[MUD-Dev] Text MUDs; in need of an (r)evolution?

Lydia Leong lwl at black-knight.org
Sat Nov 19 05:12:53 New Zealand Daylight Time 2005

On Nov 17,  6:19pm, Lachek Butalek wrote:

> Most MUDs had a very limited number of users, often a community
> closely knit in Real Life, and they knew the system inside out -
> or could easily get a hold of the person who did. MUDs were more
> experimental playgrounds than games - think Second Life moreso
> than EQ.

I think this very much depends on what MUDs you're talking about.
The community has fragmented more and more over time. In the early
90s there were a few hundred games, but only a relatively small
number of them had sizable player populations. Some of them were
seeded by folks who knew each other in real life, and some continued
to be limited to people who were relatively local, but many others
were seeded by people who knew each other only through the Internet
and/or grew far beyond geographic boundaries.

A significant number of MUDs have been quite professionally run --
an impressive number of smoothly-functioning bureaucracies,
really. Certainly some MUDs were interestingly experimental chaos,
but I would assert that most of the successful ones weren't; if they
made changes, they were generally quite thoroughly thought out and
purposeful, as opposed to, "I had a random cool idea in the shower
today" changes.

> If you compare a MUD's learning curve to something like EQ or UO,
> I think most would prefer the MUD's. WoW or City of Heroes is a
> different matter, but these games are designed for mass appeal
> (and little else, as ranted on elsewhere).

Be careful not to confuse ease of use, particularly in terms of a
reasonable interface and learning curve, with game depth and
complexity or its appeal to the hard-core.

EVE Online, for example, has one of the best tutorials that I've
ever seen for a MMOG, despite being clearly in the hard-core camp.

> While I just complained in VERBOSE mode, I actually do agree that
> MUDs should try new things. The great thing about MUDs is that you
> *can* try new things relatively quickly and without spending a
> large research or development budget - the issue is getting the
> Comp.Sci. students to realize that the whole goblin killing
> business is no longer the coolest thing since caffeinated soft
> drinks. And yes, I'm a part time Comp.Sci. student, so I can say
> that. :)

A significant number of the stranger projects out there never see
the light of day, or at least never see a sizable player
base. There's an awful lot out there that isn't of the
kill-a-billion-foozles variety.  I've seen some pretty avant-garde
stuff out there, well-built, well-coded, well-documented, that was
just too niche to find an audience. Heck, I've built some games of
that sort myself.

On the MMOG side, by the way, I don't believe that invention is just
a problem of creativity (it may not be a problem of creativity at
all).  It's also a problem of matching the game design to the
audience it could reasonably attract, and a workable business
model. We're still in the very early stages of the business models.

	-- Lydia
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