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Old 08-06-2007, 05:11 PM   #1
Milawe
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Ganking MMO*s

We've touched on this topic briefly in another thread. Some believe that MU* games are a dying breed that are slowly being crushed out of existence by MMOs, but I think that a lot of us believe that MU* offer something that MMOs are incapable of offering such as enforced roleplaying, persistent worlds and plotlines, and non-static character development. In addition, I think most people agree that the mudding community tends to be a tad bit more mature about their gaming environment than some of the MMOs that do not even bother to deal with name violations on RP servers.

The great thing about MMOs, or one in particular, is that they have now drawn in a ton of players that didn't exist for online gaming at all. Now, after taking the initial hit of population drop from World of Warcraft, shouldn't the mudding community be able to draw from WoW and the graphical game community? I know when I was playing WoW, there were always people looking for "more" from the game: more content, more flexibility, more immersion, etc. I often suggest text games to these people, and I'd say that the majority of them had no idea what text online gaming was about or that it even existed. I sent several people to look at various websites, and they always came back impressed with the content and the stories. It's just VERY hard to get people to initially understand why there are so many people involved and interested in text gaming.

Is there anything the MUDding community can do as a whole to attract these players? Once upon a time, the people who were playing MMOs had usually played MU* or had done some sort of online gaming before their first MMO*. Now, some people have never done any gaming, let alone online gaming, before playing WoW. Will all commercial MUDs ultimately have to go the way of graphical MMOs, or can MU* ever successfully draw from the MMO community?
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Old 08-06-2007, 05:30 PM   #2
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Re: Ganking MMO*s

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Originally Posted by Mina View Post
Is there anything the MUDding community can do as a whole to attract these players? Once upon a time, the people who were playing MMOs had usually played MU* or had done some sort of online gaming before their first MMO*. Now, some people have never done any gaming, let alone online gaming, before playing WoW. Will all commercial MUDs ultimately have to go the way of graphical MMOs, or can MU* ever successfully draw from the MMO community?
It depends on how you define successfully. A mass migration of MMO players to MUDs is unlikely, but I do believe a good amount of MMO players would be interested in MUDs if only they knew about them.

The "imbalance" so to speak is all down to exposure. Pretty much all MUD owners were exposed to MMO marketing, discussion and information and a percentage of them were bound to be drawn away. Most MMO players have not been exposed to MUDs and what they are about, leaving us with the challenge of getting the information in front of them. Anyone know Matt Stone or Trey Parker?
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Old 08-06-2007, 05:46 PM   #3
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Re: Ganking MMO*s

As I posted elsewhere, this is an inefficient way to attract people to muds.

MUD players are readers. They are attracted to the written (or typed) word. I can't think of any better place to attract a would-be mudder than a public library. People who LOVE to read, who LOVE becoming engrossed in a story, are the -most- likely to enjoy roleplaying a character in an ongoing story such as a MUD. People who LOVE to read, are found in greater numbers in libraries. If you want to extoll the virtues of the online text-based roleplaying game, why not volunteer to participate in a "fantasy-lover's book club" at your local library, in a "special session" between books? Or even better, create a "Fantasy-lover's book club" and when the club is finished with one book, and before moving to another, do a whole series on muds; what they are, maybe printed screen-shots, etc. etc. etc.
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Old 08-06-2007, 06:21 PM   #4
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Re: Ganking MMO*s

I'm actually recruited from my writer's group, but ultimately, that ended my writer's group for me. I got so many questions about game design and game administration that it ate up all my writing critique time.

