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Old 08-29-2007, 01:33 AM   #221
Newworlds
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

(Cratylus and Scandum, I find both of your recent posts presumptive and offensive and the reason this thread is so long. Your dislike and bias for commercial muds astounds me. If you hate them fine, but why the baseless flames? At least flame on topic and on post, please, not arbitrarily without substance.)

I have some problems with the multiple choice answers which I said I would describe in a later post, so here they are. Let's look at the options:

[ ] Payment and/or donations required to play.
[ ] Payment and/or donations accepted, rewarded in-game.
[ ] Payment and/or donations accepted, not rewarded in-game.
[ ] Neither Payment nor donations accepted.

First. Would anyone ever check that first box? I can't see any MUD on TMS checking that, can you? Would anyone here state they would check that (I'd really like to know if someone would select this option)? If not, it is useless.

Second: Option two and three are subjective. Anyone can define what a reward is or is not. If you don't believe me, read this thread from the first post to the last. And if this is the case we are back to my original two options:

[ ] This mud has some donation, registration, and/or payment features.
<Text box with Description and Payment features.>

and/or

[ ] This mud does not accept money (donations/registrations/credits) in any form.

Am I the only one that can see you are either a mud that brings in money or you are not?
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Old 08-29-2007, 01:44 AM   #222
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Quote:
Your dislike and bias for commercial muds astounds me.
I have stated this before. Evidently I must state it again.

I love commercial muds.

I want commercial mud owners to get rich, fat, and happy.

Commercial muds do great things for my hobby.

I heart them.


Quote:
First. Would anyone ever check that first box?
In fact, I recently poked at a mud (sadly I don't remember which)
website to try to log onto it, and there was no login information on
the website at all. As best as I could figure it, you had to
register and pay and stuff before logging in.

So yes, I would hope that such a mud would indeed check the first box.


Quote:
Second: Option two and three are subjective. Anyone can define what a reward is or is not.
Similarly, anyone can debate what "is" is. There is a threshold for
being able to debate things with a straight face, and I believe that
"in-game rewards" is it for this discussion.


Quote:
Am I the only one that can see you are either a mud that brings in money or you are not?
I can see it too. I don't limit myself to it.

-Crat
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Old 08-29-2007, 02:07 AM   #223
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lasher View Post
The previously mentioned 4 select options plus an optional text box isn't anyone's perfect solution but seems to be a reasonable compromise most can live with.
I don't think the 4 select options (which are popular with what, 5 people? 10?) are good at all. They still allow, for example, people who sell merchandise to claim they do not accept payment. They also let people pretend donations or merchandise purchases do not result in any in-game rewards, which is an idealistic claim that is at best unverifiable and at worst false.

This actually starts to matter if you create explicit, searchable categorization. Once you have that, you create the impression in the player's mind that the information is accurate. That set of 4 options would reward people for lying, and I think systems that reward lying are always a bad idea.

This site was created with the express purpose of promoting muds. A big part of that means giving mud operators the right to describe their mud in the manner that is most accurate and important to them. Very few aspects of a mud are more important to describe accurately than its costs to play or if it is free. That is precisely why we have such massive discussions about it. So to force mud admins into 4 vague, often inaccurate choices is antithetical to the goal of promoting muds.

Like chaosprime, I am very much against any efforts to try and "ghettoize" professional muds simply because they have some form of revenue stream. I believe that is precisely what some of the very small, vocal minority in support of these "4 select options" are hoping to accomplish. If their goal was truly "giving the player useful information" then they would be totally in support of the professional vs. hobbyist select options as well. But it comes as no surprise that they are against those. I imagine they feel those options are an attempt to "ghettoize" hobbyist muds. I think they are incorrect, but you'd think they would at least get the point.

Ultimately, that is why I think it is an extremely bad idea to cave to this small handful of people and create these "4 selection options." Their motivations are certainly suspect, and even their addmitted goal cannot be reached with this change. This change would only open up the system to more abuse, and it would be worse because explicit search options would create an illusion of truth that would not exist. At least players KNOW hand written information about a mud is in the words of the admins and therefore inherently taken with that bias in mind.

