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Old 11-04-2005, 02:21 PM   #1
Alexander Tau
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Hail!

Since I have been out of Muds for a few years now I was wondering if anyone would care to fill me in on the current trends and new developments in MU*s?

I would like to start some new Threads here since I have a special fondness for this particular Forum, those who have been around a while know why. But I feel I do not know enough, yet, about how things have been going to know what the future may hold or what even would today qualify as an 'Advanced Mud Concept'.

If anyone would care to fill me in a bit we could proceed from there to what the future might bring.

Of particular interest to me is what sort of players live in MudLand these days. When I left the graphic pay-to-play places were drawing most of the old hands away from Muds and the quality of potential Staff and Players had dropped quite a bit. What sort of people play Muds these days and what types of concepts are drawing the most people are a couple of the questions I have.



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Old 11-09-2005, 06:02 PM   #2
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Hey AT...

You're question is one that we IMPs over at Aabahran, the Forsaken Lands MUD have been asking ourselves for months...namely, in this new era of MMPORGS and graphic interfaces, where do MUDs go from here? Can they survive?

I think what will continue to be the draw for MUDs, beyond simple replayability and many of them being free to play like ours, is the imagination it takes to play a text-based game. Many won't get it. Many never have. But I find that what keeps me playing morts, even in a world that I help create, is the pictures I see when I play. I know what the cities "look like"...I know what my armor does when I swing my sword. I can "see" it in my head. Those who only play games with graphics don't know the freedom and incredible power your mind has to take you to a place that you imagine in a text based world. I think you get so much more deeply immersed.

Thoughts?
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Old 11-10-2005, 09:22 PM   #3
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I believe that once a certain 'critical mass' has been reached on something it never really goes away. Technology can sometimes conspire to take away the ability to play a certain game, but the type goes on.

With Muds of course they are designed to work with some of the most basic of Internet tech so they are in no danger of vanishing.

What makes a MU* has changed over the years, I am not entirely certain that the game I am now working on will end up being thought of as a Mud at all. If as we intend to do we create it so that it is played on the Web it will really be something a little different. All the character-driven style of play of a Mud, but with a very different look.



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Old 11-12-2005, 06:03 AM   #4
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I'd have to agree that the onslaught of stunning MMORPGs over the last 12-18 months has been pretty fierce, with so many quality products released on the market. Certainly we've felt their effect, quite a few of our players are now WoW addicts =(. But, what's interesting is that a) they still keep in touch with their own mud and b) most of them rate their old mud much higher in terms or world complexity, involvement and community.

I've seen quite a few return from their MMORPG forays and actually bring some new players over with them, which is great. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the new MMORPGs have a short "expected playtime", much shorter than they used to be. ie even they don't really expect people to hang around that long.

In terms of the future, well your crystal ball is as clear as mine
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Old 11-12-2005, 07:17 PM   #5
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i have seen this, on the secret of atlas, over the last few years too. people are drawn to the giant muds with all the graffics. but sooner or later they find their way back home , and bring a few new players back with them.
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Old 11-12-2005, 11:34 PM   #6
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True enough Sparky but I think that more people simply move on and never return. There is the relentless push of technology that drags many people forever forward.

There are of course so many types of games to play out there beyond Muds and MMORPGs. My wife was addicted to the simple world of Neopets for quite a long time.

I guess I really have moved up a notch on the technology ladder with what I am working on now. LPC via DGD Mud base, but feed through a variety of Web-based displays. Hopefully a fair amount of panels and other graphic toys to play with.

A mix of old and new since many effects and displays will come through the text feed at the bottom of each page.

Just another new layer on what Mud means.



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Old 11-13-2005, 08:59 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Alexander Tau @ Nov. 13 2005,06:34)
I guess I really have moved up a notch on the technology ladder with what I am working on now. LPC via DGD Mud base, but feed through a variety of Web-based displays. Hopefully a fair amount of panels and other graphic toys to play with.
I would say that's a good step, and a direction that probably more and more muds will take eventually, perhaps not by abolishing the telnet interface entirely, but either by designing custom clients or by making more features accessible through browser interface. It is definitely something we have in mind for GW2.

