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Old 03-22-2011, 06:25 PM   #1
Darren Brimhall
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Giving Critical Review of, and Suggestions to Correct Problems, on Games we used to p

There are MUD's out there we either once enjoyed for a long period of time, or simply didn't bother continuing with after the introductory period, but became disenchanted with how it was being run at that point and left.

Why?


The theme of this thread is to bring such to light in a constructive manner, and give suggestions in the same manner. Perhaps those who continue to play these outed games may take a look themselves and offer rebuttle to the reasons posted, or pass them along to those who own the said MUD.

Mine involves Castle Marrach.


The reasons are:


1. The place has sunk down to the level where those still playing it 'beef up' the Character Roster by creating Alts in the hopes of attracting more players to the game. This was confirmed to me by a player who recenty left this game and Skotos alltogether over Yahoo Chat.


2. A very poor player retention raito because exsisting (established) players usually consider the newbies to be Alts, and don't really pay attention to them very much. This has been a long standing problem there , and apparently hasn't been corrected. Lately it seems more Alts have been created as 'Sacrafices'--characters that get killed off in plots--to protect their long-lived (and favored) characters.


3. Not very much to do beyond taking lessons and trying to meet and impress people. VP players are usually very far and very in between--and said players keeping logs is very, very rare. This alone leads to frustration on the player's part because you need to be noticed by thise characters to gain rank and access to where all of the 'real' RPing is going on.


4. (the biggie) Plots are, again according to the recently departed player, largely OOCly driven. And again, refering to #3, you need to either be a ranking character or 'in the know' to participate. If you don't, there really isn't very much t do until the climax which usually occurs three or four months after the start of the Plot--during which the amount of information given to your character is usually of poor quality
and not worth the time spent trying to gain it.


5. The Game is 'top-heavy', meaning the higher positions are 'choaked' up with players very protective of their statius, and positions that have yet to be filled (Royal Tutor, Royal Pigeon Keeper (there are no birds in Game) and The Lord Warden of the Coast--are examples) in the ten years the Game's been run.
This top-heavyness stymies upward movement, leading again to frustration on the player's part.


6. (another biggie) The poor handling or resources (namely coding) has left various groups with in the Castle without very much to do. Sorcery, The Garden Society, and varrious other attempts at starting other Crafting Guilds with in the Castle suffer from this neglect as resources are channeled towards more favored groups and players, or into events that really don't further gameplay. There were Staffers who I had to yell at repeatedly to get even the simplist things done, while there were Staffers who did things at the drop of the hat--so quality will varry.


7. (the real biggie) Staff that repeatedly 'helps' favored players get whatever they want, even at the cost of other player's characters, then protects them by denying all efforts by those players displaced by the favored thought the deliberate 'disavowing' of of plots that have occured in the past (if the walls have ears, the cats are the Queen's 'eyes', and when she once fell deathly ill when the Grand Bridge collasped in places--so how can it be said that she isn't connected to the Castle?).
This also spreads to information about plots and the use of OOCly gained information against other players, though in one case that I have recorded Staff stepped in to stop legal proceedings against one player (who was a mid-level staffer) started by a Staff-favored player. In my case, involving a donated Rumor which wasn't posted 'officially' but still used against my character. And OOC information, given by the above mentioned Staff-favored player using OOC info, to me over Yahoo Chat, which I later reported to Staff. That player's character gained a new tile soon afterward, instead of serious punishment for both the player and character.
I have both of these incidents saved as well.


8. There is no real means if inflicting damage in a realistic manner that occurs automaticly InGame, in other words there are no staits for players beyond their skills. It takes four stab wounds from a sword to effectively kill any character in this Game, and location is debatable--so no instant kills unless ok'ed by Staff. The player can also set the damage to their character by using @woundme command. Which means any character there can get bashed about, have heavy stones fall upo them and then get doused in highly leathal poison, after getting trampled by wild horses ridden by brutish warriors being chased by horrible giants, and then brush all off with "It's just a scratch."