That is why I think the text area for filling in payment model information is the best option. It gives mud operators the ability to describe their payment system (if any) in a way they feel is most accurate about their game. It also gives players useful information they KNOW is biased (since the admins themselves entered it).

If you absolutely must have some sort of select options, then go only with things that are pure fact and actually can be verified. Something like:

[ ] Money accepted in some form (payment, donations, sale of merchandise).
[ ] No money accepted in any form.

And of course, since the goal is information for players, create at the same time:

[ ] Professional Mud. Admins are paid and full time.
[ ] Hobbyist Mud. Admins are unpaid or not full time.
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Old 08-29-2007, 02:28 AM   #224
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Quote:
They still allow, for example, people who sell merchandise to claim they do not accept payment.
This is easily fixed by adding a line explaining that payment
is accepted for non-in-game merchandise. Good point, though.


Quote:
They also let people pretend donations or merchandise purchases do not result in any in-game rewards, which is an idealistic claim that is at best unverifiable and at worst false.
I'll be the first to admit that the proposed system has flaws. It
is imperfect, you betcha. But it's hella better than trusting
people's imaginations to correctly guess what "free mud" means.


Quote:
That set of 4 options would reward people for lying, and I think systems that reward lying are always a bad idea.
This is no more correct than me suggesting "free mud" is lying.
The question is not which is telling the truth. The question is
which is less imprecise.


Quote:
A big part of that means giving mud operators the right to describe their mud in the manner that is most accurate and important to them. Very few aspects of a mud are more important to describe accurately than its costs to play or if it is free. That is precisely why we have such massive discussions about it. So to force mud admins into 4 vague, often inaccurate choices is antithetical to the goal of promoting muds.
You still have the freedom to describe your mud however you
like, AFAIK. And the 4 choices are not vague. They were chosen
and generally ratified specifically for their approximation to precision.
As I've said, it's far more precise than "free".


Quote:
If their goal was truly "giving the player useful information" then they would be totally in support of the professional vs. hobbyist select options as well.
If you think I'm some part of malevolent cabal trying to suppress
commercial muds, then you've just not been listening. This hobbyist v
professional thing was correctly judged as a distraction to the
specific question this thread is focused on. If you *really* care about
it, why not start a new thread for it?


Quote:
That is why I think the text area for filling in payment model information is the best option.
I understand that you prefer to have maximum freedom
in how your mud is listed. I respect your desire to do so.

I just don't think it's necessary to demonize people who
disagree with you in the way you did in this post. It's
offensive and inexcusable. I can only hope you don't actually
think it advances your position.

-Crat
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Old 08-29-2007, 02:32 AM   #225
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Newworlds View Post
(Cratylus and Scandum, I find both of your recent posts presumptive and offensive and the reason this thread is so long. Your dislike and bias for commercial muds astounds me. If you hate them fine, but why the baseless flames? At least flame on topic and on post, please, not arbitrarily without substance.)


I have no issues with commercial muds, but I'd be uncomfortable playing a mud where the paying players are the knights and the non paying players are the peasants.

My post wasn't a flame but merely blunt, confrontational, and to the point. You can't expect everyone to be a polite gentlemen, sort of like you can't expect everyone to be a God fearing christian. Not to mention that by your hypocrite standards your own post is a flame, last time I checked being "offended" or "astounded" doesn't give one a license to flame, though I'm aware that some people are raised to believe so.
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Old 08-29-2007, 02:36 AM   #226
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Quote:
[ ] Money accepted in some form (payment, donations, sale of merchandise).
[ ] No money accepted in any form.

And of course, since the goal is information for players, create at the same time:

[ ] Professional Mud. Admins are paid and full time.
[ ] Hobbyist Mud. Admins are unpaid or not full time.
Sounds reasonable.
I would extend it to:

Game type:
[] Money accepted for rewards (subscription, donations, sale of merchandise)
[] Donations without rewards accepted.
[] No money accepted in any form.

