[MUD-Dev] Re: Black Snow Revisited

Fred Clift fred at clift.org
Mon Apr 1 11:49:09 New Zealand Daylight Time 2002

On Sat, 30 Mar 2002, Norman Short wrote:

> Sure, you own the servers.  You have the right to determine if
> accounts are doing what you want them to do and remove them if you
> want.  That's reality, but this isn't the totality of the
> argument.  Also, part of what I was saying was that in the real
> world things can happen that you don't like but have no control
> over.  Go ahead; police the entire internet, I dare you :).

I'm not sure how you keep thinking 'intent' need be measured here -
the accounts in question were ebay auctions -- it seems that the
intent of putting an item up for bid to the highest seller is pretty
clear.  Are you saying that the ebay auctions that were canceled
could not be interpreted as 'intent to sell'?

>> service.  Are you implying that a company wanting to write a
>> contract that lets them keep some control over their own property
>> is unamerican or anti-business?  I suggest that the opposite is
>> true.

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

Intent comes up again -- it seems clear to me that anyone who puts
thier items up for sale on an auction site _intends_ to sell it.  It
would be a big stretch of logic to say that there was some other

> outside of it.  You guys want god-like powers over your game
> world, and in the real world you're dreaming.

No, we just want people to abide by the contract they agreed to when
subscribing to the service we provide.  I do think that it gets a
bit muddy when game companies sell thier game client for a lot of
money, and then on top of that want a subscription.  One could ask
"what was it I bought then?  I $3 CD and a $5 book and $10 worth of
1 month subscription to the world?  Then why did I pay $50?  For me
that type of argument holds the most pursuasive power.  I mean after
all, what are you buying at the store?

However, what if the company was giving away the client?  ie you
could download the whole client and just pay the subscription? Seems
like this would be fine too once there is a bit more bnadwidth
available to the average user - they could have 'we create a new
charcter for you' fee written into the contract at $30 and then
$10/month after that.  Might even cost less than selling a box on
the shelf.  At any rate, in response to your statement that I want
'god-like' powers in the world - yes I do -- it is the only way that
a game can be properly balanced and it goes a long way toward
ensuring that I can make the game world a fun place for paying
customers to come and play.

>> 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.

I wasn't changing the subject, I was just ignoring your ill-reasoned
rantings about game owners juging people's intent when with ebay,
the intent seems very clear.  I _do_ think that the case is
absoultely about contract enforcement and NOT about judging people's
intent like you keep saying.

> Ok, lets just say it's illegal, which I'm not convinced of and
> nobody has had the guts to test in court.  Let's even give you
> it's something you shouldn't ignore.  Now where are you?  An
> unpoliceable internet, and you're trying to enforce the speech and
> actions outside the game since you can't tell whether the actual
> transactions in game are based on out-of-game speech or a regular
> one.  Even if I give you everything you think you have in the way
> of legal rights, you're still screwed in the real world.

So?  If I choose to run a business this way, and I have a contract
with you that allows me these rights, then what does it matter?  So
what if it is not 'good business' to do it?  I have the right to
control my world, my creation, my servers.  Even if I do stupid or
annoying things to them.

>> No legal matters need to be started, but the contract can be
>> cancelled if the customer does not keep his end of the deal.

> 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.

Well, it seems pretty easy to determine intent ("want to sell
item/character") when you find someone advertising for sale a
character or item from the game.  Are you saying that it is not?
Sure there are some cases where intent is hard to judge, but this
does not mean I should ignore the ones where it is exceptionally
clear.  An example was given in another message about someone
trading a summer's worth of lawn-care for some UO twinking.  Would
the folks at UO be able to police this?  I doubt it.  Would they be
able to stop such trades?  no.  Should the then just blithely allow
the ones that do see?  no.  Should they probably change their
business model to make it have less effect on their world? probably
yes, but that is not my or your business.

>> think that this would drive away other players.  Or, perhaps it
>> would keep people from buying more accounts when they wanted to


> talking about trades outside game.  In fact that is what you are
> doing, since you have no way to know if money changed hands.


> 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.  You just
> changed

I dont have to show this though -- I have to show only that you
violate the (potentially crazy, odd, non-business-sense-inspired)
rules - like "people with moles on the left side of their face can't
play".  If you like to me and I dont verify and allow you to play,
would I be violating the contract if I found out you had the mole?

>> Now wether this is a good business practice or not, I dont know -
>> I dont know the particulars.  Even then, something being a 'bad
>> business practice' doesn't make it illegal or unamerican.

> Hindering people with using their time to make a buck, sounds
> unAmerican to me.

Talk to every online stock-broker in the world about this -- or
perhaps every Internet Service Provider - people pay for it, people
waste their time, the provider makes a buck.  People pay to waste
their time because they seem to enjoy doing it.

>> for not role-playing correctly.  Using Out-Of-Character means to
>> gain some In-Character advantage is bad form and officially
>> 'frowned upon'.  I mean, what possible IC motivation could a
>> character in the world have to just seemingly give away valuable
>> things?

> He's a philanthropist, or has gone mad, or has had an epiphany and
> decides to eschew material possessions.  Easy to come up with an
> IC reason, though that isn't the argument.

Yeah then all I do is walk up with some character that has not payed
him cash in the real world, find that he is only a eschewing
material possesions for some people and not for me.  In our game, we
have people who do sit around and try and judge intent.  Do we get
it wrong all the time?  no.  Do we get it right all the time? no.
Heck - most of the rules violations we find are ones where otehr
players rat out their friends.  As unenforceable as it seems to you,
the player that play our game do so because they enjoy the
environment.  The game is actually there for our entertainment and
our hobby - it happens that other people get some enjoyment out of
it - bonus.  If they dont like it, they _can_ leave -- there are
literally thousands of other muds out there.


Fred Clift - fred at clift.org -- Remember: If brute
force doesn't work, you're just not using enough.

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