Visibility: Advertising Your MUSH
Back when you started your personal MUSH project, you undoubtedly had a multitude of reasons. One of those reasons (hopefully) was that you thought it would be fun game for others to play. Now that you've finished the building, coding and setup, you are probably ready to get the game underway and attract players who may be interested in the idea you have nurtured from an idea into a reality.
In the days of yore, advertising a game was a simple matter. You put out a post on one of the Usenet newsgroups and perhaps notified the one or two individuals maintaining MUD Lists. However, there are more MUDs in existence than ever before. Availability of server sources for multiple platforms and ease of setup have created an explosion of new games varying highly in quality. So, how do you make your game more visible than Joe's MUSH?
Fortunately, as the number of games increased, so have the number of mechanisms available for advertisement. Usenet is still a fairly popular choice for advertisements. Posts should go to rec.games.mud.announce on regular intervals but should not overly frequent. I'd suggest a post on the average of once every four to eight weeks. More frequent posting may get your game labeled as Spammy and detract from what may be an excellent game.
The next step would be a Web page or pages for your game. Web browsing is a very popular past time for numerous MUDders and is often the first look a potential player will have of your entry in the MUD world. Web pages need not have the latest bells and whistles to attract players. Remember, MUDs are textual and thus, you can expect the potential players to be text oriented to some degree. Informative pages with easy to read layouts and correct grammar are more attractive than jumbled layouts with loads of animated graphics and slow loading java applets. This is not to say that graphics are bad. Carefully selected images can enhance the site when used in moderation.
After establishing the web site, you should add it to the large search engines on the net. Most large search services have an 'Add Url' or 'Suggest Site' link which allows you to send information about your game to the service. Be aware that some search engines can take several weeks before actually indexing your site. Be patient and do not keep entering the url over and over. It will not speed the process up and may get you excluded from the service directory. Use appropriate categories on services which provide topic-oriented listings.
After getting the web site up and running, you may well want to join one or more Rings. Rings are a chain of related sites with links that can move viewers between them. One of the more popular Ring services is WebRing at www.webring.org. Use the directory or search abilities of the site to find rings that share similar ideas with your site. Once again, selecting only a single or perhaps two to three rings is best. Too many rings fill your web site with a large number of links leading to multiple exits from your site. You want them to stop and check out the game, not move off the site quickly.
Another common mechanism on the web are link exchanges, usually in the form of banners. These exchanges are similar to rings except they require a banner for something else on your web site. A large site offering this service is Link Exchange. You may well want to look into this service as well.
Finally (but far from the least important), you should get your game listed with the various MUD Lists that are appropriate for your game. This is one of the few areas where more listings are better than a few. Make sure to enter descriptions of your game where possible. A brief description provides a chance to hook a potential player with more than a game name. Also provide full game addresses, web sites, and contact addresses