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Old 09-17-2007, 10:06 PM   #1
Raesanos
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Admining and Playing

Just out of curiosity, how many people who administrate MUDs still play them? I personally gradually stopped playing after I started admining. It was never really a conscious decision but all my time started going to the admin side. Did this happen to you too? How many people balance admining and playing successfully?
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Old 09-17-2007, 10:15 PM   #2
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Re: Admining and Playing

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Originally Posted by Raesanos View Post
Just out of curiosity, how many people who administrate MUDs still play them? I personally gradually stopped playing after I started admining. It was never really a conscious decision but all my time started going to the admin side. Did this happen to you too? How many people balance admining and playing successfully?
I do not play my own mud mostly because I feel that I would have an unfair advantage in many ways. I do still play other muds and other games simply because it would be a horrible thing to make games and be out of touch with players.

Being an admin does take a lot of time, but it's not why I stopped playing our game. If our game were designed differently and did not revolve around roleplay so much, I probably would have kept on playing. (Information is power in our game.) I know I wasn't ready to give up my character when I did.
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Old 09-17-2007, 10:21 PM   #3
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Re: Admining and Playing

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...it would be a horrible thing to make games and be out of touch with players.
This is a very good point, I do like to create a character and go live a day in the shoes of a player every so often even though I don't play regularly. I do like to check out other MUDs now and then too but again don't play any of them regularly.
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Old 09-17-2007, 11:13 PM   #4
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Re: Admining and Playing

I play. Not as much as I'd like, but I do still play characters. Most everyone knows which ones are mine, and they're primarily around to help move plots along.
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Old 09-18-2007, 12:55 AM   #5
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Re: Admining and Playing

I haven't really played a whole lot since becoming staff - of course I try to stay current, but that's more like testing than actually playing for playing's sake. Partly because of time constraints, but mostly because I find it very difficult to go back to how things were, I find it hard to play naturally and organically. Like what Brody said - characters tend to exist in order to move the plot along, or have some kind of ulterior staff-level motive, some reason for being other than "fun". I feel like once you see and know everything, a lot of the mystique and excitement is gone. I wish that I could go back and play and just do what I find fun, rather than be constantly thinking about trying to do what's good for the game, and other staff concerns. Oh well.
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Old 09-18-2007, 02:38 AM   #6
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Re: Admining and Playing

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I feel like once you see and know everything, a lot of the mystique and excitement is gone. I wish that I could go back and play and just do what I find fun, rather than be constantly thinking about trying to do what's good for the game, and other staff concerns.
I think Muirdach summed it up very neatly. Seeing the cogs and wheels behind the stage pretty much took the fun out of playing for me. But it was time more than anything else that made me stop playing long before I became admin. The only time I log my mort on nowadays is to test some details in a new zone, but we usually use players for testplaying, since it is easier to catch someone else's typos and other mistakes.

Building, if you do it seriously and consistently is a full-time job. Time is limited, so it's a choice you have to make. Many 'Builders' stop building after they've completed their first zone, and got an imm for it. They can still be good imms, working with less time consuming imm tasks, but they are no longer Builders.

We actually encourage our staff to keep on playing, to keep in touch with the game, and many of them do, but mostly on a 'social' basis. Of course we also have detailed and pretty strict rules about what they are allowed to do - or rather not do. We've also taken several precautions to prevent any cheating. In all the years we've been on line, there has only been two cases when imms where caught at it. Both were thrown out immediately. I have zero tolerance for cheating imms.

Once you become Staff, your priorities must change. You have to look to the good of the game rather than what is good for you, your Clan or your friends. This can lead to some hard choices at times, but for people with integrity and honesty it shouldn't be too hard to make the right choice.
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Old 09-18-2007, 12:11 PM   #7
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Re: Admining and Playing

I'm the same as Brody. I play, and my alts are mainly for storyline purposes.
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Old 09-20-2007, 06:54 AM   #8
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Re: Admining and Playing

I always try to make time to play, and I encourage the staff to do so as well. It's not required, of course, so some of them choose not to. I find that it keeps us more "in touch" with the playerbase. And they can see us as not only the Big Bad Bosses, but as players too.
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Old 09-20-2007, 07:01 AM   #9
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Re: Admining and Playing

