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Old 12-09-2012, 10:50 AM   #1
Odd Raven
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Newbie Areas: What To Incorporate?

Hello, everyone!

I have a general sort of question--not just for the MUD I play, but more out of curiosity for a wide variety of MUDs. What sort of things do people put in newbie areas? Or, what sort of things do you like to see? Command help, combat tips, historical information?

What sort of things interest you, as a player, and what sort of things do you find helpful? On that note, what do you hate seeing in a newbie tutorial?

Thank you for the tips and feedback!
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Old 12-09-2012, 12:43 PM   #2
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Re: Newbie Areas: What To Incorporate?

Well, I've got three.

1: I better be able to skip it without being penalized. If you are going to give newbies all sorts of rewards for going through it, and if I am not new to muds, I should be able to skip it, starting on the same playing field as all the newbies who learned how to use the kill command. I think newbie areas need to be skippable unless they are really something special/unique (genesis mud comes to mind here, as does alter aeon with the somewhat recent newbie area redo). If the newbie area is the actual game and not some sort of condensed watered down tutorial, I might consider taking part; even then, I like to see the option of skipping without penalty.

2: Your unique features. There's a lot of muds that advertise all sorts of unique features that you can't even learn about until level 15. If you've got super cool area scrypting system 2000, show it off. If you've got crafting, show that off too. I want to see why I should play your mud in the newbie area, not just how to play your mud.

3: I had a third one, but it pretty much folded into point 1 and doesn't need repeating: make the newbie area actual gameplay with actual risks, etc.
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:39 PM   #3
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Re: Newbie Areas: What To Incorporate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by camlorn View Post
Well, I've got three.

1: I better be able to skip it without being penalized...

2: Your unique features...

3: I had a third one...
1. I agree on this, but I'm not sure how I feel about giving the same rewards to those who don't go through it. I one hundred percent agree that the tutorial should be able to skipped--before, during, whenever! Sometimes, I go through a tutorial (say in Imperian, an IRE mud) simply because I -get- rewards. Nothing so big as level advancement or anything like that, but trinkets and some small amount gold. It's like a reward for my tolerance system.

2. I agree on this, too. It seems important to me to show what makes us stand out and apart. Newbie tutorials aren't just to show you about how the world works, but it should also show you -about- the world. Naturally, I'd like to incorporate something like this in a way that isn't heinously Out of Character.

3. Newbie tutorials should be relevant and immersive, to be sure. I don't want to see my newbies dying in the tutorial, but it should give them a realistic feel for the game. No kid gloves here!

Thank you for your feedback, Camlorn!
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:47 PM   #4
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Re: Newbie Areas: What To Incorporate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Odd Raven View Post

What sort of things interest you, as a player, and what sort of things do you find helpful? On that note, what do you hate seeing in a newbie tutorial?

Thank you for the tips and feedback!
1. If you have a tutorial area and want to retain new players, you really should do something that gets them hooked into the game and excited about playing while teaching them game stuff.

One MUD I tried actually put the player into the action with a scripted plot and very credible danger, and it covered the whole gamut of opening doors and using commands and combat. Sadly the rest of the MUD was nearly dead. If you have an engaging tutorial, I won't care if I have to learn all over again that I have to 'open chest' before I can 'get key from chest' for the ten millionth time.

I've just said that it should really be engaging, but it should only engage the player to a level of excitement and activity comparable to the rest of the game. If you have new characters sit through Mission MUDpossible and then the rest of the game is the same farming monsters you see everywhere else (especially if it's one of those train/practice MUDs with the same darn trip and dirt kicking skills), it's kind of a letdown.

2. It should have reminders of how mechanics work for the true MUD newbies, but it shouldn't be 20 minutes of forced explanations from some NPC old sage that veteran MUD players have to sit through.

3. It shouldn't be an info dump of your game's lore. I found over the years of MUD-hopping that I could not possibly care any less about game lore unless AND until it pertains to role play. When I try a new game I want to see everything about the game that makes it worth my time. If you want to introduce players to your lore and not make them tl;dr the whole thing, work it into your exciting tutorial.
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Old 12-10-2012, 10:18 AM   #5
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Re: Newbie Areas: What To Incorporate?

Things to definitely NOT include:

Slow-moving, forced content. Most mud players read fast, and the ones that don't can take their time. If I have to wait for slow-moving, timed paragraphs to be spit at me for any part of the newbie introduction, I log out. I should be able to zoom through newbie content as fast as I care to, just skimming the parts I don't care to read in detail (I know darn well to type n/s/e/w to move and want to get to the parts where I actually learn something unique about the mud, but it's fine to keep that content for genuinely new mudders.)

Generic content unrelated to your mud. General rooms leftover from your mud's stock newbie area that tell me about reading signs and killing mobs, that haven't been rewritten to explain to me anything worthwhile about the mud I'm playing are a waste of time.

Restricted content. If I log into your mud and find out that as a newbie, I can't type things like "who" or "score" or use any of the main channels until I "learn" about these things through the newbie area, effectively isolating me from the rest of the playerbase and preventing me from getting a feel for your mud atmosphere and interface on my own, that's a big turnoff. If you're afraid seeing your playerbase acting like idiots on the general gossip channel is going to run off newbies, it's on you to regulate your mud better, not to hide the idiots from newbies for their first hour of gameplay.

