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Old 01-21-2014, 12:40 AM   #1
MightyK
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Golden Ladders and Playerbases

I think many of us will agree that the heyday of MUDs might be behind us, and we can all look forward to more competition as the F2P visual-graphic MMOs grow in number.

One thing I have seen in some well-established games, especially games that once enjoyed a high playerbase but are now comparatively languished, are mentalities of enforced scarcity upon the newbies.

It is my belief that the number of newbies trying games has declined but has not declined significantly, and that newbie bounce (newbies trying a game briefly then quitting all together) in many games has increased significantly due to solidification of MUD-wide aristocracies and something I call the golden ladder mentality.

The golden ladder mentality starts with the person that says, "things used to be so much harder in my day." This might be true, given that staff usually tries to ease the load for newbies over years.

The golden ladder progresses with "things used to be so much harder in my day" and moves into "you have had it so easy, I have more skill/had to do more/had to prove more to get where you are." and then twists into something worse, punishment to the newbie, which I have seen in three MUDs I am most familiar with.

Golden ladders can involve the following:

A) the downing of skills and abilities for low level people, but not for people at the high end. It can even coincide with the shifting of those skills to the high end, or the creation of new skills for the most "elite" or capped characters. This scenario usually involves staff adhering to the golden ladder mentality.

B) the arbitrary hiking up of requirements to enter an organization, beyond any historical level, or without taking to account MUD-wide changes (shrinking base, for instance) that might make such a hiking more difficult. This scenario can involve the staff or the players, depending on how much PC control is given.

C) Possibly the harshest and best example of the golden ladder -- the demarcation of a "migration date" where certain people who are below a certain age (have joined the MUD beyond a certain point in time) are simply not eligible for a skill/organization etc.

I call it the golden ladder because players often have an overly-romanticized opinion of their past in a game, and this mentality includes the wish to pull up the ladder behind them, or lengthen the spacing of the rungs. In our current environment, keeping the old players and the playerbase alive should be a priority, but it should not be at the expense of newbies. There is a bit of a caveat emptor here: newbies need to know just what they are getting into and not everything will be handed to them, but in the mechanics of a market things need to be made to compete with the free graphic MMOs even if that includes giving breaks to the newbies that weren't historically given.

Last edited by MightyK : 01-21-2014 at 12:54 AM.
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Old 01-21-2014, 12:22 PM   #2
IZDemon
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Re: Golden Ladders and Playerbases

Lets take from the top 1% and disperse it to the bottom 99% to make it fair. That way everyone starts out on a level playing field.

The truth is if your MUD is good people will come. It has very little to do with the current rankings. Some highly populated MUDS are not listed at the top of this list and some scantily populated MUDS are ranked much higher than they should be.
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Old 01-21-2014, 04:02 PM   #3
Bogre
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Re: Golden Ladders and Playerbases

This is an interesting issue that definitely has differences among the varying genres of MUDs. For RPIs, of which I'm most familiar with, it seems like there is a lot of dynamic changes currently in the community. Armageddon, for example, has seen steady rises in the number of new player accounts and in continuing players, and the peak player levels are about 10-15 higher when I started playing. (Although- last summer peak player counts were well into the 70s- which is nuts.) On the other hand, two other popular RPI's have closed- Atonement and Shadows of Isildur. Atonement's new permutation Parallel saw a great deal of early popularity but that has seemed to drop off somewhat. SoI seems to be in a perpetual sort of beta. Harshworlds, on the other hand, which I never used to see about 5-10 players online, seems to be doing 15-20 nowadays, so you have other muds picking up the slack.

The genre also has some exciting things going on- new MUDs (Black Sands, Parallel, SoI's Reboot), while not common, are still being developed. There is also the considerable excitement building around the development of the FutureMUD engine, which is being designed to bring a lot of awesome into RPI code bases.

If other genres are perceiving a fall-off, it may be due to a couple of reasons. One, there is not a lot of opportunity for RP to the immersion point that a MUD or MUSH can give, so RPI's and the RPEs may be feeling this a lot less than the H&S muds which have to compete with games that have huge graphical advantages. The difference in the '
golden ladder' is also present. In RPI's, specifically, player-character power is usually linked to specific characters that have a tendency in perm-death games to roll over. You also don't have to have a max-level character to have fun in an RPI, and you can get involved almost from the get-go with a new character, whereas in H&S muds you generally need to grind up to a certain level to be competitive with other chars.

There can be a golden ladder in that some of the RPIs, long-lived characters are quite powerful and entrenched in power positions, and new players and new characters can feel somewhat powerless if one of those chars is being an arse. There are also karma trees, in which experienced and trusted players get access to the rarer guilds and races.
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Old 01-21-2014, 04:05 PM   #4
Bogre
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Re: Golden Ladders and Playerbases

This is an interesting issue that definitely has differences among the varying genres of MUDs. For RPIs, of which I'm most familiar with, it seems like there is a lot of dynamic changes currently in the community. Armageddon, for example, has seen steady rises in the number of new player accounts and in continuing players, and the peak player levels are about 10-15 higher when I started playing. (Although- last summer peak player counts were well into the 70s- which is nuts.) On the other hand, two other popular RPI's have closed- Atonement and Shadows of Isildur. Atonement's new permutation Parallel saw a great deal of early popularity but that has seemed to drop off somewhat. SoI seems to be in a perpetual sort of beta. Harshworlds, on the other hand, which I never used to see about 5-10 players online, seems to be doing 15-20 nowadays, so you have other muds picking up the slack.

The genre also has some exciting things going on- new MUDs (Black Sands, Parallel, SoI's Reboot), while not common, are still being developed. There is also the considerable excitement building around the development of the FutureMUD engine, which is being designed to bring a lot of awesome into RPI code bases.

If other genres are perceiving a fall-off, it may be due to a couple of reasons. One, there is not a lot of opportunity for RP to the immersion point that a MUD or MUSH can give, so RPI's and the RPEs may be feeling this a lot less than the H&S muds which have to compete with games that have huge graphical advantages. The difference in the '
golden ladder' is also present. In RPI's, specifically, player-character power is usually linked to specific characters that have a tendency in perm-death games to roll over. You also don't have to have a max-level character to have fun in an RPI, and you can get involved almost from the get-go with a new character, whereas in H&S muds you generally need to grind up to a certain level to be competitive with other chars. You have less OOC contact with each other, less knowledge of others' characters in game, and so this diminishes the OOC elitism. Although, naturally, RPI veterans can be a tenacious (and rowdy) bunch!

There can be a golden ladder in that some of the RPIs, long-lived characters are quite powerful and entrenched in power positions, and new players and new characters can feel somewhat powerless if one of those chars is being an arse. There are also karma trees, in which experienced and trusted players get access to the rarer guilds and races.

I, at least, perceive there to be less of a golden ladder in the RPI's, and most certainly the MUSHes, than in other games. At least, I would be daunted to start up a new charater in a rumble-jungle PVP MUD than in any of the RPIs.
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