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Old 02-15-2005, 07:26 AM   #1
Enigma
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Zebedee has been running for around 15 years now, so we have a lot of experience of dealing with trouble makers and generally actions such as suspensions/deletions/site bans have kept people in line.

Recently though a few members have, after many and repeated warnings and lesser penalties, been permenantly banned from the Mud.

Since then they have been passing their time by posting scathing 'reviews' (using the word review to mean slagging off the Mud as much as possible) and creating websites detailing walkthroughs to quests and to alchemist recipies which are supposed to be only known to people who have solved them themselves.

Beyond the obvious 'ignore them and eventually they will stop being childish and go away' does anyone have any suggestions for dealing with this?
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Old 02-15-2005, 08:01 AM   #2
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I can think of one way: Change the quests, change everything that's on their websites, and let them post their so called "reviews".

Why let them post the reviews? Cause any half-brained troll who reads the sentence "Oh! Lets not forget good old Savoy. Genius that he is" (Just picked a random sentence that I think makes a good example) can understand that he's dealing with nothing but a disgruntled player, and would most likely try the Mud for himself knowing that idiots like that get banned.

And well, I already offered my advice about their little websites... If you change the quests, their websites become worthless.
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Old 02-15-2005, 10:33 AM   #3
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(original comment removed - it appears I was confusing the owner of Zebedee with the owner of mono.org, my apologies).

Disgruntled players are always coming here and ranting - it's got to the point where most readers take the reviews here with a pinch of salt anyway. I shouldn't worry about it.
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Old 02-15-2005, 01:14 PM   #4
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You really can't do much about disgruntled players, other than turning off reviews for a while. Generally I've found that they want reactions, because it convinces them that whatever they're doing is seriously inconveniencing you. Ignore them and go about your business. Changing information that's published - well, it depends on the amount of work as well as the impact on your game. Are the people with the information getting an unfair advantage? If so, I'd probably change it. If it's just "whoo, you want this to be secret so we're publishing it", again I'd ignore it or maybe change enough to make the info questionable. If they've got a place for people to post info, it's kinda fun to post info that sounds good but is totally false, if you want to put that much effort into it.

I hope that helps. I've dealt with a lot of griefers in a multitude of forms over the years, and it's usually discouraging and painful if you let it get to you. Remember that you must be doing something right if you're creating a game that's good enough that people get that worked up about it.
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Old 02-15-2005, 03:12 PM   #5
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Just ignore them. And as the saying goes, "Information wants to be free." If they're publishing info and you take the time to make changes, they win. They've forced you to waste your time, thus inconveniencing you, which is what they're after.

--matt
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Old 02-15-2005, 03:56 PM   #6
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But then again, logos, if he changes the quests he might just add a little bit of 'zaz' to the old players (Don't ask me what Zaz is, look it up in the dictionary!.

I can understand what you're saying about not working too hard because of them, but nobody said changing quests is a bad thing - it could actually be fun for the staff and an opportunity to change things for the better.
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Old 02-15-2005, 04:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Amnon @ Feb. 15 2005,15:56)
But then again, logos, if he changes the quests he might just add a little bit of 'zaz' to the old players (Don't ask me what Zaz is, look it up in the dictionary!.

I can understand what you're saying about not working too hard because of them, but nobody said changing quests is a bad thing - it could actually be fun for the staff and an opportunity to change things for the better.
Could be, but why let some random jerk dictate your timeline for such things?
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Old 02-15-2005, 05:15 PM   #8
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Because if he doesn't, you'd probably never do it.

But I mean, if the guy is giving out solutions to quests, you change the quest... Or delete the quest... If you sit there and do nothing then the guy just took out the fun in quests for your players, and then who won? He sure as #### didn't have to work hard to do it, so what's next? Clues to all the rare items?
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Old 02-15-2005, 05:25 PM   #9
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Leave the quests as they are...
spend the time you might have spent changing them making new quests!
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Old 02-16-2005, 02:00 AM   #10
 
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Originally Posted by (Amnon @ Feb. 15 2005,17:15)
Because if he doesn't, you'd probably never do it.