It could even be argued that Windows XP telnet has been a bigger blow to muds than graphical MMORPGs - nobody will ever know how many potential players we have lost to that monster. It presents a huge obstacle to introducing completely new people to muds. Text games have a lot of appeal, even today, but we should strive to lower the entry barrier or we will end up cannibalising one another's playerbases.
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Old 11-13-2005, 01:42 PM   #8
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Good points Angie.

I think one of the great strengths of the MU* concept is the unique vision that each new game can represent. Every Mud is a new chance for someone to find just the right balance of features and content to capture people's imaginations. My feeling is that one of the things that has kept MU*s alive even as technology passed them by was this potential for expression.

I know for myself that the world that a Mud represents is something I love to craft and guide. My games always have GameMasters and I am one of them. It is that combination of Stage and Live GameBoard that is so appealing. I could create some other type of game but nothing else has the same scope that a Mud can have.



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Old 11-13-2005, 01:46 PM   #9
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Just provide an experience players can't get on the big graphical MUDs like WoW and you'll be fine. Creating a text MUD primarily oriented around monster-bashing, for instance, is probably not such a good idea, given that that game mechanic is what all the big graphical MUDs are all about, and regardless of how well you do it, they have fancy 3d graphics, and you don't.

We just had, in August and then in October, our best and 2nd best months ever, respectively, for instance, and I chalk it up partly to the fact that our gameplay style is not replicated in the big graphical MUDs. Or rather, I should say that I chalk up the fact that we have grown and not shrunk over the last year to the fact that people can't get the same styles of gameplay our MUDs offer that they can in MUDs like WoW or Runescape or whatnot, and so the release of the juggernaught that is WoW hasn't affected us all that much.

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Old 11-13-2005, 10:52 PM   #10
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I look at the change more pessimistic. After a short amount time, like three to five years, there will free and well-made MMORPGs around.. even building them will be much easier and cheaper. I doubt MU* will able to find new players to survive, and they will turn into Virtual ones. There is a second scenario; Muds may turn into more chat rooms then games as they are now. OR vise versa, mud style games can be added to IMs.. but that's a far possibility.

Actually I only see chance for RPIs. IMHO many H&S mud styles can be dublicated, replaced and virtualized, but RPIs are not profitable and very (staff) demanding so they will keep their playerbase for a long time.
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Old 11-14-2005, 04:08 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Gaare @ Nov. 14 2005,04:52)
I look at the change more pessimistic. After a short amount time, like three to five years, there will free and well-made MMORPGs around.. even building them will be much easier and cheaper. I doubt MU* will able to find new players to survive, and they will turn into Virtual ones.
People were even more pessimistic 10 years ago (back when there were only 181 muds listed on TMC, and TMS didn't yet exist) - for example:

"With all this [technology] becoming available in the next 2 years I think real interactive enviroments will be possible. Text only muds will be swept away by graphical enviroments, many of which will have first person perspectives I think".
-- Curtis Shenton, 16th May 1995.

I wonder what people will be claiming in 2015? Probably something along the lines of "There are only 5000 text-based muds running today - we're dying out! Within the next decade there'll be none left!"
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Old 11-14-2005, 06:28 PM   #12
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I don't believe that Mu* will ever "go away" they will simply evolve. I believe at some point many of them will be turned into graphical games using NWN like modules.

As far as the state of muds today. I've played
Muds since late 1999 and I've noticed a definite decline in the amount of players on all of my favorite muds. I'm not sure if that is because there are so many Muds out there that the proverbial waters have been diluted down to nothing, or because there simply aren't as many players as there once were.

The mud I'm an immortal on has been struggling with the issue of player retention for about 3.5 - 4 years now. It went from a fairly active playerbase of 15-30 during peak hours to being lucky to have 2 or 3 on at any one time. It is not stagnant because new areas, guilds, "stuff" is being added and tweaked all the time but the players are simply not there.

