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Old 05-04-2013, 03:50 PM   #121
plamzi
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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Originally Posted by Threshold View Post
Go back and read your posts. You've mentioned teenagers a zillion times.
I think I can put it really simply. *I* am primarily interested in teenagers. *You* don't have to be. But I think you do have to be interested in understanding what it means to run an online game in 2013.

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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.
If your answer to the question posed in this thread title is 'No,' then, really, that is a conversation stopper, and all it takes is one post to convey that point. Shooting other peoples' ideas down, especially without bothering to address their substance, is not productive.

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Instead of being a douche about it, maybe you should remember that I'm one of only eight people who backed your Kickstarter.
It was not my intention at all. Instead, my intention is to understand why you and ArchPrime draw a 'line in the sand' when it comes to making a MUD more appealing to a broader audience. In my opinion, there is no 'line in the sand'. We are not slaves to definitions that none of us can agree upon. We are game designers, and the measure of our success is in how well we marry our vision with our audiences.

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Personally, I've posted tons of ideas - sometimes even in convenient list form.
Maybe it's worth re-posting those ideas in this thread. Otherwise, the impression I get is that your comfort zone is in ignoring most of the points made here, reducing points about graphics to absurdity and then shooting them down. Graphics is not the only suggestion on the menu. Taking your existing "successful" game and "warping" it into a teenager romp-fest was never on the menu. In general, telling other people what to do is not on the menu. What is on the menu is to get past shouting 'No' and talking about things we *can* do to appeal to contemporary gamers. Those gamers include not only teenagers, but their moms as well, and their dads, too.

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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.


Once again, you are assuming the person judging your game is an experienced mudder. But what if the person is one of the 99,999 who believe that any game has to have some kind of graphics, and for whom the only way they'd ever get to experience "the strengths of the genre" is if they were treated to some visuals first?


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=>
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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.
A heavy graphical interface is by far the best way to appeal to a wide range of newbies of any demographic. There are many simple reasons for it, but I'm going to pick the simplest one: Most people are monolingual, and they don't want to have to learn a language just to play a game.

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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.
I think I've already agreed that teenagers are not the only target audience and explained that just because I'm interested in them, nobody else has to be. Now, it would be nice if you agree with me that even among teenagers' moms, having a more graphical interface means more people would be likely to stick around long enough to begin to value the content.

You don't have to lift a finger about it, but it is an indisputable fact that the more visual the game, the broader its appeal is among pretty much any demographic. If you have numbers to back up the idea that teenagers' moms are somehow more likely to play a text-based game than a graphical one, I would be very interested to see these numbers. Otherwise, I will continue to advocate that a graphical UI opens doors to any demographic, and the more visual it is, the more doors it opens.

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maybe you should remember that I'm one of only eight people who backed your Kickstarter.
I hope we share an understanding that this is a civil, if spirited, dialog and it in no way diminishes my respect for you and your game.

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Old 05-04-2013, 04:22 PM   #122
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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.
Yes, because that's the defining characteristic of our MUDs. Redesigning our MUDs to work in a fundamentally different way would be worse than a waste of time. It'd alienate our existing playerbase and throw the baby out with the bathwater. Far better to start on a new project in that case, which is exactly what we did when we decided we wanted to make a graphical MUD. We built an engine for 3d MMOs and then built designed a game on top of that infrastructure, which was built with the audience size and fundamental game experience in mind.

What I'm interested in is development and publishing patterns for building and publishing online multiplayer games (almost all of which are equally valid for games run as hobbies, so it could be phrased as "for building games that can attract an audience at least at critical mass size"). I know what the pattern looks like, roughly, for most of us would call text MUDs catering primarily to MUD players, as I've done that commercially for 16 years now. I know what the pattern looks like for what most people would recognize as 3D MMOs, as I've built them and run them too.

What I don't know yet are the patterns for:
* Reliably and repeatedly marketing to and converting non-MUDers into players of MUDs. This is a non-trivial problem. 10 years ago, we could slap up ads on online comics sites and we'd get multiple times are money back in credit sales. The market for online games is completely different now from 10 years ago though. Click-through rates on display advertising is at least an order of magnitude lower than it was before, and being a "free online multi-player game" is no longer a selling-point, as it's the default model for games. Beyond that, the online ad market is much more efficient today. You can't afford to buy users at any kind of scale (even the small scale that MUDs operate on) unless the lifetime value of your users is very high, since then you can afford to pay more for a user than the other guys. In our case, we have extremely high LTV and so in theory we should be able to profitably acquire users, but it's a matter of really smoothing out the onboarding process for new users, and that is a lot of experimentation, testing and work.

