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Throughout my mudding experience I've seen muds come and go and never the twain shall meet, so to speak. What I've found to be consistent on almost all muds, is the aim to become bigger, better, and of course have more players, than any other mud. But how far will most administrators go?
As the saying goes, any publicity is good publicity. In regards to muds, most administrators hold to this ethos- that anything that gets your mud name recognized in the mudding community can do nothing but help the growth of a mud. Personally, I don't think this is true.
What I've found is that when administrators or disgruntled players make their presence known in the mudding community, basically airing their dirty laundry in public, there are far more cries of "I would never visit your mud", than of "Maybe I'll check your mud out.". Obviously there would probably be the day or two of interested log-ins, but ultimately the player base would not dramatically grow through that kind of publicity.
In the same vein, I've not yet seen positive publicity bring great success to a mud. It seems that name recognition is not the predominant factor in getting a mud "played". Rather, it's more word-of-mouth through friends that encourages growth in a mud.
Take a mud I shall call X. X mud started small, with small high quality areas, a small amount of classes, a small amount of spells, and pretty much built the mud from the ground up (no stock!). X mud started with a handful of immortals, and no players. Over the months, friends of the immortals would log in and play. More months passed, and friends of the friends of the immortals began to log in and play. Consequently, the player base now consists of people who, directly or indirectly, all know each other in some way.
Personally, I prefer a word-of-mouth mud over a mud that has been publicized to death. I prefer knowing almost every player in the "who" listing, and being able to spot the "true" newbie from the "old" newbie so I can help them out. I prefer a family atmosphere, and I guess as such, I tend to stick more toward the muds that reflect that atmosphere. In the mud I administrate, I prefer gaining players through word-of-mouth than advertising for them.
Sure, my mud isn't as big as some I've seen, but I know from talking to fellow administrators that I probably enjoy myself more on my mud than they do on theirs. I don't know whether that's due to the quality of player, or just different personalities. I don't consider that the success of a mud lies in the amount of players online at any given time, I consider it being how much they are enjoying the mud at any given time.
I've considered making animated GIFs and paying for the advertisement space, but what's held me off until now is the caution I use in what kind of player I wish to gain. I try to keep out of the limelight insomuch as bulletin boards and newsgroups go, as I've seen the inundation of advertisements on those, and known that out of every 20 posted, there are few that actually gain players from the post.
Promoting growth is a good thing, but to have a mud grow and succeed, it is more the strength of impressing the players you have so they will tell others, than constantly publicizing the mud on bulletin boards and newsgroups. Sure, people will soon enough know and recognize your mud, but without the backbone of good areas, good staff, and good players, a mud that receives only self-touted or negative publicity will never really gain the player base it strives for.
December 1999 Imaginary Realities, the magazine of your mind.
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