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Author Topic: Do casual muds exist? insane MUD difficulty  (Read 8570 times)

Jodah

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Do casual muds exist? insane MUD difficulty
« on: February 27, 2018, 6:07 AM »
I'm having a hard time reconsiling the pure time requirement necessary to achieve greatness in today's hardcore mudding environment.  Do casual muds even exist?  Since I only have my notes to go off of, let's compare some time requirements it has taken me to beat today's games.  I say "beat" as in done most the content.  The time invested was just a couple hours every other day or so.

Secret World (mmorpg):  30 days
Anarchy Online (mmorpg): 1 year
DC Universe (mmorpg):  60 days

Granted the above games don't have nearly as much content as say Everquest 2 or WoW.  That might also be why they aren't as financially sound as WoW.

Muds:
Mud 1:  2 years: gave up, too hardcore for me
Mud 2:  5 years; I consider this game beat
Mud 3:  1 year:  could not keep up with others
Mud 4:  2 days:  Gave up due to ridiculous rent requirements
Mud 5:  2 years:  Consider this mud beat

Muds tend to implement more features that force players to come back or lose it all.  Many muds are wising up and implementing features that are more player friendly.  A lot of graphical MMORPGs REWARD players for staying logged in.  This reminds them to play.  A few smart muds are doing that now.  If I'm already logged in, it's no hassle to get logged in so may as well play.

I guess my biggest problem with mudding is the insane difficulty it takes to get good.  Come across a white dragon and get slaughered?  Ok, it will only take 6 months to get enough gear to beat the dragon.  SIX MONTHS?  Just an example. 

What's the harm in toning down the difficulty?  Make the first half easy, and the second half a challenge.  Every mud is so dang hard nowadays, such a grind to max level.  Where did all the casual muds go?

« Last Edit: February 27, 2018, 8:33 AM by Jodah »

Epilogy

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Re: Do casual muds exist? insane MUD difficulty
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2018, 10:06 AM »
There are, and were. The populations of those games are mostly gone, though, to my understanding. The exodus started with WoW, who offered an arguably superior product than most MUDs could dream of even after investing a decade of work.

Comparing those three isn't really fair, though. I guess putting them into chronological order would be helpful, as that would give insight

MUDS - 1980s - go find a history page
Anarchy Online - Began dev 1998, released/opened 2002.
WoW  - Announced 2001, released 2004.

MUDs have generally been built around the premise that it's the journey, not the destination so much. That's the D&D influence at work. Anarchy Online is much the same, with a vast amount of its gameplay being based on social interaction, though the inability of the devs to decide on any particular emphasis later on, and then on any emphasis at all... and you've got the completely unsupported train wreck it is now. WoW changed as well, with emphasis going from ALL THE PEOPLES! to YOU! YES, YOU! so now it's basically just a gigantic backlog for each character. I hope I never have to suffer through the linear corridor that is/was Warlords, and Legion.

Of all of them, I prefer AO. I don't need my hand held, and I don't require my head turned towards every shiny for me. A secret is a secret until it's not a secret anymore, in which case it's just another thing completely lacking in mystery.

Example. 38 forum pages dedicated to people trying to figure out what's up with the chest in Crypt of Home... if that were now, the data miners would have caught the changes almost as soon as the patch hit, and told everyone what/if/when/how/why, and that would have been the end of it right there.

So... if you enjoy a game, go enjoy it. Who gives a **** about meta, or max level, or COMPLEET... if you enjoy the game, continue to do so. If you don't, then don't. Life's too short, and there are too many games to spend time suffering through an experience you've stopped enjoying 6 months ago.

Ateraan

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Re: Do casual muds exist? insane MUD difficulty
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2018, 10:36 PM »
I am sure they are out there Jodah, I'm just not a fan of h&s simple games. If I want that I'll play an app on my phone.  The whole point (and this is NOT an advertisement but a point) of the reason Ateraan is known as a TORG and not a MUD and that is what we promote it as a Text Only Roleplaying Game. It is not a Multi User Dungeon. As such it is not about winning but about roleplaying. You win when you become socially, politically, and religiously involved.

