[MUD-Dev] Something in the water

Caliban Tiresias Darklock caliban at darklock.com
Wed Jul 25 01:21:00 New Zealand Standard Time 2001


On Tue, 24 Jul 2001 22:57:08 -0700, J C Lawrence <claw at 2wire.com>
wrote:
> 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:

>>> 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.

Consider two possible situations, which I will call A and 2.

Situation A: 

  Bob runs the thieves' guild. People come to him and buy
  information. Bob has a secret network of people who skulk about
  unseen using "hide" skills and invisibility to listen in on
  conversations and gather various other intelligence. If this
  network is effective, the rest of the player base does not see the
  efforts of these people; only Bob does. The players certainly
  benefit, because Bob makes a great deal of money selling them
  things. Bob's thieves, however, can only be effectively rewarded
  by Bob.

Situation 2: 

  Bob is an active roleplayer. He has many friends, some of whom are
  also roleplayers. The rest of his friends turn him on to a great
  MUD where people RP in one area and hunt mobs in another. He sits
  around and RPs, while they run around hunting mobs. Since
  advancement is tied to both mob-hunting *and* RP, Bob would like
  to help out his friends and see that they get some RP points too
  -- but they don't actually RP.

Is it possible for any MUD to effectively support both scenarios
without abuse or unfairness?

Consider also the case where a would-be actor with stagefright hides
in an out of the way location to practice Shakespeare (which we will
assume is appropriate for the MUD setting). He flubs lines, agonises
over his inability to act well, complains to the air of his fears,
and generally... well, amuses himself. This is a perfectly
legitimate role, which he may play excellently. But unless some
other player happens across him, he will never receive credit. His
actions in *public* may never be sensible to others.

Perhaps another way to put this is: Some players want to *be* the
puzzles in your game. Their purpose in play is to be found and
"solved".

> 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.

And that's one of the kinds of people I'm talking about. People who
practice economy of RP the same way professional fighters practice
economy of motion. 

> 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.

What percentage of the list membership commonly ends sentences with
prepositions? Just wondering; I'm sort of anal about that. I won't
quote Churchill, though. ;)

> 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.

As would inside jokes. Monty Python, South Park, and Red Dwarf fans
would probably start reaping a great deal of RP points for no
apparent reason. An intriguing concept, though; I'd like to hear any
other thoughts you have along those lines.

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

> Is not the introvert dealt with above?

I was pointing out that while every RP-reward system I've come
across has at least one flaw, every one I've come across also has
that *specific* flaw. This waves a bit of a flag in my direction,
suggesting that it may be the key issue.

>> 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.

Perhaps we can turn this around: how can we encourage *automated*
system collusion with the players?

Hmm, I think I just bit off a whole new can of worms.

>> 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.

Or, more diplomatically, "politics". (From the Greek "poly", meaning
"many", and "tics", meaning "small ugly blood-sucking things".)

>> 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.

Oh, simple. Just run the system silently for several months, with
someone validating things daily and "grading" the system's answers.
Instruct the system to improve its score, and it should hit-or-miss
its way (perhaps via genetic algorithms) to a set of rules that work
well enough to be used.

Writing the expert system is left as an exercise for the reader. ;)

>>> Ugly problem.  Big too.

>> Tell me about it.

> When would be a good time?

Whenever. I occasionally wonder when you're going to post your next
long, detailed analysis of something I've never quite looked at in
the same way you do; it's quite stimulating, and fertilises all
kinds of new ideas.

>> 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.

Depends on how you define "audience". They're certainly not part of
the *target* audience, but they're still listening. ;)

>> 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.

What I was getting at was that Bartle's types seem to neglect the
idea that the administration also influences the MUD and the player
types attracted by it. This is probably due to the changing times.

>> 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.

That's true. You just extended that range a little more than I was
thinking about, so I'll have to ponder this a bit more.

>> 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.

Well, any staff in player relations sort of have to relate to
players.  Likewise, builders sort of have to build. In any case,
when administration is "active", it has real effects on the world,
the players, or both. Even if the administration cannot be directly
observed or discussed, the effects of it certainly can be.

>> 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.

True enough, but when all you know about a given person is that he's
an admin, if that admin is online and not idle for a very large
amount of time certain people view that in certain ways. There's
generally a very us/them mentality on the part of killers and
achievers, while explorers and socialisers seem to think more in
terms of left/right. In general, killers and achievers -- in my
experience -- seem to view admins as "the enemy" much more often
than explorers and socialisers do.

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