commercial muds and cable TV (was RE: [MUD-Dev] code base inquiry )

Matthew Mihaly diablo at
Tue Feb 15 16:48:07 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000

On Tue, 15 Feb 2000, Sellers, Michael wrote:

> Matthew Mihaly wrote:
> > ...No offence to Raph, etc, but the last
> > thing I want to see in the future of muds is the equivalent of pre-cable
> > tv, with a handful of networks providing all the content. The solution to
> > diversity (or at least quality diversity) isn't to have a bunch of people
> > with low-power transmitters and tv cameras in their homes, recording
> > whatever low-quality content they feel like broadcasting. The solution is
> > attracting quality people who have the energy, ability, and money to
> > produce quality content. 
> Actually, that's only part of the equation.  Having the distribution
> mechanisms available and having sufficient audience available are both
> gating factors.  In the case of online MUDish games, it's by no means clear
> that there is sufficient audience to support more than a few "channels"
> worth of content.  Maybe there is, or there will be, but maybe not too.
> It's naive to assume that just because better tools become available that
> better commercial MUDs will result, or that enough people will play them to
> keep them around as something other than a money-losing labor of love.  

Hmm, I disagree. There may not be sufficient audience to support more than
a few massive EQ/AC/UO style muds, but smaller muds do not need as big an
audience (just like Lifetime doesn't need the same size audience as
NBC). If I steal 500 users from EQ, it doesn't impact them that much, but
that's a potentially profitiable user-base right there for a small mud,
provided they steal the right users.

> > I've been thinking about this issue for awhile, and recently paid a bunch
> > of money to buy the copyright to, and the rights to all extant contracts
> > for, the engine/scripting language Vortex. I'm considering setting up some
> > sort of incubator operation, much like VC incubators (but on a MUCH
> > smaller scale financially and otherwise of course), to assist people in
> > creating commercial muds with Vortex and possibly with a new
> > engine/scripting language currently under development for me called
> > Rapture. I really believe that the mudding world as a whole will be better
> > served with a lot of smaller commercial niche muds as opposed to a few
> > big commercial muds that are forced to cater to the lowest common
> > denominator in their quest for bragging rights to the largest subscriber
> > base.
> If you have the time and money to devote to a project like this, more power
> to you!  I don't think you'll see any long term financial success from
> something like this, but you just never know... if you incubate a dozen
> muds, one of them could turn out to be something new and cool.  Or they
> could all be cannibalizing off of the same shrinking pool of players.  Hard
> to tell.

Yeah, I don't really think it would be a long-term financial success, but
I would be taking a percentage of gross revenue of each mud, as well as an
up-front fee. In this sense it's not at all like a VC incubator I suppose,
because I would be finding outside investors for the muds, rather than
having my company invest. You very well could be right about the
cannibalizing the same pool of players. That's my major worry about it and
would be the reason I wouldn't do it if I choose not to.


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