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Old 03-23-2006, 04:13 PM   #1
zombiedepot
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Something I've been curious about lately is what's happening to the MUD community... I've been thinking a lot about the people who don't play MUDs, and the people who used to.

For example: A lot of my friends whom I've played MUDs with in the past can't seem to let go of the MMORPG craze for a moment to use their imaginations.

How do you get the non-MUDder to abandon their polished world of polygons and textures for a world of descriptions and rooms? Personally, I can barely stand to type MMORPG as an acronym, let alone consistantly pay for one. They're all graphics and bad gameplay, and it seems expansion packs are the only thing keeping them going.

A MUD is never quite done, and neither are the players. The concepts are similar, but the player bases are quite different. A MUD never needs the latest graphics card, and the imagination can render a new picture everytime.

What do you guys think? Do MUDs really have newbies anymore? Can a non-MUDder become a MUDder? Everyone has an imagination, and can read, so what's the problem?

My copy of WoW has been a paper weight after 60 days (30 for free, 30 for a fee), and I don't see myself going back but I find the game itself goregous, just not enough to have them milk my bank account every month. My friends think I'm crazy because I feel more comfortable paying for MUDs than I do World of Warcraft or Everquest.
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Old 03-23-2006, 07:32 PM   #2
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I've seen a lot of pure newbies, one big thing is the general population of gamers don't even know about muds now. When I used to play muds, I would make it a point to play in public places just so people would ask me wtf is that. A couple of them became players after I showed them how to play.
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Old 03-23-2006, 09:18 PM   #3
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I think the generation or so of kids (myself included) who missed out on tabletop games and the old text-based adventure games for the Apple and IBM in the '80's just missed muds entirely for the most part, never having one of the earlier two to find muds by association. And anyone younger than that just gets further and further away from the concept.

It really is a shame, like depot said, because most MUD's are free and you don't have to pour your life savings into a computer to have fun with other people.

If I was a keyboarding teacher in some high school I think I'd let my students play muds in their spare time as extra credit, partly because of all the typing involved, but mostly just to try to introduce them to something they might start doing on their own. If anything, they'd get the n-e-s-w keys down.
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Old 03-24-2006, 02:22 PM   #4
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Writing strictly from an American perspective, Americans don't read anymore. What the OP describes is not a phenomenon exclusive to MUDs. It is a pattern seen throughout publishing. Journalists regularly decry the increasing illiteracy of the American populace, and revenues in many forms of publishing are falling dramatically.

MMORPGs are pretty and many of them "dumb down" a lot of content. (My favorite story is the release of the Trials of Atlantis expansion for Dark Age of Camelot; the "trials" [the puzzles] were too hard, so the developer had to make the entire expansion easier so the playing population would be happy.)

On a different note, and now writing strictly from an Eppy perspective (that's me!, I can't find a MUD I like. I've tried Medievia a number of times, I recently tried the IRE muds and MateriaMagica, and I just can't find one with high populations and content I enjoy. It's really frustrating, as TopMudSites, MudMagic, et al. are not leading me to MUDs I'm liking.

Best regards,
Eppy
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Old 03-24-2006, 03:37 PM   #5
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I appreciate the input people..

I've been doing some more thinking about this, and it's seeming like the problem is deeper and larger than I had thought.

The keyboarding teacher thing is absolutely brilliant, considering I first learned to type out of fear of thieves on the MUD I was playing. The shopkeepers would not give the items to you, but set them down instead. My first few purchases were immediately stolen. Far better of a lesson than even Mavis Beacon can offer!

The American illiteracy thing, I can agree with. My short run in D&D proved disappointing as my simple riddles were too much for the average group of players. I blame the public education system. Also I have noticed MUD awareness has really dropped to an all time low, which is probably at the fault of MMORPGs and their massively funded marketing campaigns.

I've told a few friends about some of my old adventures on a MUD and they were excited up until the point they found out it was text! A sad day for me, when I realized I'd be MUDding here on out without the support of a friend. The fondest moments of gaming for me have been had on a MUD.

There are still smart people out there, but whether or not they'll ever connect to, hear about, or even ponder the possibility of a MUD. Little do they realize without people like Richard Bartle and so many that followed his lead, there would be no World of Warcraft, Asheron's Call, Everquest, or any other MMORPG for that matter.

The odd part is I think MUDs are more advanced now than I ever remember, and yet the player bases are dwindling. Maybe I'm not looking in the right places, but it seems the best MUDs are always the most empty.

