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Old 05-09-2002, 06:00 AM   #1
Dionae
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You have a unique mud, with an all-original world, an engaging storyline, and a unique system of medieval feudalism. You have two dedicated coders, and wonderful builders who are continually adding more to the game. You have a helpful immortal staff who interact with players, in and out of character, and players who are always willing to give advice to those in need. Your mud is one of the best you've ever played (Of course. That's why you play it.). But something's missing...

You've logged onto other muds at this time of night, and have seen more players online than your mud has had online EVER. Granted, quantity is not always quality, but those players seem decent, not much different than any of the players on your mud. But.. what draws them there? Compared to your mud, this mud is pretty sad-looking. Not near the amount of effort has been put into it. No wonder you don't stay long. But, for some reason, they do. And yet the players on your "perfect mud" come and go. It just doesn't make sense...

And so you analyze your own mud and these others, and try to comprehend just what is holding you back. Your mud seems like a great place to play. Sometimes, the immortals can come across the wrong way. Some players seem elitist and only concerned for themselves. There's not as much roleplay as you would like. The staff works on too many changes at once, so some things get put on hold for longer than anticipated. Yet is that enough to drive people away from a mud with so much promise?

Things aren't dying, though you do wish you could see some growth. On occassion, a wave of new players will come through, though they seem to filter out, with only a few choosing to stay for good. No, your mud isn't for everyone, though it does seem odd that a mud with much less quality can retain so many players, while yours cannot. And so you analyze some more, and try to think of a solution. But each time, you end up back in the same place. And so you wonder...

...what went wrong?
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Old 05-09-2002, 06:52 AM   #2
Orion Elder
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What went wrong is something I've pondered for a long time. I've come to the conclusion that like people in general, MUDders are sheep. They see a lot of people doing something, and they think they've hit something good...

Show them quality, a challenge (in skill or intelligence), or something that should be genuinely fun and they'll spit in your face and run away.

Then again, that could just be my bitter side talking.
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Old 05-09-2002, 04:55 PM   #3
Molly
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I think Orion is right, numbers attract numbers.

The question is however, do you really WANT players that are only attracted by numbers in your unique mud? Most likely not, because the majority of them will be Twinks, and they'll destroy the RP atmosphere you worked so hard on, with their twinkish jabbering. :-)

Another thing about the majority of players - they are lazy. I believe that is why stock muds are so popular. People know the zones there by heart, so they don't have to think. You have all unique zones? Oh my God! Where is MIDGAARD?? They can't use their built in fastwalk! They will actually have to EXPLORE to find their way about? How on earth can you expect them to stay for any length of time, with such inhuman demands on their energy?

Heck, most players even hate having to eat and drink, and they whine if they have not unlimited amounts of movement points, no matter how many different choices of food, drink and transportation you provide for them in your mud.

Also, about features; if a feature means anything of an effort for the players to learn how to use - (like reading a *gasp!* HELPFILE (God forbid! - most of them won't ever bother, however good the feature is. It's so much easier just to trudge on in the old ruts.

I think, if you have chosen to run an original, quality mud, you'll just have to settle for a smaller, but in return more intelligent playerbase. And is that really all that bad? I'd take quality over quantity any day.

But: there is of course also the theory about the 'critical mass'. Like with a nuclear reaction, you'll have to collect a minimum of players, before the mud will start growing faster. This theory, put forward by Arawn of Lensmoor, claims that this minimum number is 30. Below that number your player base will stay pretty stable, you'll get about the same amount of new players as the ones leaving the mud. Above, it will start snowballing.

And then maybe you'll find youself thinking with regret of the good old days when you had a small, quality playerbase...
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Old 05-09-2002, 05:27 PM   #4
Orion Elder
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I had a similar theory about the 'critical mass' type belief (though I never named it). The number I came up with, though, was around 23. Below that is stays stable... around 23 or so it starts to look full and people start to go "OooOOOooo... long list... *DROOOOOOL*."

But, I agree completely that the critical player mass does exist. I see it on a daily basis, and even included some thoughts on it in one of my editorials on MUD Planet called 'Prerequisites to Making a MUD.'

As for players being lazy... well, there is no way around that. People in general are lazy. The saying 'there is no such thing as a free lunch' is true, but that truth doesn't stop them from wanting and whining.
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Old 05-09-2002, 05:46 PM   #5
Tooloose
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How many players would you say is the minimum for a healthy game? I'm playing a new MUX--so new there aren't many players--but I have the feeling that, even if it's a bit too sophisticated (in my opinion, of course) for many people to enjoy, those playing it will stick around. So what's the minimum number?
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Old 05-09-2002, 05:51 PM   #6
Orion Elder
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Well that's strictly a matter of opinion, really.

My minimum number of players for a good game is about ten, and that's strictly players. Admins, and the like are not included in that.

My maximum preferred is about fifty - sixty or so. Beyond that the game will be too crowded and will be more spam that fun. One of the reasons I support coding in a maximum allowed players online. It would limit the game to a tolerable level.
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Old 05-09-2002, 06:14 PM   #7
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Never even -considered- the maximum number! The MUD with the most players I've ever been on hit 45 once. And that was spread out over seven cities in four kingdoms. Still felt kind of underpoplated.

Would you say different code-bases support different optimal numbers? MUD, MUSH, etc?
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Old 05-09-2002, 06:49 PM   #8
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Personally? I wouldn't know. The things I've been most interested in are MUDs. Never really (meaning seriously) played on anything else for too long, so I never got a real feel for the others. I would guess it also depends on the size of the world, the type of game, the code, and in some cases even the theme.
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