Granted I'm far from an expert but I've noticed dwindling numbers on other muds as well. Many people shrug their shoulders and say "Muds aren't going anywhere, stop worrying" and I agree with, but maybe that's part of the problem. Maybe there are simply to many muds?
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Old 11-14-2005, 07:09 PM   #13
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Thumbs up

Legion, how is your MUD as far as replayability (my own word )?  How large is your world?  That pays huge dividends as far as player retention.  Not trying to knock your MUD at all but, like a video game that you beat, if you've "done all there is to do", you won't come back.

Who went back and played Zelda again after they rescued the princess?  I know I didn't.

New things is only part of it.  

Just some advice from my personal opinions...which means I could be way wrong.
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Old 11-14-2005, 07:34 PM   #14
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9-->
Quote:
Originally Posted by (Chayesh @ Nov. 14 2005,11[img
http://www.topmudsites.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif[/img]9)]Legion, how is your MUD as far as replayability (my own word )? How large is your world? That pays huge dividends as far as player retention. Not trying to knock your MUD at all but, like a video game that you beat, if you've "done all there is to do", you won't come back.

Who went back and played Zelda again after they rescued the princess? I know I didn't.

New things is only part of it.

Just some advice from my personal opinions...which means I could be way wrong.
I'm not sure to be honest with you. I myself when I was an active player found it very "replayable". Personally I didn't keep coming back to the game because I hadn't accomplished everything. I kept coming back to the game for the people. I didn't mind churning out the same stuff time and again.

At some point however it was decided to revamp the entire mud. The layout was reworked, the guilds were laid to waste and new ones built from scratch, the magic system was redone, new areas were put into place, old areas refurbished and in some cases removed. Since that has happened the playerbase has been nil.

I'd be interested to hear (via pm let's not hijack this thread anymore than we have) from some of the old players who have disappeared from the mud as to why. The address is in my signature if you've played there I'm sure you'll recognize it.
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Old 11-14-2005, 07:55 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (LegioN @ Nov. 15 2005,01:34)
At some point however it was decided to revamp the entire mud.  The layout was reworked, the guilds were laid to waste and new ones built from scratch, the magic system was redone, new areas were put into place, old areas refurbished and in some cases removed.  Since that has happened the playerbase has been nil.  
Well there you go, then - players don't like change.

It's one of those "damned if you do, damned if you don't" things: if you never change anything the mud will stagnate, players will get bored, and leave - but if you do change it, people will hate it...and leave. You have to try and find the right balance, and it sounds as if your mud didn't do that.

Perhaps it turned into a "better" mud in your opinion, but many of the old players will have been there because they liked the original mud, so you'll have to go through the whole process again of building up a playerbase.
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Old 11-15-2005, 12:29 AM   #16
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That's very true. I know for a fact, because some players have said this, that they stay because they "know the lay of the land", how combat works, what their powers are, where things are like equipment, potions, etc. When we introduce new areas or replace old/stock ones, we do it piecemeal, one area at a time. I would bet that a portion of your MIA playerbase is playing a MUD with a similar codebase as your MUD that hasn't been as customized as yours.

Also, you have to listen to how you're being interpreted by your playerbase. Too often disgruntled players, and unfortunately IMMs also, can foster what I call the US vs. THEM syndrome. "The IMMs are out to get us" "The players are all cheaters" are just a couple of the ways things get out of hand quickly. But if you handle it the right way, which I like to think for the most part our staff has, you can retain your solid players through many trials and tribulations. For example, the current staff of Aabahran is the third administration in its 5 year life. Certain IMMs were always present but the main creators of the world are now gone. Due to this, we have lost players. During the first few years of our life, we had 50-60 online at any given time. Now the average is lower. It is improving from the last administration though, and we look for even better things to come. And if the players have any complaints now, many will say it's not our staff.

I'm not saying you and your staff caused the drop off directly, but I think, at least in some small way, the drastic changes, perhaps unwanted by the players, were seen as something negative. You probably have a really tight MUD now. Advertise the heck out of it and you might find yourself knee deep in quality players very soon.
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Old 11-15-2005, 12:13 PM   #17
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The two biggest changes I have been seeing as I have been looking around has been more commercial influences and a broadening of what Mu* means.