Other MUDs can be just as fun with quests and style like 4D or if you are into it the IRE games, or DBE for that genre, etc. I can't honestly tell you though of a simple to play and win game as that doesn't seem to be our genre.
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Molly

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Re: Do casual muds exist? insane MUD difficulty
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2018, 5:26 AM »
I'm having a hard time reconsiling the pure time requirement necessary to achieve greatness in today's hardcore mudding environment.  Do casual muds even exist?

I am not sure what you are referring to as "casual muds", you have to explain that a bit clearer.

If you mean the traditional Diku-style hack'n'slash Mud, where the main object was to kill as many mobs as possible in the shortest possible time, I am sure there still are plenty of those still around.
There used to be over 2000 muds listed on TMC in the old days, now there are just around 1000, but my guess is that most of those are still playable, in the sense that you can just log on, create a char, and start the carnage more or less immediately.

They may not have an active staff, or even an active player base, they may not have been added to or even maintained in years, but if they are still listed here, someone must be paying for the server, and they are open for anyone to have a go.

If by "simple" you mean a mud where you can rush through the levels and reach top position in less than a week, I am sure those exist as well. But what would be the purpose, and what would you do after that?

I've seen people referring to "pay-to-win" Muds in some other threads, but I never really understood what that means, so I'd appreciate it if someone would explain how it works.

Can you ever "win" any mud, (payment or not)?
You can reach top level, or some "super-level"
You can become "the strongest player in the game" - (at least for some time).
You can be leader of the most prestigious group or Clan in the game.
You can be revered and respected as an amazing Roleplayer.

But is that really the same as "winning"?

And how do you define winning?
Is it being able to kill every mob in the game single handed?
Is it to have explored every single room in the game, and found every usable item?
Is it to have the best possible equipment in the game?
Is it to be the strongest player, (this of course requires Pkill being allowed)?
I'm not sure how you could "win" as a Roleplayer, but maybe someone could explain that to me too?

The size of the game matters of course. The smaller the world, the easier it is to explore it fully, and collect all its resources, so you can kill all the mobs.

The thing is, that a mud that is alive and active, also is constantly growing. New zones are added to the world, more features are added to the code.
One reason why people are doing it, is that mud developers tend to be creative.  They love the world they have created it, and keep adding to it, just because they love it.
Another is that new things are added to keep the players longer in the game. New zones to explore, tougher mobs to kill, more difficult quest to solve. (Most of these are added to give the oldtimers some new challenges, while the newbies can still stick to the old, easy zones).

There are also other, "sneakier" ways to keep players longer, but I won't go into those, since they have already been beaten to death in too many threads.

The thing is that almost all players are competitive.
And if there aren't any challenges they tend to create their own.

We've had players who have collected vases, jewels, flowers etc., (mostly useless items, just for the sake of collecting and showing off.)
But most of all they collect "tokens", which is our main reward. Mostly you get them as reward for Quests.
With the tokens you can buy useful stuff like crashprooof houses and personalised equipment. 
Except of course, that once they have bought all that, they still keep collecting tokens, just for the sake of collecting.
We have a "topgold" list in our game that you can call out with a command.
The player presently on top has 199 gold tokens. With those he could buy himself like 50 crashproof houses. But what would he do with those? He already has 5 houses, and basically you only need one. So he just keeps collecting the tokens.
 
Crazy? Yes.
Did he win the game? No.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2018, 6:38 AM by Molly »
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Epilogy

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Re: Do casual muds exist? insane MUD difficulty
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2018, 3:22 PM »
explain how it works.

When an advantage can be obtained for money, especially when ONLY obtainable through money, or are essentially impossible without it.

There are various semantics, like... "You can still get it through regular gameplay" which is true, but... the regular, non-pay option requires a disproportionate amount of play time to obtain. If you have to sink 50 hours into the equivalent of a $5 purchase, you'd have been better off just going to work, and buying whatever it is. The motivation there is often actually a hindrance intentionally placed there to lend incentive leading to the purchase, usually massive time walls. The cost of the payment is often in relation to the wall put in place, with a bigger figurative wall requiring more $$ to overcome, which is their justification to the player's purchase.

