[MUD-Dev] Something in the water

J C Lawrence claw at 2wire.com
Wed Jul 25 22:28:17 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

On Wed, 25 Jul 2001 01:21:00 -0700 
Caliban Tiresias Darklock <caliban at darklock.com> wrote:
> 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:

> 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?


In the first case fairness is entirely subjective between Bob and
his minions.  In the second case Bob is attempting to generate
player value in a manner which negates the system design.  Both
cases are built on an implicit disjoint that prevents transparency.

> 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".

Ahh, the wonders of the enigmatic heroine.  I should probably come
up with a feminine scenario character in addition to Bubba, Boffo,
and Bernie.  Hurm.  Betty.  (Not Buffy, I've enough overly hormonal
175psi pneumatic sugary things right now )

>> 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.

Social snipers.

>> 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. ;)

I know not wot to make of that of which you write so eloquently.

>> 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.

The basic idea is to attempt to mechanically recognise behaviour
patterns, to then roll back to determine a source (which is
difficult in physical patterns built off semantic content in
speech), to then graph that such that a weight distribution can be
built, and then assign values accordingly *backwards* toward the
source nodes of the graph.

No more than a couple hours work on a lazy Sunday afternoon for the
Big Guy (gotta do something on that day off).

>>> 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.

Ummm.  Got a point there.  Commonality does seem to suggest that.

>> 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?

By building systems which encourage social cohesion and thereby
encourage aggressive social norming, and then ensuring that the
social norming that is occurring is in agreement with the automated
systems implemented by the RP reward fanatics.


  By building systems which encourage sheep-like behaviour in
  players, and then ensuring that the sheep walk quietly in the
  hallways and are always polite.

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

I don't think we'd want it if we got it.

Cans of worms are worth more than that.

>>>> 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.


Thus my frequent use of "expressive fertility" in describing good
world interface designs I guess.  Perhaps my reply to Travis will do
for the nonce.

      ( I fear I'm viewed as a show pony, expectantly trotted out )
      ( in hope of new tricks and dazzling footwork..             )

>>> 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.

Without Bartle chiming in, I'd suspect it was more a question of
topic definition.  He was addressing players, not admins.  Lorry
makes it quite clear as to the level and pervasiveness of effect
admins can have on a game.

>>> 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.

Two possible points on the scale:

  1) Admins work, creating areas, adjusting systems etc.  They are
  never seen.  There is no direct communication path to them.  It is
  suspected that they play some player characters, but which and who
  are not known.  There is no operational staff for the game.  It
  just runs.  Blindly.  And players play.  Blindly.  And the Admins
  do things.  Quietly.

  2) Admins engage in regular transparent dialog with players
  regarding both the system but their activities there and the
  design and implementation of intended changes.  Additionally there
  is an active in-game interface layer between the players and the
  operational staff of the game.

I'm not convinced that they mark endpoints or that the scale is one
dimensional, but its a possible start.

>>> 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.  

Who said there has to be player relations?

> 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.

While true, there are levels of transparency.  I'm historically (old
days in England) used to the approach of the admins being
unapproachable, never seen, and almost entirely uncontactable.
There was a game.  You were allowed to play (or at least they didn't
kick you off).  That alone was gravy.  Anything more was unexpected

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