[MUD-Dev] Something in the water

Travis Casey efindel at earthlink.net
Fri Jul 27 10:11:18 New Zealand Standard Time 2001


Thursday, July 26, 2001, 9:51:05 AM, Hulbert, Leland wrote:
> J C Lawrence wrote:

>> Underneath is a semi-Pavlovian model which assumes that positive
>> rewards for Good Behaviour will encourage further Good Behaviour
>> (Pavlov concentrated more on negative reinforcement).  Central to
>> such an approach is the idea that the Good Behaviour can be both
>> defined and quantified, and then, that given such (which is
>> tacitly assumed) that a system can be arranged which created the
>> positive reinforcement loop.

> So...perhaps the easiest method would be to provide negative
> reinforcement.  Of course, given that anything "negative" is to be
> constantly bemoaned by a certain percentage of the player base, we
> can disguise it as postive reinforcement.

> My idea goes like this.  Make a list of difinite OOC activities.
> The simplest example being a list of words that are considered
> inappropriate to the setting.  In a fantasy setting, "Celtics"
> might make it, but "49ers" might not.  "Computer", "Internet" and
> "IM" are strictly out.  Log each occurence of a banned word or
> phrase against the character.

Problem: once players realize this is happening, they'll start
working around it.  The first thing they'll probably do is
deliberately misspell or otherwise mangle banned words.  E.g.,
"c0mputer", "com-pewter", "enter-net", etc.  Even if you expand the
"ban dictionary" and/or use algorithms to try to detect manglings,
the players can circumlocute -- e.g., saying "this thing on my desk
I'm typing at" to indicate their computer.

If you try to expand the catching of OOC references too much, you're
going to start catching a lot of possible IC references too.  E.g.,
if people take to using "the net" to refer to the Internet, you
can't ban that without making it likely that someone talking about a
fishing net or other in-world net will get docked points.  If people
take to using "pewter" to refer to computers, and you try to catch
that, someone trying to roleplay a silversmith is in trouble.

Now, one way to avoid all of this would be to set up one or more OOC
channels, so that players have a way to talk OOC without having to
run another program or work around the blocks.  Also, some other
methods of communication might have to be marked as being OOC -- for
example, if your mud has a channel for reporting problems to the
admins, you probably don't want to dock people for mentioning things
like "computer" or "Internet" on there.  Maybe you had that in mind,
but didn't mention it -- I don't know, so I just wanted to point it
out.

> Now, the disguise.  Allow a fixed amount of "RP" points for every
> hour/day/minute/whatever spent in the MUD.  At some point, whether
> it per login/reboot/week, compare the time spent in the MUD to the
> time spent OOC.  Maybe every OOC breach subtracts 1/2 hour from
> your RP time.  Reward points for whats left.

> This has the strength of rewarding the introvert, as long as
> he/she isn't talking to himself OOC.  It appears to be a reward
> system, so it will engender less complaints.  It also allows for
> some other penalties to be included.  Perhaps you run a
> family-oriented MUD, and 4-letter words need to be discouraged.
> Maybe you want to penalise Paladins who attack beggars.  The
> system can be modified fairly simply to allow for both.

The whole idea of using negative reinforcement has a problem, though
-- negative reinforcement doesn't encourage any specific behavior.
Instead, it discourages a behavior.  This idea might stop people
from talking OOC on anything but OOC channels -- but that doesn't
mean they're roleplaying.  Someone could spend all their time
talking on the OOC channels, and they'd get just as many "RP points"
as someone who was actually roleplaying.

--
Travis Casey
efindel at earthlink.net

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