[MUD-Dev] Something in the water

J C Lawrence claw at 2wire.com
Tue Jul 24 22:57:08 New Zealand Standard Time 2001


On Tue, 24 Jul 2001 18:44:07 -0700 
Caliban Tiresias Darklock <caliban at darklock.com> wrote:
> On Tue, 24 Jul 2001 17:15:35 -0700, J C Lawrence <claw at 2wire.com>
> wrote:

>> How can you mechanically determine when RP is occuring?

> I don't think you can. I've thought about that a lot. 

That was the conclusion of previous attempts on the topic on this
list.

> The problem is that the *propriety* of roleplay is also at issue:

Taking the definition of propriety in its "suitable for a given
context" form, yes, quite, very.

> This is probably related to the "time flies like an arrow, fruit
> flies like a banana" problem. ;)

  "I'm not a compleat idiot!  Some parts are missing."

You noticed.

>> Or, if the problem is not subject to mechanical determination:
 
>> What social systems can you implement which are variously
>> resistant to gaming/overt_manipulation to measure RP?

> Something I've been considering is directed exchanges. In any
> given login, you earn RP points for directing actions at other
> players *provided* they direct an action at you in return. Each
> two-way exchange is considered a unique RP point for that login,
> so if you log in and talk to Bob for an hour you get one point,
> but if you talk with Bob, Simon, and Jessica you get three.

> This isn't really an RP system, though, it's a socialisation
> system. It doesn't reward the introvert, which is a failing of
> most RP systems.

I'd argue that the introvert case is largely a red herring, and the
cases where its not a red herring are subject to semantic analysis.

Posit:  

  Player value requires communication.

Counter:  

  No communication equals no value.

The silent type who stands about and says nothing communicates
nothing and therefore (arguably) has little/no value to the game or
other players within the game context.

  I'm purposely ignoring orchestrated motion, poses, and emotes.

Observation: 

  Players who communicate infrequently but usually effectively
  (effective defined as effective in changing conditions) often/can
  have a greater effect on a society/population than the
  chatterboxes.

Taciturnity is not the problem.  Social connectivity and
representative perceived social value is (ie how well is he known,
what is his perceived value).  

I've done some messing about with this list attempting to graph and
determine aspects of the peerage and meme transfers by isolating and
tracking adjectival phrase usage across posts and posters.  I'm not
convinced of the validity of the model (MUD-Dev is a very small
sample base) but I get some nice graphs out of it which subjectively
feel "right" for the list.  The suggestion is that automatic
analysis of character actions and resultant memeticly similar
actions by others can both be detected and measured, and would be a
reasonable indicator of effective social activity.

Of course the next problem is that a bunch of people running about
deliberately copying each other (say RPing a fad in their game world
-- not necessarily gaming the system) would false trigger this.

>> Historically various things have been tried ranging from counting
>> the number and rate of poses and emotes, to having players award
>> each RP points.

> Counting poses and emotes unfairly rewards the flamboyant and
> penalises the stoic. 

<grunt>

<<That should be worth at least two RP points>>

> Player awards unfairly reward the popular and penalise the
> unpopular. Both ignore the introvert.

Is not the introvert dealt with above?

>> The grinding point is that all such systems only work reliably
>> when the player base explicitly colludes with the system in
>> maintaining the validity of the gathered stats, and they fail
>> horribly once any noticeable percentage of the player base games
>> the system.

> Which *may* reduce our problem set to:

>   How can we encourage player collusion with the system?

Yup.  Its a double sided knife tho.  You now only need to encourage
collusion, you need to encourage aggressive norming with that
collusion as gamed collusion is far more destructive of the purpose
than random GoP play.

>> <<Damn, that'll teach me to hack elisp while writing list mail.
>> Urk.  Sorry for the dupe/half-edited post guys>>

> I wondered... ;)

2Wire uses Perforce (an SCM system I really don't like, but that's
another matter) and I've been playing with Rajesh Vaidheeswarran's
P4 elisp library.  It turns out that it rebinds C-cC-c, losing my
custom binding my binding, and umm, things broke and it got sent.

