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Old 09-06-2007, 01:36 PM   #361
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Thumbs up Re: What does "Free" Mean?

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Originally Posted by Lasher View Post
To answer the earlier question, there will almost certainly be a change. The 2 option is too broad. Right now it's between 4 and 5 with #5 (above) out there waving its arms to see if it has any support. Over to you....
I've always supported #5, but I basically accepted arguments that it was too easily gamed and settled for supporting straight 4-option.

At minimum, I think it'd have to have wording requiring that there be no payment anywhere in a benefit's ownership/effect chain for the claim of "available without payment" to be meaningful. If one can make that claim because a player could, conceivably, buy an item for $1000 and then transfer it to you without payment, then the information is useless and MUD owners are disincentivized from following the spirit of the distinction (because if everyone else is claiming it on a BS technicality, you'd better too).

Special-event lotteries and so forth are an annoying technicality, too, but trying to address that raises the specter of the category becoming a five-page legal document.
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Old 09-06-2007, 01:51 PM   #362
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

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Originally Posted by Newworlds View Post
I think a good determination of what this thread is about could be easily identified in which box you would check if the four box option was put in place. Would anyone care to answer? Here are your choices:

a. [ ] Payment and/or donations required to play.
b. [ ] Payment and/or donations accepted, rewards in game.
c. [ ] Payment and/or donations accepted, no rewards in game.
d. [ ] Neither payment nor donations accepted.

I will start it off. I would check D.
I would check D as well, having refused every donation I've ever been offered (my usual answer is "If you want to help us out, write a review"). The 2-option suggestion would benefit my mud more than the 4-option suggestion, because there would be fewer muds in the same catagory. However it is my firm opinion that the 4-option suggestion would be far more useful for players.

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Putting myself in the place of a player looking for a new MUD, a piece of important information those 4 options don't cover is whether or not all content can be experienced without payment. "All" in this context would mean anything that has any impact on gameplay. A picture on the webpage, a bigger avatar on the forums would not be considered content. A better item, a bigger map, a new skill, etc, would be.

I'm still struggling with whether or not to make that option #5. It can be gamed but if it is completed honestly it is valuable information. Any MUD owner could lie about any of the search options, I think we just have to assume details will be entered correctly and build the site around that.
I would also be strongly in favour of such an option, my only concern being that it's more easily "gamed" than the other four, as you pointed out (both here and earlier in the thread). In particular, the idea of making purchasable bonuses obtainable for free - but requiring several years of work, effectively making them unobtainable in any realistic sense.

An alternative, which I mentioned earlier, would be to have an option for "locked" bonuses - purchased bonuses that cannot be transferred between characters. The reasoning behind this is that if players can transfer bonuses between each other, they'll form their own economy based on supply and demand. If the Sword of Doom requires 10 years work to earn for free, then some players will purchase them for $10 and sell them in-game for something more realistic - you're effectively allow the players themselves to define the in-game value of the bonuses.

The drawback of such differentiation (both your #5 suggestion and the locked one) is that it comes down rather heavily on the games that sell purely cosmetic purchase-only locked rewards, such as a "donator" title. I guess the text area would allow them to clarify their stance though.
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Old 09-06-2007, 02:01 PM   #363
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

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Originally Posted by chaosprime View Post
At minimum, I think it'd have to have wording requiring that there be no payment anywhere in a benefit's ownership/effect chain for the claim of "available without payment" to be meaningful. If one can make that claim because a player could, conceivably, buy an item for $1000 and then transfer it to you without payment, then the information is useless and MUD owners are disincentivized from following the spirit of the distinction (because if everyone else is claiming it on a BS technicality, you'd better too).
That's a tough one, I think Kavir touched on that earlier - transferrable perks vs non-transferrable. Maybe this will lead to another 12 pages, but the last 12 were productive.

One possible answer is that if, for the thing to exist at all, someone had to buy it at some point in time, it is not "available without paying".

If I have to buy a "Sword of Chaosprime" in order for you to get it free of charge it's not "available without paying". If I can collect in-game gold and acquire a "Sword of Chaosprime" (now SoC) it is available without paying, regardless of whether or not I can also buy one with real money.

