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Old 08-21-2002, 10:35 AM   #1
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Every online RPG I’ve played has had these problems:
1) IC actions cause OOC grudges/hurt feelings/clicks
2) IC actions are believed (sometimes fairly, sometimes unfairly) to be OOC driven
3) OOC player actions impact how characters are treated IC.
4) OOC player frustrations drive away players with IC characters who are successful in the world

On the CvC games I’ve played (character verses character battle), these OOC conflicts have come in the form of outright anger, usually voiced on a channel, followed by “I’m going to get you, I don’t care if I have an IC reason, and I’m going to have all my OOC friends, even if they don’t like my character IC, come get you too”. I am absolutely not saying everyone does this, but it happens enough, and grudges are held enough, to cause problems. Also, in CvC oriented games, people get paranoid about alts, afraid to tell anything to a character who they “think” might be the alt of one of their perceived enemies. IC and OOC lines blur like mad.

On rp oriented games the conflict is less blatant in some ways, but just as problematic. Issues about clicks, backstabbing because of OOC grudges (no, not the skill, rather the rp *grin*), characters hating folks for something done to their alt, pointed OOC posts on internal or external boards, etc, are all very problematic and very present. Again, IC and OOC begin to blur. Only instead of happening in a nice, obvious CvC style way, it happens in a manner that leaves Admin and other players uncertain what is IC driven and what is OOC. Leading to paranoia and distrust and eventually, dissatisfaction with the game.

Not all games have these problems, I’m guessing. But between what I’ve experienced and what I’ve heard, it is a serious problem on many, if not most games. So here is my question to all you admin out there and any particularly involved/ingenious players as well.

How do you guide players to immerse themselves IC and not take things OOC?
What has been tried and been successful, what has been tried and failed dismally?

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Old 08-21-2002, 11:04 AM   #2
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I posted what I thought about the subject on my Livejournal.

Basically, to have the nerve for the person at the computer, to type "say you suck, I'm going to kill you" and 'make' their character say it, hurts some people that they'd do that to another character, which directly goes to the other person's screen. As much as you don't like it, the player at the computer is the ultimate snoop at the character's private life, and to see that Mr. X would have the heart to be so cruel to something that's going to go directly to another screen, can be easily taken personally.
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Old 08-21-2002, 11:26 AM   #3
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You totally confused me Wenlin

I played on a MUD once that had -every single problem- mentioned above.  It had to be one of the worst MUDs I've ever seen, and I've played a decent amount.

I think a lot of the conflict that developed on that MUD was due to their forums, honestly.  It was a sespool of filth and OOC angst.  People would argue and bitch, posts logs that shouldn't be posted, gang up on other people who posted.  And NO ONE would monitor it.  Not even the IMP's.  Sure once in a while someone would say "Okay, lets calm down and not point fingers."  But that was the very most of what they ever did.

If you want to run a MUD without the 'crap' you absolutely have to monitor it.  IC -and- OOC.  Keep an eye one repetative problematic players, because they are usually the ones that keep starting it.

I could recommend that players just not reveal who they are OOC to avoid any OOC conflict.  But it doesn't stop someone from hating you for your character.  If you feel like you're being targeted for bogus reasons, maybe try talking with an immortal.  If they even care about fairness in the playerbase a little, they'll try to check into it.

Another MUD I just recently started playing on, has recently removed all of their OOC channels except one big channel that is reserved for asking questions and the like.  Some of the playerbase have thrown a fit about it, because they apparently had a strong OOC community.  But they removed the channels because of all the cliques and OOC nonsense.

Basically there isn't any really logical way to keep the OOC emotions from mixing in IC.  You can remove yourself from any OOC interaction if you really want, but I personally enjoyed making the friends I have while playing MUDs.  You could keep all of your alts a secret that way they aren't targetted for something they didn't do.  But the Administration has to do their part too.

On my MUD there are only two forms of OOC communication besides the forum.  Tells and Group Tells.  After my experience on that one horrible MUD, I'm tempted to keep all of these logged.  But then does that also go against privacy issues.

