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Old 07-02-2010, 01:25 PM   #1
Vatiken
 
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The First Five

It's pretty common knowledge amongst game developers of any genre, especially those involved in MMO's and MUDs that you typically have between 30 seconds and 5 minutes to snag a player. Obviously certain variables can affect a player's first impression life span. For example, if a player paid $60 for the game and signed on @ $20 a month for 3 months, he/she would be more inclined to "hope things get better" while playing a slow-starting MMO. In MUDs, MUSHes, MOOs etc though, where it typically costs nothing for the player to sample the game the time frame closes quickly.

I'm curious, and this is a 2 part question, 1 aimed at players, the other MUD developers.

---------------------------------------------------------
As a player, what aspects, features, qualities of a "MUD"(or other online game) encourage you to continue playing, while which other aspects drive you to leave?

As a developer, knowing your limited time-frame, what aspects and features of your game do you try to show-off to the player within the first five minutes? In depth Character Creation? Well written zones? Original Features?
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As a Player:
Extending Game Time:
  • Neat, Organized, Informative Character Creation
  • Atleast 1-2 players or immortals online
  • Well written room, mob, and object descriptions
  • "Easter Eggs", if a room descriptions mentions something in brief, like "tracks through the mud" or something, and a "look tracks" brings up another quality description, I consider that gold.
  • Courteous welcome by the staff... not a big thing, but a "Hello *name*, welcome to *MUD Name*, I hope you enjoy your time here and if you have any questions or comments just use the *command name* and send us a message... good luck." Something like that shows the MUD is actively worked on, and that they feel confident enough in their work not to try and babysit you.
  • News page, something that has been recently updated with the latest MUD updates.
Shortening Game Time:
  • Over Complicated Character Creation, especially in original, semi-original IPs. It's one thing to have a long list of generic classes, (warrior, thief, shaman, necromancer, warlock etc...), where the general skills and perks are common knowledge among fantasy gamers but when there are 40 classes with names like (Dragon Slayer, Air Bender, Corpse Walker, T'sul'Kerak etc...) where I would have to spend an hour or two researching each one, drives me insane.
  • Over use of Color
  • MUD Flood, too much stuff coming up on the screen at once really hurts my game play experience especially when it's trivial things like "EXP BONUS TIME!!!!!", or "WHO WANTS A COOKIE?!?!?!?".
  • Over active Immortals... "Here, I'll teleport you to the mobs you can kill....", "Here have the greatest weapon in the game..."..."Here, *POOF*, now you're level 5 million..."
  • "Newbie" Equipment... can't we come up with a more original idea for starting equipment then "a pair of newbie shoes", "a newbie sword."
  • Lacking Help-files... It's a given that a MUD isn't going to have a help-file for every help request it gets but there should be a help-file for all of the muds key features like combat, healing, moving etc... or atleast a web address to a web based game manual.
  • No direction... drop me into a pac-man game and I'll have no problem figuring out what to do, but in a large interactive world some direction would be nice. Within the first five minutes I should know how to earn some money, strengthen my character, and equip myself at the least.
As a Developer:
With my MUD nearing beta, I've been putting a lot of resources into the first five minutes of game play. The trouble is, the amount achieved within the first 5 minutes is a lot shorter for a "non-mudder", then it is for a seasoned vetern. Thus I'm going with an web-based mud school, so new MUDders can have a second window open to help them along.

With an always available online web tutorial, I feel it will allow me to skip the player ahead to the meat of the game more quickly. Which in my case, is a small quest zone which will hopefully run the player through some of the key features of my MUD, while granting them some experience and some equipment. The "Hook", hopefully, is that there is numerous ways to complete the quest zone, all of which are remembered my various NPCs within the actual world, which is my attempt to showcase the base idea for the MUD, "What you do matters..."

Last edited by Vatiken : 07-02-2010 at 02:16 PM.
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Old 07-02-2010, 02:09 PM   #2
Ide
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Re: The First Five

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vatiken View Post
---------------------------------------------------------
As a player, what aspects, features, qualities of a "MUD"(or other online game) encourage you to continue playing, while which other aspects drive you to leave?
---------------------------------------------------------
I've tried to put this in a rough order from when I hear of a mud through when I start playing it:

1. In the advertisement, does the mud sound like every other 'heavily modified' stock codebase? Does it have a cliched or poorly written backstory? Is it based on a popular IP (Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, Wheel of Time, Dragonball Z, Buffy) that I'm not interested in? Does it sound like an 'adult' mud. This is a turn-off.

2. Are the first few paragraphs of the login poorly formatted, written, or colored? I'll usually play past this but it leaves a negative impression.

