Top Mud Sites Forum Return to TopMudSites.com
Go Back   Top Mud Sites Forum > MUD Players and General Discussion > The Break Room
Click here to Register

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 05-14-2008, 03:29 PM   #1
Disillusionist
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 83
Disillusionist will become famous soon enough
Deck Chairs on the Titanic

I played a mud that falls somewhere between the blurry lines of RPI and RPE on and off for ten years.
During that time, it saw reasonable peaks of attendance, over 200, in its hayday. Since that pinnacle about five years ago, an interesting phenomenon has occurred, and I just wondered what some of the feedback would be.

This game is still in beta, eleven years down the pike. It boasts 12,000 highly detailed finished rooms, overlarge verbs and adverbs lists, in fact, most of the features that some would define as RPI necessities.

While many systems are incomplete, or even unstarted, the game as is could go live, as the spinal systems are operative. As such, it's already better than many games out there.
Without trying to sound like an ad for a game that can no longer remain anywhere near the top 20 (occasionally breaking through to the top ten as recently as last year), I see a game that at one time enjoyed an enormous potential, now swirling down the drain.

A playerbase that could boast 50 players online not long ago now often sits empty, and peaks out at 3-4 people a day, perhaps up to 7-10 for reasonably major events. Most who played it agree it's in its death throes.

That said, I don't believe the problem was ever with the game. Sure, it had, and has, bug issues, and the typical developmental problems of many games, but essentially its downfall is a matter of poor administration. The overwhelming majority of players who have abandoned it agree. Still, recently the owner of the company has planned a player meeting with the few remaining and any who would come back for it, to discuss (too little, too late, in my opinion) problems and solutions.

So I ask, players and admins of other games alike, if your back was to the wall, and your product was failing (or your favorite game), and you had to make a list of 10 basic administrative rules, inviolable, what would they be? What things would you be willing to change about yourself or your policies to save the game, and what would you not change, even if it meant business failure?
Of players, I would ask, what are your top ten peeves with administrators of games, and how have they impacted your attendance, behavior and how did you respond when your buttons were pushed?

At what point do you admit defeat?
Disillusionist is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2008, 05:11 AM   #2
Kylotan
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Nottingham, UK
Home MUD: Abattoir (Smaug)
Home MUD: ex-Jellybean (Smaug)
Home MUD: ex-Dark Chambers (Merc)
Posts: 174
Kylotan is on a distinguished road
Send a message via ICQ to Kylotan Send a message via AIM to Kylotan Send a message via MSN to Kylotan Send a message via Yahoo to Kylotan
Re: Deck Chairs on the Titanic

I don't think there should be any global rules of administration. What one person thinks is a mistake may be great for someone else. Given that all you mentioned was 'poor administration', and that such a concept is very subjective, I can't really imagine what else to say on the matter.

Personally what has bothered me in the past is when admins have temporarily closed the game or wiped the characters in order to rework some complex system (which probably only needed tweaking anyway).
Kylotan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2008, 04:45 PM   #3
Fern
Member
 
Fern's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 156
Fern is on a distinguished road
Re: Deck Chairs on the Titanic

I'm grateful for the patience and dedication of those who have played our constantly changing game through the years. Almost all admins and owners are volunteers - and, for that matter, so are the players (a fact that some games tend to shuffle under the rug far too often).

I agree. Pwipes should be considered an absolutely last desperate move. Sometimes a momentary closure is necessary, though. A few minutes of downtime, even an hour to take care of a complex database change may be unavoidable.

When to stop rearranging the deck chairs goes? I don't think there's a way to know that until faced with the decision and determining its true character. What appears to be a hopeless situation to one person may be just a momentary setback to another.

Reserve defeat for dragons, enemy kingdoms, orc raiders and goblin hordes, rogue highwaymen and evil overlords. Recognize momentary setbacks (aka hopeless situations) for what they are, and they can be seen as opportunities for exceptional action.
Fern is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2008, 05:07 PM   #4
wantacookie
New Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 9
wantacookie is on a distinguished road
Re: Deck Chairs on the Titanic

My top pet peeve is administrators who allow problem players to run so amok they chase off a good portion of the player base before they are finally banned from the game. When one player sows so much dissent among the ranks that even staff members don't want to log in because they'll have to deal with them, there's a problem. Sure they may not be actually breaking any real rules but that kind of disruption should be nipped in the bud pretty quickly. Some games never recover from it or take a long time to recover from it as there are issues of trust at hand.
wantacookie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2008, 05:38 PM   #5
Disillusionist
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 83
Disillusionist will become famous soon enough
Re: Deck Chairs on the Titanic

Wantacookie, I couldn't agree more. However, in this case, the players that ran off the largest portion of the playerbase were not only not banned, but in the opinion of most of the players who were run off, they were unduly favored, changed the complexion of the game, and when the numbers plummeted SO LOW (while long-term players were leaving in chunks) that there weren't even a dozen left, they jumped ship.

