[MUD-Dev] Addressing newbies

adam at treyarch.com adam at treyarch.com
Fri May 19 11:07:39 CEST 2000

On Tue, 16 May 2000, Chris Lloyd wrote:
> > Adam Wiggins wrote:
> > I think my favorite feature was that it steered you towards newbie areas.
> > That is, when you came to a crossroads, it would say "The forest
> > to the west is dangerous, I wouldn't go there until you are stronger" or
> > "There's a village to the east, we can buy supplies there" etc.
> I would never put a dangerous area so accessible to newbies,

In that case you've never watched a newbie to see just how far they can get.
Either you restrict the newbies unnecessarily (not letting them enter
areas flagged as "dangerous", or forcing them to stay in a newbie area), or
you face the chanec that one of them will find their way into a dangerous
area.  (Remember, just about *everything* on a typical HnS mud is dangerous
for a brand new player.)

> although I
> quite agree with Warren Powell's idea of having aggressive monsters leave
> newbies alone.

Potential for abuse is high.  Large group of high-level characters die on
really tough NPC in the midst of a dangerous area.  Rather than retrieving
their equipment "the hard way", they create a few newbies and run through the
area unmolested.

Even if you don't have the need for "corpse retrieval" on your mud (I don't),
I would imagine that players would take to exploring new zones with a
newbie character - something people do anyways, but especially if they
are immune to its dangers.

> A forest itself might not be too bad, perhaps filled with
> rabbits and birds, but the nest of spiders at the centre (which might have
> one or at most two entrances) is more obviously dangerous, and can be easily
> avoided.

What is "obvious"?  I have a slaver ship off one of the docks which has
numerous foreboding room descriptions, making it very clear that you should
not proceed unless you know what you're doing.  Even once on the ship itself,
it's still quite possible to retreat back to safety, seeing what dangers

Even so, (relative) newbies get captured by the slavers ALL the time.  I
rather like this effect (it gives a chance for player interaction as a mid-rank
character can rush to the newbies' rescue), but you see my point.

Other muds I have played had newbies lost or killed in areas that were
hundreds of steps away from the start area.  In some cases they had (through
blind "luck") wandered deep into aggressive teritory.

In fact - I did this, myself, on my first mud.  More than once.  I ignored
room descriptions, signs saying "DANGER, KEEP OUT!" and more.  I suppose it's
the old "Do Not Push This Button" syndrome.  If you tell the player not to
do something, they are going to be curious...

> I would say that this sounds a little artificial. Without wanted to bring up
> an old topic (Fair/Unfair Scenarios - Nov/Dec 1999), I do not think that
> dangers should be pointed out so blatantly. IMHO, a newbie should be given
> the following to start with, and then left to him/herself:

As I am coming to appreciate more and more, newbies NEED things to be blatant.
Even if they are experienced mudders.  The overload of data when they come
into the world, coupled with the desire to "get to the action", means that
they will most certainly ignore any "subtle" clues, and even most of your
blatant ones.

> A map of the world - This is important, and can either be on a website or in
> inside the game itself. It allows the young player to get at least a vague
> idea of where he is. ("Hm... I am looking for South Sunny Town, where I know
> the Mercenaries Guild is. I appear to be in the middle of the desert. Guess
> I'll head south and then see where I am then.")

I agree, but most newbies don't have the patience to figure out where they
are on a map.  Although giving them maps are important, expecting them to
"figure out" anything from the map is damn unlikely.  Yes, if they stick
around, they will *eventually* have the desire and the means to navigate
according to a map and use other indirect clues to "figure out" things about
the world.  As newbies, forget it.

> A recall ability - I think all muds should have one, at least for newbies.
> Unless your game consists of only one centrally positioned and VERY easy to
> find city, newbies will get lost. Taking the recall ability away after
> newbies have gained some experience sounds fair to me, but all young
> characters will lose interest if they take a wrong turning and end up in the
> middle of an ocean with no idea how to get home.

*nod*  A panic button.  As much as this brings me back bad memories of
silly ROMs, I probably need to implement something like this (for newbies

> Give them lots of small areas with different
> things to kill, each designed to introduce the newbie to bashing. If one of
> your popular bashing areas for players is a nest full of poisonous spiders,
> give newbies an area with small, poisonous snakes. Put an old man in giving
> away free poison cures, so newbies learn when they are poisoned and how to
> get rid of it.

*nod*  See my post about the Temple of Orcus, on Arctic MUD.

There's no reason that newbies should get stuck with the "boring" areas.


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