Game publisher:
[] Company (professional paid staff)
[] Hobbyist
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Old 08-29-2007, 02:40 AM   #227
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Hephos, there is a general agreement on the options Lasher
seems willing to accept:

Quote:
[ ] Payment and/or donations required to play.
[ ] Payment and/or donations accepted, rewarded in-game.
[ ] Payment and/or donations accepted, not rewarded in-game.
[ ] Neither Payment nor donations accepted.
It seems to me that it includes the payment style
options you favor.

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Old 08-29-2007, 03:27 AM   #228
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cratylus View Post
Hephos, there is a general agreement on the options Lasher
seems willing to accept:
There isn't general agreement on that at all. You're talking about 5-10 people. That isn't general agreement by any stretch of the imagination.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hephos View Post
Sounds reasonable.
I would extend it to:

Game type:
[] Money accepted for rewards (subscription, donations, sale of merchandise)
[] Donations without rewards accepted.
[] No money accepted in any form.
The problem arises when you start talking about "rewards." That is a vague term that is completely open to interpretation. Also, it is totally unverifiable, which makes it very inaccurate.

These searchable checkboxes create a much greater implication to a player that the information is true. That is why it is important that they indicate statements of fact rather than opinion as much as possible.
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Old 08-29-2007, 04:22 AM   #229
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Threshold View Post
Like chaosprime, I am very much against any efforts to try and "ghettoize" professional muds simply because they have some form of revenue stream. I believe that is precisely what some of the very small, vocal minority in support of these "4 select options" are hoping to accomplish. If their goal was truly "giving the player useful information" then they would be totally in support of the professional vs. hobbyist select options as well. But it comes as no surprise that they are against those. I imagine they feel those options are an attempt to "ghettoize" hobbyist muds. I think they are incorrect, but you'd think they would at least get the point.
The interesting thing with that statement is that Lasher seems to be part of 'the very small, vocal minority', since the suggestion that now seems to be reaching a concensus was his.

Apart from that, Cratylus already said all that needs to be said about your rather offensive post, so I'll refrain from further comments.

The 4 options selection is not perfect, but it is a definite improvement to the current situation, and I support it.

Quote:
[ ] Payment and/or donations required to play.
[ ] Payment and/or donations accepted, rewarded in-game.
[ ] Payment and/or donations accepted, not rewarded in-game.
[ ] Neither Payment nor donations accepted.
Preferably with an added text area that gives the owner the opportunity to further explain their system.
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Old 08-29-2007, 05:47 AM   #230
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

I think those 4 options will work alright. It's obvious that some commercial muds won't like it much since they love to claim that their games are "free" but.. I'm sure they'll get over it with a little bit of counseling.
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Old 08-29-2007, 05:51 AM   #231
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Newworlds View Post
I have some problems with the multiple choice answers which I said I would describe in a later post, so here they are. Let's look at the options:

[ ] Payment and/or donations required to play.
[ ] Payment and/or donations accepted, rewarded in-game.
[ ] Payment and/or donations accepted, not rewarded in-game.
[ ] Neither Payment nor donations accepted.

First. Would anyone ever check that first box?
Yes, if they require payment and/or donations to play. The idea of the listings is that you have to be truthful. Some people may lie, but the same is true of all options - people listing their LPmud as "custom", or claiming to have been created years before the codebase they're based on, etc. Yet those options are still considered to be worth including, because in the vast majority of cases they provide useful information to the player.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Newworlds View Post
I can't see any MUD on TMS checking that, can you?
They already are; it's the equivalent of the current "Pay to play Mud" option, which 31 of the muds currently listed on TMS are already using.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Newworlds View Post
Second: Option two and three are subjective. Anyone can define what a reward is or is not.
I don't think it's at all subjective, but if Lasher feels the meaning could be twisted then it would be a simple matter of clarifying the intent, perhaps even with examples.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Newworlds View Post
Am I the only one that can see you are either a mud that brings in money or you are not?
You're either based on Diku, or you're not. You're either a pure PK mud, or you're not. You're either created in 1998, or you're not.

The point of the listings is to provide information to players who are looking for muds to play. Giving them more information is a good thing, as long as that information is accurate.

