What is your advice on running a text MUD? Maybe like children's books still interest children and are to some extent fascinating to adults, classic stock MUDs still interest newcomers. Also, what is the most necessary way text MUDs can evolve into being as successful as they once were (twenty-some players logged on most of the week)? I'm married, we're expecting and I'm almost out of school for programming. I have little time and a lot of interest.
Also, what is the most necessary way text MUDs can evolve into being as successful as they once were (twenty-some players logged on most of the week)? I'm married, we're expecting and I'm almost out of school for programming. I have little time and a lot of interest.
Even lots and lots and lots of time may not be enough to get you twenty-some players online. You may get to that number while your game is a novelty (assuming it's very non-stock) but in the longer run, it will continue to be a time-sink, and it will get ever harder to match the numbers of the few historically big MUDs.
I don't share plamzi's view of the bleak landscape of MU*'dom. It takes a good deal of effort to hit that 20 player mark (I've far exceeded it with several games in the last 10 years), but it's definitely doable. If you are building a game that you actually want to play, then it's not even what I'd call a "time-sink". A MU* should be a game that you are writing for your own enjoyment that you hope others will join you in playing. It sounds selfish, but your desires have to come first or you'll bore of the project and it'll never see player 2. If your game starts feeling like a chore, it's time to hand it off or close shop. So goal #1 is to proceed with the aim to enjoy what you are doing.
For those actually trying to attract players in larger quantities, you can't get away with following in the footsteps of so many recently failed games. A lot of the people on here that are super negative about the prospect of MU*s going forward are guilty of this. I look at their game's websites, log in to see the actual product, and they usually have one thing in common: They are clunky, not incredibly well-documented, not sufficiently creative enough, and have failed to evolve with the times. You can't just throw a nifty (probably clunky) web interface in front of a game and expect traffic, either. It's positive to eschew a web interface entirely if your product is good enough.
Some of the best games out there today have a few things in common:
A website that is attractive and informative. It can't just be a plug about how the game is awesome or old. It needs to have content that is easy to browse and digest, but not overwhelming out of the gates. Show me why I should play, in detail. It's a good idea to include some text captures/screenshots of notable features/doodads. Also, while you don't have to be a pro web designer, you are going to need to make something that looks nice and is well organized if you want to attract people from outside of MU*'dom.
Embracing social media. If something happens in-game, Tweet it, Facebook it, G+ it, whatever. Get the word out.
Announce progress and big updates to a larger audience than just the immediate MU* community. This could be blog posts, promoted by Tweets, Facebook posts, and messages to opt-in mailing lists. A lot of this can be automated, it's a no-brainer.
The modern MU* admin has to be a community builder first and foremost. Community-building has changed a ton even in the last few years, so I can see where some of the frustration is coming from. People have been crying about MU* population levels for the last ten years now, but MU*'dom continues to see plenty of players. You just can't just poop a MU* out with an awful website and a bad new player experience and expect to get tons of players anymore, though. You could get away with this in the past, but definitely not anymore.
wifidi: if you aren't sure how to start, consider finding an existing game that has seen success or has potential and try to land a job on their staff. Learn as much as you can and see where you end up.
Plamzi, you flushed me out: I'm one of those people tempted to post a stock MUD simply because its possible. I guess it'll take more than that and then some to get and keep players.
Kelvin, sounds like I blew my chance to join the staff I'd want to because I multiplayed an imm and a mortal. I wonder if some would-be admin's fear they'll have better content about the MUD than in it.
The main experience I lack is success, so its only natural that I'd continue trying to be motivated by technical considerations and nerding over what it would be like. I should remember the good old days as a player and apply my improved knowledge of coding to what "it would've been like" trying to cater to player requests or implement my own ideas.
Some implementors who are no longer online have more to cherish. At least wanna-be's want to be. (edit) Also it's intimidating thinking how fast someone else could code an idea. Coders like Tyche who translate MUDs into C++, etc., are a chin-check on coders and implementors. Eventually there might be a more clear way for me to participate. I want to achieve something amazing though I'm progressing so slowly I'll have to be patient.
Looks like we are once again diverging from the original topic, which could be a cue for the mods…
I second Kelvin's advice to learn from an existing game before striking out on your own. Especially if your time is currently very limited.
I also agree with most of Kelvin's further observations. You can definitely have a ton of fun and learn a lot and eventually through hard work come up with something great. Just don't expect it to necessarily translate into big player numbers. The niche is small (getting smaller), and most folks play the same MUD they played in the late 90's. The players who hop games will definitely come and check out your custom features, but they are more likely to move on to a game with a traditionally larger player base. So, while not impossible, the odds are stacked against you. And that's assuming you produce something that can compete with the best offerings in the field, when many of those have a 2-decade head start and a big staff…
At least wanna-be's want to be. (edit) Also it's intimidating thinking how fast someone else could code an idea. Coders like Tyche who translate MUDs into C++, etc., are a chin-check on coders and implementors. Eventually there might be a more clear way for me to participate. I want to achieve something amazing though I'm progressing so slowly I'll have to be patient.
I think that in an enthusiast field, a huge drive and tenacity trump professional coding skills any day. It's not about how fast you can code or whether your fundamentals are strong. It's about what you have completed and how much you've learned in the process. Completion rate is very important because it helps sustain your enthusiasm. If you feel like you're progressing very slowly, it could be because you've taken on too much. Break down things into smaller chunks you can accomplish at several sittings. For example, code for an existing game you enjoy that has small projects for you and enough players who will appreciate your contributions.
To latch onto what Planzi said, I also always suggest that people choose a MUD project that's NOT in a language like C, or even C++.
A lot of what you spend your time doing in a C codebase is tracking down pointer problems, and writing boilerplate that handles memory, string manipulation, etc, etc. None of this is difficult, but it all takes time and energy, which are better spent writing actual game or system code, IMHO.
If you try using python, ruby, <insert favorite "new" language here>, you may be surprised at how easy it is to try something, reject it, and try something else.. without having to spend extra hours (or days) having to debug and fiddle with things first. It really helps with the feeling of accomplishing something when the code you're writing feels like game code, instead of required setup code.
If you want to code on someone else's game, I always suggest an LPMUD first, because they allow online coding that's not trivial. There are even a few that let you experiment at will… Dead Souls Dev, for example, automatically makes you a creator on login.
> A lot of what you spend your time doing in a C codebase is tracking down pointer problems,
False if you take an already memory bug free codebase. What you will spend most of yor time is reinventing the wheel for stuff present in basic libraries in every other high level langage though.
>Plamzi, you flushed me out: I'm one of those people tempted to post a stock MUD simply because its possible. I guess it'll take more than that and then some to get and keep players.
That is an understatement. There is no point in running a stock mud at all, except for your own educationnal enlightment. You will make lose their time to everyone else before they realise you do not provide anything different than everyone else. It is like trying to sell a car with no option the same price than a full optionned one.
Novel but sustainable themes are the keys to successful mud games today. I guess I agree with Kelvin in that you can slap a beautiful web/graphic interface on a mud, but if the content isn't compelling, then you're not going to hold enough players long enough.