* Successfully publishing a hybrid product, like one that was shown earlier in this thread. Layering 2d graphics that are supposed to be at all representative of what's going on in a text MUD experience is just a bad idea for the most part. It kills your ability to produce content quickly/cheaply while delivering very little in the way of additional benefit to the end user. A static graphic that doesn't reflect what's happening in the game isn't of much value in my opinion. I would love to see a game that has somehow managed this (ie attracted and kept a critical mass of players across time) that isn't Kingdom of Loathing, as I don't their 'hand-drawn' (to be generous) graphical style really works in games that take themselves seriously (ie most MUDs). That's not a slam on KoL, just a function of their content style and audience. That audience loves breaking the fourth wall, loves meta-puns, etc.

To bring it back to the start, the reason I'm not willing to mess with the core of how users interact with text MUDs is because I've seen no evidence that publishing hybrid products works, whereas I know how publishing and developing more traditional MUDs work. I believe the first of the two problems above is much more solvable and with less up-front risk than the latter.

--matt
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Old 05-04-2013, 04:45 PM   #123
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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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?
It's a combination. The client is meant to help users transition more gracefully into a full-blown text experience because ultimately, that's the way they'll experience our games for 99.9% of their lifetime.

The way we learn how to transition them into our games is by testing and by tracking. We use KISSMetrics to track events happening with our games and then slice and dice the data, particularly by cohort (so that we can look at how a group of users that started this month performs compared to a group of users that started 3 months ago before feature Z went in, for instance). It's extremely useful. Mixpanel is another alternative there. Unfortunately, neither are free, but you can get Google analytics to do a lot of what they do for free if you're a ninja about it (GA just isn't as good for dealing with the entire user acquisition funnel and you can't drill down to the individual user level with it). You can also roll your own tracking system, though having been down that route previously, I can tell you it's a lot more work than it may initially seem.

Beyond that, it's just a load of work in-game. Imperian is the furthest along of our games, and they've completely revamped their newbie intro, revamped their newbie areas, etc. When we first redid their newbie intro, we A/B tested it too, meaning that we sent half the new players to one intro and half to the other to see which one performed better. Then we'd refine the better one, and test the refinements against itself pre-refinement. Rinse and repeat. That method won't help you build a great game, but it'll definitely help you figure out, objectively, how to bring newbies into your game more efficiently.

This subject, which I actually think is the key to "bringing MUDs into the 21st century" is much more about process than content, graphics, though content, mechanics, and the graphical packaging you put around your MUD (website, client) matter, a lot. I strongly believe (and am putting my money where my mouth is) that MUDs have the potential to appeal to a LOT more people than they do today. The trick is finding ways to effectively reach those people, and then ensuring that you keep as many of them as possible by making the newbie experience as compelling as possible.

We might fail. It might turn out that we're spending all this money and time and we still don't discover how to profitably acquire users. We're making measurable forward progress on the problem now, but who knows if we'll run into effectively a stonewall where we're not far enough yet and we can't figure out how to move the needle further.
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Old 05-04-2013, 05:08 PM   #124
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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* Successfully publishing a hybrid product, like one that was shown earlier in this thread. Layering 2d graphics that are supposed to be at all representative of what's going on in a text MUD experience is just a bad idea for the most part. It kills your ability to produce content quickly/cheaply while delivering very little in the way of additional benefit to the end user. A static graphic that doesn't reflect what's happening in the game isn't of much value in my opinion. I would love to see a game that has somehow managed this (ie attracted and kept a critical mass of players across time) that isn't Kingdom of Loathing, as I don't their 'hand-drawn' (to be generous) graphical style really works in games that take themselves seriously (ie most MUDs).
I'm curious what you make of the long list of other browser MMO's out there, as it seems to me that there's something we could learn those among them that have been more successful than any MUD has ever been. I understand you feel the way most people feel here about graphics, but to me it seems that by giving up a little bit of ability to produce content cheaply, you gain reach, and that hundreds of thousands of people seem more prepared to play a game with "A static graphic that doesn't reflect what's happening in the game" than one with no such graphic.
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Old 05-04-2013, 05:37 PM   #125
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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I'm curious what you make of the long list of other browser MMO's out there, as it seems to me that there's something we could learn those among them that have been more successful than any MUD has ever been.
One of my games - Earth Eternal - is on that list, so you're preaching to the choir a bit there! That game started as part of Iron Realms before I spun it off into Sparkplay Media and raised a bunch of money to build it. We sold it, and it's been shut down since (I think, it was running in Japan after being localized to Japanese for awhile).

