How to Change MUing



  • @faraday said in How to Change MUing:

    @Rook Thanks but don't overestimate its success. There have been a number of people who got bored and quit because they're looking for something the game doesn't offer. And despite being a success by my standards, we can't hold a candle to somewhere like Arx in terms of logins (which many people use as a barometer of success). Narrow focus has both pros and cons.

    Dude screw anyone that doesn't hold your game up as a success and just looks at numbers, pure numbers as a metric is really dumb. I would be ecstatic with 30 active players because then I could do completely hands on scenes all the time for each person active, as is I'm pretty much just an administrator that does some big sweeping stories now and then and throws out hooks as I can. Similarly it's legit impossible for me to devote the time I want to all the things I want, it just can't happen, and that's a gigantic advantage of a game with a more narrow focus. So I'm really flattered whenever anyone points to Arx as a success but they really really need to remember the advantages of a smaller game and what make their success so compelling.


  • Pitcrew

    @faraday Even if I'm one of the people who ultimately drifted off into idle land, it wasn't because the game did anything wrong. Often long-term RP success is really a lot of luck, just finding a group and a niche which I never did (a couple people I latched onto early died/idled/etc, which didn't help). But overall the game does a great job and is a pretty good model for its genre, you should definitely be proud of it and count it as a success!



  • @Apos @kitteh Thanks. I count it as a success by my yardstick. My only point was that different people have different yardsticks and BSG's model isn't some magic bullet that's going to work for everyone. If your goal is to have a ton of logins, having a narrow focus (Rook's point #1) probably isn't the right way to go. If your goal is a political PvP game, I'm highly skeptical of your ability to divorce yourself from a lot of "I want to do XYZ" admin jobs (Rook's point #2) unless you automate a ton of stuff with code.


  • Pitcrew

    Is this really a 'MU' problem? Legit question. I'm a MUD-playing heathen and I've probably been exposed to four different MU(sh/x) games at most.

    To me, it seems like the problems addressed in the OP are about genre saturation. Someone found something that works decently well (White Wolf system + bureaucracy) and made a mold for it. Other people took that mold and ran with it. It's not like 'World of Darkness MUSH' is the end-all, be-all of the genre. It's a lot harder to go out and make your own game versus sit down and build your own IKEA WoD playpen, sure, but it's not impossible and there are clear-cut examples of it working (Arx, BSG, Transformers: L&F - I'm sure there's way more). Just stop using the mold. Make something new and divorce it from the sticky ideas.



  • @OldFrightful I think WoD is so successful because it is easy. You can literally just go 'I make X real world thing, but also a Y supernatural thing', because it is modern (city) by night. I think this is also why there is your typical sandbox stagnation, because there is SO MUCH OF THAT, but in a fairly mundane type setting.

    The initial mold of 'White Wolf System + Bureaucracy' can work, but as it is a White Wolf System, it needs a firm, guiding hand.


  • Pitcrew

    I don't think the MU community feels more passive. At least, not for no real reason.

    I think the MU community is suffering from an increasingly low number of players. I would wager there are only a few hundred unique IPs left across all the major MUs.

    I think your three ideas are great, @Rook. And not just because I said something similar a few months back!


  • Pitcrew

    @Apos @faraday Measuring success by number of customers is a poor measuring stick really. Down that path lies conclusions such as McDonald's being a better restaurant than <insert your awesome local burger place here>. So anyone who says BSGU is a bad game because Arx has over 100 players can have their opinion written off. Instead look at how devoted and excited your players are to be playing. If they are having fun, you are having fun, and the cost of the server is covered, you have a successful game.


  • Pitcrew

    If your MUSH has 100 log-ins but only 5 role-play every other day your MUSH is basically a failure. It's pretty frequent that when a MUSH falls into this kind of fate they'll say everything is fine because they still have lots of log-ins.

    Log-in count is the least useful of MUSH metrics. A MUSH with 10 players but each can have 8 characters can easily feign looking like it has 80 players when really it's just a big cluster of alts, like Multiverse MUSH.

    The best metric I've found is to measure: are people active, and are people having fun.

    If a good percentage of your population is active, and people are having fun, you've made a good MUSH. Nothing else matters.



