The Model Economy
Letters to the editor
- Scatter ///\oo/\\\
- Selina Kelley
Applying a MUDpack
- Chris Caines
Who's Who? A look at Character Sharing
The Lessons of Lucasfilm's Habitat
- Chip Morningstar and F. Randall Farmer
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by Selina Kelley
Reviewing muds is not fun. Ok, I'm lying, it is fun, but it depends on the
Mud. I've had my share of crappy and not-so-crappy Muds, and have had myself
placed between the proverbial (and uncomfortable) rock and a hard place. It's
difficult to write a review about a Mud when the only reaction you have is
Always handy when reviewing a mud.
I'm normally a blunt person, but the ramifications of a bad review are always
first and foremost in my mind. Not only do I have to take into account
whether the bad part of the Mud is because of my personal taste, or because
it's just bad, but I also have to think about what happens when I give
an "official" negative review. If I'm mistaken in an assessment, not only is
it difficult to retract, but as well as damaging the Mud it also damages my
reputation as a reviewer.
I must admit I've received some pretty nasty emails and, surprisingly, it's
not normally from the Administrators of the Mud I've reviewed. Rather, I've
had the pleasure of reading some pretty vicious attacks from a Mud's players,
and even its disgruntled ex-players. The latest experience that comes to mind
is when I submitted a review for XMud (name of Mud withheld), and received a
lovely hotmail email from a disgruntled ex-player, cussing at me because I
gave the Mud a favorable review (fancy that!).
So, I find my ethos tends more toward carry a big stick. Heat in the
kitchen is an understatement in some cases, so you have to learn to roll with
the flow (or flame, for that matter). If nothing else, be extremely
thick-skinned and don't lie. Some people cannot understand constructive
criticism, and any negative aspect of their Mud you point out will be seen as
a direct attack, but regardless of their reaction, you should never fudge the
truth to soften the blow.
Calling it as you see it has its drawbacks, but it has a good side too. I've
received grateful emails from wizards and/or administrator letting me know that what I
had discussed in my review meant something to them. One such mud changed most
of the negative aspects I mentioned in my review almost immediately, mailing
me an update in less than a week. It's always good to know that what you've
written about a mud has not been taken in the wrong light, and even further,
the staff were willing to do something about the negative parts as quickly as
Like I said, I'm normally a blunt person, but I'm also aware that the average
administrator of a mud has probably spent the greater part of the last couple years
working on what I just logged into. To summarily dismiss the mud as "bad"
because it does not meet my taste would be unfair, but sometimes it can be
very difficult to give an unbiased view. As an example, lets take the
infamous Xmud again. I read most mud boards and newsgroups, and in the past
the mud in question had been a hot topic of (generally negative) debate.
Whilst I tried to walk into the review process with an unbiased look, the
thoughts of 20-30 other people was always in the back of my mind. The final
review? Positive, but it was a difficult decision to make. I could see hints
of what people had been talking about on the boards and groups, but without
the proof of directly experiencing it, I could not in clear conscience condemn
the mud for that alone. As far as my other criteria went, they met it, and
that's what I based the review on.
I've received both good and bad feedback for the reviews I've written, and
even some hefty flames. I've also received requests to return to the mud and
check up on it, and I accept such requests with pleasure. To be a good
reviewer you have to learn the difficult task of evaluating a mud solely on
the experiences you gain while on there.
You can't rely on another person's opinion, and that's not what I'm asking you
to do when you read my reviews. Instead, a review is meant as a hopefully
unbiased guideline on how a particular mud runs, plays and walks(!).
Regardless of how I may or may not be burned by it, I consider it an
accomplishment when I complete a review as honestly as possible. As corny as
it sounds, if I let myself be swayed because of nasty, or even super-nice
brown-nosing emails, then I would not be doing the mud community justice.
So, flame away disgruntled administrator, players, ex-players, uncles, aunts and dogs
next door. My sugarcoated magic shell will just bounce your flames away.
September 1999 Imaginary Realities, the magazine of your mind.
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