3. Does the mud have a few interesting or unique-sounding features? This is encouraging.

4. Are the policy files or rules files heavy-handed, full of legalese or a 'sandbox' mentality (i.e., I am the owner, this is my sandbox, you'll do what I say)? This is a turn-off.

5. Does the play conform to how the mud represents itself? In a RP mud, do players RP? Do the other players seem intelligent and friendly? This is encouraging.
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Old 07-05-2010, 09:08 AM   #3
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Re: The First Five

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vatiken View Post
---------------------------------------------------------
As a developer, knowing your limited time-frame, what aspects and features of your game do you try to show-off to the player within the first five minutes? In depth Character Creation? Well written zones? Original Features?
---------------------------------------------------------
I'm glad someone brought this up because it's something I've thought about a lot.

I think the most important thing is actually 'playability.' What do I mean by this? I mean that the first five minutes of the game have to be incredibly intuitive and easy to use. If a player logs into my game, tries to move north but finds that "n" and "north" don't work and only "North" does, chances are they won't stick around.

Graphical MMO's have a huge leg up over MUDs in the sense that absolutely everyone on the planet who has ever played a game before is familiar with the WASD interface, which tends to vary very little from game to game. MUDs on the other hand tend to be far more diverse and have varying conventions. Also, MUDs have much smaller exposure and the odds of a player being unfamiliar with them is that much higher.

As to some of the other issues you raised

At Lithmeria, we recently completed work on the bulk of our intro and we decided to go for an approach that was comprehensive while making as many things optional as possible. We also aimed for a high level of specificity. Each base character class receives their own custom tutorial on how to kill things. Subsequently, players can choose to play through introductory missions that demonstrate each aspect of Lithmeria from ship combat to crafting to the war system. The idea is to provide players with as much information as possible while allowing them to tailor their own introductory experience to their own interests.
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Old 07-05-2010, 09:46 AM   #4
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Re: The First Five

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vatiken View Post
As a player, what aspects, features, qualities of a "MUD"(or other online game) encourage you to continue playing, while which other aspects drive you to leave?
The kind of game that I desire playing heavily influences what features draw me or scare me away. Generally, I seek roleplaying MUDs. With that being my goal --

Things that Keep Me Around:
  • An interesting and attractive Interface, free of blinding neon colors or ill-formatted text.
  • An attractive and intuitive website with everything I'd need to know to write a background for a character in a world that I would be completely unfamiliar with.
  • Application-styled character process with fast response time tells me 1.) The staff care about incoming quality, and 2.) The staff care, period.
  • Quality writing
  • At least 1-2 admin online
    At least 10 players online for a small world
    At least 40 players online for a large world
  • Obvious signs of daily activity.
Things that Scare Me Away:
  • A whiff of StockMUD.
  • A racial list five miles long.
  • An unengaging newbie area that forces me to walk through "How To Play a MUD"
  • Too much silly.
    See, mobs named "Nasty McNasty", chibi elements, or references to real people/places/ideas.
  • Generic approaches to MUD design (plain inventories, HP/mana, delay-based action)
  • Aggressive player chatter.
  • "Newbie" equipment
  • An apparent emphasis on number-crunching (stat-rolling and planning PC skills ahead of time)
  • Being a product belonging to an offensive or childish company or administration - on OR off the game.
    ... An example of this would be the inflammatory and disrespectful public behavior on TMS of a certain CEO of a certain group of pay-for-perk MUDs following the death of the last Pope; while I am not Catholic, such intolerance has led me to effectively boycott all games beneath his company's banner.
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Old 07-05-2010, 10:49 PM   #5
Tristan1992
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Re: The First Five

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vatiken View Post
typically have between 30 seconds and 5 minutes to snag a player.
> As a Player: Extending Game Time:
> At least 1-2 players or immortals online

I can go it alone as long as the mud is good enough and the help files are in order.

> Well written room, mob, and object descriptions

That always impresses me. Typos though are tolerated only in small amounts and if they're obviously due to someone illiterate...well that doesn't bode well.

> "Easter Eggs", if a room descriptions mentions something in brief, like "tracks through the mud" or something, and a "look tracks" brings up another quality description, I consider that gold.

Yeah that is fun but only when one gets deeper into the game. As a new player it has no appeal because one always wants to get going quickly and doing a lot of work typing l at jar on shelf is something I'll do on a mud I know is good, not one I'm trying out.

> Courteous welcome by the staff... not a big thing, but a "Hello *name*, welcome to *MUD Name*, I hope you enjoy your time here and if you have any questions or comments just use the *command name* and send us a message... good luck." Something like that shows the MUD is actively worked on, and that they feel confident enough in their work not to try and babysit you.

Actually that bugs me. Distractions are not helpful when brand new on a mud.