Other times the intended difficulty is skewed so there's incentive to buy whatever doodad makes the game generally easier. Take a normal ROM codebase, skew the mob levels to be +5, and reduce the player's stats, finesse in a curve, and you've suddenly got a game where players hit a wall (as far as progress goes), and start looking for ways to circumvent the wall... if the developer offers this work-around as a cash option, you now have pay to win.

Basically, any time the player can pay cash to obtain a product, or service otherwise unattainable, literally, or figuratively through normal play. The definition of "win" changes between player, and so the "win" is adjusted according to the intended players. You want to look good, but don't want to suffer through the unknown of a potential hundred loot boxes without your desired prize...? Guess you'd better pay to have that good, warm "win" feeling when you unlock the Biggie 2K skin.

It's all semantics, sometimes. Some people think the feeling of "win" is ok to pay for as long as it doesn't directly interfere with their own feeling of "win". ie. skins, but no gameplay enhancements. Others think that paying to skip the leveling process is ok, because they don't have time. It's mostly just a deliberate deception towards the player, defining monetary value from time spent vs. difficulty vs. reward, and giving the notion that it wasn't intentionally designed to vacuum money from your wallet.

It's mostly just an argument against whether or not we should let reality intrude onto the places we may go to intentionally avoid such things. A place where the strongest player isn't going to be the jerk born with a silver spoon up their ass, proceeding to tear down everything around them because they're allowed to... But that would never happen in a game, right?


Let me pose it to you like this, in closing: Consider making the very last 2 levels of your game a cash-only option, with all the gear, stats, and features etc. that might arise from those final two levels. Pit the ones who have max-level in competition vs those still milling about at level 98... see what happens.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2018, 3:31 PM by Epilogy »

Hades_Kane

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Re: Do casual muds exist? insane MUD difficulty
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2018, 7:22 PM »
As has been said, I'm sure they exist, but I'd also be willing to bet they are in the minority largely speaking.

Not plugging here (I imagine this topic will bring a lot of "on my MUD we..." posts, as most admins will likely mostly have their own games to reference)...  But we've been giving more focus to making the game less difficult and especially quicker... downtime healing and whatnot tends to be one of the more boring, tedious, and frustrating parts of MUDs.  A less difficult game is by virtue more accessible to new players or casual players.

But aside from just easing up some of the difficulty, removing barriers to entry, speeding up the play in general (all of which, one could argue is just good game design period (unless you are specifically aiming for a tight knit, exclusive, small playerbase), there are some specific things that we are, have, or will be looking at specifically to attract casual players, shorter play sessions, and more frequent play sessions, and really such a discussion could actually be beneficial to a lot of games, so I'm pretty interested in following and seeing what others put forth and suggest.

One of the things I'm working on right now (and this is actually why I posted about the maze generator thing... a problem I solved, not in the exact way I wanted, but its functional) is something that came about from our discussion in the grind free MUD idea, and that's a "battle royale" mode.  Sure, not super original (and super common in contemporary gaming right now), but not something I've personally run across in a lot of MUDs.  I'm working on maps and other stuff right now, but essentially what the plan so far has been is that a player can create (either with an option IN creation or one shortly thereafter) to enter into battle royale mode (which can't be reversed) and at which point the character is set to max level, full AP for stats/abilities, access to train all abilities... A few competing thoughts from here; I'll spare details, but essentually there will be a few different maps (generated maze among them, a hunger games type with most of the equipment and items concentrated in the center another) and consistent with the current popular MOBA games, there will be timed matches with a shrinking playing, with the last man standing.  This might not attract casual players, but it will be something different offered in the game and if nothing else allow players to try FULL builds.

Our perpetually "coming eventually" playable storyline is something I think that could appeal to casual players, since this is something that will have a definitive end and something that you do essentially "beat" like a traditional RPG.

We may finally bite the bullet and implement some form of auto-questing, which is probably the single most "casual friendly" system that one could do.

With regards to encouraging login, we have been discussing doing a "consecutive day login bonus"... like if you login a character for at least 5 minutes every day, you get some sort of bonus, perk, or item each consecutive day with the biggest bonus coming at the end of either 5 or 7 days.

With regards to leveling pace and everything (after recent changes), we have our first 20 levels almost blaze by, we slow a little up to the lead in to 50 (where the first class promotion is) and things gradually slow a little more from there.  I would wager even a brand new player playing somewhat seriously would reach class promotion in a couple of weeks, maybe less so, while a true "casual" player would probably be there in less than a month.