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I always try to make time to play, and I encourage the staff to do so as well. It's not required, of course, so some of them choose not to. I find that it keeps us more "in touch" with the playerbase. And they can see us as not only the Big Bad Bosses, but as players too.
I agree that it's very useful to see things from the player's perspective, and also good if the players can see staff more on their level, too. However, there are two sides to it - there's always the danger that rather than players seeing you as a fellow player, they start looking around and wondering which of their fellow players are actually Big Bad Bosses in disguise, spying on them.
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Old 09-20-2007, 07:12 AM   #10
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Re: Admining and Playing

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However, there are two sides to it - there's always the danger that rather than players seeing you as a fellow player, they start looking around and wondering which of their fellow players are actually Big Bad Bosses in disguise, spying on them.
Very true. And we do have a few players that do that, but that number is very small thankfully. A fair number of our playerbase are glad to see us playing as well as running things.
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Old 10-21-2007, 11:15 PM   #11
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Re: Admining and Playing

I play and encourage/require my builders to play. Otherwise you get builders making gigantic projects which SEEM cool but which no players will actually use.

Being a player gives you a certain idea of what is working and what isn't, too. Things that SEEM like great ideas for balance as an Admin often suck goat nuts as a player.

I like seeing it from both sides.
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Old 10-24-2007, 03:15 PM   #12
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Re: Admining and Playing

DE's long term policy has been to never imm a person who hasn't played here. That has been a good strategy since it gives a grounding to the wannabe staff member and frankly I don't think its possible to be a good imm on a game you wouldn't have played yourself. There have been an exception or two to this, however, but very very very rarely (the game's original founder was one obvious exception).

It is, however, completely true that Imping on a game is a pretty much full time task that leaves little time for the mortal characters. Its also hard to let go of the sense of duty (being expected to do something) even when logged in as a mort (the whole use of alts to push RP forward thing that was mentioned earlier). And some of the sense of wonder passes when you know the mechanics behind the mprogs and the formulae for the code and some of the OOC background stuff behind the apparently strictly IC actions.

In my case it was partly a conscious decision, partly a sense of drifting away from the day to day mechanics.My profile is more of a manager/RPer in DE and I kinda figured that my contribution as an imm would be much greater then my morts. At the same time, it was also a conscious decision to return to playing mortal characters after a gap of several years. Why?

1. Its essential to make sure you are in touch with reality and the experiences of your playerbase and that you as an imp deliver what is expected of you. This involves both making the administrative calls which are needed, but is also a consequence of the fact that people tend to treat imps as if they are a live bomb that is about to explode at any moment (for the lack of better words; its almost impossible to get an honest opinion out of an average player if you ask him as an imp)

2. Have an independent source of information. Read previous para. Its so damn easy to fall of listening to only the flatterers who tell you what you want to hear. really BAD decisions are made that way.

3. Its a release. If you cant enjoy your own mud, then who can? there are times when you just want to go out and kill something or want to RP something with realistic power. RP for a goddess of Fire is really hard to find without someone either calling it, 1. Powerplay (not my fault I am powerful!) or 2. Favouritism (you favour your clan, alignment, friends). A mort (especially a lowbie one) permits you to simply BE.

That I am basically saying is, its HARD to draw that balance, but for me its essential to be a good admin.
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Old 10-27-2007, 03:08 AM   #13
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Re: Admining and Playing

There is a definitely a conflict of interest there and I never have done this, I still jump into NPCs of course, but actively playing a PC? I think that goes against the job of an admin, which is to work on the mud. If you wanna play you should resign your position on staff.

Wouldn't it be administrating not admining? Heh.
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Old 10-27-2007, 09:36 AM   #14
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Re: Admining and Playing

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There is a definitely a conflict of interest there and I never have done this, I still jump into NPCs of course, but actively playing a PC? I think that goes against the job of an admin, which is to work on the mud. If you wanna play you should resign your position on staff.

Wouldn't it be administrating not admining? Heh.
Whether it's a conflict of interest depends on a couple of factors:

1) Are you using your admin powers to *help* advance your character and make them look better?
2) Are you using your "mortal" character to push forward the story in an evolving plot (and thus helping generate activity for the playerbase)?

If the answer to 1 is yes, then it's a conflict of interest. If the answer to 2 is yes, then it's not.

I've seen quite a few people who are staffers manage to play starship commanders or scientists or soldiers as characters separate from their admin personas, and they've done it without abusing code on their characters' behalf.