As far as staff not wanting to log in, I can understand that. Staff do not get paid, and so they often become addicted to applause for minor accomplishments, and their single bit of leverage (free labor) is often plied for personal whims. In this particular instance, what we'd clearly see is an original staff of over 25-30 people as of five or so years ago, steadly chopped down and driven off, not by players, but by poor helmsmanship.

Perhaps the best means of determining some genuine answers would be an exit poll.

The claim that administrators (read staff) 'allow one player' to do so much evil, and yet without breaking rules, and cannot keep staff members aboard, nor players, even after banning such a player...
it sure sounds like you're making a case for ....well, poor helmsmanship. That a staff member or any of their sycophants would blame the playerbase for continually dwindling numbers surely isn't solving attendance issues, is it? It sort of sounds like blaming the cattle for leaving when the barn is burning.
Disillusionist is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2008, 05:51 PM   #6
Fern
Member
 
Fern's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 156
Fern is on a distinguished road
Re: Deck Chairs on the Titanic

Quote:
Originally Posted by Disillusionist View Post
it sure sounds like you're making a case for ....well, poor helmsmanship. That a staff member or any of their sycophants would blame the playerbase for continually dwindling numbers surely isn't solving attendance issues, is it? It sort of sounds like blaming the cattle for leaving when the barn is burning.
Hear hear!

But then I also have to ask, Wantacookie: Why is your pet peeve aimed at the administrator and not the rogue problem player? Does the rogue problem player bear any responsibility in this scenario, or is it solely on the shoulders of the staff / helmsman?
Fern is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2008, 06:15 PM   #7
wantacookie
New Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 9
wantacookie is on a distinguished road
Re: Deck Chairs on the Titanic

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fern View Post
Hear hear!

But then I also have to ask, Wantacookie: Why is your pet peeve aimed at the administrator and not the rogue problem player? Does the rogue problem player bear any responsibility in this scenario, or is it solely on the shoulders of the staff / helmsman?
The player bears responsibility most assuredly. BUT and this is a big BUT, players like that need to be TOLD to knock it off and, if they do not they need to be dealt with in a timely manner. The problem is, when you have a very clever player who is also a jerk (for lack of a better term). They know how to toe the line without actively breaking the rules. In that case, oftentimes, staff feels as if their hands are tied.

I stopped playing a game because of one such player. Not a group of players, but a single player. I was not the only one who stopped playing because of it and because of the apparent lack of action on the part of staff to curtail the player's behavior. It was only after they were banned I played again, but it wasn't the same. Something essential had already been lost at that point.

It was pretty sad, really. Staff disliked this player greatly and yet this person still ran the show. Such is the power of manipulation. What was even sadder was this person saw a group of what they perceived to be 'favored' individuals and set out to 'destroy' them. A shame the so-called 'favored' group of players could not 'force' staff to get rid of one causing so much angst and dissent in the game. I guess they weren't so favored after all.
wantacookie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2008, 06:21 PM   #8
Disillusionist
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 83
Disillusionist will become famous soon enough
Re: Deck Chairs on the Titanic

Goodness. And golly.

One player did all that?
It would be interesting to hear some numbers on that. I mean, if we're to quantify the harm, especially as it regards attendance, could you point out the numbers of attendees when the player started? Did they grow during his reign of terror, or shrink? After this Abomination of Desecration was gotten rid of, did the numbers rebound to their original glory? Or did they shrink even further?