However, being in a browser or out of a browser is irrelevant except for user-acquisition. Earth Eternal ran in a browser and as a download, for instance. Runescape could be bundled up and run as a standalone if they wished. Earth Eternal was, on a broad functional level, identical to WoW. Sharded game experience built to scale, 3d quasi-seamless world with instanced areas, etc etc.

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I understand you feel the way most people feel here about graphics, but to me it seems that by giving up a little bit of ability to produce content cheaply, you gain reach, and that hundreds of thousands of people seem more prepared to play a game with "A static graphic that doesn't reflect what's happening in the game" than one with no such graphic.
I don't feel one way or another about graphics really. I've built 3d games, I've built text games. It's about product-market fit. I don't believe there is any product-market fit for what is fundamentally a traditional real-time text MUD experience with 2d graphics on top. If someone proves me wrong with a commercially successful product (or even a very strong and popular hobbyist one), then congratulations: You've just gained yourself a well-funded competitor, because we will immediately start building multiple games like that. I don't believe it's going to happen though, so I'm not going to spend the money to figure out how to do it right. If someone else takes the risk and succeeds, awesome!

The thing about most of the games on that list you referenced is that they don't require that you just "give up a little bit of ability to produce content cheaply." Iron Realms spent over half a million of our own money building Earth Eternal, and then we spent another nearly $8 million of other people's money. And we the conclusion I came to was that I should have raised more money, because it wasn't enough to build a competitive product in that space. That's a long way of saying that you have no chance as an individual of competing with the biggest games on that list because the up-front investment is too large, unless you unexpectedly strike gold, which is what happened to both Runescape and Minecraft. However, you couldn't release Runescape today and hope to compete (the market 13 years ago was very different), and neither of those games are primarily text in any way. Minecraft barely even has text.

There is one genre of text-based game that has done well and still does pretty well in some cases particularly on mobile: Mafia Wars-style games. They're basically just text with lesser or greater amounts of graphics plopped on top of them, where the 'game world' is completely abstract. What they distinctly are NOT, however, is anything that I'd recognize as a MUD or MMO, regardless of whether some people might legitimately stretch the definition to include them. And, the genre has moved on to the point now that it's probably not enough to just have text. You need a compelling mini-game to support it (like CSR Racing on mobile - $12 million revenue in its first 6 weeks, but it cost them a couple million, at least, to build it).

I don't think we're really talking about MF-style games though.

Which games on there are you really referring to as examples? I know how most of the successful ones on there were built, and none of them are really anything like what I think we're talking about (which I think is what I'd consider a hybrid model where most of the game action is real-time text, with selected 2d graphics overlaid on the experience).
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Old 05-04-2013, 06:07 PM   #126
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

Sorry about the multiple replies, but I wanted to expand slightly on something I said in the last post.

It's not that I don't believe that if you could take a text MUD and have, for instance, thousands of illustrations representing thousands of rooms on a more-or-less one-to-one basis (so that players aren't seeing the same small set of graphics repeat), that it wouldn't add net value to the game - I think it would. I think you'd be able to attract and keep more players that way.

And I mean, we may underlay generic environmental pictures beneath our room-by-room map in our client, and we have a background picture sitting behind all the windows, but those are mere ornaments - they aren't really intended to do anything but add some graphical interest to the game for newbies. Once a player has played long enough, he/she won't be particularly interested in whether those are there or not.

The thing is, producing all that graphical content is -very- expensive. It's not a matter of slowing new area production or any content production down by just a little - it's slowing it down by potentially an order of magnitude or more, or uncertain gain. When almost all of the actually important information in your game is conveyed via text, you better be conveying a lot of relevant info graphically (vs mere ornamentation) to justify taking the focus off the text - and conveying relevant info graphically means situationally-aware graphics, which means having a hundred illustrations or whatever won't mean much (except, again, as ornamentation, which I don't mean to dismiss the importance of - we've spent $30k+ on art that is there purely for ornamentation).