I don't think that going to gamers is a dead end at all. It's harder to get people to log onto a computer than to get people who are already logged on to read. The problem, in my opinion, is simply that lots of the people who play MMOs don't have any idea that MUDs even exist as a game and a viable option for gaming. Doesn't it make sense to try to get the people who are already online and interested in gaming than people who are NOT online, may not even have a computer, and love reading so much that they regularly go to a library to log on? I'm not saying that there's no reason not to do both, but I do believe that MU* admins need to be thinking of ways to tap into the MMO market.
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Old 08-06-2007, 06:39 PM   #5
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Re: Ganking MMO*s

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Originally Posted by Mina View Post
I sent several people to look at various websites, and they always came back impressed with the content and the stories. It's just VERY hard to get people to initially understand why there are so many people involved and interested in text gaming.
Are those people still playing MUDs? It is one thing to get impressed and another to actually play the games. I have experienced often that it is tough to get people who play graphical rpgs to also stay with text MUDs.

Quote:
Is there anything the MUDding community can do as a whole to attract these players? Once upon a time, the people who were playing MMOs had usually played MU* or had done some sort of online gaming before their first MMO*. Now, some people have never done any gaming, let alone online gaming, before playing WoW. Will all commercial MUDs ultimately have to go the way of graphical MMOs, or can MU* ever successfully draw from the MMO community?
Advertising MUDs could help, and post news about what happens in the community. For example did you know that Zugg Software was at SOE Fan Faire(Zugg Software :: View topic - Zugg will be attending the SOE Fan Faire on Aug 2-5th)? Appearently he also tried to promote cMUD/zMUD there which means he promoted MUDs as well.

By trying to be creative and lead development of mmrpg gameplay design MUDs can also get more attention. In graphical games there seems often to be a lot of focus on graphics and sometimes I ask myself if gameplay suffers from it. On the other hand a 3D world might open gameplay that isn't easy to achieve in a text world.
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Old 08-06-2007, 08:00 PM   #6
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Re: Ganking MMO*s

Wow, that's cool that Zugg went to Sony Fan Faire. That kind of thing is great for MUDs.

I don't see libraries as being a particularly effective place to recruit gamers. The overwhelming majority of people there have absolutely no interest in gaming, and a significant percentage are not even into computers. That doesn't mean it hurts to drop off flyers or other promotional materials. It doesn't take much time to do so and getting information out there about MUDs never hurts.

MMO players already like gaming, and even in a graphical game reading is still a significant part of the experience (reading chat channels to coordinate activities, reading combat logs, reading descriptions of abilities, reading web site forums to understand your character development paths, etc.). That may change somewhat when voice chat is more common, but for now reading is still a major part of MMO gaming. Almost everyone on the internet enjoys or is interested in reading to some extent. That is why the Web and email are such killer apps.

You have to figure out what is the most important (or most critically necessary) desire that has to be present in a subset of people to create the opportunity for members of that group to try MUDs. I believe the most important factor is that the group be people interested in online gaming. That is the biggest hurdle you have to get over when trying to target your marketing.

If you go to book stores, libraries, reading groups, etc. you have only gotten past the "I like to read" barrier. You haven't gotten very far yet (unfortunately). While MMO players often respond with the immediate "I prefer graphics" mantra, even for them graphics are not the ONLY element of gameplay. There is at least the possibility they might at some point put gameplay and feature variety above graphics when choosing a game to try.

This leaves us with MMOs and gaming web sites as our two best bets for exposing new people to MUDs. The $64,000 question of course is HOW to interest those people in MUDs.

In fact, that question is the actual subject of this thread. The question of whether or not it is worth recruiting from MMOs is probably best done in its own thread to keep this one on topic.
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Old 08-06-2007, 08:07 PM   #7
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Re: Ganking MMO*s

I keep thinking about putting together a site that promotes text MUDs in general but doesn't try to siphon people away from TMC or TMS.

What I'd envision would be a site that's designed as a PR tool for text MUDs and as a way to funnel people into them. It'd have to be an attractive site that immediately spells out why someone who doesn't know what a text MUD is should care. Then it should send them somewhere to play them, which is where some of the potential trouble comes in.

I'm not sure that just pointing people at TMC and TMS is the way to go, particularly because they're not really organized to present to people who haven't played a MUD before. That pretty much leaves us pointing at individual MUDs. Obviously that's likely to be a contentious issue as it is not productive to highlight 1000 MUDs or even 50 of them. What criteria to use to pick the MUDs listed would not be easy, obviously.