I look forward to seeing what other thoughts and systems other people have done to appeal to more casual players.
-Diablos
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Molly

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Re: Do casual muds exist? insane MUD difficulty
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2018, 7:38 PM »
Thanks, Epilogy for the explanation about pay-to-win. :)

While I mostly see your point, (and agree that it's a totally unfair system), I don't really see the difference between pay-for-perks and pay-to-win. Except possibly for your latest example, where you can only reach the top two levels by paying cash.

But does such a game really exist anywhere?
It seems to blatantly unfair for anyone to accept - (even though I am amazed about how popular pay-for-perks seems to be among some players, and the amount of cash that they are willing to shell out).
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Epilogy

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Re: Do casual muds exist? insane MUD difficulty
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2018, 9:41 PM »
Thanks, Epilogy for the explanation about pay-to-win. :)

While I mostly see your point, (and agree that it's a totally unfair system), I don't really see the difference between pay-for-perks and pay-to-win. Except possibly for your latest example, where you can only reach the top two levels by paying cash.

Pay - for - Perks is a little bit different. In some cases, a perk can be likened to a membership, or subscription. You may not receive *extra* content, but what you do get is enhanced in some way. You get 25% extra xp, 50% extra gold, your loot rolls might turn up more shinies. In other cases, it's just another form of pay to win, with access to tiers of equipment that outstrip a free player by however much.

It's usually, stressing usually as a generalization, access to an improved baseline experience. It's also usually pretty explicit about it, because they're trying to push the ad service. You'll often find pay to win, and pay for perks gameplay to be similar, but pay for perks is not usually a one-off purchase. They want your long-term commitment, not your impulse buy. For pay-to-win, it seems that transactions are geared toward impulsive behavior, often eerily similar to those with gambling problems. There's often instant delivery of whatever goods were purchased, providing momentary instant gratification, and the purchase doesn't generally have any benefit other than what is delivered.

The end result is often the same, but in the case of perks, they're often very transparent about the entire process. It feels more responsible to me as a person, and the few times I have played deeper into free-to-play it was usually on a pay for perks, or subscription model that improved baseline (intentionally frustrating, but still fun enough) experience.

 
the amount of cash that they are willing to shell out).

Remember farmville? I recall them selling quite a few digital goods. This would be an example of pay-to-win.

My defintion includes instant-gratification, impulse buys, prestige, in-game currency, things intangible, but still purchasable in one-off fashion, so there may be a more appropriate way of saying it.

Molly

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Re: Do casual muds exist? insane MUD difficulty
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2018, 5:31 AM »
OK, while I can see that there could be some differences, I still think that both are basically the same idea; to give extra benefits against the players that don't pay. And whether the benefits are statted items, extra levels, or access to content that others don't have, all of them could still be labelled as perks.

To me this is mainly a practical matter; how to express the categories in a search engine.
I prefer to make the categories as logical and easy to keep apart as possible.
So, in conclusion, I think it would be better to stick to the original three categories; Free, Pay-to-play and pay-for-perks.
If there are fuzzy borderlines between them, it just makes it harder for the players to understand.

Disclaimer: Now, I am not  promising that there will ever be such an addition on TMC, since that is totally up to Icculus' decision as List Owner. I just want to present a way that it could be done, with reasonable ease.
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Hades_Kane

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Re: Do casual muds exist? insane MUD difficulty
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2018, 1:11 PM »
I think a simpler definition as Molly suggested would be better just because it gives less reason/need to argue over semantics or confuse the issue.

I'm all about semantics, so of course I am going to suggest some alternate labels... 100% Free, Subscription, & Microtransactions.  Lining the terms up with more widely accepted industry standards I think would not only make clear to more casual players (oooh, see what I did there), but also maybe make some MUD owners perhaps a little less hesitant to be clearly open with whatever their pay model is.  Especially in the MUD community, the "pay to win" and even "pay for perks" have built up a very negative connotation, while "microtransactions" is, in my opinion, a bit more of a "neutral" term that also very clearly communicates what one could expect from the game.  For that matter, I'm sure some players would actually look for microtransaction based games because it would, conceivably, allow them to skip much of the grind with a little bit of money and be able to focus on the aspects of MUDing they may find more enjoyable than grinding levels.