I highlighted possible because I didn't want to present it as a solution or lean the discussion towards it, it's just one potential definition.

Quote:
The drawback of such differentiation (both your #5 suggestion and the locked one) is that it comes down rather heavily on the games that sell purely cosmetic purchase-only locked rewards, such as a "donator" title. I guess the text area would allow them to clarify their stance though.
In the idea I had for #5 a donator title would not be considered content as it has no affect on gameplay. We could argue that it does via perception of other players and game staff, but a listing site can't police that.
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Old 09-06-2007, 02:10 PM   #364
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

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In the idea I had for #5 a donator title would not be considered content as it has no affect on gameplay. We could argue that it does via perception of other players and game staff, but a listing site can't police that.
To play devils advocate (though I don't agree with this) you could argue that it does, as it's something in-game someone managed to get that someone else can't via the in-game mechanics. For those players who have to have/collect everything in a game, it may seem unfair that they can't get that title without paying money.

Personally I'd be ok with the 5-option system. Yes, it can be gamed, it can be outright lied about, but at the end of the day so can everything. We can at least hope that a player who tries out one of these MUDs that has gamed/lied in their description will report it on here so we can investigate if they're breaking the spirit of the rules. Whilst people disagree with trying to apply to the spirit of rules or law and say only the precise, technical sense matters (haven't some of these types been pushing to get stuff written into the Constitution of the United States that a lot of other people think is completely against the original intent of the Founding Fathers, even if they didn't explicitly mention it?) I'm a firm believer that taking advantage of something just because there isn't a clear-cut rule against it is a Bad Thing. Sometimes common sense has to come into your decisions. The only things that need rules explicitly laid out to function are computers.
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Old 09-06-2007, 02:14 PM   #365
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

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Originally Posted by Lasher View Post
In the idea I had for #5 a donator title would not be considered content as it has no affect on gameplay. We could argue that it does via perception of other players and game staff, but a listing site can't police that.
The problem is that it crosses the clear boundry of "something" vs "nothing", which starts making the options more opinion-based. For example...

What about a donator channel, for talking with other donators?

What about clans being purchase-only, if all they do is give you a title and a clan channel?

What about cosmetic equipment rewards (restrings, donator-only bracelets, etc)?

What about the cosmetic "customise your character's appearance" donation reward?

What about the personalised in-game house, that doesn't give you any bonuses?

What about purchase-only classes, if those classes are just cool cosmetic variants of the free classes?
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Old 09-06-2007, 02:54 PM   #366
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

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Originally Posted by Newworlds View Post
Even when the 2 box system has 8 or more sub-options for better searchability? I would think these extra options would be more beneficial for the search engine? Or do you feel it makes it more convoluted?
Love threads like this... Always fun to try to keep up when people are posting 10 times more than you. lol But, yeah, sub-options do help. I would rather maybe find 3 that make sense, then add sub-options though, since otherwise you invariably get overlaps between, "Free as in beer", "Free as in, 'You can get in the building, but you are going to have to pay for the second. third, etc. beer.'", and "What? Free? You're not even getting in the door without a cover charge." Which is really what we are talking about here. In the first case, tossing some cash to the person shouldn't be an issue at all, other than maybe IRL they might not let you back if you keep showing up without cash (but we are not talking about RL here). There is still a clear difference between the later two. Sub-options need to be used as refinement, not as some people are going to "insist", by saying that the second category belongs with the third, while others invariably argue that it belongs with the first. In fact, it really isn't in **either**, but is imho, an entirely different animal all together.

At least that is my thinking on the issue.
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Old 09-06-2007, 10:47 PM   #367
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

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To answer the earlier question, there will almost certainly be a change. The 2 option is too broad. Right now it's between 4 and 5 with #5 (above) out there waving its arms to see if it has any support. Over to you....
Are you going to adjudicate what "rewarded in game" means?

What about MUDs that sell merchandise? They are getting a free ride under the 4 option system. They most certainly accept payments/donations.

What are you going to do about the fact that there is no way to prove ANY game does or does not provide rewards "in game", and how can you reconcile the fact that the 4 and 5 option systems creating a situation that rewards people for being deceitful?

