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Old 10-12-2012, 04:05 AM   #1
Orion
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How to Prevent IC info being shared OOC'ly

On MUD's involving roleplay, such as RPI MUD's, there is often the problem of players discussing sensitive roleplay with one another on OOC channels. Numerous times, something has happened in an IC plot, and then one of the players involves blabs about it to someone via MSN messenger or by some other means and suddenly everyone knows what's going on. This results in the plot losing it's mystery and character actions in roleplay inevitably being affected.

It's all very well saying don't let OOC knowledge of IC events affect your roleplay, but in reality that's not always easy, especially if your character is at risk. A player can have their character come up with reasons to find something out, that they otherwise would not have thought of, for instance:

Character A is concealed in a cloak and attempts to kill Character B.

Character A bungles the job, and character B survives, but doesn't know who it was who tried to kill him.

Then some player who had chatted to the player of character A tells the player of character B who it was. This leads to character B being suspicious of character A, in game, following him around (if they even have that patience,) and eventually to him being arrested and questioned, and before you know it he's on trial, based on some vague or concocted clue.

I'm curious to know what measures, if any, other MUD's have taken to prevent this from happening. I think the removal of all OOC channels, and not allowing MSN/skype details to be shared on the MUD would probably stop it, however, I like chatting to the players sometimes, and have made some good friends on MUD's who I now have on MSN. So I think it would be a shame not to allow that. But at the same time, OOC communication damages roleplay.

Sometimes RP may also need to be arranged over OOC channels, or something in roleplay clarified for someone who doesn't understand it, or an action disputed if someone breaks the rules, so the use of OOC channels in these instances is probably unavoidable.

I have added one rule on my MUD, which may help curb something I have, in the past, found particularly annoying though, and that is when a player whose character is in distress tells someone via OOC means that they are being attacked and to bring their character along and help.

In rooms that are not public places, I have made it against the rules to enter a fight that has already started without permission of the two people involved. I think this is fair, since in private rooms it's unlikely you'll just happen upon a fight, so it gives players the opportunity to fight in private, knowing no one is going to interfere, while still allowing fights in public places to be interfered with - with it being more reasonable to assume another character would happen upon a fight in those rooms.

So,what methods have you found helpful or detrimental in dealing with the problem of sharing IC information via OOC channels?

Last edited by Orion : 10-12-2012 at 04:35 AM.
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Old 10-12-2012, 05:29 AM   #2
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Re: How to Prevent IC info being shared OOC'ly

The only method that I think will work is to ban ALL involved players.

Players can decide to partake in OOC rumor mongering or decide to NOT partake in it.

All players who partake in it are equally responsible and thus must be prevented from participating in the game.

All players must sign an agreement about this so that they know that they violate the rules if they communicate with their OOC friends.

Otherwise OOC cliques can dominate and effect a game.

I really know of no other way to prevent this.
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Old 10-12-2012, 04:15 PM   #3
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Re: How to Prevent IC info being shared OOC'ly

It is 100% impossible to control people's personal lives. I have the right to communicate with whoever I want about whatever I want. You can tell me the rules you want me to follow on your mud, while I'm logged into your mud, using your mud system and your mud's means of communication, but you have absolutely no right to tell me what I can and can't talk about, and to who, over other private means of communication.

That means that if you want people to refrain from talking about certain things in your mud or taking place on your mud, the burden's on you to make your mud so fun and so interesting that nobody wants to do anything to jeopartize the atmosphere or integrity of the game, or to make some kind of system where people have less fun and don't derive any advantage from discussing these types of things outside of the game.
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Old 10-12-2012, 05:15 PM   #4
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Re: How to Prevent IC info being shared OOC'ly

I got annoyed when a staff member on a MUD once approached me about discussing IC events on MSN, Snowtroll. It felt like an invasion of privacy, and yes it's off the MUD, so you could say that it's not within the jurisdiction of the staff.

