[MUD-Dev] New Topic: Butthead features

Martin Keegan martin at cam.sri.com
Thu Aug 14 03:52:45 New Zealand Standard Time 1997


On Sat, 2 Aug 1997, Jeff Kesselman wrote:

#include <std/spellingflame.h>

> There is a philisophpical/practical issue in the inclusion in your MUD of
> "butthead" features. What I mean b ythsi are features that allow a pure
> butthead to annoy (or worse seriously harm) other players jsut for the
> cheap pwoer tip of doign so.  We all knwo thes eperosnalities exist on tegh
> ent SO...
> 
> How do you control them?

The question is whether you want to, and this goes to the core of the
social setup of the game. To come down hard on buttheads, you have to take
away the ability of players to affect each other's existences, limiting
the amount of unconsensual interaction possible.

This is almost a political issue. In its most annoying incarnation, this
issue encourages people to attempt to apply real world political
principles to virtual worlds, with bizarre results.
 
> Do you just avoid features that could be so abused, or do you count on
> oither mechanisms to keep thsi behavior in chack and if so what agurantees
> do you have of success?
 
> (1) PC pickpocketing of other PCs... always upsets people.
> (2) Fixed tport points so that oterh can lay in wait and way-leigh
> unsuspecting traverls befoe they can see whats up.
> (3) The ability to take control of OTHERS PCs and make them do things (The
> Provocation skill in UOL looks at first blush particuarly nasty in this
> regard.)

Many players I've met are totally obsessed with externality. They can't
cope with the fact that one's actions can and do affect the lives of
others. Such players tend to prefer muds (or write muds) which take the
idea that "No-one should be able to affect anyone else adversely" to
extreme limits.

This generally manifests itself in muds where it is impossible to steal,
pkill, go invisible in the same room as someone etc. Where it gets more
worrying is in the extension of the notion that knowing something about
someone somehow violates their supposed privacy. So being able to finger
players to see when they were last on etc is insanely restricted,
sometimes to the point where the admins cannot finger other admins fewer
than three levels below them.

My solution to this is to make it a "free will" thing, and deal with
abuses harshly. Therefore I favour giving game managers considerable
powers - the ability to snoop, read through players' command histories,
follow them around invisibly, teleport them, etc. It's always a joy to
behold someone lying about their command history when they can't read it
and you can. 

"216:    rob heronumus      ... retract the lie, apologise and repay the
gold. You have 15 seconds. Failure to comply will result in sitebar of
your entire country."

This *is* heavyhanded and it *is* how I operate.

Mk




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