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Old 08-31-2007, 10:38 AM   #21
Xerihae
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Re: Professional vs Hobbyist

Quote:
Originally Posted by Detah View Post
A mud can identify itself as one thing per section. A player should be able to select multiple boxes when doing searches.

Education:
[ ] At least one member of the staff has a BS or higher in computer science/programming.
[ ] More than one member of the staff has a BS or higher in computer science/programming.
[ ] Every member of the staff has a BS or higher in computer science/programming.
Again, this isn't really a useful category to me. Whether or not the people running a MUD have degrees in any of those subjects doesn't mean the game is going to be any better run than one where the staff don't have the degrees. Plus I don't know how it is in the US these days, but here in the UK I know people with degrees like the ones you mention above that still have problems with the most basic computer skills and I wouldn't waste the time of an interview on for a MUD staff position.
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Old 08-31-2007, 11:05 AM   #22
Valg
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Re: Professional vs Hobbyist

Quote:
Originally Posted by Detah View Post
Education:
[ ] No member of the staff has a BS or higher in computer science/programming.
[ ] At least one member of the staff has a BS or higher in computer science/programming.
[ ] More than half of the staff have a BS or higher in computer science/programming.
[ ] Every member of the staff has a BS or higher in computer science/programming.
I don't think degrees in computer science have a meaningful correlation to MUD quality-- I'd argue that it's just as valuable to have writers, HR/management experts, an artist or two, actors, and other professions, especially in a roleplaying environment. You need some level of computer expertise to keep things running and implement new features, but a degree is neither necessary nor sufficient to provide that.

The last two categories strike me as especially irrelevant-- if a commercial MUD hires an accountant, does that somehow affect that 'education' level of the staff negatively? Do you really want only computer scientists writing your areas? It'll turn into TRON, people!

(Actually, some of my favorites on our (fantasy genre) game were written by computer scientists. Only joking!)
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Old 08-31-2007, 11:12 AM   #23
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Re: Professional vs Hobbyist

I personally do not care if the admin (or any staff member) has a MS in compsci. But some potential players might use that as one more characteristic of a "professional" mud. That is the real issue. I think that is what some people are contesting here. I am just trying to find some solutions to appease everyone. I do believe that there are solutions that will accommodate everyone. Maybe I havent put my finger on it, but there are many options here. I don't think the 'prof' vs 'amateur' route is going to resolve anything. Not only are the words too loaded, but the variance within each is huge. It doesnt provide the mud searcher with useful information.

I am an amateur admin. Im an intermediate level builder. My mud is still in alpha for goodness sakes. Most of these issues are irrelevant to me. But I can definitely understand how and why commercial muds, would want to have several categories which declare their excellence in several different ways, including categories for number of admin (In my experience free muds have far fewer staff) and experience of staff. That seems fair to me. More importantly, we want to give the right signals to the mudsearchers with these categories. If we have 6 different sections for various 'quality' measures, then players can choose for themselves which issues are important to them in determining quality. Maybe players do not care about education level. Maybe that is NOT correlated with quality. Maybe the number of BAs in english actually matters. I dont know. If the player doesnt care about the BSs in compsci, then they can NOT select that box and it will search ALL muds on that category. But I am in favor of letting the searcher decide among multiple alternatives, as opposed to having just one dichotomous (and vague) category representing the real issue (quality).

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Old 08-31-2007, 11:12 AM   #24
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Re: Professional vs Hobbyist

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xerihae View Post
Again, this isn't really a useful category to me. Whether or not the people running a MUD have degrees in any of those subjects doesn't mean the game is going to be any better run than one where the staff don't have the degrees.
Agreed.
I think the best action is to just drop the entire professional/hobbyist suggestion, since it was obviously not made in good faith.

'What is Quality in a game?' is a real hard thing to quantify, but is probably worthy of its own thread.

Just as I think that 'What does fair mean to you?' is worthy of its own thread, even if neither of the subjects will result in any new checkboxes for the search engine.
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Old 08-31-2007, 02:23 PM   #25
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Re: Professional vs Hobbyist

There are a few things, though, that relate to the "professionalism" of a game:
  • Is there a wizard/immortal on 24x7?
  • Are game backups taken daily?
  • Is the game run on a shared or dedicated system?
  • Is the system on uninterruptible power?
  • Is the system in a dedicated "data center environment"? (climate controlled)
  • Are there system operators monitoring the systems 24x7?
  • What is the network bandwidth of the site?
  • Can h/w failures be addressed within a day?
So without getting into the people so much (paid/unpaid/education/etc.), some of the above could be important criteria. Having games go down, have to reset a week back, etc. can be pretty annoying.
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Old 08-31-2007, 02:31 PM   #26
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Re: Professional vs Hobbyist

I like those system-related measures, stated by Zhiroc. I would also add to that some measure for playerfile backup frequency.

