03 October 2008

Thoughts on gaming

I have been thinking about gaming and gamers a fair amount lately. Seems that this is latest manufactured marketplace. What does that mean?

Well, years ago I was an IT professional. I sort of fell into the position because I could read the LAN manuals. I found I liked it. So, i started coding, DBM, etc. Being a D&D player, somewhere along the way I discovered or was introduced to online and PC gaming. BBSes, door games, direct connection to another machine and across the company LAN were the early days of competitive gaming. Then came MUDS. In their heyday MUDS would have maybe 200 people logged in. If their muxes and modem banks could take it.

Then Consoles got into the act (Yes, I am skipping a lot.) Dreamcast started Phantasy Star online. It was a big hit. But the Sega died in the Hdw market, But not the idea. Now Xbox, Wii, PS all have online possibilities. WoW has taken D&D's spotlight as the devil incarnate. And suddenly thousands logged into one game is not uncommon.

Yet still the gaming companies seeks more for their market. So what happened? Why the boom in gaming? Or s it just that we all came out of the closet at once? I suspect it is not so much a boom as a unification in some ways. Remember when I mentioned back there that MUDS had maybe 200 logged in at a time? Multiply that by the list of MUDS that are active on The Mud Connector. Now add a few hundred more MUDs.

It is not that there are more gamers. It is that we are now identifiable. Yet to the gaming companies it looks like a jump. More on this next time.

28 September 2008

Mud promotion

So you are an admin of a MUD and you have noticed a drastic drop in players. Other than the things listed below what can you do? Everyone seems into lists these days. It goes with less time and short attention spans so here is a list.

1. First and foremost LOG in and play your MUD. Yes admins have to show a presence, but they should also play on the mortal side. ALOT. First it shows activity. No one likes to log into an empty MUD, second it keeps you in touch withwhat it is like to start out low and work up. If possible keep the character's identity secret from other Admins. It let's you see how they work from the user side.

2. Talk about your mud on Mud sites, gaming sites, blogs. I don't mean talk incessently but mention it or better yet, just add the info in your signature file if the site does not object.

3. Get the players involved. Start a MUD newspaper featuring their writing. Hold meetings with all clan leaders regarding clan wars, turf whatever. If you have an RP mud work with them on the plot.

4. Hold weekly or bi-weekly OLQs or an xtra reward day like double xp or rare item drop. THat is what the MMOs do, take a page from their books.

5. Offer an incentive program for people to bring friends to play. Nothing big and make sure the friend stays to play at least 3 months (6 would be better) But a special item or extra xp would be nice. Maybe a skill boost even.

Add any you may think of or have tried in the past that has helped.

26 September 2008

Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance - Game Cube

Usually I rant or rave about something here, but this time I shall record my shitory with this game. It is a sort of a combination.

First let me state clearly, I am somewhat biased when it comes to WOTC. I miss TSR I will always miss TSR. The D&D manuals they produced had elements of fun in them. WOTC made them far too businesslike and serious. They took a lot of the Roleplay out of RPG in my opinion and made it nothing more than statistics and numbers for many. Luckily most players of the table top games ignore that and put it back in. But when it comes to the RPG genre on stand alone games that is all most can do. Rill the dice (or the randomizer) and go from there.

I loved the old Westwood studio games for TSR. So when the Baldur's Gate series began to be published, I was excited. Except the PC versions hated my machine. So I sighed an watched enviously from the sidelines as others played. When we got a Game cube a number of years back, one of the first games I got for myself was Dark Alliance.

First let me state I am an old gamer to me that means lots of saves and many versions of the same game at possible branch points so I can go back and take the other path in case I am missing something. Baldur's gate required a huge amount of space to save, around 30 blocks. so much for multiple copies on one memory card - at least not as any as I like.

So I made my first character. I took the human archer. Bad choice for me it turns out. The isometric view is a pain when targeting enemies within your range but off the viewing screen. Yes you get a trajectory line (and your arrows do NOT arc as they would IRL) But what use is a line when you cannot tell where the target is? Luckily the character is competent with a sword as well so that is a plus.

I made it through the first part of the in town game then I hit the part that has been described as 'It sucketh mightily'. A series of dropping platforms, the last set kept beating me. I spent ages trying to cross that, then gave it up for other games. But every once in a while I would return to that spot and try again. I found cheat codes that would get me past that spot, but I REALLY hate doing that so I kept trying. Finally about ready to give up and cheat I challenged my daughter.

I am almost embarrassed to write this, but it shows what lateral thinking can do. She tried it. She failed. She tried again and failed. Then she did what I should have thought of from the get go. She remapped the controller so that A was my jump. She made it across and still harasses me about it.

So on I go. The story is pretty standard, except I run into the beholder boss that anyone can figure is coming from the first scene in the tavern, much sooner than I expected. My daughter is watching as I run panicked around the room, certain I am about to die from the a spell at any moment. Then I decide, what the hell, go into berserker mode and as she says flailed to a win. I was shocked. When she asked what I was worried about I yanked out the old TSR book and had her look up the Beholder entry. She was equally incredulous that I won first time and with no deaths.

From there you go off to discover what exactly is rotten in the state of Faerun. It proceeds much like a normal crawler. But then I hit the problem. I don't know if the cube is dying or if there is a problem with the disk, but I started getting system errors. At first it was as a new area loaded. I suspected the Cube. It is old. But then it died in the middle of a level with nothing in particular happening. Then again in a boss battle, then again in the same battle. Maybe a disk problem? I researched on the NET, nothing about an issue that I could find. The error occurs in the same area but not always in exactly the same spot. I check with the local alpha geeks at the gaming store. They don't remember any issues and can;t find a copy of the game. I am not amused.

Today I walk out into the living room to see my husband playing Animal Crossing on the cube (the PS2 hated me last week as well btw and went blank in the middle of /.hack: Infection) It was running fine. A few slow downs on the gameboy advance link, but seemed fine. So with trepidation I loaded Baldur's Gate. I made it through the boss battle and 2 more. Then I got the error as I headed into the swamp to investigate the tower in part 3. I turned the machine off and will try again tomorrow.

So far my rating on this game is a solid 6. It is good, but WOTC breaks their own rules on monsters out of their own books. Characters regain hits over time, monsters do not. And who ever heard of taking out a beholder by running around a room flailing or a dragon alone? I hate the point of view for range attacks. But on the plus side. It is a great dungeon crawler, the closest I am going to get to Eye of the Beholder or the Lands of Lore series now that Westwood is gone. There are not too many side quests and the story moves along quickly.

