The Newbie Quitting Point: A MUD Experiment

Dear Readers,

As you may or may not know, MUDs are often considered the early precursors of our modern day MMOs and exist in a distinctly more diverse variety than the branch (diku) that inspired and spawned the graphical games we play today.

There is also the common perception that MUDs are either dying fossils that few people play today, or very niche games with even tinier communities still clinging on like barnacles – an image which presumably might contribute to that decline in popularity.

A number of people just shrug and say “Oh, nobody plays a text game anymore,” which appears to be used as a handy excuse to do nothing about this state of affairs.

This is in interesting contrast to another genre of text games, the text adventures and choose-your-own-path and interactive fiction corner of the web, whose community, niche though it might be, really tries to promote the hell out of their favourite interactive medium with hobbyist websites and community competitions and active academic research and addressing usability issues with newer and different coding/programming languages and parsers and clients to enable the writing and playing of said genre across different platforms.

A friend of mine and I got into a little debate and discussion the other day about MUDs and their perceived decline.

He’s curious as to whether this is really the case or no, and is driven by this curiosity to do a little research about it.

a) Does the decline exist?

and b) if it does exist, why?

As for myself, I’m rather convinced that most MUDs are very much in decline (with perhaps a very few commercial exceptions really making an effort to market themselves and reach out to new audiences, on new platforms.)

We brainstormed up several possible contributing factors:

  • Is it the fact that most MUDs are pure text, with little to no graphics, making them immediately unappealing or inaccessible?
  • Could it be the control scheme? Typing out commands and navigating in cardinal directions is very much a DOS-like holdover.
  • Is it simply the lack of advertising and marketing, meaning that many people may not even have heard about many MUDs out there, or know how to access them, or what features they may offer over graphical MMOs?
  • Maybe it’s the archaic look of many MUD websites, which look like they were made during 1997 in the Geocities’ heyday?
  • Perhaps it’s problems with the client? These days, Windows doesn’t even come with Telnet. So scratch one mode of access. It’s usually a downloadable client – which may make some people pause – or a web browser client, which may have its own host of issues?
  • Or maybe there are so many small, hobbyist MUDs out there that the population of people who are willing to play a text-based game are all distributed among them and spread out too thinly? That they all feel they owe allegiance to only their one particular MUD and view the rest as competitors, thus presenting a disunited community face to the world?

It may very well be all of them are valid and contribute to the overall problem (though it’ll be interesting to know what the percentages are and what primarily turns many people away.)

While we don’t have access to all MUDs, and thus can’t do an overarching survey, our prior history with one MUD did give us a little insider access to an immortal/developer source, whose game logs and metrics register that on the average, 1-2 new players try this specific MUD out -every- day (a game that tends to lack heavy advertising or promotion, and yet new players do stumble across it), but just as quickly, around level 2-3, they quit, never to log back in again.

Since newbie retention is one end of the funnel that determines whether a game faces growth or decline in population (the other end is veterans dropping off from attrition,) this subject is what we’ve narrowed down to exploring for now.

My particular interest is in how similar or dissimilar this might turn out to be from factors affecting newbie retention in MMOs – we see developers scrambling to provide more guided experiences, as in GW2’s latest New Player Experience, which caused a certain hue and outcry among its veterans, or as Bashiok remarked regarding WoW’s barriers to entry, “Well *I* consider the biggest barrier being it’s a 3D WASD game with a moveable camera,” suggesting the control scheme might be an aspect to consider as well.

Problem is, neither of us are exactly newbies to MUDs, especially not -this- MUD in particular, even if we did stop playing it for a long time.

What we really need are fresh perspectives and new eyes to take a quick gander around and simulate a newbie (even better if you have zero MUD experience) and then share with us the point at which you might quit.

http://www.realmsofdespair.com/play-now

My assumption is that you’ll only spend 5-30 minutes of your time at the most.

Log in, look around and explore, and at the point where you feel that you might close the client and never return, come back here and post a comment as to where that point was, and why it irked you to the point that you might quit.

