Strategies and Patterns: What roads would any dare to tread?
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Burr



Joined: 27 May 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2005 10:53 pm    Post subject: Strategies and Patterns: What roads would any dare to tread? Reply with quote

Of the muds you deem successful, do you currently notice any trends in strategies for future growth or survival? Which ones look particularly effective or ineffective to you?

Do you notice any operations and/or tactics that, when combined, are so effective as to be notably worthwhile in most muds, regardless of type?

I ask because so many of online discussions about muds are about specific operations or tactics, with any ambiguity addressed with "That depends..." or "Well, in my mud..." And I wonder if a higher level discussion might fill in some blanks so that our best answers may be unified rather than depending so much on context.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 10:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well 'successful' means different things to different people. But based on your comment about growth and survival, I'll go by the assumption that you're talking about gathering and retaining a reasonable playerbase.

In my opinion, some of the things which can help attract and retain players are:

1) Vision: The developers should have a clear and unified vision, and work towards a common goal.

2) Motivation: Creating a good mud will take years. You need the motivation to stick it out.

3) Originality: The mud should be different enough to stand out from the competition.

4) Familiarity: The mud shouldn't be so different that existing mudders have to relearn everything.

5) Usability: The interface should be designed for ease of use, geared towards the target audience.

6) Well-polished: Take those features and polish them until they shine. Rough edges and a 'half-finished' feel are not strong selling points.

7) Well-established: Playerbases don't appear over night - they take time to build up.

8) Strategic advertising: Forum promotions, flame-war plugs, banners, word of mouth, etc.

9) Administration: The way you run the mud and treat the players can have a huge effect on playerbase retention.
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Massaria



Joined: 14 May 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
4) Familiarity: The mud shouldn't be so different that existing mudders have to relearn everything.


While I agree completely with the other 8 points KaVir lists, I'm not so sure about this one.
I know for sure that I wouldn't stick around very long on a mud that looks like one of the common codebases, even if it had 100% original areas. I'm well aware that you can't extrapolate from the opinion of a single person, but I think that more and more, players are getting fed up with the same old interfaces, commands and aims.
'Unique' has always been a buzz-word in the mudding community (as long as I've been around anyways), but I must admit that most uses of that word would require a redefinition of it to apply.
I hope and think that we'll see more and more muds which will actually fit the difinition of 'unique'.

I'd like to add a tenth point to that list. It might be called 'Continued development', by which I mean to say that a mud, especially if it's not quite unique, will need a fairly steady influx of new areas to keep the old, maxed-out players entertained. Possibly even an evolving storyline.
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Maraz



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting - I would consider familiarity to be one of the most important points. For me it was originality that I would be less sure about.

For me I like a familiar world, I'd be most likely to play a MUD based on an existing fantasy world from fiction. I find a lot of very unique and original worlds to be too unfamiliar. I have seen discussions where people say they would like to see unique races rather than generic ones, but personally I almost exclusively play human characters.

I think that familiarity in background at least can be very helpful in making new players fit in quicker. Although what you seem to be thinking of is code rather than background, and I would agree that original code and gameplay are probably helpful in attracting veteran MUDers (surely totaly new players wouldn't be able to apreciate it?). Having said that I would much prefer a MUD where the basic commands were familiar.

I definately agree with the continued development, and I think that this is even more effective where the players are actually involved in the development process.

Ultimately I'd say that success requires attracting players, keeping players, and keeping players long term.

Attracting players is really all about advertising, KaVir's point 8. Keeping players, as in them not just logging in looking around then never returning - probably requires a game that is easy to learn, which is where familiarity comes in as well as usability (point 5), originality would also be relevant here. Also perhaps some way of intergrating the players into the game, I think this is why guild and clan systems are so popular. Then keeping players in the long term is probably going to require continued development as Massaria says. Also there has too be enough to do that players can't "complete" the game within a few weeks or months. So there has to be new challanges for players as they advance.
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KaVir



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I know for sure that I wouldn't stick around very long on a mud that looks like one of the common codebases, even if it had 100% original areas.


