[MUD-Dev] mud vs. mush membership

Caliban Tiresias Darklock caliban at darklock.com
Tue Jul 27 21:10:24 New Zealand Standard Time 1999

On 03:03 PM 7/27/99 -0700, I personally witnessed Matthew Mihaly jumping up
to say:
>Well, I suppose it's possible that mushes and such outnumber muds 2 to 1,
>but how many players do these mushes have? When you have some muds that
>have 10s of thousands of players, they alone will account for hundreds of
>your average mud/mushes in terms of player base.

But "player" is a term of some dispute. If I log into some MUD and idle for
three hours before logging off, am I a player? If I log in several
characters, am I several players? If I log in once a month for an hour, am
I a player? You can't rely on a WHO listing to tell you how many players a
game has. Some MUDs have a large number of players who do virtually
nothing. Some MUSHes have playerbases which may only consist of about 200
people all told, but EVERY player is actively involved in the furtherance
of the game -- defining plots, interacting with others, building businesses
and locations, writing code. I don't think logons or player records are an
accurate representation of the "success" of a game. 

In my experience, MUSH players tend to be much, much more involved in the
actual operation of the game. Does this make them better players? I don't
think so. (I *like* them more than I do MUD players, but they're not
*better*.) I think the inherent competition aspect of MUDs makes it
tempting for builders to sneak in advantages and secrets, whereas MUSHes
tend to operate much more on what you do than on what you have. As they
say, it is trivial for the civilised man to act like a beast, but next to
impossible for the beast to act like a civilised man; if you're a jerk, you
can conceal this fact indefinitely on a GoP MUD, but you won't hide very
long at all on a more interpersonal game. 

I've always viewed the difference between a MUD and a MUSH as the
difference between a movie and a soap opera. After you play a MUD for a
while, it gets old and stale, sort of like watching a movie over and over.
But a MUSH tends to go on forever, always changing, sometimes so much that
a week or two without logging in is almost like starting over. It doesn't
really have much to do with the codebase, just with the focus of the game.
MUDs are defined by areas; MUSHes are defined by players. Look at how they
advertise: MUDs talk about classes and races. MUSHes talk about settings
and situations.

I would venture to say that in order for a MUD to remain exciting, you
would have to have a constant build and modify process going on. In other
words, areas should change. Constantly. It would probably be a good idea to
have several people whose entire job is to modify the areas based on what's
going on in there. If a lot of low-level players are dying in the same
general areas, chances are you need some sort of buffer. If a lot of
high-level players are hanging around in the same general areas, chances
are the mobs should be tougher there. MUDs rarely react to their
playerbase; MUSHes tend to react to it all the time. If this sort of
reactive environment is seen as a net positive, the administration should
endeavor to provide it. 

On the down side, a MUD with fifty thousand players doesn't really make it
easy to monitor this sort of thing. After a certain point, you just don't
normally have effective tools available for administrative statistics; on a
MUSH, maybe three to five people will die at most in any given day. On a
MUD, you have thousands of deaths. There just isn't any really effective
way to monitor what's going on in the average MUD. Perhaps it would be
useful to have some sort of statistical tool which could keep track of new
characters, short logons, idle deletions, character death, character level
advancement, etc... listing who did what in what room of what area.
Patterns would start to emerge, displaying potential problems or
concentration areas.

Hmm, another thing to list in the new features slated for UU. Stat
gathering. ;)
| Caliban Tiresias Darklock            caliban at darklock.com 
| Darklock Communications          http://www.darklock.com/ 
| U L T I M A T E   U N I V E R S E   I S   N O T   D E A D 
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