[MUD-Dev] RE: [adv-mud] What good is a hero when nobody knows?

J C Lawrence claw at kanga.nu
Sat Jan 29 21:13:08 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000

On Fri, 21 Jan 2000 01:15:25 -0500 
phlUID  <phluid at mindless.com> wrote:

> How do you get players addicted to your mud? 

A few basic goals/techniques that rather overlap:

  Community -- they are a part of a society or social group, and are
  needed by and valuable to that group.

  Investment -- they have invested effort and expertise with gains
  that might be lost without attention.

  Involvement -- they are an implicit and functional part of the
  world, such that both they, and the game world, are mutually
  dependent and will change (possibly for the worse) without their
  continued involvement.

  Participation -- they are involved in group and game-world
  activities such that they are a "member" to an observable (to
  them) extent, and thus feel a pleasant sense of obligation and
  duty toward those activities.

  Value -- they value their role, its impact, and their
  participation in in-game activities and the other people there.

How you can achieve these things is various and has been an
extensive, and never-ending topic here.  They are also of course a
primary concern of commercial games in their efforts to reduce churn
and lock in players (and their resulting income) for extended

I'd love to see some discussion and expansion on the above so that
we can start establishing some recipies.  Periodic celebrations and
Events are probably the only real recipe we've discussed here
(thanks to Amy Jo Kim for observing that all societies have 'em).

> What are some ideas that people have implemented to make players
> just HAVE to get on and player for just a FEW more minutes. 

I suspect that that is the wrong target and view to approach the
problem with.  I would expect that a more profitable view would be:

  What can I do to the game/game world, such that players value
  their participation in the game more?

You're not looking for addiction, or visceral hormonal thrills.
Those are too short-lived and have nasty burn out factors.  What you
are looking for is the ability to establish the willing habit in
your players of playing your game.  You want them to incorporate
your game and its world as a standard and even anticipated part of
their normal routine.  More, you want them _coming_back_, not just
playing ever spare second they have until they find some other
silicon tart that winds their curlies even tighter than you do.

> I've read an excellent paper on the subject of addiction from
> Amit's Game Programming Resources (no link offhand)...

There's a link off the Library at Kanga.Nu.

> ... and it seems to me that the more players that you can get
> addicted, the more stable your playerbase is and the more free
> advertising you are getting. 

Player count is obviously important.  There is definitely a
"critical mass" required which seems to vary in magnitude for each
game and the size of its target public.  

I would however look at it this way:

  People play MIST again, again, and again.  They play it just to
walk thru the scenery, to appreciate some of the craft that went
into it, and, I suspect, to re-experience the memory of the wonder
from the first time they played it.

  People play Quake for a while, even obsessively, and then "get
sick of it", and go do something else.  

ObStory: I got Quake-World set up here under Linux and have been
messing with the various Team Fortress variants (I have the marked
advantage of being a definite LPB on the server I haunt -- my
typical ping is between 30 and 80).  It took about a week of
occassional playing however before I came to a simple conclusion:
I'm tired of 2fort5 and variants.  I'll now only play more
interesting maps like Dune, Tater, CanalZone, Canyon, etc.  I have
no doubt that in another week or so I'll be burnt out on those, and
will abandone QuakeWorld.  

MUDs need longer lived players than a couple weeks.

J C Lawrence                                 Home: claw at kanga.nu
----------(*)                              Other: coder at kanga.nu
--=| A man is as sane as he is dangerous to his environment |=--

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