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Old 01-08-2009, 03:30 PM   #1
aorpg
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Looking for Suggestions

I plan on making a MUD, but I was wondering if any of you had some tips, or suggestions on things I should make sure to do, and make sure not to do. I'm a programmer and will be coding the codebase, and it won't be a TELNET MUD. I can't create rooms, so I'll definitely need help with that.
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Old 01-08-2009, 04:13 PM   #2
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Re: Looking for Suggestions

There's enough muds out there. Join somebody elses staff and get a feel for it first.
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Old 01-08-2009, 04:28 PM   #3
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Re: Looking for Suggestions

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Originally Posted by Delerak View Post
There's enough muds out there. Join somebody elses staff and get a feel for it first.
Not really interested in joining another MUD. Also, I've been playing MUDs for a few years now so I know how they work, this is just the first time I'm looking at creating my own.
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Old 01-08-2009, 05:57 PM   #4
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Re: Looking for Suggestions

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Not really interested in joining another MUD. Also, I've been playing MUDs for a few years now so I know how they work, this is just the first time I'm looking at creating my own.
Okay, well, here's my best advice. From a developing standpoint: really know what you want to do before you satart. It depends on what your plan is. Whether you want players or don't really care and are just doing it as a hobby can make a huge difference in your endeavors of doing a MUD. If you're going to code it yourself, I highly recommend looking at what is out there already.

I don't see anybody doing anything better than the stock DIKU that is already a simple, customizable base. Or Naked MUD, or Argila, or.. well there's tons of codebases out there and unless you have the skill and energy of a Kavir to code your own base, it's going to be a lot harder than you think. The genre you develop will depend as well because you need to build a lively world with objects, npcs, and rooms. Like I wrote before if you know exactly what you want to do before hand you will save yourself tons of headaches in the future. For example, the type of mud it is will greatly depend on the type of builders you look for.
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Old 01-08-2009, 07:50 PM   #5
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Re: Looking for Suggestions

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Originally Posted by aorpg View Post
I plan on making a MUD, but I was wondering if any of you had some tips, or suggestions on things I should make sure to do, and make sure not to do. I'm a programmer and will be coding the codebase, and it won't be a TELNET MUD. I can't create rooms, so I'll definitely need help with that.
Some suggestions:
  1. Read MUDs : MUD Design Concepts : New C++ codebase
  2. Write a design document
Writing the design document is slow process. I am on that stage right now . Basically you might write a few pages. Then the next day you look at it and realize how poor some of the things you wrote down actually are so you modify them, and so on.

It might also be good idea to write example log files showing how play in the MUD would appear to a player.
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Old 01-09-2009, 02:20 AM   #6
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Re: Looking for Suggestions

Thanks everyone! Very helpful posts
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Old 01-09-2009, 02:52 AM   #7
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Re: Looking for Suggestions

I understand that you are not interested in working on another MUD; HOWEVER, I feel compelled to ask you to reconsider.

Have you ever worked as a core staff member (not a builder, or someone who still plays their characters half as much as they work) on an ACTIVE, open MUD? Have you ever run a game or project where you have had to deal with hordes of complete strangers, most of them quite dickish (let's be frank, most of the remaining MUD enthusiasts hanging around all have their own little attitude)?

If you have not -- I highly recommend that you find an open MUD that will accept you onto their team and work your way up to a leadership position BEFORE starting on your own project. There is a HUGE difference between building a game and administrating it; contrary to belief, you can't just point at people and get them to handle all the headaches for you. It seems rare to get a good staff together, and you're not going to be able to depend too much on volunteers for a project that is just starting out. People get bored and moved on.

In my opinion, most of the people operating MUDs on our community are not skilled enough to be administrators, or don't have the emotional maturity to carry it through -- even if they DO have the technical skills. I'm not saying these things to insult you or ward you off, because I don't know a thing about you; you may have what so many others lack, but I just recommend getting a feel for what you're facing before you put in a lot of work.

--

By not having a 'TELNET' mud, do you mean that your MUD will have a custom client, or that it will be graphical in nature? This is more of a curiosity than anything else.
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Old 01-09-2009, 03:12 AM   #8
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Re: Looking for Suggestions

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Originally Posted by Aeran View Post
Some suggestions:
  1. Read MUDs : MUD Design Concepts : New C++ codebase
  2. Write a design document
Writing the design document is slow process. I am on that stage right now . Basically you might write a few pages. Then the next day you look at it and realize how poor some of the things you wrote down actually are so you modify them, and so on.