No obligations. Wherever the stopping point was for you, is what we want to hear about.

You needn’t even have to make it into the game. It could be “I looked at the website and it was butt ugly, so I stopped” or “I couldn’t find one bit of useful info about wtf the game was, or how to even start playing” or whatever gut response made you give up.

Could be “the client didn’t run” or “I couldn’t get a name I wanted” or “there was too much reading I had to do” or “I got lost and didn’t know where I was” or “I didn’t even know how to navigate or move around” or “it was too overwhelming I didn’t have a clear objective as to what to do” or “I wandered somewhere and died” or “I met someone and they scared me away” or “I never even saw anyone to talk to and got bored” or “levelling up was too slow” or whatever it was for you that prompted a quit response.

Maybe you didn’t get such a response and would be perfectly okay playing the game, and/or it was simply lack of time and too many other games on the plate competing for your attention – we’d like to hear about that too.

If you can’t spare even 5 minutes of your time to play a text-based MUD, I would also like to beg one favour from you:

To leave a comment here stating why it did not seem worth your time to even try a MUD out for 5 minutes – whatever it was that ran through your mind, be it “eesh, text games, I don’t play games without graphics” or “I’m already playing X game, I don’t have time to start another” or “I don’t want to download a new client” or “this is just a sneaky way to promote and advertise this MUD and I’m not falling for it!” (full disclosure: I quit this MUD in 2004 and have zero interest in its health or lack thereof, my friend may be a little more fond of it and I’m mostly doing him a favor with this outreach to my supremely limited blog audience) or whatever it was that prevented you from even clicking on the link and cranking the client up.

This isn’t an official academic social research project of any kind, it’s mostly to sate our curiosity and get a small sample from the group of MMO players that also happen to read gaming-related blogs.

The more responses we get, the more we’ll be able to get a grasp on some of the possible issues, so your help and your time is very much appreciated!

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22 thoughts on “The Newbie Quitting Point: A MUD Experiment

  1. pyrusic says:

    I stopped playing right after character creation. There ain’t no tutorial or anything and I wasn’t in the mood to write all the commands down on a text file and start messing around. Too close to my bed time for that. Though I might have continued if I was feeling more adventurous.

  2. bhagpuss says:

    I lasted about half an hour although I wanted to stop earlier. I carried on because I felt I hadn’t yet given it a fair go and because it wasn’t actively unpleasant. I stopped at the point where I’d found the orc bed and put on the fur. By that time I had killed a bat and a suit of animated armor and had reached 31% of Level 1. I had wanted to get to Level 2 before I stopped but frankly life’s too short.

    Why did I stop? Well, firstly and most importantly I wasn’t having fun. I have played a lot of Text Adventures (which is 100% what this felt like I was playing – I saw no-one and there there was no sense whatsoever of any kind of multiplayer or social environment) and I have a strong antipathy to text adventures that start in caves, which is one of the dullest of genre cliches.

    This one was at least passably well-written (although nothing special) but other than that it seemed extremely derivative and uninspired. There was no sense of mystery, urgency or interest. I did not get any feeling that I wanted to know what happened next if it was just going to be a traipse through a series of averagely-described caves. I realize it’s a tutorial but that makes it worse! I loathe tutorials. I can only grit my teeth and get through them because of the possibility there might be a game I really want to play on the other side. I didn’t get the feeling that was a realistic possibility here so motivation to continue was very hard to find.

    So, I wasn’t grabbed by the quality or content of the text and there really wasn’t any “gameplay” as such. Since text is all the game has to offer at this point that’s not a good start. Then there’s the interface. It works well and is easy to use but it feels like something from a forgotten era. In the 21st century, trying to enter a fantasy world using a text parser feels as perverse as choosing to watch a hollywood blockbuster on a 1950s 9″ screen B&W TV – you could but why would you want to?

