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Old 07-31-2007, 12:32 PM   #41
Isildur
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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Originally Posted by Lasher View Post
Although it received great feedback on release, the new forum is getting very little use. I'd love to hear feedback on why, if only to discover whether further investment in time on this site has any value to the MUD community.
Speaking as someone who is pretty active on some other forums that are specific to a particular MUD, I can tell you why I haven't been very motivated to post here. Basically it comes down to the fact that I don't know anyone else who posts here, so the "community" aspect is absent. Also, most of my involvement in other forums revolves around game-play and/or culture topics that are specific to one MUD. TMS is by definition aspecific, and I'm not sure there's any aspecific information I need/want.

Note: this isn't a knock on you, the site, or the forums. They seem to be designed well, and I'm sure there are intelligent and helpful people posting here.

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I think you will like the new MUD database and review system, fully integrated with the forum and its permission system, but if nobody cares one way or another that would also be good to know
When it comes to reviews, I think individual reviewers can post useful information, but I also admit there's a pretty low signal-to-noise ratio.
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Old 07-31-2007, 12:46 PM   #42
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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Indeed it would, but is that necessarily a bad thing? It's extra work for the admin, certainly, but it could also bring in a great deal of extra traffic to TMS and give free publicity to the mud in question. Players are going to complain and flame anyway, and I'd rather they did it here where (1) it's immediately brought to my attention, (2) I can refute or respond to their claims on neutral ground.

But I think the real question is whether Lasher wants to make TMS primarily a website for admin to promote their muds, or a website for players to find and review muds. If TMS is primarily aimed at mud owners, then it makes sense for mud owners to be able to switch off, control and/or filter reviews. If TMS is primarily aimed at players, then it makes sense to allow players to post their views about all muds.

Right now TMS is geared towards mud owners, and I suspect that's a big part of the reason why the traffic is fairly low. Most of the active posters are developers, while the players typically have little to discuss and usually only log on to vote. The only time I really see lots of players joining in the discussions is when one mud or another is being flamed.

As has been pointed out already, the Mud Connector has more active discussions than here - however its reviews are pretty quiet. I suspect this may have much to do with the moderated nature of their reviews compared with the unmoderated nature of their forums. There's not much point posting negative views about a mud if you know it'll just be removed (assuming it even makes it through the review filter), but if the forums are unmoderated you know you can vent your (non-libellous) frustrations without being censored.
Personally, I think the long-term life of TMS relies on the site being for players (and the encouragement of playing/supporting MUDs) rather than just a haven for MUD owners who want to protect their projects from bad reviews.

MUDs aren't like restaurants. They're effectively clubs people can join. TMS, in my opinion, should act as a sort of matching service, introducing newcomers to MUDs and giving veteran players information about which games are getting good word of mouth and which are getting slammed. I really like the idea of reviews that take into account questions about different criteria and then allow reviewers to add a full-fledged comment, if they like, while also giving others a chance to respond to those reviews.

As for how we might generate more activity in the forums - well, maybe we need to broaden our minds a little bit and do more brainstorming in the forums about how to find new outlets for publicity, potential new resources for players, and articles that spotlight games that are listed here.

Also, reinvigorating the Articles section - perhaps making it part of the forums - would help a lot too. I know that in the earliest days of TMS, Synozeer's efforts to get articles brought in a lot of voices from the MUD community and that helped build recognition for the site.
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Old 07-31-2007, 01:33 PM   #43
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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Originally Posted by Isildur View Post
Speaking as someone who is pretty active on some other forums that are specific to a particular MUD, I can tell you why I haven't been very motivated to post here. Basically it comes down to the fact that I don't know anyone else who posts here, so the "community" aspect is absent. Also, most of my involvement in other forums revolves around game-play and/or culture topics that are specific to one MUD. TMS is by definition aspecific, and I'm not sure there's any aspecific information I need/want.

