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Old 04-13-2006, 02:46 AM   #1
nass
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Hello,

Just as an introduction, I've been involved with MUDs for about 10 years or so and I've never paid a dime for any sort of in-game perk in my life. And, since there seems to be a lot of discussion of profitmaking and non-profit muds, I'd like to get a better idea of what we're talking about here, and the sums involved etc.

For example, what can be bought on such muds - is it bits of gear that never wear out and you never lose, is it skills, is it gold? Are the items the same cost to all people? How are they sold - is it just a brochure of stuff? I just dunno, and I'd definitely appreciate it if some of you Achaea, Lusternia, Aetolia, Imperian and Medievia folks could chime in and put my profoundly clueless self out of my misery.

Cheers!
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Old 04-13-2006, 03:40 AM   #2
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My original post were so off-topic i'll change it...
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Old 04-13-2006, 06:33 AM   #3
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While I know the IRE system, I'll let one of their guys explain it.

Persistent Realms first game, Ilyrias, will focus on politics, customization and PvP. We will use a pay-for-perks system. What we will sell is called Angelstone, for IG purposes this is an extremely rare mineral with semi-magical properties.

Player crafters, which almost everything will be player built, can use it for different things. A forger could augment weapons and armour to increase it's strength(to a certain point) and make it so it never breaks or decays. An enchanter could use it in some of his more powerful enchantments, or an alchemist could grind it down to make potions. Two such potions are learning ones(more lessons to increase skills faster, only so many can be drank a day) and a potion of bonding(dip player created item into potion, sip potion it resets to you). A locksmith could make an unpickable lock, a carpenter could make unbreakable doors. And many other things.

There will also be a NPC Master enchanter that can enchant spells into items that are beyond the powers of a player, and he will charge Angelstone to do it. In order to enchant an item, it must be player crafted, and already enchanted by a player to be non-decay.

One other thing we have planned, to fit in with our heavy focus on customization(to the point of player created city-states, though that is the hardest one to accomplish), players can purchase the right to design their own skillsets. To even have the chance they must be the leader of a large(and active) organization(be it a clan, city, order, guild, etc all of which are player created and managed), and then purchase the license to design a new skillset. We will work with the players to design the skillset, and give them up to three resubmits. Obviously we will be worried about originality of the skills, if it fits thier RP and the world of Ilyrias, and over all balance. After three submits, we will do what we can to keep their original intention but will modify it as needed to fit the world and for balance. Skills bought in this manner(besides those that we design and add on our own) will remain limited to that organization only(we have a classless system) for a certain length of time(atleast six RL months), and then will become a public skill(as in anyone can choose it). Certain organizations can get skills that stay theirs forever, such as a Divine Order that is building a skill specifically for their god(though it will sap some of the gods power as well).

Angelstone, being a mineral/ore, can be mined IG. It will be rare and hard to find, and hard to actually mine without destroying it. The way our skill system works, you will have to mine a certain type of ore a lot to get better at doing it. It will be possible, and I expect in time there will be some people that spend most of their time trying to find and mine it. No, there will be no set amount of Angelstone that can be mined, it will be purely random. If the player is in the right type of environment for it, and is strong enough in mining, he could just find it(granted he'd have to be pretty lucky too).

The most common ways to get Angelstone will be buying it, from us or for gold from other players. Aside from that there will be contests, lotteries, etc where you can have a chance to win it and also things such as mortal building that you can earn it.

Wow, that was a huge post... I hope that gives you a good idea of what types of things we will sell, and what advantages it does give. Of course, we will give ways for non-paying people to gather Angelstone on their own. It will be a time versus money situation. If you have the time, you can earn Angelstone IG without spending anything, if you don't have the time you can purchase it to get a heads up. Keep in mind that our PvP system is designed that player skill, to include skill level/persons ability/and effectiveness(gained through usage of that ability), will be what wins the fight. Even if you spend a ton of money, you will not become a godly fighter over night, you'll still have to learn and work at it to become good. The only place that the money will make a difference, is between two people of equal knowledge(ability).
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Old 04-13-2006, 07:14 AM   #4
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Simutronics sells a whole lot of things (Simu runs Gemstone, Dragonrealms, and a few others).