But I mean, if the guy is giving out solutions to quests, you change the quest... Or delete the quest... If you sit there and do nothing then the guy just took out the fun in quests for your players, and then who won? He sure as #### didn't have to work hard to do it, so what's next? Clues to all the rare items?
It can't suck the fun out of quests for the players who don't care to do the quests anyway and just want to get whatever reward if any the quest provides. Those people seeking solutions to quests are going to be seeking and getting that information privately. It doesn't harm players who enjoy finding and solving things on their own because they won't bother with the website.
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Old 02-16-2005, 03:59 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Amnon @ Feb. 15 2005,17:15)
Because if he doesn't, you'd probably never do it.

But I mean, if the guy is giving out solutions to quests, you change the quest... Or delete the quest... If you sit there and do nothing then the guy just took out the fun in quests for your players, and then who won? He sure as #### didn't have to work hard to do it, so what's next? Clues to all the rare items?
What Tyche said. =)

There are tons of quest walkthroughs for Worlds of Warcraft, but that hasn't stopped it from selling 300,000+ copies on its opening weekend in Europe this last weekend.

Just generally, trying to keep game mechanics secret from players is futile unless you have virtually no players to begin with. As your playerbase rises, so does the "value" people find in supplying information about your game mechanics.


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Old 02-16-2005, 09:40 AM   #12
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The most amusing way is to change minor details in the quests he's posted, usually the details that are the easiest for the players to work out on their own. This raises the possibility that people will be saying, "You don't want to trust that site. They have the silliest mistakes on there!"
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Old 02-16-2005, 11:20 AM   #13
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Tyche; Feb. 16 2005,020
Quote:
Originally Posted by
It can't suck the fun out of quests for the players who don't care to do the quests anyway and just want to get whatever reward if any the quest provides.  Those people seeking solutions to quests are going to be seeking and getting that information privately.   It doesn't harm players who enjoy finding and solving things on their own because they won't bother with the website.
In a way it DOES harm them, because the Quests were designed as challenges with rewards for those smart enough to solve them. Seeing people getting those rewards without any effort at  all is going to annoy the ones that actually did the quests on their own, perhaps to a point where they leave the Mud, if nothing is done.

And although I agree with Tyche's statement on another thread that the only players who can REALLY cheat in a mud are the imms, I still think that blabbing about Quest solutions is extremely lame, and putting up a website with the solutions is lame to the verge of criminal.

I'd contact the owner of the server, if I were you. If the website is really for cheat purposes, there should be no problem to get them to shut it down. I know some muds have suceeded with this in the past, Treshold is one of them.

As for bad reviews or flame posts, don't worry to much about them. They are more likely to get you more players than the opposite, because the publiv usually sees through the rants.
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Old 02-16-2005, 02:11 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Molly O'Hara @ Feb. 16 2005,11:20)
and putting up a website with the solutions is lame to the verge of criminal.
I'm assuming you mean 'criminal' in an off-handed way, since there's nothing even remotely illegal about putting up a website with solutions to quests.

You guys might want to check out thottbot.com. It's a pretty amazing reference site for Worlds of Warcraft (that's also a bit controversial right now since it appears to be owned by Ogaming, which is owned by IGE, the major player in the secondary market for virtual world items and currencies). The info is fed to it largely, I believe, by a custom frontend for WoW called Cosmos. You can search by quest, item, whatever. It's a huge treasure trove of data.

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Old 02-16-2005, 02:35 PM   #15
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The first thing you should do (and something you should have done the first day you signed up at TMS) is disable reviews.

Anonymous, player submitted reviews are absolute trash.

The overwhelming majority are either trolls from disgruntled jerks with a bone to pick, or inflated, hyped, puff pieces written by fanboys.

The rare worthwhile review gets utterly buried amidst the previous two types.
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Old 02-16-2005, 03:52 PM   #16
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Anonymous, player submitted reviews are absolute trash.  The overwhelming majority are either trolls from disgruntled jerks with a bone to pick, or inflated, hyped, puff pieces written by fanboys.

