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Old 08-25-2007, 01:47 PM   #81
the_logos
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Quote:
I'm just asking that the advertising take into account
that for lots of people "free mud" doesn't mean
"oh, btw, you *do* have to pay for X, Y, or Z."
That's a supposition that's possible to make certainly, but given that the use of 'free' that you're attacking is absolutely standard in the online game world (from so-called casual games to MMOs) I think it's much more likely that people actually new to MUDs are accustomed to seeing free used as we use it. Since it's also quite common in text MUDs, experienced MUDers are also likely to be accustomed to seeing it used as we use it.

I'm not sure where you're getting the idea that there is this large group of MUDers that is being misled. I don't think you have anything other than purely anecdotal evidence that people do feel misled, actually. On the other hand, the way we use free is, as I've mentioned over and over, both completely standard in online games and well within the guidelines set out by the FTC for advertising. I mean, seriously, I've been running commercial MUDs for 10 years now, and I have never gotten an email from someone expressing frustration or disappointment because they felt that our ads were misleading. Never. The only people who ever complain are the same small group of MUD developers on TMC and TMS.

Can you see why your mainly hypothetical scenario doesn't carry much weight with those of us advertising given the facts?

--matt
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Old 08-25-2007, 01:53 PM   #82
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Hmm. It's hard to catch up on a long thread like this, so I apologize if I missed something.

It's a bit funny how we just had these discussions about how to increase *player* traffic on this site by increasing the relevancy to them, but then drop back into a mode where there's a lot of "protecting a game's interest" mode.

Here are a few opinions on "free":

I don't mind paying in the least. I have in the past bought games, and subscribed to games. And after delving into the gray market of MUDs, I see the beauty and simplicity of those two models. To me, the important feature is transparency. When I buy a game, or subscribe to one, I know what my costs will be. The trouble with all these other payment models, is that they start to rise to the complexity of Enron's dealings to figure out.

I disagree with the person who said that you can try out a game and figure this out quickly. Well, for one, I don't want to spend half an hour to an hour trying to cull out games I might be interested in. There's too many. Second, it's damned tough to figure out. I won't go into how tough it was to figure out the model on one MUD, because the figures aren't provided (only my guild site had it listed for me). And also, you often don't begin to hit the time when such perks become really needed until you get way into the gameplay, nearer to the endgame.

And also, when I consider payment, I do consider what I consider "fair". Most MMOGs have development budgets of $5+ million, and operating costs in the $100+K/month range. So, I don't begrudge them $40 for a box, and $15/month. But a MUD has much less than that. Even $5/month seems like a lot, and probably too much. And so, on an optional payment system, I get this feeling that my $$$ are paying for other's playtime. (As a RL aside, I'm beginning to get this feeling that the reason drugs are so expensive in the USA is that we're making up the profit margin that the companies can't get out of the rest of the world.)

As for what consitutes "free", I don't care what the legal definition is. There are a lot of legal definitions out there that don't match what a lot of people would call "fair". I can fly on an airline "100% free" if I spend $25000 on my credit card. To me the question is this:
What percentage of your users use your product/service without paying?
Get that up around 25%, and I'll grant you that you're being substantially free. (OK, with respect to MUDs, where there's a lot of newbie turnover, I'd like to see that figure for actively played characters over 3 or 6 months.)

Now, about the professional/hobbyist distinction:

I don't see it as a very valid distinction, but then again, I doubt anyone cares so why not put it on, if it eases the path towards more objective searchable properties?

To me, what is more relevant is what's behind such a statement: Do you have 24/7 staff to handle h/w and s/w problems? How fast is content developed? Do you have GMs on 24/7 to answer questions and resolve problems? Etc. How many times have you called a support line for a commercial product (computer or otherwise), and get told to call back M-F 8-5? How many times do you go to a community website at any hour of the day, any day of the week, and get an answer to a question in like 5 minutes? That's why the commercial/hobby distinction is to me a red herring.
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Old 08-25-2007, 02:13 PM   #83
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

matt/sarapis/the_logos wrote:
Quote:
On the other hand, the way we use free is, as I've mentioned over and over, both completely standard in online games and well within the guidelines set out by the FTC for advertising.
I actually have not looked at your advertising. In previous postings,
my use of the general "you" and specific "you" in responding to
posts might have made it seem like I was accusing you of some
sort of violation of law.

