenage boys. As a group, they:
  • Are miserable to be around online and in games.
  • Aren't loyal.
  • Love piracy.
  • Complain and troll enormously.
  • Don't have much money.
  • Don't spend what they have on microtransactions.
  • Don't like to read.
  • Are freakishly immature.

I consider the average teenage boy to be a NET LOSS to my community.

PLAZMI: I have no idea why you are obsessed with attracting teenagers to MUDs. Very few people want that.

It is a fallacy to think that to keep your industry alive you have to infuse it with youth.

Big Fish Games does a couple hundred million dollars a year in sales, and 2 million game downloads a day. They did this by catering to women 30+ years old. They've grown 11 years in a row.

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Old 05-01-2013, 03:02 PM   #109
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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There is probably not a single demographic I am *LESS* interested in serving than teenage boys. As a group, they:
  • Are <insert stereotypes>
I consider the average teenage boy to be a NET LOSS to my community.
I think this excerpt belongs to another thread: "What can we do to prevent today's youth from polluting our RPI games." I'm sure it will actually contain posts from people interested in the subject since the majority of the people in this thread seem far more excited about ways to keep people out than in. If the above thread title is too long, another suggestion: "Do MUDs need to be 'taken back to the 15th Century'".

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PLAZMI: I have no idea why you are obsessed with attracting teenagers to MUDs. Very few people want that.
I have no idea why you think I'm obsessed with teenagers, but it could have something to do with the fact that you haven't gotten my name right after more than 2 years, so you can't possibly be reading carefully. As I've already explained, I'm using teenagers as a proxy for "a tough 21st century customer" who is also the customer most likely to bring other customers. If that's not someone you want to target, fine, target someone else. But don't use teenagers as the straw man to advocate targeting nobody except the people who would already play your game as it is today.

Again, if you are fine with what you have, great. But then, why even read this thread, let alone post to it? This should be a place where people share ideas about doing stuff. I think we've all heard enough about what you (and several others) think is the "wrong way" to modernize MUDs. What do you think is the *right* way?

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It is a fallacy to think that to keep your industry alive you have to infuse it with youth.
I haven't claimed that. But it is definitely *one of the ways* to try and keep your industry alive. It is infinitely better than doing nothing, or doing nothing differently and expecting different results.

On the other hand, we have your claim that teenagers are actually *bad* for your game. That may be generally true for an RPI game, but they are a net gain for the community as a whole. Please refer them to me the same way I refer people looking for RPI to you.

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Big Fish Games does a couple hundred million dollars a year in sales, and 2 million game downloads a day. They did this by catering to women 30+ years old. They've grown 11 years in a row.
And did they do that by refusing to provide graphics because otherwise their games may not be true MUDs or immersive enough to the 0.01% who are graphics-averse? Or did they do so by providing a *complete and easily accessible experience* that appeals to the biggest percentage of their target audience?

I take one look at their offerings, and they cannot be more visual or more different from what we're doing here. Heck, it would be a huge plus for us if we even had a MUD game portal of this quality that we can jointly promote, even if we show just screenshots of telnet sessions for our games. So what is your point here? That there are other target audiences than teenagers? Yes, agreed, there are. And most of us are doing nothing substantial to appeal to those, either.
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Old 05-01-2013, 05:57 PM   #110
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

Plamzi:

MUDs have already *evolved* into something modernized: Graphical MMO games. Putting a graphical UI on top of a MUD has already been done in various ways. Does Everquest ring a bell? Runescape supposedly started out as a MUD, but evolved into something highly graphical. I don't know about (or really care about) the underlying implementation; what I care about is the fact that neither EQ nor Runescape were marketed as MUDs. Nor have they survived in the minds of the players as MUDs; they are, to gamers at large, graphical MMO games.

Go surf the net, and see what the general population posts when someone says something like "Hey guys, have you ever played a MUD?". You will see responses like -- "Oh, you mean those multi user text games? Yeah, I used to play them back in college...". They never say something like, "Yeah! I used to play Runescape/Everquest/WoW". I think it is safe to say that history has already written upon the general player conscience what constitutes a "MUD" - good luck changing that.

No one is holding you back from doing whatever you want. It's interesting to note that Graphical MMO games, in whatever form they are, have been attributed to the decline of people playing MUDs. So, the very path of evolution you suggest is the same path commonly cited for the decline of that you wish to save... ironic, yes? ;-)
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Old 05-01-2013, 06:30 PM   #111
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

As this conversation is at its heart how to attract new players to an old medium, I thought I'd way in a little. Briefly, I mentioned recently in my intro thread, I play muds as games, I'm combat oriented for the most part. If I want intensive RP, I will go to the other Mu*s (Mushs, Mux, Mucks, etc.) to find what I want.

