[MUD-Dev] mud vs. mush membership

Bruce Bruce
Thu Jul 29 16:41:27 New Zealand Standard Time 1999

On Wednesday, July 28, 1999, Matthew Mihaly wrote:
>On Tue, 27 Jul 1999, Caliban Tiresias Darklock wrote:
>> But "player" is a term of some dispute. If I log into some MUD and idle
>> 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,
>> I a player? You can't rely on a WHO listing to tell you how many players
>> 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
>> and locations, writing code. I don't think logons or player records are
>> accurate representation of the "success" of a game.
>Well, when you have thousands of _paying_ players online at once, I'd term
>you an unqualified success. Presumably, in order to pay to play a mud, you
>have to think it's better than anything similar you can get for free. So
>having tens of thousands of paying players says quite a bit about the
>success of the game. Yes, advertising certainly plays a large role in
>things, but nevertheless, size=success, imho. It's not the only definition
>of success, but it's certainly one of them.

What is success?

Success could be a happy userbase with good RP.  Success could be a happy
userbase with good social interaction but not terribly game oriented.
Success could be a miserable userbase constantly embroiled in political
conflicts, but loving it.  With a large game, you'll not likely get all of
your players into the same state of being and happiness.  Perhaps you
(impersonal you) think your game is about combat, but 40% of your players
are there for the social interactions with people that they know long after
the combat aspect has grown old?

I have a larger question though, but don't discount the rest of my post
because of it.

What does any of this matter?

Everyone here has a game or ideas for a game of their own (or for some like
myself, a generic server and don't care much about the particulars of a game
except where they impact server design).  You have your ideas about success.
Caliban has his own.  Other than defending the partyline, how can we make
the definition of success or 'MUD vs MUSH' advance the state of MUDs as they
are today or draw a meaningful conclusion out of the whole debate?  It might
be interesting to see an analysis of the typical patters of usage on various
styles of system and what type of behavior is to be expected?  Perhaps the
means by which a player decides that a game is one sort of game or another
might be an interesting thing to understand?

>> 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,
>> can conceal this fact indefinitely on a GoP MUD, but you won't hide very
>> long at all on a more interpersonal game.
>Yes, I agree with this. Simple size makes intimate player involvement with
>the actual operation of things much more difficult.

Isn't this a matter of social scalability?  A large playerbase in a virtual
world type atmosphere probably involves a large virtual world which has many
degrees of management, operation and administration.  Or a large playerbase
might gather around something like the old BattleTech games where the main
point of the system were the battles?

I know one of the admins at Harper's Tale MOO .. a MOO devoted to Pern.
They are quite active in their statistical tracking and analysis of user
patterns.  They track how 'active' people are and require 15 minutes of
active time over 4 weeks.  Using a lot of process and establishing new
process as necessary, both with users and with code change management, they
manage their growth.

< ... lots of stuff snipped ... >

>> On the down side, a MUD with fifty thousand players doesn't really make
>> easy to monitor this sort of thing. After a certain point, you just don't
>> normally have effective tools available for administrative statistics; on
>> 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
>> characters, short logons, idle deletions, character death, character
>> advancement, etc... listing who did what in what room of what area.
>> Patterns would start to emerge, displaying potential problems or
>> concentration areas.
>Yes, that would be a nightmare. Happily (or unhappily maybe), most of us
>will never have to worry about having 50,000 players.

Why is this a nightmare?  It is fully within the bounds of what can be
supported in code, as can be seen from what the Harper's Tale folks do.  In
fact, it wouldn't even have to slow down the game itself to track this
information depending on the architecture of the server (and the
architecture of a game able to support 50,000 active/online players at once
would need a lot of thought anyway (which no one really seems to be
doing?)).  To compare 'an average MUD' and what is feasible there, with a
MUD that supports such a vast number of users doesn't seem to be a fair
comparison at all.  Apples and oranges and all that.

- Bruce

MUD-Dev maillist  -  MUD-Dev at kanga.nu

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