Are you sure the manipulation here isn't some seriously contorted blame-shifting?
Disillusionist is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2008, 06:23 PM   #9
wantacookie
New Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 9
wantacookie is on a distinguished road
Re: Deck Chairs on the Titanic

Quote:
Originally Posted by Disillusionist View Post
Goodness. And golly.
Are you sure the manipulation here isn't some seriously contorted blame-shifting?
I don't know. You'd be the expert on that, wouldn't you?
wantacookie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2008, 06:48 PM   #10
Disillusionist
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 83
Disillusionist will become famous soon enough
Re: Deck Chairs on the Titanic

Still and all, Wantacookie, I'm sorry for what happened at your game. It's not the situation at my former game, so, thanks for your input. Perhaps my former game can make some use of the advice that can be gleaned from your post.

The favored group I referred to at my former game were given such perks (denied to other players) as a mansion, despite the fact that they were not for many months in compliance with the rules clearly spelled out by the admins, that allowed for such perks. They were notorious forum bullies that would outshout, outpost and in some cases of flagrant forum policy violations, get very personal with anyone that disagreed with them. In fact, at one point, it was revealed that some of them had even attended a meeting outside the game in which the topic was discussed about how to get rid of players they didn't like.

In fact, despite the fact that they haven't logged in in quite a long time, and therefore should have had their perks yanked by additionally clearly stated rules, they still possessed it as of this writing. It rankled a -bundle- of players who had also worked hard for similar perks, but were denied them.

They used this added player power to expand to more spin-off organizations, in effect, creating a player-run organization of serfs, so that they would have a sub-class of characters to rule over. It didn't ever see fruition, since they didn't seem to realize that most players in fantasy games don't line up to play someone's servant, serf, etc. The whole 'serf nation' thing fizzled and died rightly, but not until after an IC and OOC coup by this cadre attempted to overhaul, overthrow and otherwise completely stand the decade-long lore-based political structure on its head, citing, rather than game lore, badly mangled lifts of American Revolutionary documents. When that too, died in its cradle, one of the players in the group openly set about using his ingame perks (advanced releases of products, documentations and inside information from the Interactive department head) to sidestep all ingame RP and target rivals on the forum.

Similar to your situation, the admins did nothing about it, although the interactive head did mildly chastise the most eggregious member of this cadre, by posting regrets in not foreseeing what this mercurial player would do with such perks.
When the player realized his goals to unbalance the game's complexion in favor of his cadre were not going to see fruition, he posted (one of those posts we have all seen in one form or another) a blow-up that the players who didn't want to see his cadre running the game were 'favored', and left the game, to no sighs or weeping. In this case, I thought the administration did a good job, letting an unstable player run his course, and implode emotionally. He got rid of himself.

To this day, he could still return, and live in his rules-violating mansion.
Most of the players who left were not upset that he toed the line on rules and was divisive. They were upset that his cadre was in violation of clearly printed rules, and was divisive. Whether it was wisdom or apathy or trepidation that they did not sanction him seems a little irrelevant, as he had a meltdown and left in a huff. What most of the players who left hoped, and hope for the upcoming meeting, is that staff acknowledges a shortcoming in not bringing this cadre into compliance with some of the very specific rules about organizations, precisely -because- it granted lop-sided perks to selected individuals.

Whether they have the wisdom to see this as a golden opportunity, as Fern mentions, to stage a genuine comeback, or perhaps, as Wantacookie has done, blame it solely on a single player, will probably be the benchmark as to whether they're experiencing genuine reform (read here, restoration of some of its former glory), or just having another tea party.
Disillusionist is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2008, 06:52 PM   #11
Fern
Member
 
Fern's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 156
Fern is on a distinguished road
Re: Deck Chairs on the Titanic

The spirit of any game can become a fragile thing if neglected or maligned. If one single person -staff or player- has the power to enhance or throttle that spirit, then perhaps the game itself is in need of some serious rethinking.

One person with a malignant attitude and an outside-of-game audience like an IM connection can do as much damage as a person in the game who brings a toxic stench into the game itself, and they're significantly more difficult to counteract when acting outside the gates. Even the best helmsman in the world will be challenged by that level of venom.

Add to that the fact that the memory of a bad gaming experience can persist even after the problem itself has been squelched.

If you say the name of one game I played years ago (which will not be said on this forum), my immediate and highly visceral reaction is loathing, triggered by the memory of several players and staff, their PK mentality and their resistance to spell-checking. Of course, this persists - long after the typos have been fixed, long after the staff member has been canned for favoritism and cheating, long after the player in question left for greener pastures, and long after I've abandoned the place as a player (and subsequently don't really care what their PK approach is).

In that case, the blame cannot be placed outside of my own memories.