> News page, something that has been recently updated with the latest MUD updates.

Nah. I never read them unless I'm already a established player.

> Shortening Game Time:
> Over Complicated Character Creation, especially in original, semi-original IPs. It's one thing to have a long list of generic classes, (warrior, thief, shaman, necromancer, warlock etc...), where the general skills and perks are common knowledge among fantasy gamers but when there are 40 classes with names like (Dragon Slayer, Air Bender, Corpse Walker, T'sul'Kerak etc...) where I would have to spend an hour or two researching each one, drives me insane.

AMEN! I've seen a few like that and usually just end up picking human and some simple class so I can get going and see if I like the mud or not. It's good thing though once you get into it. Best bet is for the mud to recommend a simple choice right when it prompts you to pick. I appreciate that.

> Over use of Color

I can do without colour but then again that's how I started mudding.

> MUD Flood, too much stuff coming up on the screen at once really hurts my game play experience especially when it's trivial things like "EXP BONUS TIME!!!!!", or "WHO WANTS A COOKIE?!?!?!?".

That drives me nuts. Almost certain to drive me away unless I can very easily and quickly turn the jabber off.

> Over active Immortals... "Here, I'll teleport you to the mobs you can kill....", "Here have the greatest weapon in the game..."..."Here, *POOF*, now you're level 5 million..."

Haha I've experienced that. Let me say that it gave me a very low opinion of the mud and I never stayed at such a one. It is so DESPERATE as to make ya wanna upchuck.

> "Newbie" Equipment... can't we come up with a more original idea for starting equipment then "a pair of newbie shoes", "a newbie sword."

Sword and Cloak you mean? Hehe. Well it never bothered me. Free and fast and what new player cares yet. Later on sure it looks bad but as a new player it's not what I'm paying attention to.

> Lacking Help-files... It's a given that a MUD isn't going to have a help-file for every help request it gets but there should be a help-file for all of the muds key features like combat, healing, moving etc... or atleast a web address to a web based game manual.

Deadly. If I can't figure it out quickly and there's no one online to help it's splitsville.

> No direction... drop me into a pac-man game and I'll have no problem figuring out what to do, but in a large interactive world some direction would be nice. Within the first five minutes I should know how to earn some money, strengthen my character, and equip myself at the least.

Indeed.
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Old 02-26-2012, 10:38 AM   #6
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Re: The First Five

A clear statement of the MUDs setting that distinguishes it from all of the other MUDs out there. This is extremely rare.

A comprehensive webpage that I can read to learn everything about the MUD that is helpful to a starting player. I am constantly astonished by the number of MUDs that lack such a webpage. People put all that work into producing the MUD and then don't bother putting up some simple documentation online! Everything about character generation, for instance, should be available without logging in.

Mandatory MUD school turns me off.

My experiences in the first five minutes must keep it crystal clear what is so damn unique about your MUD that I should play it rather than all of the other MUDs out there.
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Old 02-26-2012, 12:20 PM   #7
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Re: The First Five

Things that will keep me playing:
A well described world (None of that 'Broadsword; a broadsword')
Fleshed out help files
Lore that I can at least get a basic grasp of fairly quickly
Maps of routes between commonly traveled areas, at least
Nonstandard (D&D etc) races
Crafting
Communication channels
Clothing, not just armor
A full, but skip-able tutorial

Things that turn me off:
D&D default races
Classes/Professions controlled by players
Rainbow text
Not being allowed to give/receive IC advice
Being PvP'd within a short time of creation
Excessive PvP in general


I'll edit if I think of more
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Old 02-26-2012, 12:58 PM   #8
Greg
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Re: The First Five

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghostcat View Post
Things that will keep me playing:
Nonstandard (D&D etc) races

Things that turn me off:
D&D default races
This one really hits home.

The internet is already full of MUDs that run on the standard D&D assumptions. If someone wants me to play their MUD, they have to offer me something substantially different.

The difference needs to actually make a difference to the feel of playing the game too. A +1 STR here and -1 WIS there isn't going to make the game feel any different in play.
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Old 02-27-2012, 10:22 AM   #9
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Re: The First Five

This is exactly the reason I've avoided adding races. In my mind, a race should be more than just +1 str, -1 int, and a ground string nobody reads anyway. Until I can take the time to do a multi-month sort of update and do them correctly, races will probably remain off the table for us.