    The parser isn’t great either. I’ve seen a lot worse but it wouldn’t recognize several words that were in the description. Also I had to keep scrolling back up to find the available directions in each room which I found increasingly irritating. It would be much better if the directions were repeated after every line or, even better, if they appeared in a separate box on the right. (I used the Web Client by the way – I think beginning by making the player choose between half a dozen clients, all described in technical jargon, is a potential “sod this” moment in itself, even before you even start).

    If I’d found this in 1985 I would have thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Even in 1995 I would have been interested and would probably have carried on and maybe gotten hooked. Once I’d seen the 3D graphical world of Everquest, though, there’s just no chance I’d have felt it was worth spending time in a text-based environment like this. Frankly, it would have to be one whole hell of a lot better-written with a more original or intriguing setting and/or a compelling or thrilling narrative hook to overcome the manifest disadvantages of the form.

    I think it’s fair to say that I spent longer writing this comment than I spent playing the game and I enjoyed myself a lot more doing it,

  3. My anecdotal experience is that MUDs are in decline… or were in decline, but may have bottomed out by this point… due to both the need to constantly read and type in MUDs, the availability of graphical based alternatives, and the fact that the hardware requirements for such alternatives are no longer burdensome. Before EQ and the original Tribes, having a 3D accelerated video card was somewhat rare. Now what comes on the motherboard can run WoW.

    Anyway, as a long time player of Sojourn/TorilMUD, the population has declined. In the mid-to-late 90s it would have 200+ players during prime time on weekends. Now if I log in I am surprised if more that 20 people are online. Meanwhile, things like tutorials and decent starter gear and soloable starter zones have come in over the last 15 years as the population fell, so easing up on the early hardcore aspects haven’t helped all that much.

    It survived and even thrived, coming back after a pwipe in 2002 to large populations up to about 2004 or so. At that point most of the hardcore players had a couple characters at level cap, the economy entered its “currency lost all its value” stage again, and people were set in their raid groups, after which it was tough to break into end-game.

    The game has run for a decade since that point, and loyal players keep on playing, while nostalgia hounds like me peek back in now and again. But it is hard to get people who are not really into the idea of MUDs to get into a real time, MMO-like text game where a lot of the old ideas like harsh death penalties are still in play.

    I remember trying to get a friend, who raided in EQ and then in WoW, to try TorilMUD way back in the day. Their only question before quitting was, “Why does it keep telling me the weather?”

  4. wallie79r says:

    I’ve tried to get into a few MUDs before, and I’ve always been stopped by some combination of two things.

    The first, and I think overwhelming barrier to entry is the impenetrable player communities. No matter how friendly and helpful individual players and mentors are, these communities usually have been together for years and have phenomenally complicated histories and drama, to the point that I feel hopelessly like an outsider, like it will take years of my own time to become a member of the community.

    The second is a lack of interesting moment-to-moment things to do. The most fun I ever had in those games was when I happened to be online while interesting things happened, but aside from those few moments all the games had to offer was exploration, which is finite, and the most horrific grind I’ve ever encountered. “Punch rat” ten thousand times to gain a level does not make thrilling gameplay. It doesn’t help that most of the mechanically interesting combat abilities I ever encountered were only useful in pvp contexts.

    Finally, MUDs advertise themselves poorly, both in the sense of getting the word out and in the sense of describing why one should play that game instead of another, and both of the problems I described can take dozens of hours to encounter, meaning that it would take a hefty investment of time and energy on my part to learn whether some new game is worth playing.

  5. i spent half an hour reading through the help files and then half an hour playing. I used to play MUDs like this pretty hardcore, so I’d like to think that I would probably have more stamina than someone who is coming into them for the first time. I did, just a little bit.

    I quit after I was thrown into the city of Darkhaven. I know the drill from this point, but simply was not motivated to investigate the names of the zones that were appropriate for my level and figure out where they were. Using a directional-based series of commands with the equivalent of a dim torch lighting my way through the map and having to constantly refer to an ASCII map of the city (divided in two) might be fun in a tabletop role-playing session, but not in an online hack-and-slash game.

