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Top Three Twinks - Part 1

To clear up things a bit, let me start by explaining, that my definition of a 'TWINK' is ANY type of player who does not abide to normal regulations and game mechanics, but have 'rules' of their own. They are also generally extremely annoying to other players, intentionally or not.

A 'NEWBIE' to me is nothing but a new player; either new to muds in general, or to a certain mud in particular. A Newbie is normally NOT a Twink, although Newbie Twinks are not uncommon. Also the more experienced Twinks are generally a greater problem for your game than the Newbie Twinks.

Secondly, the following is written from the point of view that the mud is at least partly hack'n'slash or PK, and that fighting skills, equipment, levels and exp matter for the advancement, at least to a certain extent. I have no doubt that the same Twink types exist in RP-exclusive Mu*s too, but their approach is probably a bit different there.

Thirdly - and this is maybe the most important point - all that is said about the three Top Twink species below refers to in-game activities.

In the rare cases that the Twink in question is also a hacker/cracker, you have a much more serious situation on your hands. If the Twink is malignant, determined and dishonest enough, you might wake up one morning to find a clone of your mud on the net, imped by one of your Twink ex-players. Or perhaps they just settled for wrecking some crucial things in your shell, or deleting all files, or removing your shell access. (In a time when even the Pentagon and large companies can be hacked by teenagers, there's really no security program good enough to ensure that this doesn't occur. It is a criminal offence of course, so legal actions should be taken if it happens, although I am quite aware of the difficulties there. But at least most servers will terminate the account for a person that can be shown to be engaged in illegal activities or harassment on the net. Otherwise, take some minimum safety precautions: keep good back-ups stored on a computer that isn't connected to the internet, don't use any 'obvious' passwords for your shell, use different ones for the game and the shell and change them frequently).

For a more general approach to the different Twink species, see my two former articles on the subject. However there are three types of Twinks that deserve to be elaborated on a bit more, because they can have a genuine impact on a mud. In fact, depending on how you handle them, they can make or break your mud. These three types can be labelled:

1. The Mud Advocate
2. The Professional Troublemaker
3. The Manipulator

They have several things in common. Mainly they are a bit more intelligent than the average player, often a bit more educated and sometimes - but not necessarily - a bit older. Also all three types are generally very patient in their own twisted way, they often have long time goals and spend a lot of time on line in the mud. Their strongest motivation is usually to get attention. Positive or negative doesn't seem to matter much, as long as they get it. However, some relevant things also separate them. Mainly I'd say it's a sense of humour and self-irony, which the first type almost always lack, while the two others usually have it. This is probably why I like the first type a lot less than the others. So let's start with that one:

1. The Mud Advocate
This type is generally loathed by most Mud Administrators, and I am no exception to the rule. After all, most of us spent a lot of time and effort shaping our games into something we like. So generally we don't take it very kindly when some smug outsider starts lecturing us about how our mud SHOULD be run. And this is how most Mud Advocates start out.

Usually the Mud Advocate approaches the Admin already at level 1, often quite politely, informing you that they run a mud of their own, and then proceeding to report some flaw they noticed in your game. Since they want maximum attention and consider themselves superior, they generally demand to speak to the 'Head Honcho'. If the head guy hides from them by staying invis (which many busy coders do), they move their unwanted attention to the second in command.

They are usually very verbal, so quite often you take your time listening to them at first. They may even have some good ideas that you consider implementing. They are often also good bug reporters; it fits into their pattern. But pretty soon you realise what it is you have got on your hands, because their attitude gives them away. They seldom use the 'bug' and 'typo' commands available in most muds, since they want personal attention. They also expect you to correct any typo or bug that they report immediately, however small it may be. If you tell them that you may have more important things on your agenda list, they keep 'reminding' you every time they see you on line. At least initially they are reasonably 'polite' in their approach, but they are also generally smug, arrogant and patronising. The Mud Advocates never suggest, or even request, they DEMAND.

But above all, they never know when to stop. They are prepared to argue with you over ANY issue for an indefinite length of time. They never take no for an answer. They never stop arguing. If you take your time trying to explain matters to them - (for example WHY you don't think it a good idea to implement a certain feature that they want) - they take this as an encouragement to rake up every argument in the book, why things should be done THEIR way instead. They never stop. They can keep it up for hours, or just as long as you let them. If you put them on ignore or just stop answering their tells, they take their arguments to the open channels. If you mute them, they take it to the discussion board and post endless, lengthy notes, which nobody has any interest to read. If you remove their posts because of the spam, they start screaming about censorship and suppression of free speech. If you freeze them or ban them, they take their grievances to open Discussion Forums, like TMC or this site, telling everyone there about how unfairly treated they were, and keeping the arguments going for ever. We've all seen several of those threads on the Discussion Boards.

