27 July 2007

First impressions are lasting impressions

I have been MUD hopping again. It never ceases to amaze me how many MUD owners do not seem to consider the tone of their rules or their first time login screens to a potentially new player. Here are some examples from real MUDs Beneath each is a rewrite to get the point across without the attitude. Certain info has been blanked out to protect the guilty on the off chance they read this blog and take suggestions to heart and in the spirit they are meant. Please note, if a mud you play has rules that sound very like these, I am not stating that it is a bad MUD. I am stating that my first impression upon logging in was such that I almost left without even checking the place out.

First example:

*This is a role-playing MUD. Your name must follow certain guidelines, or your character will be DELETED. Any inappropriate name will be DELETED at the discretion of the Administration.

*The theme of this MUD is XXX, with emphasis on XXX,XXX and XXX, and the time period is more or less Medieval. Do not use present day or non-themed names. ANY name can be deemed inappropriate, for ANY reason, by the Administration.

*If your name is questioned, do not act like it is the first time you were warned. This is pre-creation, pick a suitable name now, and avoid problems.

Most Muds reserve the right to nix a name. Usually canon, really famous ones (like the original DIKU creator names), and names that are offensive are forbidden. Many places add in out of genre names and ones that are the same as Mobs on the MUD. Experienced MUD players expect this. Inexperienced ones learn quickly. So as I logged into this place I was prepared to skim the usually naming rules, but as I read this, it seemed more and more confrontational. The tone of the last item almost sent me to the next Mud on the list. I hate playing guessing games as to what a MUD deems suitable.

"Do not act like this is the first time you were warned." Well actually, if an IMM said something to me; it would be the first time I was warned. It would not be the first time I knew the possibilty of my name not being what others wanted. BUT it would be the first time I was warned about my name specifically. If there are multiple IMMs and one has seen it and said fine and later another sees it and says it is not, then I would be somewhat surprised. It means the IMMs do not communicate with each other. I continued on because I AM an experienced Mudder and know that sometimes rules are written due to a specific occurance. As a note though, no IMM should ever let a new player think that perhaps there have been confrontations that have affected the entire playerbase. People come to play a game. If there is any indication that one person or a small group of people have managed to destroy the enjoyment of the game for all the other players that just smacks of bad Administration. A reference to a name generator that you approve of for your MUD's theme would be nice also.


This is role-playing MUD with a specific theme. In order to enhance everyone's experience, please keep this in mind when selecting a name for your character. Modern names or ones that are obviously not of the ((insert genre here)) will be deleted as will any offensive names. Please remember the Administration retains the right to deem any name as inappropriate to the MUD and will ask players to change or remake characters accordingly. Polite compliance is expected, if you are confused as to what is an appropraite name, please ask or try this name generator ((Include addy or link)).

This next example was a desc of a MUD's intent. I wish more MUD's had this up front and not buried in rules or history. It tells me right away whether this is the type of MUD I want to play. I hate entering a proclaimed RP MUD to find out that only the IMM's story line is accepted RP or all Drow must be based on The Riftwar's Brethern rather than FR's Drow, etc. So I give kudos to the owners that actually took the time to explain what sort of game they run. Now if the tone was just less confrontational and arrogant.

This MUD is an RolePlay (RP) Enhanced PlayerKill (PK) MUD: You are required to have a general knowledge of or the ability to gain that knowledge of the XXX RPG system and this MUD's interpretation of that system.

If I do not know the specified D20 tabletop system I might as well forget it? I am not good enough to play here? And just how the hell am I supposed to know this MUD's interpetation of that system? For all I know the owners could have stripped the rules and gone completely with house rules. That is what most of us old DMs did. In today's atmosphere of more MUDs than players, a willingness to help someone who wants to learn or just wants to enjoy online RP might behoove you.


XXX is a RolePlay (RP) Enhanced PlayerKill (PK) MUD based on the XXX RPG system. Your enjoyment of the game will be greatly enhanced if you have a general knowledge of or at least access to information about that system. If you are in search of a Pure PK or hack and slash, you will be unhappy here. If you are seeking an active Roleplaying environment, you may be pleased with the changes we have introduced. Many are still in the works and as always we encourage ideas to enhance everyone's roleplaying within the game.


** DISCLAIMER - Some of the content of this mud may require you to be mature or it at least act like you are. If you feel you may be offended, or for some reason unable or unwilling to handle this please refrain from playing.

That is just plain assuming that people logging in here are not mature. Maturity has nothing at all do with age, it has everything to do with behavior. I have met mature 15 year olds and immature 30 year olds. The tone suggests to ME that the IMM is not mature.


** DISCLAIMER - Some of the content of the environment as well as the roleplaying members may be unsuitable for those opposed to game related violence, alternate religious views, occultism and a miriad of other topics. If anything of this nature offends you, you may not wish to proceed farther. Please be aware most characters here are adult characters and as such are expected to play the part of an adult.