The same holds true for great gaming experiences. Memory persists.
Fern is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2008, 07:10 PM   #12
Disillusionist
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 83
Disillusionist will become famous soon enough
Re: Deck Chairs on the Titanic

Quote:
Originally Posted by wantacookie View Post
I don't know. You'd be the expert on that, wouldn't you?
I suppose if asking some reasonable questions (re: the topic of the post), and getting the advice of the gaming public at large instead of personal attacks is 'blame-shifting', then, on some planet, you're right.

Was there a point to this?
Disillusionist is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2008, 07:32 PM   #13
Disillusionist
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 83
Disillusionist will become famous soon enough
Re: Deck Chairs on the Titanic

Anyway, back on topic:

Thank you, Fern, for a reasoned response. I really enjoy the TMS forums.
Reasonable people from all over the gaming industry, players and admins alike, have something to offer of genuine value. My deepest hope would be that the admins of my former game realize that this is a -golden- opportunity for genuine reform.

I mean, after eleven years, no one wants to give up, and no one I know of wants to see the game tanked. If the game was so fragile that one player could actually destroy it, then good riddance.

However, there is no sane way to suggest that after eleven years, a game would be slowing bleeding to death because of one person. It's the symptom of a series of problems, and rather myopic to imply that there is a simple fix.

Personally, I'd love to see them ditch usage-based skill advancement. The player dropoff after implementation and consistent player complaints about it are more than a wake-up call.
I also wouldn't mind seeing the top admins acting a great deal more professionally, and quintuple their customer service skills, taking this tailspin as a clear indication that poor customer service is directly reflected in attendance numbers.

It will be an uphill climb, no doubt. In an eleven year history, I'm willing to guess more than 2000-2500 players have come and gone, quite possibly many more, and the market of future players is insecure. Once that many people have tried the game and found it less preferable than other games, getting them to return is probably impossible without a monumental change, and a diligent effort. And every discontented player can easily represent two more that never visit a game. Word travels fast.

Worst-case scenarion:
The actual issue is personal problems with the top admin. If many players simply find they can't abide the end-all be-all, the game is inevitably doomed, and one can only have faith in the expectation of miracles that an admin would undergo sincere change. Again, player numbers are the lifeblood, and negligence to this simple business principle is a fatal mistake.
Disillusionist is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2008, 08:02 PM   #14
Fern
Member
 
Fern's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 156
Fern is on a distinguished road
Re: Deck Chairs on the Titanic

Indeed - it is difficult to point to any one system that has caused an implosion. Usage-based skill advancement is one that has both proponents and naysayers. Permadeath is another that rarely finds anyone sitting in a neutral chair. It's like Rocky Road ice cream - you either love it or you hate it.

The need for professionalism is a given, volunteer or not. That is an obligation borne by anyone willing to spend the time to develop and maintain a publically-accessible entertainment venue. There is plenty of airspace for those who choose to take the less professional approach, so long as their games are never reachable by anyone but their specifically invited friends. For the rest, there is no second choice - be professional or be gone.
Fern is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2008, 08:32 PM   #15
Fern
Member
 
Fern's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 156
Fern is on a distinguished road
Re: Deck Chairs on the Titanic

Quote:
Originally Posted by wantacookie View Post
The player bears responsibility most assuredly. BUT and this is a big BUT, players like that need to be TOLD to knock it off and, if they do not they need to be dealt with in a timely manner. The problem is, when you have a very clever player who is also a jerk (for lack of a better term). They know how to toe the line without actively breaking the rules. In that case, oftentimes, staff feels as if their hands are tied.
For every 3000 wonderful and valuable players who contribute positively to a game, there exists The One Who Wrecks The Game For Others - the one whose lack of social graces, sense of entitlement, poor upbringing and/or piggish behavior lead him (or her) to believe that the only reason rules are written is for someone else to follow.

I've been a game administrator and owner for too long. Our hands are only tied past a certain point. But up to that point, there are methods and remedies available to senior staff in most games.

My methods are simple. The One Who Wrecks The Game For Others is warned, then silenced, then disconnected, then bad-named, then sitebanned.

They are not tolerated nor given the fawning and hand-wringing attention they so desperately seek, nor ignored nor given more ammunition to take to the offline gripe sessions. We do not fear them - not even the ones who DDoS the server in fits of retaliatory rage (yes, it's happened - yes, we know how to handle it - yes, we know who's done it - thanks).

