ACHIEVERS V. EXPLORERS
Achievers tend to regard explorers as losers: people who have had to resort to tinkering
with the game mechanics because they can't cut it as a player. Exceptionally good
explorers may be elevated to the level of eccentric, in much the same way that certain
individuals come to be regarded as gurus by users of large computer installations: what
they do is pointless, but they're useful to have around when you need to know something
obscure, fast. They can be irritating, and they rarely tell the whole truth (perhaps
because they don't know it?), but they do have a place in the world.
The overall number of explorers has only a marginal effect on the population of
achievers. In essence, more explorers will mean that fewer of the really powerful objects
will be around around for the achievers to use, the explorers having used their arcane
skills to obtain them first so as to use them in their diabolical experiments... This can
cause achievers to become frustrated, and leave. More importantly, perhaps, the
number of explorers affects the *rate of advancement* of achievers, because it
determines whether or not they have to work out all those tiresome puzzles themselves.
Thus, more explorers will lead to a quicker rise through the ranks for achievers, which
will tend to encourage them (if not overdone).
ACHIEVERS V. SOCIALIZERS
Achievers merely tolerate socialisers. Although they are good sources of general
hearsay on the comings and goings of competitors, they're nevertheless pretty much a
waste of space as far as achievers are concerned. Typically, achievers will regard
socialisers with a mixture of contempt, disdain, irritation and pity, and will speak to them
in either a sharp or patronizing manner. Occasionally, flame wars between different
cliques of socialisers and achievers may break out, and these can be among the worst
to stop: the achievers don't want to lose the argument, and the socialisers don't want to
Changing the number of socialisers in a MUD has no effect on the number of achievers.
ACHIEVERS V. KILLERS
Achievers don't particularly like killers. They realize that killers as a concept are
necessary in order to make achievement meaningful and worthwhile (there being no
way to "lose" the game if any fool can "win" just by plodding slowly unchallenged),
however they don't pesonally like being attacked unless it's obvious from the outset that
they'll win. They also object to being interrupted in the middle of some grand scheme to
accumulate points, and they don't like having to arm themselves against surprise
attacks every time they start to play. Achievers will, occasionally, resort to killing tactics
themselves, in order to cause trouble for a rival or to reap whatever rewards the game
itself offers for success, however the risks are usually too high for them to pursue such
options very often.
Increasing the number of killers will reduce the number of achievers; reducing the killer
population will increase the achiever population. Note, however, that those general
MUDs which nevertheless allow player-killing tend to do so in the belief that in small
measure it is good for the game: it promotes camaraderie, excitement and intensity of
experience (and it's the only method that players will accept to ensure that complete
idiots don't plod inexorably through the ranks to acquire a degree of power which they
aren't really qualified to wield). As a consequence, reducing the number of killers *too*
much will be perceived as cheapening the game, making high achievement
commonplace, and it will put off those achievers who are alarmed at the way any fool
can "do well" just by playing poorly for long enough.
EXPLORERS V. ACHIEVERS
Explorers look on achievers as nascent explorers, who haven't yet figured out that
there's more to life than pursuing meaningless goals. They are therefore willing to furnish
them with information, although, like all experts, they will rarely tell the full story when they
can legitimately give cryptic clues instead. Apart from the fact that they sometimes get in
the way, and won't usually hand over objects that are needed for experiments, achievers
can live alongside explorers without much friction.
Explorers' numbers aren't affected by the presence of achievers.
EXPLORERS V. EXPLORERS
Explorers hold good explorers in great respect, but are merciless to bad ones. One of
the worst things a fellow explorer can do is to give out incorrect information, believing it
to be true. Other than that, explorers thrive on telling one another their latest discoveries,
and generally get along very well. Outwardly, they will usually claim to have the skill
necessary to follow the achievement path to glory, but have other reasons for not doing
so (e.g. time, tedium, or having proven themselves already with a different persona).
There are often suspicions, though, that explorers are too theoretical in most cases, and
wouldn't be able to put their ideas into practice on a day-to-day basis if they were to
recast themselves in the achiever or killer mould.
Explorers enjoy the company of other explorers, and they will play more often if they
have people around them to whom they can relate. Unfortunately, not many people have
the type of personality which finds single-minded exploring a riveting subject, so
numbers are notoriously difficult to increase. If you have explorers in a game, hold on to
EXPLORERS V. SOCIALISERS
Explorers consider socialisers to be people whom they can impress, but who are
otherwise pretty well unimportant. Unless they can appreciate the explorer's talents,
they're not really worth spending time with. There *are* some explorers who treat
conversation as their specialist explorer subject, but these are very rare indeed; most
will be polite and attentive, but they'll find some diversion if the conversation isn't
MUD-related or if their fellow interlocutor is clearly way below them in the
The explorer population is not directly affected by the size of the socialisers population.
