Since there are so many repetitive posts out there saying the same thing whenever someone posts an ad, (eg, more detail, what is your mud about, etc, etc) I thought I'd start a thread where we could outline what all promotions should contain.
Post your thoughts here, I'll gather up the end result in a week or two and post it under a sticky thread.
An accurate and catchy description, that is only a few sentences long, like:
XXX is mud is an exciting new made, based on the XXX codebase with XXX features implemented. We have a rich playerbade of XXX and XXX custom rooms. We aim to create a XXX gameplay experience, allowing players to XXX.
Promotions are a persons first look at your MUD. If they're full of grammatical and spelling errors, you're already doing yourself an injustice. They're coming in with a preconception about you, and it's not a good one. If you can't take some extra time to proofread and spell check your promotion, what's to make them think you do so with your game?
A good promotion needs to do two things: 1. Catch the readers attention. 2. Briefly outline what your MUD has that makes it stand out.
You obviously need to include things like a website, and how to connect to the mud as well. But those don't mean anything if your promotion is: "hai can haz plyrs 4 me mud plz? somemud.org:0000" That's not going to get anyone's attention, and it's certainly not going to make them want to play your game. If anything, it'll make people ridicule you. (As we've no doubt seen with some of the promotions here.)
Think about commercials for video games. More often then not, they're full of flashy images, and glimpses of the story and game play for the game. This is to catch your attention, and showcase certain aspects of the game. The same should be done with a MUD Promo. It's the same thing as a commercial for your MUD. The difference is this is going to be text, just like your MUD. I don't really care what codebase your mud is based off of. I'll give anything a try if you can catch my attention with your Ad, and your game seems uniquely interesting.
Tell us when the MUD was started, how long it's been in serious development, how many players you have (on average), and how many active contributors you have. It would also be nice if I knew what country or specifically, timezone most of the activity occurs in, especially if the player count is low. I want to log in and check it out when people are active.
If the MUD has a website, I want to know about that. A public change log, MOTD (with updates), or something akin to these would be great as well. It shows me what you've done and gives me an idea of the pace of development.
A brief introduction into the theme and background are important.
Honestly, I'm not likely to serious read most MUD promotion threads (or visit their website) at all unless something jumps out at me about the theme or premise. Figure out what is unique about or MUD, what it's strongest points are, etc. and make that your subject line. If it clicks with me, I'll bite. "New D&D MUD Opening!" just doesn't capture my attention. Similarly, nobody cares if you're MUD has been online for 5 years but runs a stock codebase, has zero players, or some other major problem.
Don't try to get every person on the forum interested in your game. Figure out what segment of players would be interested in a game or genre like yours and market your promtoions to them.
I think that including features you "plan to add" is a bad idea, unless you are advertising for staff. I learned a lesson once long ago: talking openly about grandiose ideas for future implementation just comes back to bite you in the ass. If you advertise planned features, then those features ultimately get dropped due to time constraints, or worse, end up less interesting in practice than you planned, it creates a negative impression of you and your game. If you do it habitually, it really starts to smack of Molyneux Syndrome (I coined this term a few years back).
Beyond that, I agree with: theme, setting, connection info, most impressive features and proper spelling/grammar.
It's also a good idea to provide a URL to your game's web page. You can go into more detail about things there. Assuming you have a web page, of course.
Be honest too. If you know your game is unfinished, or full of bugs, say that up front and let people know things may change. Nobody likes to waste time on a game when it's likely to be very different 6 months from now, unless they have some input on those changes.
Aside from reading that, they need to really explain things, and not get uppity when they don't get the responses they want. I don't know about anyone else here, but I'm not in the business of coddling newbies because they don't want to get their feelings hurt. Sorry, I've had to fight and scrap for every scrap of reputation I have in this community, and I expect each and every one of them to do the same. If someone needs to learn their place in the community, I'll be the first to tell them, assuming someone doesn't beat me to it.