I'm not that interested in the extent to which IRE ads might be misleading.
I honestly don't care that much about your company to check that.

And we are not talking about other online games. We are talking
specifically about muds, of which many codebases have traditions
that inform the use of the word "free" with them.

Expressed over and over in threads like
these is the opinion that "free" in the context of muds means to people
something that is not always what you mean by it. My position is that this
opinion, in the context of muds specifically, is reasonable.

In my example, both Darker Realms and Dollar Realms are "free",
even though it's patently obvious there is a clear difference between
the two muds and their relationship with their players' money.

It is my assertion that "free" is therefore insufficiently descriptive,
and more specific details on a mud's payment policies are a
good idea both on advertisements and listings.

I don't see what's so awful about that.

-Crat
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Old 08-25-2007, 04:06 PM   #84
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zhiroc View Post
I disagree with the person who said that you can try out a game and figure this out quickly. Well, for one, I don't want to spend half an hour to an hour trying to cull out games I might be interested in. There's too many. Second, it's damned tough to figure out. I won't go into how tough it was to figure out the model on one MUD, because the figures aren't provided (only my guild site had it listed for me). And also, you often don't begin to hit the time when such perks become really needed until you get way into the gameplay, nearer to the endgame.
That was me and I have to question your seriousness in finding a game, your claim that you will pay for a good game, and your detailed experience in mudding. I do this because if you have ever played a mud for any length of time, you know as well as any mudder knows, once you find the game you like you will invest 1000's of hours on it, so complaining about 10 to 20 hours of finding the game you want, when you will later spend 100 times as many hours playing this game is a colossal definition of either laziness or lack of true interest in finding a game you like.

I can say that most if not all the players on NW have weeded through no less than 10 muds, but likely over far more than that to find the roleplay and environment they find on NW. I would venture to say this is the same for many of the other games that have a solid player base.

I'll say it again. Mud descriptions and bullet points only assist in weeding down to the games you wish to try. The only true way to find your world is to get on there and play.

This isn't really the thread to make this comment, but I will make it anyway: Every mud I've seen on the top 20 on TMS are very worthy of testing and playing and many muds not in the top twenty are as well, but would only need a little more scrutiny in finding the mud you lilke.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zhiroc View Post
And also, when I consider payment, I do consider what I consider "fair". Most MMOGs have development budgets of $5+ million, and operating costs in the $100+K/month range. So, I don't begrudge them $40 for a box, and $15/month. But a MUD has much less than that. Even $5/month seems like a lot, and probably too much. And so, on an optional payment system, I get this feeling that my $$$ are paying for other's playtime.
MMOGS charge only 40/15 because they have thousands of players, my friend, if they didn't I can promise you would be paying ten times that. When you sell a million copies of a game, $40 is all you need to bring home $35 million in profit. This is marketing 101. Paid Muds do not charge their fees to rip you off. They charge them to cover staff, system, and business fees as well as profit. Muds cost money to run whether they are free or not. Dedicated staff and admins cost money.

A last thought, Every mud that I have played that I have paid for or has a paid staff or administration has been worth it. I cannot say the same for all the non-paid muds I have played.

This is not a dis on non-paid muds, only my experience and adage you get what you pay for.
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Old 08-25-2007, 10:31 PM   #85
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Newworlds View Post
That was me and I have to question your seriousness in finding a game, your claim that you will pay for a good game, and your detailed experience in mudding. I do this because if you have ever played a mud for any length of time, you know as well as any mudder knows, once you find the game you like you will invest 1000's of hours on it, so complaining about 10 to 20 hours of finding the game you want, when you will later spend 100 times as many hours playing this game is a colossal definition of either laziness or lack of true interest in finding a game you like.
I have found the games I want, and I only play MUSHes now. It turns out that I haven't found one that charges anything, or even accepts donations. But the point is that there's something wrong with needing to take hours to figure out what I'm going to pay. I don't mind paying, but I want to know how much.

And what I want to take my time figuring out is whether I'd like the theme and gameplay. Not the cost. And, if you look at some of these sites, they have purchase options of over $500 in OOC money. That isn't chump change.

There are these so-call contests out there where you compete in puzzles and if you want, can buy "help" from the company. They are considered by just about everyone to be scams, much for the reason that they rope you in little by little without ever being up front about costs.