-dentin

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http://www.alteraeon.com
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Old 10-12-2012, 09:50 AM   #10
Orion
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Re: The First Five

Things that will keep me playing:

* At least 1 staff member present when I log in.
* At least 2 players present when I log in.
* Well written room descriptions.
* Objects - not just treasure, armour or weapons.
* A craft system.
* Other skills you can use to perform various activities, such as hunting, gathering, farming etc.
* Neat layout.
* Appropriate use of colour.
* Up to date helpfiles.
* Setting helpfiles, or a website with such information.
* Enforced roleplay.
* Good quality roleplay, within the bounds of the setting.
* A mature playerbase, able to both handle conflict between their characters and be good sports about it.
* A world that can reasonably be affected by a player's roleplay.
* A simplified character creation process. No tutorial.
* A helpful playerbase and staff.
* A combat system that involves roleplay but is also supported by code.
* A leveless combat system with an emphasis on tactics.
* A classless system, with some logical restrictions on learning skills unless you take on specific roles.
* Maps of commonly travelled areas.
* Recent IC developments and game changes available to read as they come about.

Things that will turn me off:

* Hack and slash.
* Poorly written room descriptions.
* Out of date helpfiles, or helpfiles that are repetitive or are hard to understand.
* A lack of roleplay.
* Over use of colour.
* Messy layout style.
* IC information being shared over OOC channels.
* Poor quality roleplay.
* A long, drawn out character creation process.
* Rude or abusive players or staff.
* Players or staff that smother you when you arrive with offers of help.
* NPC, weather etc spam.
* Spammy combat messages that give you no time to think about what you're doing.
* Combat where newer characters don't stand a chance of affecting more experienced characters.
* Rigid setting, where any deviation away from what is a 'normal' character is never allowed.
* Too many races.
* Classes.
* Nonsensical plots or too many inconsistencies.

As you can see, my needs are many. As a developer, I aim to cover each one of the points that would keep me as a player interested. In the first 5 minutes, I think a message when you log in describing recent important information, such as changes to the game or planned IC events would be helpful, and I think a simple creation process that refers you to the helpfiles rather than duplicates what is in them, by needlessly leading you through a tedious tutorial, would avoid trying a new player's patience. The creation process should set them up with everything they need to begin playing and then off they go. I think it's best if staff say hello and let them know if they require help, they are available, but otherwise leave them to it. Players are encouraged to send in their character ideas to the staff prior to playing, so that the staff can help them with their concept if neccesary. I may or may not make this a requirement.

I think the hook, if they are so inclinced, will actually be their first roleplay, and whether or not it is interesting enough for them to think they will want to continue playing. To that end, I want to foster an environment where something is always happening. I think conflict is key to this, and enabling characters to create an environment of sustained conflict is important.

It should be possible to: form groups of people with similar views and goals, blackmail others into doing what you want, achieve recognition for good deeds, spread rumours or bend the truth, steal from other characters, harm other characters physically or emotionally, insult other characters and such actions should not automatically lead to your character being killed.
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Old 10-12-2012, 04:23 PM   #11
Will
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Re: The First Five

What gets my attention:
• A website that covers game information. If I'm required to read in-game help files or do a tutorial to learn how to play, I'm likely gone.
• Intuitive paths to beginning. Situate everything I need to equip myself, start learning skills and generally play the game close to my entry point.
• Well-written everything. Few things turn me off more than bad writing in character creation.
• Friendly players and helpful but unobtrusive staff.
• Complex character creation with a quick gen option.
• An active IC channel
• Present role-play.

What holds my interest:
• Enforced RP.
• An engaging narrative.
• A community of mature role-players.
• A mutable world where live, staff-sponsored, player-driven events determine the course of history.
• Exciting combat, both PVP and PVE, and overall great game-play.
• Fun advancement mechanics.
• Interesting treasure.
• Long-term goals, both mechanics and RP-based.
• Opportunity for solo achievement as well as...
• ...compelling incentive to achieve in groups.

What turns me OFF:
• Bad writing.
• OOC chatter in-game.
• OOC channels.
• Snobby role-players.
• OOC drama.
• Necessary/forced tutorials.
• Built-in hatreds and biases.
• The necessity to eat, drink, etc.
• Permadeath.

Basically, I want web-based game info open beside my game client. I want to know how to play going in and be able to easily find what I need and where I need to go, without having to dig through a maze of online files or slog through an "in-character" in-game tutorial. I don't want to constantly be tripping over bad grammar in room descs or hearing folks gabbing about presidential politics, Lady Gaga or last night's ball game. And I darn sure don't want folks bagging on me because my prose isn't fancy enough.
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Old 10-12-2012, 04:50 PM   #12
Orion
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Re: The First Five

Quote:
And I darn sure don't want folks bagging on me because my prose isn't fancy
enough. - Will
No one wants that. I don't care much about spelling and grammar in emotes, as long as I can read it. I'd expect roleplay to not be wildly outside the setting though, and length is important to me. If someone continually does emotes shorter than 1 line, their RP is unlikely to hold my interest.
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