If the GameCube and the disk allow, I will finish this game. It has bugged me for a long time that I have not been able to do so.

25 September 2008

Play by Post and other Games: How not to Fail

GamerDNA is a site that remade itself. It seems to be succeeding. I have seen write ups about it on major sites. It is a good site. It deserves it. Why has it succeeded? Is it the slick new skin? Maybe the shift to major MMO's determined its success. Maybe it is the awesome marketing done by the staff?

Well partially all of the above are contributors but, it is not all. It is because the site persevered through the lean times. Except for some periods when Guildcafe (the previous incarnation of the site) was down, the site owners never gave up. They listened to their members and they adapted to the member base. This meant the members stayed loyal to the site. When the staff showed dedication to improving, the members saw a reason to stick around. The site may not be the busiest, it may not be the biggest, but it has a very loyal base.

I am an editor on the RPG Gateway. The site helps RPG players and site owners promote their site. It is heavily oriented toward smaller games, but of course some of the big game publishers are represented. Every editor has at least one section of the Links section to monitor. We add sites, check existing ones to ensure they are still active and offer advice and most of fun of all vote for the Amber Quill Awards and the Gold Wyrms.

I have been doing my monthly vetting of one of my areas. I am saddened by the number of sites I have been removing due to non activity or the site owners closing down the site. I am equally discouraged by the sites requesting addition as new games and requesting a review for a Best of the Best Award. Most fall pitifully short.

So, how do you make a game succeed?

First and foremost in the RPG market STORY is important. RPG means Roleplay Game. If the story is a poor rewrite of yet another hero wins the day, forget it. You need to have characters and a world that is well thought out, a plot that holds the attention of the gamer, and game mechanics that make the whole package work. In other words you need a decent story.

Secondly, you need to listen to your players. Accept not everyone likes the same thing about a game, Accept some may not like a game at all, but listen to the faithful. SOMETHING appeals to them. They are your fans, your core, and your inspiration. Yes, gamers are fickle, but many of us are also sentimental. We will not abandon those who do not abandon us.

Play by Post sites are the perfect example. They are simplest of games, 'Let's Pretend' moved to the web. Yet, I see sites that supposedly promote writing that are run by individuals who cannot spell and seem to not know how to use a spell checking tool. Grammar is non-existent on these sites and the concept of plot is bare. Rules are non-existent or contradictory. These sites rarely last a year.

Then the opposite end of the spectrum contains the elitist sites. You must submit a sample of your writing to to be critiqued. I read one such site's administrator's notes stating they ALWAYS make the individual change something just to test to see if they will obey. Many of these sites succeed for a while, but the 500 word post minimum set by many of these takes time to craft to the standards set by the site owners, and the players begin to fall off.

The sites that seem to be successful are those that assist the players in the game. Ones that are run by literate Administrators, (or at least have one on staff) and are willing to help the players improve in their story telling. Whether the improvements be in story telling techniques or basic grammar rules, sites with staff that are willing to help and to listen are sites that gain the much needed core of loyal players. That is the first step to successful game. A player base.

21 September 2008

MUDder checks out MMO

I have been curious, but dial-up and slow machines have stopped from indulging in the past. The machine is newer, not top of the line, but it is adequate, but dial-up ewww! But where there is a will.. So in March I bit the bullet and shelled out the big bucks for Guild Wars Platinum Edition. Here are first impressions as posted on J2 Games I will add to it as I get deeper and deeper into the game.

Week 1 (give or take a few days)

First - I go to local store ask about running Guild Wars on dial up. 'Casey' - young energetic and actually believes I might know my way around a game (most game store employees talk to my daughter or worse my husband - who can barely run a word processor ) says "You'll get pwned in towns but would be okay in the quests" Yes he actually said pwned. He directs me to Titan Quest Gold instead I buy that and Game of the Year Edition of Guild Wars Titan quest is fun btw and will get to that one at a later date.

I load both disks, installs like a dream on Vista. No worries there. It goes out and dls over 4000 FILES in updates. Ok, so they made some fixes. No surprise. I log on, make my first character - a ranger - hmm really want a thief not an option, no real rogue or thief types. Maybe will get Factions so I can play one later. That was the expansion that REALLY piqued my interest in the game anyway. I go to load first zone in the game. Loading bar appear and it tells me that there are over 13,000 FILES that is FILES to dl. Why bother giving me a disk then, much less 2? Oh well kill it for the night, is now 1 am and I need to work tomorrow.

Next evening - I go to log in and get the you have not verified your account message. I click the have not gotten e-mail option, after checking my spam mail and everything else, and continue. I start the dl for the 13000 files, post on the RPG board, edit some stuff, play solitaire, read some articles, then read a book. Finally I give up and go to bed leaving it running. When I get up it is done, it took around 8 hours I would estimate on 56K. (Monday the 15th, now) I log out, go check e-mail no message well it was the weekend and something is going on for St. Patrick's so .. I leave it for now. Come back that night and start to play.

Monday - still no e-mail I will give it one more day then will contact tech support as they suggest. I get to Ascalon (pre) Learn controls, do a quests, check out the zones and professions open to me. Died very little. One or two people speak to me, but that is ok. The initial chat shows as white on a tan background. and it is hard to read for these old eyes. I finally figure out how to open the chat box and dark background makes it much easier. I get the ranger to about 3rd level and create my real test character a mes/ele. If I can survive as a full mage, anyone can survive.

Tuesday - still no e-mail go to contact tech support. They don't make THAT easy. Play for a while. Got 2 propositions from people on chat for cyber, turned them both down. (Oh come on now, admit it; you were curious.) Not much else in the way of conversation or even group requests. Finally get a female character needing help on a quest I have done, Run with her to place killing stuff she is a newbie as well so I do not get frustrated and she apologizes a lot. Said others gave her a hard time about backtracking. Np one needs that especially not a mew player. Let them get lost and learn their own way around. I get the ranger to level 5 and mes to level 3 and get her second profession. Still deciding on one for the ranger.

Wednesday - starting to get the hang of it and the net lag is not too bad. Would not go PvP. Lag spikes always come at the worst times. Time for my big digression here. Pre Searing is a zoo. In almost any city there are a bunch of Idiots. Definition time

Newb or Newbie - new player. New players are naive, lost, and some are just plain cautious. They ask uninformed questions or don't even know what questions they need to ask. They die a lot, get frustrated, wander into zones too big for them and and miss zones they should hit. We were all Newbies at one time in any game.

n00b - aka PITA. These are the ones that stand around acting cool. In Guildwars they dance repeatedly, show off the emotes - which honestly leave one wanting. I would prefer to doubletake at someone or scare someone specifically as on a mud (Socials usually are set up like this - Emote $other, Emote $self or Emote $none So would be Fred scares Mary, Fred scares himself and Fred scares someone who is not here) N00bs spam, beg for stuff, they beg for people to lame them, they complain no one will help them or that the game is too hard or stupid or ... Worse they hit cheat sites, parrot information and opinions then whine when they have "the best" eq, best weap and get owned in PK. They exist everywhere. And they NEVER SHUT UP.