The Mud Advocate can be any of the basic types of Twinks, but is usually either an out-of-control Pkiller or a 'Crusader'. They all have got one thing in common, however. They think that rules in the games apply to everybody else but themselves. They are usually quite experienced players, experienced enough to have tired of he usual mortal game. Regrettably this also makes them believe that they are superior to everybody else - (including the imps) - and they make no secret of their belief either. They also have a tendency to think that they OWN the mud they 'favour' with their presence, since they have spent X hours of 'work' on it. They never once stop to consider the fact that the only 'work' they spent on it was playing the game to enhance their OWN exp and equipment. They frequently make statements like: 'Players are more important to a Mud than Imms'. Again they never consider that there wouldn't even BE a mud for them, or others, to play, unless someone paid the server bill every month and several imms spent countless hours of REAL work on the code and the zones of the mud.

Sure, good players are important to a mud. However, I'd never characterise a 'Mud Advocate' as a 'good player', whatever their gaming skills might be. In fact they are usually quite detrimental to a mud, because they annoy the heck out of both the staff and the player-base.

If they are Pkillers, they generally have some weird 'IC' excuse for persecuting certain players. They can be against everybody that wears a certain type of equipment, against a special Clan, against all females or Mages, or just present some real or invented grievance against some player who allegedly done them or their family wrong in the past. So they set out to get 'IC revenge', always paying ten for one, and usually making sure to sac or junk the equipment of their victims. Since they are generally experienced players, they are often also good Pkillers, who know all the tricks of the trade, including when to flee from a fight that you cannot win. If certain players are strong enough to get them, they take care never to leave a safe room, while those players are on. If some players gang up on them, they wimp out, and then wait patiently until they can catch any of those players alone on the mud. Then out of the blue, they attack, kill and loot. They never forgive or forget. They always retaliate.

But the most characteristic thing about this type, is that they have one set of rules for themselves and another for the rest of the mud. Should they get pkilled themselves as retaliation, they immediately whine and complain to the imms, screaming about 'harassment'. They usually report all attempts of bug-cheating that they witness, while at the same time feeling absolutely free to abuse the same bugs themselves, once they've reported them. They are generally smug bigots, who tattle to the imms every time some player happens to use a four-letter word on the open channel. This does of course not stop them from using expressions themselves like 'faggot, gay, retard' etc. about and to others.

They constantly bitch and whine about something or everything, big or small. And there are always things to complain about in a mud. Perhaps the imms lowered the stats on some popular equipment, or made the mobs harder to balance the game? Perhaps there is an irritating bug that the coders haven't been able to fix? Perhaps the imp demoted their favourite imm for some reason that is quite clear to the staff, but obscure to the morts? Perhaps they were killed and looted by a large group ganging up on them? Perhaps their equip vanished, and the imms refused to restore it? Perhaps they were muted for being disrespectful, or punished for cheating with a code bug or some builder's mistake. I any event; if there is no REAL cause for a grievance, they invent one.

Naturally they are NEVER at fault themselves. In their own eyes, they are without flaw. It's always the fault of some other player, or maybe even an imm. And whatever the issue, they argue about it indefinitely, trying to stir up as many of the other players as possible in the process too. Luckily they are seldom very successful in this. The 'Mud Advocates' quite often end up as the most unpopular players in the game.

I have very little sympathy for this type. The best thing I can say about them is that they are good as bug reporters and snitches - IF you can put up with their Holier-than-Thou attitude. Sooner or later they'll probably start getting on your nerves however, and then you'll perhaps start avoiding them by going invis as soon as you see them log on. (This is a bad thing, because imms should be visible as much as possible, for the players to be able to communicate with them. But a Mud Advocate, when allowed, drains ALL your energy, leaving no time for other players). In the end there may be no option left but to ban them, because normal rational reasoning doesn't work with this sort of people.

We had a couple of the type about a year ago in our mud. During their short stay they stirred up more resentment among the players than all others put together. But they also reported about a dozen bugs, two of which were major ones, and exposed a cheating device that had been going on for some time. However useful they were, I could never bring myself to like them. I am pretty tolerant, but quite frankly, they gave me the creeps. However, when we finally banned them, it was not because of me resenting them, but because of a general request from an almost totally united player-base.

The Mud Advocate is sometimes a bit better as Imm than as player, because obviously they like the position of 'power'. However they have a tendency to keep up the same pattern as imms, tiring the rest of the staff out with endless arguments and suggestions that don't fit into the pattern of the mud. And occasionally they go 'power-tripping too. As imps - well, I guess they'd start arguing with themselves... :-P

About the author:
Molly O'Hara is the Head Builder and one of the three imps of 4 Dimensions.
But she also has a past as Manipulator, Troublemaker and even at times - *gasp!* - Mud Advocate on a Mud called Age of Chivalry, which has since then closed down.
E-mail: molly.4d@swipnet.se
Address: Homepage: http://www.4d.mud-puddle.net
Mud: 4d.mud-puddle.net Port 6000