What about the fact that Valg revealed the true motive behind all this? Is it really a good idea to cave to that kind of selfish motive hidden behind "providing information to players"?
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Old 09-06-2007, 10:49 PM   #368
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

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Originally Posted by Xerihae View Post
To play devils advocate (though I don't agree with this) you could argue that it does, as it's something in-game someone managed to get that someone else can't via the in-game mechanics. For those players who have to have/collect everything in a game, it may seem unfair that they can't get that title without paying money.
Titles can be just as significant and game altering as items. One's reputation counts for a lot more than their gear in any game, and fancy titles that signify you as a donator can have a powerful effect.

It also puts enormous pressure on people to "donate." It gives people an easy way to discriminate against non-donators (for example, having events for donators only), and just seeing the little fancy tag is itself a pretty huge pressure. Imagine being at a special event and you are the only one without the little tag. You'd stand out.
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Old 09-06-2007, 11:10 PM   #369
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

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Originally Posted by Threshold View Post
Are you going to adjudicate what "rewarded in game" means?

What about MUDs that sell merchandise? They are getting a free ride under the 4 option system. They most certainly accept payments/donations.
They would full under "Payments not rewarded in game". A title is open to debate, a different color asterisk on the who list that signifies something is open to debate, sending me a mug with your MUDs logo has no bearing on the game whatsoever.

Quote:
What are you going to do about the fact that there is no way to prove ANY game does or does not provide rewards "in game", and how can you reconcile the fact that the 4 and 5 option systems creating a situation that rewards people for being deceitful?
Like most of the options MUD owners can enter, we can't verify it. You could claim your MUD is newbie friendly with no PK when in reality it makes Armageddon and Genocide look like Neopets. If someone visits your MUD based on that description you lost a potential player.

Under the "5 option" system it is starting to seem that if we add the option at all it must be that anything and everything you can get from a payment in the game, even a tag, must be available without payment or there's too many grey areas.

Quote:
What about the fact that Valg revealed the true motive behind all this? Is it really a good idea to cave to that kind of selfish motive hidden behind "providing information to players"?
I can't speak to Valg's motives but even if you're right, it doesn't make the information any less useful. Has nothing to do with caving to any one side or the other.

Let's keep this in context, we're talking about a search option on an already fairly heavily populated search page, not an in your face 600 pixel "Click here for nice free muds" banner. It will be featured no more or less than other options, but for players who know what they want the option is there. As with all other options, default search will be all.
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Old 09-07-2007, 01:43 AM   #370
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

I said earlier that a good a good determination of what this thread is about could be easily identified in which box you would check if the four box option was put in place.

I find it odd that Kavir is the only person who is for the 4 box system that is willing to state which box they would check. I'd like to know, if you are promoting the 4 box system, which box you would check, so we can get the cards on the table.

Here are your choices:

a. [ ] Payment and/or donations required to play.
b. [ ] Payment and/or donations accepted, rewards in game.
c. [ ] Payment and/or donations accepted, no rewards in game.
d. [ ] Neither payment nor donations accepted.

Likewise, those that are for the 2 box system which box would you check?

1. [ ] This mud has some donation, registration, and/or payment features.
2. [ ] This mud does not accept money (donations/registrations/credits) in any form.

I am for 2 box system and I would check 2.
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Old 09-07-2007, 02:36 AM   #371
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

I agree that knowing if a certain feature is available both by gameplay and payment would be valuable info. But then again, so would info about the magnitude of what rewards you could get for the payment, (for instance a mainly cosmetic tag for donating 10 $, versus various powerful advantages for an unlimited sum of $).

However, unlike the 4 options, which are fairly straightforward, both seem a bit ambiguous, and could too easily be dodged by mudowners interested in obscuring the truth. My own feeling is also that adding too many options to the system would make it so complicated that the average player wouldn't bother to use it.

Also I get the feeling that this discussion is headed into another 12 pages lap, which would delay the upgrading of the search engine that most of the posters think would be a good compromise and a valuable addition.

So here is a suggestion to Lasher: How about implementing the 4 option choice (with a text area for elaboration) to the search engine now?
Meanwhile keep the discussion open about further options that could be added - (probably best as drop down menus) - and if this leads to some kind of conclusion about what is feasible, it could always be added later.

