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Old 04-24-2004, 10:11 PM   #1
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Ella is on a distinguished road
So what makes a MUD Newbie friendly? I agree that it sounds like a general question... however.. the mud I play is currently getting a lot of new people stopping in.. I was wondering if there was a specific element that keeps a newbie happy.. and unfrusturate..

If you can remember what it was like once to be a newbie.. and let me know what made you stay or leave the first or one of the many muds you've played..

Was it too hard?or too easy?
Was no one available for help?or too many people?
Not your type of mud? not your intrest?

Just curious as I'd like to assist in keeping as many newbies as possible in our realms.. as we all would like too.. I was hoping for a constructive response

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Old 04-24-2004, 10:43 PM   #2
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Well, the only thing that really grips me to stay for any length of time is if my char can do pretty much everything as a newbie. I wouldn't want my char to be extremely powerful as a newbie, but I would like to be strong enough that other characters don't just ignore my presence. I have no ideas of how to make this work while still rewarding the old-timers, but hopefully someone else does.
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Old 04-24-2004, 11:25 PM   #3
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I think it really depends on the type of game. In a game that has all those automatic newbie help blurbs that scroll up your screen...

I'd recommend

1) Slow them down! Give the newbie time to read it and do stuff before the next one shows up. A newbie tip every 30 seconds would drive me absolutely nuts.

2) The very FIRST newbie tip would be the syntax on how to turn newbie tips OFF, and the syntax to access the helpfiles on all the different newbie tips so people can pick and choose which ones they want to read, IF they want to read them, and WHEN they want to read them.

For a roleplay intensive game (whether this week's definition of an RPI or otherwise) -

1) Have one OOC command that allows you to go OOC if you need syntax help or if you're just totally lost and would like for someone to take you somewhere private to give you a hand getting adjusted to your new surroundings. Do not make this a "global" channel. Instead, allow whoever is in the room see it, or allow the user to target the command at someone specific in the room so that everyone else can continue RP undistracted.

2) On the login when you first bring your character into the game, have a simple paragraph letting the player know the syntax for leaving the building they show up in, and a reminder of where to find the newbie help files on the website, and how to communicate with the staff in-game if none of the players are around and you're completely stuck.

If it's a hack-n-slash, provide players with a quickie paragraph reminding them that "x" is fair game while "y" is not permitted or requires approval from staff/in-character lawmakers. (such as the PVP rules or killing mobs in town, for example.

On all games - give your players the option of using the game's colors, using no colors, or using their OWN colors if they prefer. There's nothing more annoying than being stuck with a choice of a) white text on a black screen or b) fuscia mobs, green room names, orange PC names, black exit names, on a sunny yellow background.
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Old 04-25-2004, 03:07 AM   #4
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I've really been feeling my age lately, as I've been checking out new-to-me muds. I have focused on one mud for many years, and have recently decided to broaden my horizons and look around at other folks' homes. I've only attempted a wizhood once, so I'm not a coder at ALL, more of a power-player on my home mud. That's why I actually have some things to add here: I've actively been a newbie on some of TMS's listed games in the last few weeks.

I agree with basically all of Jazuela's post above, and I have some additional thoughts.

To me, there are 2 necessary components: the coded stuff, and the player/staff created atmosphere toward newbies. The coded stuff should create the mud's atmosphere from the first prompt for response. The "people atmosphere" begins the first time a newbie interacts with another of the Multiple Users.                      

Initial Code sets the tone for your entire game. As a newbie, i know if you have "naming policy" that is RP contingent, if the *code* takes care of it by asking if the real player thinks his or her name fits the criteria. If the naming policy is lax, this step gets left to the the discretion of online wizards, who nix the *reallllly* offensive names, but let the non-RP ones alone, if that's the mud atmosphere. I also favor a mud that allows me choices *in addition to* creating a real character right away: offering me use of "guest", allowing me to read an overview without logging in, pointing me to a website...anything useful but not overwhelming in screens that say PRESS RETURN TO CONTINUE or ENTER YOUR CHOICE NOW at the bottom.  

Other code issues: if i log on in the dead of the night, i'm the only person online, i want to be able to read your help files, and start playing. I do *not* want to have to depend that someone else will be online, to be able to learn about your world. The only thing i think i disagree (sorta) with Jazuela on is: don't force me to go to your website...

(Disclaimer: I have NEVER logged into an "RPI" mud, i'm a hack-n-slasher, and i understand and respect the need for website screening and approval processes for these MU* types, i'm not bagging on it, the above statement is just a personal preference for the people it applies to, who might be interested, i'm not trying to start a flame war. )

If i can log into your game, i want to be able to play it, and when i type "help", i expect to find something useful. Fast. Typing "help" should produce useful and not overwhelming results.