Note: this isn't a knock on you, the site, or the forums. They seem to be designed well, and I'm sure there are intelligent and helpful people posting here.
Thanks for the insights Isildur, and absolutely not taken as a "knock" of any kind. You phrased my original question better than I did - there is no doubt that each MUD has a community, but is there really a "community" at the macro level? Is the shortage of activity a symptom of this site, or a symptom of MUDs in general? By definition each MUD is a silo that will develop it's path independently of others.

Most traffic to TMC is one of two kinds:

1. A player came to vote for their favorite MUD and may or may not stick around for a while to read a post/review/etc. Generally, someone coming to vote for their favorite MUD isn't in the market (right now) for a new MUD, but you hope your MUD somehow catches their attention (banners, rankings, forum posts, reviews, etc) then maybe they'll check you out later.

2. After Wikipedia, which ranks #1 for pretty much everything informational, TMC and TMS rank #1 and #2 for the phrases "MUD" and "MUDS" in Google. The other type of traffic is people interested in MUDs following those links and other links to TMS from various sites coming to learn more about MUDs, browse the database, read some reviews and maybe try a MUD out. I think we could do more to help these folks out with general information on MUDs, what the classifications really mean and, as Brody suggested, this is where a revived articles area could be a big help.

Most of the traffic is not active MUD players coming to discuss MUDs in general, because they don't care about MUDs in general, they only care about the MUD they play - until some time in the future when they might be interested in a new MUD for whatever reason. MUD Admins tend to care more about the kind of issues that affect MUDs at a global level and, if anything, that is why TMS is more aimed towards Admins. It would be interesting to hear if this was by design right from the start or if it just turned out that way - but I don't think Adam is around even lurking anymore...
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Old 07-31-2007, 01:57 PM   #44
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

I recall back in the day that the original design was pretty much for MUD owners to list their games and MUD players to vote/rank their favorite games and compete for the top spot each cycle. The forums became, more or less, a water cooler and free advertising venue.

Not for nothing, but I think a lot of the stagnation on TMS has been a result of a stagnation in the top tier of MUDs in the rankings. There's no competition, really. New games don't stand a chance of ever seeing the front page unless they pay for it through TMS advertising. The top games are always going to be the top games.

I think if there was some way to give other ranked games an opportunity to hit the front page - sort of like TMC's random MUD links - then the site might become a little more energized by visits from players and admin alike.
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Old 07-31-2007, 02:04 PM   #45
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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Originally Posted by Brody View Post

I think if there was some way to give other ranked games an opportunity to hit the front page - sort of like TMC's random MUD links - then the site might become a little more energized by visits from players and admin alike.
What might not be a bad idea too is to be able to enter your selection options when searching the database and have a "Random MUD that matches these options" link. This may already be how the TMC link works - not sure.
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Old 07-31-2007, 02:54 PM   #46
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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Originally Posted by Lasher View Post
2. After Wikipedia, which ranks #1 for pretty much everything informational, TMC and TMS rank #1 and #2 for the phrases "MUD" and "MUDS" in Google. The other type of traffic is people interested in MUDs following those links and other links to TMS from various sites coming to learn more about MUDs, browse the database, read some reviews and maybe try a MUD out. I think we could do more to help these folks out with general information on MUDs, what the classifications really mean and, as Brody suggested, this is where a revived articles area could be a big help.
I agree, and this is much of the angle I'm coming from here. If an undecided player comes here today, they're going to get a canned blurb from each MUD, the ability to read some advertising, and some discussions that are aimed at developers precisely because developers are virtually the only ones who use the boards. That limits the size of the site, the utility to advertisers (who wants to advertise to other MUD owners?), and the depth of the discussions. If more players felt like even a portion of the site catered to them, you might see improvement on those facets. Reviews strike me as a place which could naturally fill that niche.
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Old 07-31-2007, 03:28 PM   #47
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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I agree, and this is much of the angle I'm coming from here. If an undecided player comes here today, they're going to get a canned blurb from each MUD, the ability to read some advertising, and some discussions that are aimed at developers precisely because developers are virtually the only ones who use the boards. That limits the size of the site, the utility to advertisers (who wants to advertise to other MUD owners?)
Nobody wants to advertise to other MUD owners I'd imagine. Advertising here is valuable for 2 reasons, however, neither of which have anything to do with advertising to MUD owners but everything to do with what MUD owners do:
1. Lots of MUD owners send their players to it to vote.
2. TMS places highly in MUD-related searches because lots of MUD owners link to it.

