[MUD-Dev] [STORY] Story and population size

Matt Mihaly the_logos at achaea.com
Wed Dec 12 09:03:38 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

On Mon, 10 Dec 2001, Michael Tresca wrote:
> Matt Mihaly posted on Thursday, December 06, 2001 3:17 PM
>> Erm, you make it sound as if people haven't been taking those
>> steps for the past 20+ years. It's not as if someone woke up in
>> 1975 and said "Hey, there are no online multiplayer games
>> around. Let's go whole-hog and make a 3d graphical one!" There's
>> 20+ years of history in the MUD industry.

> I'm shocked by the number of MMORPGs who make the same mistakes
> MUDs made.  In theory, it's so simple: ask the administrators of
> other games what they do to overcome their problems.  Hell, pay
> them $100 for the advice.

> I'm not talking about theoretics here.  I'm talking about MUDs
> that have been around for a long time, that have loyal
> playerbases, that obviously "work."

> Instead, I've watched MMORPGs have massive fits as they deal with
> player-killing, monster repopulation, role-playing, harassment,
> economy, etc. -- all issues MUDs have dealt with.  MUDs were
> first.  They made all those mistakes.  Some have found solutions
> (or at least, better solutions than those displayed in the
> Alas, I suspect the attitude that MMORPGs are substantially
> different than MUDs prohibits open inquiry.

Well, I obviously share some of those sentiments, but I think there
are two points you're not addressing. First, scale does create extra
problems at a geometric rate. Second, there is a big difference
between commercial and free. Players simply behave differently when
they've laid down money. Their expectations are, rightfully, a lot
higher, and this leads to different patterns of behavior.

I mean, consider that both Raph and Brad McQuaid came from text MUD
backgrounds. Everquest has been accused of being a DIKU with
graphics. I think that it's not just a matter of asking small MUD
admins how they do it (by small MUD I really mean everyone in text
aside from Simutronics).

For instance, one of the reasons Achaea works, I think, is the heavy
admin involvement. Admins (who play as Gods most of the time), are
allowed to slay people who talk back to them, and generally are
pretty involved in things. I can do this because I can hand-pick the
people who play them, and have had the luxury of being able to train
them through what really is a fairly long process. They currently go
through about 4-6 months of training, where they move from Celani to
Demi-God, to actually being a God. Most of them don't ever make it
to God. As a Celani/Demi-God, they're expected to be there to work
and learn. They get training in building, in handling customer
service, in proper behavior, etc. Basically, they get immersed in
the culture of the admins, and through their training time, either
pick up the skills that they need, quit, or get asked to leave. And
those are just the people allowed to go through that process. We
probably get 15 serious applications (as opposed to newbies wanting
to be immortal) for every 1 that we accept.

Now, I try to imagine applying that sort of thing to a game the size
of Everquest, with multiple shards, and frankly, it couldn't be
done. I can get quality volunteers for Achaea because they can work
their way to importance (our first full-time employee started as a
volunteer), and have a real impact on things.

Everquest would probably need a good 50-75 volunteers of this
caliber per shard in order to achieve the same thing we do. Multiply
that by however many shards Everquest has. There's just no way it
could be done. A big company is never going to attract volunteers as
dedicated and as competent as ours are, because they can't be made
to feel special and because with that many people, you simply can't
trust them with the same kind of power I trust mine with.

That's just one example of how scale would definitely seem to
invalidate what works in the small text worlds many of us run. I can
think of quite a few others.


MUD-Dev mailing list
MUD-Dev at kanga.nu

More information about the MUD-Dev mailing list