    The visibility provided by the web-based client was nice, but at this point, that sort of display is pretty much mandatory. Reading through text rapidly to ascertain pertinent details fatigues the mind and eyes if one is not used to it and I simply don’t have the patience for it in an age where computer-rendered movies can be scarcely distinguishable from reality (Grendel).

    Reading the help files made me feel like a jerk. Do any of these things that are allowed by in-game commands and you may be murdered, chopped up, vaporized, cursed for three generations, or annihilated and site-banned to infinity. Gee, thanks.

    I still turn to the radio for news from time to time, mostly as a supplement to what I’ve read on Google news for an extra bit of flavor or perhaps a local perspective, but I otherwise don’t really rely on radio for my major needs. MUDs, simply put, have been superseded by vastly superior game modes and delivery mechanisms. While some may still be attracted to them for whatever reasons (nostalgia, power, roleplaying, etc.), the passably written text just doesn’t hook me. At all. If it were to keep my interest for any length of time, it would have to be fantastically written (i.e. not outright telling me that such and such race is dimwitted because they swing big weapons around) and provide what I’d probably have to refer to as a “niche” experience. Am I roleplaying as an actor in a political drama? Am I terraforming the world through my actions?

    Even then, without graphics I’m operating a deficit, because I know how damn *good* things can look.

    I wrote my own MUD from scratch in C back in my college days. I have the base of a MUD I wrote from scratch in Lua on my other computer complete with a robust system of telnet command queries and responses. It’s personally very compelling for me to create things using programming languages because I’m the sort of person who really likes languages, but I haven’t touched my Lua MUD in maybe two years. The spark’s just not there. I don’t want to play Scrabble Minecraft any more. I want to play lego block Minecraft and let my imagination soar.

    I rummaged through your post attic and tried out some of the interactive fiction games by Emily Short. The one about sushi was cute and brief, but the one about the beast in the castle, well, I’m afraid I didn’t have the patience for it, nor for the interactive book about becoming a spelling bee champion. She absolutely knows how to write well about things that are interesting to her, but it wasn’t enough to make me want to see the story through to the end in the format presented. I would rather have read it in the form of a short story which, admittedly, strips me of agency entirely. Instead, I wandered to the top of the castle, met the beast, wandered back down and left through the gate straight back into reality.

    Maybe I’ve lost my childhood playfulness.

    If I want to dream a little dream while reading text, I’ll turn to a well-written, non-tropified fantasy novel that doesn’t use dangling participles in every other flipping sentence. As for the MUD…well, I tried. Just couldn’t get back into it.

    • Jeromai says:

      That’s interesting to hear that not even Emily Short could hook you with text, as I consider her one of the premiere masters of the interactive fiction form – albeit I didn’t link her more powerful works like Galatea and Metamorphosis and others (which are sadly, even longer form.)

      I’m holding back on actively commenting on the MUD feedback for now, so as not to skew any opinions, but many great points have been brought up! I, too, attempted my own newbie simulation, and well, I’ll share my own stopping point later. 🙂

      • It’s probably because I’m a curmudgeon when it comes to the types of prose I like. I’ll give the two you mentioned an honest, unfiltered playthrough when I have the time to dedicate to sessions for them. If you’re vouching for her credentials to that degree, there’s clearly something I’m missing or glossing over.

        Looking forward to your wall of text report, as always. 🙂

        • bhagpuss says:

          Not sure about that. I just tried the epistolary “game” and lost the will to live in less than ten minutes. The prose style is awkward and unconvincing and the mechanics are obtuse. If this is an example of interactive fiction at its best then the form clearly has a long way to go.

          Have you both tried Fallen London and the other interactive fiction from Failbetter Games? That would seem to me to be the gold standard of interactive fiction in terms of both prose style and gameplay. And even then the attraction palls far, far sooner than even a mediocre MMO.

          My very strong impression is that, while there are some superlative graphic artists working on video games of all complexions, very, very few writes of genuine talent and ambition even give the medium a passing thought before moving on to novels, short stories, the stage, movies or even comics.