It doesn't matter if it is a level 1 player or a Senior Admin - it doesn't matter if it is male or female - they don't get to be The One Who Wrecks The Game For Others. Not on my watch.

The game is there for the 3000, not The One.
Fern is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2008, 09:20 PM   #16
Disillusionist
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 83
Disillusionist will become famous soon enough
Re: Deck Chairs on the Titanic

I'm not sure which part of this is the funniest, and which is the saddest:

"I stopped playing a game because of one such player. Not a group of players, but a single player. I was not the only one who stopped playing because of it and because of the apparent lack of action on the part of staff to curtail the player's behavior. It was only after they were banned I played again, but it wasn't the same. Something essential had already been lost at that point."

So, the staff in question did get rid of the player, but...your trust in them was damaged after the fact for not doing it sooner? It sounds like a matter of timing, and staff laxity. Did you write to them asking the player to be banned? Did you and the others who stopped playing let them know this was a consequence of that laxity?

"It was pretty sad, really. Staff disliked this player greatly and yet this person still ran the show. Such is the power of manipulation."

So, this staff made their great dislike known to the playerbase, and also that their hands were tied while he ran the show? Am I the only one who finds the idea of staff discussing with players their personal likes and dislikes of players highly unprofessional? I don't blame you for leaving, not one bit. This type of infantile gossiping, deriding a player while still doing the massive game-destroying harm sounds incredibly inept.

"What was even sadder was this person saw a group of what they perceived to be 'favored' individuals and set out to 'destroy' them. A shame the so-called 'favored' group of players could not 'force' staff to get rid of one causing so much angst and dissent in the game. I guess they weren't so favored after all."

I guess on final analysis, perhaps they were? They remained, he was gone? Or, despite the fact that this was the outcome, you still perceive the banned player as ...favored as well as intensely disliked? I'd be curious as to some of the precise details, actually. What caused the 'perception' of favoritism? Was the banned player's biggest offense that he pointed fingers for his perception of it? How did he go about attempting to 'destroy' the so-called favored group?
Disillusionist is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2008, 11:20 PM   #17
Fern
Member
 
Fern's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 156
Fern is on a distinguished road
Re: Deck Chairs on the Titanic

Quote:
Originally Posted by Disillusionist View Post
Am I the only one who finds the idea of staff discussing with players their personal likes and dislikes of players highly unprofessional?
Not at all alone.
Fern is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2008, 01:47 AM   #18
Disillusionist
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 83
Disillusionist will become famous soon enough
Re: Deck Chairs on the Titanic

Thank you, Fern. I thought for a moment there I was just...I don't know...off-base.

That part alone sounded very much like my former game. Staff discussing other player accounts publicly, talking to players about other players, and in general, acting like a gaggle of junior high shower-girls.

But, the meeting called by my former game was an indication for me, at least.
It's not going to make a comeback. Sadly, the meeting itself caused two more players to leave.

Sometimes, you just can't save people from themselves.
Disillusionist is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2008, 01:51 AM   #19
Fern
Member
 
Fern's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 156
Fern is on a distinguished road
Re: Deck Chairs on the Titanic

Sadly, sometimes, despite the best of intentions, you shouldn't try.
Fern is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2008, 01:29 PM   #20
Kylotan
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Nottingham, UK
Home MUD: Abattoir (Smaug)
Home MUD: ex-Jellybean (Smaug)
Home MUD: ex-Dark Chambers (Merc)
Posts: 174
Kylotan is on a distinguished road
Send a message via ICQ to Kylotan Send a message via AIM to Kylotan Send a message via MSN to Kylotan Send a message via Yahoo to Kylotan
Re: Deck Chairs on the Titanic

As unpleasant as it may be from a player's point of view, I think it's worthwhile accepting that a game is there solely because the admins wish it to be. If the players don't like the way it's run, they can vote with their feet, and typically do. Everybody can come up with ways they believe that a game's administrator 'should' behave, but it's a bit worthless, because you have no power or right to enforce that, no matter how reasonable your expectation. You're not a shareholder, and in most cases you're not even a customer. You're just a visitor. The best recourse is to believe in survival of the fittest - run your game the way you think is right, and the presence or absence of the players in time will tell you something about your approach.
Kylotan is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools


Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 06:47 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Style based on a design by Essilor
Copyright Top Mud Sites.com 2014