Friday, November 06, 2009

New Slothmud

After nearly a full year of not posting I guess it is time to acknowledge our upgrade to Slothmud 4. Or maybe we are calling it just Slothmud now as we feel kind of 90's with software revisions if we keep incrementing the number.

Before we launched back in April our player numbers were slowly dwindling. I would estimate for the number of average players online was dropping by 2 per month. We figured it would be a year and half before we closed doors because of attrition. So we decided to take a chance and shake things up.

I won't list all the changes now as you probably have experienced and analyzed them yourselves from a playability standpoint. What I will say is that we had quite a bit of debate on what we thought was broken and if we thought we could ever fix it. A couple of simple underlying principles really drove all the changes:
  1. Our stat rerolling system was patched together and ended up in a place that made perpetual rerolling of new characters seem like the best approach.
  2. We made incentives for our experienced players to be separated from new players (all with historically good intentions).
  3. The combat, mob and experience system was tweaked over time in a way that allowed for exploitative area building.
  4. The last point really created a farming approach for fast leveling that devalued exploring and finding new challenges for your character.

In reality we came kind of close to not doing a whole big revision. We had started several incremental steps.

  • We changed the player experience point storage to allow for bigger experience numbers.
  • We started working on ways to add on access to more classes to the old system
Although I was personally very reticent to taking the leap that we needed to restart instead of making incremental changes, I decided to help.

It took a couple months of hard work and heated, yet mostly friendly, debate to get to the results we have now. Probably not surprisingly, the most heated debate was around the stat rerolling system. It went through about 25 different iterations and finally contained things that I personally opposed. We all made compromises.

As we launched, I said candidly to our admin team that we should all be excited by the big numbers of players that have rejoined us. However the true test would be if we last 6 months. Well, today is just about 6 months and we are back at consistent and respectable player numbers.

We are saddened that we lost some long time players. We knew it was the price we would pay, and it still stings a bit. But, for me, it seems it was worth the effort. We all hope it was for you, too.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Interesting times

There has been a decent amount of discussion in the administration lately on how to increase the player base again as it has dwindled some. I looked last night and of the 26 people online, I think I found one person who hadn't been playing for over a year.

A lot of the sometimes heated discussion was around fixing a few nagging balance issues, running quests and the like. Doing these things, in my opinion, may bring back a few older players, but won't help recruit new ones.

My thought is, it's really about networking. Players need to help find new players. Post on their facebook, myspace and other social networking sites post about the game they love to play. Maybe a few of their friends will play and that will mean a few of their friends will play, etc.

This is how we got players in the old days, minus the social networking sites. People would go to college and hear about this kind of thing from their networks of new friends. Somewhere in the past 3 years something has changed a bit and this cycle seems to be broken. Whether it is because people are now playing graphical games (I'm sure there is some of this) or because there are a lot of other really good muds out there that people are playing instead, I don't know.

Comments and suggestions welcome.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

10 years of SlothMUD III

This week marks the 10th anniversary of SlothMUD III. This means 10 years of a continuous playerbase and the same administration (roughly). While many players and builders have come and gone and many changes have taken place, if you rented your character in late 1997 with any reasonable levels, you can still log it in.

The one constant over the past 10 years has been change. It's pace has varied widely, from "Slothy" with incremental areas and skills to dramatic, with new continents and a doubling of classes.

I don't have a "who" list handy from that first few weeks, but would appreciate anyone who could post or send one.

I also don't have a comprehensive list of all of the people who have contributed to building various parts of SlothMUD. This list would indeed be long and we all hope it continues to grow.

Among all of the changes on the mud and the pace of real life, it is often easy to miss this kind of anniversary and mark it. However, I believe it is noteworthy and it's kind of easy for me to remember Sloth's anniversary since it's only a few days before my wedding anniversary. For the record, I got married before I ever started playing Sloth II.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Dora the Explorer?

I've been less than active lately on SlothMud, but do keep up with the progress made. Among the game play changes (some of which were less than well received) was the addition of the exploration tracking. Roughly every room visited is tracked on an individual player basis, in order to calculate the percentage of the world visited.

It is a relatively superfluous statistic to track but it is a badge that can people can compete for. I don't think we have implemented any in game effects based on the level of exploration. However, I was surprised to see that Splork (I think) made an explorer leader board available on the website.

