[MUD-Dev] curses and grief players

Marc Bowden ryumo at merit.edu
Tue Aug 1 07:29:24 New Zealand Standard Time 2000

--On Monday, July 31, 2000 9:12 PM -0400 "Geoffrey A. MacDougall" 
<geoffrey at poptronik.com> wrote:

> 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?


  In fact, I can be *more* selective as a hobbyist, and I tend to get 
a better class of person as a result of NOT being pay-for-play.

  Let me back up a step, because that bears some explanation.

  Issues of socialization and background aside, guests on a MUD tend 
to hold making demands of (and sometimes threats to) the game's staff 
as a result of both the anonymization of the individual via the 
internet, and because of the belief that the game is *theirs*, by 
virtue of some investiture - often the metric for this is time, but 
especially among American kids simply because it's there and they're 
allowed to connect.

  The former notion you can disabuse a guest of. Anonymity on a MUD 
is an illusion to the point of the adminstrator's time, talent, and 
incentive in tracking a troublesome guest down. I, personally can't 
count the number of times I've had pleasant conversations with 
this-or-that principal because little Johnny decided he wanted to be, 
in the words of the immortal Yakko, my new best friend, by performing 
some act of debauchery, who thought he was safe and could therefore 
do whatever he wanted to my staff because he'd left his e-mail 
address and name blank.

  The idea that the game belongs to the guest, though, is harder to 
dispel. In life, bullying, crying, and threats work really well for 
most guests to get their way, and they see no reason why this service 
obviously designed for their own personal pleasure should be any 
different. In fact, MORE so, because the world literally revolves 
around them. This is, in most cases, a thought process that leads to 
a licence for abuse.

  This illusion of ownership is even stronger in a commercially-run 
system, where the guest has paid for the privelige of playing. They 
therefore expect that every staff member will bend to their tune, in 
the same way and with the same attitude as someone who heaps abuse on 
police officers because they're "paying your salary."

  As an end result, people will demand more, more often, and in ruder 
tones, on a pay-for-play system, based on the idea they've got in 
their heads that the staff owes it to them in return for their entry 
fee. And they will be more tenacious about it, because more is at 
stake - par value of playing experience per dollar on top of wish 
fulfillment. They'll act out horribly antisocial behaviors, and abuse 
the staff any way they see fit, because it's all about them, and they 
paid to be here.

  I don't *need* to take that abuse, and neither does my staff. These 
people have no connection to the issue of the game's continuance. 
Therefore, as a hobbyist, I can eject them and go on with my life. On 
a game where these sorts of guests actually contribute to the upkeep 
of the facilities, this may or may not be available as an option, or 
may not be available at analogous stages of misbehavior, depending on 
policy set by managers who may or may not ever have any contact with 
the problem children.

> 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.

  I don't suppose you asked why the person being disconnected (the 
technical term for this sort of player tantrum is "playing dodge 
ball" in my neck of the woods) needed it?

>> 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.

  Actually, and I sympathize with Mr. Green on this point, there are 
simply never going to be enough Guest Relations personnel to cope 
with the number of players who have a legitimate complaint, just want 
to hassle someone, or feel the game 'world' owes them something.

Marc Bowden - Soulsinger         Dreamshadow:The Legacy of the Three
  ryumo at merit.edu                        3333

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