An advertisement, or a request for staff needs to not only tell us about goals of a project, but it needs to tell us what's in place as well. The whole graham situation is a great example. Tons of ideas, but not a lot to show. Nothing for us to see and touch. It really felt like he was asking for someone to build his mud for him. I've got two MUDs in the works. And I'm doing the one pretty much solo. The other, my wife handles all the gritty details while I just make code work for her.
There are people in the community who've told me I'm crazy, and that I lack the experience to write a codebase completely from scratch. But guess what, I'm doing it anyway. There's a lot about writing a codebase from scratch that is boring as hell, and I can't stand doing. Planning how things work for one. I'd rather just write code. But there's got to be some kind of method to it so that it doesn't end up like any of the other bases in the repository here. So yes, I hate planning out how I'm going to code, and I'd rather just code. But it has to be done. And no one else is going to do it for me. A lesson I learned all to well in my early days of MUD coding. And something every newcomer needs to learn. Help is a great thing to have. Believe me. SW:TSW is moving along at a much better pace then MW ever has, simply because of the dedicated crew the wife and I picked up along the way. But even if we didn't have that wonderful group of people helping us out. We'd still be working at it. Would it be slower? Yes. Would it stop me? No, because if I don't do it. No one else will.
_graham if you're reading this. You've put a lot of thought into your idea. But you just didn't bring enough to the table to get anyone's interest aside from wanting to try the game out once you get it off the ground. We've all been in your shoes. We've all worked through all the same problems you're going to. "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.*" The challenge has been laid out. Most people here seem to think you don't have what it takes. What kind of Dev are you? Are you one that gives in because people don't think you can do it? Or are you the kind of Dev that gives them all the finger and just keeps on working?
Anyway, I rambled enough. But this is what happens when I can't sleep…
* Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from his Strength to Love speech in 1963.
An example of an excellent Advertisement and awesome follow-up discussion is located here. You'd be wise to follow an example ;).
Great example there. :) They have a pretty nice website too.
I have to say it's pretty ridiculous to ask for free help without conveying anything about the work to be done. If someone is going to insist on being charge, I would hope that they would have enough ideas, vision, will, etc to tell us what's so great about it and exactly what it is that they want done. Even if it isn't perfect (and it's probably not, hopefully they don't believe that it is), it's better than nothing. Theme is part of that and has to be a pretty big deciding factor in getting help. If your audience doesn't like the theme they probably won't even play the thing when it's done, much less help create it.
I really agree with the people advocating for websites, but at the very least you should have: valid contact information for the staff, the address and port for the mud and a brief of description of what kind of game it is (and any background story if you have some).
Personally, having tried my hand at creating a codebase, I think that if they don't have a clear idea of the game they want to create that they should go back to the drawing board. That's as true for someone with an existing codebase as it is for someone looking to create one. The latter is especially true because if your codebase doesn't support the features you want (or you don't know what they are) and you can't create them you have a serious problem. If you "can't code", either learn or find something else to do. I think that what I've done has ultimately turned out to be a long-term coding exercise in search of a purpose/problem/?. Frankly, I've seen several, much less complicated projects that technically fulfill a good part of what mud should be and are at least playable in a demo sense. They were arguably more successful than I have been.
A good promotion warns people not to go to a mud because there is a patriarch who sleeps with all the women. This will A) attract women looking for a strong father figure B) men noticing the abundance of women. Next you also need to warn of the crazy woman who is the alpha female. This will A) attract women looking for the protection of a strong female B) attract men who understand there is no greater danger or adventure than to deal with a psychotic alpha female.
Warn people that the rules are strictly enforced with the exception of outlaws who have a form of permadeath allowing the playerbase to punish them. This will A) attract women wanting a false sense of security B) attract men wanting to be naughty C) attract men wanting to punish naughty men D) attract women who like naughty men E) attract women who like men who punish naughty men.
Next you need some bling, it doesn't really matter what, just mention whatever is hip, we have crafting! player-run-cities! etc! Do make sure you have a boring endless grind to keep the players busy in-between social engagement. Keep an eye open for that crazy alpha female, and give a potent stud with lots of time an important position to keep the alpha female happy, but avoid the alpha female at all cost cause she'll devour you.