However, it can affect their MUD all the same, and if it does so, they have every right to take action to prevent you ruining their game and spoiling enjoyment for other players, in my opinion.

I don't know if I'd want to go down the route of saying no talking about IC stuff off the MUD though, so I didn't mention that in my OP. I would prefer to trust a playerbase that they wouldn't use information they've gained on MSN by chatting to other players in game, and just to punish them if they do. But it can be hard to know exactly how knowing stuff they shouldn't is affecting their roleplay.

I personally wouldn't have a problem not discussing the details of sensitive RP with friends on MSN, because I would rather their in game reactions be realistic. Some people just can't stand not knowing though, although some people actually don't want to know, and want to be surprised. Why should one type of player be given an advantage over the other?
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Old 10-12-2012, 05:18 PM   #5
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Re: How to Prevent IC info being shared OOC'ly

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Originally Posted by SnowTroll View Post
It is 100% impossible to control people's personal lives. I have the right to communicate with whoever I want about whatever I want. You can tell me the rules you want me to follow on your mud, while I'm logged into your mud, using your mud system and your mud's means of communication, but you have absolutely no right to tell me what I can and can't talk about, and to who, over other private means of communication.
The mud admin absolutely has the right to tell their players they can't talk about IC things outside the game.

What they don't have is the power, outside the game, to make it happen.

But if they find out about it, they can delete and ban you.

The people who run a roleplay community can make whatever rules they want. If you choose to play their game, you should respect their rules and follow them.

If you think their rules are BS, then you shouldn't play their game.
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Old 10-12-2012, 06:41 PM   #6
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Re: How to Prevent IC info being shared OOC'ly

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The mud admin absolutely has the right to tell their players they can't talk about IC things outside the game.

What they don't have is the power, outside the game, to make it happen.

But if they find out about it, they can delete and ban you.

The people who run a roleplay community can make whatever rules they want. If you choose to play their game, you should respect their rules and follow them.

If you think their rules are BS, then you shouldn't play their game.
Besides monitoring and enforcement of what people do in their personal lives, off of a mud, being nearly impossible, where exactly does this end?

If I don't approve of smoking, can I make all players who play my game sign an online pledge saying they don't smoke, then if I find out someone does, can I ban them?

If I'm a die-hard democrat, can I require every player of my mud to vote Obama and ban the ones who don't?

Or maybe I can make a Whites only mud and require every player to send me a real-life picture proving they're not a minority before I let them play. Or require every player to convert to Islam.

It's offensive that anybody would even attempt to tell their playerbase what they can and can't do outside of the mud they run. You're seriously okay with people telling you, "If you want to play our mud, you have to agree to certain restrictions on your behavior, even off of the mud. These restrictions on your behavior affect who you can communicate with and what you can say to them. Take that, first amendment."
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Old 10-12-2012, 07:10 PM   #7
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Re: How to Prevent IC info being shared OOC'ly

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Originally Posted by SnowTroll View Post
Besides monitoring and enforcement of what people do in their personal lives, off of a mud, being nearly impossible, where exactly does this end?

If I don't approve of smoking, can I make all players who play my game sign an online pledge saying they don't smoke, then if I find out someone does, can I ban them?

If I'm a die-hard democrat, can I require every player of my mud to vote Obama and ban the ones who don't?

Or maybe I can make a Whites only mud and require every player to send me a real-life picture proving they're not a minority before I let them play. Or require every player to convert to Islam.
Players who chat to other players that tell them sensitive IC information could just log the conversation and email it to the staff. That's what happened on the MUD I played. One player who was very popular suffered severe penalties because she got caught out this way. I think that acts as a deterrant too, as unless you chat to someone you really trust not to tell the staff what you're doing, you won't do it.