You can theorize that somehow, magically, the forums are going to become a magnet for players but I don't really see a reason for it. There is no "mud community" I'm aware of despite how often that term is thrown around. There are "mud communities" oriented around the individual MUDs, and smaller communities of developers oriented around a few MUD forum sites.

I mean, just look at the popularity of MUD forums around the net. Achaea's forums alone are considerably larger than TMS or TMC's forums and Achaea didn't even put up official forums until 2004. When a single games forums (and I'm sure Achaea is not the only MUD with forums that size) are more popular than -any- general MUD-related forums that ought to tell you something about how MUD players in general view their community. Further, even with the size of Achaea's forums, most of its players don't participate in them, much less ever read or participate in general mud-related forums.

It's only natural and to be expected. You don't find an international "bar" community. You find communities around specific bars. You don't find an international "town" community. You find people generally more interested in the community OF their town. Similarly, players are just naturally more interested in the community around the world they call home. Disproportionately, it's developers who have a reason to participate in a meta-community, just like with most things (like a bar....bar owners may communicate and go to conferences or whatnot together, but their patrons don't).

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Old 07-31-2007, 03:40 PM   #48
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

Well, that's similar to arguing that there's no general MMORPG community and would only be communities around specific MMOs. While I agree, generally, that the specific community sites will be much busier, there are, in fact, pretty busy MMO community sites that help get the word out to prospective players about graphical MMOs.

I don't see why TMS/TMC couldn't serve as a similar kind of hub.
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Old 07-31-2007, 04:06 PM   #49
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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Well, that's similar to arguing that there's no general MMORPG community and would only be communities around specific MMOs. While I agree, generally, that the specific community sites will be much busier, there are, in fact, pretty busy MMO community sites that help get the word out to prospective players about graphical MMOs.

I don't see why TMS/TMC couldn't serve as a similar kind of hub.
Yes, there are somewhat busy MMO forum sites that are general MMOs. Of course, there are also magnitudes more people interested in graphical MMOs than text MUDs. What you want to look at is the ratio there, and it backs up what I'm saying. There is no general MMO forum that even approaches the size of the specific MMO forums. Scale that ratio down to the size of the text MUD market and you're back to what I wrote.

--matt
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Old 07-31-2007, 04:08 PM   #50
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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Yes, there are somewhat busy MMO forum sites that are general MMOs. Of course, there are also magnitudes more people interested in graphical MMOs than text MUDs. What you want to look at is the ratio there, and it backs up what I'm saying. There is no general MMO forum that even approaches the size of the specific MMO forums. Scale that ratio down to the size of the text MUD market and you're back to what I wrote.

--matt
I guess I'm more optimistic than I thought I was: My feeling is that the discussion here is geared toward trying to capture some aspect of what the graphical MMOs are getting. I don't think we'll see anything on the scale of graphical games, but I do think we can offer similar features as those general MMO sites and bring more MUD-related traffic here while continuing to grow the community.

Normally, I'm a happy skeptic. But...I think there's hope here
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Old 07-31-2007, 04:10 PM   #51
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

Bottom line - there's only one way to find out.
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Old 07-31-2007, 04:13 PM   #52
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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Bottom line - there's only one way to find out.
Quite true.
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Old 07-31-2007, 04:25 PM   #53
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

I checked out TMC's forums because of this thread, and honestly, they seem pretty dead to me as well.

If players are going to participate in a MUD forum, it is going to be a forum hosted by their MUD for discussions about their MUD. They aren't going to go to some general MUD site just to wallow in arcane discussions of game design and theory. That just won't interest most players.

Most people in games don't even participate in forums for their own game. I remember a few years back WoW released some data indicating that an exceptionally low percentage (I believe it was low single digits) of their players read the forums even once a month. In my own experience from reading WoW's forums, after a while I recognized a lot of the names of the posters, which speaks volumes considering that is a community of millions. That means very few people were actually posting.