As I see it you'd need to ensure that if MUDs were listed the individual MUDs had:
1. An attractive website. This one is not hard though. Many MUDs have attractive websites.
2. An attractive client. This one is a lot harder. One of the big problems with attracting new people to text MUDs is that most MUDs have really horrible clients if they have any at all. Asking people to download and install software to play (like CMud) completely removes one of the major advantages a text MUD has (next-to-instant-in....no download and install required!) over most MMORPGs. Think of it this way: If you fired up a game you'd never heard of and were presented with some horrible black and white program what would your first reaction be? I can tell you what most people's first reaction will be! I don't know what to do about this one frankly other than pick the few MUDs that do have decent-looking clients which unfortunately is quite limiting.

I know I can get at least some mainstream games PR around a site like this whether it promotes individual MUDs or not, but I'm unsure how valuable it is if it just points to TMC and TMS, and am unsure how to handle promoting individual MUDs if not.

Suggestions anyone? I'm not currently really planning on this as the idea is (obviously) not fully formed in my head but it's something I've been thinking about on and off for the last 6 months or so.

--matt
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Old 08-06-2007, 08:11 PM   #8
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Re: Ganking MMOs (I'm in yur MMO, stealing yur playerz)

Well, maybe someone could start with what are the major MMO community sites and portals? The only MMO I've played is Sherwood (for about 15 minutes once), so I'm kind of in the dark here...

On the other hand, if it's also true in the MMO community that not many players visit these sites (i.e., cf. with TMC and TMS populations), but rather stay on the game specific sites, then it seems to me that the populations at these sites will (a) already know about text muds because they're hardcore online gamers, or (b) be graphical game developers or aspiring devs without interest in text games.
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Old 08-06-2007, 08:24 PM   #9
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Re: Ganking MMO*s

I'll pitch Main Page - WikiMU* - a Wikia wiki again. It's not meant to replace TMS or TMC. It's meant as a portal for people who might never have found our games before to discover the joys of text-based gaming. If we're able to get 2,500 pages worth of material in the MU*Wiki, we'll end up in the Big Wikis section of Wikia.com's main website. If that happens, we'll suddenly have a text-based gaming promotional site smack dab in the midst of sites promoting at least two big MMOs, Star Wars, Star Trek, and DC Comics - among other things.

Rising tides and boats!
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Old 08-06-2007, 11:11 PM   #10
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Re: Ganking MMO*s

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I'll pitch Main Page - WikiMU* - a Wikia wiki again. It's not meant to replace TMS or TMC. It's meant as a portal for people who might never have found our games before to discover the joys of text-based gaming. If we're able to get 2,500 pages worth of material in the MU*Wiki, we'll end up in the Big Wikis section of Wikia.com's main website. If that happens, we'll suddenly have a text-based gaming promotional site smack dab in the midst of sites promoting at least two big MMOs, Star Wars, Star Trek, and DC Comics - among other things.

Rising tides and boats!
A little bit off topic... it takes me a really long time (between 45sec to over a minute) to load WikiMU*. Most times my browser times out. Any idea what's up?
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Old 08-07-2007, 12:05 AM   #11
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Re: Ganking MMO*s

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A little bit off topic... it takes me a really long time (between 45sec to over a minute) to load WikiMU*. Most times my browser times out. Any idea what's up?
Sometimes, Wikia.com gets to be a bit slow. The good news is: It's free.
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Old 08-07-2007, 01:19 AM   #12
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Re: Ganking MMOs (I'm in yur MMO, stealing yur playerz)

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Well, maybe someone could start with what are the major MMO community sites and portals? The only MMO I've played is Sherwood (for about 15 minutes once), so I'm kind of in the dark here...

