A Clove of Garlic
The care and feeding of a roleplaying-oriented MU** can be a vampiric task, leaving you drained, weary and ready to run a stake through its heart.
I know there are times at OtherSpace when my patience is tested until I ask myself: Why bother anymore?
That's when I refocus myself on the reasons I started running the place to begin with: Playing characters and sharing stories.
I turn off other distractions, such as the OOC public channels. I set myself invisible, activating stealth mode. I close myself off to all but the most vital communication channels - primarily one or two staff channels, so my aides can alert me to critical concerns.
Then, having shut myself in a cave, I start bringing on my favorite characters, switching from management mode to player mode.
Suddenly, I'm dealing with these sources of aggrevation on their level and, with many of them, learning why they're worth the trouble they sometimes cause: They know how to roleplay, and their talent challenges me to hone my own. Sometimes, of course, I encounter people who can't RP and whose behavior reinforces why they annoy me - but in the guise of an average character I can offer helpful hints without the other person thinking the game's creator is coming down on them.
If you find yourself being dragged all too often into bickering matches and insult lobbing on channels, do yourself a favor: Shut up. Turn off the channels. Get back to basics.
More often than not, the people we spar with on channels just make convenient targets. It's wiser to think twice before launching an attack for public consumption. Feel the need to lay smack down? Keep it private. I've been guilty of publicizing my own differences with players more than once. It's a destructive cycle. They get you mad. You demonstrate superior wit and intellect, show them who's boss, and get cheers from your fans. But, in many cases, as cool as you may feel immediately after putting the hooligan in his or her place, what you have actually done is engendered an atmosphere of abuse of power.
Most of the people who anger you will be kids, and they won't always be the brightest bulbs in the Home Depot. So you humiliate them on a public channel for the entertainment of others? Congratulations, Big Guy, that's like sucker punching a blind man in a crowded subway.
Your MU** doesn't have to be a democracy, but avoid turning it into a Roman circus.
Don't let problem players run amok. But if you have to set them on the right path - or show them the door - keep it private.
And if you're feeling overwhelmed by those management duties that cause build-up of residual anger - give yourself a break, lean on your staff, and RP.
- Wes Platt, known online as Brody, is the creator of OtherSpace: The Interactive SF Saga, which can be found at http://www.otherspace.org. He also moderates the Top MUD Sites roleplaying forum at http://www.topmudsites.com. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.