I spot-checked our last ten, and counted two disgruntled jerks and zero fluff pieces.  I'd also say that four of them do a very good job of outlining our niche from a player's perspective.  I say they aren't fluff pieces because they all mention pros and cons, and avoid hyperbole about either.   One more was basically explaining why DJ#1 was spreading incorrect information (*).  One was quite possibly written under the influence of potent hallucinogens, but at least it's entertaining.   The last two were probably too short and vague to convey much.

We've always had decent luck like this- I think the collective impact of those ten reviews is certainly a net positive.  If I had to speculate on why:

1) We don't offer bribes or rewards for reviews.  You might get a brief thank-you letter from a staff member or two, but that's about it.  Cuts way down on the lowest-common-denominator reviews.
2) We don't pester people who are playing to write them.  (Or for anything.  We have a strict policy about keeping OOC stuff like PR and RL money outside of the game environment.)
3) Professional, fair rules enforcement.  Every game gets a certain quota of jerks, especially if they're like us and don't use cumbersome screening methods or financial contracts before a player can sign on.  (You can essentially log onto CF 'off the street'.)  If someone breaks our rules, we try to stay out of the insult-slinging and just explain the rules, punish if needed, and remove the offender silently if it's really called for.

In summary, I'd urge MUD admins to open their game to public review.  It's a useful tool for a prospective player to use before making a decision about trying your game out or not.

(*): DJ #1 claimed we randomly delete characters, and the review quoted our helpfile about how our character-bot cleans out inactive accounts after X days, and explained the policy a little more.  There's no human involvement in the decision to keep or remove an unplayed character.
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Old 02-16-2005, 03:58 PM   #17
 
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Originally Posted by (Molly O'Hara @ Feb. 16 2005,11:20)
In a way it DOES harm them, because the Quests were designed as challenges with rewards for those smart enough to solve them. Seeing people getting those rewards without any effort at all is going to annoy the ones that actually did the quests on their own, perhaps to a point where they leave the Mud, if nothing is done.
Yeah but it's another of those things you don't really have control over and not worth the headaches. It's sort of like banning players from smoking while playing your mud. ;-) Not only are players coordinating their actions in ICQ chat, they are sharing "secrets" via that medium and tells in your game. If you're punishing them inside the game they'll do it outside the game.

Quote:
Originally Posted by (Molly O'Hara @ Feb. 16 2005,11:20)
And although I agree with Tyche's statement on another thread that the only players who can REALLY cheat in a mud are the imms...
Are you sure about that? I mean we were having that amusing discussion along similar lines over on TMC. I know your Sonya definately wouldn't agree with me. :-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by (Molly O'Hara @ Feb. 16 2005,11:20)
I still think that blabbing about Quest solutions is extremely lame, and putting up a website with the solutions is lame to the verge of criminal.
I personally like to solve puzzles myself. OTOH, my son is scouring the cheat sites after no more than 48 hours after purchasing a new video game. One amusing thing is I started playng the Sims and had to tell him, No I really don't want to know the cheat code to start with a million dollars. His friends are like that with cheat codes, my friends aren't. I'm venturing part of it is a youthful predisposition of impatience with puzzle-solving and desire to get to the good part of the game. But it's not confined to youth, you see it commonly among those who love to PK. They could care less about the stupid quests and would rather skip that part, get "buffed out" with the rewards to enjoy the part of the game they like.

If they stick to playing their game it's fine, but then again they might be really annoying to others by issuing spoilers over global chat. *shrug*

Quote:
Originally Posted by (Molly O'Hara @ Feb. 16 2005,11:20)
I'd contact the owner of the server, if I were you. If the website is really for cheat purposes, there should be no problem to get them to shut it down. I know some muds have suceeded with this in the past, Treshold is one of them.
I believe it was over copyright infringement not quest cheats, right Threshold? A cheat site might but not necessarily infringe on copyright.
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Old 02-16-2005, 04:26 PM   #18
 