Just my opinion of course.
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Old 05-04-2013, 06:34 PM   #127
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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There is one genre of text-based game that has done well and still does pretty well in some cases particularly on mobile: Mafia Wars-style games. They're basically just text with lesser or greater amounts of graphics plopped on top of them, where the 'game world' is completely abstract. What they distinctly are NOT, however, is anything that I'd recognize as a MUD or MMO, regardless of whether some people might legitimately stretch the definition to include them. And, the genre has moved on to the point now that it's probably not enough to just have text. You need a compelling mini-game to support it (like CSR Racing on mobile - $12 million revenue in its first 6 weeks, but it cost them a couple million, at least, to build it).

I don't think we're really talking about MF-style games though.

Which games on there are you really referring to as examples? I know how most of the successful ones on there were built, and none of them are really anything like what I think we're talking about (which I think is what I'd consider a hybrid model where most of the game action is real-time text, with selected 2d graphics overlaid on the experience).
The list was just meant to illustrate that there seems to be a pretty wide level of comfort with games that present static 2D graphics. That wiki page is dated, for sure.

The Mafia Wars-style games you mentioned are the mobile counterpart of desktop browser games like Fallen London. I have studied one such game in particular, Lord of the Dragons, and what I'm imagining is something very much like a MUD server at the core of such a game, but wrapped in a UI that enables non-realtime and social gaming as well. It's basically an answer to what you're correctly identifying, for people who have outgrown the shallowness of a typical time-refill game.

As for the real-time UI, I am imagining 2D graphics and 2D animated attacks with overlaid real-time text that provides flavor beyond what the static graphics can show. Basically what I've already done with the Bedlam app, except that it won't have to support 500+ commands, endless numbers of NPC's, or an endless number of items, etc.
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Old 05-04-2013, 07:50 PM   #128
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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The list was just meant to illustrate that there seems to be a pretty wide level of comfort with games that present static 2D graphics. That wiki page is dated, for sure.

The Mafia Wars-style games you mentioned are the mobile counterpart of desktop browser games like Fallen London. I have studied one such game in particular, Lord of the Dragons, and what I'm imagining is something very much like a MUD server at the core of such a game, but wrapped in a UI that enables non-realtime and social gaming as well. It's basically an answer to what you're correctly identifying, for people who have outgrown the shallowness of a typical time-refill game.
It's not about static 2d graphics. It's about presenting a MUD-like game (ie real-time synchronous multiplayer) with static graphics on top. I've not seen an example of success there.

Once you go abandon real-time synchronous gameplay, you're making something else entirely that's probably not got a lot to do with this forum.


Quote:
As for the real-time UI, I am imagining 2D graphics and 2D animated attacks with overlaid real-time text that provides flavor beyond what the static graphics can show. Basically what I've already done with the Bedlam app, except that it won't have to support 500+ commands, endless numbers of NPC's, or an endless number of items, etc.
Sounds like AdventureQuest (battleon.com) or Dragonfable, from the same company (Artix). I suspect what you'll find is that the people (largely kids and younger teens) that are interested in that aren't interested in reading a lot of text, so you'll need to convey the game to them primarily graphically, which is expensive if you're making anything but a tiny game ala Fruit Ninja or something.


--matt
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Old 05-04-2013, 08:10 PM   #129
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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It's not about static 2d graphics. It's about presenting a MUD-like game (ie real-time synchronous multiplayer) with static graphics on top. I've not seen an example of success there.
Can you provide examples of failures? I'm trying to envision exactly what you're referring to, and I can't quite get there.
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Old 05-04-2013, 08:22 PM   #130
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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It's not about static 2d graphics. It's about presenting a MUD-like game (ie real-time synchronous multiplayer) with static graphics on top. I've not seen an example of success there.
Me neither. But I haven't seen too many attempts other than my own that have an actual MUD server driving the UI, where the UI actually does away with the wall of text. One thing that I think makes my example non-indicative is that I've spent exactly 0 dollars and 0 cents promoting the app. So if you know of any truly commercial attempts to do something similar, I'd be very interested to know about them.

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Once you go abandon real-time synchronous gameplay, you're making something else entirely that's probably not got a lot to do with this forum.
Not at all abandon. Rather, layer some non-realtime game activities on top of the realtime world in order to make the game more versatile in appealing to casual and social gamers. For instance, I'm currently building a web-based Guilds module that will allow people to perform most guild-related functions without actually entering the world with one of their characters. Having something like this is, I believe, a good move for any mobile MMO (and probably for many web-based ones as well), even for those that boast a realtime world. That's because even the most hardcore players of this century would prefer to be able to have short sessions in which they behave like casuals.