On the other hand, if it's also true in the MMO community that not many players visit these sites (i.e., cf. with TMC and TMS populations), but rather stay on the game specific sites, then it seems to me that the populations at these sites will (a) already know about text muds because they're hardcore online gamers, or (b) be graphical game developers or aspiring devs without interest in text games.
Very few hardcore online gamers are aware that text MUDs are a going concern. Most of them think of text MUDs as something from the mid-90s and before if they're aware of them at all.

And while the proportion of MMO players visiting general MMO sites is dwarfed by those visiting individual sites, even the population of players who do visit general MMO sites dwarfs everyone playing all text MUDs combined. There are a lot of potential players there. The trick is communicating to the ones that might be interested that there is indeed something to be interested in. It doesn't help that so many gamers like to play things that are already popular in the same way that many people like to see movies on the day of release. It's participation in shared culture and text MUDs as a whole are a relatively small niche that most people have never even heard of, rendering participation in them 'useless' from the perspective of someone who is looking to be into/good at whatever lots of other people are into/good at.

--matt
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Old 08-07-2007, 04:51 AM   #13
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Re: Ganking MMO*s

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Suggestions anyone? I'm not currently really planning on this as the idea is (obviously) not fully formed in my head but it's something I've been thinking about on and off for the last 6 months or so.
I think yet a website is not needed for this. Something like this could and probably should be part of TMS review system.

If you look at the articles of TMS(http://www.topmudsites.com/articles.shtml) you realize that:
  1. There's no pictures anywhere. Not even diagrams. Even a picture of the output of a MUD in a MUD client could make the article both easier and more interesting to read if it is relevant to the text. Html formatting could be improved as well as currently there is really not any.
  2. Poor categorization. There's no separation between target audience and developer/builder/player articles are mixed. Article series aren't put together(such as Top Three Twinks).
  3. No articles explaining how to get started playing a MUD. This actually surprises me a lot. Especially as on most MUDs the basics are pretty much the same.
  4. No printer-friendly-button. Please make it easier to print the articles for more comfortable reading.
  5. No discuss-this-article button.
  6. No linkback feature connected to the article system.
If we want people who play mmrpgs consider muds there is a lot of work to make muds more appealing, and I think improving TMS is a good place to get it started at.
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Old 08-07-2007, 03:16 PM   #14
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Re: Ganking MMO*s

Sadly, I think people are being delusional if they think they can drag any real numbers *back* to text muds. Sure, in some ways they can be more interesting, but unless you are talking about pure RP games, most fail at immersion. Probably 20% of the places I have been on the one I play at, I don't know what the places in it look like. Why? Because they are dangerous, I was in a group, and healing, so had no time to look at any of it, never mind close enough to find hidden things, etc. Graphical ones, unless you are fighting something 50 feet tall, and can't see around it, even in a fight, you can notice things you wouldn't have otherwise. Immersion is higher "period". And that is what, on the most basic level, the games have always been about.

The only things keeping them from making more complex quests, faster area design, and managing how people play better (like RP enforcement), is that there is *still* a gap between writing, even bad writing, and graphics design. That gap is shrinking though. Not fast mind you, it might be 20+ years, or more, before a combination of game mechanics techniques, hardware and easilly written "code" for quests reaches a point where its that easy, but its happening. Some things like Neverwinter *almost* do it already. Premade mobs, fairly easy design, by placing premade objects, fairly straight forward scripting, etc. The only thing it isn't designed for, and can't do, is run a game with the shear size and complexity of a mud (or MMO). I think, inevitably, text is going to end up where it started, in the books, scrolls, or what ever you "find" in the games, not in the interface. Even speach, if they ever manage to make a more human sounding system that can fit on a sound card, as standard hardware, would pretty much make the need for text bubbles go away. And while most MMOs have chat channels, some muds don't even allow them, so its not hard to imagine those going away too.