Of course, our games are much more roleplay/story-oriented than some, so it's not that easy (or even appealing) to try and "cheat" the system. I could see the concern if it was a game that was all about the leveling and the equipment and such.
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Old 10-27-2007, 10:09 AM   #15
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Re: Admining and Playing

Heh, Brody pretty much said the words I was intending to say.

However, assuming even if its NOT a high RP intensive environment, or assuming the situation is created where there is a OOC source of information affecting IC action coming up. There is a big difference between having access to information/being tempted to cheat and using that information/cheating. As an imp I may know where the quest target for my NPC is. It doesn't mean I go ahead and use that info to complete the quest. On a larger scale, I may be an imp/head of RP/leader of a clan/mortal player. Thats perfect ground for people accusing you of favoring your own clan/alignment/race/whatever. However, such accusations haven't been forthcoming, principally because the situation is potentially slippery and ensure that I am not only impartial, but am seen to be so. An imp is like Ceaser's wife- you have to be above reproach. And you better act that way

There is also a third use of a mortal character beyond Brody's 1-2.
3. Just Play. Avoid controversial RP, avoid overpowering yourself, just have a reasonably good character which can kill well in those times when your stuck and inspiration fails you and you just want a break. And doing so in a non newbie area where you aren't crowded and where people don't fall over you trying to be helpful to you since you are an Imp's alt.
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Old 10-30-2007, 04:09 AM   #16
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Re: Admining and Playing

I don't think it matters if you abuse it or not, it's still a conflict of interest.

It's like saying there is no conflict of interest if a general in the us army goes to a base somewhere and wants to train with the units or battallions, no matter how much he might want to do it, that's a conflict of interest, as a general he has immense power over others, and has no place there, if he wants to do that, he should resign as a general and go back to being a sergeant.

I'm sure I could come up with more analogies that's just what came to mind. If you have the power of an admin, you simply shouldn't be playing an active character, especially on an RPI or roleplaying mud, I can't stress enough how much this can hurt your playerbase. It's a huge conflict of interest on RPI's I believe. I'd rather not know that I'm playing with an admin, and if I ever find out, it makes me want to quit the mud that a high-ranking, powerful character is played, ironically by an admin.
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Old 10-30-2007, 07:49 AM   #17
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Re: Admining and Playing

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I don't think it matters if you abuse it or not, it's still a conflict of interest.

It's like saying there is no conflict of interest if a general in the us army goes to a base somewhere and wants to train with the units or battallions, no matter how much he might want to do it, that's a conflict of interest, as a general he has immense power over others, and has no place there, if he wants to do that, he should resign as a general and go back to being a sergeant.

I'm sure I could come up with more analogies that's just what came to mind. If you have the power of an admin, you simply shouldn't be playing an active character, especially on an RPI or roleplaying mud, I can't stress enough how much this can hurt your playerbase. It's a huge conflict of interest on RPI's I believe. I'd rather not know that I'm playing with an admin, and if I ever find out, it makes me want to quit the mud that a high-ranking, powerful character is played, ironically by an admin.
Wow. I can only imagine that you've been badly burned somewhere along the way on an RPI/roleplaying MUD if you think it's a logical comparison to say an admin on a text-based game with talking bears might come close to equaling the influence of a military general or that RP is on par with boot camp.

It's not a fair comparison.

And no matter what comparisons you draw, saying that an admin shouldn't play the game they work on - well, that's a deadly draconian slippery slope. Talk about killing your playerbase! Where do you think most admins *come from*? If your top admin-recruiting line is "You can do all the work, endure all the headaches, earn no pay, but, on the upside, you also don't get to play the game anymore" then you're not going to get many admins.

Edited to add: It might be a fairer comparison to say an admin playing their game is like a Disney employee visiting the Magic Kingdom as a guest - there's nothing wrong with it as long as they don't ruin the experience for other visitors.
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Old 10-30-2007, 08:46 AM   #18
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Re: Admining and Playing

The freedom of staff members to play the game that they administrate is one which holds immense potential for abuse. Three times now I have quit MUDs partially on account of administrator abuse of power (be it favoring their friends or using their position for their own characters' benefit, etc). It does happen though. As far as staff playing their own game, as long as they avoid abuse it shouldn't be a problem. There are several good rules of thumb to prevent incidence of abuse (not completely though if the person in charge of the game is the abuser):

1. Staff can not play characters that are integral to any existing plots. The exception is characters of newly-promoted staff who are already engaged in plots prior to their ascension to staff.
2. Staff can not design and/or operate plots around their own characters or which might benefit their characters. Any character that is integral to a plot and is not a players' character should be an animated NPC.
3. Staff characters can not hold positions of authority (be it social, political, economic, religious, military, etc) within the game.
4. Staff may not manage any clan in which their character is a member.
5. Staff characters may not receive any benefits that are not available to all new players.
6. If a staff character rises in stature naturally over time, be it through any organization or the like in which they are a member, that is acceptable provided that there is no alternative (for example, declining a promotion or refusing to run for office, etc).