          We may need to wait a generation or even two.

          • Jeromai says:

            The epistolary “game” is a very experimental form of interactive fiction. Mostly, more is being said by what the author chooses to revise, than what is actually said openly in the letter. It’s not the top example of IF, but it’s certainly a different than typical treatment of how to tell a story using the IF format.

            Yep, Failbetter Games is another relative I’m quite fond of, even if the form mostly consists of repeated storylets to literally grind through and increment numbers.

          • I have not tried Fallen London and I had never heard of Failbetter Games. I’m a bit of a shut-in when it comes to the world of gaming at large. I’ll go look for a bucket big enough to contain the list I’m about to create.

            I’m golng through the process of giving Tangled Paths a fictionalized overcoat and it’s hard enough to do that on blank sheets of paper with the dialogue already written by the Living Story team. I can’t imagine that many writers would willingly subject themselves to the constraints of a medium in which their work is but one player among a cast of visuals, sounds, mechanics, and numbers.

    • NewToMuds says:

      I think IF works a lot better as a choose-your-adventure replacement like Choice of Dragon, were players choices from a list of options instead of trying to guess what commands to type. It’s short but fun, choices are meaningful, and it’s available on phones which I think is a better medium than PCs for simple games.

      IDK how a Choice of Dragon MUD would work. It would be interesting to see someone try, though.

  6. Aspeon says:

    Played for about two hours, went through the tutorials, a little bit of the city, and some of the outer zones. I quit because I didn’t really have a sense of a goal. There didn’t seem to be much to do other than wander around and kill things until I level up, and neither of those activities were particularly interesting. I also know that these tend to get insanely mechanically complicated, and I didn’t see anything that made it worth learning all that.

    I certainly don’t have a problem with text games- I spent most of my playtime last week puzzling through Hadean Lands. I like the idea of MUDs, and have tried a couple, but none of them stuck with me. (I spent a lot of time in Fallen London, and did most of the puzzle content in Seltani, but that’s basically it.) I think there are things that text is good at, but the traditional MUD framework isn’t one of them.

    • Jeromai says:

      Thanks for the mentions of Hadean Lands and Seltani, I haven’t kept fully abreast of all IF developments, Andrew Plotkin is another one of those pioneers and looks like he’s been up to some interesting stuff!

      Now to figure out if I want to play Hadean Lands on an iPad or PC…

      And Seltani seems almost MUD-like, but with broader, shared creator responsibilities.

  7. Claudius says:

    Entered the website.

    Launched the Web Client. Looked for maximizing it (I play on a 1920×1080 resolution). Did not work, window was tiny, difficult to read. Entered “new”. Then I should enter a name. I tried: “Glimarg Nogglethorp”, “Wendrick Hurstenbone”, “Wendrick” and “Fermling”. Response was “illegal name”. Then I entered “HELP NAMING” (because instructions told me so). Response: Illegal name.

    That was it. I was out. Never again.

  8. Made it to a room with a bat. Gave up because I couldn’t interact with all the scenery descriptions. If something tells me there are broken pots or lots of skulls lying around and I decide to pick one up, it should let me instead of saying “that isn’t here”.

    For me: not fun, no intro, no beginner tutorial outside type “something something help”, case sensitivity sucks (questinfo line). No Music. No Graphics (outside ASCII title thing that I saw). No goals (possibly because I don’t know the game well enough and just jumped in).

    Basically it cannot challenge other entertainment forms that cater to more senses. Strangely I spent a lot more time on something like “A Dark Room” which is mostly text too (but not a MUD). Amazing what a few boxes and a mouse click can do.

  9. NewToMuds says:

    I’m aMUD newbie and a UI designer/web developer IRL, so I gave it a shot.

    First off – the big problem for me is the extremely low bandwidth in terms of the information provided to players. With graphics, I can look at something and know a lot about it very quickly. In MUDs, that information is not communicated very well.