It might also be good idea to write example log files showing how play in the MUD would appear to a player.
That's extremely helpful.

http://www.aorpg.com/info.txt
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Old 01-09-2009, 05:32 AM   #9
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Re: Looking for Suggestions

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That's extremely helpful.

http://www.aorpg.com/info.txt
Now you'll want to write the actual design document . For example you'll want to try explain how the game actually works. How does a typical battle look, and what formulas will be used? How does the command interface to the game work if there is any? How is the player's inventory shown on screen?

This is the challenging part. You have to convince yourself that your game has a purpose, and that it deserves to exist. Is that idea you wrote down really good, or is it just a copy of the other MUDs? What makes the MUD different? Would you enjoy play it yourself?

A small note. You might want to reconsider how harsh you are on players swearing. My experience is that while people often can restrain themselves, there are some people who seem almost to have a natural skill to place swear words as they write. Turning off their communication channels temporarily could be effective as well. If you are too harsh, then people will go to another MUD.

Another resource you might want to look at as well is MUDDev Archive
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Old 01-09-2009, 06:43 AM   #10
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Re: Looking for Suggestions

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Originally Posted by Delerak View Post
There's enough muds out there. Join somebody elses staff and get a feel for it first.
Normally Delerak's blunt approach doesnt sit well with me, but in this case he is bang on the nail. There are lots of MUD's out there.. some have had great features unique to themselves.. and sadly the majority are souless, quiet affairs that are doomed to die a lonely, unseen death.

You have admitted you dont have the basic tools / skills to create a MUD alone but there are always MUD's with established team crying out for deleveloper / builders.

Not only that, but the administration side will be a nightmare should you get going..developers / coders do not (usually) make the best people-person's, and not only that but with the small player base available.. it would be soul destroying when the only person playing is yourself during testing.

Of course it would be a magnificent feat, and would no doubt be very self gratifying.. but without the passionate interest of others, it would very difficult to maintain the impetus to finish.

Join an estalished team, learn everything you need whilst jotting your own plans / ideas on paper and take it from there. You wont necessarily need to be a player, though you would be expected to play for a wee while to learn how the current engine works.
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Old 01-09-2009, 08:36 AM   #11
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Re: Looking for Suggestions

I guess I would agree with those who have questioned the need for another MUD. In addition to what others have said, even if your intention is to get a hang of coding stuff, this can be done while contributing to an existing project instead of your work going into the virtual valhalla of dead MUD projects. If you are actually trying to make a game, you wont get a game based on coding alone anyway, so you need to create a team at some point anyway- so why not to start with. I am sure there are scores of games that can do with a coder- even one that is not very brilliant- including starting MUDs of all stripes and MUDS in the under 15 players online category with an existing playerbase that is not going anywhere but needing massive improvement. New games that open to the public but go nowhere are in the end hurting the MUDing community making people lose faith in the genre. I am sure in the 1000 odd games out there, there is bound to be atleast one that is close to what you want to create.

Of course, that would entail you finding that elusive game and testing it to see if you can fit there. After that, figuring a way to get hired. A suggestion is to actually play the game for a while to see if you can stand the people there. I found that I cant work on a MUD which I cant play.
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Old 01-09-2009, 08:44 AM   #12
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Re: Looking for Suggestions

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Originally Posted by Kleothera View Post
I guess I would agree with those who have questioned the need for another MUD. In addition to what others have said, even if your intention is to get a hang of coding stuff, this can be done while contributing to an existing project instead of your work going into the virtual valhalla of dead MUD projects. If you are actually trying to make a game, you wont get a game based on coding alone anyway, so you need to create a team at some point anyway- so why not to start with. I am sure there are scores of games that can do with a coder- even one that is not very brilliant- including starting MUDs of all stripes and MUDS in the under 15 players online category with an existing playerbase that is not going anywhere but needing massive improvement. New games that open to the public but go nowhere are in the end hurting the MUDing community making people lose faith in the genre. I am sure in the 1000 odd games out there, there is bound to be atleast one that is close to what you want to create.

Of course, that would entail you finding that elusive game and testing it to see if you can fit there. After that, figuring a way to get hired. A suggestion is to actually play the game for a while to see if you can stand the people there. I found that I cant work on a MUD which I cant play.
Oh, this isn't to get a hang of anything. I've been programming for over 6 years and own more than 1 business. I have money and programming ability.
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Old 01-09-2009, 11:57 AM   #13
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Re: Looking for Suggestions

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New games that open to the public but go nowhere are in the end hurting the MUDing community making people lose faith in the genre. I am sure in the 1000 odd games out there, there is bound to be atleast one that is close to what you want to create.
I have to disagree on that. I think diversity in MUDs is a good thing. It gives us a lot of different games to try and hopefully also enjoy . If you see each MUD as a book what you essentially are asking is for authors to stop write new books. Perhaps there are other worlds to explore, other stories and new kind of experiences to be had. If people give up before they even try to write the book those worlds never have a chance to emerge.

