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Old 12-23-2005, 11:53 AM   #1
Aranoxx
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This is a semi-polite rant.

<span style='color:red'>Rant on.</span>

I'm sick of people judging MUDs by the number of players online. SICK of it. Just now, someone logged on my MUD, didn't even get into the game, logged out, and deleted. #1 most probable reason: They used the menu option 'See who's on,' saw a number that didn't meet their idea of what a MUD should have on, and logged off.

I'm not saying people can't choose their own criteria for evaluating a MUD, but if you don't even log on... I mean, come on! How do you know if a MUD is good or not if your sole criteria for figuring that out is 'Are a bunch of people playing it right now?' Talk about a lemming mentality... 'If lots of other people are playing, I'll play. If not, I won't.' What the...?!??! If this is the dominant attitude (and it seems to be based on the behavior patterns of the new players I've seen logging on), exactly how are new MUDs supposed to GET a playerbase in the first place?

My MUD is a quality place. It's intriguing, it's well-written, it's got a fabulous backstory and mythos, nice people... but not a lot of them (yet). Someone tell me what I'm supposed to do? I've been in the MUD-running business for almost a decade now, and I still don't have a clue as to how to get around the synthetic 'bigger = better' mindset.

<span style='color:green'>Rant off.</span>
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Old 12-23-2005, 12:05 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Aranoxx @ Dec. 23 2005,11:53)
This is a semi-polite rant.

<span style='color:red'>Rant on.</span>

I'm sick of people judging MUDs by the number of players online. SICK of it. Just now, someone logged on my MUD, didn't even get into the game, logged out, and deleted. #1 most probable reason: They used the menu option 'See who's on,' saw a number that didn't meet their idea of what a MUD should have on, and logged off.

I'm not saying people can't choose their own criteria for evaluating a MUD, but if you don't even log on... I mean, come on! How do you know if a MUD is good or not if your sole criteria for figuring that out is 'Are a bunch of people playing it right now?' Talk about a lemming mentality... 'If lots of other people are playing, I'll play. If not, I won't.' What the...?!??! If this is the dominant attitude (and it seems to be based on the behavior patterns of the new players I've seen logging on), exactly how are new MUDs supposed to GET a playerbase in the first place?

My MUD is a quality place. It's intriguing, it's well-written, it's got a fabulous backstory and mythos, nice people... but not a lot of them (yet). Someone tell me what I'm supposed to do? I've been in the MUD-running business for almost a decade now, and I still don't have a clue as to how to get around the synthetic 'bigger = better' mindset.

<span style='color:green'>Rant off.</span>
Well, because a MUD isn't a single player game. Many people play MUDs/MMOs precisely because they want to play with other people. If you don't have many players, then an important and perhaps critical feature is missing from your MUD for these people.

The way to grow your MUD is to deliver both a quality product and quality service to people, day in and day out, year after year. Word of mouth is by far the biggest acquirer of new players, so if other people like it, they're going to bring their friends, and it grows from there.

--matt
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Old 12-23-2005, 01:02 PM   #3
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Matt's right on the money. Word of mouth will do wonders over time if quality is present. And not to seem mean, but just because you think your MUD is "intriguing and well-written" doesn't mean everyone will. Besides, not every player out there is looking for "intriguing" or "well-written". Many have specific, less-than-quality concerns. It all depends on the type of MUD you've got. Someone looking for a PK emphasis might not give a rat's ass about how well-written the room descriptions are, they care more about the fluidity and balance (or lack thereof) of the combat code.

In the end, you've got to have the philosophy to produce the highest quality you can for the type of MUD you're offering and then hope it meets the players' standards. Those that it appeals to will help bring in others and the process will snowball. Yeah, in the end, you may end up with a small snowball, but that's the risk you take.

Keep in mind that while you say you don't understand many players' obsession with the number of PCs online, you yourself are concerned with attracting players. If it's good enough to be a sign of success for you, why not the same for those looking to play?

Take care,

Jason
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Old 12-23-2005, 02:25 PM   #4
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Something else occured to me as well: It's helpful to have major distinguishing features. That's not to say 'unique' features - just distinguishing features. For instance, our MUDs have combat that is fundamentally different from the health attrition DIKU/D&D-style combat, and that helped attract players from day 1. There are other distinguishing features as well, but you want one of your distinguishing features to be at least partly accessible to newbies from pretty much day 1, or they may leave before finding out about them.

Things like a great backstory, well-written descriptions and whatnot are great, but if you're just offering the same gameplay as a thousand other MUDs out there, they're not going to make THAT much of a difference. (I have no idea what kind of gameplay your MUD offers, incidentally.)

--matt
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Old 12-23-2005, 02:30 PM   #5
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I agree it's a Catch-22. However in the end you're offering a free service that, although unique, is not that different from all those others out there. Now players invest alot of their time into Muds and a mud without people usually diminishes the admins enthusiasm and willingness to improve upon it. In the end the mud dies and the players reward for their time spent wiped into oblivion.