I suggest every MUD that allows PK or is a PK MUD include some disclaimer similar to the following.

S T O P: READ THIS BEFORE ENTERING!!!! THIS IS A PK/RP MUD!!! That means if you ((PKjoin)), you can be KILLED by other players. If you opt to remain ((UNJOINED)), you do not have to worry about this, and continue to play as normal/boring. If you do decide to ((PKJOIN)), you must live with your decision, since it is non-reversible. Also, you are responsible for knowing the PK/RP system. If you are ((PKJOINED)), and you are killed, do not whine, you chose to ((join)). Read the help and ask around first!

My only complaint is this line:
If you opt to remain ((UNJOINED)), you do not have to worry about this, and continue to play as normal/boring.

The tone of this is that well it is ok if you choose not to PK but you are boring and a bit of a coward. I actually have no complaint with the other phrase many may see as confrontational. I have heard too many PKers whine when they get killed, looted etc. You chose to PK deal with it!

I HATE whiners. The main mud I play one cannot sign to PK until they are over level 50. When you sign the Book of Blood there are multiple warnings as well as a reiteration of the PK rules. No one can say they were not warned. Yet many still whine. Let's face it any new signer in almost any PK environment is initiated to the PK world by a week or so of being killed by every other signed player on the MUD. However tone is important, try not to assume the player is a whiner. And honestly any idication that you DO assume so, means to me that perhaps your MUD is full of a bunch of people who hate to lose to another in PK. That would just make me move on.

Here is how I would rewrite that. Note I have also included consequences up front of the choice not to PK.

THIS IS A PK/RP MUD!!! That means if you PKjoin, you can and most likely will be KILLED by other players. If you choose to remain UNJOINED, this will not be an issue. Be certain to read all of the PK rules to ensure you do not inadvertantly break one and are forced to PKJOIN as a result. If you do decide to PKJOIN, you must live and die with your decision. It is non-reversible. You can and most likely will be KILLED by other players. When you are killed, please do not whine. The decision was yours. It is advised that you read the help on player killing and ALL of the cross referenced files, then ask other players about it before you decide!

I see the following type of thing in many places. It just plain turns me off. Here are 2 examples:

* WARNING * The area on this MUD are unlike the areas you may be used to. Don't let any stock named areas fool you. The ENTIRE realm here has been totally re-worked, re-themed, and modified. Please ask around before teleporting in a random fashion, or running straight to a usually weak starter area, as you may
be unpleasantly surprised.

ANY MUD coder/builder worthy of the name is capable of changing a stock area name to something original. DO IT. All the above tells me is either you are a lousy or a lazy coder. On one mud I looked at (a Godwars), there was a statue in the temple of the God of the Undead. Being fully aware of how much time some builders put into the extras I looked at the statue. I found the standard Diku description of ODIN complete with Hugin and Mugin. Change the extras at LEAST.

The second example:

Also, this MUD is unlike other XXX MUDs. If you are unfamiliar with the
XXX type MUDs, you won't notice much. If you are, you may or may not like the roleplay enhancements here. AGAIN, this is NOT a standard XXX. If you are in search of a PurePK, hack and slash...you will be unhappy here. If you are willing to attempt to actually RP, you may be pleased with the changes we have and the changes still yet to come. Given some time to build up your char and get used to things here, you will grow to appreciate the time and effort that has gone into this MUD. Thanks.

In this case the owner is already assuming I will not give his place a chance. I wonder why. Honestly get this straight guys - the players do not care if it took you 20 minutes or 20 hours to make a change, they DO care about how it impacts their gameplay. Stop calling attention to how much work you put into it, rather just list the changes as features and move on. Also on the login screen I do not want to see that phrase "and changes yet to come." I have logged into countless MUDS that are not complete (mainly Circle). I logged into one that the death code locked up partway through and your character just froze in limbo, they had not yet created the afterlife zone. That 'yet to come' phrase puts me in mind of that and I start to shy away. In both of these cases, I would most likely delete the paragaraphs and just list the some of changes as enhanced RP features.

As my personal disclaimer, I am jaded. I have seen too many MUDS claim to be totally original. I log in only to find that my starting point is good old Udgaard or Midgaard, sometimes with different street names and Mob names. I don't care if an owner changed the names, I DO care that they are claiming to have an original MUD with all original code to find it is merely a renaming. When a player makes an suggestion or enters and idea in many of these muds, they are ridiculed or the IMM gets angry at the suggestion that their world is not perfect. Rules and character creation screens that hold tones similar to the ones above tend to chase me off before I even attempt to create. I do persevere if the MUD has been recommended to me by a player I trust or if I have heard differently from players.

Overall it seems to me that too often MUD owners and some IMMs let their egos get in the way of the enjoyment of the game by the players. Yes, players oftenn forget how much youdo for them. But by focussing on the negative in your rules and login screens you are most likely chasing away the 'nicer' players. Who wants to play a MUD with an IMM that seems to be concerned with what is wrong with their players instead of what is right about the mud?


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