I know there were some bumps when it was originally coded, but it seems as if it is pretty good now. I'd be interested to see how the actual statistic is tracked as I don't think it was trivial coding to:
  • efficiently track each room number that every player visits
  • uniquely identify every room which is able to be reached by mortals
At any rate, I'm waiting for the character Dora to be at the top of that list.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Random Number Generators

Complaints about random number generation in the game usually sound like this:

"I lost concentration 5 times in a row! The number generator isn't random if it is giving the same thing 5 times in a row!"

There are many many flaws with this argument. To me the biggest is that when a player is casting 5 spells in a row, there are literally thousands of other random numbers being generated (for other purposes on the mud) between their specific spell casting actions.

A person believing they can decipher nonrandom events from an incomplete list of events, such as this, should surely be able to predict when they will occur (otherwise they would believe them to be random).

As a person who believes in personal responsibility, I therefore think it is the player's fault for losing concentration. They chose poorly when to cast their spell within the stream of random numbers and got a bad roll.

So, the next time that a person thinks they are smart enough to tell you that the number generator is broken, you can tell them that they are a fool for being a bad player and not taking advantage of it.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Builders Port Experiment Part 3

As I mentioned in two previous articles on the builders port experiment (part 1, part 2), we have started a process of letting people build without having immortals. Today was the opening of the first area that went through that process. I must say that it far beat my expectations.

A lot of congratulations go out to Rub for his effort and determination. I won't bother boring you with all of the details of the hassles that he went through, as they are pretty much on par with what I have discussed in those and other previous articles about building an area on a mud. Rub did an outstanding job navigating all of the administrative overhead (translated into kicking us in the behind every once in a while) to get it done.

We had hoped for, but never really believed we would get an area over from the builders port. While this is something to be happy about, what is truly an unexpected and pleasant surprise is the quality of the area. It has a well thought-out and cohesive theme with many unique features.
  • There is a unique way of getting to the area with its perils that some slightly greedy players have already discovered.
  • There are some really cool differentiating effects like the loudspeaker.
  • The mobs are smart and interact with each other and the players.

While we have quite a few areas which have this level of detail in them, it is extremely rare to see this from a new builder. I truley do appreciate the creativity, effort and determination which Rub put into this. I hope that it continues and we in for more surprises as we get closer to completion on a few other areas on the builders port.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Slothmud Cheat Codes

In continuing with the theme of "what if Slothmud had..." Today I was inspired to think about what if Slothmud had cheat codes. I frankly don't know much about cheat codes these days, but the last time I looked you had to go to certain places in a game and type words. This is far to advanced for me, I'm old school when it comes to cheat codes.

In the old days of NES and Super Nintendo cheat codes you just used the controller. You did things like left right left right up down up down A B A B A A B B start to get yourself advanced to level 15. You had to do this right when you turned the game on and before the main menu appeared or it didn't take. It was awkward and the better the cheat, the harder the commands were to get to it.

I never figured out how people managed to figure them out or if the game producers just published them somehow.

So in the spirit of this here are some Slothmud cheat codes:
  • Go to the Innkeeper and do East West East West Up Down Up Down Offer Steal Offer Steal Beg Rent for Free Rent
  • Turn fargate on with cast 'summon' cast 'gate' cast 'gate' summon cast 'summon' gate enterfar enterportal
  • To turn off fargate do cast 'summon' cast 'gate' cast 'gate' summon cast 'summon' gate unenterfar unenterportal
  • Go to the Storekeeper and do Bounce Bounce Spin Spin Sleep Wake Sleep Wake Beg Sleep Wake Sleep Beg for 100 free iron rations
  • Find Guinex and say 'ali baba alakazaam' to change the live port to chaos mode
  • Go to the armorer and do #20 {rem all;wear all} wield note to get access to five new types of newbie weapon equipment
  • Go to Demogorgon and do West East West Spin cast 'faerie fire' Demogorgon flee flee flee hide flee flee flee for Fast Repop (better be quick on this one or you end up dead!)
  • Go to West Gate and do #20 {page this game sucks} to get a free demotion to level 1 (may be delayed based availability of immortals)
  • Go to Shallah and do rest #10 {gossip AFK :)~} and instantly gain access to 5 of Brad's level 40 characters which he has forgotten. Hurry, only the first 500 people a year to do this get unique characters.
  • From anywhere do inv inv inv inv inv inv inv inv to ensure a pthief hasn't taken your inventory
  • To get advanced to level 46 do drink aaa (maybe this one is for another mud)

Some of these cheat codes may already be wel known, but there are also many secret cheat codes within the game. You'll have to make your own website and publish them as you find least that's what might happen if there really were cheat codes.