One conversation that I seem to have regularly enough to be noteworthy is summed up in the question “how do we attract people to the Realms of Despair?”, and to be fair, it’s a good question to be asking.
Certainly doing things like voting on TopMuds for the Realms helps to promote the game to people who are already interested in muds. It strikes me though, that many of these users already have their favorite game and may shop around a little but barring some falling out, probably won’t switch. I justify this by saying that I have tried maybe 2 other muds over the years and never stuck around long, I always come back to Realms.
I think that the java client on the website is a great way to open the door for more users to join. I would like to work at expanding the capabilities of this client, I saw a web based client last week that strongly resembled some of the Mushclient GUI plugins that are officially supported by Realms and was really impressed by how well it worked. There’s obviously a lot missing too, triggers and automapping most notably, but it was a good thought.
Ultimately though I think back to how I started. I am a technically oriented person who enjoys role playing adventure games. I was weaned on the Commodore 64 SSI Dungeons and Dragons games like Pool of Radiance or Champions of Krynn before exploding into things like the Might and Magic games and spin offs or into things like Diablo. I did not find the Realms of Despair, they were introduced to me by Daltorak who had been playing for some time. In turn I found Darrek playing, having migrated from BBSing (both Darrek and I ran systems in Hamilton, Ontario … Weasel’s Domain and Aces High respectively).
So plain, simple, word of mouth advertising.
When I arrived in the Realms I was impressed with the amount of helpful players around, willing to help me out. Newbie Councillors, Immortals and many others helped me through the first few levels until I joined up with the Guild of Rangers where I stayed and learned a lot about the game. Since the guild was tuned to my class I never felt I had to have a second character (right away) to continue learning the game. Eventually I did level more characters to be more efficient or to reach even further, but it was the guild runs that got me hooked and made me want to level more characters.
I hope the new guild reformation will help a new generation of Realms players have the same experience.
Given the success of the Lord of the Rings movies I would suggest that this genre has a wide ranging appeal. Technological savvy has never been higher, in general, so long as the approach is straight forward. I don’t even think that the text based nature is unappealing if we can make use of the technology at our disposal to present it in an appealing manner like the HUD style web interface I mentioned.
These things fail if we don’t continue to work on making the Realms a friendly space for all. Join Newbie Council, answer questions on chat, trans a recall scroll … sure these are obvious. Less obvious things like writing an article for the Cry, setting up a Realms fan page and posting some run notes or sharing your thoughts also go a long way towards showing a vibrant, active community worth joining.