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Old 04-20-2004, 11:50 PM   #1
Luthien
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Unhappy

There's a somewhat similar post out there with statistics, but I'm interested in seeing if people could help give a little advice. I help run a MUD that has a very fluctuating pbase. Over the years I have seen it go from averaging 15+ to averaging 1 or 0...though the vast majority seems to be the latter. What's curious to me is that the vast majority of people who login and stay for a while say they absolutely love our MUD....and then eventually they too disappear.

A little background:
We're a RP MUD,
We're Smaug,
We're theme based,
and we've tried to have some clever options that nobody else in the theme seems to have.

The curse seems to be that you need players to GET players. So how do you get out of this awful loop?
Word of mouth seems for us to be the best way to get people that stay around for a while, but in these days where more and more people are switching from text based games to things like EverCrack, or other MMORPGs, or just don't have time...it's getting harder and harder to find people.

People will occasionally show up from Mudconnector, and we've gotten a few from TMS here over the couple year's we've had a listing. Without having a lot of consistant people for them to interact with, they tend to not necessarily stay long.

I suppose it's tough being a RP MUD out there when your main focus lies there. We've recently tried shifting to give a better balance between the code people and the RP people but...well I suppose it's too early to tell there.

So, I ask you people who run successful MU*'s, how do you do it? I don't want to steal trade secrets or your players or anything, I'm just curious about how successful places get successful and stay successful.

Cheers,
-Luthien
tsos.rarcoa.com
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Old 04-21-2004, 01:18 AM   #2
erdos
 
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O Luthien Tinuviel!
More fair than mortal tongue can tell!

Surely thy father has taught ye the Ainulindale?
Wherein is sung:
Quote:
Originally Posted by
"Mighty are the Ainur, and mightiest among them is Melkor; but that he may know, and all the Ainur, that I am Iluvatar, those things that ye have sung, I will show them forth, that ye may see what ye have done. And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined."
For surely here lies the answer to your problem!  A world too beloved hath only superficial beauty; true beauty is born amidst strife and nurtured by sorrow.  Thus I see that you struggle over hard to make your MUD too favorable an environment.  Have ye made leveling super-easy?  Or enabled pcolor tokens everywhere?  Then no wonder!  Such things appeal momentarily to weak players, but nothing binds them to your mud.

But fill your MUD with treachery, difficulty, frustration, corruption and scandal, and place thyself above the mortals, as a Goddess who pays little heed to their pathetic complaints and suggestions, and lo:  slowly you will grow, but those who come will stay, being bound to the MUD forever.

(This post will make little sense to those who haven't read the Silmarillion, from which Luthien apparently took her name.)
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Old 04-21-2004, 03:47 AM   #3
Hephos
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"Sharune, addicting people!"

You need to have a good vision Joking with a nokia line here. "Nokia, connecting people." Which is actually a good line for a mud too.

But seriously, does your game have things for players that makes them have fun at all time?

Does it include lots of element with socialization? (Muds are actually a community for socialization more than a game imo).

Is your game too similar to other games? Why would someone play YOUR game rather than the large games such as achaea, aardwolf and so on?

Is your game addictive enough?
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Old 04-21-2004, 04:07 AM   #4
Traithe
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Hey,

Though I'm no expert on these things I think Hephos really hit the nail on the head when he mentioned community-building. No matter how good your MUD's code or building is, there will always be something better and more sophisticated out there - it's just the way things work, no matter how much we coders might not like to accept it. The thing that really keeps people coming back is the community that's built up around the game.

From a coding perspective I can offer a couple tips that seemed to have worked very well for us in the year or so we've been open to the public.

First, establish ways to keep track of your players, not just their characters. Specifically, an account system with a required valid email address. This will allow you to keep in touch with your users, even after they've long since logged in once and forgotten about you. Send out weekly mailings detailing your progress and including vital code and building updates, to keep people interested enough to read them. Of course, be sure to include a link in the email that will allow your users to unsubscribe with a single click, because even though they -did- sign up for an account and agree to receive these letters, nobody likes having emails they don't read crammed down their throat.

Once you've gotten this account system up and running, hook it into a forum. We used phpBB; its mySQL backend makes this a fairly trivial task for any competent coder, especially if your game already makes use of it in other systems. This serves two main purposes, as I see it: first, it means that every user who registers for your MUD is also able to log into your forums and join the discussions, and is nudged in that direction. Second, it provides accountability, which is important on any civil forum: specifically, while their characters will be unknown to other players and they will only be known by their account handle, game staff will know who they play and can thus monitor them effectively.