My opinion on people losing faith on MUDs is that there is lack of decent reviews on the games. Player reviews are usually written as advertisements and give you little information about the game. TMS is nice for when you want to see what MUDs get a lot of traffic, but it does not advertise smaller MUDs that yet have interesting and unique content.

Edit: I think MUD Quest tries to show what MUDs could be interesting to take a closer look at.
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Old 01-09-2009, 01:06 PM   #14
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Re: Looking for Suggestions

Great Reply Aeran, I agree with that. Good authoring and books are a reason MUD's exist.

To Aorpg, this question is asked a LOT. I suggest readin through the following thread thoroughly:

http://www.topmudsites.com/forums/ta...html#post38442

Good Luck!
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Old 01-09-2009, 06:24 PM   #15
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Re: Looking for Suggestions

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Great Reply Aeran, I agree with that. Good authoring and books are a reason MUD's exist.

To Aorpg, this question is asked a LOT. I suggest readin through the following thread thoroughly:

http://www.topmudsites.com/forums/ta...html#post38442

Good Luck!
I really appreciate all the help from everyone
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Old 01-10-2009, 12:07 AM   #16
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Re: Looking for Suggestions

Well. Ok. My argument why a multiplicity of MUDs in the end hurt the community goes something like this.

a. if its bad, it makes finding anything decent difficult in the ocean of other similar average MUDs. Independent reviews would be nice, but we also know they arent going to happen on a significant scale. TMC had attempted them some years back, but they didnt go very far- for a lot of reasons. Speaking as a MUD (in whose previous incarnation) we had undergone a TMC review, there were factual errors/errors based on a newbie perspective and I guess there was a strong slant for reviewing from a RP perspective in a mud that was NOT RP Enforced. In the end, a lot of people felt it was kind of biased. Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder and in that case, it becomes the perception of one individual reviewer based on his or her own previous MUDing experience (reviewing based on what he/she thinks is good, based on what he/she has been playing). If you HAVE to have independent reviews, they must atleast be a team effort, so the game doesnt end up being dependent on the POV of ONE person.

b. There are lots of games- of various quality- out there. The shrinking playerbase gets divided into a plethora of games under development driving per MUD number down. Unlike the number of people in the category "book readers" (using the example in a previous post), the category of "MUD players" is finite. Yes, independent new MUDs obviously would continue to get created for the reason that there could be MUCH better new MUDs than what we have already, but my only submission is to first attempt to bring the existing MUDs to the standards of exceptional quality (and not have one average - old- game with players that still looks for additional content developers- and a potentially exceptional game without players). If the search for potential games to improve FAILS, then go on to build an indepedent one. I am not saying dont start a game, but give a shot to trying to prevent a MUD with an existing playerbase from going down under. A lot of new games also shut down because they dont attract players; if you start with a game with existing players, you have crossed one barrier already.

c. Playing a MUD (good, bad or ugly) involves considerable investment of time and people get attached to their own game passionately. When a GOOD game closes down without reaching completion or soon after completion, it is a disappointment. I cant seem to find the link of the article by Richard Bartle (is on Gamasutra) where he says the time people are ready to invest on a second MUD tends to be lower than the first (and progressively lower subsequently). My point is, in this case, after a mud you like shuts down- there is a lot of nostalgia on the part of players who go on to seek something similar- something that may not exist (and is impossible to find in this ocean of games with 1-2 players if it DID). There is also less probability to invest time in another untested game after one has experienced that the place where one has spent MONTHS building up your character has just disappeared overnight. Again, my point is for MUD developers combine forces to prevent disappointment to players instead of allowing good muds to disappear into the dark. This would happen when wannabe MUD developers are ready to build on existing foundations, NOT start their own projects. Yes, that may entail the MUD in question not being ONLY the new developer's project and there are probably going to be personality clashes between admins about the direction the game should go (not to mention turf issues- this is MY game, who are you newcomer that you are to tell me how to do things), but it would help the players in the end.

Anyway, LONG note. Doesn't really help answer the question of how to code a game if one has made up his/her mind to make one's own.