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Originally Posted by Newworlds View Post
I'd like to know, if you are promoting the 4 box system, which box you would check, so we can get the cards on the table.

Here are your choices:

a. [ ] Payment and/or donations required to play.
b. [ ] Payment and/or donations accepted, rewards in game.
c. [ ] Payment and/or donations accepted, no rewards in game.
d. [ ] Neither payment nor donations accepted.

Likewise, those that are for the 2 box system which box would you check?

1. [ ] This mud has some donation, registration, and/or payment features.
2. [ ] This mud does not accept money (donations/registrations/credits) in any form.
Since you asked:

I am for 4 box system and I would check d, since I run a Circle based Mud, but also out of conviction that in-game rewards skew the balance of the gameplay.
In a 2 box system, I'd check 2.

I wouldn't hesitate to play a c Mud however.
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Old 09-07-2007, 05:04 AM   #372
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

I am for the 4 box option and, assuming the MUD I just started developing again ever gets released, I would check D. I'd search for anything that checked A, C, or D depending on my financial situation.
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Old 09-07-2007, 06:47 AM   #373
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

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Originally Posted by Threshold View Post
Are you going to adjudicate what "rewarded in game" means?

What about MUDs that sell merchandise? They are getting a free ride under the 4 option system. They most certainly accept payments/donations.
a. [ ] Payment and/or donations required to play.
b. [ ] Payment and/or donations accepted, rewards in game.
c. [ ] Payment and/or donations accepted, no rewards in game.
d. [ ] Neither payment nor donations accepted.


They would check either b) or c), depending on whether their policies produced an in-game result. We plan to check c), as it's our written policy that purchasing a T-shirt (or whatever) comes with no in-game result.

What are you going to do about the fact that there is no way to prove ANY game does or does not provide rewards "in game", and how can you reconcile the fact that the 4 and 5 option systems creating a situation that rewards people for being deceitful?

It's as easy or easier to adjudicate this compared to any number of existing search options. How have you "proven" that roleplaying is required on Threshold? I'm guessing you refer to written rules or policies.

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What about the fact that Valg revealed the true motive behind all this? Is it really a good idea to cave to that kind of selfish motive hidden behind "providing information to players"?
1) Again, the quality of the system has nothing to do with whether or not it helps me. Again, you continue to miss the irony that the system helps me only if it is a helpful tool to searchers. If the system is confusing or too broad, it doesn't help anyone. Please debate the idea's merits, and stop with the attributions.

2) Lasher didn't "cave", and it's an insulting verb to use there. I'm not nearly the only person in this conversation, and I haven't kidnapped his relatives or anything. He's just as welcome to agree with me as he is to agree with anyone else. Heck, I'm not even the one who proposed the system, nor do I have naked pictures of any of the people who did. You'll need to conjure a new boogeyman, sir.
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Old 09-07-2007, 07:19 AM   #374
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

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2) Lasher didn't "cave", and it's an insulting verb to use there. I'm not nearly the only person in this conversation, and I haven't kidnapped his relatives or anything. He's just as welcome to agree with me as he is to agree with anyone else. Heck, I'm not even the one who proposed the system, nor do I have naked pictures of any of the people who did. You'll need to conjure a new boogeyman, sir.
Such an implication is even more ironic when you consider that both the four-choice proposal and the text area were originally Lasher's ideas; all the rest of us have done is give our views on the proposal's effectiveness, and slightly tweak the wording.
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Old 09-07-2007, 07:21 AM   #375
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

If we really are headed into another 12 pages lap, there is actually one very straightforward paying system that I feel has fallen between the chairs in the 4 box system:

Payment (one-time or periodical) required to play, no rewards in game
(Possible additional text box info: Yearly subscription required, Free 1 month trial)


To me that is the fairest commercial system, although obviously not nearly as profitable to the owner as the pay-for-perks system, which I guess is why it is becoming increasingly rare.

I wouldn't hesitate to choose such a game myself, if I liked its other features. After all, I paid by the minute for the 'Free' Mud I played for years, while still being on dial-up. (Not to the game owners, but to the telephone company, but in praxis that distinction didn't really matter). Again - to some of us money in itself is not the issue.