[] playerfiles are backed up daily
[] playerfiles are backed up weekly
[] playerfiles are backed up monthly
[] playerfiles are backed up bimonthly
[] playerfiles are backed up semi-annually
[] playerfiles are backed up annually
[] playerfiles are backed up instantly (eg. resides on a RAID setup)

or some similar groupings.

Detah@Arcania

EDIT: Ive been told my RAID comment is not accurate for 'backups' per se. I retract that example.

Last edited by Detah : 08-31-2007 at 03:45 PM.
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Old 08-31-2007, 03:13 PM   #27
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Re: Professional vs Hobbyist

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zhiroc View Post
There are a few things, though, that relate to the "professionalism" of a game:
  • Is there a wizard/immortal on 24x7?
  • Are game backups taken daily?
  • Is the game run on a shared or dedicated system?
  • Is the system on uninterruptible power?
  • Is the system in a dedicated "data center environment"? (climate controlled)
  • Are there system operators monitoring the systems 24x7?
  • What is the network bandwidth of the site?
  • Can h/w failures be addressed within a day?
So without getting into the people so much (paid/unpaid/education/etc.), some of the above could be important criteria. Having games go down, have to reset a week back, etc. can be pretty annoying.

These cover a fraction of the professionalism of a game, all but one related to the physical stability of the server.

Quote:
* Is there a wizard/immortal on 24x7?
Does there need to be? If there does, is that a good sign or bad? Open to debate.

Quote:
* Are game backups taken daily?
How far do you take that? I know of at least one very high profile MUD that thought their backups were being taken daily but their provider at the time hadn't tested any backups and they weren't good. I know of another down for a week while an entire city was without power (Hurricane Charley, ouch).

You would also need:
- What is your retention schedule for backups?
- How often are backups taken off-site? Where?
- How often do you do a test restore of backups?

Quote:
* Is the game run on a shared or dedicated system?
* Is the system on uninterruptible power
* Is the system in a dedicated "data center environment"? (climate controlled)
Also valuable, but shared/dedicated only goes so far.
- "Do you have a written security practice for your server?".
- "Do you do your own penetration testing?"
- "What is your disclosure policy on any successful hacks that may occur?"
- "How do you protect yourselves from DDOS attacks?"

Quote:
* Are there system operators monitoring the systems 24x7?
System operators don't care about your mud. Your mud could be frozen and they don't care if the server looks healthy. Exceptions might be the hosting companies that specialize in MUDs such as Wolfpaw. Needs to be elaborated:
- Test the MUD can be reached.
- Test the pfile checksums are all intact (you do have checksums right?)
- Can you login?
- Is its heartbeat (or equivalent) running?

Quote:
  • What is the network bandwidth of the site?
  • Can h/w failures be addressed within a day?
The number of bps isn't really relevant without knowing the type of MUD, average online, etc. More useful for a player to know about latency, rate of connection "drops" (often ignored by hosting companies as it doesn't affect web sites if links drops but can immediately reconnect). A non-ANSI MUSH needs much lower bandwidth for 100 players than an ANSI/RIP mud with color overhead map feeding a custom made java client.

As for h/w failures, you could argue that the person running the mud out of their basement on a cable modem is in a better position than anyone here assuming they have another machine in the house somewhere.

Not trying to give you a hard time, as a CISSP (its a security cert) this stuff is interesting to me, but in terms of judging a MUD's professionalism this seems to have a massive bias towards availability over everything else that comes into play in the day to day running of the MUD itself.

As with most of the other recent discussions, we could add dozens of categories and there'd still be missing information.
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Old 08-31-2007, 03:16 PM   #28
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Re: Professional vs Hobbyist

Agreed.

Stability, uptime and regular and frequent backups, especially of playerfiles, are important factors to players, and could be valid additions to the search engine.

