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Old 08-18-2008, 07:51 AM   #21
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

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Originally Posted by Kleothera View Post
Thing is, when we apply to be builders or other species of immortals- no matter that we are all unpaid and volunteers and etc etc, we take on a responsibility to do certain actions that take the game forward.
That's an assumption on your part, however. Some staff may feel that their duty is merely to maintain an existing game-- handle the server payments, fix things that break, etc. If the staff hasn't promised to move the game "forward", it should not be an expectation/right of the players.

"Forward" is a subjective assertion, in any event. The staff may be moving the game in a different direction than one particular player wants, or even in a direction that all of their current players oppose at the time. It's arbitrary to claim that's a "violation"-- the staff may be interested in pleasing other players on the same game, or even drawing in a certain crowd who hasn't started playing yet.

Take examples of formerly free games that started selling perks or charging monthly fees. Were the players' "rights" violated there?
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Old 08-18-2008, 10:55 AM   #22
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

In the example you cited, "taking forward" would as a minimum paying for the server regularly and being around to fix them. The new staff member who is hired as a bug fixer is expected to well... fix bugs. Server maintainance has to be done. If the MUD goes down and stays down for a few weeks because X,Y, X say forgot to pay the hosting company (after promising the rest of the staff that he would make payments herceforth), players have a reason to be peeved and expect their imms to do what they DID promise. In a game with a lot of players there is much that needs to be done to just keep standing at the same place!

About the second part of the note, that once again falls into the territory of creative disagreement between players and imms about the direction that the game has to go. Of COURSE players and admins can disagree over how the game has to be run, but if what you are doing goes against the majority of public opinion, you do need to explain to the parties affected why its being done. Its just politeness to make sure people know that an action is taken for a logical reason. They might disagree with the reason, but they know why. If its something that they passionately disagree with, you might have to even roll back a decision taken. Again, however, I am talking about extreme cases of high handedness or inaction and just pleading for courtesy to the playerbase (not obeying everyone's whim and fancy).

About the purpose that such a code would have, hell, is good PR with players. Even if MUDs that do try to treat people fairly, its essential to set a standard of behaviour. Some MUDs opt for something like Do onto others like you would want them to do onto you. But this is a little more specific. A game that clearly spells out a standard of how players are treated would attract players sick of high handed behaviourtdrfyut elsewhere. It also serves as something newbie imms can be pointed towards to say- THIS is how you should behave.
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Old 08-19-2008, 01:30 AM   #23
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

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"Forward" is a subjective assertion, in any event. The staff may be moving the game in a different direction than one particular player wants, or even in a direction that all of their current players oppose at the time. It's arbitrary to claim that's a "violation"-- the staff may be interested in pleasing other players on the same game, or even drawing in a certain crowd who hasn't started playing yet.
Good point. You are spot on Valg, and I agree completely.

Another example: Imagine someone was playing a free game for years, and loved it. Then the admins started selling merchandise, and strangely enough the people who bought a lot of merchandise got more attention from the admins and other favorable treatment.

The people who don't like this would feel like the game was not moving forward. They may prefer the game stay pure hobbyist. But the people who were buying the merchandise would think that this was an improvement to the game, as it was making it more commercialized and thus more stable. Some people would rather their favorite game be more of a commercial operation, and since selling merchandise makes a game a commercial operation (just like commercial, professional web comics - many of which get ALL their very significant revenue from merchandise sales), they would be very excited by this development.

It all comes down to opinion, really.
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Old 08-19-2008, 01:43 AM   #24
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

Naturally this thread is going where it will, but I just wanted to point out the concept of moving a mud 'forward' is nowhere included in the OP.
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Old 08-19-2008, 02:06 AM   #25
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

Re-Ide, yes, its not in the original post. It is from one of my replies to Zivilyn who suggested an additional-

# The right to play elsewhere if the game, it's players or it's staff, do not meet my approval.
(Of course... every game has this right, you simply don't reconnect.)