Right - as I said, you need originality. But in my experience, the majority of players don't like something completely different - that's why most people tend to stick to a certain type of codebase. Someone who's used to ROM will probably also play ROT muds. They might also play Envy or Smaug muds. They're less likely to play Circle or Silly muds, and even less likely still to play LP or Tiny muds.

You give them something even more different still, and they're even less likely to play it (let alone stick with it).

I think it's also worth noting the way your phrased your above comment "...even if it had 100% original areas" - to me this indicates certain expectations. What if the mud doesn't use areas? What if it doesn't even use rooms?

Quote:
I'm well aware that you can't extrapolate from the opinion of a single person, but I think that more and more, players are getting fed up with the same old interfaces, commands and aims.


But most of them can't be bothered to actually learn new ones. Players ask for a lot of things, but the reality is that most of them don't really want what they ask for.

Quote:
I'd like to add a tenth point to that list. It might be called 'Continued development', by which I mean to say that a mud, especially if it's not quite unique, will need a fairly steady influx of new areas to keep the old, maxed-out players entertained. Possibly even an evolving storyline.


Good suggestion, although I'd phrase it in a more general way: A mud needs a steady influx of new content to avoid becoming stale. The exact type of content (areas, features, quests, etc) depends on the style of mud, but if there's never anything new the mud will stagnate and many older players will leave.
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Spazmatic



Joined: 18 May 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Time for a "That depends..." post. Sorry. Sad

Even if we ignore the sticky problem of "success", there are major issues with "future growth or survival". The most important ones in my mind:

A) Those can be distinct concepts. Some of the oldest places around are talkers that have never grown. Some muds actually die because they push growth too hard, alienating their dedicated playerbase.

B) Ignoring A, there's still the problem of overgeneralization. It all depends on what you need for survival, your target audience, etc...

Let me illustrate.

Quote:
You give them something even more different still, and they're even less likely to play it (let alone stick with it).


Take this present point of contention: familiarity. We've already seen two extremely different views on it in this thread alone (plus KaVir's moderate stance). I'd say the problem is, it all depends on audience.

* Some players love Diku. They love it to death. Some of them actually love STOCK, even, and merely want new players to play with. That's... not hard to figure out. Get fun admins, fun players, and voila, you've got 'em.

* Some just want new areas. For that audience, you're going to be emulating Diku, or building right on top of Diku.

* Some players want original gameplay, old interface. This is, I think, the largest group - my argument deriving from codebase evolution. We've inherited much of the interface from MUD1, even through the most revolutionary of changes (classless muds? roomless muds?)

* Some players want everything new. It doesn't even have to be good. I often fall into this category - it's the desire to push the limits of personal ideology. I want to see where people can expand the definition of a "mud".

* There are other types of specialty groups. For example, casual players want an interface they can understand. In theory, NLP would be the optimal interface for them, but it might be a huge conflict with hardcore players who now have to type "attack the third orc with my axe" instead of "kill 3.orc".

Where's the line between familiarity and innovation? It all depends.

(P.S. Not trying to derail the conversation. Think of this as an attempt to cast it in the light of conditional probabilities - nothing is absolute, but we can make generalizations based on assumed target audience and goal.)
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Burr



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 10:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Spazmatic said: A) Those can be distinct concepts. Some of the oldest places around are talkers that have never grown. Some muds actually die because they push growth too hard, alienating their dedicated playerbase.


Yes, some muds don't grow, but they are deemed successful because they nevertheless survive, which is why I included survival as a possibility for success. Other muds may grow at an explosive rate that dooms their longterm survival, and so may be deemed unsuccessful.

Someone might now argue that I should have just left out "growth", then, and stuck with "survival." But what mud could be considered successful that doesn't have a multiuser aspect? Within the scope of this discussion, some growth is necessary for a mud to be deemed successful.

Quote:
B) Ignoring A, there's still the problem of overgeneralization. It all depends on what you need for survival, your target audience, etc...


A mud owner has full control over choosing their target audience, so the target audience should depend on the strategy, not the other way around. No strategy will generate success for a mud if the target audience is, say, undead Martians. A poorly targeted audience is a flaw in the strategy itself.

