[MUD-Dev] Where are we now?

Greg Munt greg.munt at btinternet.com
Sun May 6 02:50:20 New Zealand Standard Time 2001


From: Koster, Raph <rkoster at verant.com>
>> From: Greg Munt

>> I've been quietly ignoring muds for about two years.  I'm not sure
>> why.

>> I think I just got plain bored re-re-rewriting a core. Or maybe I
>> got disillusioned by the "quality" of players that any mud ends up
>> attracting.  Hatred and lust seem to win out every time. I hate to
>> sound arrogant (no, really!), but the intelligence of the average
>> player seems to verge on zero.

>By this you are saying that the intelligence of the average human
>verges lower than that; after all, mud players are people who have
>gotten past a significant number of technical and educational
>hurdles. Is this really what you mean?


It was an overexagerrated metaphor. It's quite disheartening to be
surrounded by people who aren't interested in much else but sex and
violence.

>To me, one of the major signs of burnout in a mud admin is when they
>start this sort of us vs them thing going. Yes, we often see the
worst >side of players; we see the nails that stick up out of the
wood, we >hear the squeaky wheels and the grindingly loud ones. And it
gets >tiresome. But despite the many protestations of those on this
list who >say they are doing this purely for their own sakes, I still
believe >that we do it for the players. And you can't do it if you
don't take >them as a whole and respect them and appreciate them. You
take the >screeches and the scratches as part of the territory just as
you do in >the real world.


Yes, you are right. Maybe the majority of users are after a game that
I'm not too interested in authoring. Or - I hope - player personas are
as rich as the environment that they are provided with. That is, if
all they can do for amusement is sex and violence, then they aren't
going to demand more intellectual pursuits... They'll put up with what
is on offer, or leave.

>Now, if you have come to just dislike people, well, that's a whole
>bigger issue. And it's certainly true that in the real world it's
>usually easier to ignore or walk away from those people that
represent >sgements of humanity we just don't like. In a mud admin
role, you >don't get to ignore those people, just as politicians and
cops and >doctors don't get to.


Hmm. I don't dislike people. Well, not individuals, anyway. Groups
seem to lose their humanity, somewhat. They seem to average out to
base human instincts. I don't like providing for those sort of
demands, really. I don't consider it to be 'fun' to play with people
who are consumed by them, either.

>> Do large groups vanquish our humanity? Are commercial muds catering
>> for the selfish, mindless, destructive throng that is caused by
>> simply having so many users? Are the perpetually small free muds
>> actually a Better Thing?

>Let's reverse the question, since I don't think it has any easy
>answers.

>Do small groups vanquish our humanity by permitting us to believe
>ourselves superior and better than everyone else? Are small muds
>catering to the selfish, cliquish, destructive mindset that is caused
>by simply associating only with those we deem acceptable? Are the
>large playerbase muds where we meet a better crosssection of actual
>humanity actually a Better Thing precisely because we DO see more of
>the range of human personalities, behaviors, expressions, and
>attitudes?


I'm becoming convinced that the environment defines exactly how much
of a person is displayed online. If so, then we don't see much of a
range, except in the minority of cases. I think all muds are equally
to blame for this sort of thing. Players will mould their activities
around what they are provided, rather than demanding more. It's the
typical "Players don't know what they want until they are given it"
scenario.

>Does MUD-Dev?


My gut reaction is to say, "Yes." Possibly I am thinking of the
MUD-Dev I knew before it was made public. Possibly I am not. What I do
know (or think I know, anyway) is that an incredibly tiny percentage
of the subscribers actually post. It can easily be imagined that there
is a barrier to new posters posting something at odds with the
accepted wisdom or norms of the regular posters.

>To tie it back up a little bit--do we, as admins, by consistently
>saying, "players like this" and "players always..." and "what players
>want," simplify and label and stereotype and objectify to the point
>that we come to see them as Other, that we come to see them as not
>worth having? Is that how we burn out? Because we want the comfort of
>only associating with those who don't have "an intelligence verging
on >zero"?


People, in general, want to associate with similar people. It's how
groups form. We are constantly having to say "Players want this"
because they rarely actually tell us. Apathy is our enemy, and I think
that there is little that can be done to fight it.

>> Okay. That wasn't actually my reason for posting. I wanted to ask
>> what has changed in mudding in the past two years. It was mentioned
>> on DevMUD yesterday that free muds just haven't really changed at
>> all - but commercial muds have. Indeed, they have sucked out the
>> skills that free muds need to grow and thrive, and left nothing but
>> a stagnancy.

>Nonsense. What free muds need to grow and thrive is talent. There's a
>decided lack of talent in the commercial online games industry, so
>strongly doubt we stole all of it. If we did, then maybe this is all
>harder than we thought. :)


There is a lack of talent in the computing field, in general. If
someone does something amazing with a free mud, chances are they'll be
snapped up by a company who wants to make money out of their skills.

> <Free muds are slow innovators>

>Well, guess what. By and large commercial muds are in the same
>boat. Yeah, UO tried some new things. EQ recreated an old experience
>and did better in the market anyway. AC tried a few more innovative
>things and failed to do as well as either of the previous two. The
>next batch is bringing such radical, brand-new, innovative ideas to
>the table as safe zones (!), territory-based team warfare (!!),
>character aging (!!!)... Forgive my sarcasm, but the commercial world
>has plenty of mining of old ideas (and old mistakes) to go before
they >revolutionize muds.


It could be argued that revolutionary muds will not be popular
muds. In a world where giving the players what they want is
all-important, and, bearing in mind that players aren't usually
demanders of innovation, it's hard to see how they could be.

>The recipe for advancing the field is a) share knowledge of what's
>been done b) innovate on it c) go back to step a).


Yes. All too often we are ignorant of prior art, and suffer for it.


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