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Old 05-17-2003, 11:20 AM   #1
OnyxFlame
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In this era of ICQ & a lot of other message programs, how does a RP mud strictly enforce barriers between ooc info & IC info?

It'd be nice if players could know all the ooc stuff they wanted to but not use it to their benefit IC, but that's usually not the case. And (at least on the mud I play) it's hard for the admin to catch most of the cheaters because they make all their plans via ICQ and such, and it's hard for the admin to get enough proof to punish them. Even if you send in logs, they usually don't believe they're real since logs can be so easily altered. And players can't just take the matter into their own hands, because then they'd be ooc cheating as surely as the people they're trying to punish.

Not to mention the players who get pk'ed by someone and then decide that their next char's goal is revenge.

So how do some other muds deal with this problem?
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Old 05-17-2003, 11:54 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (OnyxFlame @ May 17 2003,11:20)
In this era of ICQ & a lot of other message programs, how does a RP mud strictly enforce barriers between ooc info & IC info?
"Information wants to be free."

You cannot stop it and it's counterproductive to try.
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Old 05-17-2003, 12:15 PM   #3
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Maybe I am misunderstanding you, but are meaning that they tell each other information like:  the Great Big Sword can be found here, or the Big Green Dragon is here ... ?  Because if you mean sharing information like that - I don't really think there is much we can do.  I liken it to being a DM and having a group of players that have ALL read the Monster Manual © and every module and resource book available.  As a DM you just have to contend with them, challenge them, and change things up.

But if you mean something - sorry, I musta misunderstood!  
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Old 05-17-2003, 02:24 PM   #4
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DartMud is a Permadeath mud with unrestricted PK. There are no mud-wide channels. You cannot "Tell" anyone outside the same room, it turns into a whisper that can be overheard if in the same room.

Most exchanges of OOC information generally involve:

Quote:
Originally Posted by
Help! So and So is attacking me! Come quick!
Or...

Quote:
Originally Posted by
Help! So and So just killed me, he stowed my amulet(when a person dies, his soul gets sucked into an amulet, if he has one, so he can be reincarnated into another corpse. -ED) here. Come rescue me and lets take revenge. We'll kill him and all his castle mates.
Or...

Quote:
Originally Posted by
Hey, So and So ****ed me off, lets co-ordinate a kill.
I think it is impossible to force people not to use ooc means of communication. How can you prevent it? Rewards are impossible, for how can you reward someone for not doing something? Punishments usually only work on people who have been punished before.

I guess the only way to prevent cheating is to parade caught cheaters around in chains, publicaly humiliate them, and let people know this is what will happen if they cheat. Let the peasants cower in fear, so they will never even consider cheating.
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Old 05-17-2003, 02:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Tzven @ May 17 2003,14:24)
I think it is impossible to force people not to use ooc means of communication. How can you prevent it? Rewards are impossible, for how can you reward someone for not doing something? Punishments usually only work on people who have been punished before.

I guess the only way to prevent cheating is to parade caught cheaters around in chains, publicaly humiliate them, and let people know this is what will happen if they cheat. Let the peasants cower in fear, so they will never even consider cheating.
I think it's extremely problematic to define cheating in a way to include something that goes on outside of the game world. I tend to take the stance that it's really none of an administrator's business.

--matt
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Old 05-17-2003, 02:46 PM   #6
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It's cheating if the OOC conversations effect IC situations.
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Old 05-17-2003, 05:52 PM   #7
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Hmm, what we have done with a few bugs is log them rather than fix them - then after a few months everyone abusing them gets deleted.

After that happened a time or two and word spread the number of cheaters dropped hugely.

I know its a slightly different problem - but similar things can be done in other areas. For example in our Alchemist class you research new recipies and make potions/salves etc from items gathered in the game. Passing on information on recipies is strictly forbidden - but some people still did it. We had enough logs though that we were able to not only prove that they had done it, but narrow down who had given them the info.

Those chars got deleted and the players banned from ever playing alchemists. The person giving out the info also got his alchemist deleted.

We haven't seen any wholesale giving out of alchie recipies since then I can assure you :-)

The basic idea is that you set it up that you will catch a sufficient number of cheaters to make an example of. You then hit them with a punishment sufficiently harsh that everyone will take notice. If the odds - and the consequences - of being caught outweight the benefits of cheating then most people won't cheat, or won't cheat to a huge degree.
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Old 05-17-2003, 08:38 PM   #8
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Examples of ooc cheating, to different degrees:

"Hey, Fred just killed me, go kick his ass!"

*thinking* "Joe just killed me, I'm gonna get my next char really good and kick his ass!"

*with a new char* "Hey Joe, I used to play Blahblah, teach me a lot!"