Now, for suggestions;

The number of characters one can have should be limited.
In Castle Marrach, you can have a total of six and possibly play them all at once (by using different Internet browsers) depending on your computers CPU. When the Game started, players were limited to only a single character. But when Alts became available, they also became quite common place--hense the attitudes towards Newbies, and the lack of effort on the established players part to make them apart of the place.
Plus, killing off alts in the course of a plot is a very cheap way of 'promoting' them because they can be 'reawakened' after Eight hours--and brought quickly back up to speed InGame, to either die heroicly again (repeating the process) or somehow aiding to save the day thus gaining attention from their betters (Staff run VP's) and promoted.
Limiting the number of Alts one can have, and keeping track of them by Staffers who have no connection with either the Game or any member of it's playerbase (more on this later) would help eliminate this problem significantly.


People come to MUD's to Play, not stand around when the action is occuring--especially when they want to be appart of it. Limiting access during castle-wide plots prevents the new from really getting a 'taste' of the place--especially if they have taken up arms in defense of their new home. How better way to show off their character's mettle in such siturations, especially before the Noble Characters.
This can also be used to keep players in the Game, who can then 'promote it' on other Boards.


InGame Plots should never be driven by OutOfCharacter desires or wants.
All instances of this should be (and would normally be) quickly stopped, with the players responcible severly admolished and punished for the action. But since in Marrach the Staff is pulled from the Player Base, there is a 44% chance that the montiff of 'Friends helping Friends' is quite alive and well there--in fact, it explains all the recorded instances I have as well as personal esperience.
A Staff drawn from other Skotos games, and having no relationship with any player currently in Marrach,
can stop this corruption in its tracks. Using the Players Guide, these Staffers can be quickly brought up to speed on how the game works and what is exsected from those who play it--removing the ease in which 'favored players' can have their way at the exspence of other players.


The removal of useless and pointless offices from the Great Chain. They just clutter things up and serve no useful purpose InGame.

Promote 'risk' especially amongst the higher placed players. Nothing was ever guaranteed in Mideval Societies, even Nobility, Knights and respected citizens all knelt before the Executioner--just like Murders did. To promote upward movement in Marrach would mean the unseating of the established players and NPC's either through scandal or 'assending'.
Prior to my leaving, a player's character, a Knight, did assend to the level of a Fae Knight and thus became a NPC. It has not happened since, and should be considered as a means of removing that log jam on the upper levels of the Great Chain to give other players a chance to move up.

The better management of Game Resources is a must, In stead of the scatter-shot (and favored player motivated) method Marrach uses, the resources should be utilized towards the promotion of player ideals (either in the formation of groups, skills or storyplots) or suggestions on how things can be more realisticly done with in the Game. I recall one Player, who wrote for GURPS, trying to get a Brewery started, another had an ideal for glassmaking, I myself hatched a plan to make the frozen Royal garden's bloom again by using brazers--all were cut down by Staff. And mine was especially painful, because it had so many players excited at the prospect of doing something constructive in the Game as characters.
Granted, there maybe limits on what can and cannot be done. But seriously, these were all good ideals killed off because the resources simply weren't available or were being used in other areas...


The giving out of game information OOCly, whatever the reason, can be considered 'cheating'. The Player in question, the very same one who willfully used OOC information against others (and has yet to be punished for such action even to this day), gave me this information willfully in the hopes that it would effect my character's actions.
I reported it, but since she is 'favored' there, nothing was done. A Staff with no connections to Marrach would have handled it far differently. In fact, Marrach's very first Staff had zero tollerance for such things, and would have most likely stripped her character of Knighthood, Favor, Position, and nearly everything else up to throwing the Player out of the Game--but not with Marrach's current staff.

There's no need to discuss @woundme, it explains itself easily.

Darren Brimhall

Last edited by Darren Brimhall : 03-22-2011 at 07:02 PM.
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Old 03-23-2011, 06:56 AM   #2
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Re: Giving Critical Review of, and Suggestions to Correct Problems, on Games we used

Looks like just another rant thread from a disgruntled former player to me.