And btw, this seems to apply even to mudders in love with RPI, as I've seen a number of LFM threads where they state they want an RP game that lets them log in for 5 min. sometimes and still do something meaningful. A lot of mudders nowadays are people with families and jobs, as opposed to students, and time is precious.

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Sounds like AdventureQuest (battleon.com) or Dragonfable, from the same company (Artix). I suspect what you'll find is that the people (largely kids and younger teens) that are interested in that aren't interested in reading a lot of text, so you'll need to convey the game to them primarily graphically, which is expensive if you're making anything but a tiny game ala Fruit Ninja or something.
Yeah, it can get prohibitively expensive (at least for solo indies) if you're using all-original art. But if you go with stock art for NPC's, rooms, and objects, the biggest expense by far is time. Luckily for me, collecting and mapping static artwork is work I've already done. So, in the next year or so, I'm planning to put that to different uses. For those who may be curious, I have about 1,300 static images covering about 13,000 entities, so not terribly repetitive, I hope, and definitely a bit more expansive than Fruit Ninja
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Old 05-04-2013, 08:27 PM   #131
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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I'm trying to envision exactly what you're referring to, and I can't quite get there.
I think it would be like a multiplayer roguelike with a static illustrated tileset instead of ASCII.

edit: On a related note, Oryx is now selling a static tileset with thousands of tiles for $35. Ultimate Roguelike Tileset — Oryx Design Lab

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Old 05-05-2013, 10:01 AM   #132
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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I think it would be like a multiplayer roguelike with a static illustrated tileset instead of ASCII.

edit: On a related note, Oryx is now selling a static tileset with thousands of tiles for $35. Ultimate Roguelike Tileset — Oryx Design Lab
I can't imagine a conventional MUD world visualized with a roguelike tileset. Seems like you'll need to have a co-ordinate based world with collision detection. You also can't have an arbitrary number of entities in one "place". At that point, I'm tempted to say what other people have been saying, that you may as well write a different kind of server.
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Old 05-05-2013, 11:02 PM   #133
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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I can't imagine a conventional MUD world visualized with a roguelike tileset. Seems like you'll need to have a co-ordinate based world with collision detection. You also can't have an arbitrary number of entities in one "place". At that point, I'm tempted to say what other people have been saying, that you may as well write a different kind of server.
Actually, you can have 2D tiles whilst keeping an abstract number of entities. This is done in strategy games:

1) In Heroes of Might and Magic (which looks like a 2D RPG), you move around the world map and entities are grouped in one tile, represented by their leader, and there is a different screen for battle which shows all the entities.

2) In Civilization, the entities are individual but stack. No collision.

3) In Pokemon, you don't even see the creatures. Only NPC's.

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Old 05-06-2013, 12:16 AM   #134
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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Actually, you can have 2D tiles whilst keeping an abstract number of entities. This is done in strategy games:

1) In Heroes of Might and Magic (which looks like a 2D RPG), you move around the world map and entities are grouped in one tile, represented by their leader, and there is a different screen for battle which shows all the entities.

2) In Civilization, the entities are individual but stack. No collision.

3) In Pokemon, you don't even see the creatures. Only NPC's.
To me, this raises more questions than it answers. It seems like you're assuming that each tile will represent a room. If that's so, then how do you visualize (any number of) PC's, NPC's, and objects, all in the same room? Stacking them on one tile will make it impossible for PC's to target individual NPC's, which pretty much any typical MUD allows you to do. Of course, you can choose to impose a set of constraints that make stacking possible (by implementing collision checks that keep NPC's, PC's, and objects on separate tiles, always have NPC groups with leaders, etc.) but it will not be very long before the domino effect kicks in and you find yourself needing a very different world and a different set of rules.

Civilization does have collision checks, in the sense that another player's units and your own cannot occupy the same tile. Like roguelike games, it assumes that when you try to occupy the same tile, you are attacking. In any game, this leads to limitations on how attacks and targetting works. This in turn has implications for the kinds of attacks (be they weapons, spells, or skills) the game can implement.

I don't know how Pokemon does things exactly, but if you mean that it doesn't show your own avatar, then this really simplifies very little in an online game where you have to show other players' avatars to enable co-op or PvP play.