Quote:
MMOGS charge only 40/15 because they have thousands of players, my friend, if they didn't I can promise you would be paying ten times that. When you sell a million copies of a game, $40 is all you need to bring home $35 million in profit. This is marketing 101. Paid Muds do not charge their fees to rip you off. They charge them to cover staff, system, and business fees as well as profit. Muds cost money to run whether they are free or not. Dedicated staff and admins cost money.
No, MMOGs charge what they do because that is the "going market price". If volume counted, then WoW with 8 million subscribers would charge radically different than the great bulk (and looking at the numbers, all but about 10) of those with under 100K.

My point is not against "paid-for MUDs". It's targeted at pay-for-ingame-perks MUDs, and in particular, those that have an extremely opaque fee structure.

Quote:
This is not a dis on non-paid muds, only my experience and adage you get what you pay for.
Actually, I fled MUDs after playing a paid one, and found the MUSHes--not because they are free, but because they provide infinitely more entertainment value to me than a MUD. So, I do not agree to your adage for gaming. Or in software, as Open Source and free is now almost the norm. Or necessarily in board games (if you ever checked out a company called Cheap Ass Games).

But that is what I like, your mileage may vary.
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Old 08-25-2007, 11:29 PM   #86
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cratylus View Post
matt/sarapis/the_logos wrote:
And we are not talking about other online games. We are talking
specifically about muds, of which many codebases have traditions
that inform the use of the word "free" with them.
Yes, I'm talking about MUDs too. MUD is a generic term that encompasses anything from the humblest DIKU to WoW though. Adam/Synozeer steadfastly maintained a welcoming attitude towards discussion, listings, and traffic about and from both text and graphical MUDs. If Lasher intends to change this policy and focus the site exclusively on text MUDs he hasn't announced it that I've seen.

Quote:
Expressed over and over in threads like
these is the opinion that "free" in the context of muds means to people
something that is not always what you mean by it. My position is that this
opinion, in the context of muds specifically, is reasonable.
I see a handful of people saying that, yes.

--matt
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Old 08-26-2007, 06:35 AM   #87
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

it looks;sucky advertisement place for commercial games,this thread..you're bound to get evil.disguising is always better.

Last edited by rendekar : 08-26-2007 at 09:18 AM.
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Old 08-26-2007, 08:58 AM   #88
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by the_logos View Post
I support the above mainly because if we're giving people an option to search for the collection of revenue or lack thereof it makes sense to also give people an option to search for one of the differences between MUDs that influences the need to collect that revenue.
You could break it up based on whether the mud collects revenue, I guess - something like:

[ ] Commercial game, subscription required.
[ ] Commercial game, no subscription fee.
[ ] Non-commercial game, rewards donations in-game.
[ ] Non-commercial game.

No need to use the word 'free' then.
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Old 08-26-2007, 09:27 AM   #89
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

I skimmed most of the posts. But the last time this question came up, I posted, and I don't think my opinion has changed since. I'll post again, because I'm bored and this has turned into a very silly thread of "whose e-peen is bigger."

US Law be damned, this isn't a US courtroom and many games aren't even written or run in the USA, so what US Law has to say about it is irrelevent for this particular thread.

For me, it's a pretty simple matter to determine if a game is free. It's what kind of non-free game, that's the issue.

If you have to add the word "if" or "but" to a statement of "free," then it's not free. Simple isn't it?

"This game is free IF you don't want the premium IMM-run wedding with member-only access to the Honeymoon Suite."
"This game is free BUT you can get that map for a donation."
"This game is free IF you don't mind the stripped-down version."
"This game is free BUT if you give us $50 we'll start your character out with extra skill points, which you -could- get without the money, if you just put 10 extra hours into playing."
"This game is free for one month, and IF you want to play after that, you'll have to pay for the download/monthly subscription."

Now - what kind of non-free game, is a game that isn't free? What kind of criteria -should- go into making the decision about it? Well here's my ideas, for what they're worth.

a. Payment accepted with in-game reward given; reward is ONLY something that non-payers can ALSO get.
b. Payment accepted with in-game reward given; reward is ONLY something that non-payers can NOT get.

c. Payment required with same limits as a.
d. Payment required with same limits as b.
e. Payment required to play.

e-1. Subscription service - monthly payment required.
e-2. Registration service - one-time up-front payment required.
e-3. Non-standard service - payment required each time you level up, or each time you want to get past your latest 100 exp points, or each time you encounter a mob that picks its nose and whistles Dixie.