I was suggesting that courtesy demands that staff performs the actions for which they were hired and if the staff takes actions that affect the players, they are entitled to be consulted and their opinions taken. The staff may not agree, but if you are "messing up" (yes, a subjective term too) the game play of people who have spent hours getting their characters up to level, I strongly feel that they are atleast entitled to know WHY. In the previous example, the staff is entitled to make the MUD commercial, however, it should ideally be done in consultation with the existing playerbase and what are the new ground rules need to be made clear to everyone so that any favourable treatment to people buying merchandise isnt seen as something as "strangely enough" (to use the words in the post), but something that players are entitled to by investing funds in the game. Put the new suggested terms upfront. Get peoples' opinions on it. Change the terms based on good ideas from the playerbase (atleast the smartest cookies out there). Ask yourself how much opposition is there and whether the tradeoff of loss of n% of existing players is worth the chance of getting some new ones. Then decide whether you want to implement the change. If you do it in a transparent manner, the amount of grumbling is going to be less. It wont stop, but there would be less of it.
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Old 08-19-2008, 10:46 AM   #26
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

The only "rights" I can fathom of a mud player, is whatever "right" a particular game owner chooses to give that player. These games aren't owned collectively by the playerbase, it isn't a democracy, and in fact some of these games are owned by people who don't even live in a democratic country.

The only thing I feel a mud player "should" be entitled to, is whatever treatment the staff claims they will provide. In other words, if the staff says "we will treat our players like crap" then the mud player should be entitled to expect to be treated like crap. If the staff says, "we will not play favorites among our personal friends who play, and all players will be treated on the merits of their own gaming skills" then the players are entitled to that treatment by staff.

Game owners aren't obligated to do ANYTHING for the players. They aren't even obligated to make their game available. Nor should they be. When people who have no financial interest in my property, starts telling me what they expect me to do with my property, I start feeling like I should stop allowing those people permission to come onto my property. We are visitors to these games. We are there because the owners have given us permission to visit. We do not have the "right" to tell these owners what they can, cannot, should, or should not do within the confines of their own personal property. The only thing we as players should feel comfortable expecting, is whatever the owners have claimed they will do. Nothing more, and nothing less.
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Old 08-19-2008, 11:37 AM   #27
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

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Originally Posted by Jazuela View Post
...When people who have no financial interest in my property, starts telling me what they expect me to do with my property, I start feeling like I should stop allowing those people permission to come onto my property....
Quoted for truth .
I honestly love most of the suggestions, I just get a thought similar to this when I end up with that one player who thinks I owe _him_ for him allowing me to be graced with his presence in the game. While I DO feel glad that I have certain players contributing to the whole picture that is 'the game', it's never 'that' character (the one who doesn't build, doesn't help further the world, doesn't (insert something useful).. etc).

But, at the same point, I do agree with people voicing their concerns and opinions if they find something 'out of wack'.
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Old 08-19-2008, 12:48 PM   #28
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

Well. I suppose we simply have different ideas of what a MUD is about. Maybe it boils down to the difference between large semi-MMPROG MUDs and small online inde muds, albeit long standing ones. I dont know.

Lets get back to what was said earlier-

Jazuela said- "These games aren't owned collectively by the playerbase, it isn't a democracy, and in fact some of these games are owned by people who don't even live in a democratic country".

In my view, MUDS are an online community which a group of volunteers prepare for the enjoyment of others. While the "staff" contributes code and area design, the players contribute their time and effort to build a community. The social climate of the MUD and (if applicable) RP is what makes the game for me in the end. When it comes down to it for me, all the fancy bells and whistles that a game has, would fail without a loyal and steady playerbase. In that sense, ANY successful community is collectively created and owned. This is especially so in a RP mud where the story of the game evolves through player contributions.

Yes, its no MUD is a complete democracy- I think years ago Bartle experimented with a truly democratic system and it got bogged down in the mechanics of getting everyone's opinions in in a timely manner. However, a consultative, fair and transparent system SHOULD by definition lead to a closer knit community. Of course, you are free to disagree.

The last para of the original notes seems to suggest that the only contribution that counts is the financial contribution involved in paying the server fees and associated MUD cash expenses. I had started playing the game I am admin over a decade ago. I was eventually hired to be a builder. Then I started handing the new player related issues and rewriting all the helpfiles. Then I became head of RP. Then I got bumped up to Imp/Admin. I am also now handing the game's webforum. In this ENTIRE time of being a staff member for a decade, I haven't spent a single penny directly to the game. However, I have spent 1000s of hours improving every aspect of the MUD. I would personally take deep offense to any suggestion that all that would not matter _at all_ compared to who pays the server.