Smoking, political views and race have nothing to do with roleplay. Besides which, if those rules were implemented I don't think many people would be playing such a game, whereas rules that would prevent their roleplay being messed with might be viewed favourably on a game where plots are frequently ruined by out of game chatter.
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Old 10-12-2012, 07:23 PM   #8
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Re: How to Prevent IC info being shared OOC'ly

Well, I already composed this, and then got kicked out of the system, so I'm going to post it anyway (timeout).

You don't. Let me explain.

If you remove the ooc channel, you remove the right to police what people say oocly; if I can't say something oocly ingame, at all, ever, and if no record shows up ingame, you can't do much that is "fair". I understand why some rp muds might want this. But, in my opinion, it's like saying I can't look at other windows while logged on to your game, or answer the phone while logged on to your game, or go check my mail while the window is open, etc. You won't know if I do these things. You can't. You can accuse me of them, but that's it.

If you can not prove with some sort of ingame log that someone did something wrong, you can't police it. You can ban, but this will just lead to the standard accusations of favoritism, and you'll go downhill fast.

Go look around--I've never, ever, ever heard of an professional mmorpg with a rule like this. Ever. It can't be enforced fairly. You can make rules against sharing contact information ingame, if you want--that's perfectly enforceable--but I don't think that is a good idea either: people want to make online friends through your game, or at least some do, and as soon as you open one avenue of communication, the others are easily obtained. Or someone just goes and makes an IRC channel to share it.

So, the solution. Give players an ingame ooc channel. That way, no one has to go outside the game to talk to others about lunch or that boring business meeting and you've got a log; if something bad happens ic, the chances of someone else being available via skype or <the im client goes here> are less because I don't give that information out to everyone regardless of who you are. As soon as someone starts asking for help on the ooc channel against your policies, you've got 100% proof of it.

That, and ooc channels are, or so I should think, needed for about 75% of all newbies.

My point here is this: the strength of the policy prohibiting this depends only on the players' willingness not to break it, and there's not much you can do without offending half the playerbase. If this were 10 years ago, I'd not make the following point, but I don't see why ooc can't enhance rp, too: we don't have enough players for a spy network, not really, and there are probably other equally valid ways of explaining the information away. Besides, it's only a matter of time until a poor roleplayer gets accused of this, or you get someone for whom english isn't their first language, and now you've started the typical cycle of "bash mud x" reviews.

I left new worlds in part because of this. I left miriani in part because of this. Again, I do see why mud admins would want this and why a certain type of player would want this, but I think the whole thing is pointless. You can only enforce it with an iron fist, and that doesn't work well (I have no personal problems with this policy on either of the aforementioned muds and left for other reasons). You'll lose some players if you cut down ooc too much.

We've moved on from the 1980s and 1990s. Most graphical games have walkthroughs and wikis, and it's time for muds to learn that they're not going to stop this. For rp muds, this isn't the best, but the general attitude of how games are played in general has changed: it's no better or worse than it was, at least in my opinion, but it has changed. They are no longer something you solve yourself for the sense of discovery, etc, and information will get shared whether you like it or not.

So, as I said, limit it by providing official, controlled channels, so that players don't feel forced to go to IRC or something: now only those who really, really want to go through a lot of trouble, both as the helper and helpee (is that a word?) have to try, as everyone won't already be on these channels. And yes, the right kind of player really won't hurt.

These are just my thoughts: feel free to disagree.

and two amendments, as people have posted while I compose:

1: if you don't want other players interfering with fights, code it, don't put it in the policy. All rooms are flagged private unless otherwise flagged, and you do clever things to prevent it. Having this in the policy to prevent people finding bugs in the system is probably not a bad idea.

2: if you are going to insist on this policy, and want to rely on e-mailed logs, don't. I can fake a chat log with a few hours of familiarity with your game; if the chat happened outside the game, all I need are some fictitious timestamps. I could probably even write a simulate-chat-client program to do it all for me in an afternoon: it'd be way, way easier than my homework to implement a linked list without the stl.
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Old 10-12-2012, 07:54 PM   #9
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Re: How to Prevent IC info being shared OOC'ly

Thanks for that camlorn.