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Originally Posted by (Threshold @ Feb. 16 2005,14:35)
The overwhelming majority are either trolls from disgruntled jerks with a bone to pick, or inflated, hyped, puff pieces written by fanboys.
The intended audience of the bad review is usually the staff and players on that game. The player has usually been cut off from communicating their displeasure inside the game. As has been said many times, players have the right to logoff. Well they do enjoy another right too. The right to whine, bitch and moan on mud forums (well as long as mud forums and listing sites remain liberal in regard to who uses them). Being that forums are primarily read and written by mud staff, it almost guarantees a predominately negative group response regardless of the complaint. And some admins will respond by loosing their flying monkeys to do damage control on the reviews or forums. Of course if players weren't terrified of really speaking their minds on the muds they play that'd probably cut down on "AnonymousCoward" reviews.

I think it's all very amusing.
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Old 02-16-2005, 06:41 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Tyche @ Feb. 16 2005,16:26)
Of course if players weren't terrified of really speaking their minds on the muds they play that'd probably cut down on "AnonymousCoward" reviews.
I agree with this actually. Each of the forums for our games has a section specifically for players to rant, complain, bitch, and whine. As long as they don't get too personally insulting with any of our staff (saying they do a bad job is fine. Saying they're white supremacists who eat puppies and lynch minorities is not.) they can bitch about whatever they want. Some productive stuff has actually come out of those forum sections too.
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Old 02-16-2005, 06:47 PM   #20
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the_logos Feb. 16 2005,14:11
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I'm assuming you mean 'criminal' in an off-handed way, since there's nothing even remotely illegal about putting up a website with solutions to quests.
I meant it in a figurative way, and also note that I said 'on the verge of criminal.' If you are going to quote me, plese do it correctly.

I am well aware that providing free cheat info on a website - or even selling the same info - doesn't fall under criminal law. That doesn't mean I have to like it, any more than I like some other sleazy things on the fringes of muds, like selling equipment or even chars for RL money.

I like a fair play and a fair game, and I think Admin should try to sell the idea of that to the players as much as possible.

And one way of doing that is to make it clear to them that cheating is not acceptable behaviour, and that if you ARE caught with your hand in the jam jar, you are going to get punished in some way or other.

That said, I'd like to clear my standpoint on cheating to Tyche:

1. I don't think you should have any rules in a Mud that you don't have a reasonable chance of also enforcing. I do think that you should enforce the ones that you have however.

2. I am a Builder, (and so is Sonya, who you mentioned), so naturally we don't like to see our work misused. I try as much as possible to make my quests reasonably 'cheat proof', by adding random elements, and lower the rewards when the quest is repeated. But it is very hard to protect against blabbing, unless you make the scripts so elaborate that it really isn't worth the time and effort. There is a limit to the time you can put down on each single quest. And however hard you try, bugs WILL appear every now and then, especially in new zones.

3. I don't think anyone should be judged without cut and clear evidence, neither in a mud or in RL. I'd never judge a player based solely on accusations from other players myself. But some players are such obvious bad eggs that you soon run out of any sympathy for them.

4. I also think that player privacy should be respected, and that habitually snooping and spying on players is generally a bad thing. If this means that a number of cheaters who would otherwise get caught are going free , I'll have to live with that. (Note; I am not saying that the snoop command is never used on my Mud. It is however restricted to imp level, to avoid imms being nosy out of sheer boredom, and we never use it without good reason). Also, as Tyche already pointed out, if you monitor your players on line, they just take their blabbing to ICQ or AIM.

5. However, a blatant cheat site on the net is way over the borderline for me. Some people may find it amusing,  some might even consider it a possible source of income. I guess next we might have Mudowners offering to sell quest info from their own game for $. As for myself, I consider it an insult both to the game and the players, and everything possible should be done to shut it down. (And I doubt that the info on a cheat page would NOT fall under copyright infringement).

6. Finally, imms that abuse their chars to get game advantages for their mortal chars, or those of their personal friends, should lose their imm privileges immediately. There is no excuse for cheating imms and it should never be tolerated on any mud.
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