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.


Anonymous said...

I tend to believe this is due to graphical MMORPG's, not because other mud's are so compelling.

Vladimir Pouzanov said...

I've never had enough time to come back to Sloth. Also, I've switched to Mac and I haven't found any suitable MUD client (not just plain telnet, but something more usable).

I have some plans to write MUD client for iPhone (that would allow me to enter MUD on the go). I even have some basic code in work. Definitely, when (if) this client would be done, it would be tweaked to SlothMUD needs, as Sloth is the only MUD I enjoy ;)

Clink said...

An iPhone client would be very cool. I have an iTouch and a Mac, but it's a G4 so I can't run the development environment on it.

Even if you were to get telnet to work on the iPhone, it would be outstanding.

Vladimir Pouzanov said...

> Even if you were to get telnet to work on the iPhone, it would be outstanding.

You can play Sloth on iPhone using telnet, but it's not really nice way of playing.

Proof of concept screenshot

Clink said...

Hey that's awesome. Even without triggers/actions, there are some things you might be able to do to make aliases readily accessible. Let us know if there are things we can do with the game to make it easier to show up in this format. We can definitely make changes based on the client calling (as long as it identifies itself).

Vladimir Pouzanov said...

In my opinion it's better not to start project at all if there are no plans to make it good. iPhone as a MUD client platform has several issues:
* Fonts. I'm ok with Courier New 10pt, but that's not really comfortable, especially with default color scheme.
* Screen size. iPhone's screen is not big enough to contain enough data even for one cell (BH's Inn already requires to scroll).
* Data entry. Lucky enough MUDs are based on simple English words so there's no need to switch to other keyboards often. However a simple and compact alias-oriented keyboard would greatly simplify interaction.
* Network latency. It's just evil to play on GPRS/EDGE link. Almost impossible to enter a battle (only in case when you are 90% sure you would win while AFK).

So, there's only one problem that is hard to solve. It is possible to find a font, that would be more readable, alter color scheme, make "primary text console" less verbose. It's even possible to implement kind of automapper, so that a player would not get lost on most bad lags.

It is possible to integrate shops into like looking native iPhone UI, make a spells (skills) browser. The only issue is how far are we going from original "pure text" implementation.

Clink said...

Moving from "pure" text for playability on a small form factor is something I think we are open to. In general we aren't open to creating graphics for the mud like pictures of mobs and stuff, but that's mainly because of the skills and focus we have.

We can certainly adapt the application interface to allow for something to make the game more playable on small format screens.

What's it like playing on a wifi network?

Vladimir Pouzanov said...

> What's it like playing on a wifi network?

Much like casual playing. You wouldn't notice any difference.

Brian said...

I have played Sloth from a Treo 650, and it's not bad for soloing - when the cell network is reliable. What I do is ssh or telnet to a linux box and use tintin++ for triggers and actions.

Eryl/Ranthan said...

A lot of it, I think, also has to do with the surge in popularity of the game console. Video games have hit big in the last few years, with just about every family having an Xbox, Wii, Playstation, or usually some combination. With all of the visual and aural aspects of video games these days, plain text adventures just can't compete.

Clink said...

Bah! It's not the same playing field. There are hundreds of thousands of people every day playing non-console games on places like Facebook and myspace. They may have some JPG or GIF graphics, but they are just window dressing. These games are addictive in the same way SlothMUD or other muds are and they are just as "low-tech" as text.

Lawrence W. said...

The policy if not revealing anything publicly is fun for some but it pretty much limits the group of people you are trying to reach.

The super successful games are less about figuring it out and more about cooperation. Sad to say but if you want a wide audience you need to dumb it down a bunch.

Not being able to get help on quests and such work against a person who isnt' going to be playing but a few hours at most a week. It also builds and elite environment. That is both good and bad. You can't be all elite and for the masses. They counteract each other.

The tools for tracking where you are in quests and such is also a limiting factor. Google docs should not be required to complete a quest. But it's that or nothing if you want to track the "clues" you get. And a lot of the time that is all the help there is.