I think we discussed this in another thread lately, but I can't seem to find it... maybe we should split this off if the discussion starts focusing more of it.
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Epilogy

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Re: Do casual muds exist? insane MUD difficulty
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2018, 3:00 PM »
I think the distinction should be made between a subscription-style service, and one-off purchases, otherwise I'd completely agree with you about keeping it simple. The terms of pay to win, and pay for perks are largely semantics, agreed. A simple division between subscriptions, and one-time payments should cover it well enough without introducing a giant list of possible technicalities, and permutations.

This is from a player perspective, whom the listings should help. As a player, I am guilty of the stigma of seeing "f2p" and pretty much write it off, and keep moving. That perspective isn't really fair to a game whose systems are transparent, and offer a flat subscription fee as a "perk" that you pay for to improve the entire game experience. I see "f2p", and all kinds of horrific behaviors you read about on the news come up, and those are almost exclusively related to one-off purchases of digital currency, or loot boxes. If you pay to feel like you've accomplished something you actually haven't, I think that sets a precedent for later abuses... but I digress. That's a discussion for a different thread.

tl;dr distinction between one-off payments, and subscription/long term benefits would satisfy me as a player, and provide relief from games being in the list whose only income happens to be one-off payments, which I would very much like to avoid having to waste time trying to figure out which is which.

Hades_Kane

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Re: Do casual muds exist? insane MUD difficulty
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2018, 3:41 PM »
Are there MUDs that require a one-off purchase in order to play?

I know there are/have been subscription style MUDs, but I have never heard of one time payment games before... admittedly I've never looked.
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Ateraan

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Re: Do casual muds exist? insane MUD difficulty
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2018, 10:01 PM »
Do casual muds exist?
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Thraxian

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Re: Do casual muds exist? insane MUD difficulty
« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2018, 12:03 PM »
Depends on your definition of "casual".  As Molly suggested, "casual" can mean different things to different players.

If you're using the "done without much thought or premeditation" definition, then yes - I've played (far too many) MUDs where the game was there simply because somebody wanted to be an imm and fired up a copy of some codebase so they could feel powerful.

If you're using the "relaxed and unconcerned" definition, then yes again - I've played several MUDs with a very relaxed atmosphere: ones where if I want to idle or AFK in town square for a couple of hours, then that's totally fine. 

If you're using the "not regular or permanent" definition, then yes again - I've played many a MUD where I can be gone for several days or weeks, then come back and not be any worse off then when I left.   On the other side of that coin, finding a MUD itself that is not regular or permanent is also possible, but will probably not meet with much success.  Players want to login on their own schedule, and being a part of a MUD where it can be here one day and gone the next, or might be turned on for two hours a day (but who knows which two hours) would be frustrating and ultimately would lose the majority of its playerbase, unless it just happens to be the most awesome MUD ever created and people are willing to put up with that type of schedule.

Almost every game has a casual aspect to it - some part that players can mindlessly play without giving much thought to what they are doing, where auto-attacks are sufficient to kill anything you come across.  That said, most players prefer to have a bit more of a challenge, so to appeal to those types of players, almost every game also has a more active aspect to it (for lack of a better antonym) - where players must use their skills or work cooperatively to meet success.  Muds that only have the casual aspect and offer no challenge might exist, but I would expect that many players would eventually get bored and go look for something else.

Most "casual" games played in web browsers or on cell phones will eventually present a challenge that requires the player exert a bit more effort (or money) in order to overcome it.  Does that make them any less "casual"?

Hades_Kane

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Re: Do casual muds exist? insane MUD difficulty
« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2018, 1:04 PM »
Jodah defined what he meant by casual pretty well...

A game that doesn't require constant login to keep your stuff, games that are easy to pick up and put down, and games that don't require hours upon hours of grinding in order to progress and remain competitive.

And yes, those exist.  Whether they are and remain successful is another thing altogether.

There's been points that our game has been very fast paced and we seemed to have a much higher turnover rate after someone has maxed a couple of characters or concepts and then move on because they feel like they've seen everything.
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