As for differences in tastes and personalities go, I think you'll recognize that merely being human and living in human society means there is a lot more in common than different between us, at all levels from the fundamental to the superficial.

I'll take familiarity as an example, though I wasn't the one who brought it up as any part of a successful strategy.

I personally worry that familiarity is given too much importance. Certainly, if something is good it will also tend to be familiar to some extent, having been innovated from something else that was good. It's rare that bad things are allowed to become familiar on a large scale, this being why revolutions are also rare.

I see no evidence that it works the other way around. Every case I can think of in which something familiar is also good, it seems to me that the goodness generated the familiarity, not vice versa.

However, I see it as no overgeneralization when taken by itself. People are attracted to the familiar. I just see a different reason why. And I believe this reason can be expressed as a strategy that can be applied to all muds: strive for goodness. You might say this is obvious; but to someone who has been striving for familiarity, maybe it isn't so obvious and is worth stating.
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Spazmatic



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 3:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
But what mud could be considered successful that doesn't have a multiuser aspect?


One would assume so, since we are talking about multi-user dungeons. That said, I have a hard time seeing how that is relevant. After all, having multiple users and insuring "future growth" are very, very much not the same concept. What happens to a stable playerbase? Surely a mud that has been up for four years without a change in playerbase could, in some owners' eyes, be deemed successful?

Quote:
Within the scope of this discussion, some growth is necessary for a mud to be deemed successful.


Not to be pedantic, but perhaps it'd be good for you to clarify your idea of growth. I must not understand it completely. Up to now, I've been using something along the lines of " An increase, as in size, number, value, or strength; extension or expansion".

Interestingly, I can think of many metrics for success that do not require any of that "growth".

As a case study, consider a hack'n'slash mud that transitions to RP enforced. They may lose a lot of players. But to an admin that wants to run an RP mud, this may still be a win - maybe he ends up with a tighter, more dedicated community than before? Maybe the original hack'n'slash mud just wasn't fun for the admin anymore, and a change was needed for him or her to feel any sense of success and joy? I've been involved in such transitions. I've never seen growth result from the transition, but I have seen happy admins, happy players, and happy, successful muds.

Quote:
A mud owner has full control over choosing their target audience, so the target audience should depend on the strategy, not the other way around.


Muds are products, even non-commercial ones. We may not necessarily ask players to spend money, but we are asking them to spend time. To trust in our product, its quality, stability. So let's try a slight variation on that quote:

"An advertiser has full control over choosing their target audience, so the target audience should depend on the strategy, not the other way around."

This is called product marketing. There's a reason it hasn't been employed by major businesses since the 1970's - it's wrong. Not only does it fail to generate revenue (players), it completely fails the customer (the player) on every level. Players deserve better.

Muds are private property. They're our toys, our children, our playgrounds. But they're also a service we provide, though often freely. Service centers around the player, not around our dreamworld beliefs.

Think about who you want to play the mud, think about what you want from the mud, and then find the proper approach. Do it the other way around and you'll have a disaster.

Quote:
I think you'll recognize that merely being human and living in human society means there is a lot more in common than different between us, at all levels from the fundamental to the superficial.


There are certainly shared traits, aspects, likes and dislikes. Most players prefer a mud to be up, rather than down - this is a given. But even to this, there are exceptions - some Armageddon players have taken an unnaturally strong attachment to the prescheduled downtime as a forced vacation, a sanity check.

Do you want those players to make up your playerbase? Maybe. I can think of a bunch of reasons you might. However, that's just an example.

There are similarities, yes. But those are few, and there are many differences. Keeping those diferences in mind will help prevent randomly conflicting posts, and place our discussion on solid ground.

I agree with the concept of the thread - it's good to take a big picture approach. But it's useless to generalize without addressing the limitations of each approach, and target audience is one such very important limitation.

Quote:
Certainly, if something is good it will also tend to be familiar to some extent, having been innovated from something else that was good.


Apparently you've just nullified around half of the thousands of papers published on novelty in paradigm shifts since Kuhn's 1962 The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Clearly an impressive generalization.

Unfortunately, as fascinating as I find Kuhn's theory, that's probably beyond the scope of this discussion. So I'll assume, for the moment, that you are correct, and all good things have a clear derivation from other good things. We'll operate from there.

