[MUD-Dev] Community Relations

Matthew Mihaly diablo at best.com
Tue Jan 18 22:24:19 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000


On Tue, 18 Jan 2000, Raph & Kristen Koster wrote:

> 
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Matthew Mihaly <diablo at best.com>
> To: <mud-dev at kanga.nu>
> Sent: Tuesday, January 18, 2000 3:22 PM
> Subject: Re: [MUD-Dev] Community Relations
> 
> 
> The fundamental mistake is that the players ARE explicitly providing the
> environment. The server and data you supply are basically incidental. They
> are there to amuse the players when the other players aren't doing so. The
> gameplay on most muds does NOT compare to a standalone game experience in
> any way. The combat is simpler, the environments are less compelling, the
> puzzles simplistic... what a mud generally supplies is a context for social
> interaction that is more compelling than the blankness of an IRC chat room.
> 
> Now, I know there are exceptions (before you jump up to defend Achaea's
> combat system, Matt ;). But by and large, a simple examination of the
> playing patterns of mudders, and of the typical retention and migration
> patterns, shows that people are mostly there for the other people. And they
> leave when the other people leave.

Oh, no, clearly you are correct as far as that goes. I've stated exactly
that before in posts here. And, our combat system is only good for player
vs. player. It's fairly boring for player vs. mobile.

> 
> > Remember though that many of us are involved in commercial endeavours, and
> > that attitude is not appropriate for most commercial endeavours.
> 
> It is misguided regardless of whether the venture is a for-profit mud or
> not.

I disagree, and I don't think you thought about this statement before you
made it. "Misguided" mean not guided towards something, presumably your
goal. It is a mistake, I think, to implicitly assume that the goal of a
mud is maximize the size of the player base. It's a bias that I see on
this list all the time, and it's a completely unwarranted one. To a large
extent of course, that is the goal (or at least the means of achieving the
goal of profit) of commercial muds, but 99% of all muds are not commercial
(although given that commerical muds have MUCH larger populations on
average, I'd be curious to see an accurate breakdown of the player
population of commercial muds vs. free muds).

I don't think any of us has either the right or the means to enforce
uniform goals among muds. Some exist to make money. Some exist for
research. Some (perhaps most of the free ones) exist to glorify the egos
of the creator. Some exist simply because the creators like creating
things for the sake of creating them.  Whatever the reason, all are goals,
and it's not for us to say whether the goals are valid or not. In fact,
that's a meaningless statement. If someone has a goal, that goal is valid,
for if it were invalid, it couldn't exist as a goal, and it does.

In summary then, if some mud admins choose to run their muds capriciously,
I don't see where anyone gets off criticizing them on more than a
"personal preferences" level. In other words, perhaps you find that sort
of style distasteful, but that doesn't mean it's Wrong or Misguided in
some universal sense.

 
> > Personally, even though Achaea is commercial, I am sometimes
> > willing to lose customers who irritate me, simply because I don't answer
> > to any corporate management above myself.
> 
> And if they irritate large groups of players, it is smart business to get
> rid of them.

Yes, but the important distinction I was making is that it's perfectly ok,
in my opinion, to have goals other than mere profit-maximization. The goal
of this list is the advancement of muds, not the advancement of the bottom
line for the companies that own muds. I'm sorry if I sound harsh Raph, but
the point of view I'm railing against is one that I hear most of the
commercial people on here (myself included) implicitly espousing a lot,
and upon reflection, I don't think it's justified. The advancement of muds
does not implicitly require commercial-style management. Only muds which
are concerned with either profit maximization or as large a player-base as
possible do.

> > No one starts a volunteer project with
> > the goal of getting spit on.
> 
> People caring for the homeless or the mentally deficient? Civil rights
> volunteers in a segregated society? Sure they do. It's just a difference of
> knowing in advance that's what they were doing. Most mud admins don't seem
> to realize what it is that they are actually making. A game is the least of
> it.

Poorly phrased by me. My point is that regardless of where the content is
coming from (players or creator), the fact is, the world is _owned_ by the
creator (or his assignee). He does not have any real responsibilities to
his players unless he chooses to accept them. I agree that few admins
actually have any clue what it is they are creating, but I don't think
that's relevant. They own the world, end of story. If I want invite you to
my house for a party, and I decide to arbitrarily insult you and throw you
out, that's my right, and thank god for it. I'm not saying I run Achaea
that way, but I AM saying that if I chose to run Achaea that way, such
would be my right, for it is _my_ (well, my company, in which I am the
majority shareholder) world. 

In the end, people volunteer because they get something out of it,
generally either status in the community or a good feeling inside. If a
mud creator/admin runs his mud in a capricious, vindictive, arbitrary way,
and it makes him feel good, bully for him I say. He's the one that put in
the effort, time, and possibly money, and I, for one, am not going to tell
him that he must treat the beneficiaries of his time, effort, and money in
any particular way.

--matt





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