[MUD-Dev] curses and grief players

Geoffrey A. MacDougall geoffrey at poptronik.com
Mon Jul 31 21:12:37 New Zealand Standard Time 2000

Brian Green wrote:
> The commercial people are realizing something that the hobbiest have
> already known;  sometimes it's just not worth the time to try to reach
> everyone.  Sometimes you gotta cut your losses and move on.  Not every
> customer is worth the bowing and scraping to keep them around.

I would argue that the complete opposite is true - that the commercial MUDs
discard players faster than the hobbiests.

Granted, you have much more experience in the field than I do, but the
obvious facts would seem to dicate that the hobbiest MUDs need players more
badly than the commercial guys - no?

If you ask most commercial MMORPGs, their one and only solution to annoying
players is to cut the cancer before it spreads.

I've also seen it directly demonstrated that the big boys take their players
for granted - simply because the players let themselves be bashed around.
My colleague was at an EQ demo at E3, and watched, over the course of 5-10
minutes, an admin repeatedly boot a player from the game.  Every time,
without fail, the offended player would log back into the game as quickly as
possible.  The admin's take on the matter was to question why all these
issues of catering to the player base mattered when the players demonstrated
a fanatical loyalty to the product - no matter how they were treated.

It's often stated here that players will vote with their feet.  While there
are many more commercial MMORPGs under development, at the present, voting
with your feet is not really an option, if one wanted to play in a world
with the qualities and scale of EQ or UO.

> Unfortunately, this type of attention "doesn't scale well."  I simply
> couldn't take 20 minutes out of my day to soothe over every person who
> felt slighted; there were easily more than 30 people per day that had
> some beef, and they would have eaten up 10 hours of my time!  Remember,
> I didn't work on a game anywhere near the size of the other commercial
> games out there.

Exactly.  It all comes down to issues of scale.

> The problem here is player expectations.  Players want what they
> expect.  If you bow and scrape to one person, then don't to the next,
> that hurt the feelings of the person you didn't bow and scrape to. 
There are also issues with how different people would respond to the same
bowing and scraping.

For example, in a parallel universe, I wear the hat of the Chief of Staff of
an international UN Summit - where issues of protocol are paramount.  My
role is essentially as the head of the logistical component of the event.
While the Secretary General of the Summit is viewed as being "above" the
delegates, I'm viewed as the top of the support tree "beneath" them - i.e.
I'm there to attend to their needs and interests - but not to wash their

Now, I'm generally a fairly polite person.  I even call my taxi cab drivers
"Sir".  Not because of some deep rooted notion of universal respect - but
simply because the term rolls off my without much thought to the classical
meaning of the expression.  Now, place that same haphazard use of the word
"Sir" into the context of another culture where things like that really
matter - and in the course of one syllable, I go from being asked to do
something, to being told to do something.  I've had it happen...

To tie this back to the discussion -

You can't assume that a standardized approach of customer management is
going to work in all cases.  Some people won't follow instructions unless
they understand every nuance of the philosophical foundation of the
parenting strategy your mother used to craft you into someone who could come
up with a policy that stupid.  Others could be put-off by the degree of
intimacy that is implied by the statement "Just call me Brian."

I think it comes back to the notion - again greatly expressed on this list -
of just do what works.


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