EXPLORERS V. KILLERS
Explorers often have a grudging respect for killers, but they do find their behavior
wearisome. It's just *so* annoying to be close to finishing setting up something when a
killer comes along and attacks you. On the other hand, many killers do know their trade
well, and are quite prepared to discuss the finer details of it with explorers. Sometimes,
an explorer may try attacking other players as an exercise, and they can be extremely
effective at it. Explorers who are particularly riled by a killer may even decide to "do
something about it" themselves. If they make such a decision, then it can be seriously
bad news for the killer concerned: being jumped and trashed by a low-level (in terms of
game rank) explorer can have a devastating effect on a killer's reputation, and turn them
into a laughing stock overnight. Explorers do not, however, tend to have the venom or
malice that true killers possess, nor will they continue the practice to the extent that they
acquire a reputation of their own for killing.
The affect of killers on the explorer population is fairly muted, because most explorers
don't particularly care if they get killed (or at least they profess not not). However, if it
happens too often then they will become disgruntled, and play less frequently.
SOCIALISERS V. ACHIEVERS
Socialisers like achievers, because they provide the running soap opera about which
the socialisers can converse. Without such a framework, there is no uniting cause to
bring socialisers together (at least not initially). Note that socialisers don't particularly
enjoy talking *to* achievers (not unless they can get them to open up, which is very
difficult); they do, however, enjoy talking *about* them. A cynic might suggest that the
relationship between socialisers and achievers is similar to that between women and
Increasing the achiever/socialiser ratio has only a subtle effect: socialisers may come to
feel that the MUD is "all about" scoring points and killing mobiles, and some of them
may therefore leave before matters "get worse". Decreasing it has little effect unless the
number of active achievers drops to near zero, in which case new socialisers might find
it difficult to break into established conversational groups, and thus decide to take their
Note: although earlier it was stated that this paper does not address people who play
MUDs for meta-reasons, eg. to learn how to program, I believe that their empirical
behavior with regard to the actions of other players is sufficiently similar to that of
socialisers for the two groups to be safely bundled together when considering
SOCIALISERS V. EXPLORERS
Socialisers generally consider explorers to be sad characters who are desperately in
need of a life. Both groups like to talk, but rarely about the same things, and if they do
get together it's usually because the explorer wants to sound erudite and the socialiser
has nothing better to do at the time.
The number of explorers in a MUD has no effect on the number of socialisers.
SOCIALISERS V. SOCIALISERS
A case of positive feedback: socialisers can talk to one another on any subject for hours
on end, and come back later for more. The key factor is whether there is an open topic
of conversation: in a game-like environment, the MUD itself provides the context for
discussion, whether it be the goings-on of other players or the feeble attempts of a
socialiser to try playing it; in a non-game environment, some other subject is usually
required to structure conversations, either within the software of the MUD itself (e.g.
building) or without it (e.g. "This is a support MUD for the victims of cancer"). Note that
this kind of subject-setting is only required as a form of ice-breaker: once socialisers
have acquired friends, they'll invariably find other things that they can talk about.
The more socialisers there are in a game, the more new ones will be attracted to it.
SOCIALISERS V. KILLERS
This is perhaps the most fractious relationship between player group types. The hatred
that some socialisers bear for killers admits no bounds. Partly, this is the killers' own
fault: they go out of their way to rid MUDs of namby-pamby socialisers who wouldn't
know a weapon if one came up and hit them (an activity that killers are only too happy to
demonstrate), and they will generally hassle socialisers at every opportunity simply
because it's so easy to get them annoyed. However, the main reason that socialisers
tend to despise killers is that they have completely antisocial motives, whereas
socialisers have (or like to think they have) a much more friendly and helpful attitude to
life. The fact that many socialisers take attacks on their personae personally only
compounds their distaste for killers.
It could be argued that killers do have a positive role to play from the point of view of
socialisers. There are generally two defenses made for their existence: 1) without
killers, socialisers would have little to talk about; 2) without evil as a contrast, there is no
good. The former is patently untrue, as socialisers will happily talk about anything and
everything; it may be that it helps provide a catalyst for long conversations, but only if it
isn't an everyday occurrence. The second argument is more difficult to defend against
(being roughly equivalent to the reason why God allows the devil to exist), however it
presupposes that those who attack other players are the only example of nasty people
in a MUD. In fact, there is plenty of opportunity for players of all persuasions to behave
obnoxiously to one another; killers merely do it more openly, and (if allowed) in the
context of the game world.