Are good things necessarily familiar? Are you familiar with all good things? All good muds? What if my "good thing" derives from a good piece of IF? Most mudders have never played IF. Its interface, structure, and many other aspects differ wildly from any mud I've played. Clearly there's going to be some familiarity issues for players. But I'm sure there's good IF, right?

Quote:
goodness generated the familiarity


The Blue Screen of Death is familiar. Come to think of it, death itself is familiar to many people. I'm sure that's just the goodness of it, right?

Perhaps an example closer to home will do better. Mud downtime is familiar to many, many players. Must be a great thing to have around.

Quote:
And I believe this reason can be expressed as a strategy that can be applied to all muds: strive for goodness.


I'm afraid we have a bit of a misunderstanding. Goodness is a measure basd on aspects of the mud. Aspects are not the result of goodness. You cannot state that "uptime" is a result of goodness.

Familiarity is an aspect. It can help make a mud "good" to certain audiences. Simple.




Look, like I said earlier, I have no interest in derailing what has the potential to become a very interesting conversation. I'd like to see what interesting approaches people can construct to maximize appeal with minimal cost and minimal negative effect. However, this conversation wil devolve into case studies and random bickering unless we consider the limitations of the proposed strategies. Audience is certainly such a limitation.




The following is admittedly a little off-topic, but I feel it's important for general edification.

Quote:
this being why revolutions are also rare.


http://www.kurzweilai.net/articles/art0134.html?printable=1
An interesting interpretation of this theory, whether or not you agree with it, is that the rate of "revolutions" is also increasing, assuming that technology is evenly tiered and that the cost of advancing within a tier is sub-exponential. Not nearly as popular as the "Singularity" extension, but I think a far more interesting and verifiable possibility.
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Burr



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Surely a mud that has been up for four years without a change in playerbase could, in some owners' eyes, be deemed successful?


I agree with you on this point. Survival is an indicator of success. This is why I said "growth or survival" -- not merely "growth" -- in my original post, and further emphasized that point in my first reply to you. I apologize if it was still unclear.

Quote:
Not to be pedantic, but perhaps it'd be good for you to clarify your idea of growth. I must not understand it completely. Up to now, I've been using something along the lines of " An increase, as in size, number, value, or strength; extension or expansion".


The way I've been both thinking about growth has been primarily in regards to playerbase, and my words reflect that. But I haven't restricted the definition to just that, in case someone else has an equally viable interpretation.

As for your example of an RP mud becoming a smaller but tighter community, I would suggest that the mud may be more successful now because it is more likely to survive. Possibly it is satisfying the interests of fewer people but to a larger extent. Or perhaps it is merely cutting costs. I'm not sure the specific effect matters so much as long as it is positively impacted in terms of growth and survival.

Quote:
This is called product marketing. There's a reason it hasn't been employed by major businesses since the 1970's - it's wrong. Not only does it fail to generate revenue (players), it completely fails the customer (the player) on every level. Players deserve better.


You are right that it is poor marketing practice to develop a new product before having analyzed your audience's needs. However, while attaining my marketing degree, I learned it is also poor practice to choose your target audience without extensive situational and environmental analysis that will govern your strategy in more ways than just one potential audience's needs. Your strategy might even include targetting multiple audiences with different methods and/or different products.

It seems many mud developers decide to cater to a PK or RP or fan-based audience before considering that perhaps the best strategy would not fit perfectly with any of those three classifications. Rather than choosing a strategy to fit a predetermined audience, maybe it would be better to choose an audience as part of a broader strategy. This was the point I was trying to make (quite overzealously, I'll admit).

Quote:
Unfortunately, as fascinating as I find Kuhn's theory, that's probably beyond the scope of this discussion. So I'll assume, for the moment, that you are correct, and all good things have a clear derivation from other good things. We'll operate from there.


Funnily enough, I've already been (literally) beaten over the head once this week for not having read Kuhn's work. It's on my list, and I promise to get to it soon.

Quote:
Are good things necessarily familiar?