I can tell you from that environment, the goal isn't looking to lure in new people based on 'graphics' as the delimiting factor on how to draw in new players. Some use web-based clients embedded at their sites to stimulate connections, but at its heart it comes down to they are still text based 'games'.

The biggest factor I have noticed over the last 20 years of Mu*'ing, in attracting and maintaining larger player bases, is content.

I'll say it again, its the 'content' and not the 'presentation' that attracts and holds players.

Quick example, 20 years ago, star wars and star trek were large draws. Then something happen, White Wolf came out, appealed to modern interests by theme and genre, and, as it happens, most World of Darkness oriented Mu*s tend to do fairly so long as they have active, dedicated staff.

For instance five years ago, as these Mu*s waned. The successful ones of the genre might average 40-75 players on-line at peak - and considering there is no real grindy game code/mechanics and its all purely RP based, that's pretty good. By comparison when the original Shadowrun mush was popular, it hit 100-200 players on-line at peak times. The trend is down in general.

However, White Wolf did something recently, they finally updated/changed their rules and now have New World of Darkness, a complete rewrite of their genre. A year ago, I started playing on the 1st Mush/Mux/etc of the NWoD genre and, during the day, non-peak, there was 150+ players on-line.

Another example, two years ago, String Theory was on the market as a Mush based on the Heroes TV series. Similarly, daytime activity was 140+.

Blood of Dragons, recently advertised in the threads here, they hit 30-40 players during daytime hours. But, 3-4 years ago, there was maybe 10 people (2 staff, 4-5 idle, and a few might be RP'ing actually). Last year, they were drawing 100+ during the day. They got popular after the HBO series launched.

Content - most text gamers are currently and will continue to be young to middle aged adults and not teenagers. They will like to read. I hate to go here, but the single most popular text based game I have witnessed ever is adult based content. I won't say its name, but the most popular one I have seen averages 500-600 players on-line with peak times hitting 800+. Its all text based RP, they offer nothing graphical and I have not seen a web based client embedded anywhere specifically for this Mu*.

On a brief side note, as a staff member at a couple of Mushes, I have asked younger players how they came to find Mushes and stay at it. Most say they enjoyed the MMORPGs but find them severely lacking in true RP content and wanted more richness, and indeed, control, in their RP content and made the switch back from graphics to text simply for the purpose of more fulfilling RP.

I think, and I know I might get some hate, but the content of many Mu*'s are about 20 years old and the genre's they uphold were created by young adults then and haven't been updated. If we asked most readers today both familiar with Game of Thrones and Tolkien-verse which they liked better, I dare say the trend might be towards Game of Thrones vs Tolkien. However, I wouldn't be surprised if statistics (and this is a guess, I have no real numbers) if most Muds had a tendency to favor older genre/flavors of fantasy/etc.

Demonstrating right along, I think everyone realizes the concept of 'elves' that most Muds embrace - tall, elegant, beautiful - is dated. It came to start raising in popularity with Tolkien, was probably further enhanced when D&D changed from proto-typical (short, fae, woodland) to Tolkien (with the launch of their Dragonlance). I would dare to say it may be on its way out with the rise of popular new fictions (Game of Thrones - the Children, GRR Martin's tribute to 'elves' are short once more, and Rise of the Guardians, its not Tolkien fantasy anymore).

Most muds say they're 20 years old, but how many of them have actually completely wiped their 20 year old world/maps/rooms and started from scratch on content aimed at younger generations?

I think this conversation is debating apples to oranges when the topic might be fruit trees. I think content would need to be modernized to appeal and retain more players, for those Muds that think they might be struggling, before some flash bang graphics are slapped on to present as more appealing only to find the content is still outdated. I mean, I'd hate to buy a new mustang to discover everything beneath the exterior is really from a 1975 volkswagon bug, to be honest.

Than again, for those that are successful with 100-200+ players at peak times - Threshold, Ateraan, etc. - don't change anything.
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Old 05-01-2013, 08:18 PM   #112
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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Originally Posted by ArchPrime View Post
Plamzi:

MUDs have already *evolved* into something modernized: Graphical MMO games... So, the very path of evolution you suggest is the same path commonly cited for the decline of that you wish to save... ironic, yes? ;-)
As a fun experiment, read my posts in this thread (including the list of ideas that don't relate to graphics) then look at the screenshots of what I've been doing, and then tell me that what I'm suggesting is going back to Ultima Online, 1997.