Increasing the number of killers will decrease the number of socialisers by a much
greater degree. Decreasing the number of killers will likewise greatly encourage (or,
rather, fail to discourage) socialisers to play the MUD.
KILLERS V. ACHIEVERS
Killers regard achievers as their natural prey. Achievers are good fighters (because
they've learned the necessary skills against mobiles), but they're not quite as good as
killers, who are more specialized. This gives the "thrill of the chase" which many killers
enjoy - an achiever may actually be able to escape, but will usually succumb at some
stage, assuming they don't see sense and quit first. Achievers also dislike being
attacked, which makes the experience of attacking them all the more fun; furthermore, it
is unlikely that they will stop playing after being set back by a killer, and thus they can be
"fed upon" again, later. The main disadvantage of pursuing achievers, however, is that
an achiever can get so incensed at being attacked that they decide to take revenge. A
killer may thus innocently enter a game only to find a heavily-armed achiever lying in
wait, which rather puts the boot on the other foot...
Note that there is a certain sub-class of killers, generally run by wiz-level players, who
have a more ethical point to their actions. In particular, their aim is to "test" players for
their "suitability" to advance to the higher levels themselves. In general, such personae
should not be regarded as falling into the killer category, although in some instances the
ethical aspect is merely an excuse to indulge in killing sprees without fear of sanction.
Rather, these killers tend to be run by people in either the achievement category
(protecting their own investment) or the explorer category (trying to teach their victims
how to defend themselves against *real* killers).
Increasing the number of achievers will, over time, increase the number of killers in a
typically Malthusian fashion.
KILLERS V. EXPLORERS
Killers tend to leave explorers alone. Not only can explorers be formidable fighters (with
many obscure, unexpected tactics at their disposal), but they often don't fret about being
attacked - a fact which is very frustrating for killers. Sometimes, particularly annoying
explorers will simply ignore a killer's attack, and make no attempt whatsoever to defend
against it; this is the ultimate in cruelty to killers. For more long-term effects, though, a
killer's being beaten by an explorer has more impact on the game: the killer will feel
shame, their reputation will suffer, and the explorer will pass on survival tactics to
everyone else. In general, then, killers will steer well clear of even half-decent explorers,
except when they have emptied a game of everyone else and are so desperate for a fix
that even an explorer looks tempting...
Increasing the number of explorers will slightly decrease the number of killers.
KILLERS V. SOCIALISERS
Killers regard socialisers with undisguised glee. It's not that socialisers are in any way a
challenge, as usually they will be pushovers in combat; rather, socialisers feel a dreadful
hurt when attacked (especially if it results in the loss of their persona), and it is this which
killers enjoy about it. Besides, killers tend to like to have a bad reputation, and if there's
one way to get people to talk about you, it's to attack a prominent socialiser...
Increasing the number of socialisers will increase the number of killers, although of
course the number of socialisers wouldn't remain increased for very long if that
KILLERS V. KILLERS
Killers try not to cross the paths of other killers, except in pre-organized challenge
matches. Part of the psychology of killers seems to be that they wish to be viewed as
somehow superior to other players; being killed by a killer in open play would undermine
their reputation, and therefore they avoid risking it (compare Killers v Explorers). This
means that nascent or wannabe killers are often put off their chosen particular career
path because they themselves are attacked by more experienced killers and soundly
thrashed. For this reason, it can take a very long time to increase the killer population in
a MUD, even if all the conditions are right for them to thrive; killer numbers rise
grindingly slowly, unless competent killers are imported from another MUD to swell the
Killers will occasionally work in teams, but only as a short-term exercise; they will usually
revert to stalking their victims solo in the next session they play.
There are two cases where killers might be attacked by players who, superficially, look
like other killers. One of these is the "killer killer", usually run by wiz-level players, which
has been discussed earlier. The other is in the true hack-and-slash type of MUD, where
the whole aim of the game is to kill other personae, and no-one particularly minds being
killed because they weren't expecting to last very long anyway. This type of play does
not appeal to "real" killers, because it doesn't cause people emotional distress when
their personae are deleted (indeed, socialisers prefer it more than killers do). However,
it's better than nothing.
The only effect that killers have on other killers is in reducing the number of potential
victims available. This, in theory, should keep the number of killers down, however in
practice killers will simply attack less attractive victims instead. It takes a very drastic
reduction in the number of players before established killers will decide to stop playing a
MUD and move elsewhere, by which time it is usually too late to save the MUD