Skotos are a commercial service, aren't they? Take your complaints to them and if you're not happy with what they have to say cancel your subscription.

Oh and don't forget to go off and make your own game. Remember to make it just like Castle Marrach, but "done right".
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Old 03-23-2011, 07:17 AM   #3
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Re: Giving Critical Review of, and Suggestions to Correct Problems, on Games we used

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Originally Posted by Darren Brimhall View Post
There are MUD's out there we either once enjoyed for a long period of time, or simply didn't bother continuing with after the introductory period, but became disenchanted with how it was being run at that point and left.

Why?
Human nature. There's a honeymoon phase where everything is exciting and new, but it gradually wears off, and that's when many players start to look for something different. This isn't limited to muds, or even to games in general, but applies to all aspects of life.

You can encourage old players to return by offering them something new to play with - a special event, a new zone, a new class, etc. It's difficult to churn out content fast enough to keep the players entertained though, so even a very actively developed mud will tend to introduce new features in spurts.

It's very easy to look at an established game, point out all the flaws, and describe how it could be made better. In fact that's how a lot of new muds get started - the owner wants to create something just like the mud he used to play, except his version will fix all the problems.

However such muds almost always fail, because the developer usually fails to recognise the reason why things were done the way they were. The few that succeed simply repeat the cycle, as their players become disillusioned and decide that they can do better.

I've never played Castle Marrach, but I can tell you this much: No matter what design decisions or changes you make, some players will hate them and leave. But if you make no changes at all, the mud will stagnate and even more people will leave. So at the end of the day, you just have to accept that you can't please everyone, and move on with improving the mud as best you can.
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Old 03-23-2011, 10:57 AM   #4
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Re: Giving Critical Review of, and Suggestions to Correct Problems, on Games we used

I know you think you mean well, but this thread is just going to appear to everyone like yet another rant about how much you hate your former mud, disguised as a general topic for constructive discussion.

This problem is actually a really simple one. Whatever the system, a mud involves doing a lot of the same stuff every time we log in. Whether we kill things, harvest things, craft things, roleplay, or chat out of charater, we're doing mostly the same sorts of things each time we play, with generally the same crowd of people. Even if a game's staff is super active and runs all kinds of creative events and adds new content all of the time, that can get old, too. New races and classes are really just different combinations of the same abilities, restrung with different text, that don't offer that much in the way of different gameplay. New areas aren't really so different from the old areas. You go through them and kill stuff or find stuff like you would anywhere else. Game events, after awhile, become a little mundane, too. Prompted by the admin, the players kill something or roleplay about something. That can get old.

It's that simple. What people found interesting and fun when they first played a once favorite mud gets old. So they get bored and do something else with their life. Maybe they come back, maybe they find something better, maybe they don't but still don't come back. Very few people quit playing a game they like because there's something wrong with it that they can't forgive or come to accept. People learn quickly that there's no such thing as a perfect mud, because everybody's version of perfect is different. The little tweaks I might make to my favorite muds would make them less fun for a bunch of other players, while there's a whole mess of little things they would change if they could that I wouldn't like.
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Old 03-23-2011, 03:32 PM   #5
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Re: Giving Critical Review of, and Suggestions to Correct Problems, on Games we used

What I lament the most about Castle Marrach was that it had the possibility to become something far greater than it was.

Sadly, staffers with friends amongst the player-base have wrecked that possibility for now. So, instead of all they advertise it has become a private club which treats those who raise complaints, or unable to play up to their level of Role Play, with OOCly motivated contemp.

As for trying to file complaints with Skotos CE (Customer Exsperience) against Staffers, I was told by them after filing a complaint against one known for his 'behavior' that I was wrong to have gone over his head with the complaint. Well, how do I file a proper complaint with them? (I have their responce, I should go fish it out some time)

The rest, especially about the one player who kept getting away with things (using OOC info, and sharing such over Yahoo Chat) is true--as is how Marrach's game staff handeded it.