  • @Gilette said in How to Change MUing:

    I think the MU community is suffering from an increasingly low number of players. I would wager there are only a few hundred unique IPs left across all the major MUs.

    It's low but more than that, around a little under a thousand-ish have logged into Arx at some point in the last year. Maybe a little less. Ignoring guests and whatever and going by people that have played the game with characters at some point it's 492. So probably closer to 3-4k unique players imo across MUs, since there's no way that every single person in the hobby has stopped by my game.


  • Admin

    @Ominous said in How to Change MUing:

    So anyone who says BSGU is a bad game because Arx has over 100 players can have their opinion written off. Instead look at how devoted and excited your players are to be playing.

    Success may be hard to define but it definitely isn't mutually exclusive. Two MU* can be successful at the same time, and not for the same reasons.

    What I'm saying is there's no point in comparing games.



  • @Arkandel I would actually be really happy to see games all being so unique from one another that comparisons would be all the more obviously useless.


  • Admin

    @surreality Well I don't think it's a departure from the known paradigm. Is your D&D table-top campaign better because the party has 8 people instead of mine, which has 4? The number of participants is just irrelevant.

    The changes in the medium mean relatively little, too. For example in the Fallcoast thread's recent posts a common issue seems to be that although the +who list is pretty long, RP is gated and it's taking place behind closed doors so new people have nothing to do; what advantage does it convey to have 50 people versus 15 people online if you can't find stuff to do?

    That's what matters, not people. The true benchmark of success to me is whether you are able to log on a game and have fun things to do. The numbers are a factor in that (if there are 3 people online you probably won't find a scene very easily) but more is not necessarily better.



  • Gated RP is a game killer. It has been my experience, both personally and learning from others in conversation, that if you don't "get in at the ground level", you will play hell catching up.

    In several "Leveled" RPGs, that can be detrimental to inclusion into plots because of power level requirements. Try running a combat scene for a 10th level character AND a 2nd level character, and you'll see why the old adage of "birds of a feather".

    I'm not saying that level-less RPGs are the way to go, but maybe there is validity. I love D&D, I really like WoD, and a few other game systems I've had the chance to play. But some people make a fair point that those TT systems just really aren't working well with MU structure.

    Almost every game system (popular, main-stream) out there focuses on personal character advancement through some sort of XP structure. Players have been conditioned to feel that this is the only way to "make progress" in a game. Game goals and stories are fluff, to many. Look at your "hardcore" players and everything boils down to optimal builds, mathematical breakdowns and so on. Once someone identifies how to build "character X" in an "ideal way", if you don't build yours that way, you are screwing up.

    I've worked to get away from that thinking, but it's hard when everyone seems to bring it up.



  • @Arkandel Oh, I agree. I mean more that I wish we had more general variety, which is a common wish/complaint/wild lottery dream.

    I would like there to be a FC-style game. And an RfK one. They appeal to different players -- or sometimes the same player, but different moods. And so on. I want to see sandbox games and heavily plotted games. I want to see all manner of themes, settings, and options. Crowd size is just one factor, and it can work against you just as easily as it works for you, as @Apos mentions.


  • Pitcrew

    @Apos

    Interesting! It does feel a bit ridiculous to be saying 'shit's fucked' to the idea of there being a few thousand players around. Less so, however, when you factor in time zones, schedules, and the fact that I imagine the MU ecosystem is more like a series of independent habitats than something with permeable layers. I mean, we see it here on MSB. There's your WoD players, your Lords and Ladies, your comic-books, and so on.

    For example, logging into any MU during my timezone evening, I would be lucky to find maybe 3-4 people who would be active and less so willing to scene.

    However, it astounds me that MUs can have so many people on and so few people doing anything.

    These days I get all my RP on Champions Online of all places. I think MUs in general could, and should, borrow from conventions of MMO RP more than continue trying to beat the dead horse of tabletop RP (after all, MMO RP is basically MU RP just with a shorter parser and some graphics that no one really considers). MUs are not tabletop games. Tabletop games are, typically, around half a dozen people who have some sort of friendship or connection. MUs are basically randoms trying to herd cats.

    Make that as easy as possible.