Keep the MUD fair, and you'll keep the MUD successful.  You're never going to get rid of pricks, but you can smack them around at least.

*done rambling*
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Old 08-21-2002, 02:32 PM   #4
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If there is ever a major issue that will always continue to plague the MUD world, it is the very fine and delicate line that dances between OOC and IC.

Personally, I would love to see all methods of OOC interaction completely sliced off from the game. Yes, even "OOC Rooms" built specifically into some MUDs.

It is there that the problems begin. I believe one of the best efforts a MUD can do to limit this is to slice off all OOC outlets. If everything is IC, not unless trouble is started through something else (AIM, email, ICQ), than problems themselves should start and be settled IC.

But than again, that just might be wishful thinking.
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Old 08-21-2002, 03:14 PM   #5
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I have a friend in RL who is the biggest jerk online but when he is away from the computer he becomes "normal". Mudding is an escape where some people's 'alter ego' reigns freely. It is no excuse for such behavior. I asked him why he did such things and he claimed "he will never see that person so why should I care?". In my opinion he had what I term cyber-courage. He has the ability to act tough and cruel while hiding behind a screen. A coward in short. To further use him as an example, later that week we were at a club and he bumped into a guy who asked him if he had a problem. He didn't even look him in the eye. The guy he bumped into promptly beat him to the ground. The point of my post...none. I just thought it might be refreshing to others to know that at least one of the flamers and persecutors of others got their just deserts.
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Old 08-21-2002, 04:04 PM   #6
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IC/OOC distinction troubles! Yes, definately a problem for a lot of people. Especially when the first start RPing. The key, I think, to overcoming this problem is for people to understand that RP is not a competitive activity. The player is not the character, and when the success of the character does not indicate a successful player. The 'goal' of a player on an RP-based MU* should NOT be the advancement of their character, but rather the advancement of the STORY, in which their character plays a role. If players can be said to compete at all, it is only a competition to tell the best story. When players can transfer their attacment to the story instead of to their character, IC/OOC problems tend to disappear because players realize that bad IC things happening to their character can be great OOC things happening for the player. IC disasters are OOC blessings that allow players to tell better stories with their characters.

The question then becomes "how do you achieve attachment to the story instead of to the character." I tend to take the complete opposite approach to this that Vesper endorses. While completely eliminating OOC channels and communication sounds like a good way to force players to act only on IC motivations, I think it actually tends to force players to dwell too much on their character. Since you only see other characters, you tend to equate the characters with their players. If a player is controlling a character that your character ICly hates, you as a player feel like you should hate them, because you've seen nothing to differentiate the player from the character. If, on the other hand, OOC communication lines are open at all times, it is much easier to tell the difference between the evil villain character and his actually-quite-nice player.

That's not to say that players should spend all their time on OOC channels and never RPing. Obviously the IC actions are what really matter. But OOC communication between players can help the story progress by getting all players involved on the same page and working together, even when their characters are working against each other. RP is a team activity, and a team can't work together without communication. Even when two characters are trying to kill each other, the players behind the characters should be working together to make the scene as interesting as possible. This doesn't apply as much to PvsP MU*s, where the focus is on coded systems that encourage competition between players, but it is key on RP-based MU*s where the story is the focus.
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Old 08-22-2002, 09:11 AM   #7
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I play on a RPI mud (with absolutely no channels) and personally I prefer not gettting to know the other players OOCly except in rare circumstances. I find that it helps me to keep my PCs IC feelings / actions separate from my OOC feelings. I really do think it reduces the amount of OOC cliques that appear too. On my old mud the ones who were yapping all the time on the global channel were the usually the same ones who banded together ICly and acted liked they ruled the place (which they did to a certain extent).

Tycho does have a point about seeing the 'nice guy behind the villain' but it can cut both ways. If, for example, I know the player behind a character I'm planning to hurt then I might end up pulling the punch so as not to hurt them OOCly. Horses for courses I guess - whatever you want it's out there for you.