Things to definitely include:

Practical content that both tells me and gives me a feel for what actual day to day gameplay in the mud is like. If it's an RP mud, I need to know how your unique targeted emote system works and see some examples of what sort of prose is normal and know whether I'm required to describe my character, write a background, etc., and when and to what extent, and enough about the lore to get me started so I'm not a total idiot when I meet my first other player, but not pages and pages of mandatory reading (I'll browse your website in my spare time if I like the mud and want to keep playing -- don't force it on me when I'm still deciding or I'll just log out.) If it's an exploration, questing, or combat oriented mud, I want to know about geography and searching/exploring commands, and maps, or how quests work and what I can get with quest rewards, or how the mud's combat engine functions and some initial strategies, or if I can craft, how that works. By the time I'm done with the newbie stuff, I need to have a good feel, in less than an hour, for how my first day in the "real" part of the mud should go. Otherwise, the newbie content failed.

Content that can be completed in under an hour, and preferably under half an hour. I can always take my time and read slower, repeat parts if I want to try a few more things out, read additional help files, ask for advice and pose questions for other players on channels, and learn on my own.

A general helpfile that tells me, with no vagueness and perfect clarity, the syntax for the 20-50 most common commands I'm going to be using. If your mud has a unique command to do something or a unique feature I'm going to be using a lot, I need a quick reference helpfile rather than having to remember what I'm supposed to be looking for help on every time I want to look up a unique feature of your mud.
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Old 12-11-2012, 01:10 AM   #6
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Re: Newbie Areas: What To Incorporate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dark acacia View Post
1. If you have a tutorial area and want to retain new players, you really should do something that gets them hooked into the game and excited about playing while teaching them game stuff...

2. It should have reminders of how mechanics work for the true MUD newbies, but...

3. It shouldn't be an info dump of your game's lore...
1. I agree on this, though I do believe that player involvement fluctuates, so it's hard to accuratedly represent that. I -do- believe that a realistic inclusion of how the game itself is crucial to being represented--don't make it look like an action flick when it's really a romcom, right?

2. Yes! I like the option to quit the tutorial at will and I like the ability to look/read/talk to things and interact at will, without being forced to endure, unable to escape idea. Sometimes you need to refresh, sometimes you're starting from the beginning, sometimes you're going through it for the free junk. Either way, it should be at-will.

3. -Agreed-. I've actually been giving a lot of thought to this idea recently, given a mud I tried has a portion similar and I've watched players and friends just speed through it. If it can be put in a form that's interesting, brief and subtle, you'd learn just like you tend to in real life.

Thank you!!
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Old 12-11-2012, 01:11 AM   #7
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Re: Newbie Areas: What To Incorporate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SnowTroll View Post
Things to definitely NOT include:

Slow-moving, forced content...

Generic content unrelated to your mud...

Restricted content...

Things to definitely include:

Practical content...

Content that can be completed in under an hour...

A general helpfile that tells me...
Things to NOT include:
-Agreed. Being horribly impatient makes me hate this, too. I -do- tend to favor signs over diaglogue content (though I believe in having both), because you can at least then choose what you want to -read-, what you don't need, so on. Gives you a lot of optional movement in your learning.

-On this, I'm not sure what you mean, I think. Could you elaborate for me?

-Restricted content: I -hate- this idea. I do not think these things should be restricted at -all- and while I can see having a 'peace' area where you can't kill a mob that's integral to your learning, I think you should never be cut off from interacting with other players. That's a punishment, not an encouragement to play a mud!

Things to DEFINITELY include:
-This makes a lot of sense to me. When a mud is roleplay-based with minimal combat, I'm annoyed by lengthy combat tutorials--particularly since I'm inclined towards roleplay over combat, myself. I agree that the content should be relevant to the mud, though all details must be included. In example, in a roleplay mud, I shouldn't neglect to teach you how to engage in combat, but I should absolutely make roleplay expectations clear.

-Agreed. I can't fathom a tutorial taking more than twenty minutes to a half hour, let alone an hour--but I'm leaning towards a free-range, at-will design, leave when you want/feel comfortable, so on. So I can certainly agree with this idea and I'll be testing to see what I think the 'average' completion time should be.

- -Absolutely-. Help files are something I've come to expect from my muds and this is one of my favorite projects. While a file currently exists to say what the commands are, I'm going to get something to explain what they do so you don't have to be scared to try them out for yourselves.

I appreciate the advice! This is all very well thought out. I'm in the process of designing some concepts for a newbie tutorial and the MUD I enjoy basks in the concept of player feedback--be it our players or others. Thank you very much again!
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Old 12-11-2012, 10:24 AM   #8
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Re: Newbie Areas: What To Incorporate?

So, here's a novel idea that I've not seen before:

A topics command. Given some room in the newbie tutorial, flag it with some special help topics accessible by the topics command, specific to that room. Have the command by itself list the topics.

Why. Because then, instead of having your generic npc say "Open this chest. To open chests, type open chest.", or somesuch, you can have "Excuse me good sir, but I can't get this open. Do you think you could help me?" Then color the word open to indicate that there's a topic about it, being sure to introduce the fact that colored words can be learned about in that way. For the people using mxp, you could even go so far as to have this be clickable like a link--if you can make it appear the same as a link in a webbrowser, most completely new to mudding users will click it, be hooked on your mud because few other muds have that kind of convenience, and thus never leave.

And those who already know that you can open chests with the open command can move right along.
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