    Generally, my points are what @Rook said. Some of these are with the idea of having less players in mind, others are more general.

    1. Narrow the RP. While it was alive, I thought Coral Springs was great for this. All characters were members of the same superpowered academy and everything was set around one seaside town. That's enough breadth to allow for just about any concept but enough limits that any other player could know how to interact with any other player.

    2. A general pushback towards pick-up RP. On a lot of games, there's been an increasing penetration of +scenes code. That is, code that allows players to have access to a schedule that allows them to more easily signal when RP will be happening. A great idea, particularly when involving various timezones, but it often seems to lead to a 'one scene per day' culture. And a culture of people just not logging on if nothing is scheduled. If there is a big push to people becoming passive, I would put this right near the top of possible reasons.

    3. Push people to go out and RP. The big reason why I RP on CO is that, well, I can log in, hit up the social hub and find 20-30 other people at any one time who are basically down to social RP. From social RP, I might form an OOC chemistry. From there, more detailed RP. Now, it's not necessarily high-quality RP, but that's okay -- and it leads into my next point...

    4. Dispel the notion that 'more words = better than'. I would rather have a few quick lines to create a tense, exciting back-and-forth dynamic than waiting ten or fifteen minutes for two or three paragraphs. Something verbosity or detail is appreciated, but often it is meaningless. If people can only afford to log in for an hour or two, then there are ways to make it a good hour or two.

    5. Active staff who model the above behaviors -- without thinking this makes them some kind of martyr. I'd say something like this is key to combatting the players who are lazy or entitled. Like it or not, staff are more than custodians of the server who keep the lights on.

    6. Truly consider whether XP systems are necessary and beneficial to any particular game. As much as I like having some numbers and stats, there are plenty of games I've played on with XP which I've never ever spent. I think you need a simple system for conflict resolution and that's about it. I would be interested in seeing a MU run with something like the PDQ ruleset.

    7. Actually utilise the unique aspects of the MU medium. Let players create things, let players affect the world. If people feel a sense of connection, they might be more inclined to stick around and do things. It's one thing to have Generic Bar and it's another to have Generic Bar where it says that my character is the local pool champion, y'know?

    8. Consider reaching out to other communities to find players. This whole hobby needs a transfusion of new blood and it needed it years ago.

    I think the key thing is that this hobby needs to find some way of modernizing itself. That doesn't mean reinventing the wheel but it sure as hell means acknowledging it exists. MU games are a unique art form but they're also basically 20-30 years old, designed in a world of different people, different technology and different expectations.



  • I'm not sure about 3-4K being representative of active Muers. If this is current, then far more have far less time to play these days. That or numbers from 10 to 20 years ago where in 10s of Ks of active Muers, and that doesn't quite seem right.

    That aside, I agree, the current state of affairs seems more passive. Rather than make things happen, there seems to be a trend to wait for others to have an event. Otherwise most are lingering in OOC areas, waiting for something to happen. That is, be default, a trend towards passive.

    That aside, there was a day where someone opening a place could ask for help developing/staffing/etc a new place, regardless of how 'known' they are and there would be takers. I've noticed far less interest in helping jointly develop a place except among friends. Seems very passive indeed.

    A curious observation on creative interest. In the 90s a few Muers went out and published, the trend increased. Out of my good friends from the 90s, a half dozen have published, most continuing to write and publish. My friends these days that I play with are mostly new to Muing in the past decade or so.

    Another curious correlation. Far more people seem to have a Mu* in the works, or a shell running and are working to develop. Projects for the most part seem to be a small group of friends of 4 or less, lots more in the 1 or 2 range. More diversification.

    More in the way of observation. When MU*s where more this diversification from MUD style of play, it was to open it up to allow more control in the soft code. It wasn't to evolve or end MUD style (mostly hard code), just to open up options. Instead of tweaking hardcode to make a new system, GMs and players had the option to do it in the game itself more easily. Lately, there is a push away from MUSH towards this, but in the style of 'MUSH'. But really, its something else other than MUSH I feel when its more focused on code and combat and gear and economy and such.