Another option I was thinking about was to have players keep a kind of character journal, just with brief notes about their roleplay, indicating how they arrived at certain conclusions.

For instance:

Was in the inn today and noticed Tom was limping.

The cloaked man who stole from me the other night was limping.

I asked Tom if he would let me look in his bag.

He refused.

I asked a law enforcer to search him.

He was searched and had my item.

Tom was arrested.

This would, at the very least, let the staff know what a player was doing with their character, which could help in them assisting with plots or including them in events. It also would help players to keep a record of things like this to help them with remembering certain details.

As for whether it would prevent IC information that has been obtained by OOC means being used in roleplay, I'm not sure.
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Old 10-12-2012, 08:04 PM   #10
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Re: How to Prevent IC info being shared OOC'ly

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Originally Posted by camlorn View Post
2: if you are going to insist on this policy, and want to rely on e-mailed logs, don't. I can fake a chat log with a few hours of familiarity with your game; if the chat happened outside the game, all I need are some fictitious timestamps. I could probably even write a simulate-chat-client program to do it all for me in an afternoon: it'd be way, way easier than my homework to implement a linked list without the stl.

A way of proving truth/lie is to delve into the Game's Data Dump.

Yes, logs can be altered--especially if they were recorded in a 'Copy and Paste' method. But the Data Dump will have everything that was ever done In-Game by all players, and that would be very hard to get around.

Outside communication is much harder to police, because, simply, people are going to do what they want reguardless of the rules. And if it means helping out a friend, or taking advantage of someone down on their luck ,they will do it--even at the exspence of the Game.

Now, if you had the legal means to do it, you can have the Court petition MSM/ Yahoo/ AOL/ Whomever for the records of said users to see if they were in contact with each other. They may not have the exact, word-for-word, record. But they will have a record that A spoke to B at this time, which fits perfictly with what B said about them speaking.

But honestly, most of us don't have that kind access, or money, to even try floating such a petition. So the best bet would be the Data Dump to see if there ever was an exchange of OOC information occuring between individual players.

Another method would be the Group or Guild Mailer, as some games will have allowed groups, or Guilds, to set up a private mailing system for their Guild/Group's use that is control by the Game's Staff. But compaired to the reach of the Data Dump, this is rather small and tightly focused--and more depended upon weither or not the whole group was involved in the OOC actvity.

But simply, telling players not to share OOC info outside the Game is impossible. Concentrate on the Data Dump catching them in the act.


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Old 10-12-2012, 08:06 PM   #11
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Re: How to Prevent IC info being shared OOC'ly

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Originally Posted by SnowTroll View Post
Besides monitoring and enforcement of what people do in their personal lives, off of a mud, being nearly impossible, where exactly does this end?
It (basically) never ends. People are allowed to make rules for access to their own private property. You don't have to like their rules. But if you are going to choose to access their private property, you have a duty to obey their rules. Otherwise, there are thousands of other games to play.

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Originally Posted by SnowTroll View Post
If I don't approve of smoking, can I make all players who play my game sign an online pledge saying they don't smoke, then if I find out someone does, can I ban them?
Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SnowTroll View Post
If I'm a die-hard democrat, can I require every player of my mud to vote Obama and ban the ones who don't?
Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SnowTroll View Post
Or maybe I can make a Whites only mud and require every player to send me a real-life picture proving they're not a minority before I let them play. Or require every player to convert to Islam.
You can do that if you want. You probably won't have many players though.

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Originally Posted by SnowTroll View Post
It's offensive that anybody would even attempt to tell their playerbase what they can and can't do outside of the mud they run.
Then don't play games that have such rules.


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Originally Posted by SnowTroll View Post
You're seriously okay with people telling you, "If you want to play our mud, you have to agree to certain restrictions on your behavior, even off of the mud.
Yes. I am 100% ok with this. Do you know why? Because nobody forces me to play a mud that has rules I don't like.

