[MUD-Dev] Attracting players

Koster Koster
Mon Oct 4 12:50:50 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

Been a while since this thread saw any activity, but I came across this
article at Mud Journal and thought it relevant and interesting.


start quote--->
Creating a First Impression, by Francesco Petrarch

The way I see it, when a new player comes to my MUD there are three first
impressions if not more which they will see and quickly judge my MUD by.
The better these three points the more likely they will stay. I have been to
many games which have influenced the way I created and edited pieces of my
game so that they are more newbie friendly for everyone. 
1.Logging In
   The first thing a player will see when logging on is the login screen and
character creation process. These are some points about login screens.
Creators names: Why bother? This is nothing but an ego boost for the
immortals on the MUD.  Any new player couldn't really care less and it gives
the impression that the game only exists because someone wanted their name
on a login screen.  Mostly Modified: It is often a good idea to put the MUD
lib/version/type/codebase in the login screen.  Experienced people will take
note of what they like.  Real newbies don't care and it won't make much of a
difference to them. Avoid mostly modified and other similar terms, because
we all know they aren't and that will just be an automatic disconnect to
experienced mudders.
   The MUD name: This should be easily readable. Lots of nice ASCII
characters are nice but if you can't read the welcome screen it gives the
impression of the immortals attitude being, "This is my MUD, I made the
login screen look good to me, who cares about you." Color: Color is good to
use on a welcome screen if you put in the correct code to check if the
person can actually decode it. There are still many terminals out there that
cannot decode ANSI codes and displaying color to these will cause weird
symbols to appear. Again this gives the same appearance of the immortals
saying, "I coded this mud for me and I don't care about all the players."
   Now assuming that the player hasn't left yet they must now go though
character creation. At this point they haven't decided that they are going
to stay and play yet, nor have they any opinion on your MUD or the players
on it or anything of the sort. What they want is to log in, be given a very
basic understanding of what is going on and be set on their way.
   Passwords: After entering a name they need to enter a password. If this
person is rather new to MUDs they will need some instructions. Those
experienced in online games will just ignore anything that appears on their
screen and enter their password and quickly skim though the login process so
instructions are not that big of a bother to them.  Character Creation: Make
this quick and painless. The shorter the better. Some MUDs have you choose
races classes and specialties right away. This can take a long time and for
people just having a look see at your game can be time consuming. I have
seen this done fairly well on one MUD though, the use of color and good help
files aid in this.
   Optional information: Like real name and web page are just that,
optional. Have players enter an email address and at the same time inform
them of a command that will allow them to change this information and add
all this option information later once they are in the game. Having people
enter a ton of optional information right away will just annoy them and most
information entered will be fake quick answers anyways. 
   /archives/meow?group+ Again who cares, anyone? These are new players, they don't really
care if the Black Forest has been discovered on the western continent. They
don't even know where west is, what difference does a new area really make.
   Rules: Who is really going to read through a bunch of rules when they are
logging onto a MUD for the first time? These people want to check the MUD
out not read all the rules. I have logged onto several MUDs where you have
to read pages and pages of information before even getting the opportunity
to type "look". This will just discourage people from playing your game.
   In short you have to keep in mind most new players to your MUD want to
play the game. They don't want to wade though hundreds of lines of
information which is not relevant to
new characters. 

2. The First Minutes
So assuming your new player has not been discouraged by some over pompous
immortal barking rules on a login screen, or by having to read six screen
full of completely irrelevant information to them they will now see your
   These next few minutes will make a big difference. They made it though
the login stage, now they have to decide if they will like newbie life here,
and this decision is made in the first few minutes. Like before, there are
several points which will effect this decision.
   Players: Most people will of course type "who" or "users" as one of their
first actions. They want to see how many people play the game. If there's no
one there they may leave right away. This isn't always the case, however. I
started to run a MUD with a western theme at one time. Besides coding a few
introduction help files and a general outline of the world I didn't have
much time to work on it and soon took it offline. During that time though,
new players that would appear would often spend 30 or more minutes before
leaving. This was because they wanted a Western MUD and will explore such a
world alone. However, unless you have a very unique theme they will often
   Noise: What type of noise is present in the town square or starting room?
If messages of an eleven child running through the streets echoes through
the room every 30 seconds it gets quite hectic. People yelling about
auctions, automatic newbie help, players running in and out, shouts,
channels and more are all very distracting if the player isn't use to it. A
lot of this noise can be reduced.
   Color: This is a selling point, but not always needed. Colors will help
separate different types of noises and can be quite appealing.
   Descriptions: I can't tell you how many times the first room I log into
has a description that fills my whole screen, and when I read it, it is
giving me instructions on what to do. This is crap. I log in and I'm still
in character creation. "Welcome to MyMUD. You are my guest here, do as I
say," blaa blaa blaa. If that doesn't throw people off I find all MUDs like
this end up having their custom area descriptions of one or two lines only.
Descriptions describe stuff, or they are suppose to at least.
   Ok, so they now the player has logged in. There's a good player base, or
just the right amount of useful colors, the room description describes stuff
instead of shouting orders and he's not spammed by dozens of newbie
irrelevant messages. So your newbie is going to stay, maybe. Now comes the
third impression. Is newbie life here worth it

3. Newbie Life
If your newbie is still here you almost got him hooked. Now he needs a
reason to put work into the character and to come back tomorrow. People will
come back if they have friends who play, have a goal to make or have a good
time. People: You need a friendly player base. Now most people are proud of
their MUD and are willing to help others. It's hard to control your players
and not much can be done if you get a bad bunch. We have a rule of "no
harassment" which we have only had to use twice in two years. With this rule
we can ban anyone who is found harassing another player. With new MUDs you
can't be afraid of deleting 5 players who all know each in real life and are
causing problems on your MUD, even if those 5 players are 80% of your player
base. Get rid of them or you will lose many more good players by their
   Goals: Goals can be levels, skills, stats, money and so on. Better amour,
better weapons and the like are also goals, but they shouldn't be newbie
goals. The way to make players come back is to make their goal "to explore".
The first MUD I played had a corpse in a bedroom and you had to find his
murderer. I must have spent a week looking for the answer, unfortunately the
quest sucked and I was quite disappointed in it in the end, but by that time
I had friends there and other goals as well.
   A Good Time: This is the most important goal for the administration. To
give a newbie a good time their first time on your MUD. Weather they are a
real MUD newbie or a veteran newbie. This means making certain aspects of
newbie life easy. Help files should be helpful (that's a whole other
article). Money and supplies should be easily accessible for newbies. Either
start them with equipment or make it readily available. If they have to work
for 10 minutes every time they log on just to get equipped they may not
return a second time.

These are just my opinions anyways, and they seem to work since we hit over
50 players at peek times every day and we are relatively young still. One
last note out there for all MUDs, avoid newbie schools. Sure they are
somewhat helpful to clueless newbies, but you have to remember that most
people who log on will not be newbies and a stock newbie school immediately
shows you haven't put the effort into creating something original.
<---end quote

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

More information about the MUD-Dev mailing list