How to go about aquiring players at the beginning... well I leave that question to people like Matt, Molly, Kavir and others...
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Old 12-23-2005, 02:34 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Fishy @ Dec. 23 2005,14:30)
How to go about aquiring players at the beginning... well I leave that question to people like Matt, Molly, Kavir and others...
With all due respect, Molly's mud has a whopping 7 people on it right now. Not exactly the place to look for advice on how to build a MUD that will attract players.

--matt
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Old 12-23-2005, 02:46 PM   #7
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I was under the impression that it used to have a lot of players(?) Therefor I wrote "in the beginning..."

Anyway Somarilnos has some good input.

Also if you post on the forum include some info/links to your mud in your signature. (See Matts )

Note: Some players like Muds with small pbases, I don't know how but you might want to aim your promoting at that group at first(?)

Just my two cents,
/Fishy
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Old 12-23-2005, 02:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Fishy @ Dec. 23 2005,14:46)
I was under the impression that it used to have a lot of players(?) Therefor I wrote "in the beginning..."
Not as far as I know at least. It's always been a pretty empty MUD in terms of players every time I've checked.
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Old 12-23-2005, 04:00 PM   #9
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Some MUDs lend themselves more to being played by yourself or with a very small group than others. For example, I think all of us loved "Age of Reptiles" to death, and wish it had grown a lot more. But in the end Logos is correct, they are social games and it's inevitable that they'll be judged by people based on their player base.

My advice, though I'm obviously not an acknowledged master in this field, would be to work on the solo aspects of a new MUD first and advertise them first if you're having trouble getting started.
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Old 12-23-2005, 04:04 PM   #10
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Now that I've actually read all the posts here... I first started playing achaea like 8 years ago, almost when it was completely new. Achaea definitely had more of a focus on the individual in the early days than it does now. It's pretty huge nowadays and has evolved over time to be how it is, but it didn't start how it is now when there were 40 people on and Sarapis was amazed and proud of himself over it
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Old 12-23-2005, 04:17 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (tehScarecrow @ Dec. 23 2005,16:04)
Now that I've actually read all the posts here... I first started playing achaea like 8 years ago, almost when it was completely new. Achaea definitely had more of a focus on the individual in the early days than it does now. It's pretty huge nowadays and has evolved over time to be how it is, but it didn't start how it is now when there were 40 people on and Sarapis was amazed and proud of himself over it
That's a good point, Scarecrow. If you don't have a lot of players when you start out (and while our new MUDs start out with players beating down the doors on opening day, Achaea certainly did not) you may be best advised to have a playing experience that doesn't require much interaction with other players. You can add greater levels of interaction as your playerbase grows.

--matt
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Old 12-24-2005, 02:16 PM   #12
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Good point. Not many brand new games have the luxury of a draw as strong as the IRE games... a built-in playerbase which may migrate from one to the other, and (hopefully) the funds to promote it. And, yes, it is difficult to keep admin and staff thinking positively and motivated during long dry spells.  Difficult but not impossible.

I do know that if we expect everyone who creates a character to stay through the whole game, we will find ourselves in a constant state of disappointment.  LoK has gone through days where we have far more people create and delete than create and play.  It happens if there are five players online, or 15 players online, or 25 players online.  While I will never get over the sinking feeling I get when I see the 'XXXX wishes to cease to exist,' it is a part of the growth process that we must all accept or pay the price in ulcer medication.

Our games will not please everyone. If we design with the thought of pleasing everyone, we will be missing the mark and hitting a design state that pleases nobody.  But.. if one person out of fifty walks around Portsmouth and smiles at what he sees and truly enjoys the experience, or gets to the point he is comfortable flying across the continent to Waterton or New Linden or Dacona, lands and crows with delight... then it makes years of work and effort worthwhile.

Let the word of mouth from those who are overjoyed with your game bring in the next and the next and the next...  and don't worry if the who list doesn't scroll for pages.  Believe in your game and your design, and the people who will enjoy it the most will find you.

Peace and calm holidays, friends.
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Old 12-24-2005, 06:37 PM   #13
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As someone who has logged tried lots of muds imo the reasons for players giving up early on are:

- low quality newbie school that bores the player to death. Many times I have been sure that a MUD had lots to offer but after reading the boards in the 7th newbie room i just wanted to scream.

- eye-bursting colour schemes. Either all white or some garish mix. If I am required to type set colour in I wonder if the admins give a toss about my enjoyment if thye are so lazy that they fail to set a colour default.

- fido
- midgaard
- having to retrieve my corpse
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Old 12-24-2005, 06:57 PM   #14
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Pardon me.. I just had to answer this one:

no newbie school - each person starts in a house built for their use, with a full suite of starting gear available - no competition for assets at that level

no all-white or garish color scheme - although if what we have is not to your liking, the COLORSET module allows you to customize durn near anything

no beastly fido - t'is forbidden

no Midgaard - t'is forbidden

no corpse retrieval (the sole exception being a death in CPK, and there's very little bits of that) - death doesn't even impact you until level 15

no stock areas

no identify spell - figuring out what things do takes one simple command

I could go on, but as was pointed out far above, what is Heaven to one man is Hell to another... the aspects of the game that I like the most (no level limit, no class restrictions) may be hated by someone else.