Those factors are not exclusive to commercial Muds however.
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Old 08-31-2007, 03:39 PM   #29
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Re: Professional vs Hobbyist

The thrust of my points run into a few things:

1. Availability: having a data center, T1 lines, climate control all relate to the professionalism of the hardware. Maybe not so much the network bandwidth, but DSL is not something to be running a game through. Imagine a game where the owner started a software download through a small pipe...

2. Recovery: when failures/disasters happen, can you get back up? True, backups fail when you need them a lot But still, tell me you're trying... Having alternate h/w or guaranteed replacement means it's not down a week, or a month, or until you get enough donations to buy a new box

3. Problem resolution: Having a wizard/imm around is important to do conflict resolution, rather than having to let it fester til the morning. Or to reset a bugged quest. Or... etc. Having on-site operators lets you get the system rebooted if it's hung. I've been on games when it's down all night when that happened.

I doubt that any of this would be useful as a searchable criteria. But it sure would be nice to see what a game says about how far they've planned for it.
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Old 08-31-2007, 05:27 PM   #30
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Re: Professional vs Hobbyist

See now Zhiroc, I would expect your criteria for ANY game I played, whether professional or hobby - with the possible exception of item #1 - though having your own T-3 (T-1 is SO five minutes ago) would be a bonus.

If *I* was doing a search for a "professional" game, I'd be looking to see if it was run in a professional manner. Personally I don't give two cahoots if the admin had his own data center, or had photographic memory and didn't need no stinkin data center. Or, if he simply put all his data on an old 5.25 floppy in a wordpad file every day. As long as he behaves himself like a mature adult when he runs his game.

If a game had everything you listed, but the owner sitebanned people he didn't like, simply because he didn't like them, I would think it about as UNprofessional as it gets. If it had everything, and the admin invited everyone to his house for a gathering each year, but told three players they couldn't come because they weren't good looking enough, I'd think that's pretty damned UNprofessional.

On the other hand, if he was the most dignified guy in the world, with so much integrity you could smell the roses from a mile away, sunk his heart and soul into the game, spent every spare moment of every day on improvements, was fair to everyone, at all times, worked the soup kitchen in town on Sundays after church every day, but his game was chock-full of typos, the code was loaded with bugs, and he used a hosting service that couldn't give him access except on alternate Tuesdays and every Wednesday between 3 and 6 in the morning, I'd consider THAT unprofessional too. Even if the guy was a top-notch professional coder for MicroSloth.

I want to know if the game runs. I want to know if it runs well enough to be worth playing. I want to know that it's well-written. I want to know that there's someone available to check the code, make improvements, and keep an eye out for disruptive players. I want to know that I don't have to pay any money to get anything from within the game, BUT that if I wanted to, they would allow me to send a little something to help support the costs of running it. I would also want to know that the coders and admin know what they're doing - whether they have a B.S., or if they simply started coding or being in charge of their cubscout softball team when they were 12 years old and progressed naturally until they were experts at it (coding or admining). I don't care if they code for a living. I don't care that they have their Masters. I -do- care that they behave like adults, listen to the players' concerns, provide appropriate and polite feedback when and if necessary or requested, and don't arbitrarily siteban someone for something someone else claimed happened, without even asking for the bannee's side of the story - simply because the tattleteller is a buddy, or a friend of a friend, or sent her some peppermint schnapps one year, or is a fellow staff member.

To me, THOSE are the things that mark a professional from a non-professional. And THOSE are the things I would use as criteria for professional/non-professional, if I was interested in actually searching for new games to play.
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Old 08-31-2007, 05:30 PM   #31
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Re: Professional vs Hobbyist

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sanvean View Post
I think there's a great deal of value in professionalism -- I don't know that I feel the same about professional. I've seen pay to play games that I've considered very badly run and/or which were short-lived. I do agree that a mud that is pay to play may be more accountable to the players. The players have consumer power and can leave, but so do people playing free muds - they can move elsewhere, and I don't think any game admin is happy to see that sort of migration.
Very true.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mina
*sigh* Because like every other check box we could ever attempt on here, people will just check what they've justified themselves into being.

For example, if you have players who are "Paid" by working for credits in the game, are they paid or volunteer? It could go either way depending on what the admins feel would be "best" for their mud in the listing.
This is true as well. There proof is only in going to the mud after they've checked that they are the biggest, baddest, most competant mud in the universe and you get to find the truth.
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