1) Monthly fee, which is paying for the privilege of playing the game at all. It isn't a "right" since people can be banned if they violate policy.

2) A higher monthly fee than #1, granting them access to merchants and "events" that lower-paying members aren't entitled to, and discounts on assorted things including their yearly convention.

3) Game weddings - characters can get married in the game, but if you want one hosted by a staff member, it costs extra. And for even MORE money, you can have a honeymoon in an area created just for the purpose (translation: if you want mudsex with atmosphere, it costs more).

4) Semi-canned quests. Meaning, the areas and mobs for these quests are already coded in, but a staff member (or a few) run the quest rather than having an NPC spout out a script.

5) "Customized" equipment and fluff. Called alterations, you might be able to turn your "steel dagger" into a "wickedly edged green steel blade of grass with a bejewelled pommel surrounded by a crown of thorny vines." Yes, you have to pay extra if you want to be tacky.

6) The Convention, known as SimuCon. I'm told this year it's cancelled, but basically you pay several hundred dollars, -plus- airfare and hotel. You go to St. Louis, get a tour of the Simutronics headquarters, attend seminars where the staff members tell you about all the things that are coming "real soon now" (translation: if the staff member who came up with this idea doesn't keel over from old age first, we MIGHT think about implementing this idea within the next 2 decades). You get to attend a dinner at the hotel, wear costumes, hear David Whatley tell you how much he loves you (Whatley is the founder and president of Simutronics), see a couple of skits performed by some of the players, and drink. Lots of drinking. People falling down in the hallways and just staying there all night drinking.
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Old 04-13-2006, 07:25 AM   #5
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In talking with one Simu player, he said just to be in any good Admin run event you have to pay... They really leech money for everything.
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Old 04-13-2006, 07:48 AM   #6
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First off let me state that I feel it is a player's choice to play a game that they can pay for or pay extra for extras. Not everyone's cup of tea, but I bear no grudge against any game just because it is pay-2-play or pay-4-perks.

I hold no "high horse" "mud community" opinion that all games should be free. I like free games and have helped code and run a few over the years. I have also played and worked on a few pay-2-plays.

Quote:
Originally Posted by (Baram @ April 13 2006,08:25)
In talking with one Simu player, he said just to be in any good Admin run event you have to pay... They really leech money for everything.
I also played Simutronics Games for years. I freely admit it. It took me a while to quit cold-turkey. $12.95 per month for one character for standard account. Player base of around 400-1200 people online for many years. Lots of oppurtunity for role-play.

Years ago they used to state that premium and special purchases (ie quests, alterations, special item merchants) would not have an impact on gameplay. They no longer try to state that at all.

They do sell many, many things. One the last things that rubbed me wrong was a "new town" that only premium (higher paying customers) could have access to. I felt that restricting persisting hunting grounds and towns to an OOC element like payment harmed role-play. What IC explanation could there be?

They do run free world-wide and smaller admin-ran quests. But they seemed to be more focused on the "upsells" (extra paid events) toward the end of my time there.

Their money and generosity did not flow both ways. I pretty well designed (system wise) a myriad of skills and systems, both on the forums and in emails with the staff. Never one dime or bit of credit was given, other then once getting a forum "Thank you" from one staff member. [/bitterness]
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Old 04-13-2006, 07:56 AM   #7
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Come join our forums, where posting idea's for Ilyrias and PvP skills will not only get you a "Thank you" but feedback and perks. When we do a closed beta we will select some forums members that we found to be helpful, and at some point we may pick up some team members who's main job is to help design and flush out skill sets. Those picked up to be on the team will recieve some Angelstone for their first character(amount based on amount and quality of their idea's). Ok... Enough shameless plugging for one post
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Old 04-13-2006, 10:05 AM   #8
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I used to run a role-play intensive pay-per-play game. We charged an all encompassing $10/month that paid for three character slots, access to six scheduled weekly events, auctions, gladitorial games, costume parties, craft fairs, weddings, custom player homes/shops, and many other things. Unfortunately, we never could field a staff large enough to support everything we wanted to do, so those of us who did the work burned out badly. It was full-time for two of us and we didn't get rich. Far from.