Starting here, you seem to be arguing many things can be good without being familiar. And later you seem to suggest that many familiar things can, in fact, be bad.

If so, then rest assured that we are agreed on that point. In fact, that was the very point I was making. I claim that goodness tends to generate familiarity; familiarity does not necessarily generate goodness, and I see no convincing evidence that it does. I believe advocates of familiarity should keep that in mind.

Quote:
The Blue Screen of Death is familiar. Come to think of it, death itself is familiar to many people. I'm sure that's just the goodness of it, right?


This question is the main reason why I believe you confused my point for its converse. I would argue that the blue screen of death is both bad and familiar, thus providing evidence that familiarity does not necessarily generate goodness.

Quote:
Look, like I said earlier, I have no interest in derailing what has the potential to become a very interesting conversation. I'd like to see what interesting approaches people can construct to maximize appeal with minimal cost and minimal negative effect. However, this conversation wil devolve into case studies and random bickering unless we consider the limitations of the proposed strategies. Audience is certainly such a limitation.


If this topic is derailed by anything it will be by the limitations themselves, not our discussion of them. Thank you for your arguments.
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Tyche



Joined: 13 May 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 5:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Burr wrote:

I personally worry that familiarity is given too much importance. Certainly, if something is good it will also tend to be familiar to some extent, having been innovated from something else that was good. It's rare that bad things are allowed to become familiar on a large scale, this being why revolutions are also rare.

I see no evidence that it works the other way around. Every case I can think of in which something familiar is also good, it seems to me that the goodness generated the familiarity, not vice versa.


Here is an interesting article that comments on both familiarity and change...
Virtual worlds are designed by newbies

Bartle wrote:

The normal rules of evolution by which computer games operate propagate good design genes from one to the next. Each generation of game takes the best mutations from the previous generation and adds to them.

Virtual worlds also propagate good genes, but they propagate poor ones more readily. The best virtual worlds don't pass their design genes around much because of their high retention rate: "Why would I quit when what I want is right here?". Poor design genes cause players to leave sooner, so it's these features that wind up being must-haves for the next generation of products. This leads to a bizarre situation: for a new virtual world to succeed, it has to have the same features that caused its antecedents to fail..!


He goes on to give two examples of good/bad genes and how they are/are not propagated.

Bartle wrote:

Example 1 (Old): Permanent Death

If characters that died stayed dead, it would open up all kinds of very convenient doors for virtual world design:

It prevents early-adopter players from gaining an iron grip on positions of power.

It re-uses content effectively, because players view same-level encounters from different angles using different characters.

It's the default fiction for real life.

It promotes role-play, because players aren't stuck with the same, tired old character the whole time.

It validates players' sense of achievement, because a high-level character means a high-level player is behind it.
Many designers and experienced players would love to see a form of PD in their virtual world, but it's not going to happen. Newbies wouldn't play such a game (under points #2, #3 and #4), therefore eventually neither would anyone else (point #1).

PD is short-term bad, long-term good: rejected.


Obviously there's a whole host of pro and cons on this and the next example.

Bartle wrote:

Example 2 (new): Instancing

Instancing looks very appealing on the face of it: groups of friends can play together without interference in relative tranquillity. What's not to love?

The thing is, this is not what virtual worlds are about. How can you have any impact on a world if you're only using it as a portal to a first-person shooter? How do you interact with people if they're battened down in an inaccessible pocket universe? Where's the sense of achievement, of making a difference, of being someone?

Most players don't see it that way, though.

Newbies see it as familiar - "fantasy Counterstrike, cool!" (point #2). They don't know what it means for their long-term enjoyment (point #4). Of course, they eventually will learn what it means - boredom and disenchantment - but even so, they probably won't connect the effect with the cause. They'll just go looking for another virtual world that features instancing (point #3). Older-era players will perhaps initially avoid anything with instancing because their first love didn't have it (point #3), but they'll probably try it eventually because (point #4) hey, maybe it's that missing piece that will give them the sense of closure they crave?

Thus, instancing will get locked into the paradigm. New virtual worlds that don't have it will get fewer players than those that do have it, even though they have the better design.

Instancing is short-term good, long-term bad: accepted.


