[MUD-Dev] Re: Black Snow Revisited

Matt Mihaly the_logos at achaea.com
Mon Apr 1 08:48:46 New Zealand Daylight Time 2002


On Sat, 30 Mar 2002, Norman Short wrote:

> Some control?  You guys have already said you want the ability to
> read people's minds and intent and apply it to corporate policy.

*ahem* I can't say I recall anyone here posting that they want the
ability to read people's minds and intent and apply it to corporate
policy. You're exaggerating. I'll happily admit I'd love that
ability, however. It'd be useful in identifying potential customers,
figuring out how I can make them happier, and warding off grief
players, crackers, and other such undesirables.

> You're saying you can control the actions and speech of people who
> aren't connected to your service.  You're saying an enterprising
> young person can't make trades offline even though the game
> mechanics are set up to allow you to make them online.  The
> actions in game are identical to the actions of the other players.
> So you want to read minds and intimidate those who actually say
> they don't agree with your interpretation ofyour rights.  You guys
> have gone way past "some control".  I see this as little different
> than deciding what type of person you want playing your game; you
> can feel free to cancel accounts for someone being gay, for
> example, which in most states wouldn't be covered by
> anti-discrimination law.  I see little difference when you say you
> can judge the minds and intent of the people performing an action
> in game from what they do outside of it.  You guys want god-like
> powers over your game world, and in the real world you're
> dreaming.

Actually, we already have god-like powers over our game worlds. We
don't really need to lust after them.
 
>>> You absolutely don't have the right to tell players who they can
>>> talk to and what they can do when they are not connected to the
>>> service.
 
>> This case isn't about that -- it about transfering a contract for
>> service from one person to another.  Non-transferrable contracts
>> happen all the time.
 
> You can change the subject to one in which you feel more
> comfortable.  In fact, you are trying to say what people can say
> and do outside the service.

Personally, I can't control what people do outside my
service. However, I'd feel free to ban people for things they did
outside it. Why do you presume I shouldn't be able to? I can ban you
if I don't like the color of your hair. I can ban you, in fact, for
just about any reason I want. I or another mud developer wouldn't be
in business very long if we acted like that, and I think you'll find
that generally speaking, it is in our best interest to do exactly
the opposite. Enough customers leave on their own. I don't need to
find reasons to make more of them leave.
 
> head of the MUD, have decided they don't deserve.  I just think
> you guys have gotten delusions of grandeur.

I don't think anyone has delusions of grandeur here. We're just
telling you how we do things. We're already doing them. It's not a
delusion. We're grand, damn it! ;)

You seem to be implying all these sinister motives to us, when in
fact, you don't have any idea how much time MUD developers (at least
successful ones) spend worrying and fretting over how to make the
customers as a group as HAPPY as possible. You don't have some
god-given right to be in my virtual world, and if kicking you out
makes the world a better place on the whole, for the other
customers, then out the door you go. Is that fair? Maybe not, but
really, fair doesn't come into it. My #1 concern is the customer
experience, and if you're doing more harm than good to it, you're
probably not someone I want in my world. It's not sinister. It's not
a plot. It's just practical.

> Yup.  Feel free to cancel the account.  You have that power, I
> said that.  Now determine the minds and speech outside game of all
> your players, and cancel the accounts of those who don't pass your
> virtual mind reader.

You know, if you see a guy giving a known prostitute money, and then
you watch the two of them go somewhere and do their thing, don't you
think it's pretty reasonable to assume that she's having sex with
him because of the money? It doesn't require reading their minds to
figure it out.
 
> No fair changing the arguments in mid-stream--this is exactly what
> Jessica Mulligan stated as a legal reason to stop people from
> talking about trades outside game.  In fact that is what you are
> doing, since you have no way to know if money changed hands.
> Seems like in this instance you agree with me.  If the game sold
> items to players then they could charge loss of trade from these
> outside transactions, but the ones that don't aren't seeking
> business profits from any of the player to player trades.

Erm, what do you mean you have no way to know if money changed
hands? Blacksnow Interactive is open about their business. Mythic is
apparently able to identify their employees. It's pretty obvious
that Mythic DOES know that they were charging money for those items.

> You haven't shown that you lose monthly subscriptions due to this
> practice, and in fact evidence can be shown to say that you
> actually gain longer subscriptions and longer playtime.

Ok, show us the evidence. That's e-v-i-d-e-n-c-e not
c-o-n-j-e-c-t-u-r-e. I'm sure if you could show some solid evidence,
a lot of companies would change their policies. Their interests are
pretty pragmatic after all: money.

> now.  I maintain that you are actually losing money by not
> embracing these dynamics that players want.  Sell the items
> yourself, just as Matt Mihaly does, and your revenue will increase
> by leaps and bounds.  Try to stuff the genie back in the bottle
> and come off as whiners with million dollar corporate backing.
> Maybe you too could buy off a Senator and write the bill to make
> all of this illegal, then you wont have to test it in court.
> Well, you probably would still get appeals.

Argh, stop complimenting me. I don't think you understand why our
system works. Business models and game design are intertwined. You
can't just take one and blindly slap it on somewhere else. If
Everquest started selling -all- items in the game themselves, I
think they'd find this:

  1. An absolute storm of outrage on every message board around.

  2. A short-term, probably quite large, spike in revenue.

  3. A playerbase that quickly decides that since they are selling
  success, the only people who will ever amount to anything are the
  few who can afford to spend thousands of dollars.

  4. Account cancellations up the wazoo.

  5. Bankruptcy.

Achaea doesn't have to deal with #1, because a) You don't HAVE to
give us a dime, and people seem to generally recognize the
trade-off, and we don't get hit with #3, because you just can't buy
the stuff that makes the biggest impact in Achaea: reputation.

>> Aparently the real world that most of us are living in is
>> different from your hypothetical real world.

> And I'll keep my world-view that you guys are the ones in
> Fantasyland.  Which of us is right?  Let's talk in 5 years.

Well, I know this: We're right at the moment, and jokesters like
Blacksnow aren't going to change that.

--matt

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