I have to admit, though, this is the most deeply philosophical argument conjured up so far in favor of doing nothing: "History has already happened. Any move you make is just bound to repeat it. There is nothing new under the sun."

I wonder, is there properly sad and slow music that goes with these lyrics?
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Old 05-01-2013, 09:39 PM   #113
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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Originally Posted by plamzi View Post
As a fun experiment, read my posts in this thread (including the list of ideas that don't relate to graphics) then look at the screenshots of what I've been doing, and then tell me that what I'm suggesting is going back to Ultima Online, 1997.

I have to admit, though, this is the most deeply philosophical argument conjured up so far in favor of doing nothing: "History has already happened. Any move you make is just bound to repeat it. There is nothing new under the sun."

I wonder, is there properly sad and slow music that goes with these lyrics?
Plamzi:
Why would I tell you that what your suggesting is going back to Ultima Online 1997? That's not at all what I meant. MMOs have evolved further. Look at WoW(and that's even old now) -- practically every graphical mmo game since WoW's success has tried to copy/emulate it and has utterly failed. Plenty of them have had WAY better graphics, sound and "immersive" experience. I'm not saying "do nothing". I'm just saying that ... eh nevermind. Good luck with your project.

Lotherio:
BINGO. Truly, content is king and you've just made some really good points. Aside from content, you mentioned a couple successful MUDs -- and I think they are successful because they are properly curating their community of players - Threshold and Aateran both do a really good job at knowing their niche, and they draw success from that.
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Old 05-01-2013, 11:19 PM   #114
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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I have no idea why you think I'm obsessed with teenagers,
Go back and read your posts. You've mentioned teenagers a zillion times.


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Originally Posted by plamzi View Post
but it could have something to do with the fact that you haven't gotten my name right after more than 2 years, so you can't possibly be reading carefully.
I'm sorry that my typo offends you. "Plazmi" just rolls off the fingers easier than Plamzi.

Obviously I didn't typo your name out of malice.

Instead of being a douche about it, maybe you should remember that I'm one of only eight people who backed your Kickstarter.


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Again, if you are fine with what you have, great. But then, why even read this thread, let alone post to it? This should be a place where people share ideas about doing stuff. I think we've all heard enough about what you (and several others) think is the "wrong way" to modernize MUDs. What do you think is the *right* way?
First, I started the thread.

Second, read the thread title. It is perfectly viable for someone to post in this thread "No, MUDs are just fine. They don't need to be brought into the 21st century." They don't have to post ANYTHING about modernizing MUDs and yet they would still be completely on topic.

Third, just because people think your ideas aren't good doesn't mean they haven't posted their own ideas. Personally, I've posted tons of ideas - sometimes even in convenient list form. I don't think piling a bunch of graphics into a UI is the way to go. In fact, I think that's the WRONG way, because it actually distracts from the strengths of the medium and the genre.

=> Would MUDs do better with newbies if the interfaces and gameplay were more accessible and easier to pick up? Absolutely!

=> Is a heavy graphical interface the only way to accomplish that? Nope.

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Originally Posted by plamzi View Post
I take one look at their offerings, and they cannot be more visual or more different from what we're doing here.
Are you serious? That's what you thought the point of my bringing up Big Fish Games was? I was talking about demographics and the fact that obsessing over teenagers is not great business.

Come on man, sheesh.
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Old 05-04-2013, 01:06 PM   #115
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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BAT has an awesome client. Plazmi's own work on the iphone is impressive. Avenshar had a great client and you could play the game without hardly typing at all until you wanted to chat. If it's as simple as "go more GUI to get more players", where are the results?
Well, you're certainly correct - it's not that simple. If you want to be overrun with players, you have to be able to effectively market your game. There is a lot of competition for people's time and attention, and much of it is both free and easier to access and pick-up than text MUDs are. World of Warcraft may be pretty, but had they not marketed it heavily, it would have orders of magnitude fewer players.

What a client with some graphical features may(!) allow you to do is convert some players in the wider gaming population for whom immediately being presented with a wall of text is unbelievably confusing. ("What is this? I wanted to play the game, not be in the chat room for it.")

To me, a client with some graphical features is mainly about bridging the gap between the all-graphical web environment and the almost-entirely text environment of our game. It's the difference between shoving someone off a diving board into the deep end of a pool and letting them walk down some steps into the pool.

This is theoretical for me so far as while we're only just starting to seriously blend graphics with our clients (we have three - a flash client, a java client, and an html5 client, though the latter is the only one we are actively working on).