You may argue that my case is atypical since I am obviously not just a player any more. However, the same goes for the players. There are people who spent over a decade playing here. They help new players. They develop fansites. They keep the forum updated. They keep the clans run smoothly. They report bugs and typos in text. They contribute some of the best ideas for the game. Eventually they are the ones who are hired as staff like I was. Saying that their opinion is totally irrelevant goes against my sense of what an online community is.

Last edited by Kleothera : 08-19-2008 at 01:05 PM.
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Old 08-19-2008, 03:18 PM   #29
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

Well. I spent a few hours thinking about it, and went back to ponder at the original post about Player Rights.

I think part of the reason behind the lack of agreement is the classical problem with the concept of Rights when taken without the concept of Responsibilities. This is from what I know of legal jurisprudence also a major problem with the concept in RL law. At the same time, the situation in which we are situating rights is markedly different from RL. The rights a player has is situated in the overall socio-political (I am really talking geek speak now), context of how the particular game has evolved to deal with players. Seeing the amount of disagreement we are having (and going by the passion with which some of the replies were written) the discussion is moving towards an understanding of the role that players vs imms have and should have in MUDs. At the same time, even if we agree on a certain minimum ethical standard on treating players (if the word rights is too strong for people), some people have asked how this standard would be implemented.

Some articles I have seen on this today (and I havent read completely yet, largely because its past midnight and I am beginning to ramble while writing) are below.

An interesting paper I found on the issue of the powers of Gods in the context of online games, esp MUDS (by Richard Bartle) which gives an interesting classification of how different MUD systems have evolved to govern their players-
Why Governments arenít Gods and Gods arenít Governments

A classical case study of the experiment with (and effectively failure of) a democratic online community is that of Pavel Curtis' LambdaMoo. I havent read the full link below, however, it appears to give an overall history. The book I had read earlier was about this game.

Virtual(ly) Law: The Emergence of Law in LambdaMOO: Mnookin

Customary Law & Power in Internet Communities: Maltz
How customary law in MUDs emerge in situations where relations between imms and citizens are unequal.

Gamasutra - Features - "Constructive Politics in a Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game; [03.09.00]
Really interesting and to be fair, off topic Handling player run political systems in a MUD

Anyway, my point here is that perhaps we may want to look at the OP and ask ourselves a set of questions-

1. Do you think we as a community should perhaps expect a minimum voluntary code of ethics to deal with players in games?Y/N
2. What is the shortest possible list of the things that a God should not do to his players on a MUD in terms of the treatment given. (until a better word is found, rights) Are there any things that staff shouldn't do to their players- no matter what?
3. Perhaps what is a minimum list of things you would expect from players in return in terms of the above civil behaviour? (responsibilities)
4. Assuming we agree on something on some of the above issues, perhaps the next question would be on how would we make this wishlist into a customary law in the MUD community- or atleast as a beginning among the readers of this forum.
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Old 08-19-2008, 04:11 PM   #30
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

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Originally Posted by Kleothera View Post
Gamasutra - Features - "Constructive Politics in a Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game; [03.09.00]
Really interesting and to be fair, off topic Handling player run political systems in a MUD
Just a note: I wrote that, but I wrote that 8.5 years ago. I haven't re-read it in a long time but I have little doubt that I'd probably take issue with some of what's in the article. I'd only been involved in MUDs for 8 or 9 years at that point, compared to double that now.

--matt
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Old 08-19-2008, 04:15 PM   #31
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kleothera View Post
Anyway, my point here is that perhaps we may want to look at the OP and ask ourselves a set of questions-

1. Do you think we as a community should perhaps expect a minimum voluntary code of ethics to deal with players in games?Y/N
2. What is the shortest possible list of the things that a God should not do to his players on a MUD in terms of the treatment given. (until a better word is found, rights) Are there any things that staff shouldn't do to their players- no matter what?
3. Perhaps what is a minimum list of things you would expect from players in return in terms of the above civil behaviour? (responsibilities)
4. Assuming we agree on something on some of the above issues, perhaps the next question would be on how would we make this wishlist into a customary law in the MUD community- or atleast as a beginning among the readers of this forum.
I don't think you can simplify it even that far across a diverse range of MUDs. For example, on many muds, it would be completely unacceptable for an immortal to randomly go around executing people because he or she were having a bad day. Most players would agree that should be in any "bill of rights".

Then what happens when you get to a MUD where a large part of that MUD's theme is that you may anger the "gods" (who may be human controlled behind the curtain) or you may please the gods to gain rewards? In the context of this MUD, earning the favor of the gods is a good thing and "favoritism" is a planned part of the game, maybe even a good thing.