Both examples I think illustrate why generalized discussion invariably devolves into tactical. What is or is not a "good gene" depends on one's definition of success and applicability of a particular "gene". Is it short term or long term? The short term view would be all "genes that propagate are good". I should emulate feature A on game X because both games Y and Z did it as well and it was also successful.

Bartle wrote:

Virtual worlds are becoming diluted by poor design decisions that can't be undone. We're getting de-evolution - our future is in effect being drawn up by newbies who (being newbies) are clueless.


Arr Nasty!

Here's my take.
De-evolution == Reason (market-study, polling, user driven, scientific, genetic recombination)
Revolution == Intuition (inspiration, originality, defiance, artistic, genetic mutation)

I would define success as...
Revolution followed by imitation and de-evolution.
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Burr



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

(I couldn't remember my Gamasutra password, so I'm going on just what you provided...)

Mr. Bartle claims that muds with good genes will retain its playerbase. This makes sense to me. That claim is his basis for arguing that good genes will not be passed on to other muds. I don't see how the one follows from the other unless a mud's players are devoid of creative interest and no one but that mud's devoted players are able to observe its success. If I'm going to create my own mud, I will look for inspiration among the best muds I can find, and I will try to avoid anything I see as a bad gene.

Mr. Bartle later claims Permadeath is a good gene.

So why don't already established muds switch from non-PD to PD if this change will make them more likely to retain their playerbase? Let the bad muds babysit newbies till they figure out what's really good for them, and let the low retention rate associated with bad genes to bring the newly educated players to the muds with good genes.

If this is not happening, then another possibility is that maybe PD is simply not a good gene afterall.
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Tyche



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Burr wrote:
(I couldn't remember my Gamasutra password, so I'm going on just what you provided...)


Sorry try this link
http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20041103/bartle_pfv.htm
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kelson76



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 7:52 pm    Post subject: Well...not quite.... Reply with quote

Burr...

Just a point concerning whether PD is good or not...

The existance of PD is a foundational aspect of the MUD. You do not shift your foundation and expect to retain player base.

The idea that PD is good may have validity if that is the day one behavior in the MUD.

I think an even better option is for PD to come into play after a certain point, such as in a level based MUD, say a 50 level system, at level 35 PD becomes a reality.

- Kelson
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Burr



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The existance of PD is a foundational aspect of the MUD. You do not shift your foundation and expect to retain player base.


Why not? The benefits that Mr. Bartle listed would be no different for a transitional mud than for a foundational one. Nor would the associated costs differ in form. All that changes is the scale, and hence the obviousness of the worth or disworth of PD.

If you suggest that player preferences are different, I must ask: different from what? A foundational mud has no or very few players and so has a blank slate in that regard. Therefore, if the educated players of an established mud prefer not switching to PD, then that by itself is strong evidence that either a) PD is a bad gene (at least when in combination with other aspects of the mud), or b) mud veterans are just as ignorant and irrational as mud newbies (in which case, our own judgment is also suspect). In the latter case, either the playerbase can be cured of their affliction, or else they can't and PD should be considered a bad gene due to its ineffectiveness.

This is all moot anyway, since according to Mr. Bartle, "Newbies don't do text." We're doomed from the start. Razz
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Spazmatic



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
This is why I said "growth or survival" -- not merely "growth" -- in my original post, and further emphasized that point in my first reply to you. I apologize if it was still unclear.


My original point was to draw a clear distinction between the two - when they cooperate, when they do not, and so forth. I thought it was fairly clear and simple - just like my attempt to ground the conversation in the reality of limitations rather than abstract cloud-theory. However, apparently my statements warranted the following reply:

Quote:
Within the scope of this discussion, some growth is necessary for a mud to be deemed successful.


So, if you're wondering about why things might be "unclear", perhaps that explains it? How exactly does that statement implies optional growth? Thus my reply, which I think is pretty clear.

My original purpose was simply to provide a very sensible grounding for discussion. That's all I want to do. We simply have to recognize that, every time we discuss a strategy, we have to address its fundamental limitations, or else it's little more than daydreaming with Dave and Buster.