Scammer - these are the players that 'need killin' in game. They take new players - both types - for cash (usually in game but have heard of rl money) by selling stuff they can get easily enough at inflated prices. Have seen people advertising to buy WoW accounts, AdventureQuest and other online games. Obviously admins are not present. This is one drawback.

Pre-Searing is full of n00bs and scammers. There are cool people there, there are nice people, there are helpful people, but there are also the OTHERS. Female characters are dancing in the nude around the city, male characters are playing air guitar, drums and I see very few of same guild cape standing around. Odd, I thought solidarity was one of the points of the game. Again I get propositioned, I turn the guy down, get some attitude in return. Finally tell him I am probably old enough to be his mother, he goes away.

Another guy approaches asks if I want to join a guild. I have been reading Wikis and featured Guild items and faction info. Most of it assumes you know game premises. They need some help in that department. I am uncertain. He tells me if I hate it I can leave, people change guilds like underwear. I am not that type of girl. They are Kruzick, have a cool cape and the recruiter impresses me with his honesty so I join. Suddenly everyone around pre starts talking to me.

Lesson 1 - people ignore you till you join a guild.

Ok this is long enough will return to being cranky tomorrow. Upshot - so far I like the game dial up is not too bad and I can ignore people. More later.

12 September 2008

Thinly Disguised Marketing

DIGG started out as a geek site. Participants mainly dugg articles that pertained to technology. Of course there were videos, high weirdness and games but lately it seems to be a site for people to promote their own products. I started shying away from DIGG this year when articles on the presidential primaries and videos on YouTube became the predominate additions.

I started hanging around sites like GamerDNA, JSGames, WGFriends and (shudder) Gamespot for gaming info Castlecops and Bleeping Computer for tech stuff. But it is getting discouraging. You see people are too into marketing themselves and their games, addons or own gaming sites on these.

Most of these places have an area where you can submit news (if they are not flat out like DIGG and are social bookmarking sites.) Yes, people need to market the games they create and play. Lately, all I see are list articles (the 10 Best Games for Your Goldfish to Watch); videos of someone reviewing a game or ranting about what lousy parents gamers make while their child sets fire to the trash can behind them; spam for Wow gold, leveling, and other forms of account theft; Ventrilo logs of people hacking or cracking the server with not so hilarious results; videos of dancing and teabagging toons; YouTube 'reviews' of systems by someone's hot sister; and thinly veiled promotions for games developed by the poster with fake controversy and/or rave reviews. These articles. with the possible exception of the true spam, get voted up in the list by meat and sock puppets and articles of true value: reviews on games not posted by a minion of the publisher, good game releases, and real game demos wallow at the bottom of the pile.

How about some moderation on these sites?

Girl Gamers Part 3

This article went up on Gamer DNA today:

Top 10 list of Xbox 360 games both men and women play equally. Bully: Scholarship Edition is in the top ten list? Suprising! Find out what the other 9 are!

read more | digg story

the same stuff I have been ranting about for months, nay make that years, since I admitted that Zeta has a female operator. So what took gamers so long? Why are they surprised that women like the same games as men? And why does it matter? Part of the problem is that gamers are believing the propaganda laid down by their own detractors.

First there are the in game and in forum trolls. They are the ones that reply to any post made by a female member of the community with comments such as: "There are no girl gamers, only fags and dykes.", "All girls who play games are fat, ugly and can't get a man irl.", "All girls who play games are in it to cyber." and my personal favorite "Girls just can't play games. They aren't smart enough."

Here are MY answers: Right, lesbians are not female and girls don't play these games, women do. Absolutely I can't get a man IRL, I got my kid through a faulty
firewall on an I/O port while cybering on a bbs. Man am I lucky I didn't pick up a virus." Though I rarely give answers to these types. They crave attention and thrive on controversy. Just adhere to the rule Don't feed the Troll. The Troll is parroting what they have heard from casual or non gamer friends.

The problem is that for at least one of those statements they are sometimes correct. Some women do Cyber. So do some men. Some men cyber as females, some women cyber as males. Personally I don't care as long as it is kept private and I don't have to hear a replay through the clan channel. But it seems that is all some females do or at least all they are perceived as doing. This is of course promoted by those who believe that the internet is nothing more than a thin veneer of substance over a steaming pile of pornography.

Then there is the problem that many females do not play games because they are "too violent" for a woman's more sensitive nature. This comes from the misogynists who want to keep females in the dark ages. They fear the female that can think, so the best defense is to keep them from believing they are as resilient as men. My answer to that is Lorena Bobbit. I would rather blow away my boss in Doom than in IRL.

Next there are the ones that buy into the idea that all games are made for guys. Have none of you SEEN the Prince in Prince of Persia Warrior Within? I'd take him in a heartbeat! There is just as much eye candy for women as men. And if you prefer women, don't worry most games these days let you pick which avatar you want want to play.

The problem goes back to the post I made about gender treatment on MUDs. You see it seems to be the same attitude on most online games. Girls get a lot of help, but the wrong kind. They are not taught by the masters how to play the game, what stats are important, what tricks and how to use them, they are lamed. Females who teach themselves on stand alone games or hide behind a male character or at the very least a unisex name seem to learn the fastest. Though I am finally seeing this change a bit.

Ok so, the gamers are getting it, most of them. Why aren't the game manufacturers? Because they are buying their own hype. They believe that girls do not game therefore they must make games appeal to girls. STOP CALLING US GIRLS!! Some females have taken to the Girl Gamer label but not all of us. So, just stop already.

Second, stop producing crap. One of my favorite games that held the most potential was Cutthroats. But it fragged my disk so badly I had to play it on the D drive only. Age of Wonder chokes when I enter certain towns. And Interplay HATED my old Intel processor. Even Dungeonkeeper would flail when the graphics got heavy.
Put specs on the box where they can be seen and do not put the lowest end. Put what is needed. Ok maybe I won't buy it because I do not have an UBER gaming rig, but at least I won;t hate your company for lying to me and making me shell out 40 - 70 dollars for a game my machine can't handle.

