[MUD-Dev] Attracting players // TMC // 'admin' type reviewing

Ilya Ilya
Thu Sep 16 08:37:06 New Zealand Standard Time 1999

On Thu, 16 Sep 1999 09:49:19 -0500, Koster, Raph wrote:

))Legend has been suffering from a lack of new players. It was last mentioned
))on a newsgroup in September of 1998. It has not been advertising, true--but
))Usenet ads do not seem to be a major source of new players anymore. The
))statistics on Mud Connector, which is web-based and now the most
))authoritative mudlist out there, . . .

Andy Cowan's offering is certainly the most authoritative, but by no
means the only one.  I don't bring this up to belabor the existence of
mudlinks:// and my own beloved site so much, though I'd love to promote
those too!  Rather, I'd like to record our recent experience.

Something's afoot in the mud/mush/moo/ORPG world which we are at a
loss to account for.  The visit rate on our site has quintupled
in the last few months.  We are still perhaps a tenth of the volume
of TMC, but that beats the heck out of two percent!  We've turned
off our instant polls for a while, had no new GC reviews (but
several so-so player/admin reviews), posted a few commentary-type
articles, increased the size of the list to nearly 1400, and that's
about it.

The use of the web for searches is pretty darned important.  And
the existence of even a basic, clean website is critical.  For what it's
worth, Natalia and I make our living creating websites, so we'd be
happy to help out on a pro bono basis for folk that want to get
started with this.  Most mud websites are below abysmal, which is
why "basic, clean" sites will help.  Heck, abysmal ones might even
help, but not with me!

))The problem is that our capacity to affect what's on Mud Connector is
))limited. We were already featured (as a Mud of the Month) and we can't
))really review ourselves.

I disagree about that part (reviewing yourselves).  Several of the 
very best and most effective reviews on our site have been written
by the admins/owners and long-term players.  I use effective in
terms of (1) being read by many; and (2) producing visits to the
game or game's website.

Admins from several games have written telling me they are themselves
somehow above the level of reviewing their own games, or that any such
'review' would be biased and therefore tainted.  I have had several
rounds of exchange with an admin from one of the games Raph mentions
elsewhere (in the posting I am replying to).  He, too, wrapped himself
in the defense of 'bias' and would not be budged.  I say that's a crock!

It's a crock because 
- all reviews are always written by biased people; since bias can
  never be eliminated, just reveal the bias and go on.
- readers have pretty well-developed BS detectors anyway, so there's
  really little risk of someone getting carried away by some game
  owner's hype.
- admins have fascinating insights that many players really enjoy
  reading about.
- 'review' can include lots of other things besides "this game is great:
  come and play!"  Designers' notes comes to mind.  Discussing why things
  are the way they are, and plans for where things are going also comes
- admins can be just as honest about their own games' shortcomings as
  anybody else, often more so.  And a game owner's admission of weaknesses
  in his own game system can add a great deal to a game's reputation and
  to the significance and usefulness of the review.
- other simple admissions in admin reviews work to increase credibility.
  Go ahead and say you love the game, and that you wrote it.  Then say
  why.  It's the explanation that will convince, or not.  Who better to
  explain the whys and wherefores than the author?

Add to that the possibilities of reviews written by long term players.
It's really a great opportunity.

So write a review.  Be honest.  In some cases, come down off of your
ivory tower and just admit you're as biased as the rest of us, and 
tell us what you think and _why_ you think it.  Whether you publish
with us or not, DO get your review out there.

You _can_ do it.  It will help.

  Ilya, Game Commandos     http://www.gamecommandos.com     

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

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