Lasher's four choices cover the main payment models in such a way that there's very little room for intentional misinterpretation. While I would certainly like to see more options, I can't think of a way to do so without making them fairly open to exploitation (such as the sword from Cratylus's example, which can be purchased for $50 or earned for 'free' with 67 years of play).

I don't think Lasher's approach is ideal, but it's still a big improvement over what we've currently got, and combined with the text area it seems to address most of the valid concerns.

At this point I think most suggestions have been covered, so it's mainly a case of ignoring the distractors, finalising the wording, and waiting to hear Lasher's views.

Quote:
[ ] Payment and/or donations required to play.
[ ] Payment and/or donations accepted, rewarded in-game.
[ ] Payment and/or donations accepted, not rewarded in-game.
[ ] Neither Payment nor donations accepted.
Here's one other random observation: As we're using checkboxes rather than radio buttons, that means muds can choose not to click any of the options at all, and instead simply fill in the text area. Is this desirable?
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Old 08-29-2007, 05:53 AM   #232
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by scandum View Post
I think those 4 options will work alright. It's obvious that some commercial muds won't like it much since they love to claim that their games are "free" but.. I'm sure they'll get over it with a little bit of counseling.
The four choices avoid the use of the word 'free':

Quote:
[ ] Payment and/or donations required to play.
[ ] Payment and/or donations accepted, rewarded in-game.
[ ] Payment and/or donations accepted, not rewarded in-game.
[ ] Neither Payment nor donations accepted.
Thus a commercial mud could still list themselves as "Payment and/or donations accepted, rewarded in-game." and in the text area write something like "You can also play every part of this game for free".
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Old 08-29-2007, 08:00 AM   #233
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KaVir View Post
Here's one other random observation: As we're using checkboxes rather than radio buttons, that means muds can choose not to click any of the options at all, and instead simply fill in the text area. Is this desirable?
Can't the checkboxes be made obligatory to fill in? I think it is pretty important for the search engine to work as intended that at least one of them gets checked.
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Old 08-29-2007, 08:49 AM   #234
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Molly View Post
Can't the checkboxes be made obligatory to fill in? I think it is pretty important for the search engine to work as intended that at least one of them gets checked.
If the boxes are obligatory, what would you initialise them to? The muds listing themselves as "pay to play" could have the first box automatically clicked, but for the other muds you'd have to do one of the following:

1. Manually go through each listing (not feasible),
2. Default them to one of the options (resulting in incorrect listings), or:
3. Leave them blank until the listing is updated.

If you go for the third option, then those muds that really don't want to select an option will just avoid updating their listings, which doesn't really benefit anyone.

Don't forget though, if muds choose not to select any of the options, then it just means they'll show up on fewer searches. If you're running a pay-for-perks mud, the people looking for non-payment muds aren't going to find you with a search even if you don't click any of the boxes - but if you don't click any boxes, the players who prefer pay-for-perks muds won't find you either.

Quote:
[ ] Payment and/or donations required to play.
[ ] Payment and/or donations accepted, rewarded in-game.
[ ] Payment and/or donations accepted, not rewarded in-game.
[ ] Neither Payment nor donations accepted.
The last three options are mutually exclusive, but I could see some people trying to select multiple options just to appear on more searches. Furthermore, a pay-to-play mud which has no additional costs would presumably click the first and last options, but the last one is rather misleading (particularly if people are doing a search for non-payment muds).

I think perhaps they might be as radio buttons after all...it's a bit unfair on the pay-to-play muds perhaps, but their listings aren't really going to be affected by this change anyway, and they'd still have the text area if they wanted to elaborate on their payment model.
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Old 08-29-2007, 09:41 AM   #235
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Molly View Post
The interesting thing with that statement is that Lasher seems to be part of 'the very small, vocal minority', since the suggestion that now seems to be reaching a concensus was his.
Not sure whether it's a minority or majority, but the only "side" I am on is adding a search option that is useful and less open to interpretation. It will have to default to "Not specified" for existing MUDs just as the newly added option for "rating" does, but like that field will require completion when the MUD listing is edited.

