[MUD-Dev] Admins as Mortals twist

J C Lawrence claw at cp.net
Tue Nov 23 19:35:42 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

On Sat, 20 Nov 1999 01:07:33 -0600 
Ryan P <ixiterra at microworld.com> wrote:

> There always seems to be that low-ranking wizard that wants to
> lash out and fight back against a high-ranking wizard; there is
> always that high-ranking wizard that wants to abuse his/her power
> on a low-ranking wizard. 

Lorry comments in only partial sarcasm on this at 




Heirarchies and red tape

The British civil service invented this one I think and if you use
it as half as well as they do, you are well on your way to becoming
a master. The point is that you should build heirarchies and once
you have built them you should invent a use for the various levels
and make sure people only channel requests or complaints
properly. Luckily, games like MIST are naturally designed this way
so all you have to do is create a new heirarchy at the top. At its
best, MIST had:

  maintainer-wizard lev 1 (existed in a list as being more important)
  maintainer-wizard lev 2 (who had extra commands)
  Maintainer-wizard (who knew the admin password, note capital "M")
  Arch-wizard (I hate the level name 'God')

We had channels of complaint, so if a mortal wanted to complain
about being mistreated by a wizard (which of course wasn't really
illegal), then they had to complain to the wizards. The wizards
could complain to the levels above them and as a rule anyone a
couple of levels above anyone else would ignore people below
them. To make it seem fair and because forcing people to use the
correct channels isn't easy, the arch-wizards would often listen to
little problems, but most of the time they ignored them.

Once you have created this heirarchy, the most important thing to do
is to keep changing it.  Never keep it stable else people will get
complacent, also make sure you do make some pretence of enforcing
the red-tape system as it stands at the time - This has the
disadvantage that you have to remember what it currently is


Wizards are there for two reasons. Mainly they are there for the
people above them to abuse, but as a sideline, they are there to
abuse the people below them. It's a bad idea to push all the wizards
too far; as an arch-wizard you need someone to run the game for you
so that you don't have to do it yourself. If it comes to it, it's a
good idea to weigh up the fun you'd get in deleting all the wizards
to the hassle you'd get from the lower players with no-one to look
after their petty moans.

Basically treat your wizards badly, but not too badly. One nice way
of really annoying them is to promote a subset of them to a new
level. This helps because if you have to delete all the lower
wizards the upper ones still side with you and can continue running
the game.

More significantly, abstract and obtuse heirchies offer endless
opportunities for politiking by players.

> My idea is this: get rid of the hierarchy! Have about 3-8 true
> administrators (depending on the size/need of the mud of course)
> and everyone else is one, large conglomeration where everyone has
> equal say. 

Find me a society or group with more than 10 people anywhere on the
planet where "everyone has an equal say".  Some people will get
listened to more if only for the fact that they make better sense
than others, or because they say things more agreeable to those with
the actual power.  Cronyism.  The end result is the same.  What
happens is rapidly assumed to be a product of their statements, and
then of they preferential status with the people who have the real

Whoops, there go the accusations already.  You've just set the seeds
of a political system among your player base in your game.

Raph Koster and Mike Sellers make a number of intersting
observations on this in regard to admin behaviours as they observed
on M59 and UOL.  Simply summarised:

  If an admin character does *ANYTHING* that appears in the
slightest regard to directly benefit or hinder a specific player or
character, that admin will be accused of persecuting or unfairly
helping that player or character, and the player base will instantly
and irrevocably expect and insist that that is how the game is
administered and run and the fur will fly.

> Some wizards will have more access and will be more recognized
> etc., but that is earned. Lower wizards will more likely lean
> towards getting to know a more experienced wizard rather than
> thinking, "Oh, he's more powerful than I am, I better be wary."

In other words your heirarchies are now informal instead of
explicitly stated by the structures of your game or admin
structures.  This doesn't change the fact or the nature of the
heirarchies at all, just the methods for determining position.

> Nearly every mud I have wizzed on has had some problem of this
> sort, and I'm sure this idea would have some problems, but I just
> thought of it now and perhaps you all can add to it to make it
> better)

My assertion is that the only real approach is to make the
administration both invisible undetectable within the game world,
and generally contactable only in the abstract outside of the game.

Raph's position as Designer Dragon at UOL is an interesting example
of this last qualification AFAICT.  Purely because he is the only
really observable figure there he becomes both an iconic grounding
rod (heh!) and an apologist for the game -- BUT! and ths is the
really interesting bit, he is retroactively assumed to be too
distant from the real nitty gritty of the day to day running of the
game ("The king doesn't care about what happened to your pet mouse.
He cares about the kingdom") to really understand and know the minor 
travails of players.  Its a curious dichotomy.

Raph: The above is garnered mainly from fan-site readings.  I hope
I'm not tooo too far adrift.  Comments?

J C Lawrence                              Internet: claw at kanga.nu
----------(*)                            Internet: coder at kanga.nu
...Honorary Member of Clan McFud -- Teamer's Avenging Monolith...

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