"Pssst guys, Frank just killed my second, let's all kill him and his buddies!"

"Well Lulu's last char killed one of my buddies, so let's all find out who she's playing now and kick her ass!"

*thinking* "Ok I have 2 different chars in 2 different houses which are at war, I think I'll have one char spy on their house so my other char can use this info against them."

This is the kinda thing I'm talking about. Sure, it may be hard to catch (especially if they use ICQ), but it all affects IC actions in the game, and therefore ruins the quality of said game if enough people do it. And if it gets widespread enough, some people think they pretty much HAVE to do it in order to get ahead, because "everyone else is doing it".
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Old 05-17-2003, 08:43 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Tzven @ May 17 2003,14:46)
It's cheating if the OOC conversations effect IC situations.
So then if I come into your game and know what a sword is, I should be punished? After all, I learned what a sword is through OOC conversations when I was quite little. How about if I already know what a dragon is? And it's funny how everyone seems to speak a language I learned OOCly (english).

The difficulty is that there's no strict line between OOC and IC. No mud has ever, in the history of the world, actually expected people to bring -no- OOC knowledge into the game, no matter how few players it has and how strict the game is on roleplaying enforcement. To do that, you would have to first exactly define -everything- a character knows and the sum of what people want to talk about is far greater than any MUD is going to document. Further, since every character is supposed to be different (they weren't all raised in an identical manner with identical experiences, obviously) it owuld have to be different for every character.

Now, you might argue it's obvious that every character (let's say they start at age 16 or 18 or something fairly standard) knows what a tree is. How about an oak tree? How about the difference between a white oak and the sawtooth oak?

You might then argue that ok, it's impossible to keep real-world knowledge out of the game, but what about knowledge of things that exist only in the game world and are unique to it, such as race unique to your mud. How do you track whether a character knows about that race? Do you just assume he or she knows about that because it's common? That's fine, but then it's the same problem as with the oak. What does the character know and what doesn't it. There's simply no way to track it. Even if you could somehow (god knows how in a decent way) track every bit of tangible information a character receives, it'd still be impossible.

For instance: Bob reads a room description and the game makes a note that Bob now knows there is a carved chair, 3 tin cups, 1 dented copper cup, and that the room is painted an off-green color with lots of smoke stains on it. The game puts a check mark next to this individual pieces of information in a database as well as every single other piece of information in the game. (You should already realize this is not implementable.) Unfortunately, there's WAY more pieces of information than you can ever catalogue. And that's before you have to worry about what the character knows if he knows A and B, but not C (after all, a character is a reasoning creature and is capable, in-role, of deduction and induction).

It doesn't end there though. You then need to figure out a way to parse out every bit of information characters pass to each other. You'll probably have to push the fields of epistemology, linguistic analysis and computer AI past the current bleeding edge. Once you've done that and figured out how to extract all pieces of information a character passes to another the real work begins: Contextual analysis, keeping in mind that the context a character is working in can only contain, under the strictest rp rules, information the character has already encountered.

That's really only an overview of some of the problems you face in actually determining whether OOC conversations affect IC situations. But, once you've gone ahead and solved those, we can talk about the rest of the problems.

--matt
P.S. I'm not trying to be sarcastic or over the top here (well, maybe a little over the top) but the fact is that the definition of cheating you gave is inconceivably difficult to operate by.
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Old 05-17-2003, 08:53 PM   #10
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Ok, how about this definition of ooc cheating?

"Anything about the actions, plans, or friends (or if you wanna get really Nazi, personalities) of another character, living or dead, that a new character who has never interacted with them or heard them discussed wouldn't know, but that the player makes their character aware of without bothering to roleplay out the discovery of this information."

Is that specific enough to remove any loopholes?
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Old 05-17-2003, 09:53 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (OnyxFlame @ May 17 2003,20:53)
Ok, how about this definition of ooc cheating?

....

Is that specific enough to remove any loopholes?
Maybe I'm misunderstanding the_logos's posts, but I think his point was not that there was a problem with your definition of cheating, but rather that there is no way to stop it. I agree with his very first post on this topic.

I believe that all you can do if your mud is rp-enforced is hope that the roleplayers you attract are good enough to not do this (at least most of the time, people are only human).
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Old 05-17-2003, 10:01 PM   #12
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No, there is no definition to escape all loopholes.  Human beings can not just automatically forget what they know, which is why trying to eliminate ooc knowledge is a red herring.  Going by your definition if I wanted my new character to know something about the person who killed my old character I could conceivably direct my rp interactionss to draw out that information within the game.  

Administration can catch and punish obvious ooc cheating within the game (or blantant confessions of ooc cheating outside of the game) but really the only way to have an extremely stringent line between ooc and ic is to trust your players and to draw the types of players that avoid using ooc information as much as possible.