There is a fine line between adding useful information and so many options that search is impossible. We could pick almost any of the dropdowns (pk, roleplay, worldsize, originality) and endlessly categorize them. We provide a high level category and interested players can choose to search or not search on it if they care about that particular subject then read the description and/or visit the MUD for more information.

I use the PK example a lot because it is a good equivalent but with the emotion taken out and in my own experience it is a subject that a certain portion of players care about significantly. Here's some searches that may or may not be fair:

Player: "Restricted PK? - screw that, I want full PK"
Admin: "The mud is entirely based and balanced around PK. Everything we have ever done for the past 5 years has been to facilitate PK and make it fun. It is labelled 'restricted' because you can't PK new players under level 10. Some people will flame us if we label it full PK and there is even a single exception."

Player: "Full PK? I don't want to have level 89,000s killing me at level 2, next".
Admin: "We labelled it full PK because anyone can attack anyone anywhere, but you cannot be killed again for an hour and cannot be killed again by the same person for a day. It isn't so bad." (Maybe this one should be labelled restricted, maybe not).

Player: "No PK at all? That stinks. I don't like predatory MUDs but I do like arenas and the chance to duel others or take part in group arenas/battles/whatever."
Admin: "Oh, we have those, but we don't really consider them PK so listed ourselves NOPK."

Player: "So wtf is PK on this mud?! It isn't specified"
Admin: "Well the categories didn't fit us. You can be nopk. You can join a faction and have restricted PK against other factions or you can join an army and, for you, the MUD is 'full PK'"

Keep in mind in each of these scenarios the player is a player looking at options in the search window. The 'admin' line is something the admin might say if they got a chance to respond, but they won't unless the player is interested enough in the rest of the MUD details to check it out and ask. Is the searcher moving on to a different MUD a fair outcome to the MUD in question? When every MUD tries to distinguish itself and do different things in different ways, trying to categorize them all is pointless.

Some experienced players feel very strongly on PK one way or another and will filter out a MUD based on the category without giving it the benefit of the doubt. Other's don't care. Other's will see if they like the look of the MUD and have a mental note to "ask about PK".

My point with all this? When you take out all the emotion from the debate the payment model selections are no different.
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Old 08-29-2007, 10:12 AM   #236
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KaVir View Post
If the boxes are obligatory, what would you initialise them to? The muds listing themselves as "pay to play" could have the first box automatically clicked, but for the other muds you'd have to do one of the following:

1. Manually go through each listing (not feasible),
2. Default them to one of the options (resulting in incorrect listings), or:
3. Leave them blank until the listing is updated.
First, you'd make it part of adding a new MUD.

For existing MUDs, just have a (non-selectable) flag of "Unknown payment model", until the owner decides to update it. This wouldn't show up on any search that mandated a specific payment model, but could show up if the searcher didn't have a preference.
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Old 08-29-2007, 10:24 AM   #237
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lasher View Post
Not sure whether it's a minority or majority, but the only "side" I am on is adding a search option that is useful and less open to interpretation.
And thank you for that. It's akin to the food debate where the FDA's job isn't to stop you from buying anything, but rather to make sure that the contents of a food package are labeled in a way that the consumer can understand.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lasher View Post
There is a fine line between adding useful information and so many options that search is impossible. We could pick almost any of the dropdowns (pk, roleplay, worldsize, originality) and endlessly categorize them. We provide a high level category and interested players can choose to search or not search on it if they care about that particular subject then read the description and/or visit the MUD for more information.
The slippery slope argument presented by others is a logical fallacy-- while we could make 4000 options, there's obviously a point where rigor gets sacrificed for user-friendliness and transparency. We want a system that any visitor can understand.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lasher View Post
I use the PK example a lot because it is a good equivalent but with the emotion taken out and in my own experience it is a subject that a certain portion of players care about significantly.
Exactly. Each MUD is already labeled in a couple dozen ways, some of which seem very trivial to me. Each MUD is also labeled by their response to "Pay to play Mud?". Moving that from a binary option to something mildly more descriptive (4 boxes plus optional text) makes the web site's Search function much more useful, on a category that everyone agrees is important. It would presumably be optional-- the default would be that all searches wouldn't care about a payment model, but you're welcome to specify one if that's important to you.
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Old 08-29-2007, 10:27 AM   #238
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Thumbs up Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Newworlds View Post
First. Would anyone ever check that first box?
Sure. Why wouldn't they? If you're running an outright pay-to-play MUD, you have less reason to be shy about it than if you're running a "free trial" style MUD, because there's never any benefit in someone who doesn't want to pay to MUD finding their way to your game.