>> I believe the problem is solvable at the social engineering
>> level.  I'm convinced its not solvable purely via
>> technical/mechanical approaches.

> I have to concur on this. I think you *have* to involve human
> beings in the process somewhere, even if it's just to validate the
> results.  

Problem is: 

  Once you involve human judgment you also involve human corruption.

> Technical processes can rather easily determine that something MAY
> BE roleplay, but they can't easily determine that something IS
> roleplay.  

The counter argument is that given a sufficiently small grained
determination and some laws of averages, that over time the
mechanical estimation can be sufficiently accurate.

I have no idea how to attempt that of course.

>> Ugly problem.  Big too.

> Tell me about it.

When would be a good time?

>> IOW the critical factors are positive feedback loops and a
>> critical mass of RPing players who mutually collude in presenting
>> a single RP style/image.

> Exactly. Bartle's analysis of types applies here, as he said
> essentially the same thing.

Far be it from me to paraphrase the master.

<kof>

>> Its interesting to contrast this with Castle Marrach which
>> adopted something of a middle route.

> Ummm, I got in trouble for this long ago, so I think I need a
> disclaimer:

Don't bother.  If your readers aren't perceptive enough to figure
out the difference they they also aren't part of your audience.

> Sounds like the MUSH route to me...

Semi.  They had a fairly small admin base IIRC, tho they tried to
build an RP core of players via early closed betas.  However on the
numbers and pervasiveness scale they seemed to have done more in the
line of very active massaging of players by a relatively small
number of human admins (playing a larger number of characters) in
the early days than seem typical in the MUSH scenarions you
described.

I don't argue that it wasn't in the same line as you described, just
that it seemed closer to the more freestyle approach than is common
ith heavy RP MUShes.

> An active staff involved in maintaining a desired environment is
> helpful for RP, while it tends to get in the way of game-oriented
> play.

  You can't kill the beggar!

  Why not?  He's worth 15 XP!

  But he's a beggar!  You're supposed to pity him and give him spare
  change and maybe some scraps of food.

  Screw that!  I only need 20 more XP to level and he'll do nicely
  for most of it.  How many XP is the little orphan worth?  Maybe
  I'll just stab the leper.  That should be worth at least 5.

  Wahhhhh!

> You know, that's sort of interesting. Where do the admins fit into
> Bartle's types? 

I don't see a unique mapping.  I've known admins that clearly fit in
any of the classiffications, or sub-groupings.  

> Clearly, they impact the balance of players. I would theorise that
> administrative intervention effectively "tilts" the MUD toward
> interacting making the game more attractive to the explorer or the
> socialiser depending on whether that admin's job is world building
> or player relations.

This would seem to depend on the type of intervention.  The hand of
God is both silent and uncommunicative.  Depending on the Silent
God's actions the results can easily be either combative or
explorative or socially exciting etc.  The pimping admin selling
character edits for iniquitous bodily favours (furry or not) on the
Diku fountain steps is a trifle more socially participatory.

> Active builders means more to explore, active player relations
> staff means more people to talk to. 

You seem to assume some level of transparency where admins are not
only active, but are seen to be active, and can be communicated with
in regard to their actions.  That's not necessarily true.
Additionally the second and third order effects of either mode seem,
umm, so broad as to cover the entire value range.

> I would also expect that these drive off killers and achievers,
> because killers see the admins as guards while achievers see them
> as "playing favorites". The opposite would apply with an inactive
> staff, I think.

Nahh.  It depends on what the admin does, what he is seen to do or
not do, how htat is seen, and how that is presented.  Politics rules
that roost.

--
J C Lawrence                                    )\._.,--....,'``.	    
---------(*)                                   /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
claw at kanga.nu                                 `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
http://www.kanga.nu/~claw/                     Oh Freddled Gruntbuggly
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