[MUD-Dev] MMORPGs & MUDs

Marc Bowden ryumo at merit.edu
Fri Dec 21 08:49:47 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


--On Thursday, December 20, 2001 6:38 AM +0000 Matt Mihaly 
<the_logos at achaea.com> wrote:
> On Wed, 19 Dec 2001, Marc Bowden wrote:

>> Essentially, players object to having to read. As odd as that
>> sounds, the traffic pattern of the average new guest bears this
>> out: if there's too much to read, or any sort of learning curve
>> into the unfamiliar that might require reading, the guest will go
>> somewhere else. You, as a game designer, pick the level of
>> compromise there that you're comfortable with.

> That's not really universally true. Achaea is one of the bigger
> text MUDs out there, despite being commercial and fairly
> expensive, and it has a pretty steep learning curve.

Few suppositions about large-scale people-wrangling are; I assume a
broad disclaimer of "from the population I've observed..." on the
list unless the author says otherwise. =) I certainly haven't seen
every single player group in every situation, that's for sure.

As far as people not wandering away if the game becomes 'too hard',
Achea has the advantage of additional sunk costs for a player which
contribute to retention. Arguably, yes, nobody *has* to buy credits,
but we all know they will - players always choose the past of least
resistance to swag - and that investment isn't likely trivial to the
players in our demographic reserve. They'll hang in because of it.

Of course, pay MUDs court their own trouble in the form of a false
sense of entitlement on the part of players who've ponied up for the
"Roast boar with nectar and ambrosia". You have many players, and
they're dedicated, but they whine.

Non-pay ("hobby") MUDs don't have that same sunk-cost advantage. We
have to be creative about getting a guest tied into a world so that
they pause before retiring or wandering off somewhere else. By in
large that's in the form of non-portable in-game perks provided in
the environment by the developers (homes, pets, etc.) or in social
investments (loyalty to a guild, all my friends play here, and so
on).

And oddly? I've found that the more responsible a non-pay
administration is, the lower the number of dedicated players, but
the more responsible a pay administration is, the HIGHER the number
of players. I'll leave you to guess why; the answer is a social
indictment.

> This, combined with the potential cost (keeping in mind that you
> never have to buy anything, and can get pretty much anything for
> free if you're willing to work long enough for it) no doubt drives
> off a lot of newbies, but on the other hand, the players we do get
> tend to be pretty fanatical, and, I dare say, slightly more mature
> than the average MUD playerbase.  

A filtering effect of both your creation system and the way new
players on Achaea are handled when they arrive. To wit, anyone who
actually completes character creation without dropping link is
already 50% of the way to staying because they've demonstrated a
preference for detail, and a comfortable level of literacy and
patience. Provided gameplay supports their expectations, you have an
actual citizen.

I wonder, does David Kaye do the same thing I do and keep statistics
of how many people bail from the creation sequencer? Not to see if
adjustments (other than mechanical) need to be made in the sequence
(I'm willing to bet neither of us is willing to dumb things down
just for the LCD) but as a point of curiosity to see what percentage
of interest generated makes it into the world.

> The way I look at it is that if you're not willing to read, and
> not willing to learn, you're not the sort of person that deserves
> to be in our world, so sod off. (that's the generic 'you', not
> actually you, Marc.) 

Oh, I quite agree, as you well know. =)

-
Marc Bowden - Soulsinger         Dreamshadow:The Legacy of the Three
  ryumo at merit.edu                                 206.246.120.2 3333

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