Commercial MUD operators of the actually professional persuasion know that anti-commercial people getting directed to their MUDs is not going to generate conversions, it's going to generate ill-will. The reasons to be completely honest on your listing are the same reasons you wouldn't advertise your MUD by spamming.

Getting more precision in how MUDs are described is a benefit to said professionals, because while the only options are "pay" and a vague notion of "free", the only courses of action that are incentivized are 1) going fully pay-to-play, which many don't want to do, or 2) finding a way to construe your game as "free", which differentiates you from pay-to-play (as it ought to because if you can play for free, you are different from pay-to-play), but which results in people to whom "free" means "no money involved ever" winding up on your site, which doesn't help you. More precision lets the people who are interested in your kind of MUD find their way to you and lets those who aren't avoid you early in the process, and that's to everyone's benefit. The greatest harm comes when you're forced to describe your MUD using a category that's either too broad or unfairly stigmatizes your game. The exercise many of us have been engaged in is trying to work up a set of categories that does neither.

Last edited by chaosprime : 08-29-2007 at 10:29 AM. Reason: grammatical correction
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Old 08-29-2007, 10:38 AM   #239
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Thumbs up Re: What does "Free" Mean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Threshold View Post
[ ] Professional Mud. Admins are paid and full time.
[ ] Hobbyist Mud. Admins are unpaid or not full time.
What I hear you saying here is that you don't want to be forced to describe your MUD's payment model, which some people will react badly to, without also having the opportunity to describe the benefits of the payment model, which is that it supports full-time professional staff.

I agree with you that that's a tremendous benefit, and I wish devoutly that I could go full-time myself; I have a very distinct picture of the benefits it would have for my MUD. But, while I fully support the idea of adding that setting, but I don't think it needs to be made a "rider" on this one. If it's worth adding, it's worth adding on its own merits, and presumably worth discussing in its own thread.
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Old 08-29-2007, 10:50 AM   #240
Detah
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Re: What does "Free" Mean?

I do not really have a strong position on the question of how a mud owner determines his/her own Payment model nomenclature. I also do not have a strong position on how these categories are named. Most of the proposed categories all seem reasonable to me. I do have a strong position on the way the mud search engine lets players do searches. When I was just a player (and not an admin) I did not want to play on muds which were "Pay Muds" in the strictest sense (eg. registration fee to login); I was a poor college student after all. So when I did searches on mudlists, I wanted to search thru all muds which were not strictly "Pay Muds". I did not care if there were optional donations, pay for perks, donations with perks or whatever. The current search engine design would force me to do X-1 searches (where X is the total number of choices in the payment models dropdown menu) to find all the muds that I would play on. So I am in favor of making it CHECKBOXES (yes, I mean checkboxes) for the searches. The mud admin should probably be required to select only one type for their mud; but as for the player's searches, I think they should have the freedom to generate their searches however they wish. Google lets me do searches for 'final fantasy -movie'. That is, a search for "final fantasy", but NOT including the word "movie". I think this CHECKBOX approach would allow the same functionality for the mud search engine. Incidentally my suggestion may also alleviate some of the apprehension by the "100% free" and "100% pay" camp folks, who might get excluded from searches that the new player intended. Isn't that the goal? To search for what the player intends?

I have the same criticism for the PK dropdown menu. Please let me select "No PK" AND "Restricted PK". It saves me tons of time doing searches.

Detah@Arcania

EDIT: changed 'Its' to 'Isn't' in second to last sentence of first paragraph.

Last edited by Detah : 08-29-2007 at 02:34 PM.
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