Which brings me to the main reason I almost stopped gaming. (Ok the thought crossed my mind for about 30 seconds and then I got real.) Technical support. FOr those of you who know nothing of my "real life" I spent many years in tech support of a product that was proprietary. That meant I HAD to make it work on many different machines with many different issues. It was in the early days of Windows (Yes Virginia there were computers BEFORE windoze.)

I had turned my entire IT dept onto Doom. One of my bosses turned me onto this cool game Burn Cycle by Philips Interactive. It would start, I could get to partway through the first section then it would crash and burn. So one day I decide to call the tech support number listed for the US (Philips was a UK company so I guess they were using a third party tech group). Back in THOSE days we got charged. (It was usually a 900 number). So I bite the bullet and call. I get a techie he goes through the usual is it plugged in type questions (We HAVE to ask, so I don't bitch too much.) I rattle off my machine specs and wait. (It was a state of the art 486 btw with a Cyrix chip.)

The convo went something like this:

"Uh is that a Mac?"
"No it is a custom built 486"
"I never heard of Cyrix, are you sure it is not an Apple?"
"Cyrix is made by a division of IBM. Apple uses Motorola."
"Uh, hold on a moment."

Remember this is MY dime and I hate paying to put on hold. So after about 5 minutes that seemed like 20 the techie switches me over to his supervisor.

"You are trying to run this on a Server? You know it is not made for LAN play." Mgr type
"No, on my home machine."
I again explain the details.
"Look is your husband around? I think you are confused about the chip and the Bios and we really need to know that because it matters about how the uh computer thinks."

At that point I decided said never mind, "I'll figure it out or deinstall"

Now usually I would just fume about that but I had been through several similar 'pat on the head' type conversations at work lately with client companies' tech support involving DOS 5 and the share issues when it came to printing to a port. (For some reason if share was loaded it would not allow an app to print to a port and share had to be loaded for old windows products. So we had to write a little script that unloaded share to print and then reloaded it and talk users through putting it on the PC in the proper directory.) For some reason for about 30 seconds I bought into the idea I could not comprehend what the issue was. Then I shook my head and deinstalled and went back to blowing away creatures in Doom. Nevermind, there are plenty of other games by companies who know how to treat a lady who calls for tech support. Yep, treat her like a Gamer.

11 September 2008


This is just sad. Monopoly does not take a great deal of training to play. Some of it is just luck (who lands where when at the beginning of the game) and some is strategy (trade what with whome to form monopilies or hold out so that someone cannot form one). WHY would anyone be so desperate to buy something on how to win a board game? If the guy who is selling it manages to make a living at it, more power to him, but anyone who feels they are less of a person by losing at the board game of Monopoly has problems that I doubt just a 'how to win pamphlet' will solve. They need a some serious group therapy of a sort that does not involve games.

02 September 2008

Game Promotion

Ok, let's say there is a game you love. But even WoW seems to be feeling the pinch of the economy. They came up with the "Get your Friends Addicted" promotion. It promises "If your friend/family member purchases a full copy of World of Warcraft and pays for a month of subscription time, you get 30 days of subscription time FREE!
If your friend/family member pays for two full months of subscription time, you'll receive an exclusive in-game zhevra mount!
" As well as, 90 days of triple xp whenever you and your friend play together.

So, Muds, strat games, everything are emptying for this promo. It is sad, but your favorite game does not need to suffer.

Ok so the game is free, can't pay people to play there, or can you? Maybe not real money but what about triple xp weekends for groups over 5?

What about special items created just for playing on a certain date?

What about OLQs?

Fine you say, but how do we let people know if they are all off playing WoW? Ahh there I can be of some help:

Here is a list of places that are good for MUD, MMO and online Strat Promotion

Gamer DNA (formerly Guild Cafe
A place to set up a page for your clan for free. Promote your game and your MUD. It is heavily WoW and Warhammer oriented, but I have had some oldbies check in after they saw Valhalla there.

This site is all about MU* promotion. Free banner displays (as well as paid)
a forum for your MUD. Lots of friendly people who will help you in promoting your game.

Web Gaming Friends
A social network for gamers. It covers all the NOT big MMOs

31 August 2008

Gamers are never happy

Why is it that gamers are never happy? Example, the MUD I play and build on for went through a period of seeming inactivity on the part of the ADMIN. Now they were not inactive, but they were doing a lot of work on the engine on the type of things that are not noticed by the players (if they go right that is, if they go wrong, well crashes are always noticed.)

So, after a lot of complaining and some desertions, we did a few high profile things. We brought back the paper, implemented 2 zones, started 2 more builders building and did some cosmetic stuff. Yet, now I am hearing players want more ADMIN visible all the time.

Why? If they are visible they get bugged. If they are talking to players then they are not fixing stuff. Now I admit the MUD does need more Admin characters, but it also needs more players on to warrant that. ATM 2 seems to be enough. Some people suggest raising builders to ADMIN. The issue with that is too many builders in the past have cheated when they have been admin. They have helped their friends, they have put back doors in zones that only work for some people, they have duplicated characters, eq and run them.

Now, don't get me wrong; there have been honest admins who were good. But there have also been the other type and honestly among the present players, I do not see anyone knowledgeable and trustworthy enough. There are people like me who are honest, but have little knowledge of the engine code, and ones that are great at the code, but have a past history that would make the owner worry a bit.

So be happy with what you have right now guys. And maybe some builder will shine in both needed areas. But until then, be happy the MUD runs with the Admin there is now.

27 August 2008

Girl Gamers - Part 2

Ok, now that I have had my rant about people wanting to market to those among the gamer community who happen to have indoor plumbing instead of outdoor, let me go off on the community itself.

First there are the members of the community who seem to believe there are no female gamers. That all gamers that run under a female name are male. That no female is capable of playing a game much less coding one. See one of the comments a member of the marketing panel (male member I should point out) was that the industry maybe needed more female coders and builders to draw more "girls" to gaming.

Ahh well I pointed out to him and I will again remind people of the history of female coders in gaming. There was woman on the DIKU development. Pickle Wars was developed by a woman, who else would think of using a salad shooter to disable aliens? They exist, look at any game you love. Maybe there is a female coder on the credits, maybe not, but the fact remains they exist and have for a long long time. The problems are either they do not get much recognition or like me , they tend to be gamers first. Yep they are not INTO making something just for women, they are into making a good game. Or they spend hours, weeks, months developing a game to have the project leads and/or the VP take the credit - like most of the other coders on the project.