Threshold's forums get hundreds of posts per day, and our community is not gigantic. We get significantly more traffic than TMC and TMS put together. I don't think this is anything special. I imagine the same is true for just about any MUD with a decent sized player base.

I think the only way to get players posting on TMS would be if you took the suggestion someone gave and let MUD admins have a sub-forum for their mud. Make them the moderator of it, and let them have up to 2-3 categories. Then you'll get people coming here to post about THEIR MUD with people from THEIR MUD. Then perhaps they'll browse over to some of the more general categories.

You aren't going to get players coming here to discuss general mud concepts. They just don't care enough. Most players just want to play and have fun... they don't want to analyze why they are or are not having fun.
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Old 07-31-2007, 05:36 PM   #54
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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Thanks for the insights Isildur, and absolutely not taken as a "knock" of any kind. You phrased my original question better than I did - there is no doubt that each MUD has a community, but is there really a "community" at the macro level?
I think you answer this further down in your post. There is one niche community that exists at the macro level, and that is the community of MUD admins.

I do agree that it benefits all MUDs for TMS & TMC to serve the "looking for a MUD" type of visitor as best as possible. I'm not sure exactly what that looks like, but I do think it benefits all MUDs in general for TMC/TMS to do as good a job as they can "selling" the concept of a text-based game.
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Old 07-31-2007, 07:01 PM   #55
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

I agree that most Mud players are basically only interested in the Muds they play, and also that the Forums of individual Mud are more busy than 'global' Forums like TMC and TMS. This is generally true even for a comparatively small Mud like my own.

However, I don't see that trying to target this phenomenon by offering individual discussion Forums for all listed Muds will work. For one thing the incentive for the players to check outside that Forum would be low, just as the incentive for the vote-only traffic to do anything more than click the vote button is low, (and even to do that, they usually need to be prompted in some way, most of them don't even like to interrupt their playing long enough to vote).

Secondly, setting up a discussion Forum nowadays is so easy that almost all established Muds already have their own Forums. In fact I've even seen many new Muds starting out with a Discussion Forum before they set up a website, because it's needs much less work on the Admin part.

Thirdly, I think that MudMagic already does something along those lines, and I don't see their open Forums as any more active than TMS and TMC - rather the contrary.

I think the only way to attract players in the content of the site, outside the ranking lists would be to offer things there that really interest them - and also to treat their posts and opinions with some basic respect. (In that context I don't see attitudes such as the one displayed by Threshold helping much).

I am however less pessimistic than other posters about the possibilities to attract players and not just Admin to Mud Sites. I actually believe that a 'Text Mud Community' does exist, even if it is rather loosearound the edges and not very homogeneous. It consists of the confirmed Mudders, who prefer text to graphics, and who eventually return to Text Muds even after having tried out MMORPGS for a year or two. I think most Admin can affirm that some of their 'lost sheep' return to their 'roots' after a year or two, declaring that they got bored by the graphics after a while.

I also remember that when I first got hooked by Muds myself, long before I became Admin, and even before I started building, I used to read everything on the net that was Mud related. Perhaps the content of the posts was different back then. Perhaps it was more geared towards issues interesting to player than Admin interests. I am really not sure, maybe other longtime posters have better memories. And if it really did change, maybe we should try to recreate the spirit that existed back around 1995 or so.

What I am pretty sure about however, is that most avid Mud players play more than one Mud. They generally have one that they consider their 'Home Mud' and that's where they usually log on every day, and hang out to chat with friends long after they stopped playing actively. Players are very loyal to their favorite Mud, but that doesn't stop them from occasionally testing others. They are usually a bit curious about what other Muds can offer, they 'shop around', compare features like skills and spells, usually don't stay long, but in some cases get hooked on the new place, and change their main 'Home'. Quite often our players mention features they have seen in other Muds, and want us to implement something similar. Also players 'shop around' when they get into bad conflicts with other players or even the Staff, when they have played a Mud so long that no challenges are left, when they don't like the changes that are implemented, or - in some cases - when they get banned for various reasons.