    Example: GW2’s character selection shows all the races wearing typical gear and standing in typical poses. It’s easy to see that Charr are aggressive and militaristic, Sylvari are literal plant people, etc. Here, it looks like my class and race go together. 1) That’s archaic and annoying to me as a player, 2) I have no idea what these races are or which one I want but I need to know before I pick a class.

    *puts on idiot newb hat – brace yourselves*
    Pain points:
    0) What is this game? What is the setting, what is the focus of the game (PvP, PvE, sandbox, etc)? That information wasn’t obvious on the client list. When I opened the web client, I got the game name, ‘Endless Medieval Enjoyment’ which is kinda meaningless but at least tells me it’s not sci-fi, and a list of technical details and developer names.

    The only useful things are the title and ‘Endless Medieval Enjoyment’. The technical stuff should all go into an options or about page. New players care not one whit about that, we want to know what the game’s like and why we should play it.

    1) Right at login on the web client, the mouse does not automatically move to the text entry box. The box is also not blindingly obvious. That’s a stop-and-quit moment for a lot of people.

    2) Password requirements weren’t explained upfront. I had to enter a new one after the first was rejected.

    3) What on earth is ANSI color? What does ‘enhancing gameplay’ mean? I don’t understand what I’m being asked to choose between here. Don’t make this a choice at this point.

    4) Class choice – another choice where I don’t have enough context to make a reasonable decision. I picked a class and race based on what I know I like from other games. BIG problem for you guys, because if player expectations don’t line up with how the game actually works people get frustrated and quit. This is a potential timebomb for immersion and player enjoyment.

    5) The ASCII picture after character creation conveys no information except that someone on the dev team likes ASCII art.

    6) My commands don’t go away after they’re entered. I have to keep selecting them and deleting before I can do something else.

    7) Instead of a welcoming tutorial, I get a list of options I have to parse. It’s the same problem as race/class selection – I don’t know what I want to pick. There should be a tutorial sequence as literally the first thing that introduces players to basic commands and explains the icons on the right, then we get the guide list.

    *takes idiot newb hat off*

    The basic problem seems to me like a lack of context for player choices and for the game itself. It’s never really explained what impact decisions have.

    Really liked the web client. I hate having to install programs just to try something out, so the web client was a nice feature.

    The website was decent but barebones. It looks like a hobby project and not something that a lot of people play. No idea if that is true, but that’s what it looks like.

  10. Athie says:

    The website was fine — definitely gave off an amateur/indie vibe, but that’s okay. I liked being able to get the client launched and character created quickly with minimal hassle.

    Trouble began when I was asked to choose a class. I was presented with a relatively long list, along with basically no information about each entry. I was immediately alarmed by the information that one class was designed for deadly “pkillers.” Does this mean we’re dealing with a griefing-encouraged world design? I get enough trolling and so forth outside of my fantasy worlds, thanks so much.

    I looked into the in-depth description for a class that I often like in other games, the druid. I saw that it had a hybrid healing/attack character and just went with it — skimmed the rest. I was too intimidated to try to read through the help pages for each class. Then when choosing a race, I didn’t even bother reading, just picked Pixie because I like them.

    The game dumps me on an empty boring beach. Some text tells me that three quests are available, and that I should type some command or other to see them. I type that command and the parser tells me that it isn’t recognized. Bad news.

    It seems that literally the only thing to do is to walk to the next place. I do that, put on the light I’m commanded to put on, climb the mountain that I have to climb. At this point, I’m walking down a featureless hall for no clear reason.

    Some kind of text pops up telling me that I have to save my game all the time so that I don’t lose my gear. What? Isn’t this an online persistent world? So inevitably I’ll do something awesome and unrepeatable, forget to save, and go through utter trauma (exactly the experience that led me to quit Diablo 2 back in the day — superamazing rare loot drops, I forget to save, computer crashes, the end thanks for playing). I immediately close the game to save myself future trauma.

    So some random design irritations were the ultimate motive for me to quit, but I suspect that I’d have stuck with it longer if I had any investment at all in the world or the story. All the game offered up was a hallway — I know nothing at all about the world, what kinds of conflicts or adventures it offers, anything like that. Such an empty-seeming introduction to the world made any friction point a good enough reason to quit.