I like muds that offer me the option of a newbie helper. I do not like it forced on me, if it scrolls. I understand the need to force some reading, (for instance, keeping a person in a room until they read your rules file, or an overview, or *something* they *must* know before entering the world)
but I think it is good to let players opt in or out of "newbie training". I prefer muds that let the rooms do the teaching, rather than an actual "mob" that interacts, unless the mob just stays with me and interacts with me at my discretion. The feeling of "being rushed" by that mob...that is distateful, i agree with Jazuela wholeheartedly. Plus, spam's just always obnoxious. Uber newbies will be gone before you can say "hey hey!" They'll miss your tell in the spam, too, i guarantee it.

Coded aspects of newbie friendliness need to acknowldege that there are vastly different types of "newbies", from the person who has Never, Ever logged into a text based game, is probably in on telnet cause they clicked the link on your website, has NO CLUE what's going those who check out this stuff all the time, do audits for TMS, whatever, the folks who understand what syntax is, but don't necessarily know *your* mud's syntaxes, have and know how to use a client... powergamers or coders, etc. These people should be able to set their own pace, while the Utter Newbie should be able to be led by the hand....first rooms should offer, in the long description, the next things anyone could and should type, examples include: "help", "score", "who" (if applicable), "help newbie",  "help rules", what the person should do to move around when they get ready to (explain your exits, like Jazuela mentioned), and "gossip hello" (or its equivalent, if there are global channels).

This last syntax brings me to the "people" part of the equation.
I do not go to muds without global channels, so i have no insight as to how to make those types of games newbie friendly in this way. However, there are plenty of games *with* global channels, and it is to these i consider my remarks mostly addressed, since that's all i'm familiar with.

Now: how can people be newbie friendly? EASY. Act like you actually *want* a new player to play your game, to stick around. People fill in the gaps in the help files. Not all muds will (or should! fit my "coding wishlist" above, cause I don't rule the world. Every place is unique. What people can do for
newbies is, DON'T act like they are there specifically to ruin your life and your world. If they seem stupid, remember, you've been around a while, it makes sense to you. When people ask for help, be nice. If they need to use "tells", teach them how, so they don't upset the roleplay, or whatever the atmosphere is.  My personal axiom is this: "Always remember, two-thirds of MUD is 'Multi User'."

Be knowlegeable of your own mud's newbie system. Know your help files. Offer suggestions on what is important in their score sheet....should they guild up, xp, or train a skill or two to start their character off? Is there a help file that tells them all about it? If so, take a sec, and point that out to them. Help them to help themselves. Help files with excellent cross references help (er, that's a coding issue), but players who know what is all IN that MONSTER help file (you know, the one that lists *all* the help files? the really, really daunting one that probably only the admin and 3 top end player have even read all the entries of, if even *they* have?). As a "newbie friendly player", you will want to know how to point people in the right direction.

I've seen players with websites devoted to "how to maximize this type of class/character/whatever" for like, every race/class/skill combo...stuff like that, stuff that is just *scary* that the dude knows it and has done it?, that mud, that's a newbie friendly mud, cause that guy knows how to help a newbie. He'll probably be on, playing, and he'll answer my questions. (I'm not quite that person on my "home" mud, but the next best thing. I was once mistaken for a newbie helper NPC, which was embarassing...)

I've been on muds where my every question on a channel was greeted with eye rolling or insults. I'm not a stupid person, and though my mudding experience is limited, i'm no less a quality player. There is no reason to be rude to a newbie who is obviously trying to take an active interest in your game. Remember, without players, your game runs the risk of dying. I dunno, that's just my take on what makes a mud "non-newbie friendly" in the personal aspect. You can have the greatest help file and newbie helper/academy in the world, but players (or worse, staff) who are offputting to newbies...i mean, it's kinda a "duh" issue, but it happens. A lot.

If there are global channels, make sure that at least one is available to a newbie. If you don't want newbies on your main channel, that's fine! Offer them one where people who *want* to help them can help them. Make sure the newbie is aware of it, and don't limit it to just "newbies". Let your avatars opt in to it...they are the people who know how your game works, in play. I find that often, wizards/Imms see the game one way, where your top end or longstanding, well developed players actually know more about the day to day life/play of the game. Letting and encouraging these players to interact with newbies (or, to opt off that line, when the repetitive inanity of newbie babble gets to them, and they just want to quest in peace) is good for both folks, and fosters community on those pesky global channels...just the kind of thing they can be put to good use for.
Staff who help newbies are nice, and all...but i always feel pesty, like i'm chatting into their coding time, and they could be doing something else...I'd rather interact with the players, cause staffers popping in and out of rooms always makes me feel weird. Additionally, interacting with coders always gives me an inferiority complex: they try to interact with me referencing things in the code that i am clueless about. Players, however, rarely do that, because a true player will ONLY see the interface from the player's side...which is *all* a newbie is going to see of the mud.