Excellent points everybody.
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Old 03-24-2006, 03:55 PM   #6
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The real problems in the MUD community are not a lack of players but a lack of quality players, staff, and MUDs.  With a variety of codebases out there to choose from, any idjit can make a MUD, and lots of them have.  On the chance that a new player encounters one of them, their perception of MUDs is scarred from the beginning.  It's probably not exagerrating to say that one could randomly select a hundred MUDs from the listings over on TMC and fail to find a single good one.  And even the good ones are quite often filled with horrible players who abuse newbies or are complete idiots (worse yet, these players are sometimes even staff).

That's not to say that you won't find the same on graphical games.  It just means that given the choice between shiny graphical crap and text-based crap, the average person goes for the shiny.

Take care,

Jason
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Old 03-25-2006, 01:16 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
Writing strictly from an American perspective, Americans don't read anymore. What the OP describes is not a phenomenon exclusive to MUDs. It is a pattern seen throughout publishing. Journalists regularly decry the increasing illiteracy of the American populace, and revenues in many forms of publishing are falling dramatically.
Journalists, like any subpopulation, are prone to severe exaggeration or outright lies when it comes to their own interests. Approach with caution.

American literacy is NOT falling. In fact, it is still climbing upwards. NAAL, for instance, found a small but significant increase at every level of literacy. Similar studies elsewhere have found similar results.

Nor, if you use a historical definition of complex literacy, is complex literacy falling. That is, if you compare complex literacy in America now to complex literacy in America X number of years ago, using the measures from X number of years ago, you would not see a decrease. In fact, you'd see a substantial increase. (As I will address later, however, the bar for complex literacy today should be placed higher.)

In terms of technical vocabulary, most Americans have seen an improvement measured in orders of magnitude over the technical vocabulary of their parents. There are also noted increases in general vocabulary.

So, why do journalists say literacy rates are falling?

First, there hasn't been any substantial gains in years. In a sense, the derivative has fallen off - which makes a reasonable amount of sense since estimates of overall American literacy range from 97-98%. It's hard to get that last 2%.

However, more importantly, there are some other, very important issues. When reports appear about these issues, journalists tend to relay them incorrectly as "American literacy rates are falling". They are far more nuanced, but equally dire problems.

First, literacy rates amongst children increase at a far slower rate than any those in any other industrialized nation. There are obviously issues with different definitions of literacy in different nations. However, when children in other countries are routinely outperforming Americans on ENGLISH exams, there's some reason to worry. This does not mean fewer Americans will grow up to be literate - however, the level of literacy they achieve is expected to be lower.

Second, the world is demanding increasingly complex literacy at a very rapid rate, but the average American's literacy has improved only marginally over the last ten years. While you didn't need very complex literacy to handle life in the past, the modern era demands the ability to handle signing contracts and reading laws and understanding new political rhetoric, all of which is soaked in complex language. Similarly, when compared with complex literacy around the world, Americans are beginning to falter.

Also, taking "Americans" in general as a category is highly misleading. In any comparison I know of with students in other countries, suburban American students match or out perform those countries' suburban students. However, urban students perform below those countries' urban students. Similar statements can be made about minority groups. This is the so called "achievement gap". The growing achievement gap in many areas (despite efforts to shrink it) is often mislabeled by journalists as "American literacy is falling". While a very important issue, it is not a sign of falling literacy.

P.S. Eppy, perhaps you should post a thread in either TMC or TMS telling people what you want, so they can suggest a mud? It's generally a fairly successful enterprise.
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Old 03-25-2006, 04:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Spazmatic @ Mar. 25 2006,14:16)
American literacy is NOT falling.  In fact, it is still climbing upwards.  NAAL, for instance, found a small but significant increase at every level of literacy.  Similar studies elsewhere have found similar results.
American literacy is far from so certain, especially since there are different degrees of literacy. And there have been recent studies (one in 2003 and another in 2005) which have suggested that as much as 20% of American adults are functionally illiterate with a capability of reading and writing that doesn't extend much beyond writing a check and reading a menu. Another 20% are also incapable of reading and comprehending beyond a 1-2 page article (in other words, something condensed and simplified). If these studies are accurate, that would suggest that 40% of the American population couldn't actually read and comprehend at a level that would allow them to enjoy a novel.

And literacy itself is worthless if one doesn't possess the reasoning abilities to take what they encounter and utilize it effectively. So what if a person can read a book? If they can't take the information in that book and draw conclusions from it that are supported by the facts they've got on hand, being able to read the book didn't do them an ounce of good. That's where Americans are really lacking. They're not stupid, but they simply haven't been taught to or encouraged to reason.

Take care,

Jason
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Old 03-25-2006, 05:02 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by
American literacy is far from so certain, especially since there are different degrees of literacy.
It is true that there are different ways to define literacy. I noted the traditional divide between literacy and complex literacy, for example.

