MUD Newbiehood: A How-To Guide
By Seth R. Cooke
Newbiehood is a difficult time, especially for "true newbies," or those who have never played a MUD before. Even to an experienced player, a new text game can often be confusing or disorienting. Everything from choosing a name to developing your character is important, as this guide will assume that the text game of choice is a roleplay-friendly one.
Choosing a name is the first important step to creating a new character in a text game. It is the first impression that anyone will have of your character, and it can make a lasting impact. For this reason, choosing a serious name is preferred. Try to avoid the pitfall of naming your character after a common object, as few will want to interact with someone named Computer.
Baby naming sites are excellent resources, as you can browse names and actually see what they mean. Seth, for instance, means "The Anointed One". In this way, you may give the nature of your character a subtle nod, or the name could be chosen simply because you like it.
Another common mistake is to name your text game character after some pop fiction icon, such as Sonic or Crash. This is annoying on many levels, as it will both break immersion (reminding people of the outside world) and suggest something about your character (Sonic should move quick, Crash should like eating fruit). In a MUD, it is much better to pick a name that actually sounds like a name or to create one of your own.
Once your name is selected, a tutorial of some sort will follow. This is perhaps the most important part of being a newbie. Even though some tutorials may seem dull or boring, they teach the basic aspects of the MUD. If the tutorial is well-written, it will teach you skills that you will need to use repeatedly in order to play the text game well. Paying close attention is important, and keeping a notepad by your computer to write down key commands is helpful, as a lot of information must be absorbed quickly. Having worked with many new text gamers, few things are more frustrating than being asked how to do things that they should have learned in the tutorial (that is not to say that you should not ask questions - it is important to ask questions when you have them, no matter how silly or inane they seem).
Most MUDs also have some sort of organization that you can join upon completing the tutorial that will allow you to meet other players. If you are new, join one! It will provide you with a wealth of knowledge that a rogue player would not have access to, and it can be a huge help in getting used to the MUD. Usually it is helpful to pick out someone who is active when you are and doesn't mind answering questions, then talk to them whenever something comes up.
The final trick to absorbing all that a text game has to offer is to get involved! If you quietly do your own thing and only speak up when you have a question, it's easy for others to forget about you. Try to make friends with both older players and newer players alike. Friends make the game more engaging - someone to adventure or hunt with can make it much less boring, and it helps to have someone to talk to should you need advice.
There are multiple ways to get involved, though the most effective way will depend on the specific group. Be it helping other newbies, offering to adventure or hunt with people around your relative might or skill, participating in contests or games, or just speaking to others in your group, involvement is the best way to be absorbed into the text game community.
Being a new player is the most important part of any text game - it determines your future play style (or if you play again at all!) and provides other players with a first impression of you. Because of this, choosing a proper name is important! Likewise, you should try to pick up as much as possible in the tutorial so you can go straight to interacting with other players. Beyond this, interacting with the text game community is the most important part of newbiehood. Getting out and getting involved is the best way to have fun with a game, and perhaps the most important for a new player. By following these simple tips, you can ensure your newbie experience is significantly less stressful and, hopefully, infinitely more enjoyable.
If you feel inspired to take on the challenge of newbiehood yourself after reading this article, check out these MUDs.
Seth R. Cooke is a text game enthusiast and currently plays games from http://www.IronRealms.com.
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