So, you want more female developers? JUST HIRE THEM! I know of many women who are in the industry and out of a job. No, they may not be game developers per se but I bet they could blow away half of your C++ developers. Hire the developers and teach them the industry. Give the team time to develop a good game and listen to them when they say something is not working right. Oh wait, maybe you should do that with male developers too. Bugs might not run so rampant in games.

So, why this sudden concern that women need to be game developers? Because the gaming industry has peaked out. Yep. See it used to be people learned to code well then learned to apply that to an industry. But now people teach how to code for a specific industry. Well, gaming has finally ceased to be the loose cannon industry and has become big bucks (thanks for that WOW). It has ceased to be where the independent thinkers and developers go and become a product a label and set of people to market to. And guess what, they are running out of gamers. (Maybe they NEED to produce better games, but we won't go there.)

So they need to create a new set of gamers. They are trying to convince us that women need to game. Now how are they doing this? by showing a bunch of girls around an Xbox. They are having fun. They are all hot. They are gaming in full makeup. Ok that is just an insult. I used to come home from work, cook dinner, take a shower, change into sweats and proceed to blow the hell outta things in Doom. Especially if the marketing department pissed me off. Then I moved to Dungeon Keeper, now it is Overlord. I play MUDs. I build for a MUD. I write for various gaming sites. I do not wake up, put on my makeup and get all dolled up to blow things to bits. Neither do any men I know. When was the last time you saw someone at home playing WOW in suit?

So, how to convince girls that gaming is something for them? By putting women in prominent positions on the the game dev team and marketing that. Only thing is, if the developers all look like the girls in the pictures, we won't buy it. We won't buy your con nor will we buy your games. BE REAL. Just hire excellent coders no matter what their gender is. Let them create good games. Market the hell out of them and price them reasonably. We will come and we will bring our friends.

26 August 2008

Manners and Gaming

Ok, let's talk about MMOs and MUDS and manners. On both you get what are commonly called PUGs or Pick up Groups. Now most muds have a small playerbase. As a result a lot of players fort of group together consistently. When a new player joins the game, everyone wants that person in their group to help them level, to get to know them, and to check out the future competition.

Until recently it seemed to be the same on MMOs of those that are willing to join a PUG. But then there are those who have been taught no manners. Here is an example from last night. I had one of my two big girls on. I have not yet maxed them out so I was going back and doing some side quest stuff to finish it off before I head to end game.

I start selling off treasure when someone adds me to their group asking for help in one of the harder missions. I talk to her she has been trying to get a group for a bit so I say ok and change my plans. I figure it is no skin off my nose to help her and who knows maybe I will be lucky and pick up a rare drop.

She makes me the leader. Hmm I am not too fond of that - an assassin character on this game is more of hit and run type and this mission is one where it is hard to get clear sometimes. If you can't hit and run you need a healer nearby to keep you alive or to res.

Now my policy on adding group members is this. First people who need the mission. Then others to help out. So I take all comers. We still don;t have a full group. We add NPCs and head out. There is a new player in the group who has never done this mission, as we find out once we are IN the mission, Ok well all of us were new at some point. He is not a maxed character in levels, gets killed (after I do I should point out). And the person who started all this is complaining about him.

So we all die resign, return to city and regroup. First we kick the NPCs and look for more players. Finally we find a monk/mesmer (for some reason the initiator of this was convinced we needed one. Personally I think we needed a nuker.) He looks at the lists of the group members' spells and leaves cause they are not good enough.

Then she suggests I kick the two members that are not maxed on levels and we get others to replace em. At that point I say, Hmm, well why don't I leave then and you can get who you want in the group. I did and went on my way to complete my side quests with minimum deaths (i.e. none) and alone. Although I did offer to take anyone with me who needed to do them.

Now on a MUD no one would ever think of kicking a player who is already in the group unless they were AFK. They might offer suggestions for eq, or spells or even tell them don't hit, just suck up the xp for a bit and heal or boost us where you can. But to kick someone out of a group you begged people to join because they are not experienced in the game, well.. Sorry that is just rude.

Oh I should add while I finished selling off stuff, she tried to add me again. I am afraid I refused, politely but my answer was - Look I have already done this, let someone who hasn't have a chance. And all I would be is dead weight. - perhaps not the full truth, but the otehr rule to manners is, if you want to run te show then take the leadership position otherwise, STFU and mind your manners.

26 June 2008

Girl Gamers part 1

Another label. It looks like this one is sticking, so it seems time to address it.
First let us look at what it means Girl - female, not yet adult Gamer - someone who plays games.

Well yes there have always been girls who play games. Jump rope is a game, chess is a game, Ace Deuce is a game (I still own you Brent), females both adult and pre-adult have been known to play these games. But the epithet Girl Gamer refers to any female who plays a console, computer or online game. Females have played these for as long as they have been around too, suddenly though we are labeled and they are looking for ways to market to us. Pity they are probably going to ruin some great games that way.

See this is my problem I am not a girl, although I did start gaming when I was one. BUT I am a gamer who happens to be female. Several things started me thinking about this, but the most recent was on Valhalla. See another female approached me said wouldn't it be great if we had an all female Clan. I said "no".

Why you ask? Well gender in not basis for commonality. Yes, there are some things you can say I have in common with other females, they tend to be biological in nature. However, I like playing RPGs and strat games. My friend prefers FPS, another friend will only play things like Bejeweled and dominoes. Yet, we are all female. So when you get us on a place like a MUD we all head in different directions. I go for the quests or off to role play with friends, Elly heads off to the casino or other mini game and Cathy is off to PvP. Same game different aspects. That is what is great about MUDs.

I used to like FPS, when I did I played Doom, Zero Tolerence, and Descent. I liked the graphics and the playability. They were not games made for women they were made for everyone and were good games. Prince of Persia is still one of my favorite games. Last I checked that was not marketed to women. Why do I not play them anymore? I got bored.

Strategy games work for everyone how do you market strategy and tactics to a gender? Either you can counter that attack or you cannot. Gender does not matter when you are besiege and trying to fend off the attackers hoping they starve and lose troops before they manage to undermine your walls. When running pirate ships against a blockade your plumbing is not going to help or hinder the situation. Either the game play is decent and the situation realistic or it is not.

Earlier this year I took part in a panel on female gamers. It started out as rah rah. Girl gamers rock etc.. Then the nasty truth began to come out. Not all of us like the same type of games. Not all of us are the best at the games, but we still like to play. AND not all of us like each other. Because well, we are people and guys don;t always like another guy just because they are male and play the same game do they?