As with any game, the best way to find out what's great or terrible about it is to dive in and play.
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Old 12-24-2005, 07:17 PM   #15
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I thought I'd reply to this since I'm one of the players who often create and delete just to see the mud. There are several things that cause me to delete:

1) If I can't figure out how to use the help system, or if the help system doesn't work as it is explained, then delete. I also have a personal preference of having all help available in the mud, not in some forum or website that I have to sign up for.

2) If I encounter more than a couple typos or poorly written information when I'm creating, that's a delete. This is the first part of the mud that any new player sees: if it looks like sh*t, there's a good chance that the rest of mud is the same. I know some admins will say, "Oh, you can report typos and bugs you see by using (special command)!" I don't try your mud to fix your typos!

3) If your website lists the last mud addition as "March 2004," I won't even try connecting. Mud updates and changes keep it alive and the players interested. And if your web links don't work, same thing. A quality mud will take the time to make a quality site.

4) If I have to wait for my name to be "approved," I leave right then. Otherwise I end up waiting around 10 minutes, and chances are, it's not going to be worth it.

5) If I get PKed within minutes of joining, delete. I don't care if it's a PK mud and I have "to learn the hard way," I still don't have a clue what I have to do in a new mud.

6) If I find out that I have to spend real cash to get beyond a certain point, delete.

7) I don't connect to muds which are heavily rumored to have stolen code (personal preference).

8) If your mud claims to have been running for "6 years" and I log in and it only has 2 or 3 players, I delete. If you've only managed to get 3 players online at a time in 6 years, there is obviously something wrong with it (see #1 - 4). This is really the only time that player base matters for me.

Now this is just the creation process and the first 30 minutes of the game. You can have the most awesome best super excellent features and stories and areas, or the worst, but I will never find out because you already lost me. There could be another whole list for things that make me leave beyond 30 minutes. I try a lot of muds, and I'd say over 90% simply suck. Look carefully at the successful muds, and you'll find that it's not money that makes them good, but quality (but I suppose having a paid staff helps increase that quality though).

Ironically, for some reason, I have saved the connection info to The ReckoningMUD from late August. Which is odd, because I never do that, so I must have been slightly impressed.
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Old 12-24-2005, 07:24 PM   #16
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Fern, I was not directing any of my criticisms at Legends of Karinth!

Fern is correct to say that LOK is a MUD with an excellent newbie house and features.
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Old 12-24-2005, 08:10 PM   #17
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I was reading through Rathik's post and although I don't agree with all of it: most of it does make sence. 90% of the muds I've tried suck (imho).

However when I try a mud I'm already set on deleting... No don't get me wrong here. If you have a splendid mud I might stay IF you somehow manage to get me hooked.

When I tried GW2 I deleted 'cause I was tired and not in the mood to get through the help files (I'm still going to give it a go one of these days...)
And that is just one reason out of a million to delete. I believe that the main reason people delete are because of promotions that try to depict the mud as something it is not. If you want PK/HackNslash players why advertise as a crafting mud? Now the most common example of this are all the "RP encouraged muds" that never ever ever EVER see any RP...
(Do you realise that you're losing potential new players when you do this?)

   
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Old 12-24-2005, 10:12 PM   #18
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I just tried out the MUD discworld. Since it's a well-known MUD based upon a popular theme, I tried to struggle through the rather boring newbie foyer. But then I had to find this brooch and give it to a womble. The newbiehelpers kept telling me that the womble is easy to find.

Well, after 20 boring as bat excrement minutes of trying to find the womble I thought "geez, this sucks".

I add that I hadn't, in all this, actually either played the geme proper or mad a character yet.

I struck the close button. Bye bye discworld. You suck. Or at least what i saw you did. Good riddance. I can 9only conclude that to play discworld one either has to have the patience of a saint, be a masochist who enjoys wasting time, or both.
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Old 12-24-2005, 10:41 PM   #19
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When you see them logging in because they played for 2 minutes and decided its crap, or quitting because the playerbase looks smaller than it did, just do what I do

* clench your teeth really hard
* pound your fists on the table furiously

It wont change anything, but it feels good to express anger.
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Old 12-24-2005, 10:59 PM   #20
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Eh, I found all that gave me was sore fists and dented desktops and the occasional bit tongue.   So instead we started cornering new folks and asking them what feedback they might give us.  The results were very revealing, and we have used this approach many times since then to smooth the game experience for newcomers.

We don't implement every single idea - not every single idea makes sense for us.    But when we do find that different people are suggesting the same aspect as a problem, we take a serious look at that aspect.

If your playerbase is not growing yet you have a large number of visitors (who appear to turn and depart after a certain point in the game), start asking them why. Set up exit polls, either on your site or directly in the game - ask them for their opinions in private - and thank them for taking the time to give their opinions.  Who knows.. you may find the one place in your otherwise perfect game that is turning a majority of new players away and fixing it may open the floodgates.

Happy season and peace, folks.
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