On a side note, my original suggestion still stands:
Implement the 4-box system now, evaluate it in a year's time by checking how it is being used and the percentage of each search option being called for.
(Make the default choice A, in case no box is checked by the owner).
Meanwhile discuss possible improvements, and if necessary upgrade the system later.
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Old 09-07-2007, 11:52 AM   #376
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

(This post is strictly for those MUD Administrators who are for or against the 4 box system.)

I think I now have a clear understanding why people want this system and why commercial games are against it. I asked my question about which box you would check to verify my thoughts on this and here is my conclusion: Those that want this system dislike any game that would check box b. This is very clear in the last posts and I suspected this from many of the posts earlier. Conversely, I believe the commercial games that would check boxes A and B feel that they are being put in a bad light. I'm sympathetic to this the same way I would be if the commercial games wanted non-commercial games to be forced to check one of these two boxes:

a. [ ] This is a professional, commercial game.
b. [ ] This is a non-professional, non-commercial game.

While checking box b for a non-commercial game is accurate, is it fair? Does it put the non-commercial game in a bad light? You could argue semantics and you would be right, and that is exactly why the commercial games resist box b.

Many of you probably came to this conclusion awhile ago and the arguments in this thread give credence to my supposition. I think in light of this we should perhaps not go forward with such a system without at least considering what I have stated here. I for one would not like the above examples of box a and b shoved down my throat as a non-commercial game, likewise I do not feel it fair to force the commercial games to accept what would put my game in a better light and force them into a poor light.

This is only my opinion and can be denounced or trounced as you see fit.
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Old 09-07-2007, 12:12 PM   #377
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Angry Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Really, I can't bring myself to have a response more sympathetic than "too freakin' bad".

If you're pursuing a business model that people in the community dislike (and the fact is, they have legitimate reasons to dislike it), maybe you should rethink your business model instead of trying to keep people from being able to construct a search that excludes it.

That's what I'm doing. I never thought ala-carte pay-for-perks was such a bad thing until I heard people describe some of the excesses it gets taken to, and now I'm rethinking whether I want to go further down that road or cease to have any association with it.

But if I do choose to commit to pay-for-perks, I'll damned well check that box and let the chips fall where they may. I have enough pride for that.

Last edited by chaosprime : 09-07-2007 at 12:13 PM. Reason: completion
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Old 09-07-2007, 12:22 PM   #378
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

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I think I now have a clear understanding why people want this system and why commercial games are against it.
As far as I'm aware, only one commercial game has posted against the four-choice proposal within this thread - Threshold. Conversely, the owner of the IRE games has stated "So, after talking with Lasher some I'll drop my objection to those four categories since it's hard to argue that less information is better than more when it comes to search", while the owner of Lost Souls (which I believe is also a box B "pay-for-perks" mud) has actively defended the four-option proposal.

I also don't believe there is any objection to box A, as "pay-to-play" is already one of the TMS options and is currently being used by 31 muds. These box A muds would actually be the only ones unaffected by this proposal.
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Old 09-07-2007, 12:53 PM   #379
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

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While the owner of Lost Souls (which I believe is also a box B "pay-for-perks" mud) has actively defended the four-option proposal.
I was about to write: They are not a pay for perks, but were only thinking about it, as shown in their last post:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Choasprime
But if I do choose to commit to pay-for-perks, I'll damned well check that box and let the chips fall where they may. I have enough pride for that.
But honestly, I can't tell, because they never said what box they would check in the four options. Regardless, it seems clear to me the reasons wanting the four boxes and that wasn't addressed nor have the reasons changed.
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Old 09-07-2007, 12:57 PM   #380
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

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Like most of the options MUD owners can enter, we can't verify it. You could claim your MUD is newbie friendly with no PK when in reality it makes Armageddon and Genocide look like Neopets. If someone visits your MUD based on that description you lost a potential player.
I don't think any of those other parameters compare to the issue of payment model.

Once you make a search option for it, you are creating the impression to a player that the information is accurate ACCORDING TO TMS. That's a can of worms you don't want to open.

But if you go with any such options, merchandise sales need to be included as no different than accepting any other form of payment.
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