I mean if you really want, we can add another dozen more categories. But I don't think anyone, at this point, will agree that "more search options" is the best way to go on this.

What I think will work best:

FREE CATEGORIES:
1. Free to play - means free to play, period, no ifs, buts, or exceptions.
2. Free to play, with opportunity to pay for perks that you CAN get if you don't pay.
3. Free to play, with opportunity to pay for perks that you can NOT get if you don't pay, but that have no significant impact on game play.
PAY CATEGORIES:
1. Standard subscription - membership system.
2. One-time payment required.
3. Free to play a strip-down version, AND/OR "limited trial period", payment required to play the "usual and generally preferred" version.
4. Any combination of the above pay categories in any proportion.



As for the whole thing about professional vs. hobbyist, shoot. I am a certified computer technician, which makes me a professional. However, I don't work in the field. I -do- fix my own computer when it has problems, but I don't charge myself for the service. That doesn't make me any less a professional, but it does mean that I'm not "just" a hobbyist, either. Yes, knowing -could- be useful, but so far as I've seen in this thread, only ONE person really cares about it. I personally wouldn't waste my time trying to come up with a "fair" inclusion of the category for a search engine, based on the fact that only one person actually has an interest in knowing.
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Old 08-26-2007, 09:37 AM   #90
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KaVir View Post
You could break it up based on whether the mud collects revenue, I guess - something like:

[ ] Commercial game, subscription required.
[ ] Commercial game, no subscription fee.
[ ] Non-commercial game, rewards donations in-game.
[ ] Non-commercial game.

No need to use the word 'free' then.
I think this solution would get my vote. Seems to avoid the sticky problem of the definition of free and categorises most MUDs quite well. We're never going to have something 100% accurate, but this is closer than what we have now I think.
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Old 08-26-2007, 10:05 AM   #91
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

<Snip: Removed reference to deleted post - Xerihae>

I think the Professional vs. Hobbyist distinction holds more value to players than multiple versions of the definition of free.

Evidence of this is the fact that more people play Professionally made games than Hobbyist games. So clearly it is a distinction that matters a lot to people.

Last edited by Xerihae : 08-26-2007 at 06:48 PM.
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Old 08-26-2007, 10:30 AM   #92
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

I haven't read all of the discussions above, but "pay for perks" as it is is too vague.

Many of the pay for perk muds use a system where you pay like 20 to 30 dollars and get some minor perks for a year. Other muds allow you to pay up to 10.000 dollars to boost your character.

So what would be best would be to calculate the maximum cost for one character over a period of 10 years, which could be abbreviated to MLC (maximum longterm cost). For WoW this would be about 2000$. For Nodeka this would be about 200$. For IRE games this is more difficult to calculate, but I've heard of figures around 15.000$.

This way players can get a good idea of the potential financial consequences of playing a particular mud.
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Old 08-26-2007, 10:58 AM   #93
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KaVir View Post
[ ] Commercial game, subscription required.
[ ] Commercial game, no subscription fee.
[ ] Non-commercial game, rewards donations in-game.
[ ] Non-commercial game.
This seems like the easiest most sensible of all the suggestions in this thread. The rest of the suggestions are much to arbitrary and convoluted.
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Old 08-26-2007, 11:54 AM   #94
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KaVir View Post
You could break it up based on whether the mud collects revenue, I guess - something like:

[ ] Commercial game, subscription required.
[ ] Commercial game, no subscription fee.
[ ] Non-commercial game, rewards donations in-game.
[ ] Non-commercial game.

No need to use the word 'free' then.
That does seem to make some sense though I'm a little unsure about the third option insofar. If you're not a registered charity I'm unsure whether it's proper to consider something a donation when the person giving the money is getting something fixed in return.

It's certainly possible for charities to reward people for donating but someone running a MUD is almost certainly not running a charity. Most of the time when MUD operators take donations it's either income going into the pocket of the MUD owner (who may then spend it on server costs or whatever, but is not obligated to) or income going into the pocket of an LLC or corporation that owns the MUD (who may then spend it on server costs or whatever, but is not obligated to).

Another question is how to deal with MUD operators that only sporadically accept donations. For instance, if a MUD operator took 'donations' 2 years ago but not since, does he check #3 or #4? How about if he/they took them 1 year ago? 1 month? 1 week? Yesterday?