We were asked what could be done to bring more women to gaming. None of us agreed. Some wanted to lose the chainmail bikinis and get real armor. Some liked the revealing nature because it showed they could kick ass with less than a guy wore.
Some wanted some beefcake, some said no it would embarass them. Some wanted to save the prince, - ok most of us wanted to save the prince. It was what we did with him after we saved him that we differed on. Our point to the marketeers - yes who else would hold such a panel - was "Look either you game is good or it isn't. If it is good we will play it. If it is not we won't. It's that simple."

As for us uniting because we are all girls I think one in the panel said it best. "If you are on the other team you are my opponent. This time we may be team mates, next time you may be on that side. When we are on the same side I will work with you. But when you are against me I will do my best to kick your ass." Yep, that is the right attitude GAMER first.

23 May 2008

Since When are Gamers Quitters?

Ok, I started sounding off about this elsewhere, but since the phenomenon has transcended the MMO. I feel it necessary to go into deeper analysis. Cranky Old Gamer mode is ON.

Alas, for the gaming youth of the world. The demise of the game over screen seems to have led them down the path of many of the CEOs of companies. As long as you succeed it does not matter how. As long as your numbers look good who cares if they represent reality. I am talking about the quitters.

We have all known the people who if a game is not going their way, they pitch a fit, stop playing, take their ball and go home. I have always assumed that these people were not true gamers. I may still be correct by my definition of gamer, but it seems not by others'. I have to wonder if that little reset button, or reload or lack of a true sense of losing has lead to this idea that one can always win. I have news for you. You can't.

We have seen the aftermath of result driven people in various companies; Arthur Anderson, Enron, and others too numerous for this old feeble brain to call up at the moment. The mentality of having the numbers, the stats, at whatever cost, even at the cost of lying, cheating and stealing is what led to those fiascoes. Alas, it seems to have begun to pervade the mentality of gamers.

I first encountered the quitters on a large scale in an MMO. The problem with an MMO is that since it IS massive, the likelihood of knowingly running across the same player is lower than on a smaller game. I suspect this makes players feel safe about leaving a party in the middle of a quest or mission because the prospect of failure is looming over the group. Maybe the healer died. Maybe a character or two did. Now there is a death penalty. Be it lost experience, lowered stats whatever, the player leaves without a word to his or her brothers and sisters in arms, thereby ensuring the group's failure.

Of course, the one leaving if confronted - and yes I have been known to hunt them down and ask in tells "WTF is your problem leaving like that without a word?" Usually there is an excuse "I have to go, Mommy is calling." - and they switch to another character (associated friends lists are SO nice) or I hear that the entire party is lame and they are not going to play with so many incompetents. (Ok so I raised the level of the bailers vocabulary a bit I admit)

I wonder what it would be like if a quarterback left the field because the team was losing. Not the same you say? What about team PK or games online. I have seen over half a side bail out when they were losing. THe same excuses prevail. Now, it couldn't possibly be that they other team is better armed, has a better strategy or that they are better prepared or even just got lucky? Nope. It is never that.

Well, it finally got to the point that set my blood boiling. My daughter plays Go. She has been playing for almost a year. One saying about Go we have heard over and over is the Quicker you lose your first 50 games, the better. In other words, the more people and games you play, the better you get through experience. Recently she started looking at online sites that match people. Being new to the sites she has a low rating. So, someone challenges her. Now, she is not a master, but she is not a beginner either. She wins pretty consistently against the people she plays, but she needs new challenges. So she logs into a site as a new player, gets a challenge and the player bails partway through the game as it becomes apparent she is not an easy opponent that will boost the player's stats on the site. SHe tries again, it happens again. She plays a few games, wins some, loses some and logs off. So now she has a rating on THAT site, albeit rather low. She tries another site, same thing. Instead of conceding when they make a mistake, the players just leave the game without a word. Hmm wonder what would happen if Boris Spassky had done that in a chess tournament?

It seems we are becoming quitters of the worst sort. The sort that will leave our compatriots out to dry. The sort that will leave just to preserve the appearance of being good. Never mind that the appearance will be scratched and marred the first time a true challenge arises. Numbers matter more than fun and improvement. Pity. I had always thought that gamers were at least loyal to each other until the game was over and the next begun, except for in Risk and Machiavelli. I guess this is just another example of us old dinosaurs who plod along taking the death penalties or loses on our stats in order to have the personal satisfaction of being able to say I did it. Doing it seems to be less important than looking like you did it. Even to the point that looking like a winner without actually being one is the path that many pursue.

20 February 2008

The 15 Most Annoying Video Game Characters of All-Time

In honor of this week's Game Developer's Conference, some characters that should have stayed undeveloped. Of course They missed some.

read more | digg story

16 February 2008

Gender treatment - originally posted on the Mud Connector

Ok I keep hearing about how females are treated better on MUDS by players than males so I conducted a little experiment. THe idea was to prove my male friend who keeps telling me I get more help than he does wrong. I hit a few MUDs and MUSHES and had some interesting results. No MUDS will be named. I do not wish to start a flame war just to let owners and players know what happened so they can perhaps keep an eye out for the negatives and encourage the positives.

First the set up

From home I created a female character newbie (called Mary below) fighter or rogue type
From another location I created a male character newbie. (called Fred below) Fighter or rogue type

I kept race, class and stats the same or as close as I could except in cases where the MUD engine made adjustments for gender. Characters were created about a week apart.

Here is what happened:

On muds that were mainly hack n slash (fighter types with same stats and race)

Mary got a lot of help initially, mainly from male characters and female helpers. She received a lot of attention and then when I refused to talk about myself personally, interest from the male players waned.

Fred was ignored except for being 'checked on' or when I asked for help directly with things such as corpse retrieval or directions to an area or mob. When it became apparent he was going to stay and was not going to be a nuisance. (I tried not to be a nuisance) (levels 5 - 10) He was accepted as one of the guys and invited into groups more often than Mary by other players.

NOTE: One MUD with a particularly low number of players online at the time I would log in, treated both characters the same. Lots of help from everyone and interest in how the characters were coming along.

OK my friend was right. Females do get more help starting.

RP enforced MUD's

I did not 'test' any MUD that required clearance for RP by sample posts or logs sent prior to being permitted to play. I attempted 2 of those, did not receive an accept or deny in what I considered a timely manner (3 days) so crossed them off my lists.

Mary received about same initial help as Fred in stat/level building on most. Only difference I found here was Mary was walked through or to places a bit more and received less explanation of how things worked or the nuances of the IC politics and situation than Fred.

Mary's RPs seemed to be centered around romance or dating more than Fred's. Most RP offers came from males. Attempts to RP with females tended to degenerate into more OOC chatter than RP. Refusal to divulge personal information was accepted by females in most cases, by males in a few cases it was immediately assumed I was a male playing a female character. IC RP topics religion, backgrounds, business plans, confidence games and romance. Many with other females seemed to degenerate into catfights for the amusement of others on the MUD.