I thought about these challenges a lot 3 years back when I was designing my app UI. My goal was to visualize a typical Diku world design rather than throw away years of extremely creative content. It was part of my project to try and dust off this content for a new generation of players, so I wanted to visualize it in a way that forced no major redesigns. I could see no way to achieve that goal by using a roguelike tileset.
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Old 05-06-2013, 01:03 AM   #135
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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Me neither. But I haven't seen too many attempts other than my own that have an actual MUD server driving the UI, where the UI actually does away with the wall of text.
No, I haven't either, but I do think that in order to do away with the wall of text, you have to simplify the game to the point that the content and system-creation advantages you get from a primarily text game, or at least you have to change it enough that it may look more like a deep strategy game than a MUD. One of the reasons MUDs are still around is because of the breadth of things they offer as much as the depth, and it is very expensive to develop graphical interfaces, of which you need many to accomplish the kind of range of things a MUD can.

Again, that's not at all opining that it can't be done - it's just an increased up-front burden which means a lot more risk.

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One thing that I think makes my example non-indicative is that I've spent exactly 0 dollars and 0 cents promoting the app. So if you know of any truly commercial attempts to do something similar, I'd be very interested to know about them.
Apologies for not knowing more about your example, but when you say you've spent 0 dollars and 0 cents promoting it, that's the case with most apps. If you've seen success while spending nothing to acquire users, that's awesome and you should double-down on whatever you think is causing your app to act virally.


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For instance, I'm currently building a web-based Guilds module that will allow people to perform most guild-related functions without actually entering the world with one of their characters.
Yeah, we had that in Earth Eternal too, but that kind of feature is purely a convenience thing - it won't help you attract and hook users. It's a commodity function, not a attraction-feature.


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Having something like this is, I believe, a good move for any mobile MMO (and probably for many web-based ones as well), even for those that boast a realtime world. That's because even the most hardcore players of this century would prefer to be able to have short sessions in which they behave like casuals.
What you describe isn't short session gaming though. Short-session gaming would be something like including a match-three game that they can play on their phone or Facebook to earn currency in the main MMO. Just checking info won't move your needle at all. You can read the news, check messages, send messages, etc both on our website and with a chrome plugin, and that's great, but it's not a needle-mover if you see what I mean. It's peripheral to their interest, not the focus of their interest.
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Old 05-06-2013, 01:37 AM   #136
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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
I thought about these challenges a lot 3 years back when I was designing my app UI. My goal was to visualize a typical Diku world design rather than throw away years of extremely creative content. It was part of my project to try and dust off this content for a new generation of players, so I wanted to visualize it in a way that forced no major redesigns. I could see no way to achieve that goal by using a roguelike tileset.
Pokemon shows your avatar but not the monsters. If you meet one, it opens the battle window. Otherwise, it looks like a traditional RPG, you can Google search some screenshots.

My MUD is based on rooms like Diku, but I also added coordinates to generate wilderness. I didn't redesign the whole server, the coordinates are simply contained in the room name so each square still has a room #. Now, the only change required to follow the Pokemon model is to use a tile # instead of a mini-map colour.

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Old 05-06-2013, 01:13 PM   #137
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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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.
Then apparently you weren't reading, because what the_logos posted was almost identical to what I and some others have said is the way to go.

Improve the interface. Make the newbie experience easier. But don't kid yourself by trying to do a full, or even partial, graphical skin of the experience.

MUDs are still about a command line interface and scrolling text. Organizing it like in the screenshots the_logos posted is definitely handy for people.

Note that all the features he describes don't take away from the core MUD experience that current players may know and love. It just adds a few convenience features that help ease a neophyte into the game.

Again, that's exactly what I and others have specifically talked about in this thread, and you kept hammering on about graphics, graphics, graphics and finding ways to get teenage boys to play MUDs.
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Old 05-06-2013, 01:59 PM   #138
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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Yes, because that's the defining characteristic of our MUDs. Redesigning our MUDs to work in a fundamentally different way would be worse than a waste of time. It'd alienate our existing playerbase and throw the baby out with the bathwater. Far better to start on a new project in that case, which is exactly what we did when we decided we wanted to make a graphical MUD. We built an engine for 3d MMOs and then built designed a game on top of that infrastructure, which was built with the audience size and fundamental game experience in mind.

...