  11. Peximan says:

    I tried this out a bit, but I have grown somewhat customed to B.A.T.mud which is a LP-mud where I am immortal nowadays, your commands seemed to be pretty different from that. And even if highlighting stuff seems nice enough, I dont like that approach at all. Come check our newbie tutorial and game. http://www.bat.org

    Amd the mad scientist.

  12. Aedhian says:

    It is so interesting that I stumbled upon a topic about MUDs here. I was looking at articles for Guild Wars 2.

    I don’t have the time to try out the MUD you linked right now, and I don’t know that I will. Being a sysadmin for another MUD, I know they can eat up a lot of time for seemingly little reward.

    I don’t want to grab a soapbox, since I’m fairly enthusiastic about this style of game, but I will say two things:

    1. I do believe MUDs are on the decline. I see it in the MUD I admin and also on MUD Connect. Personally, even for the MUD I have played for the past 4 years (was only just introduced in 2011), I find more time to do other things, partially because the MUD I am a part of has not had any gainful update in a rather long time and I am bored of the people and the unchanging content.

    2. I believe that MUDs could be revived… if not exactly in the same shape they are in now. It would take a great amount of “thinking outside the box” and what some might see as “re-inventing the wheel”, but if a dev team isn’t willing to push any boundaries, the result is the lack of change. And, if MUDs want to survive, I think that change is what they need.

    I could just be an idealist, or just obsessed with MUDs. But, I hope your experiment went well, and thanks for the interesting topic to browse through. 🙂

  13. Sam Kendall says:

    I was pleasantly surprised to stumble across this link while doing some google surfing today. I’ve not had time to check out the MUD you suggested but I AM an avid MUD player and have played Avalon (@ http://www.avalon-rpg.com) for over 8 years now which happens to be the longest running online RPG in the world – certainly a testament to longevity and quality.

    Decline is a very relative term. Certainly MUDs will never boast the graphical-MMO numbers but I don’t think they need to — Avalon has undergone almost unparalleled growth since a gamesystem evolution that began in July 2014 and it continues to do so. The Daily Dot published an article just a couple of days ago about the timelessness of certain persistent text-based-roleplaying-worlds with Avalon as its headliner piece.

    The point about marketing / thinking outside the box is a very relevant one; the effort made to bring (keep) the game in general awareness as well as keeping the gamesystem, website and support structure fresh and contemporary enough to both entice and retain new players is crucial. Certainly 3-5 new players a day is an incredibly small number for what I can only assume is a very small, non-marketed MUD. Mudstats.com – take it with a pinch of salt – has some useful data though and certainly logging into an Iron Realms game or Avalon (which incidentally averages 50-75 new players a day and growing) will demonstrate that a community still exists and even thrives; in my experience 40-100 players online is enough to accomplish this.

  14. shane says:

    I’m a little late to the party here, but having played only one MUD(discworld MUD), I decided to try it. I’m afraid I didn’t even reach the game itself. I clicked on the dropdown box for race and saw the usual, and it has to be said, tedious fantasy races and simply lost interest. I think if I’m going to invest time in a game it has to have something that intrigues me, and as soon as I see your typical fantasy ‘stuff’, then I switch off and click away.

    I lasted longer in ‘Fallen London’ for example. An underground, gothic, London setting, none of the usual fantasy tropes, it was interesting enough to make me give it a try. I didn’t last long with that either as it turns out, but for different reasons. It is currently set up to be grind-y, and if I remember correctly, one of the devs actually admitted this was a design feature to ensure that they were able to always keep ahead on content. Writing takes time of course.

    I’m still looking for an all-encompassing, open world, text based game, which is why I landed here. Haven’t found it yet. MUDs are the closest I’ve come, but they really do have that old DOS feel to them. Compare them to the aforementioned ‘Fallen London’ and you’ll see what I mean.

    I guess I’ll just keep looking then.

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