Quote:
I would suggest that the mud may be more successful now because it is more likely to survive.


I disagree. Very strongly. Most such mud transitions cause the mud to die. However, if I was the admin... it suffices to note that I would rather have an RP mud for a month than a pure hack'n'slash mud for ten years. Again, there are limitations and factors other than pure survival. The goal is to make a mud "better", whatever that means.

Again, I understand that you're looking for ways to make muds get big, live long (wow, that sounded like a Viagra ad). And I never objected to those as goals - but there's no need to generalize. As long as everyone understands those two goals can be very different goals, and that they're limited and happen to be only a portion of the bevy of possible goals, we're good.

Quote:
Your strategy might even include targetting multiple audiences with different methods and/or different products.


Okay, you know, an audience is just a set of individuals. The union of multiple sets is still a set. Just because a target audience is diverse does not make it more than one audience. This is the same sort of bad jargon that permeates most fields - anyone up for a good laugh at "t-test"?

Quote:
It seems many mud developers decide to cater to a PK or RP or fan-based audience before considering that perhaps the best strategy would not fit perfectly with any of those three classifications. Rather than choosing a strategy to fit a predetermined audience, maybe it would be better to choose an audience as part of a broader strategy. This was the point I was trying to make (quite overzealously, I'll admit).


Have you ever spoken with the dev team behind a pure RP mud?

Did it sound like they regretted catering to a pure RP audience?

For many, many muds, audience is the most important thing. Yes, we'd like our mud to survive, and grow, but we're also not getting money from it. We're getting enjoyment, and much enjoyment in muds derives from the type of people involved. Such is true for some muds, at any rate.

So I disagree. Choose your audience first - it can consists of more than one type of individual, it could be ALL types of individuals, but always choose the audience first. Don't bring a butter knife to a gunship fight.

As far as familiarity goes...

Quote:
I claim that goodness tends to generate familiarity; familiarity does not necessarily generate goodness


Well, that's a bit sily. The first statement only requires a correlation > .5, the second requires a causal link. Duh it's going to be hard as all h-e-double-toothpicks to prove the latter.

So, I'm going to quote you again, and this time, do the earlier examples in simple predicate logic, okay? I'll even add in a few new ones. And I'll make it extra clear, I promise, and hopefully it shows why "goodness" is not really connected to "familiarity" - at least not in the sense that one implies the other. Familiarity may be a useful technique to get players, though.

g(x) = x is good
f(x) = f is familiar
/-> does not imply

Quote:
if something is good it will also tend to be familiar to some extent


Many statisticians insist that correlation does not imply causation. So I raise my hand in a lot of lectures these days, and ask, "What about causal inference theory? Under certain conditions, can't we infer causation?" They stare at me, blank-eyed. Clearly, then, the last 20 years of causal inference research have been wasted.

So, no, goodness does not imply familiarity. "Tends" is to vague a word for me to chew on, though - it carries with it a lot of baggage that weighs down accurate, thoughtful discussions.

g(x) /-> f(x)

Quote:
It's rare that bad things are allowed to become familiar on a large scale


Blue Screen of Death. Data loss. Mud downtime. Identity theft.

Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Rape. Murder. Genocide.

f(x) /-> g(x)

Quote:
Every case I can think of in which something familiar is also good, it seems to me that the goodness generated the familiarity, not vice versa.


As I noted above, "goodness" is not guaranteed to cause familiarity. And familiarity does not always cause "goodness". Unfortunately, it's very easy to say "sure it does!" because "goodness" is not well-defined. In fact, "goodness" is bullshit. There's no such metric. Casting discussion in terms of "goodness" and "niceness" won't get anyone anywhere - it's far too vague. The result of using bizarre abstractions is this idea that familiarity should not be considered, because it's the natural result of some latent variable that no one can measure.

Yet, ask KaVir - I bet many potential players leave because of how incredibly NOT familiar GW2 happens to be.

My point is simple: There is no holy grail. Everything has its purpose and its place, and both must be considered carefully. "Goodness" need not apply.

Quote:
If this topic is derailed by anything it will be by the limitations themselves, not our discussion of them. Thank you for your arguments.