HOWEVER, NONE OF THAT HAS TO DO WITH MY POINT. Which, apparently you quoted without bothering to read.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spazmatic
American literacy is NOT falling. In fact, it is still climbing upwards. NAAL, for instance, found a small but significant increase at every level of literacy. Similar studies elsewhere have found similar results.
Emphasis: falling, climbing.

Yes, depending on how you define literacy, American literacy can be seen as very poor or very good. I noted the 97-98% range as the normally cited range for standard literacy measures. However, you don't have to use that - depending on how you define literacy, you can get any number you'd like, from 100% to 0%.

The key is, if you take the same definition and apply it X number of years ago and apply it today, you will find the American population has been either constant or improving.

Whether or not most Americans are sufficiently literate to mud is not the topic of this thread - I responded in so far as a decrease in literacy would be a suitable explanation for a decrease in mud populations (if either is true, whereas evidence indicates neither is). Since there has been no decrease in literacy, that is an invalid explanation for the perceived decrease in mud populations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by
If these studies are accurate, that would suggest that 40% of the American population couldn't actually read and comprehend at a level that would allow them to enjoy a novel.
This may be true, but it does not follow from your two previously cited results. Cite the studies if you'd like me to explain why.

Quote:
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And literacy itself is worthless if one doesn't possess the reasoning abilities to take what they encounter and utilize it effectively.
Again, false. Literacy means you can read a menu, or an eviction notice, or a flyer that says your trash day was moved. These are invaluable skills.

Enjoying a novel is not the primary purpose of literacy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by
If they can't take the information in that book and draw conclusions from it that are supported by the facts they've got on hand, being able to read the book didn't do them an ounce of good.
Nor is the primary purpose of literacy to facilitate critical thinking.
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Old 03-25-2006, 06:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
It is true that there are different ways to define literacy.  I noted the traditional divide between literacy and complex literacy, for example.

HOWEVER, NONE OF THAT HAS TO DO WITH MY POINT.  Which, apparently you quoted without bothering to read.
I don't hold literacy as a reason for any possible changes in the number of people playing MUDs.  I was merely addressing the claims that literacy in this country is 97-98%, which is far from the only figure that could be cited, as your post points out through the various aspects of literacy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by
Literacy means you can read a menu, or an eviction notice, or a flyer that says your trash day was moved.  These are invaluable skills.

Enjoying a novel is not the primary purpose of literacy.
Neither is reading a menu, eviction notice, or flyer mentioning your trash day the primary purpose of literacy.  Literacy has a wide variety of uses, many of which require a greater competancy than simply reading a simple flyer or menu.

But this is a digression of the original post which isn't about literacy but about attracting and retaining players on MUDs.

Take care,

Jason
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Old 03-26-2006, 12:15 AM   #11
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If I had money:

I would buy advertising time on Adult Swim. I would wrangle out a way to make 'bumplike' reading bits, maybe green text on the black background (muahaha) and promote that SOOOO many muds are free! And, if you can read these bumps, you would enjoy mudding.

As for literacy: Gah. Have you people *looked* into chatrooms/forums lately??? /me cries. I am Ms. Rhetoric, no data in my corner.. but sheesh. Pathetic, as far as grammar, spelling, and any kind of thought construction.

However: The Internet *is still* a mostly text-based medium. Text is how people communicate, and communicating, shouting "Look at MEEEEE!" is what blogs, chatrooms, and forums are all about. Yes, the standards are a LOT lower than MUDding forums. Yes, people who consistently misspell and use extremely poor grammar often tag themselves as "typo- or grammar- Nazi." Yes, so much is dumbed down that it hurts to go there.

They are still writing. They are still reading.

They are out there. AdultSwim bumps are popular. People love 'em. And guess what... you've gotta read them. /me shrugs.

--EM, dumbed down wit the rezt of 'em
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Old 03-26-2006, 12:51 PM   #12
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It's a good question, how to get them to play. You get them to play buy walking them by hand through the game and showing them what they can do. Mud schools are nice, but nothing beats a real person showing a new mudder around. Help files are good, but rarely do people stop to read them.

How to get people to connect? Well you advertise. You pay for it if you charge money to play your MUD. It's easy and it's great and places like TMC and TMS will gladly take your money. If you are free to play and don't want to shell out of your own pocket for advertising, you list your game on sites that advertise as free game directories etc. I promise you this will get you more hits per ad than either TMS or TMC. Have you ever wondered why TMS doesn't post their numbers? Even using the rankings, for example, here at MT we get what, maybe 100 'out's to our website in 2 week intervals, where as we get thousands of pageviews a week from the free game directory sites. That's still more than the top ranked mud here at TMS.