When it all true 3D (not hard to imagine, since someone has developed a *real* hologram system they are testing, all speach is actually sounds (not impossible either), and designing a new area becomes as relatively simple as telling something, "Here is the contours of the area, lets drop a wall with an arch in it at the entry, and put Ghouls behind it.." Well, it doesn't look too good for muds. And, as I said, the only issue is how long it takes to get there, not "if" they get there.

OT: Man that 3D trick is neat. Normal holograms use lasers to "make" interference patterns, then record those patterns on film. This one uses a standard graphics card, just like the ones we play MMOs with, to calculate what the interference patterns *should* be, uses a laser to generate the calculated pattern, then splashes the result onto a surface. Result, it looks like the objects are literally sitting on top of your desk. Monocrome at the moment, but the designer plans to work on one that uses red, green and blue lasers to make a full color one, once he gets a production version of the current one on the market. Imagine combining it with the "existing", multilayer trick someone else is coming up with, to make a true 3D LCD display for computers... Some amazing stuff coming up in the near future.
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Old 08-07-2007, 03:29 PM   #15
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Re: Ganking MMO*s

Depends on what you're looking for in the way of "immersion." If you want to be in a group of 40 people fighting a dragon and trying to keep track of where everybody is while they're yelling at you for being a dumbass on TeamSpeak ... well, I suppose that's ONE kind of immersion.

The other kind is exactly what you kind of rail against: Immersion that depends on your imagination to see the place, rather than having it slapped in front of you, big as life.

I don't think it's delusional at all to believe we could bring some numbers to text games. No, they won't be WoW numbers, but I do think we'll catch stragglers who become disillusioned with the pomp and shininess of MMOs and want to exercise their imaginations more than their mouse buttons.
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Old 08-07-2007, 03:31 PM   #16
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Re: Ganking MMO*s

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Sadly, I think people are being delusional if they think they can drag any real numbers *back* to text muds.
I think you would be surprised how undelusional (is that a word?) people are being.

On Threshold, we have actually had some great success getting people BACK from WoW, and when we played WoW we actually managed to recruit people to our MUD. I've done the same for every graphical MMO I have ever played. DAoC, AO, EQ, EQ2, FFXI, AC2, LotRO, City of Heroes, etc. have all gained us a few players each. By itself that is not a tremendous amount of people, but I'm just one person and I've recruited on average 5-10 permanent new MUDders from each graphical game I've played.
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Old 08-07-2007, 03:32 PM   #17
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Re: Ganking MMO*s

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Sadly, I think people are being delusional if they think they can drag any real numbers *back* to text muds.
Nobody's trying to "drag" anyone back to text MUDs. We're trying to attract new people to them, of which there can be no argument that it's possible since we have hundreds of players for whom our text MUDs are their first.

The question is how to make the process efficient enough to be worthwhile.

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Sure, in some ways they can be more interesting, but unless you are talking about pure RP games, most fail at immersion.
That is completely a matter of opinion. I, for instance, have never been as immersed in a graphical game as in a text MUD.

Quote:
Probably 20% of the places I have been on the one I play at, I don't know what the places in it look like. Why? Because they are dangerous, I was in a group, and healing, so had no time to look at any of it, never mind close enough to find hidden things, etc. Graphical ones, unless you are fighting something 50 feet tall, and can't see around it, even in a fight, you can notice things you wouldn't have otherwise. Immersion is higher "period". And that is what, on the most basic level, the games have always been about.
Why are you defining immerison as 'geographical awareness'? It's an odd and very limited way of understanding immersion, what it is, and why players feel immersed.

Quote:
The only things keeping them from making more complex quests, faster area design, and managing how people play better (like RP enforcement), is that there is *still* a gap between writing, even bad writing, and graphics design.
That's not really the reason why.

First, you need to understand the nature of a niche. RP Enforcement, for instance, has nothing to do with whether something has graphics or not. There have been RP enforced graphical MUDs (or MMOs if you prefer) and there have been RP enforced text MUDs. The reason the big guys don't do it is because very few players are interested in that. What that means is that for some players, the big guys are fundamentally incapable of meeting their needs. There are any number of game systems that are simply never going to be implemented by games with huge budgets because the systems don't appeal to a wide-enough variety of players.