If players want to let OOC considerations dictate their actions then there is very little that can be done to police that really. AIM, ICQ, etc. means that it's easy for players to organise OOCly, cheat or whatever. I think I'm lucky though as by and large the people that I RP with are mature enough to not carry grudges for long. Of course when you lose a beloved PC you're going to be upset and you might resent the other player for a while but you just have to look at it, as Tycho said, as another part in the story of the gameworld unfolding. If you find yourself really getting bothered about it all then walk away for a while - it's a game and you should be enjoying it! I've heard of people walking away from the mud I play on after a particularly traumatic death but they virtually all return after a short while ready for more.
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Old 08-22-2002, 07:43 PM   #8
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Myself I like the channels. I like to think that people are not twinks and won't break the OOC/IC line.

Quite honestly, I would rather make friends to talk to sometimes. I'll be honest, there are some days where there might be a character I just can't get in the RP mood for that day. (I like OOC areas) but if someone wants, they can page/let me know they want me IC so I can RP... sure, it's a little bit killing motivation by self, but there are good things to it.

I like how so many 'villians' ICly can be really good OOC friends that you find. It's just one of those things where an OOC friend I know killed one of my characters. Actually, I wasn't mad about it at all, and the fact I knew her OOCly helped a bit, as I try to remain 'attached to the story' as Tycho advises.

More rambling.
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Old 08-24-2002, 02:58 PM   #9
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I play on a mud which has RP, but ooc chatter is just like everything else: you hafta be in the same room as who you're talking to. Some people rarely if ever talk ooc, some people have problems using the ooc commands to the extent that if anyone paid attention to what they said, their chars would get very confused about all these magical inventions like TVs and stuff. There's several cliques of people who got each other involved and know each other IRL and end up cheating a lot because of it. However, there's also people like me who know more ooc info than they should, and yet try as hard as they can to keep their char honest.

I think in a lot of cases it helps to know a little bit about people's ooc lives, because if they're reasonably nice and all it's not that big a deal if their chars happen to kill you. One time my bf's char killed my char, and the poor guy thought I was gonna dump him over it. I said hey that's life, at least we have the satisfaction of knowing that we're playing the right way.

I think one of the keys to not ooc cheating is realizing how your char fits into the game world, which a lot of people don't do even when they play honestly. You have to think about what effects your actions will have, not just in the sense of if I do this I might get caught. A few cheaters can really unbalance an RP mud if they want to, and most of them don't even care because they think it *should* be their favor. They don't care what happens to anyone else as long as they get what they want. You can't worry yourself so much over what the other guy is gonna feel when you kill his char that your char never ends up doing it if it's in his nature to do so, but neither can you think of him as leftover meatloaf you couldn't stand the first time around.

And sometimes you get lucky enough to have a char who does what it wants to regardless of all your ponderings. Just when you think you know who they are, they do something that totally surprises you. And when that happens, the fun is not in how much better than everyone else you can get your char, but watching to see what's gonna happen next.

I think of any good RP mud (although I only know of one ) as a really long series of books, the kind where each one has like 800 pages and you know you're gonna be totally immersed in whatever's happening, and when you get to the end you're always wondering what happens next and waiting breathlessly for the next book in the series. Except on a mud you don't hafta wait. It just keeps going and going and going, and you keep being surprised and entertained. And if something bad happens to your char, so what? Bad stuff happens to chars in books all the time...that's why they were written to begin with. A book with only positive events would get boring pretty fast. Just because something bad happens doesn't mean it's not gonna be interesting to watch.
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Old 08-26-2002, 05:50 PM   #10
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I always see myself kinda reacting bad towards people because of the quality of RP. Not just because they are first time RP'ers, but because they are just lazy and want what they want. They posts lame and short stories and then they become the most powerful person on the MUD because there's no quality limit on what you must do. So, when they are bad RP'ers, I have bad OOC feelings and IC feelings towards them. I try not to let it affect roleplay much, but sometimes it does let it. OOC is whatever I want to do, so I make sure they know I don't like their RP. Sometimes I have gotten it fixed, or had the immortals say something about their laziness. Then again, you can't really force anybody to do anything.
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