Fred recieved more offers to RP from females and males than Mary. The female characters were more forward with sexual innuendo and suggestions to Fred than males were to Mary. At times I felt like I was being swarmed by the women characters on the MUDs. OOC chatter with females made me uncomfortable (most likely because I am not male - they wanted to know more about ME than my character). Refusal to divulge personal information caused some to stop speaking to me, others would not stop trying to find out OOC things. IC RP topics included power struggles, conspiracies, religous arguments, confidence games, competitions and romance.

Fred spent more time overall in RP than Mary and the topics inpacted the overall story more than Mary's did.

OK We were both right. Initially the female got more more RP, but the male got more significant RP and his invitations went up, as hers went down.

PK Muds (non rp enforced)

Mary was assisted much more in gaining eq and levels, but was attacked less overall and largely ignored. Mostly IMMS older players and long time players offered her advice and warned of PK tricks used by other players.

Fred was assisted somewhat and immediately drawn into PK. Almost all characters had an IC reason or RPed out something before attempting PK. I died a lot. (I am lousy at PK) When it became apparent I was not a challenge, most attempted to assist me in becoming better. Some of the unethical tricks Mary was warned of were used on Fred with no warning.

What I found interesting.
Back in the day there were few female gamers. We tended to hide behind male characters to keep from being swarmed by the guys, that position seems to have reversed. There are more female players these days and there were times I felt overwhelmed by offers to RP. On most MUDs with xsocials invitations to use them were many when I played Fred. When I was running Mary it might be mentioned once or twice by a male character, BUT I had some female characters coming on to me as strongly as males and for orgy type situations.

Possible explantions:
Fear of accusations of harrasment? Fear of my being underage IRL? Those fears do not seem to apply to the women when approaching Fred but they were brought up when I was playing Mary. This is a sad reflection on our society in general.

Fred was privy to more female's opinions of other female chacters than Mary was to info about other males. In one case Fred was told by a female admin that she wanted to run Mary off the MUD because she got too much attention from the guys.

Females DO get preferential treatment initially. It continues to a lesser extent in questing, Mob killing, etc, but NOT in grouping in general.

Males are ignored more intially and generally viewed with more suspicion.

Some suggestions:

*Most SWR MUD and MUSHES have players or IMMS that understand annoyance hunger/thirst/tired spam causes in RP. On almost everyone I was on (6) I received money to have a cyber implant to stop that. No other RP MUD seems to have caught onto that.

SUGGESTION: If you run an RP enforced or strongly suggested mud disable that code, increase the waits or create an item that suspends it. (Or get really fancy and find a way to suspend it when RP mode is on.)

If you have an RP enforced MUD, check periodically that everyone is getting the level of RP and type that they want.

Discourage OOC chatter it breaks a player's concentration Or set up a RL OOC channel and a META GAME OOC channel. Allow only game chatter in the META. OR create an OOC zone lounge that players can enter and sit and chat about rl for a while.

Do not ever assume that any player is the same sex as their character. I was accused of being a male playing a female more often than female playing a male. What is interesting is that the females spotted me as a female player whereas not a single male suggested I was a female playing a male.

Forgot to add this On PK MUds I played a fighter type and on RP I played a rogue type. What can I say I like my thieves and assassins.

OK You were right, Kutter and Whistler.

15 February 2008

More Ideas to KEEP new players - Game Economy

So with any RPG be it multiplayer or not there is a definite progression and one that makes sense to an extent. It deals with making money and finding objects. As a new character in any game you are poor and lost. In an offline RPG you have to spend time wandering around finding things. It used to be you usually got 3 to 5 lives then it was game over. But let's face it what gamer did not save at multiple points in case of such an occurance?

Now for difference with a MUD and that is how such saves as as a consequence such character development is handled.

First there are the MUDs that basically have infinite lives. The Mud I play mainly, Valhalla, is of this sort. You die you sit at Odin, you lose experience and you repopulate in a central spot. Then off you go to find your corpse (Player corpses hang about for about 3 days real time if things are in them). You regain your stuff off your corpse and mutter a lot about lost exp and go on with the game. Now this mud does have a final death due to age. BUT one can remake the character using the same name after deleting the dead one or if you catch it early enough rebirth the
character along a new path. Each have advantages and disadvantages and let a player build a character.

Then there are permadeath Muds. You die, you recreate. Some are even set so that you cannot recreate using the same character name for a period of time at least. These are most realistic and tend to be more RP oriented or use the MUSH engine. Some are types of RPGs that reset every so often to allow all players an even playing field. These are probably the most frustrating for a new mudder.

Then there are the hybrids. SWRs tend to be of this nature. They seem to have originally been developed as permadeath but somewhere along the versions copies were permitted (clones, memory saves, magical copies). So your character is frozen in time as it were at he point that you last chose to save, like a stand alone rpg. Usually there is an in game cost associated with this from incredibly high to very reasonable depending on the game.

Most online games have a group of people who are designated to help new players. Many of these are just long time players of a game, some are IMM level, some are that dubious halfway between IMM and player. The good guides sort of mentor the newbie and keep close to them telling them where not to go what not to touch and let them wander on their own. This actually works for all three types of games. HOWEVER, money is where the problem starts.

You see it takes money to make money on all of these games. Now back in the day when muds ruled you would get 40 people on and lots of help offered and received. Lots of things in the donation rooms, things that help a newbie start out. EXPENSIVE things, hard to get items from hard to kill mobs. These days muds have fewer players. Yet the case still holds that the big players have the cash and the power and the new ones are learning.

So, my suggestion is this - make newbie shops and vendors. Characters can buy from them until level whatever you mud decides is avatar (50,60,100). On games where one needs components for spells or skills, sell those things cheaply. limit sale to a character per rl timing (say 5 or 10 of an item every 2 hours). The price could either rise according to the character's level or once the character hits the designated level they can no longer use that vendor or the prices change to come in line with the rest of the MUD economy. Which should be EXPENSIVE.

The way most muds are now, the players that need the it the least have access to the most inexpensive required items because they have played there the longest and know everything. Yet it is the newer players that need encouragement to stay and build. So, make it gradually more difficult so that your long time players with big characters are not sitting on all the money and the little ones get discouraged and leave.

