[MUD-Dev] Re: Administrative Meddling

J C Lawrence claw at under.engr.sgi.com
Mon Jun 8 17:00:12 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

On Thu, 4 Jun 1998 00:12:09 -5 
Jon A Lambert<jlsysinc at ix.netcom.com> wrote:

> Xposted here from r.g.m.a. I wrote the following:

>On 1 Jun 98 06:48:57 GMT, John Adelsberger said:

>> Jon A. Lambert <jlsysinc at nospam.ix.netcom.com> wrote:

>>> 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.

>> In order to _have_ a game, you have to prevent omnipotent
>> individuals from circumventing the rules.  

No, you are assuming that omnipotent individuals are still playing the
(same) game, or that their behaviour is proscribed by the same game as
the non-omnipotent.  Those seem dangerous assumptions.  Further, an
implicit assumption that avoidance of the "rules" (however they are
defined) is automatically a Bad Thing is buried in there.  Another
dangerous assumption.

Methinks I smell assumed orthodoxies.  <<If I chant the assumed
orthodoxy mantra often enough, will I summon the Keegan?>>

There's also a clumping of two distinct "rulesets" into one here,
which ignores valuable differences.  Some rules are mechanical: If you
let go of things, they will tend to fall to the ground.  Other rules
are behavioural: Tho halt not kill newbies.  The two are different, in
character, in game-world impact, and in the manners in which they are
most profitably/acceptably/harmoniously/enjoyably/adverb_dejour

Additionally behavioural rules fall into a scale of groups, some apply
game-world-wide (Thou shalt not hack the server), and some only within
much smaller sub-groups (Members of Bubba's clan must wear kilts).
The method and character of the instituionalising of the rules at both
ends of the scale is similar if not identical, but of course the
impact is quite different, and many players have a notion that
global-group rules must be "fair" or other wise align with their
political preferences.

>> If you want a game whose real purpose is social interaction, fine,
>> but then why are you writing new code to replace irc?:)

Apples and oranges.  IRC provides minimal mechanical interaction or
scene setting.  It provides almost no content which is not realtime
user generated.  Any concept of "there" in IRC is either entirely
socio-cultural, or a product of that channel's current population and
their behaviours.  ie IRC has no concept of persistance, and can be
argued to have no concept of time in the first place.

> Yes but those omnipotent ones set the rules, change the rules and
> are usually charged with the enforcement.  Nothing wrong with this
> BTW. If social interaction wasn't a purpose of mudding there would
> be no player demand for IRC capability within a mud.  Most muds are
> a superset of IRC funtionality in order to "run" a game.

There's the core of an argument to seperate Imm/Admin characters from
play characters in there (ie Imm/Admin characters are physically
unable to "play" the game, can't even enter the "play" world etc).

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

A more challenging question:

  Assuming <your pick of power curves>, and assuming near-zero
supervision of the day-to-day behaviour of players and (low level?)
admins, how do you guarantee (or at least predispose) the actions of
powerful characters to be complementary to the game?

I'm specifically interested in either a mechanical answer, or a
mechanical approach to a social engineering answer.

> Note in my other posts, I favor hidden/invisible administration.
> None know who exactly the in-game administrators are.  They could be
> playing any PC, any creature, any NPC at any given moment.
> Subtleness and in-game believability is key.

Echoes of Habitat.  Curiously I don't recall them stating why they hid 
their administrative presences.

> I think we share the same goals as far as game-balance.  No it
> wouldn't be a good or fun thing for a single organization to
> dominate your mud or mine either.  The situation begs for
> administrative influence including that which would be outside the
> rules in order to bring the desired traits of the game around into
> something enjoyable and playable.  Don't forget the game becomes
> less enjoyable for many of the power wielders after a point since
> the challenge is pretty much gone.

Were I to issue a game-style edict for such admins, it would likely be 
similar to:

  "Find a poorly represented and illogical or perversely interesting
group and work hard to make them dominant.  As soon as they begin to
be dominant, repeat with another group.  Your primary goal is to keep
the pot boiling, and your secondary goal is to ensure that the bubbles
are interesting."

This would of course be aimed at admins with little to no actual power
in the game, just a surfeit of knowledge (knowledge == power?).

This presents an interesting model:

  Player-admins have no power, but have access to meta-game data.  As
such they can wield considerable influence, even if only on the level
of oracles.  

  Have player-admin state be a transitory affair, much like a curse or
demonic possession.  It is both uncontrollable, unavoidable when it
happens, and may potentially leave its victim at any instant.  Have
the game grant and remove player-admin "power" randomly based on
various internal metrics or formulae.  There is a low, but definite
potential for utter newbies or other unlikely individuals to be
granted player-admin powers.  The behaviour of player-admins could
additionally be statistised by the game as a weight on the
grant/remove decision.  The definition and scope of the data available
to player-admins would be undefined and unplublished (cf the guide in
HHGTG).  Finally, have the fact of player-admin status be

>> One game that _would_ interest me(I'm working on a version, sorta,
>> along with my other half-dozen projects, which number I keep mainly
>> because it keeps me moving even when I get sick of one
>> temporarily:) would be similar to the setting described by
>> Mr. Lawrence, minus the complete recording of history. 


>> This sort of game might have no VISIBLE impartial admins, but it
>> would most certainly need admins nevertheless, and cheating would
>> be a _bigger_ problem, rather than a smaller problem(consider: on a
>> typical h&s, I give you a 'sword of slaying.'  On a deity vs deity,
>> I give you code I've devised based on knowledge of the internals of
>> the system that nobody else has. The former is annoying but
>> obvious; the latter ruins the game for everyone.)

JA3 seems to have lost sight of the competitional ecology of free user 
coding in a GoP game.

> JC Lawrence's game did remind me of the WizWars type in many ways,
> but less so as he's refined it over time. 


I think of it more ala a vat of dye.  I keep adding new colours and
stains, some glowing by their own light, some absorbent, and stirring
vigorously.  The final/current design is shot thru with twists and
streaks of previous "Oooo!" reactions.

J C Lawrence                               Internet: claw at null.net
(Contractor)                               Internet: coder at ibm.net
---------(*)                     Internet: claw at under.engr.sgi.com
...Honourary Member of Clan McFud -- Teamer's Avenging Monolith...

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