[MUD-Dev] Re: Administrative Meddling

Mike Sellers mike at bignetwork.com
Thu Jun 4 07:46:18 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

At 12:12 AM 6/4/98 +00-05, Jon A. Lambert wrote:
>Xposted here from r.g.m.a.  .. I wrote the following:
>>: It seems to be a commonly held notion here that administrators
>>should : not interfere, help or otherwise annoy players.  Or that all
>>interference : or annoyances must be conducted with equality or
>>fairness. =20
>I merely question is what that game is and why does it entail
>supervision and/or non-interference of administration.  I do not see
>the inherent problems with an in-game administrator creating a 99th
>level wizard who shows up and sets up a shop doles out some magical
>equipment to a few characters, quests a few characters, enspells a few
>characters, etc. Hmm, this causes game imbalance and unfairness.  Why?
> Because the MUD assumes the quest solving, kill-power and equipment
>collection are THE game.=20

I disagree.  There is a complex and potentially perilous relationship
between any player character and overt admin-character (which is what
you're talking about).  Some PCs will avoid the AC, some will fawn all over
him or her, some will do everything they can to frustrate the AC or those
who seem to be in the AC's favor -- even if the AC has not snubbed them in
any way.  Then too, the human behind the AC *will* have preferences in PCs;
we all like some people better than others.  Sometimes the AC will show
conscious favoritism, sometimes it will be unconscious, and sometimes it
not be there but the PCs will perceive it anyway.  At this level, the game
will quickly turn from one of monster/PC killing laced with social
interaction between players to one of bragging about getting the best
treatment from the AC or whining about someone else seeming to get the
same.  If you think admins burn out fast now, you can imagine how wearing
all this would become. =20

Then there is the problem of the AC's player's ego.  Ego-bloat is, I think,
one of the largest unspoken personal and professional problems in mud
administration, and it leads to many other better-known ones.  Adulation is
poison, and creating an in-play AC is like feeding the admin candy coated
arsenic. =20

> If the primary game goals were to build the
>biggest castle, make landfall on Alpha Centauri, collect all the black
>and white marbles, attract the most worshippers, build a transmud
>rail-line or aquire a monopoly in bread-baking does the above
>interference have any effect at all on the game? =20

Yes, it would still have all sorts of repurcussions, as above.  And of
course, a game like this would end quickly: just as the Habitat folks found
out with their early treasure hunts, you cannot create goals that are
'winnable' only by one person in a persistent-world game.  Goals that you
are certain will take weeks or months to accomplish will be completed in
hours or days, and meanwhile, you're alienating 99% of your player base in
favor of one individual. =20

>Rules for the HnS or the Quest game get in the way of the social
>aspect of mud games.  For example: Equipment restrictions, PK rules,
>Quest solutions and more importantly having players or administrators
>play near-omnipotent beings.  Yes I favor believe-ability realism
>also, but running a quest and not being able to relate my exploits
>seems a great flaw in some games.  What's the purpose of recoding Zork
>to be multiplayer? ;)

Admittedly, the kill-the-monster, get-the-treasure, solve-the-puzzle form
of mud-play is still, after all these years, pretty primitive.  Some games
have made progress beyond this by placing additional control of the world
in the *player's* hands.  Putting this back in the hands of an
admin-character is taking several large steps backward. =20

>Important social/cultural positions are also awarded based on success
>in these wholly unrelated games' goals.  How does one become a king in
>a typical mud?  By solving all the quests, attaining the highest
>level, killing all who object, by player acclaim (voting)?   =20

Does any PC really _want_ to be king -- sit around the throne room
listening to various complaints and making in-game administrative decisions
all day?  I don't think so.  This might be a good place for an admin, as
they are powerful but both bound and relatively unapproachable -- quasi NPC
status at least.  OTOH if people *do* want this, make them get it the
old-fashioned way.  Institute a complex familial hierarchy, and have the
royal members start jostling with one another.  That in itself could be a
great game for players so inclined (and the rest could go kill monsters and
drown their sorrows in the local taverns :-) ).=20

>>Politics, etc make piss-poor game subjects if certain involved
>>individuals are omnipotent and others powerless; the omnipotent
>>individuals face no challenge in forcing whatever they want on
>>everyone else, and the powerless individuals have no reason
>>whatsoever to play; the middlegrounders, if any, are left to prey on
>>each other, but only unless and until one of the omnipotent ones
>>comes down from on high to wield his unstoppable force.
>Doesn't this sound like most HnS muds to you. =20

Not any of the enjoyable ones, no.  The scenario the original poster
painted is quite real, and entirely avoidable *IF* the admins will restrain
themselves from sticking their noses into the game as nigh-omnipotent
"celebrities." =20

>I assume omnipotent individuals are interested in running a game and
>will interfere (in a believable fashion) to further the interests of
>that game. =20

That's a huge and untenable assumption.  It makes no allowance for human
personality (the admin's) or human perversity (the players').  In the early
days of M59, I crafted the "Prime Directive" strategy of admin
non-interference.  It was difficult to enforce with some admins who just
insisted in sticking their noses in, always for "the good of the game."  In
nearly every instance, the consequences spun out of control, well beyond
what they imagined would happen.  All of our biggest PR headaches came from
admins "just trying to help" in the game. =20

>Prevention of interference makes no sense at all.  It goes
>without saying that administrators acting like mad power-tripping
>children are no fun to play with in any sort of game. =20

True.  Unfortunately, even if you manage to find the rare admins who
*won't* act this way, they *will* be loudly accused of acting this way by
some of the players.  This alone will perturb the play of the game. =20

OTOH, maybe this is all wrong.  With the right people -- selfless, secure,
low-stress admins -- this could be a good addition to a MUD.  Good luck.


Mike Sellers=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 Chief Creative Officer=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 The=
 Big Network
mike at bignetwork.com=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0

             =A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 Fun=A0=A0 Is=A0=A0 Good =20

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