But what I think gripes me the most is how the person I was trying to help InGame (Squire Ambra) is continuiosly treated by the remining players of Marrach. She and I run a Castle in Second Life, which we built for Role Playing, and she had made an open invitation to those at Marrach (whose computers can handle SL) to come a play in the 3-D enviroment.
And they responded in the typical fashion, claiming that they still think of her everyday...
But none of her 'friends' still there will even spend five minutes to send a small message to her. All she gets are the 'Please come back" offers.

It makes her sad and miserable that she's treated by them in such a way.
And it pi$$e$ me off to no end.

Would I go back? Possibly. Especially after either Skotos realizes that their flagship game is being horribly mismanaged for the benifit of the few and favored, or return on the day they shut it down because its become corrupted beyond repair--just to tell those favored players off. There's a plot I'd love to run, which would bring about the ruin of those favored characters...But there's no way now that such can be run.

So, she and I contend ourselves by either building and selling in SL, and helping others build their own game which has the potencial of running Marrach off the net--or force it to realize that its being run horribly.


Darren Brimhall
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Old 03-24-2011, 07:26 AM   #6
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Re: Giving Critical Review of, and Suggestions to Correct Problems, on Games we used

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Originally Posted by Darren Brimhall View Post
But what I think gripes me the most is how the person I was trying to help InGame (Squire Ambra) is continuiosly treated by the remining players of Marrach. She and I run a Castle in Second Life, which we built for Role Playing, and she had made an open invitation to those at Marrach (whose computers can handle SL) to come a play in the 3-D enviroment.
And they responded in the typical fashion, claiming that they still think of her everyday...
But none of her 'friends' still there will even spend five minutes to send a small message to her. All she gets are the 'Please come back" offers.

It makes her sad and miserable that she's treated by them in such a way.
And it pi$$e$ me off to no end.
Hang on...did I understand that correctly? She's trying to actively recruit players from Castle Marrach to come and play in her sandbox on Second Life instead, and she's "sad and miserable" because they don't want to move to another game? And if they're sending her "Please come back" offers, that implies she no longer plays there - are you saying she only ever logs on to Castle Marrach to try and recruit from their playerbase?

I have a very relaxed attitude towards in-game rules, so much so that I've received criticism on several occasions for refusing to punish activities that some players find undesirable. But even I would draw the line at someone who used my mud exclusively for recruiting players for their own game. Particularly if they publically expressed a desire to run my mud "off the net".
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Old 03-24-2011, 06:57 PM   #7
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Re: Giving Critical Review of, and Suggestions to Correct Problems, on Games we used

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Oh and don't forget to go off and make your own game. Remember to make it just like Castle Marrach, but "done right".
I lol'd.
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:20 PM   #8
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Re: Giving Critical Review of, and Suggestions to Correct Problems, on Games we used

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Originally Posted by Orrin View Post
Oh and don't forget to go off and make your own game. Remember to make it just like Castle Marrach, but "done right".
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darren Brimhall View Post
So, she and I contend ourselves by [...] helping others build their own game which has the potencial of running Marrach off the net--or force it to realize that its being run horribly.
Check! On to task two.
(But notice it's not about "making a new game without the problems" - it's about "destroying the game that already exists")

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I have a very relaxed attitude towards in-game rules, so much so that I've received criticism on several occasions for refusing to punish activities that some players find undesirable. But even I would draw the line at someone who used my mud exclusively for recruiting players for their own game. Particularly if they publically expressed a desire to run my mud "off the net".
Pretty much, yep.
The Castle Marrach staff really do have a very relaxed attitude when it comes to offering other games to their playerbase.
Spammers forum posts etc. get deleted, but if it's a current or ex player saying "Hey guys, I'm now playing game X, and think you'll enjoy it" they seem to be totally cool.

They also welcome players who are no longer playing the MUD to continue to participate in the forums and wider community.

But hey, you can't really have it both ways, can you? Darren has repeatedly criticized the staff for not enforcing rules more strictly, while not recognizing that the staff letting him/Ambra advertise their SL castle would be banned in most games.