If I don't like their rules, I don't play their game. It is as simple as that.

Playing, agreeing to the rules, and disobeying them is what I am not ok with.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SnowTroll View Post
These restrictions on your behavior affect who you can communicate with and what you can say to them. Take that, first amendment."
Common misunderstanding: the first amendment has to do with GOVERNMENT action. To paraphrase: "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech." That has nothing to do with MUDs and rules on privately owned muds. This is not a first amendment issue by any stretch of the imagination.
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Old 10-12-2012, 08:15 PM   #12
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Re: How to Prevent IC info being shared OOC'ly

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We've moved on from the 1980s and 1990s. Most graphical games have walkthroughs and wikis, and it's time for muds to learn that they're not going to stop this.
And what about players who want a game where IC information is only shared and spread in the actual game? They can NEVER get what they want?

There are thousands of games that don't care about how, where, or why you talk about their games. 99% or more of all online games could care less.

What's so bad about there being some RP games out there for people who actually want IC information to stay in the game?

What's the point of having thousands of games if they all have the same rules and if certain types of player preferences can NEVER be catered to or provided simply because a couple of cheaters INSIST on showing up and ruining things?

That's like someone showing up at every swimming pool and filling it with sand. If you like sand, go play in the sandbox.
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Old 10-12-2012, 11:55 PM   #13
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Re: How to Prevent IC info being shared OOC'ly

OOC sharing for RP muds is an age-old problem and will never go away (you have more options for goal-oriented games). Personally I could care less but I have to agree with Threshold that there are players with particular RP styles who prefer muds with hard and fast rules of no OOC sharing, and it's just plain silly to insist that these muds are doing it wrong.
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Old 10-13-2012, 08:23 AM   #14
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Re: How to Prevent IC info being shared OOC'ly

You'll never stop the cheating that occurs with OOC sharing.

The only thing you can do is punish those who do it, when you find them.

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Old 10-13-2012, 12:52 PM   #15
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Re: How to Prevent IC info being shared OOC'ly

Ugh. It doesn't MATTER if people share information.

You WANT people doing that.

You WANT people talking about your game. You want people being EXCITED about your game. Your game shouldn't be like a Russian gulag where every aspect of your life is monitored and to even speak towards somebody not in your slave-unit results in punishment.

You WANT people talking about awesome things they know.

There's nothing wrong with talking about your hobby. This is actually a GOOD THING.



The way you prevent this from being a problem is to have 2 very simple goals with designing your game...

1) Make it so that players can have fun in ways that DO NOT REQUIRE screwing people over.

2) Don't make it so players have power/authority over random people to hurt them.

In RP-intensive games, you should be interacting with people in meaningful ways and discussing both IC and OOC matters to ensure your time is being well-spent in happy-fun-times. I don't want to RP with people for thirty hours just to discover that my character is now going to be tortured, imprisoned, raped, etc. and there's nothing I can do about it.

If this is possible, it needs to be EXPRESSLY INTENDED AS PART OF YOUR GAME DESIGN and something that players actually want (on both the victimizing and victim sides) or just not possible... or, at least, possible but something a person can just walk away from.

If you have a problem with people talking about your game, you're doing something wrong.
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Old 10-13-2012, 02:46 PM   #16
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Re: How to Prevent IC info being shared OOC'ly

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1) Make it so that players can have fun in ways that DO NOT REQUIRE screwing people over.

2) Don't make it so players have power/authority over random people to hurt them.
It sounds like you're suggesting just having social roleplay, where everyone gets along. That's boring.

Although I agree with you about people being able to talk about the game making it more enjoyable. I'm just not sure if it's neccesary to talk about plots before they unfold, as opposed to afterwards. But it's fun to discuss the motivations of your character with another player, as sometimes these are aspects of your character that are never fully revealed in roleplay. You see the character's actions, but they don't always explain why they do what it is they do.
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Old 10-13-2012, 03:25 PM   #17
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Re: How to Prevent IC info being shared OOC'ly

At SD we've had problems with this on and off.