If you look at stupid online games, where its just some cheesy set of asp or php pages with a lame economic system and basic attack, defend system, there are hundreds upon hundreds of kids online playing it. Because all you do is click click click. That is all the majority of internet gamers can do these days. All they want to do is try and get the highest score, they don't care about interaction, descriptions, adventure, challenges or puzzles.

So hey, if you want a ****ton of players just focus it on the majority of internet gamers, they are immature and illiterate. That's not to say they won't growup and become intelligent and literate, but that's what most middle school kids are. Personally I would rather have 30 smart, fun, nice players on my MUD than 300 morons.

Another key is a client. Telnet sucks and will drive away 99% of new players. Don't give people the easability to connect via telnet!! Ignoring internet hype... people goto the store, they see boxed software, say DnD Online, it's in a pretty box with a CD rom of software that they use to connect to the MMORPG. Well, if you had a client out there that was packaged and easily installed, people would be more inclined to play because they see it more as software, a real game, than some online system far far away. That is why java clients are also so popular. When you play it, it looks as if you are playing a web-game.

Tank
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Old 03-26-2006, 01:07 PM   #13
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P.S. Eppy, perhaps you should post a thread in either TMC or TMS telling people what you want, so they can suggest a mud? It's generally a fairly successful enterprise.
Thank you for the suggestion, though I have read others' similarly-themed threads I am back playing Medievia for a while. It never seems to hold my attention for more than a few weeks, but I'll give it one more try

Best regards,
Eppy
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Old 07-11-2008, 11:44 AM   #14
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Re: non-mudders

Im new here but what the OP highlights is exactly what I have been aiming to do , in the sense that I have seen all graphics has to offer. (I have played lots of MMOS and gotten into almost every genre)

I am not experienced enough with muds yet though and I think it in some sense makes me applicable to your query. I have gotten into 1 mud, the three kingdoms. The thing I liked about that was quests had a storyline, good NPC interaction and it was not just hack/slash with minimum coded NPC interactions(For someone coming from MMOS , diverse NPC interactions with standard quests and quests that link to a global plot are essential) Also good ways of talking to all character types , npc and monster alike(Yes NPC mentioned again , its that important!)

Also fitting into to the criteria of "People that dont generally play muds but comming from MMOS" well I think quests have to involve examining room descriptions and finding things out, also very very important is a logical connection of rooms so its easy to map. You see I thought materia magica would have been for me but I was told to look on their website for maps, now heres the thing, I tried to map it with a mapping tool but sometimes in the same area you would just beam illogically to other places for instance you come north into a shop , go out the east door of a shop and end up in some street way to the south.( I think mapping is part of the fun, as YOU the player are exploring and finding stuff yourself) . The three kingdoms would be great for many MMO players and it nearly got it right but some of the quests were too hard in that unless you had mudded for years and were armed with a multitude of command words/not so obvious words gotten from 5 to 10 years of mudding , well you could get 3/4 through a quest and never get any further and it was highly illeagal to talk about how to do a quest(I like a challenge as much as the next person and hate using cheats/walkthroughs but the inexperianced do need a slight clue or helping hand from time to time and thats what stopped me playing that mud)

I hope you dont mind me relating my own situation its just I like this post, and I think more MMO players would be attracted to muds if quests were well thought out and had diverse storys but were attainable and people didnt delight in someone struggling with one part of a quest that for months they couldnt get and had been through every single word in the room descriptions but couldnt get help even though they were putting major effort in.

So

Attainable quests
Balanced help for quests - not handing it on a plate but giving clues what to try if a person has been stuck for days/weeks
Deep story
Really good NPC interaction
Perhaps PK but only for characters in the end game band of levels in which they can take over and run towns
A mud where any group of players can create a guild , not just people who know the mud admins
Logical mapping
Leveling
Talents
Good gear
Players can buy in game property(Im not talking any pay to play or alike schemes here)
A well run political element
Elements of resource gathering and crafting(Players can perhaps now and again make rare 1 off gadgets)
Enchanting
Player Marketplace as well as NPC shops However NOT RL money based because it ties in with a post I seen a moderator on this forum made which I 100% agree with. I.e Mr Uber who plays 24/7 or maybe even uses a borderline bot devalues resources and everything else so that the majority of non hardcore players cant make any amount of cash at all of their goods(This is a problem in many graphical MMOS)
Ways of customising a character so that its not just a case of do a build way X,Y or Z or you have a bad build and will struggle the rest of the game
Good Newbiie zone with quests that perhaps have multiple ways of doing things

I know its alot to expect but muds have way more scope than graphics games if you think about it, theres many many more things I could have added but if someone were to come up with something like the above I think absolute hordes of people would play , mudder and non mudder alike. I know I will like MUDS but I havent found one that fits yet. I actually think a mud that kinda goes down the interactive fiction route would attract many MMO players
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