[MUD-Dev] Minimum community sizes

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Mon Feb 28 17:56:23 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000

On Mon, 28 Feb 2000, Dan Root wrote:
> At what point do you cease to have a real community and revert to a couple
> of people who are friends or acquaintences governed by multiplepersonal
> interactions, rather than an group entity governed by social dynamics?

As has already been mentioned, social dynamics come into play for any number
of people greater than one.  As a player and as an admin, however, I
generally think of there being about four sizes for a mud's playerbase.

The first is new muds which have so few players that everyone knows everyone
else.  There is rarely any bickering or PvP action, as there is plenty of
resources to go around for everyone.  In fact, at this level, you'll rarely
get players selling or trading items, or doing other things that you would
normally expect.  Global channels, if they exist, tend to be quite chatty, more
like a grouptell where the entire mud is a single group (even if they aren't
currently cooperating).

The second is a middling stage where there are enough players such that,
even though they basically all know each other, the chattyness on global
channels is lower, and the mud seems less like a group of friends, and
perhaps is more like a small office setting where everyone is aquainted,
but not necessarily friendly.  PvP and item selling/trading is still rare.

The third level is one that most muds fall into, which is having enough
players such that not everyone knows everyone else; it's possible to
'blend into the crowd'.  Resources are scarcer, and so you have PvP and
buying and selling.

The final stage is one that free muds rarely reach, and perhaps don't want
to.  At this level, there are more people than anyone could ever hope to
know, and blending into the crowd is all too easy.  PvP and related stuff
are extremely common, perhaps too much so for the admin's taste.

Actually attaching numbers to these levels is difficult.  I would say
that they go around 5-20, 21-60, 61-250, and then 250+ (as in, total size
of active playerbase).  However, I should note that it varies wildly depending
on when the players play, and for how long.  For example, I know many muds
in the second category have one group of people that all know each other
from the daytime, and another that play at night.  There is little to no
overlap between the groups; they may not even know of each others' existance.

As an admin of a fledgling mud who has struggled in both the first and
second categories, I also know that sometimes a decently-sized playerbase
may not assure a category two effect.  At one point I had about 20 regular
players.  I noticed looking through the access logs that, through some
strange stroke of luck, they all managed to play at different times.  One
fellow would log on at 8am and be off by 9; another would log on at 9:30,
but always be gone by 11.  Around noon three different people came on,
however all but one of them would be off by two, at which point two other
players logged on...and so forth.  It was like this with clockwork regularity
for several weeks.  I think at least one of the people quit playing because
"No one else plays this mud!" :)


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