Quote:
At the end of the day it's all window dressing around a text based game and people will either play a text based game or they won't.
I don't think that's really reflective of human behavior nor does it speak to how people adopt new categories of product. I didn't like wine the first time I tried it. I like wine now. I had no idea I needed a tablet until the iPad came out. There are certainly a lot of people out there who will play a text-based game, given the right game and the right packaging around it. Most MUDs spend approximately 0% of their time actually catering to new players in a real way. It's hard and it takes a lot of effort.

A little background: I barely interacted with our MUDs at all beyond managing the President of the company and dealing with accounting/legal for about the years 2007->2012. Was busy running Sparkplay Media, selling it, and recovering from it.

When I came back to our MUDs, I was really appalled at how poorly designed the tutorials and initial game experiences are by any modern game design standard. As I hadn't really used MUDs for years at that point, I was much closer to a newbie than an experienced MUDer. I got my feet back under me fairly quickly, but oh-my-god, it was eye-opening. The number of things everyone who regularly uses MUDs takes for granted that other people won't is enormous. Just things like the fact that experienced players don't read every individual word of text being thrown at them - new players try to.

We've also been paying total strangers to try out our games for 20 minutes while screencasting and verbally narrating what they're thinking to watch and learn how they experience the first 20 minutes of the game. Very enlightening, though really really painful to watch at first as it's embarrassing how confused many of them are.

We run tests, make changes, run tests, make changes, and massive changes in newbie stickiness are definitely possible. Imperian, for instance, which we've been using as our test-bed for structural changes to how the newbie experience works, recently ran one series of ads, and had a retention rate of X% after one hour (doesn't matter what X is, but it's pitifully low). After working furiously for a few weeks, we ran more ads, and had increased that retention rate by a factor of 7. The changes included adding pop-up graphics to the game when you start, but there are so many changes that it's impossible to do anything but guess at what the important ones were. My gut tells me that helping them transition even a little more slowly into text helps a lot though.

An example of the pop-up graphics we're going to be putting into Achaea soon (there are 6 slides here). The hardest thing is telling players less, not more, because any MUD that's been around for a long time (Achaea is 16) has more features than most players will ever use.



This is just my first stab at it for Achaea - a guess. It's impossible to say whether the info in there is the right info to be conveying to a full-blown newbie without testing it and we haven't done that yet.
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Old 05-04-2013, 01:29 PM   #116
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

Oh, and this is the direction we're going with v2 of our html5 client (v1 is at Imperian, for instance). The idea is to mainly get the interface out of the way of the game, while still making it feel more game-like than a single big output window. I don't see that there's much to be gained by trying to place a graphical layer over our MUDs - they're not designed for it and we could never create enough content to fully skin it with even static images. All of the graphics we'll use are designed to teach people how to play the game and then eventually to illustrate certain things. For instance, if you bring up the help file of a God, perhaps an illustration of that God would pop-up as well.

All those tabs can be dragged around and recombined however you wish, but the default setup at least feels more game-y I think. We'll see!

One thing that we've found is -very- helpful to new players is the ability to do a lot of clicking to take actions early on rather than typing everything. They get used to the typing, but it takes time, and is off-putting at first. So, our clients (including the v1 of our clients) markup all sorts of things. In the illustration below, for instance, you can see that the class names in the pop-up help file there are all linked (to other help files). We're retrofitting quests to have clickable dialogues in them, you can click to move, etc. It's helpful because that's how people are used to experiencing games.




Last edited by the_logos : 05-04-2013 at 01:33 PM. Reason: it's my post!
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Old 05-04-2013, 01:57 PM   #117
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

Is it just me, or did the_logos just rescue this thread?
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Old 05-04-2013, 02:10 PM   #118
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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Is it just me, or did the_logos just rescue this thread?
Um, sure. However, I still see in his screenshots a command line input and a large output window. Tee hee.
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Old 05-04-2013, 02:33 PM   #119
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

I think the important point of his post is not the client features and how much or how little graphics IRE is using. It's the user testing. I wonder how many muds have made detailed analyses of 100s of player transcripts and do so on an ongoing basis?
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Old 05-04-2013, 02:55 PM   #120
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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Um, sure. However, I still see in his screenshots a command line input and a large output window. Tee hee.
I see you're missing not just my points You and I both have clients that look similar to what he's shown us. The far more important part is that he's given us a professional take on what it means to try and stay competitive in the 21st Century. One hint: it doesn't involve assuming that people who don't already play your game (or who haven't played a MUD before), never would.

Last edited by plamzi : 05-04-2013 at 05:01 PM.
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