OK, i'm almost done. One last "code" aspect i just thought of is that I like to feel that i have gotten someplace, in a relatively short initial session. If i can log in, opt into a newbie academy of some sort, gain a level or 2 and some equipment, learn if that eq will save or not, and how to successfully log out and back in to continue basically intact in less than 2've got my attention. Preferably, if i were even *more* devoted to killing, i'd want to be able to make my first kill within 5 minutes of login, and know i'm not going to die to it. (Personally, i read any help file that is referenced, and do the newbie trainers wherever i find them...i believe if you put the time into coding it, i'll take you up on the offer, and learn your mud as it deserves. Others like to kill with a minimum of reading...if you can make that balance happen, that's newbie-friendliness to me. ;> )

Anyhow, those are a few of my preferences, hope that's some input for you. Peace.
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Old 04-25-2004, 03:24 AM   #5
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A good, intuitive, searchable help system is worth SO much. Newbie channels / means to ask imms questions count for alot to me too.
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Old 04-25-2004, 07:16 AM   #6
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No offense taken at all Earthmother! In fact I'll even agree with you on a point within that website point of yours:

I do not want anyone forcing me to read a website with a direct order. Not the code, not a player, not an IMM.

If I have a question, and someone berates me for not having read about the answer on the web, I'll find another game and good riddance to you. If they politely and patiently give me the URL to the exact location of the answer on the web, I will be eternally grateful. If they give me the URL, AND give me the URL to the category they feel will best help me, based on the kinds of questions I"m asking, I will offer to do their laundry for a month.

Pay attention to the KINDS of questions your newbies are asking. If they're asking syntax questions about combat, point them in the direction of the combat system - but ALSO let them know where to find a "general syntax" help file, because the questions seem to be about syntax in particular.

That kind of thing.
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Old 04-25-2004, 03:25 PM   #7
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For me, I think it is a bit simpler than some of the others are making it out to be.

First, the players and staff. People need to put right out there from the start that they are glad to see you, and that they want to help. People willing to explain things to you, but not overwhelm you with information that you don't need at the get-go.

Also, there's the information standpoint. While I don't want to feel inundated with things that I have to know, I'd like all the information I could ever really want there, easy to access. Personally, I always will read through a website before I even start to pull up a telnet dialogue. It's part of total package to me. The help system should also be intuitive, easy to use and find what I want. A standard 'help newbie' with links to the main areas that I will want to know about is essential (combat, magic, role-play, etc).

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Old 05-01-2004, 05:00 PM   #8
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This applies mostly to RP (intensive or semi-intensive) muds.
On a newbie-friendly mud, people should interact in-character with newbies, and draw them into the roleplaying in that game. I can find out all the ooc knowledge and syntax I want (mostly) from helpfiles and webpages. Once I get in the game, I want to get into the roleplaying, learn things in character, meet people, make allies and enemies. Nothing creates passion for the game as much as wanting to get back at somebody, so you can actually be newbie-friendly by being mean to newbies.
Sadly, the more RP intensive a mud is, the more people tend to just ignore new players.
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Old 05-05-2004, 05:41 PM   #9
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For me the hardest part has always been when you get out of the mud school. I often blunder around trying to figure out what commands my specific skillset uses and if I can't do it fast enough and nobody is willing to help, I usually just forget about the mud.

The problem with most MUD schools is that they are just too general. It is great to know how to get in and out of the MUD and what not to say IC'ly and all, but I want to be able to test out my new skills ASAP so I can use them in some functional way. It is hard to RP an apprentice smith when I can't even figure out the commands to put metal into a forge, or how to get metal for that matter.

What would be great is an initial mini quest for every major skillset that shows you the basic commands and basic locales in which to go in order to use your skillset. For a smith, send him to a mine and have him bring back some scrap iron to make into a spoon or something like that. Show him where he can pick up new basic skills.

most muds rely on players to tell you this, but I think that is not such a great idea. Sometimes it works out great, but sometimes, especially in smaller muds, nobody will help and that really discourages new play. Also, sometimes when they are willing to help, they move a lot faster than a newby can take in because they take their familiarity with the system for granted.

Anyway, less general tutorials, more specific tutorials = good.
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