    I agree, a measure of success isn't by numbers alone. Though 15+ years ago, it wasn't hard to find a few fairly active options of places to play, unlike these days where it seems fewer and fewer have active player bases where one can hit the grid, start play and have something happen.


  • Pitcrew

    @Gilette said in How to Change MUing:

    @Apos

    Interesting! It does feel a bit ridiculous to be saying 'shit's fucked' to the idea of there being a few thousand players around. Less so, however, when you factor in time zones, schedules, and the fact that I imagine the MU ecosystem is more like a series of independent habitats than something with permeable layers. I mean, we see it here on MSB. There's your WoD players, your Lords and Ladies, your comic-books, and so on.

    For example, logging into any MU during my timezone evening, I would be lucky to find maybe 3-4 people who would be active and less so willing to scene.

    However, it astounds me that MUs can have so many people on and so few people doing anything.

    I'm just going to throw out that since I work from home and like company, I log in while I'm working. During these times, I'm generally available for something, but I'm not available for anything. I try not to actively seek out RP while I'm working, but I'm generally available if someone needs me for something. My work-time RP tends to be "stuff I need to do" while in the evenings, that's when I focus on expanding my RP circle, meeting new people and opening up new avenues for RP. So, I spend a lot of my workday idling in my chars room, which probably looks like I'm not doing anything, when I'm really just being passive in my approach to RP at that moment instead of active like I am when I'm not working. I think there may be others who approach it in the same way.


  • Pitcrew

    @Lisse24

    I'm only singling you out because you volunteered, and what I'm about to say is probably arising from never working a job where I could login somewhere.

    Isn't this a problem? Whenever I log into somewhere and see a WHO list populated by people who've been idle for hours, days, maybe even weeks, I really do start to wonder why they're even online. To me, when I log in, I log in with a purpose: I want to RP very soon.

    Couldn't this sort of breed a culture where the idea isn't logging in to play so much as it is just logging in out of habit?

    @AlexRaymond -- I actually think it is that, that there are still a lot of people who might log in a bit every week but don't really play. And, in my mind, they don't qualify as active MUers.

    edit: For example, I know a RP friend who logs into their charbit on a MU every few weeks for literally a minute, seemingly enough to keep it alive, but that's it. They've been doing this sort of pattern for like two years. Technically active, sure. But I also wonder why they do so, and why they've been doing it for so long.


  • Pitcrew

    @Gilette said in How to Change MUing:

    @Lisse24

    I'm only singling you out because you volunteered, and what I'm about to say is probably arising from never working a job where I could login somewhere.

    Isn't this a problem? Whenever I log into somewhere and see a WHO list populated by people who've been idle for hours, days, maybe even weeks, I really do start to wonder why they're even online. To me, when I log in, I log in with a purpose: I want to RP very soon.

    Couldn't this sort of breed a culture where the idea isn't logging in to play so much as it is just logging in out of habit?

    Well, I'm rarely 'idle for hours.' If I'm logged into a game, I'm generally available for RP, and I'll chat with people on channels and such. I just won't sit in public or page people trying to work up a scene (unless I have a pressing concern. If I page you you for RP while I'm working there's a Reason). In other words, I'm there to RP, I'm just putting the onus to be aggressive about it on someone else's shoulders for that period of time.

    That being said, yes, seeing a +where full of people sitting alone in rooms, or a mob huddled in the OOC room with no one on grid can be offputting. Arx combatted this by not showing those people. I have mix feelings about this, but that's one way to combat that.



  • @Gilette said in How to Change MUing:

    @Lisse24
    Isn't this a problem? Whenever I log into somewhere and see a WHO list populated by people who've been idle for hours, days, maybe even weeks, I really do start to wonder why they're even online. To me, when I log in, I log in with a purpose: I want to RP very soon.

    Couldn't this sort of breed a culture where the idea isn't logging in to play so much as it is just logging in out of habit?

    It could. But, consider this. A MU* is also a community. Don't you want the sort of culture, too, where it feels like a community? That even if you can't /RP/, you can still connect and chat with your friends? I have friends that I chat on-and-off with all day on Slack or Hangouts or anything else. If I am on a MU*, I want to at least be able to shoot the shit with people, even if I can't RP with them right that second.


Log in to reply