Although I think it's clear that Darren isn't really that upset at the staff. He's upset at not being able to "punish" the players that he's resentful towards. And the finger gets pointed at the staff, because they're the ones standing between him and those players.

*ahem*
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...return on the day they shut it down because its become corrupted beyond repair--just to tell those favored players off.
Uh, nice sentiment. Super constructive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darren Brimhall View Post
There's a plot I'd love to run, which would bring about the ruin of those favored characters...But there's no way now that such can be run.
I can't imagine why staff wouldn't let him run a plot specifically designed to "bring about the ruin" of certain characters that he dislikes.
Especially since they make an effort to keep plots open-ended, so the actions of characters is what decides the outcome.

... yeah.

Considering it's been eight months since he was banned, I'm honestly surprised he can still keep up such a head of steam about it.

Now, don't get me wrong. There are plenty of things I dislike about Castle Marrach (I don't play, but I have tried it out, and I know many players) - but I recognize that all my dislikes are purely flavor issues. I happen to prefer a slightly different type of game (and thus I ran my game slightly differently) - but there's nothing that I can objectively say that I do better than them. Or that I can objectively say they are doing "wrong."

Actually, I find that trying to understand why someone does something that I disagree with can be one of the most useful tools for improving my own game. They will usually have a reason that I haven't considered, which might change my opinion, or at least give me something to think about. Often it's possible to find another solution to gain the same benefits without the aspect that I dislike.
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Old 03-25-2011, 01:41 AM   #9
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Re: Giving Critical Review of, and Suggestions to Correct Problems, on Games we used

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Uh, nice sentiment. Super constructive.

I can't imagine why staff wouldn't let him run a plot specifically designed to "bring about the ruin" of certain characters that he dislikes.
I lol'd again.

MUD drama like this is definitely love/hate.

You love it when you're reading about it as a disinterested third party. You hate it when its happening on your own mud.
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Old 03-25-2011, 03:20 PM   #10
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Re: Giving Critical Review of, and Suggestions to Correct Problems, on Games we used

simple, because the characters I like to see ruined in Marrach are run by players who have a history of manipulating the game to their likes and wants.

In other words, they cheat and get their way at the exspence of other players, always with the help of the Staff there whom they are close firends with. If you like me to send you the information, especially from one long time player who had two of her characters harmed in such a manner, please feel free to send me an E-Mail and I will send it to you.

No, my friend is not recruiting--she's inviting people from their to visit and roleplay at the Castle in Second Life. A good number of these people she considered firends, and felt what she built in SL would interest them. Now she's considering otherwise.


And Silvanlon, I wasn't banned--I walked away when they were going to slant a plot that I was working on in their favor for their benifit, not everyones'. As one of those who came on during Beta Testing, I can tell you that better players that I am left Marrach for the same reasons as I have.

So if they, the players, want to play the way they do--fine. They'll eventually kill the place, and somehow blame me for it.

But, If they want that place to thrive, well they're going to be swallowing a lot of pride.

Darren Brimhall

Last edited by Darren Brimhall : 03-25-2011 at 03:21 PM. Reason: bad syntax
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Old 03-25-2011, 06:39 PM   #11
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Re: Giving Critical Review of, and Suggestions to Correct Problems, on Games we used

You really need to just let this hate for your former mud go. Here you are again, trying to disguise a rant as a general thread for "constructive criticism" about the general things you would change to improve your mud. But then, you're not mentioning any content-based things you'd change in your former mud. You're mentioning very specific things the staff should do to or for the benefit of very specific people, and commenting on how much you dislike certain things people have done in the past.
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Old 03-29-2011, 08:08 PM   #12
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Cool Re: Giving Critical Review of, and Suggestions to Correct Problems, on Games we used

Is this one of those progressions that lead to the Dark Side? And yeah, I second Threshold's emotion, but frankly, I'm happy people can still get this much passion about a MUD. It's when people leave as a cold calculation that I get worried.
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