[MUD-Dev] Guest Voices #2: Griefing in Online Games

Jaycen Rigger jaycen.rigger at sbcglobal.net
Fri May 13 19:00:24 New Zealand Standard Time 2005


Joseph Hewitt <joseph at hewitt.org> wrote:

> Verifying who said what is a lot easier than implementing a system
> of digital signatures. You simply keep a good number of lines of
> each user’s chat log in a buffer on the server. When a user puts
> in a customer service ticket (any CS ticket) that buffer is
> attached to the ticket. The CSR should then be able to view that
> record from within his CS tool. Since it is all done server side
> it is already secure.

It seems so obvious, but it's brilliant!  I already log every single
event on the server but they just amass in these huge log files.  I
just go in and empty them out every once in a while.

And we do include an input request from the player issuing the
complaint to tag it to the "offending" player.  Great stuff.

> But all is a minor detail to what should be the main point which
> is that developers need to take customer service more seriously. I
> am sure every one of you is thinking, “Yeah like my company does.”
> But you don’t.  Everybody says the words but nobody backs them up
> with the deeds. Customer service tools are given a very low
> importance during development, they are underdeveloped, and don’t
> address many of the CSR’s basic needs. CSR personal are in many
> cases underpaid temp labor that don’t have anywhere near the
> knowledge of the game they are providing support for.  Other
> departments treat the CS department as the black sheep of the
> family.

Preach on, brother!  Oh man, this is what I've been trying to convey
in regards to the "moral issues" so many guys can't seem to fathom
on this forum.

Too right on the CS thing, too.  I think it's because the company
can't measure the direct, bottom-line effect of the CS staff.
Adminstrators can't crunch intangibles and simply can't understand
that by underserving their clients by not having enough,
well-trained, well-treated CSRs - they are losing money.  It doesn't
tie directly to a sale, so it doesn't exist.

Customer Service is a value added department in your company.

The rest of your post is amazing, but not a surprise.  My knowledge
of Customer Service departments comes from my paying job where I
used to be Technical Support Manager.  The details were different,
but the tune is the same.

Hell, I even have an example from my own server.  The original
developer of this script set wrote his own spawner for mobs.  The
Game Masters could go in and modify, add or delete spawns, and there
was a lot of flexibility in the system.

It was impossible to use:

  1.  You had to know the internal directory structure to create a
  spawn because you had to type in the mob template name along with
  the directory the template was found in.

  2.  The terminology on the interface was correct, but it wasn't
  intuitive.  People were constantly reporting broken spawns because
  where you were supposed to type in the number of mobs you wanted
  to spawn in that area, it looked like it was telling you how many
  mobs were currently spawned in that area, so everyone left it at
  zero.

  3.  There were holes and other intuitive use problems that just
  made this very powerful and useful system extremely clunky and
  frustrating for anyone to use.

We've been dedicating a lot of time to making life easy on Game
Masters.

> The game should have built in systems that monitor the rate of exp
> and money earned damage per second done, travel speed. It should
> have some system to know when mobs are stuck or under the world or
> are being attacked and cannot attack back

You're absolutely right.  That's going on the list.

> It should also monitor CSR behavior, logging all CSR level
> commands.

Absolutely.  The corruption of power, especially when you have to
promote from within (from the player-base) is so very tempting.
We've already got a command logger.

> The container knows what items are in it, but the items have no
> idea what containers they are in. Etc.

My master save file lists items by the containers they're sitting
in.  POL rocks.

> Player characters and every single game item needs to have a
> unique identifier that will never be changed or reused. Makes
> sense, but I’ve seen this not be the case time and time again. The
> system should even check IDs to make sure duplicates don’t
> exist. There was a case in UO where a bug or dupe would create an
> item with the same ID as an existing item. Guess what happened
> when somebody deleted a sword with the same ID as your house?

Holy carp, are you serious?  I just assumed everyone was already
doing this.  That's just unbelievable.

> Finally you need to make sure you players understand your game’s
> policies. I can tell you they aren’t reading that 4 page ELUA...

No doubt.  I never do.  It's all junk nobody ever enforces anyway,
and if you're reasonably intelligent and a reasonably decent human
being, you shouldn't have to worry about breaking any of those rules
anyway.

Since I'm using OSI's client, I wrote my own character creation
interface once you actually get on to the server.  It starts by
listing my rules out and forcing you to check the "I agree box"
before moving on to race/class selection, etc.  It means people have
to go through two character creation systems, but hey, it's a free
server:-)

Thanks,

Jaycen
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