On most MUDs, running into trouble with a "god" because you killed their mortal character would be a bad thing. On this mud it may be nothing more than part of the game - part of the way to earn favor with a god is by pleasing their mortal incarnation. Whether this would be a popular MUD or not I don't know, I personally wouldn't play it, but to imply they are somehow wrong by doing exactly what their theme dictates because it does not meet a "customary law in the MUD community" just doesn't feel right.

The real issue most people have is with MUDs that say/imply "we won't do X" and then go and do "X" often. So unless that customary law comes with a courtroom, judge and jury what will it achieve?

The player base is already judge and jury - maybe I'm being naive here but are there really many MUDs run so tyranically that this would be necessary?

I would imagine either things are not as bad on those particular MUDs as some might have you believe, or they are already seeing the consequences (judgment) as the player base walks?
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Old 08-19-2008, 04:16 PM   #32
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

Kleo, I completely agree that the 'MUD' is the collection of people in that environment. I think that's why flat stock Rom muds can really kick butt, but completely custom ones and suckith, all depends on the staff and the players.

I think yes, it's completely a volunteer thing with the staff (with the exception of myself in my own game, as I also get to pay for hosting etc). It's when players start demanding 'I want this right now!' from a staff person that I have to remind them that: 1. The staff are players as well, and are volunteering their time to help. 2. It's really NOT a blast to come up with 25 unique room descriptions, exit descriptions and 8 items based off a 'make it like this'10 line descriptive note... We build OTHER things for enjoyment, like continuing the development of the world for all the players, not simply that person's keep. (Just a recent example, the guy honestly thought we'd be stoked that we could make it up ourselves for his character to play in, and that we should snap to it... that's dangerous, as it usually ends in some very odd building heh).

Anyway yes, I think completely the playerbase IS the game, without it you have lifeless text and code, but every once in a while you get that spoiled brat who's entitled to you doing what they want, when they want, and you should thank them for it. That was the only point I was trying to illustrate.

1. Yes I do think there should be a minimum at least. Fairness and honest dealings, without bias or find someone else who isn't biased with that particular person.
2. Not do:
A. Never debase a player, if you want them gone, ban them or such, but don't use the mud as a forum to lambast them with humilation simply for your own sick pleasure (ex-imp we had, split the mud over it, theirs long gone now, no wonder).
B. Privacy: Unless a person appears to be breaking rules that are established, respect their privacy.
C. Play favorites with the IMM: You might with your player, but not as the IMM.
3. Players should:
A. Respect that the staff is there doing a thankless job to improve the game. Be civil, be respectful.
B. Don't cheat, if you do, accept the consequences without being a b.. without the usual childish actions.
C. Help promote the game to friends: the single biggest thing that can grow a mud is telling a friend with similar interests. It's how I found the game I now run.
4. I think the problem again comes down to 'rule by committee', see Bartle's 'Democratic Mud' thing. Same issue, everyone has a different set of rules and expectations. It's as diverse and opposed as people's political or social views. But, perhaps a few sets of rules.
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Old 08-20-2008, 12:25 AM   #33
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

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3. Players should be able to expect fairness from a gameís staff and secure in the knowledge that favoritism is not employed to give some players benefits over others.
This comes up a lot, but it will be impossible to enforce or adjudge in an environment with subjective reward systems. Consider a MUSH type of environment, where nearly all game decisions (even down to the winners of battles, etc.) are made by subjective evaluations, and "benefits" are equally intangible.

We're roleplaying-required, for example. We have a fairly ridiculous variety of rewards that can be given out to well-roleplayed characters. If you were to monitor particular players, you'd probably find that some people consistently reap subjective rewards, and others do not. One player might find that to be evidence of "favoritism", but another would take comfort in the fact that we seem to be consistent in evaluation.

And that's assuming there's a concrete reward given in the game. (For a simple example, the character gains experience or gets a bump in a specific skill appropriate to the interaction. You rescue Sword Teaching Guy, he teaches you a little extra about swords.) Consider cases where the result of the character's roleplay is just that the staff chooses to spend more time interacting with this character, because it's fun. NPCs chat with him often. Is that a 'benefit'? 'Favoritism'?

I think you can probably find something along these lines that's "Bill of Rights" material, but as written it's hopelessly vague. You're better off sticking to more concrete things like privacy of RL information collected.
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