In all those cases reviews come in as a natural service to offer, since after all the info submitted by the Game owners often tends to be painted in somewhat too 'rosy' colors. Sure, reviews can be biased, but then again, so can the selected 'info' that the owners choose to display. Offering input from both Admin and players provides some kind of balance.

I definitely agree with those who have declared that reviews should be allowed for all games. It doesn't make sense that some games, (and apparently usually commercial ones) should be allowed to block out all player input. It just doesn't seem right and fair to me.

Good articles could be another way to attract players to the site. An observation in that context is, that if you want to to interest people in writing articles for the site, you should offer them at least some incentive, for instance a free banner for a short period. Writing a decent article means quite a bit of work and time that could be spent on other things. I wrote several articles for TMC myself in the past, but stopped when I realized that I got zilch in return for my effort - it just wasn't worth the effort. I suspect others felt the same, and this is why the submissions to the article section here drained to almost nothing years ago.
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Old 07-31-2007, 08:29 PM   #56
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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Not for nothing, but I think a lot of the stagnation on TMS has been a result of a stagnation in the top tier of MUDs in the rankings. There's no competition, really. New games don't stand a chance of ever seeing the front page unless they pay for it through TMS advertising. The top games are always going to be the top games.

I think if there was some way to give other ranked games an opportunity to hit the front page - sort of like TMC's random MUD links - then the site might become a little more energized by visits from players and admin alike.
What about something like a review where some of the smaller and or newer muds are given the opportunity to be a "featured" MUD of the week/month?

All MUDs could be invited to submit an article about their MUD to be used on the front page and a different one is selected randomly each month/week to be the "featured" MUD
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Old 07-31-2007, 08:53 PM   #57
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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Originally Posted by Lasher View Post
Bottom line - there's only one way to find out.

Sure, and I'm not trying to convince you otherwise. I'm just suggesting that predicating decisions about TMS on the assumption that players of text MUDs are going to gather in large numbers to talk about text MUDs in general rather than 'their' MUD may not be a particularly good idea if trying to reach those theoretical users alienates existing traffic sources.
--matt
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Old 07-31-2007, 09:07 PM   #58
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

I think a more robust review system such as Lasher talked about will be great. And it wouldn't be a bad idea for people to start writing serious reviews of muds that have their reviews turned off, and then post the reviews to the forums.
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Old 07-31-2007, 09:13 PM   #59
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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Sure, and I'm not trying to convince you otherwise. I'm just suggesting that predicating decisions about TMS on the assumption that players of text MUDs are going to gather in large numbers to talk about text MUDs in general rather than 'their' MUD may not be a particularly good idea if trying to reach those theoretical users alienates existing traffic sources.
--matt
If any post comes across with the motive of taking traffic away from their current MUDs that was not intended. If you read my earlier posts you will see clear acknowledgment that most players only care about the MUDs they play, not MUDs in general. If attempting to rebuild some activity on this site alienates someone, so be it.

Ironically, I've been quite happy with the activity this week - I'm not looking for a site with a million or even a thousand posts a day. I'm not looking to displace any other site or resource from whatever position they hold. I'm looking for a site (or in this case, forum) with enough people getting value out of the work that is going into it to make it worthwhile continuing. That was the reason for the original question/comment.
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Old 07-31-2007, 09:35 PM   #60
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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If any post comes across with the motive of taking traffic away from their current MUDs that was not intended. If you read my earlier posts you will see clear acknowledgment that most players only care about the MUDs they play, not MUDs in general. If attempting to rebuild some activity on this site alienates someone, so be it.

Ironically, I've been quite happy with the activity this week - I'm not looking for a site with a million or even a thousand posts a day. I'm not looking to displace any other site or resource from whatever position they hold. I'm looking for a site (or in this case, forum) with enough people getting value out of the work that is going into it to make it worthwhile continuing. That was the reason for the original question/comment.
Cool.

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