Being an administrator
by Jack Thornton
In many players' careers, there comes a time when it feels right to try to
give something back to the community that they have enjoyed for so long.
Depending upon the player’s skills and desires, this giving back takes many
forms. Some players become leaders or builders on the mud -- maintaining
the rules of the game or adding areas to it. Others want to become more
involved with the behind-the-scenes work. These players become coders and
While the idea of running a mud is very exciting, many players
underestimate how different it is from being a player. As a player, your
responsibilities are generally limited to following the rules, interacting
with other players, and trying to improve your character to take on more
As an administrator, your responsibilities are often abstracted from the
game itself. You maintain the machine the mud is running on – or pay
somebody else to do it for you. You continuously work with the coders (if
you are not also the head coder) to track down the bugs that the players
continually report. You check the work of the builders to ensure that the
areas fit in with the mud theme. Finally, you get to listen to players
complain and try to find a way to satisfy them -- especially if somebody
else DID break a rule or exploit a bug.
So, if it takes all that work, why do people start so many muds and
continue them for so long? For many, it is because it is like a child to
them. They create it, watch it grow, and let it take on a life of its own.
It is something they are proud of and they really want to share it with
other people. For others, it is because their mud is an online communities
where people know each other, and the administrator has a respected role in
that community. These are only a couple of the reasons why people operate
muds - your own might be completely different.
If you are contemplating starting a mud, carefully consider what effort you
are willing to expend and what you expect to get for that effort. If you
are expecting a brand new world with a theme nobody else has tried, more
classes and races than you can shake a stick at, no stock areas, over
100,000 unique rooms, and realistic enough AI programs for your mobs that
players are unable to tell if they are interacting with another player or
not – you should be willing to accept the mud as a new full-time job.
If you instead just want a familiar place that you can play with, meet a
few friends in and which does not need to e substantially changed from they
way you get it, the time commitment will certainly be a lot less.
In other words, make certain that you are defining clearly you want the mud
to be. Be realistic. Evaluate your own skills and those of any friends
that are willing to work with you. If you come up immediately with a need
for somebody else to fulfill important roles like head coder or head
builder, please accept that you are not ready to run a mud just yet.
Additionally, if you are looking at establishing a profit making mud, be
forewarned that most muds do not make the owner/administrator any money.
Usually, a mud costs you money, since the machine the mud is on needs to be
maintained and improved as the mud grows and there are the monthly
connection fees to keep the mud online around the clock - or to have it
hosted somewhere that will do that for you. Usual fees for this hosting
service range from (USD) $10 - $30 a month depending on the services
provided by the host. This is not an absolute range since larger muds tend
to pay more to be hosted (but a new mud usually doesn’t need that level of
service), and some people find places that will host their mud for free
(but this is not the usual case).
Once you have determined why you want to run a mud, that you have the
necessary skills and willingness to put in the time required to make the
mud successful, and that you are willing to spend the money necessary, then
you are ready to start working on creating your mud. If you have been
honest in this process, I wish you the best of luck with high hopes for an
enjoyable, long-term experience.
runs a web site with
information on how to deal with being an administrator
for a mud style game.
October 1998 Imaginary Realities, the magazine of your mind.
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