The success of the big MMORPGs has obviously impressed people with the idea that money can be made these days and some people are taking advantage of it. A pay to play Mud was considered obscene not too many years ago. I have even been bitten by the bug, if the game I am working on should ever reach the point at which it seems it could generate 100,000 per year in subscriptions I will probably go commercial myself. Unlikely, but at least it is something I am considering which I never had the chance to do in the past.

I think eventually, and this may still be years away, but the very best text-based traditional Muds will be commercial ventures.

I agree with whoever said that eventually many private-run games will be graphic. Things like NWN have spawned large communities of their own and we can expect more and more of them as time passes.

The broadening of the concept of what a Mud is will meet a lot of resistance, perhaps even a new name will be needed for people to rally behind. This sort of thing always makes life interesting. Does a place like TMS stay focused on what we currently call Muds, or does it accept the new generation?


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Old 11-15-2005, 12:58 PM   #18
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The two biggest changes I have been seeing as I have been looking around has been more commercial influences and a broadening of what Mu* means.
The commercial muds have become particularly active in terms of promotions and advertising in the last couple of years, which is part of the reason why a number of non-commercial mud developers have moved elsewhere - but that's really more of a TMS thing. I'm not really sure what you mean by broading of the definition of a mud, though...some people always try to change its meaning (then try to introduce redundant acronyms such as 'mu*'), however that's not really anything new.

Quote:
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A pay to play Mud was considered obscene not too many years ago.
Well not really - I mean, the original MUD (aka "MUD1") went commercial in 1984. Then there was MUD2 in 1986, Gemstone in 1987, Gemstone II in 1988, etc. By 1990, when the first TinyMUDs (MUCK, MUSH, MOO, etc), LPmuds and DikuMUDs started appearing, there was already a small selection of commercial muds, such as Federation II, Avalon, Dragon's Gate, etc.
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Old 11-15-2005, 02:28 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Alexander Tau @ Nov. 15 2005,19:13)
I think eventually, and this may still be years away, but the very best text-based traditional Muds will be commercial ventures.
I don't think that will happen - or not completely. The decision whether to make a mud commercial or not does not have much to do with the quality of the mud or the effort that went into it. At the present moment, you can find free muds that are equally good or better than the commercial ones. It's becoming more and more demanding to make a competitive mud as player expectations rise, true, but there'll always be obsessive fools willing to do it all for free. (Even some commercial muds don't pay their staff, which is a concept that boggles my mind.)

The number of commercial muds is not rising that fast either. Diku (and derivatives) remains the codebase of choice for the vast majority of muds, the codebases that allow commercial use are nowhere near as popular, and not many people are willing to invest real money (*gasp*) into having a custom codebase made the way IRE did, or have the skill to make their own.

Unless we see an unexpected rise in popularity of publicly available codebases that can be used for profit, I don't see it happening.
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Old 11-15-2005, 04:57 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Alexander Tau @ Nov. 15 2005,19:13)
I think eventually, and this may still be years away, but the very best text-based traditional Muds will be commercial ventures.
"Best" is very much a matter of perspective. The claim to being "best" doesn't really have any meaning unless you fairly arbitrarily define 'best' in some way such that the attribute(s) that contribute to 'best' status are objectively measurable. For instance, if 'best' means most players, then Dragonrealms and Gemstone win, hands down.

Angie wrote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by
Unless we see an unexpected rise in popularity of publicly available codebases that can be used for profit, I don't see it happening.
I think this is pretty accurate, though I think there's a caveat. The caveat is that the easier the codebase makes it to create a playable MUD, the more decisions it has made for you, and the more similar your game is going to be to other games that are using that codebase.

For instance, on our in-progress MUD, Midkemia Online, we made the decision to just throw away Achaea's codebase almost entirely, keeping only some common backend systems that we maintain for cross-mud capabiliity (so we can talk to each other across MUDs and whatnot in-game) or for financial stuff (credit sales and related) and then some basic utilities that just make coding easier. It was a huge decision, and very costly in terms of time, since it means redoing everything from what a mob is on up. But, it was also the only way to make a game whose similarities to Achaea, for instance, are only by design, never by accident and never resulting from something implicit in the codebase.

--matt
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