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Old 04-29-2008, 01:49 AM
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Katrar Katrar is offline
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The stagnant MU* scene - observations
It seems to me that online text gaming has been stagnant for about 10 years now. It used to be that codebases would mutate and split almost year by year as developers (and sometimes players) strove to better fit a new or existing playstyle.

Through the mid 90s these evolutionary changes slowed, until they effectively ceased (At the macro level) around 1996-1997.

The past decade has seen core changes within the MU* community revolve around bug fixes. There has been little to no evolutionary movement, no brave new concepts, very little functionally progressive activity at either the dev or player levels.

Some believe that the MU* world has reached its pinnacle and is only advanceable in unseen ways. Some (many actually) simply believe the medium is dead and unworthy of any real attention.

My questions to those interested in this problem are thus:

- Do you think the MU* world is a dead scene with no future? Why or why not?
- Do you think there are still unexplored evolutionary branches on the MU* tree?
- How has the normal player cycle changed over the past decade and has it affected the community?

My answers to these questions:

I don't believe the MU* world to be a dead scene. I think its a depressed and badly wounded scene, and I think it is at least partly self inflicted. The simple fact is that even today, in 2008, there are still fresh new players connecting to a MU* for the first time every day. The vibrancy, energy and inclusiveness of the early to mid 90's is largely missing, however, and this seriously harms almost every aspect of "community", from retention to experience.

I think there are an infinite number of unexplored possible futures for the MU* world. We are still locked in the pure ASCII conventions of the 80's. Nobody seems to have paid attention to the many advancements inherent to Web 2.0 that could have direct application in the field of text based online gaming. Look at interactive fiction as an example of a medium that has continued to be actively developed, and has made serious strides on both sides of the field (development and end user).

The handful of commercial text based gaming companies out there are the vanguard now, but the foundational community with its publicly distributed codebases havn't moved.

I think the player cycle is partly to blame. The player cycle has changed in ways that are highly destructive to the perpetuity of the MU* community. It used to be that the player cycle followed a fairly universal sequences of stages. New players discovered the MU* world. Those that survived their first days or weeks usually continued on to the next stage, seasoned player. Seasoned players, over time, would become exposed to the administrative and code aspects of MU* development and maintenance. The coders in particular would begin a process of mastery that involved mentors, shared knowledge and community identity. MU* code was something to be shared and taught. These new administrators and coders grew the community, and gave it internal vibrancy. New ideas and new stories flowed.

Nowadays, however, things are different. Many master coders (psychocoders within some sub-communities) jealously guard their knowledge, refusing to share it with the follow-on generations of players. This behavior has spread to every corner of the MU* world, from the hack and slash bloodbowls of the MUD community to the roleplay of the MUSH community. New designers and coders more often than not find themselves working on their own, and without an accepting and nurturing community, burning out on their own. I believe this is partly why we see such a higher percentage of perpetually under development low or no population servers in contrast to active, stable games, than at any other time in MU* history.

So now, instead of seasoned players joining an active and mutually respectful community of amateur coders and developers, learning and eventually becoming masters (and future teachers) of the craft, players today strike out on their own, burn out on their own, and at the end of the day the community ends of that small bit poorer for the experience.

There are still many thousands of MU* enthusiasts that connect and play every day, but our community has splintered, factionalized and turned in on itself over the past decade.

The solution is awareness and a renewed sense of community. The solution is to promote and teach our craft to those that are most interested, not jealously guard our slice of the kingdom, at the expense of its future.

I don't know what form that would take. I don't know what exact roads would need to be walked down. But its not difficult to figure out the direction.

What do you think?
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Old 05-03-2008, 04:06 AM
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zetathompson zetathompson is offline
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hmm I find lots of reasons the Mu* is diminishing. Both player and developer sides are to blame. Too often I hear and see on MUDS (to be lazy and use one for all) the admins and oldbies berate newer players. They have an idea, maybe it will work maybe not, but instead of accepting the idea and perhaps even explaining the existing players berate or shut down the person suggesting. Too many MUD owners believe that what players want to see in the game doesn't matter. And many keep raising the stakes and making Mobs and zones more difficult to cater to their old players instead of adding new ones for them and tweaking old ones for new players.

On the other side, it seems as if many new players (and i hit this on MMOS as well as MUDs) can't deal with defeat. If they die multiple times then the game sucks. It is as if the mentality is that a MUD is something you win. Roleplay MUDs aren't usually these days, too many people stand around afk while watching things on Youtube or playing 3 games at once.

Honestly I think MUDs are salvageable, but that some education is needed on both sides before the genre can move forward. It is a game and supposed to be fun for the players and the coders. I think too many forget that, once the fun is recaptured, that may open up the creativity.
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Old 03-12-2009, 10:42 PM
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spazure spazure is offline
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All of my friends from my MUD days are in World of Warcraft now.

Sure, I could login and roleplay again -- and I admit that MUDs are better for roleplay than something like WoW is, but without awesome friends to surround myself with, I'd be bored on a new MUD where I didn't know anybody. Everybody knows that the new players get crapped upon, and since most MUDs aren't so good with the help documentation.. questions would be asked (as jfgi doesn't work for most small-mid scale MUDs), and everybody knows that questions from newbies instantly scream "seasoned players, see who can be the biggest jerk to this noob".

Nah. If Nights Asunder ever comes back, or the original Realms of Thoth.. then maybe I'll rejoin the MUD community. As it is now.. um.. no thanks.
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