There really is no reason for a staff member to have a character in any position of authority. That's what NPCs are for. The only real reason I can see for staff characters wanting to occupy positions of authority instead of using NPCs or PCs is ego. As I've said before, I've encountered that before and it's not pretty. A well-designed plot does not need a PC to guide it. In fact, it stiffles the possibilities of player decisions if the plot has to be hand-fed to them by a staff character. If it needs guidance, animated NPCs are more than adequate to that purpose. But staff characters in such a role tend to do so to emphasize their own glory and desires, be it for the glamour or just to be the center of attention. Staff should serve the story, not vice versa. When staff characters are directing it, it's no longer about the players.

Take care,

Jason
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Old 10-30-2007, 10:06 AM   #19
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Re: Admining and Playing

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There really is no reason for a staff member to have a character in any position of authority. That's what NPCs are for. The only real reason I can see for staff characters wanting to occupy positions of authority instead of using NPCs or PCs is ego.
Well, no, there's another reason for this.

Players can't always be counted on to remain active in positions of authority. And why should they? Positions of authority in a game usually aren't fun. It often boils down to wrangling cats and bureaucracy. Staffers, on the other hand, can occasionally assume walk-on roles of these types of characters as needed.

On OtherSpace, I play the First Consul of Mars and the Senate President on Demaria. Neither goes out and adventures much. They're mostly around so that *players* can come around, brief the politicians on what's happening, and get marching orders. If the politicians leave their offices, it's to attend diplomatic functions - not to go flex their uber abilities all over the grid. On Chiaroscuro, I play the Imperial Regent. Again, he's hardly ever needed - the player-populated noble houses run most things on a day-to-day basis. However, he does issue the occasional sweeping edict for the realm that causes the odd uproar among the players. On Necromundus, I play Death - and all he really does is hang around and look ominous, while remaining silent. (I also play some regular characters, but they're primarily for testing new game systems and class balancing.)

I don't think this makes me corrupt or egotistical.
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Old 10-30-2007, 02:52 PM   #20
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Re: Admining and Playing

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Well, no, there's another reason for this.

Players can't always be counted on to remain active in positions of authority. And why should they? Positions of authority in a game usually aren't fun. It often boils down to wrangling cats and bureaucracy. Staffers, on the other hand, can occasionally assume walk-on roles of these types of characters as needed.

On OtherSpace, I play the First Consul of Mars and the Senate President on Demaria. Neither goes out and adventures much. They're mostly around so that *players* can come around, brief the politicians on what's happening, and get marching orders. If the politicians leave their offices, it's to attend diplomatic functions - not to go flex their uber abilities all over the grid. On Chiaroscuro, I play the Imperial Regent. Again, he's hardly ever needed - the player-populated noble houses run most things on a day-to-day basis. However, he does issue the occasional sweeping edict for the realm that causes the odd uproar among the players. On Necromundus, I play Death - and all he really does is hang around and look ominous, while remaining silent. (I also play some regular characters, but they're primarily for testing new game systems and class balancing.)

I don't think this makes me corrupt or egotistical.
No, but it proves my point. Isn't it ironic that all of your characters are high-ranking officials in power. It gives the players no power in turn. The lifeblood of any 'game' is the person playing it, not the person who created it. Having players have influence around them, and attain characters such as the ones you listed above would make the game a whole lot funner then having these been "imm" only positions, or somehow restricted to the players just because they aren't involved as an admin.

Your disney world analogy is alright, but I have a better one.

An elected official works for the government, regulating a private companys shares in the stock market. Let's say he then decides to take a "leave of absence" and work the other side at this private company. The very fact that they are an elected official, is a conflict of interest because they have the information from regulating this company as part of the government that no one else would have. If this ever happened, the elected official would never get re-elected again, and would be compromising laws and regulations in hopes of securing employment in the private sector.
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