To bring it back to the start, the reason I'm not willing to mess with the core of how users interact with text MUDs is because I've seen no evidence that publishing hybrid products works, whereas I know how publishing and developing more traditional MUDs work. I believe the first of the two problems above is much more solvable and with less up-front risk than the latter.
Plamzi, does the above sound familiar? =>

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Despite the fact that the vast majority of games are graphical, and most gamers want graphics, there are still a lot of gamers who like the text experience. Text still has a number of unique gameplay benefits:

(list snipped - click for list)

Converting existing MUDs with happy players to some kind of graphical hybrid would be a grave disservice to them.
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Forcing/requiring a graphical UI in an existing successful game is a bad move and disrespectful of the loyal gamers responsible for your success.

...

If someone wants to "go graphical", they really should just make another game to complement their MUD. Forcing players who LIKE a text game to play a graphical game is not a solution.

...

The gaming landscape is very competitive. You have to constantly bust your butt to get people to discover your game.

Trying to be something you aren't isn't a solution. MUDs are text games. Some optional graphical UI bells and whistles can be nice and convenient for some users. But beyond that, you're taking away what actually makes MUDs special and different, while you alienate loyal players.
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If you want to make a graphical game, then make a graphical game! That's what we're doing at Frogdice. In May we will publish our 3rd graphical game (Dungeon of Elements) in the last 12 months.

Alienating your existing, happy playerbase by taking the game they have supported and warping it into something completely different is a recipe for disaster and failure.

Ask Star Wars Galaxies players how NGE worked out.
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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. That is until you reach a point where you're not a text based game anymore because more and more important features can only be accessed via the GUI - I think that's where the fear of alienating existing players starts to creep in.
To sum up:

1) The MUD experience can be improved with good UIs that organize information well, provide clickable command options, a pretty window dressing, etc.

2) A full on graphical front-end for your game will likely alienate your existing players who kept you running all these years. If you want to make a fully graphical game, then make it! Just do it as a new game, not a retro-fit onto your existing MUD. Be aware that it probably won't be perceived as a MUD at that point.

3) Hybrids are probably too expensive to justify their cost if done well, and will get you "squished like grape" more likely than not. People who want a graphical game still won't like all the text, and people who want a text game will find that the graphics slow down content development, kill spontaneity, hinder imagination, and simply aren't what they came for.
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Old 05-07-2013, 03:03 AM   #139
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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1) The MUD experience can be improved with good UIs that organize information well, provide clickable command options, a pretty window dressing, etc.
The way I see it, the "call to graphics" isn't a call to graphics as such. Back in the day, command lines were the normal way of interacting with a product. You even typed in "win" on the command line to run windows! This day has passed, and the accessibility expectations have changed. MMOs tell us that we can still communicate (and, indeed, perform complicated scripting actions) via a command-line option, but that there are other methods of control for movement and better methods for displaying real-time information.

Why, in this modern day and age, do we satisfy ourselves with having five status prompts on the screen at once, four of which are obsolete?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Threshold"
2) A full on graphical front-end for your game will likely alienate your existing players who kept you running all these years. If you want to make a fully graphical game, then make it! Just do it as a new game, not a retro-fit onto your existing MUD. Be aware that it probably won't be perceived as a MUD at that point.

3) Hybrids are probably too expensive to justify their cost if done well, and will get you "squished like grape" more likely than not. People who want a graphical game still won't like all the text, and people who want a text game will find that the graphics slow down content development, kill spontaneity, hinder imagination, and simply aren't what they came for.
This seems to be the very thesis that Plamzi is aiming to test. I wish him all the best.
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Old 05-07-2013, 05:26 AM   #140
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Re: Do MUDs need to be "brought into the 21st century"

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I can't imagine a conventional MUD world visualized with a roguelike tileset.
There's no reason why you couldn't use a roguelike tileset as a graphical replacement for an ASCII map - drawing the world, but not the creatures and objects within it. It's not uncommon for muds to offer ASCII maps, and this would serve the same purpose, it would just look more attractive.

If you wanted to use additional icons within each location, you could use a single monster image to represent the presence of one or more monsters, a single treasure icon to represent the presence of one or more items of loot, and so on - more symbolic than anything else. Or you could use some form of stacking, as ForgottenMUD suggested.

But even if you just stuck with the map itself, and ignored creatures and objects, I still think it would be a significant improvement over an ASCII map.

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Originally Posted by Kaz View Post
Why, in this modern day and age, do we satisfy ourselves with having five status prompts on the screen at once, four of which are obsolete?
To be fair, it's becoming increasingly common for people to use energy bars and icons instead.
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