The solution isn't simple, it's a multi-layered approach. The first is to inform players. We did this by adding this to the rules cheating section of the rules (it should have been there ages ago, but as a newer admin I consider it my role to fix glaring gaps no one has looked into)"

Quote:
1.F. Metagaming

Metagaming is the act of crossing IC/OOC lines either passively or
actively. For instance, using information you as the player know to
benefit (or even hinder) your character is active metagaming as is
circumventing IC factors (such as SIC dead zones) via OOC methods. Passive
metagaming is the sharing of IC information through OOC means, such as
discussing IC events through OOC channels and also altering your
character's behaviour towards another character due to your OOC
relationship with that character's player.

The next is to issue warnings. This is easy because Sindome is a cyberpunk-themed game, so people are often talking over networks, cell phones etc. which admins can see as part of the scroll and we monitor rooms when people are gathered together, we need to know a lot of this stuff for plot planning anyway - so we know what people are telling each other, who's lying to who and who's planning to screw over who. So sometimes, if something feels off, we will page the player and ask them how they knew about X or Y or whatever and remind them to read the rules. For most players who are actually interested in roleplay and excitement this is more than enough.

After that we get to disciplinary measures. These can be IC or OOC. If it's blatant metagaming with no way of explaining WTF the player just did with IC events and actions, we dump someone in a cell and have a talk, on a first offense. Next offense they get banned for two days. Then two weeks. Then two months. Then permanently.

If it's just skirting the line - i.e. it's obvious metagaming but there is a very flimsy, thin reasoning possible as to why they know this or that or do this or that, we'll do something ICly. This one is very situational, but it's never something like outright killing the character. It's more along the lines of muddling or casting doubt on what they think they know.

For instance, say someone described as a masked average guy is killing their friend and the player starts to 'home in' on the location despite having no IC communication, we might have an NPC who is also a masked average guy walk right by them in the opposite direction. If they aren't using OOC info, the no harm done. If they are they'll likely hesitate while they talk on MSN or AIM about it. Combat can be pretty quick.

It takes work if you wanna be sure to only punish actual metagamers and not mess with innocent, rule-abiding players, but that's the nature of the beast.
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Old 10-14-2012, 08:02 AM   #18
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Re: How to Prevent IC info being shared OOC'ly

I know 'The Nick', as we came from the same place.

But the multi=level solution that Guardian comes up with is a very interesting way of covering all of the bases. Its only flaw can be if a monitor happens to be the friend of the metagamer.

So I ask, are their Monitors keeping tabs on the Monitor?


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Old 10-14-2012, 08:30 AM   #19
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Re: How to Prevent IC info being shared OOC'ly

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For instance, say someone described as a masked average guy is killing their friend and the player starts to 'home in' on the location despite having no IC communication, we might have an NPC who is also a masked average guy walk right by them in the opposite direction. If they aren't using OOC info, the no harm done. If they are they'll likely hesitate while they talk on MSN or AIM about it. Combat can be pretty quick.
Crafty idea, but I think it would require the staff to be watching events very closely. If they use their powers as a staff member to involve themselves in plots, they may be considered to be interfering, and favouring one side more than the other, so they would have to be careful about how they do it.

Something as simple as your example sounds fairly harmless, but if staff are planting false clues, or helping characters out of tricky situations that are suspected to have been caused by someone metagaming, then a player is likely to cry foul at some point.
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Old 10-14-2012, 07:58 PM   #20
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Re: How to Prevent IC info being shared OOC'ly

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Something as simple as your example sounds fairly harmless, but if staff are planting false clues, or helping characters out of tricky situations that are suspected to have been caused by someone metagaming, then a player is likely to cry foul at some point.

I would argue that Staff has the right to do such, especially if it is part of a plot, and even especially if its used to negate the damaging actions of a Metagamer.


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