[MUD-Dev] The Player Wimping Guidebook

Raph Koster rkoster at austin.rr.com
Sat Aug 5 00:48:39 New Zealand Standard Time 2000


> -----Original Message-----
> From: mud-dev-admin at kanga.nu
> [mailto:mud-dev-admin at kanga.nu]On Behalf Of
> adam at treyarch.com
> Sent: Friday, August 04, 2000 4:34 PM
> To: 'mud-dev at kanga.nu'
> Subject: RE: [MUD-Dev] The Player Wimping Guidebook
>
>
> On Fri, 4 Aug 2000, Koster, Raph wrote:
> > [adam at treyarch.com]
> > > What if you make a change that causes half your playerbase to
> > > depart, but the other half to enjoy the game twice as much?
> >
> > This is an indication that you are moving towards a more hard core
> > playerbase.
>
> <nod>
>
> For a flat-rate-fee commerical game, this is probably not
> such a good thing.
> It raises the barrier of entry for newbies and discourages
> casual gamers.
>
> For a hobbiest muds, especially one that is trying to attract a very
> specific kind of player, this is probably a good change.

Only if attracting the specific kind of player. Also, you can have a game
that attracts a specific kind of player without it having to be hardcore, I
think. For example, there was the whole thread here on length ofp lay
sessions, All other things being equal, if the play sessions demand more
time, the playerbase will be smaller and more hardcore.

In general, I don't know that hardcore necessarily goes hand in hand with
hobbyist mud; I think it more clsoely relates to whether you literally want
a hardcore playerbase. You can have a more casual RP-intensive playerbase,
for example.

> If you prefer
> heavy roleplaying, and you make a change that causes most of the people
> not interested in roleplaying to leave, and the remainder to enjoy the
> game more, then the change could probably be called 'successful'.

Wouldn't a change that gets those not interested in roleplaying to roleplay
be a more successful one?

> > > What if you make a change that causes 1% of your
> playerbase to depart,
> > > but the other 99% to enjoy the game twice as much?
> >
> > This doesn't happen--if there's even a modicum of word of
> mouth, it's a
> > statistical blip. You'll start gaining more folks like the
> 99% almost
> > immediately.
>
> I chose this as an extreme, to counterpoint the previous extreme.
>
> The situation that I was actually thinking of was one where
> you make a change,
> or set of changes, that causes the playerbase to drop, but
> not a huge amount.
> Say you make the change(s), and you immediately notice that your peak
> time of day is running at about 80% of the level that it was
> prior to the
> change.  After a couple of weeks, you're back at 90%-95%, and
> you've gotten
> about an equal number of good and bad feedback about the change.  And
> yes, this DOES happen - in fact, I would consider this the most common
> case, at least in my experience.
>
> Can we consider this success, or failure?

Based on my metric of continued growth, it was neither. A successful
wimping, perhaps. :) Not markedly successful.

> My point is that it is very hard to judge.  Even though "playerbase size"
> seems like a hard number, it's not.  Besides fluctating on its own anyhow
> (for example, going down during finals week and summer vacation), there
are
> a million and one ways that you can judge the size of your playerbase.

Yes, of course it's hard to judge. As I said, it just happens to be the most
handy metric. And for most muds, it's not even a metric that is tracked
formally, I think.

> To illustrate, muds usually experience a jump in playerbase size upon
> adding a new character class. [snip]
> So, technically speaking, this is not a true increase in playerbase at
all.
> (Yet I would still judge it success, as it has renewed interest in your
mud.)

If the renewal of interest is sustained, you will probably also see
increased playerbase size as a result, though. Increased interest usually
means increased word of mouth.

> > > If you replace your mud server with a Quake server and subsequently
> > > double your playerbase, is this considered a good design choice?
> >
> > No. It might be a good business choice if you're charging, though. :)
>
> And again, the example was flippant, and an extreme.  It is, however,
> a real scenario - dumbing down your world in order to increase your
> market.  It happens with all forms of entertainment on a regular basis,
> and I expect it will (and probably already has) happened with certain
> muds.

I saw it as a more flippant scenario than that--it isn't analogous to
dumbing down your mud, but to replacing your mud with a complete other game.
:)

Now "dumbing down" is something that again, admins decry. But we also have
to remember that as admins, we are far more hardcore than the run of the
mill player. We get excited by subtleties that most of them do not perceive
in the game. So, I agree that dumbing down is a bad thing, but submit that
often we term things "dumbing down" when they aren't, merely because wee
enjoy complexity.

> > > Success is defined by you, the admin.  Most administrators agree that
> > > a larger playerbase is better, but it is not the only metric.
> >
> > True. But it happens to be a metric we can actually measure, unlike "how
fun
> > the game is to x% of the game."
>
> For me, the primary metric is how fun the game is for myself and my close
> friends (that is, ones I know in RL).  If I implement a change and we all
> love it, I dub it a huge success, regardless of what anyone
> else thinks.

A good metric, but of course very subjective. One could easily end up with
an empty mud if all the friends happen to be evil. ;)

> The second metric is player feedback.  Whether it be on the mud itself,
> on the message boards, or in email, players are usually happy to share
> their feelings, good or bad.  If all my existing players are telling me,
> "Woah, this ROCKS!", then I tend to consider the change a
> success, even if I didn't gain a single new player.

Player feedback tends to come from the most vocal in your mud (regardless of
size) which means that it often skews to their tastes. In my experience,
that taste is harder core than the run of the mill player.

> The least important one is playerbase size.  I redid our website a while
> back, and I was rewarded with the largest surge of new players that we
> had had in a while.  I did not, however, hear a single word from any of
> our existing players.  Quite simply, they don't care.  I consider *this*
> change a success, but a minor one.  (One could argue that this is in a
> different category, as it is marketing.)

Yes; website is an acquisition vehicle, generally, not a retention vehicle,
even in those muds which have tried hard to make it the latter.

-Raph




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