It is much the same as a pk enviornment is only as good as the players that are playing.  The high level of skill draws( to some extent creates),  more skilled pkers.  The higher skilled your base rpers are the better your rp is.  If players who use ooc info are constantly ignored they will either learn to get with the program or move on to other places with a less enforced enviornment.
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Old 05-17-2003, 10:03 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (enigma@zebedee @ May 17 2003,17:52)
...

Those chars got deleted and the players banned from ever playing alchemists. The person giving out the info also got his alchemist deleted.

We haven't seen any wholesale giving out of alchie recipies since then I can assure you :-)

....
By "info", do you mean an object or something that the player has to receive online to ICly learn the recipie? Or is this just information the person can learn outside the game? If it's the later then the reason you aren't seeing it anymore is because people are now spreading it using ICQ, email, etc. so they won't get caught online.

If it's the former, then disregard my post
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Old 05-17-2003, 11:40 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (OnyxFlame @ May 17 2003,20:53)
Ok, how about this definition of ooc cheating?

"Anything about the actions, plans, or friends (or if you wanna get really Nazi, personalities) of another character, living or dead, that a new character who has never interacted with them or heard them discussed wouldn't know, but that the player makes their character aware of without bothering to roleplay out the discovery of this information."

Is that specific enough to remove any loopholes?
Largely that you're never going to have a system that can tell you if a character heard about something or not.

But I mean, beside that, my major problem is that this just doesn't fit with how people play in virtual worlds. They don't play as puppeteers. They put on masks. Consider the difference...

--matt
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Old 05-18-2003, 12:56 PM   #15
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But I mean, beside that, my major problem is that this just doesn't fit with how people play in virtual worlds. They don't play as puppeteers. They put on masks. Consider the difference...
In my mind this is a very good analogy. The people who play honestly are those who assume the role, or put on the mask. Those who use ooc information and/or relationships are, in fact, being puppeteers. They use their own, and unfortunately, also other people's characters as puppets.

This is more a problem in a strict rp mud, but can be unfortunate in less enforced environments. One mud I was involved with has quests built in the areas (mini adventures). Disclosing information about them is strictly forbidden and should any e caught, they would be punished. But when the answers to the riddles are given over an IM, outside the mud, there is nothing to do.

This is the harmful ooc information, specific things that could only known by personal experience in the mud being spread out. Not general knowledge like what a falchion is, but the knowledge that Sir K's falchion is enchanted and easily stolen if you hide in his chamber on the night the moon is full when he goes sleepwalking. (I made the example up).

In an RP enforced mud, the effects are worse. It gives some such an edge over another that there may not be any feasible way out of the situation. Other than quit. I'm going to refrain from starting a rant here.

OOC cheating is a problem. Stopping it may be impossible, but I it should still be attempted. It ruins the fun for so many, in various ways.
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Old 05-18-2003, 01:18 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Frostflower @ May 18 2003,12:56)
Quote:
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But I mean, beside that, my major problem is that this just doesn't fit with how people play in virtual worlds. They don't play as puppeteers. They put on masks. Consider the difference...
In my mind this is a very good analogy. The people who play honestly are those who assume the role, or put on the mask. Those who use ooc information and/or relationships are, in fact, being puppeteers. They use their own, and unfortunately, also other people's characters as puppets.
Actually, I'm afraid you've reversed the intention of my analogy...

What I mean when I say people put on and take off masks is that most people play as themselves with different masks on. Bob the human warrior. Bob the lizardman politician. Bob the dwarven bartender. It's all Bob, and Bob only takes the barest of measures to disguise that fact. Perhaps he occasionally throws in a "ye" or a "thou" or when he's playing as Bob the dwarven bartender he throws out a reference to his beard every now and then, but it rarely goes beyond that. It's like going to a costume party. You're not generally roleplaying at a costume party, but you're still semi-pretending that you're someone else. That's not going to stop you from talking about last night's Seinfeld rerun while you're that character though because you're not really trying to be someone else. You just want to put on a mask or two and have a bit of escapist fun.

On the other hand, strict roleplaying types are aiming at a puppeteer type model where the character is as separated from their normal personality as possible. Of course, it's still them as everything a puppet does is performed by the puppeteer, but there is a conscious attempt at some sort of consistent separation between player and character.

I don't view either as inherently better or worse than the other. They're just different playing styles. Unfortunately though, they interfere with each other. The puppeteers irritate some of the mask types with their unwillingness to have an honest conversation, person to person. The mask types irritate the puppeteers with theihr unwillingness to have an in-role conversation, character to character.

--matt
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Old 05-19-2003, 11:07 AM   #17
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I'm 'afraid' I did too. Or rather used the same analogy in in a different way.