We had both played multiple pay games over the years and were determined to be different. We didn't want to be Simutronics and dredge money out of every game experience. It was our belief that one price should cover everything, that if we offered a quality product with fun in-game opportunities and charged one, reasonable price that people would appreciate it and flock our way. It never happened, for various reasons.

But I do have a point, and my point is, I can see both sides. Designing  and running events and maintaining customer service takes a ton of time and hard work. Building areas/mechanics for quests or dozens of items for auctions, running merchant events, doing everything it takes to pull off a nice wedding or taking the time to organize/prepare gladitorial games  takes ability and effort. And I have absolutely no problem someone charging for those  kinds of "services."

The way I see it, you get a lot of entertainment value out of the $12.95 you pay Simutronics every month. The game is there for you, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Compare that to a night at the movies, some popcorn and a drink, by yourself. You're over $10 right there. A ticket to a college sports event is going to set you back $15, BARE MINIMUM. Three DVD rentals at Blockbuster puts you over twelve bucks. I guess the value of an entertainment dollar is in the eye of the beholder, and to me, a professionally run text RPG is a pretty good deal.

Where I differ with companies like Simutronics is that I disagree that these games should be cash cows, and when you charge players piecemeal for all the coolest stuff that happens in the game, that's what it says to me that you believe. A game publisher deserves reimbursement for his work, but not hundreds of thousands of dollars. In my mind, that ambition contradicts everything that the game is supposed to be about.

There's something to be said about the laws of economics, though. Simutronics and IRE seem to be doing very well with their business models, so who's to say? As long as there are people willing to pay the price, how can it be wrong?

My New Place Will Be Free
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Old 04-13-2006, 10:18 AM   #9
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I'd be interested to hear more about your experience in running a commercial mud, expecially places that were difficult and your final reasons(I'm assuming it's closed) for closing.

If you're willing to discuss it send me an email (joe -at- persistentrealms.com) or message me here, no need to hijack this thread so quickly, heh.
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Old 04-13-2006, 10:34 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Baram @ April 13 2006,08:25)
They really leech money for everything.
I wonder you can say that with a straight face... lol

To try and answer the OP though...

Generally the things muds sell players can be divided into two categories; those which directly affect gameplay, and those which don't. Examples of the former would be increased skills, stats or powerful items. The latter would include housing, pets, custom clothing and items.

Some people feel that selling items which can affect gameplay is unfair, and that is what a lot of the controversy you are reading is about. The success of the IRE model is that pretty much everything is for sale. Whatever type of player you are, there is something they can sell you to make your gaming experience better.

I would be interested to know that the income split between tangible and intangible items is in the IRE games, and also the proportion of income from proportion of the playerbase. I would guess they make a hell of a lot more from tangibles, and also that the vast majority of their money comes from a small hardcore element of their playerbase. Of course I doubt Matt is going to tell...
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Old 04-13-2006, 11:01 AM   #11
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IRE also makes money selling to anyone who creates a MUD using the Rapture Engine that they designed. And it is a very LARGE amount of money.

IRE has many ways to make money, and I assume besides Sim/Gemstone/etc(which really does leech as absolute much money from their players as possible, having an in-game wedding costs over 100 dollars), that IRE brings in the largest profit of any MUDing company.

Unfortunately they do not use that money to better the entire community, which is their right(the right to make a profit). It just puts them at odds with most of the community which just wants to see MUDing as a whole flourish.
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Old 04-13-2006, 11:36 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (cron0s @ April 13 2006,11:34)
Of course I doubt Matt is going to tell...
You are correct, sirrah. That information is quite valuable.

--matt
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Old 04-13-2006, 11:44 AM   #13
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Briefly, they sell success, defined however their playerbase defines it. The heart of the model is making a game that would normally be considered too difficult, then putting the shortcuts up for a price. The advertising challenge is making it look like you can succeed without paying money, without providing that opportunity for less than a Herculean effort.

Let's say getting a skill to its highest level would normally take 40 hours of monotonous work. If someone offered you the opportunity to skip it for $2, you have 3 options:

1) Pay $2.
2) Grind for 40 hours.
3) Don't play.