Last edited by Kleothera : 01-10-2009 at 12:15 AM. Reason: Typos squashed.
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Old 01-10-2009, 09:38 AM   #17
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Re: Looking for Suggestions

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a. if its bad, it makes finding anything decent difficult in the ocean of other similar average MUDs. Independent reviews would be nice, but we also know they arent going to happen on a significant scale. TMC had attempted them some years back, but they didnt go very far- for a lot of reasons. Speaking as a MUD (in whose previous incarnation) we had undergone a TMC review, there were factual errors/errors based on a newbie perspective and I guess there was a strong slant for reviewing from a RP perspective in a mud that was NOT RP Enforced. In the end, a lot of people felt it was kind of biased.
Your game did get reviewed and got pushed out of the "MUD swamp". A lot of MUDs don't get much attention and are difficult to find for players. All reviews are somewhat biased. Just look at game magazines.

Quote:
Yes, independent new MUDs obviously would continue to get created for the reason that there could be MUCH better new MUDs than what we have already, but my only submission is to first attempt to bring the existing MUDs to the standards of exceptional quality (and not have one average - old- game with players that still looks for additional content developers- and a potentially exceptional game without players).
What category of staff member do you believe is toughest to find?

Quote:
A lot of new games also shut down because they dont attract players; if you start with a game with existing players, you have crossed one barrier already.
I have played on games that started with 60-80 players, and ended in 4-5 players. The real question is perhaps if you should aim for a lot of players, or aim to have fun writing the game. If players actually join then that is hopefully a bonus.

Quote:
c. Playing a MUD (good, bad or ugly) involves considerable investment of time and people get attached to their own game passionately. When a GOOD game closes down without reaching completion or soon after completion, it is a disappointment.
Even a large MUD with a large team could be closed down in a few seconds. If the original owner gets tired of the game he/she could close it. There is unfortunately no guarantee someone else get permission to continue run the MUD. While not a MUD you can look at MudMagic/MudRage as an example. That website was closed all of a sudden. Of course the more developers on a game, the more politics you get.

Quote:
There is also less probability to invest time in another untested game after one has experienced that the place where one has spent MONTHS building up your character has just disappeared overnight.
I agree that this is very annoying.

Quote:
Again, my point is for MUD developers combine forces to prevent disappointment to players instead of allowing good muds to disappear into the dark.
The problem is there is no guarantees even if you have a large team, as I mention above. It just takes a few people to ruin the fun for everyone else.

Quote:
Anyway, LONG note. Doesn't really help answer the question of how to code a game if one has made up his/her mind to make one's own.
I think you point out important issues. Personally I find what makes MUDs fun is to develop them. To me that is more fun than actually playing them . Perhaps singleplayer-able MUDs should be aimed for that are able to scale when more players join.

While there are a lot of small MUDs out there they do not fight alone.
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Old 01-10-2009, 10:21 AM   #18
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Re: Looking for Suggestions

About reviews-
I am basically advocating for what in social science research is called inter-observer reliability. I dont deny it was rather nice at the time to have been picked for review, but it was also I think the LAST TMC review they did (not sure havent checked the TMC review list in AGES), but it was certainly the first and last review the particular reviewer did. I guess I am biased based on my own social science research background, but in hindsight, it was probably to a large extent the case of a novice observer. Mentoring new reviewers may be a good idea to ensure they and the old hands at reviews review at the same level of oh validity and reliability. So I am a geek. Shoot me.

The category of staff we find difficult to find- heck, at this time ANY staff that wants to actually WORK to develop something instead of making fits and starts on projects and then their motivation fizzling out and me having to crack the whip. However, rant apart, most indie MUDs rely on people who code and RP and do stuff for fun. Which is GREAT, except when the MUD gets like a decade under its belt and then someone has to handle the dirty job of addressing the constant PR chore of explaining to the players why changes that are really badly needed (and were promised ages back) arent happening. If these changes do not happen. Failure to continue developing content is a major reason why a game's playebase falls from 40 odd players to 4-5. There are very few people who are really driven to make improvements because they are self driven (and coding or building or RPing consistently can be a chore and clash with RL) and not because someone reminds them of it. I think the ratio is like 1:10 in each of our streams of staff- coding, building and RP. My point would indirectly be, if a mud with self driver coder, but no self driven builder gets a self-driven builder of good areas, the game can improve exponentially. And I guess, good coders that are reliable and do what is needed, not what they feel is interesting to them at this point in time are as rare as ... well.. very damned rare.