Second suggestion: allow a donation bonus to the big boys. If a character donates newbie gear or items to a donation area that has a level limit set on it they get bonus points of some sort. Som many points and they get a special item. THat would also stimulate game economy. Make the big boys spend their cash and help the little ones become big ones. It is hard enough getting exp and training stats since training costs money. The big characters usually have trained everything. let them 'endow' a newbie. This might give the old timers a fresh look at the game through a newbie's eyes and ease the workload of guides. It would also encourage older players to make friends with newer ones or even with older ones they might not have interact with much. Set up a locale where oldbies can adopt a newbie. Randomly assign the two players. At first, sort of keep them apart, letting the old player know of his newbie's progress then say around level 10 have them meet. Now only some of this can be done via code, but it might lend to some interesting new player and character relations. Imagine a trandoshan newbie on an SWR Mud finding out his mentor is a Wookie. That would set up an interesting roleplay situation.

If any of you have other ideas go for it. Post them in the comments.

25 January 2008

Fear of change and it's impact upon playerbases

Ok so, We all know about fear of change. People fear change. Why is that do you suppose? I heard the phrase yet again today as an admin was discussing plans for changes on his mud. The discussion was taking place with maybe 4 or 5 players and those who were speaking were supporting the change. There was one small voice of dissent. Not even dissent really, more questioning through how would this work, why are you considering this, what about players that want xyz.
Yep you guessed it the dissenter was myself. Sometimes I play devil's advocate, sometimes I truly question why, sometimes I don't like the idea myself. However the issue I wish to bring up is not so much the change as the reactions to the voices against it.
Once upon a time a long, long time ago a group of people got together and decided to make a game that could be played online. This produced a whole genre of games collectively called MUDs. Let's ignore engines, graphics, etc and call all of the MUDs for the sake of this discussion. (Yes that includes things like WoW and most ESPECIALLY things like WoW) Now this group of people made a system and played it and everything was happy and sunshiney because they were all friends. Then the OTHERS came.

This happens in any MUD, one person or group starts it and invites their friends to test it and play. If the MUD is good then these tend to become the first core of players They in turn bring friends who join in, these become the second core. Rinse and repeat to form a MUD's playerbase. The type of MUD does not matter, The genre does not matter. For any successful open to the public game this is how they tend to grow.

Now gamers tend to be fickle by nature. Star Wars may be in today and Shadowrun tomorrow, next week it may be Dragonworld, who knows but one thing is sure. Players like change as long as it makes the game fun. They hate it if it limits their ability to enjoy the game. The problem is the larger the playerbase, the more different definitions of fun you have.

The secondary problem is that for each generation of player, if you will, there are those who stayed with game for a different aspect. Here is an example; the MUD I play the most and have played the longest is very old - over 20 years. The engine has gone through many changes. One of the changes implemented before my time dealt with the class system.

The old system was - you joined a guild (let's say you are a fighter) You learned all you could there or all you wished. Fighters as everyone knows value strength, so it cost few points to train your strength there. But brain, something which most system fighters have little, costs a lot. So, after a character got all you wanted it to from Fighters Guild, you would quit the guild and then join a new one to learn new skills. Thing is you could never return to that guild so you had to get all you wanted from it.

This method worked fine - for a while. But then people got bored. There were still many players, but the old ones had few challenges. New ones however were just learning the system. So when the MUD Admin decided to change to an engine that used a 3 guild path system (Yes, I am cutting out a ton of stuff here ) Some players thought it a great idea. Some probably SAID they thought it was a great idea because they are the usual sycophants one gets around any Admin type. Some said the idea was lousy, some said nothing at the time.

The change was implemented. The Mud lost some first and second core players, but kept quite a few. Thing is they also gained some new players. Well the first change didn't work so well or maybe it did, and some just became noisy about what they did not like while others stayed quiet and played the game they loved. But Admins know only what they hear, so more changes went in and more and more. Most of the old core left. Most of the second core left. Eventually the mud went from 30 players at a time to 10.

It happens. Now there is a new crop of players. Most of us are used to the NEW way of character development. Honestly, I like it because it takes less time to build my character and it allows changes in guilds to occur and for me to benefit (or sometimes lose out) because of the fact I am still a member of all 3 guilds. If the admins add a new weapon skill, I can learn it. Yes it happens because new areas added to the MUD frequently add new weapons, same with spells etc. Some do not like it. Most of those who did not left. Some noisily, most just faded away.
That is the nature of gamers most of us tend to just leave and go find a new game. One we like. Maybe one that is in the current popular genre.

Let us examine this same phenomena with RPG based MUDS. There is another layer if you will added to the mix. This is the layer of player interaction affecting the playerbase. They tend to develop initially in the same way, a core group that invites others that brings in others. Some players are skilled at RP, some are not. Sometimes new players have totally different ideas than the storylines than a group has followed in the past. Some are good some are bad. One never knows until one has tried them out.

If one gets the chance. Because you see each new player changes the MUD a little with their characters. On an RPG MUD they bring their own storylines, their own character quirks, and most of all the own player's perceptions of what the MUD is. Sometimes, not knowing the old way is beneficial, sometimes not.

So when an admin starts talking about changing the whole system it sometimes frightens off the new players who have just started liking it. Sometimes they have ideas. But the thing is they are new players, not part of the sycophantic group nor part of the 'inner circle' the primary core has most likely become. The group with the highest level of boredom. So when a new player makes a suggestion it is frequently met with a united front of the old players shooting it down. This usually manages to make the new player feel like an outsider. Comments like "WE like it as it is, WE think it should be this way, WE all agree," Serve only to push the new players away from the main core. If the attitude toward the new players is sufficiently off putting then they will most likely go elsewhere feeling that they are not welcome or wanted.

Think about it. If you were in a group that you had joined recently and everyone was standing around discussing what color to paint their meeting room. The old members wanted it blue because it had always been blue. Some of the old members secretly want it green, but figure if the president of the clube says blue then blue it is anything to stay in good graces. Some say nothing, they really want it purple or pink or yellow, but they figure there is no use saying anything because anything they say will be ignored anyway, then you as a newer member say "I like beige."
The core group turns and says "It doesn't matter what YOU think WE like blue." Now to the old members the core issue is the color. To the new member the issue is not the color but the vehemence and disdain with which their opinion is treated. The obvious drawing of lines of us and them and the new member has just been called one of THEM, nor referred to as one of us. Since the club is voluntary, would YOU stay in an environment where people treated you as if you had no valuable input? Would you remain in a place that is afraid of you not for any reason other than you may bring a change to their comfortable and boring interactions. Would you remain where you are not wanted, where you are 'not one of us?' Next time you wonder why the playerbase is so small, look at how you and the rest of players treat new players. The answer may lie there.