Option #2 is a terrible option-- almost anyone's time is worth far more than that. You've thusly created a de facto pay-to-play system with a front-end illusion of free-ness. Once you get people invested in playing, you can gradually reduce the impact of $2 until you find a saddle point where (participation * dollars/participant) maxes out. Each sale bootstraps the next-- it's harder to walk away from a character when you've already spent $50 or $500 on it.

This model isn't just applicable to game mechanics, of course. You can sell political power in a pure roleplaying game (hold an auction where the winner gets first pick of the "parts"), sell access to locations in an exploration-themed game, etc.

The trick is offering just enough to take Option #3 off the table for some of your players.
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Old 04-13-2006, 11:48 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Valg @ April 13 2006,12:44)
Briefly, they sell success, defined however their playerbase defines it.
Noooo, that is how you drive players away. Selling success is a short-term fix that will bite you in the long-run.

Sell the tools to help someone achieve success, but don't sell them "level 100" or "overlord of a city-state" or whatnot.

--matt
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Old 04-13-2006, 11:51 AM   #15
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While I don't really agree with Valg's wording, he does have it down to the absolute basics.

If you are a Roleplaying enforced game, then selling anything related to that is what you will do.

If you are a PvP game, then selling things to increase your ability in PvP is what you do.

Etc.

And he is right(though his probably randomly picked numbers are a bit extreme), the idea in that kind of system is to find a balance between cost to purchase(money) and cost to earn(time), while still keeping both options viable enough so people don't leave.

And to the other person, who's name I forget right now, my comment was on topic. What does Simutronics sell? Anything they can get people to pay for.
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Old 04-13-2006, 05:32 PM   #16
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Ultimately, what is being sold in total is the cost of operating the game, paying the staff, and continuing to develop the game. Some games do this via a flat monthly fee (WoW, Everquest, etc.), some do it via advertising (Neopets), and some do it through perks or credits (IRE, Roma Victor).

The different models spread the cost amongst their customers differently, and some people prefer one model to another. The flat fee system results in everyone paying the same amount, but clearly people do not benefit equally nor do they use resources equally. Some people play 22 hours a day and some pay 22 hours a month. Both types pay the same $15. The advertising system results in people paying nothing, and in exchange they view advertisements (whether they are just a banner, or actual ads that have to be viewed periodically, or whatnot). The pay-for-perks system generally allows some people to pay a lot more than others - often people with less time to play the game. People can determine their own level of financial and time investment.

There are pros and cons to all models. The good thing is, there are many games of each type which gives players a lot of choices.

Choice is a good thing for the consumer.
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Old 04-13-2006, 07:22 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Threshold @ April 13 2006,18:32)
The pay-for-perks system generally allows some people to pay a lot more than others - often people with less time to play the game.
This seems to be a widely held belief, but I am not sure that it is true. I would bet that many of the biggest buyers on pay for perks muds are also those that play the most often.
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Old 04-14-2006, 04:54 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (cron0s @ April 13 2006,20:22)
Quote:
Originally Posted by (Threshold @ April 13 2006,18:32)
The pay-for-perks system generally allows some people to pay a lot more than others - often people with less time to play the game.
This seems to be a widely held belief, but I am not sure that it is true. I would bet that many of the biggest buyers on pay for perks muds are also those that play the most often.
For more explicit data, you'd probably need to ask admins who run those sites.

I was recently reading an article in The Escapist and the creator of Roma Victor (a pretty big MMO that operates on a pure pay-for-perks style system) indicates that many of the folks who spend the most money are those who don't have as much time to play.

While it is true that in some cases, the people spending a lot of money in that system are people that log a lot of hours, doesn't that make sense? I think some games are trying to address the disparity in value that exists when a 22 hr/day player and a 22 hr/month player are both paying the same $15 per month.
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Old 04-14-2006, 04:58 PM   #19
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Here is the article I was talking about:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/print/40/3
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Old 04-15-2006, 07:00 AM   #20
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Here's how our system works in Medievia...

We have a list of Donation Items that can be 'bought' in exchange for money that will aid your character in the game. I won't go into the particulars of each item here but if you click the link above you will be able to view the complete list. If a person cannot afford to send us money, they can do what is called a 'donation deal' with another player in which they exchange game gold and/or equipment in exchange for donation items.

That's it... pretty straightforward really.
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