[MUD-Dev] code base inquiry

Richard Woolcock KaVir at dial.pipex.com
Mon Jan 17 21:50:03 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000

Matthew Mihaly wrote:
> On Mon, 17 Jan 2000, Richard Woolcock wrote:
> > Matthew Mihaly wrote:
> > >
> > > On Sat, 15 Jan 2000, Richard Woolcock wrote:
> > >
> > >
> > > Easy money. Heh. You've either not created a lot of commercial text muds,
> > > or you are incredibly competent and efficient.
> >
> > You're not listening to what I said.  What I said was that if there were no
> > restrictions on codebases, those people who *wanted* to make some easy money
> > could do so - as it stands right now, the restrictions ensure that people
> > either run the mud for no profit, or else have to put in a lot of work.
> No, I'm listening, I just think you are very wrong. I really have no idea
> what your definition of 'easy money' is, but if you honestly think that if
> all the current free muds started charging, most of them would make money
> (much less easy money) then I salute you for your extreme optimism.

I'm not just talking about charging to play - what about accepting donations 
(like Medievia or Threshold), for example?  Is it so hard to believe that - 
if restrictions were removed from existing codebases - most of the successful
muds wouldn't start offering in-game perks in exchange for monetary donations?

Once a trend had been set, it wouldn't be long before the majority of muds
would start following the example of their larger brethren.  Given a year or 
two, it would come to be accepted as the "norm" - same stock situation as we 
have today, accept real-life money could be used by players as an alternative 
to skill, time and effort.


> Money is, pretty clearly, one of, if not the, best general motivator ever.

Ola has already covered this - I agree with his view.  You may be motivated
to run your mud out of money, but I am not.  There are many different reasons
that people run muds.

> > Furthermore, the most innovative and unique mud designs I've ever seen have
> > not been for commercial muds.  I often wonder if the main reason that the
> > owners of commercial muds strike out against free muds is down to jealousy -
> > that someone could (in their spare time) make something that is more
> > successful than something they themselves have put years of hard work into
> > commercially.
> Can't say I share similar experiences, but I'm willing to grant that text
> muds are able to do some things commercial muds can't. On the other hand,
> commercial muds can do a lot of things text muds can't (such as support
> large user bases. I don't know of any free mud that regularly gets over
> 500 players online at once. Everquest, on the other hand, gets 100x that
> online at once.)

I know that Realms of Despair has peaked at over 650 people online at once,
but certainly the majority of pay muds have larger playerbases than free
ones.  Personally I do not judge a mud to be either good or bad simply by
the size of its playerbase.  Obviously a commercial mud has the financial
capacity to promote and advertise itself in ways that a free mud would be
unlikely to.

> As for jealously, I, for one, am not at all jealous of the average mud,
> which is garbage. I see nothing impressive about downloading content and
> running it. Further, I really doubt that the big muds (and they are _all_
> commercial) are spending a lot of nights crying over having captured the
> interests and dollars of more people than will ever even hear of most free
> muds.

Would this would be the same big muds that capture the interest of people 
who don't even know that there is any such thing as free muds?  Perhaps
the same players who think that a graphical mud is like a huge Quake/Diablo
deathmatch, except with swords and spells?

I lose track of how many people I encounter on free muds who say "Well, I 
originally started playing such-and-such pay-to-play mud, but then someone
introduced me to these free ones..."

> I find it rather funny that you think that someone who downloads a stock
> codebase and puts his or her sparetime into it is going to produce
> something superior to, say, UO.

Please stop putting words into my mouth.  I have never said anything even
*remotely* similar to the above.

> Perhaps we have different standards of quality, but I, for one, really 
> like things like customer service, which free muds are laughably poor at
> in general.

  "So here is a guy running a business who still feels free to act in a way 
   that is potentially hurtful to his business, because he feels like it. 
   It's his business. Likewise, I'm willing to do that sometimes with my 
   commercial game, because, well, I can. My business, my world, no public 
   shareholders to answer to".

   -- Matthew Mihaly, 17th Feb 2000

Customer service on free muds is generally bad, but from what I've heard
from pay-to-play players, the customer service on commercial muds is rarely 
any better.

> > > As for the survival of those of us with commercial muds written from
> > > scratch, I, for one, am a believer that a rising tide raises all
> > > ships. See my reply to Caliban.
> >
> > As it stands, the majority of muds fight over who can get the most players.
> > If all muds were based around the concept of making money then - quite
> > obviously - that would be the same objective for everyone who wanted to
> > profit from their mud.
> Right, so you run your mud with an eye towards driving away players,
> right?

Putting words in my mouth again?  In answer to your question, no, I run my
mud in the way I feel it should be run.  I do not back off from players out
of fear that they will leave the mud, nor to I try catering to their every
need.  I have my own agenda - I am trying to construct my own "dream mud" -
and I will not change that agenda just to make a little extra pocket money.

> > What about those muds - like my own - who's only objective is to be true
> > to the vision of their creator?  Those muds who wish to be unique and
> > original in such a specific way that they would only ever cater to a very
> > small niche of the mudding community?  Very little profit to be made there,
> > I'm afraid.
> Not arguing that, and I have no problem with quality free muds. If you
> want to cater to an audience of 100, go for it. Power to you.

Actually I am catering to an audience of 1.  If anyone else wants to play,
more power to them - they're welcome to join me.

> > Personally I feel that if all muds started trying to become profit-making
> > ventures, there would be no place for the truely unusual and unique muds.
> > To attract the best distribution of players, your number one priority would
> > be to have all the "cool" features rather than those you personally felt
> > should be there.
> I don't recall ever saying that all muds should be profit-making
> ventures.

True, but you did state that muds should be free from restrictions.  What
other restrictions did you have in mind?

> 90% of muds demonstrate such a low level of seriousness that they would 
> just fall on their faces should they try to turn a profit.

Arguing numbers gets us nowhere, as this is all a matter of opinion anyway.
However even if only the most popular 10% of the muds on the mudconnector
decided to start charging, that would still be over 150 muds - and there
are probably that many muds again that haven't bothered to register with 
the mudconnector.


> It's not as if it's possible to haveone game with all the 'cool'
> features. To some people, a cool feature is unrestricted PK'ing. To
> others, a cool feature is no PK'ing. These are completely incompatible
> arrangements.

Agreed - but you'll usually find a majority of players like a particularly
combination of features.  For example, you'll probably find that most 
commercial muds have PK in some form or other, because there are a lot of
players that like killing each other.  However in most cases the PK will
be restricted or penalised in some way, because you don't want to turn away 
those players who *don't* want to PK.  Graphical muds, mostly attracting
the sort of players who are used to Diablo and Quake, would - I imagine -
lean more towards PK than text-based muds.

> > There is a certain freedom in creating a mud, knowing that you can never
> > profit financially from it - and therefore never feeling that your designs
> > should be restricted by the opinions of others.  That is a freedom I'm not
> > sure I would want to give up.
> Exactly how does anything I've said require that you give up that freedom?

I believe it comes down to what Ola was talking about.

> If codebases had no commercial restrictions, nothing would stop you from 
> from running for free. If you can't attract any players in that environment, 
> then you have no business running a mud. 

Once again you're assuming that the goal of my mud is to attract a large 
number of players - it's not.  My mud is *not* a commercial venture, I do
not measure it's success in the form of money or number of players.

> My only reasoning for thinking that codebases should remove commercial 
> restrictions is that money provides the best motivator

And this is the root of our disagreement.  I make plenty of money from 
my real life job - creating the mud is my hobby and my escape from the 
pressures of other people.  You make your money from your mud.


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