--matt
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Old 08-26-2007, 01:38 PM   #95
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

If you consider being a hobbyist an insult I could see that (though would find it odd), but 'hobbyist' is certainly not intended as an insult by me. I'm a hobbyist at all sorts of things I enjoy doing. Cooking, skiing, jiu-jitsu, etc. I am not a professional cook just because I'm good at cooking, and it's not an insult to point out that I'm an amateur cook rather than a pro.

I also know that when I'm looking for a meal I'm more likely to be excited about one than the other. Some nights I am specifically looking for amateur cooking (eating at a friend's house or cooking myself) and some nights I am specifically looking for professional cooking (eating at a restaurant or at the house of someone who is a professional cook). Is it so hard to believe that people may feel similarly about MUDs and that providing that information is potentially useful?

Just because you don't see it as useful doesn't mean it's troll bait.

--matt

Last edited by Xerihae : 08-26-2007 at 06:49 PM.
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Old 08-26-2007, 02:51 PM   #96
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by the_logos View Post
If you consider being a hobbyist an insult I could see that (though would find it odd), but 'hobbyist' is certainly not intended as an insult by me.
The problem I foresee is that it doesn't add information. Who gets to call themselves a professional? Does it mean run by a for-profit company? Would most open software projects be therefore called hobbyist organizations?

If we can't agree on the term "free", there's no chance we'll agree on "professional".

But since it's a content-free term one way or another, and people can choose which they want to call themselves. I don't really care. Might as well add it if it makes adding the payment information more palatable.

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Old 08-26-2007, 03:38 PM   #97
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

So, since matt/sarapis/the_logos/whatever is dropping his
objection anyway, I think it might be more useful to come
to some general agreement on what will work, since it
appears Lasher is receptive to a reasonable proposal.

As I mentioned, I like the Modified Osiris Scale
( see MUDs and Money - WikiMU* - a Wikia wiki ) but
KaVir's works too:

Quote:
[ ] Commercial game, subscription required.
[ ] Commercial game, no subscription fee.
[ ] Non-commercial game, rewards donations in-game.
[ ] Non-commercial game.
I liked his larger checkbox solution better, frankly,
but this one seems to be gaining consensus.

What do folks think? Can we get some examples? Would
Nodeka fall into "Commercial game, no subscription fee."
or into "Non-commercial game, rewards donations in-game."?
Let's hammer out the specifics.

Also, I propose splitting off the "professional v hobbyist" subthread
into a separate thread, since it seems to be only serving the
purpose of obscuring the primary topic this thread was created for.

-Crat
http://lpmuds.net/professional_v_hobbyist.gif

PS It's not too late to voice support for the MOS:
Quote:
* Payment Impossible
-- Type A: Payment and donations rejected.

* Payment Optional
-- Type B: Donations accepted but unrewarded with advantage.
-- Type C: Donations rewarded with in-game advantage that can also be earned in-game.

* Payment Required
-- Type D: Payment required for in-game advantage that can't be earned in-game.
-- Type F: Payment required to access most of the game's entertainment.
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Old 08-26-2007, 03:58 PM   #98
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

I think this is much better, more accurate, and more useful to players.

Quote:
[ ] Professionally Run Game. Subscription Required.
[ ] Professionally Run Game. No Subscription Fee.
[ ] Hobbyist Game. Accepts monetary contributions or purchases
(includes sale of merchandise).
[ ] Hobbyist Game.
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Old 08-26-2007, 04:24 PM   #99
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Avoiding using the word "free" anywhere so that we can switch to debating all day long what "advantage" or "commercial" or "professional" or "available in game" (realistically) mean doesn't achieve a whole lot.

I still haven't seen options less open to debate on their meaning than:

[ ] Payment required to play?
[ ] Payment / Donations accepted, not rewarded in-game.
[ ] Payment / Donations accepted, rewarded in-game.
[ ] No Payment / Donations accepted, period.

To clear up another point of confusion, Matt's username on the forum is "the_logos". Continually throwing out that line is not constructive, adds nothing of value to the thread and most definitely is not "good faith".

Lasher/Derek/TMSOne/Webmaster/whatever.
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Old 08-26-2007, 04:34 PM   #100
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Lasher wrote:
Quote:
[ ] Payment required to play?
[ ] Payment / Donations accepted, not rewarded in-game.
[ ] Payment / Donations accepted, rewarded in-game.
[ ] No Payment / Donations accepted, period.
Sounds great. It's got my vote.

-Crat
http://lpmuds.net/happycrat.jpg
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