They are, indeed, different playing styles. But while one speaks of apples and oranges, the other is talking about cabbages and onions. One is in the orchard, the other in the vegetable garden.

In the environment I play, my interpretation is valid. In yours, yours is valid. Both are still people playing in virtual worlds.
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Old 05-19-2003, 11:20 AM   #18
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Regardless of the semantics of puppeteer vs. masks...

I knew lots of "stuff" about various plotlines in the game I play. Some of it I learned through playing one character, who died, and then had a new character who got involved from another end of the plotline.

Some of it I learned through OOC means - IMs and e-mails and the like.

But as a person who values *playing a role,* I manage to keep my characters oblivious to what I know as a player, and to what my previous characters knew when I played them. Unless of course my current character ends up presented with the same information and learns it anyway.

In fact, with one of my characters I intentionally created her to avoid having to get involved with a plotline I knew about, and characters I didn't wanna interact with - and she ended up knee deep in the middle of it anyway.

Did I use my OOC knowledge to save her? Nope. She died too - because SHE didn't know what I know about the situation. Of course there were things I didn't know either...and that made it easier for me to RP my character as unknowing.

I think that's the main point, that last thing I just wrote. Some people CAN - and do - play their characters' roles as they are intended to be played, whether or not they have outside knowledge of things. Some - cannot. Those who cannot, in my opinion, shouldn't be playing roleplay-intensive/enforced games, because they detract from the discovery of in-game information through in-game means. They detract from it for themselves and for others.

On the other hand.. I've seen a smattering of people who play their roles flawlessly, and USE the information they find out through outside sources, and manage to give the impression, while they're roleplaying, that their character is behaving exactly as they should and learning what they learn strictly through in-game means.

This last example can work wonderfully - until someone finds them out and discovers that character is a sham. That's when the game integrity falls through the big black hole and causes resentment and frustration among the rest of the player base.

So..in summary, I'd suggest that if you're going to play a game in which IC info is highly valued as a strictly in-game commodity, you do one of two things:

1) Play the game as intended and do -not- seek or offer in-game info through out-of-game means...

or

2) If you do happen to learn something that your character had no way of finding out on their own, and decide to use that information, DON'T get caught or you'll just **** off the masses and ruin it for everyone else.

You can know things out-of-game, I believe, and not let it ruin things for you or others. But with knowledge comes responsibility. If you can't handle the responsibility, steer clear of the info.
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Old 05-19-2003, 10:00 PM   #19
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Thumbs down

Consider the situation where an NPC is mentioned in books, from the books, I (the player) knows that Bob the nice guy is really an evil backstabbing mongrel who has no fighting skill and a really good piece of magical apparatus, HOWEVER - I (the low-level character) read his description and reputation, seeing a big bear of a man, with rippling muscles, and an appearance of great skill as he practices with his axe.

If I am RPing properly (with obvious exceptions for if you a an evil murdering animal too) I would not attack him, there is no reason for it, and he appears too nasty to mess with, but since I read the book, I know he is a push over, he's going to die. This is cheating due to a lack of character separation.

Alternatively, if you have global communications within a race, but no communication between races/sides (still holds true even if you don't), and I am playing one race, but have arranged for a friend to be playing another (or my second char if the mud allows it - different matter again) who for no RP reason is passing me information about the movements and activities through, MSN/AIM/ICQ/shouts across a room, then that is also OOC cheating, AND IT REALLY ***** A GOOD GAME UP!

Simple, off the top examples, knowing what type of tree something is, doesn't really give me an advantage (OK, maybe if I know willowbark, is a pain killer, and can recognise a willow tree... but if I do not have the "hebalist" skill, it still doesn't help me, so it is MUCH less of a problem)

Please not the distictions there with IC and OOC knowledge, if I have roleplayed a spy in another clan, and I am in game & IC passing that information on, then, it is acceptable (Race RP permitting - some races WILL NOT speak to each other, even for that purpose), it has its own IC penalties if I am caught.
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Old 05-20-2003, 04:11 AM   #20
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I don't view either [mask wearers or puppetteers] as inherently better or worse than the other. They're just different playing styles. Unfortunately though, they interfere with each other.
And do they how.  The wrong mix of people can ruin the fun for everyone.



Quote:
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Administration can catch and punish obvious ooc cheating within the game (or blantant confessions of ooc cheating outside of the game) but really the only way to have an extremely stringent line between ooc and ic is to trust your players and to draw the types of players that avoid using ooc information as much as possible.
I suspect that unfortunately this is true.  Which means we're left with the perennial problem:  How can a MUD while draw people whose playing style fits well with the style of the game while persuading those whose style runs counter to the aims of the game that they might be happier elsewhere?



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