Yes, any game can close down when the lead developer loses interest. However, if the game has developed a culture of the game being a common project, not that of one individual person, it would go on despite changes of the lead coder or owner or anything. In our over decade long existance we have I think changed like 6-7 Head Coders and 4 Owners. It still sputters along despite the usual explosive mix of immortal and player high drama. The our game split when the original owner returned from a long hiatus with the feeling of it being "his" game, with the team going one way and the owner the other. Our splinter group has changed owners THRICE since the spit. My point behind this bit of irrelevant history is yes, the game MAY shut down any day. But it can ALSO continue with different owners without any perceivable change in direction and the players even at times missing the fact that a change over has happened. It solely depends on the culture of the MUD. And no, we arent a closed group of people from the same college or anything that would make us exceptionally close to each other resulting in smooth transitions- our staff comes from four continents and most of us havent met each other IRL (our owner is in the US, our head coder in europe, our head of RP/PR/Mentors in Asia and well our head builder is kind of MIA atm but is from the US). If we can do it, I dont see why others cant.
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Old 01-10-2009, 11:08 AM   #19
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Re: Looking for Suggestions

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The real question is perhaps if you should aim for a lot of players, or aim to have fun writing the game. If players actually join then that is hopefully a bonus.
That is how I have viewed my game, this time.

I have worked for others many, many times on different codebases and genres, and seen every one of those years go for nothing. This time I did it for the love of creating a game world and game, not for profit, players or fame. I am doing it for the love of the art of world creation and game design.

And 3+ years into this project I am still enjoying it.
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Old 01-10-2009, 12:50 PM   #20
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Re: Looking for Suggestions

Interesting thread. I can tell you that I never planned to run a mud. I'm not much of a roleplayer and found at the time (1993-1996) that most of the "well run" MUDs tended to be more serious and a lot of the "just fun hack and slash" MUDs were the kind that appeared and disappeared overnight, or the kind where there were often a lot of questions about imm behavior or all kinds of admin drama, fall outs, muds splitting. Or, they went too far the other way, I think there was a mud called 'insane mud' or similar and a couple like it.

I know this is a generalization and I'm sure those muds existed at the time, I just didn't find them. So I found a small little MUD I liked to hang out on called "Aardvark" and it became very unstable to the point it was unplayable. Having done a little coding on that MUD I took a copy of it and put it online elsewhere. The original MUD went down a few days after that and never did come back up. Interestingly, that is also why the name became "Aardwolf", it was because of "Aardvark" and was never a play to be an "aa" mud for list ordering - although that might have been why "Aardvark" was so named, I never did find out.

Anyway, there was no plan to run a MUD and certainly no plan to run a big mud. I loved adding things to the MUD and kept doing so. People kept playing and it grew. We didn't even advertize, there was a listing on TMC and that was it. We didn't even list on this site until 2003 - I believe it had already been up 2-3 years at that time. We really did nothing special and I never did understand the growth, I'm still not sure I do. We tried very hard (we've made our mistakes) to do all the things you see in every MUD ad - listen to good ideas, treat people with respect, have fair and consistent rules and be stable.

I know some people see the top few muds on TMS and are discouraged by it, "they get so many players because they're ranked so high". I believe it is the other way around, "They're ranked so high because they have so many players". This is certainly the case for Aardwolf - average online is lower than it was when we first listed in 2003 (as it is for a lot of MUDS). At this point there is kind of a feedback loop there I do agree, "You have more players so you get more votes so people notice you first", but it took something to get those players in the first place, and it wasn't massive advertising, it can only have really been word of mouth.

I suppose the point of all this is that back in 1996 if I had sat down and thought, "Do I want to start a MUD?" I probably wouldn't have - there were already well over 1,500 MUDs on the net and I wouldn't have felt I could do any better. On the other hand, I couldn't find the mud *I* wanted to play so saw a gap, kind of fell into adopting another mud so combined the two and the rest is history. At the time we had 5-10 people online there were already long established MUDs with hundreds online, the same situation that exists for new MUDs today.

I'm not sure if I'd start a new MUD in 2009, but it wouldn't be other MUDs existing that would make me think twice, it would be all the other things now available to potential players that makes it hard to get new players to try any MUD.

If you really see a gap in the suite of existing MUDs and you think you can fill it, go for it, don't let the number of existing muds on the net stop you. If you offer something new that people want, whether that is your codebase/features, your community, the "feel" of the mud or something else - it will grow. Maybe slower than you'd like, maybe faster than you'd expect. Don't underestimate the amount of work involved either, the code is the easy part, you control it and it does what you tell it (although figuring out exactly what to tell it can be a challenge at time) - your players and your staff don't.

One other point to never forget, and I surely struggle to remind myself of this from time to time too - Just because someone is "whining" doesn't automatically mean they're wrong.

Last edited by Lasher : 01-10-2009 at 12:59 PM.
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