Management tips

Submitted by javelin on Sat, 2007-11-03 13:12

Roleplaying and Regulations (Gohs)
There are two issues that I want to address here. First, there is the issue of in character and out of character play. A MUSH may be intended for virtually solely in character play, or it may be intended to supply an out of character medium for players to chat and amuse themselves in. If your intention is for in character play, to prevent problems arising from characters doing things or being places that they normally could not do in character and are claiming immunity because of being out of character, it may be a good idea to set aside an OOC or Out of Character Room where anything happening outside of it is automatically considered "in character".

The second issue arises from the fact that while MUSHs originally were mostly social places, they have slowly over the past few years changed into mostly roleplaying places. Two common ways of dealing with in character plots, or "tinyplots" present two very different ways of running a MUSH. The first is where there is a ruling to the effect that you must obtain someone's permission to involve them in a tinyplot. The second, on the other hand, holds that if you are on the MUSH and if you have created a thematic character, you are there to roleplay, and should log off or go to the OOC Room if you don't wish to roleplay. The first method works adequately if the MUSH is still somewhat social in nature, and also if the MUSH has relatively few coded systems (though this is not a hard and fast rule by any means), but it can run into problems where players who are there to roleplay get frustrated in their attempts to start plots or who are seeking spontaneity. Whichever method you choose to use, be aware that the players will adapt to it. Players used to a social environment will be far more comfortable on a MUSH requiring active permission, but many players will find this tedious, and requiring active permission to involve people in tinyplots will dampen the number and inter-relatedness of roleplayed plots on the MUSH.

Rule Enforcement (Talek)
There are two main styles to rule enforcement: you can make it impossible (well, difficult) to break the rules, or you can ask everybody to play fair and then punish the people who don't.

Making it impossible to break the rules also comes in two flavors: not having any rules to break, and having lots of code built to try to keep people in line. The former leads to a rather unpredictable environment (pure anarchy comes to mind), and the latter tends to attract code breakers who will find all of the security glitches in the system. I find neither of these options attractive.

Asking people to play fair is far from a perfect solution; inevitably, some people don't, and dealing with such people can be discouraging and annoying. However, most players will be cooperative, and I think the resulting community atmosphere is well worth the occasional setbacks.

Advertising (Kyieren)
We all know what it's like. You're trying to start up a MUSH/MUD/MUX/MU* and you need help coding, building, and what-not to get started. You do some advertising, and a few people trickle in, and they see no activity so they log out. And if everyone who comes immediately logs out, nobody will ever stick around to help do anything. It's a vicious cycle. Or you get the occasional twink that wants a bit, then starts to slack off or steal all your precious code. Alas.

This post is intended to give all your poor gods a little help. I'm logging on to see an increasing number of poorly put together posts, and needless to say, they're not getting much in the way of help.

1. ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE.
Too many times people download from their MU* flavor of choice, compile it, @pcreate themselves a wizard character, and go off half-cocked with advertising. That is bad(tm). What you need to do is concentrate on your own game. Compile in any space systems or code packages, set up a main grid of rooms with descriptions, set a theme, decide on a few ground rules, etc. If you're already firmly established, make sure your current place isn't sitting idle and makes a good impression on the visitors. Either way, make sure you have your sh*t together before you run around telling people how great your game is.
2. THINK ABOUT IT.
Take the time to sit down and think about what it is you want to say. Things you definitely want to have are the theme of the game (and I mean more than a ten word sentence with a dramatic '...' at the end of it), the current state of the game (including MU* flavor and version), your plans for the game, what you need done, what kind of people you need, what the benefits to your potential staffers would be (I'm not advocating giving out WIZ like candy, not does EVERY builder/coder necessarily need to become staff, but you'll be hard-pressed to find someone who works for nothing), and of course, your addy and port. If need be, write it down, then post it. Just be sure the post is clear, organized, and concise, but lengthy enough to get your point across. Don't fill it with a lot of details about how your Greek immigrant mother worked her fingers to the bone to get you your first computer and how you opened a MUSH with it, but you do need to provide a good explanation of what you need done at the moment.
3. REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE SELLING YOURSELF.
Show that your game is worthy of people's time, and that you are a person of intelligence with more than the ability to compile and @set flags on people. This may be hard to do with new games, but assure people that you aren't going to crack the whip on your coders for three months, then have the game mysteriously disappear without a trace. It's happened to me more than once, and people do NOT enjoy having their time wasted. Make sure you come across as a game that will be fun, and try not to step on the toes of other MU*s in the same genre while doing so. That's just tacky.
4. SPELLENG, CapItaLizAtion, AND GRAMMAR BE COUNTING FOR A LOT.
It doesn't take long to proofread your post, and if you have a hard time with the language of the game you're advertising on, get a native speaker to check it for you. Nothing should go on the board looking like it came from a fifth grader. Glaring errors like those can turn people off from a game REAL quick, and also detracts from the reader's view of the poster's intelligence. You'd be surprised how a smal error or too looks to a reader. And habitual typographical errors are not an excuse. You're advertising your GAME, go out of your way to make your place look good. USE PARAGRAPHS!
5. AND LAST, BUT NOT LEAST, BE TASTEFUL.
It is in bad style to go to another person's game and get on their channels and advertise your MU*. It is also in bad style to page their players with job offers. Anyone who has tried this has seen the often unpleasant results, ranging from the game god personally shooing you off to a @sitelock. If you're unsure of a game's advertising rules, ask on a channel or page an admin, they likely won't throw you off the game or anything and point you in the right direction. Most places have either an advertising room to drop objects in or a +bb, like the one here, for posting. Make sure you don't post your message or advertisement too much either. 2 weeks apart is a bit frequent (but not overly so IMHO), but most +bb's time out within a month, so you may want to shoot for that goal instead.

In conclusion, it doesn't have to be a hassle to advertise your game. And don't limit yourself to MU*s within your particular theme, because many people have several genres they're interested in and a genuine willingness to help. You can also explore the web avenue, but I'd save that for AFTER the game is open to avoid turning off people who may be interested when you're still in the building stages. And keep in mind, every game is not going to have a playerbase like Elendor, FurryMUCK, or ATS. Those places have been building those playerbases for years, and it's NOT going to happen overnight, no matter how much advertising you do. The best thing you can do is concentrate on getting your MUSH as good as it can be so visitors who drop in are turned on immediately. One more thing. Don't be abusive to your staffers and visitors. You'd be surprised what word-of-mouth can do.