The conversation is being derailed by your insistence on bickering over a very simple point: everything has to be considered in terms of when, where, and how it's useful. I don't want to do it anymore. So please stop making badly defined, inaccurate statements about it.

Also, please note I said that the conversation would devolve (note, not derail - that was earlier) into statements without support, if we did not start at the beginning by addressing every strategy in a careful, thoughful manner. Which, you know, it did, when crap like "goodness" creeped in.

Now please, for the love of all that is holy, STOP so we can discuss something useful.

Quote:
Both examples I think illustrate why generalized discussion invariably devolves into tactical.


I agree that that happens. However, a devolution into specifics is a devolution into something that's actually useful.

For example, consider account systems - they provide a barrier to entry, possibly encourage throw-away characters, and other negative things (or positive if you want that barrier to entry). However, they also encourage character retention, amongst other things.

Without considering the tradeoffs, we know nothing about whether account systems are useful for keeping/getting players, or, in fact, whether they're useful for anything at all except eating up dev time. Thus the need for specifics and limitations and goals.

Quote:
Mr. Bartle claims that muds with good genes will retain its playerbase.


He never says that. At all. In fact, he specifically avoids stating that. What he does say is that bad features will force newbies away, and that good MUDs will tend not to lose players.

The leap between a good gene and a good mud is huge. As is especially relevant to the following:

Quote:
So why don't already established muds switch from non-PD to PD if this change will make them more likely to retain their playerbase?


PD may be "good" without increasing retention. First, it may force away new players. Second, it may discourage new players. Third, it may piss off old players. Etc...

However, maybe this would be different in an entirely new mud? There are many fine PD muds out there. I can think of very few fine PDified muds, though.

Further, maybe PD is never going to increase playerbase size, or increase retention amongst players. At all, no matter if the mud is new or not. But maybe it makes the mud more "fun" for the short time some players do play (or maybe more fun for the admin?). Is this necessarily a bad result? I find a very low retention rate in Ricochet (HL mod), but it was a terribly fun game for the short while I felt like playing it. (Yeah, I know it's not a MUD, but pfft.)

Quote:
That claim is his basis for arguing that good genes will not be passed on to other muds. I don't see how the one follows from the other unless a mud's players are devoid of creative interest and no one but that mud's devoted players are able to observe its success. If I'm going to create my own mud, I will look for inspiration among the best muds I can find, and I will try to avoid anything I see as a bad gene.


Bartle's argument is a pretty clever one on this point.

First, mud players, like all people, have a tendency to prefer the known to the unknown. It's natural. This means that, while a specific feature may be the core reason they left a mud, they may never realize it.

He also says that bad muds will FORCE players away. Good muds will tend to keep them. The result? Bad muds spawn more players with a penchant for the "genes" that fill the bad mud.

After that, a player may (or very like won't) look at other muds for inspiration. However! the impact of the bad mud is still very high. So high that it is very likely the player will be more influenced by that mud and its familiarity than by any other mud out there.

Obviously his argument is not backed by statistical data. It consists of generalizations from experience and thought experiments.

I think it's pretty good, though. It makes sense to me - after all, most mud players right now seem to be playing a mud that, before long, most of them will describe as "bad". In fact, in general, most of us here would describe those muds as "bad" too. It doesn't mean the players wouldn't prefer another mud - they, for a variety of reasons, will simply continue cycling through bad ones. When they create their own mud, it'll probably have a lot of "bad genes" from the bad muds they played.



And, FYI, Tyche - PD was probably bad example. It's so bloody complicated. The good/bad is incredibly dependent on implementation, the rest of the mud design, the style of player, etc...

So I'm going to try a topic switch. Let's try:
Coordinate-based systems.

1) What type of players have you found enjoy coordinate-systems?

2) What type of players do not?

3) What systems boost player retention in coordinate-based muds? Which do not?

4) How do you think coordinate-based systems have affected newbie retention?

5) How have coordinate-based systems positively or negatively impacted perceived player immersion?

6) Roleplay?

7) PK?

Cool Have you seen any specific issues or benefits to a coordinate-based design?

9) How has coordinate-based design affected your staff?

10) Your server?
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