Quote:
That gap is shrinking though. Not fast mind you, it might be 20+ years, or more, before a combination of game mechanics techniques, hardware and easilly written "code" for quests reaches a point where its that easy, but its happening. Some things like Neverwinter *almost* do it already. Premade mobs, fairly easy design, by placing premade objects, fairly straight forward scripting, etc.
So...don't make a text MUD that's oriented on DIKU-style bashing since that's what all the big boys do. Why compete directly with them?

Quote:
The only thing it isn't designed for, and can't do, is run a game with the shear size and complexity of a mud (or MMO).
It's not designed to do all sorts of things. It's designed, in fact, to do a VERY limited range of things.

--matt
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Old 08-07-2007, 03:36 PM   #18
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Re: Ganking MMO*s

I've ultimately played way more graphical MMOs than I've played MU*. Threshold was my first mud, and ultimately, my last mud. I simply have been unable to find a mud to my liking because I prefer an RP-enforced, well-written world that still has excellent game mechanics. Basically, when looking for a mud, I'm looking for something I can play for years. With graphical, MMOs, I'm basically looking for a game that I can play with a few friends. I already know there's not going to be any RP. (RP servers are a joke.) I also know that I'll be playing on TS or Vent because the playing/typing interface on ALL graphical games is utterly painful. (If you've ever been trying to type out a request for a heal while you're getting destroyed by a boss, you know what I mean. Mina yells, "Heeaserls!")

My experience with graphical games is a bit different from the one you post, Shadow. I always play a support class, and since most MMOs are extremely content light, I'm pretty much playng so that I can level up as fast as possible. That's pretty much the only challenge and true content that MMOs seem to offer. Thus, I don't see much of the graphics. My screen is filled with my hot bars (between 2 and 10), my inventory screen (or bags), and my group's health bars. I really couldn't tell you what half the end game bosses look like because I'm too busy managing my entire group (between 5 and 25 people's) healing, buffing, and rezzing. Last but not least, my character looks awesome when she's fighting, but honestly, I can't get over the fact that when I type /hug or /em hug, she just stands there sighing or whatever random animation they have her do when she's just standing.

I'm not saying that muds will be able to crush and dominate graphical MMOs nor am I saying that the mudding community will be able to take all their players away if they only knew about it. I'm simply saying that MMOs have gotten a lot more people into online gaming who don't know about MU*s, and if they did know about mudding, they might like it better. We have had plenty of people who went off to play WoW or EQ and punted to come back to our game. Granted, we offer enforced-RP, so we're very much a niche game. I'm just not convinced that all MU* players will eventually defect for MMOs. There could be a flow of traffic between both.
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Old 08-07-2007, 03:37 PM   #19
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Re: Ganking MMO*s

I couldn't agree with your post more, Mina. Pretty much nails it for me.
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Old 08-08-2007, 04:07 PM   #20
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Re: Ganking MMO*s

Quote:
Originally Posted by the_logos View Post

I'm not sure that just pointing people at TMC and TMS is the way to go, particularly because they're not really organized to present to people who haven't played a MUD before. That pretty much leaves us pointing at individual MUDs. Obviously that's likely to be a contentious issue as it is not productive to highlight 1000 MUDs or even 50 of them. What criteria to use to pick the MUDs listed would not be easy, obviously.


--matt
Not to try to discourage this idea, but this is firmly something that TMS needs to improve on - general guidance for people new to MUDs. I know a little (ok, more than a little) about SEO and search marketing, but many people will give a site one shot and never return if they are not already interested in the subject, which is why I'm not really trying to drive "outside" people here yet ... the site isn't where I want it to be for that first impression.

EDIT: As a side note, that's also the reason I haven't contacted the owners of the many MUDs not active here yet either -- our interface for MUD owners is horrible.
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