OC Should MUDs evolve to attract new players, or stick to their past to keep the current ones?

I have played Armageddon MUD for over a decade and have noticed a rising sentiment within the community that can only be described as reactionary. Whenever a change to the game is proposed, a change that would in theory address the game's balancing issues or make the game more fair for newer players, a group of old players rise up to not only pooh-pooh the idea but sometimes even suggest a change in the opposite direction.

For example, Armageddon rolls stats randomly, within a range for each stat, dependent on your character's race and class. For a roleplaying-focused game, it's easy to imagine why completely random rolls are inconvenient: they throw a curveball at the player and prevent them from making the character they actually want to make. But when a point-buy system is suggested, the old guard rises up to explain how the game is "intentionally unbalanced" and that it's always been the case that some characters are simply superior to others.

A tweak to the system - say, to ensure all stats add up at least to a certain number - would be minor, mostly keep the current system in place, but even something like that is disagreeable to those who never want their game to change. Even as the game measurably loses a dozen players a year permanently, every year for the past 7 years, there is never a single thought spared to the possibility that perhaps the game is losing players because it is designed poorly.

This is to say nothing about the aggressive culture of the game itself, something which proponents of new player recruitment want to reign in so they can try to build a more story-focused game, whereas old vets want to keep the game as basically a PvP arena with some roleplaying features. It feels like older games in particular suffer from a lack of clear direction on what their game should be.

How has your game handled the winds of change? Does it adapt to grow, or does it primarily exist to entertain the players that have stuck it out?

Andruid,

Interesting question! Where do you think the game's staff sit in all this? Ultimately, they're the ones with the power to introduce change if they see value in it.

Are they letting the old guard speak up on their behalf, or do you think they're actually open to change if there's a strong desire for it?

Change can be really hard for some games. REALLY hard. The situation you've described - I've seen it play out many times across various MUDs over the years, and it's never an easy thing to watch.

When players advocate for change, it means they love the game enough to fight for things they think will make the game even better. But admins have a right to run their games according to their own vision/principles and often do so at the expense of their own time and resources. At the end of the day, there's only so much you can do to try and change their minds.

My advice to anyone in that situation is this: if you find yourself feeling frustrated more often than having fun, it's time to find a new game to call home. No game is worth the stress, IMO - no matter how well-established or how long you've been playing there.

Some suggested reading related to this topic:

None of these will solve the problem, but they contain some food for thought for folks who stumble across this post. :)

I also recently did an interview with Opie, and he has some thoughtful things to say about game development and community management. Worth a read for anyone who's considering starting their own game.

Good luck!

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