Something else that has also seemed to work well for us, from a policy-based standpoint: create a rule on your forum that prohibits flaming. I'm no fan of censorship, but all free-speech jockeying aside it almost never fails that any time someone wants to protect something they say on a forum under the guise of "free speech" it's some sort of trollish remark intended to simply stir up ill will and derail productive discussion. Instituting and enforcing a rule against such things has worked wonders in turning our forum into a valuable resource for both information and discourse, rather than the breeding pit for resentment and flamewars that I've seen them degenerate into elsewhere.

And a final bit of advice before I quit blowing hot air: be proud of the work you do, and be engaged in the creative process. If you aren't going to get excited about your own project, it's hard to imagine anyone else doing so. We did our own thing and chugged along pretty much completely playerless for the first year and a half, but by the time we opened people had taken notice and started getting involved. It sorta snowballed after that, and while we've by no means got the playerbase a number of other MUDs out there do it's definitely getting to the point where sometimes (most of the time?) I wish they would all just go away so I could get back to my coding without dealing with all the issues players bring, heh.

But, that's another topic.

Anyway, hope the ramble helped. Good luck.


T.
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Old 04-22-2004, 12:41 AM   #5
Luthien
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Angry

I think Hephos has the comment that makes the most sense to me, though it is the most frustrating as well. When you have a MUD that is focused mostly on RP, how do you keep people sufficiently interested when..well when there's not so many people around to RP with? That's the bread and butter, that's the spice. People don't really always say why they came to our MUD other than "I found it on Mudconnector," or "A friend told me," but they say they stay for a few things, like the RP, but it's one of the more frustrating things for them too. I feel like I'm trying to play a very tight balancing act between pushing it to total RP and alienating 90% of all people who ever login, and letting it go too soft and alienating some of the die-hards.

I mean...socialization, we've structured it code and rulewise so you pretty much have to interact with other players to really amount to very much. It's possible to do it without, but it's very hard.

Oh, and Erdos? Yeah, I know the name appears there, but I found the inspiration from R.A. Salvatore's book series.
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Old 04-22-2004, 12:54 AM   #6
Frax
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Well, Luthien, I took a bit of a look at your website and it doesn't exactly grip me to log on. I almost always look online first and try to plan out my char before logging in. It would help me be more likely to play if there were more info there for reading.  Just a suggestion, as I may log on anyway. Good luck building a Pbase.
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Old 04-28-2004, 10:28 PM   #7
Iluvatar
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Erdos always cracks me up when he's being civil but he does have a bit of a point as does Hephos. Community is the thing I see as a powerful addicting hold especially when it plays out like a soap opera and the more disharmony, the greater the attraction. But like you said, it's pretty much a catch-22 type situation.

Considering Erdo's reference, build and caress the music of your world without regard for how many actually show up to play it on a daily basis. If you put your heart into it, they will eventually come and add to your symphony. It's a labor of love and a hobby and a pretty good way to show off your writing skills and imagination. Sooner or later people will discover it especially if you advertise a bit.
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Old 04-28-2004, 11:03 PM   #8
caspin00
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Well I'm not really a coder, but I am a player so perhaps I can add my two cents. Personally from the sound of your website I'd love your mud, except for the fact that it's WoT. WoT is a strange setting cause it's a series that is so original that unless a player has read a good portion, it seems almost alien. I myself have read the first three books and I still don't even know what most the races are. If your absolutly commited to a WoT mud (it has great potential as a setting) then what I would do is perhaps as an intro give a small background of what's going on in the world. Also I noticed that some of your help topics on races are kinda strange. Example is I typed help on one and it said taller then x but shorter then y, when unless I know WoT I don't know how tall x and y are... So all in all I don't think it' a problem with your mud but rather your setting, while WoT is a great setting you have to face the fact that it has a somewhat limited audiance, which is already being taken by some of the larger muds in the genre.
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Old 04-30-2004, 05:02 PM   #9
dragon master
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Well, here are the two main things that made me decide not to play, maybe these are some reasons other players leave too:

1. Too confusing. I don't know much about WOT and the game doesn't help to explain much. Also, many of the game features are different then most muds and lack helpfiles. There are also places that say to read a certain help file for more information and the help file doesn't exist.

2. Nobody to RP with. I know this is hard to do anything about with so few people but I was on once when there were around 10 people and couldn't find a single one anywhere. Maybe you could have a tavern or something that people can go to to find other players to rp with.

Maybe you could add more helpfiles and make them more extensive. I think that would be the main improvement that could be made so you'll scare off less players.
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