Impster's Care and Feeding of Mu*

Impster's Care and Feeding of Mu* Impster Sat, 2008-02-02 14:10

So I was convinced to help out at OGR/Gateway and should have my head examined. But in trying to give back something to the community I thought I'd try to make my own Care and Feeding list. Hopefully get some response and some feedback to what others have run into and I'm also going to throw what I've posted up here as well. I'm not going to put other people's responses from the Gateway +BB though because I don't feel like I have the right to do that. But they are more than welcome to add it here as well :D.

The original Care and Feeding that people did back in 98 can be found here:

http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Corridor/1815/carefeed.html

1 - Constructive criticism

1 - Constructive criticism Impster Sat, 2008-02-02 14:15

So. . not to offend anyone and not to point fingers. I thought I put together some basic rules that I think Mu*'s should at least consider when putting a game together or taking over an existing one. Some games need 'em more than others. . .

1) Is the game there to stroke your ego or is it for the players? Some wiz seem to think that it is "their" game. They should be GUIDING THE GAME and trying to resolve disputes. I tend to get strange looks in RL cause most of the time my job is a network admin. A lot of network admins I've had to deal with over the years seem to look down on masses as being beneath them. My first "real" job was in a sales environment and the owner of the store told me something one day when I was short with a customer. He said that he may write my paycheck but keeping the customer happy and coming back is what gives him the ability to sign my check. So when someone calls me and says they can't get there email I try to treat everyone like they're the president of the company. Now this is not an easy task by /any/ starch of the imagination. And those crazy people from Canada do not make life any easier. But it takes time to change a group's mindset. It doesn't happen overnight. Unless you toss a cyanide capsule in their mountain dew while they're in the server room ;).

If you treat your players like crap one of two things tend to happen. 1) Your playerbase leaves and the game dies. 2) It turns into a pissing contest and you are going to loose. Sure you can @sitelock 'em and what does that get? People going 'Hey why was Bob kicked off the game?' People going to sites and bitching about the game though honestly if it's gotten to the point that you sitelock 'em they're already bitching in the LJ/Forum/Other Games/Mud Listings etc. Now does that mean you shouldn't @sitelock people? Hell no! If someone is cause you trouble then do something about it. But what is trouble? Is saying hey admin you've got your heads up your ass! trouble? It depends on your rules. Usually things like that are going to end up in a bbpost or on a channel. But if you start getting constructive advice before all of it starts you should consider what someone with an outside view is trying to tell you.

2)Trispis@M*U*S*H wrote some softcode several years ago called Sanctions you can find it at http://ftp.pennmush.org/MUSHcode/sanctions.txt. I used it for a couple of years until I started thinking about it. The main concept I liked in Trispis information about the system was "When Judge Roy Bean, aka The Hanging Judge, was asked if the extremely low crime rate in his jurisdiction was due to the severity of his punishments, he replied (paraphrase) "It's not the severity of the punishment that deters crime, it's the certainty of it." I don't care what your rules are if TSing with a goat is an instant @sitelock then when you catch one of your staffers doing it you better @sitelock 'em right that bloody second. If you've got rules on what's allowed to be talked about on channels fine but enforce them on /everyone/. You're never going to please everyone all the time so don't even try. All you can do is try and treat everyone fairly that in itself is hard.

3)Trust your players. I keep hear crap about AUP! AUP! AUP! Delete post! Or whatever. You need to realize that the AUP is a two way street. You are basically entering into a social contract with each other. The AUP or conduct rules is what you expect of your players. But so many places forget to include what the players can expect from staff. If I logged into a game and went news staff conduct and it said, "If you are a member of then you can expect us to be unforgiving, unwilling to listen and think you're about as worthwild as the dog shit that was in the burning brown bag that the neighborhood teenagers leave on my doorstep once a week." then I can go.. Oh.. ok.. its a BSDM game. Cool now I know what to expect. And if you have a code of conduct live by it. That's about all I have for right now but I'll post the code of conduct I use on my games in the next couple of messages.

1a - Staff Conduct

1a - Staff Conduct Impster Sat, 2008-02-02 14:18

First off I'd like to thank Collette @ M*U*S*H for writing these up for me so many months ago. Someday soon I hope to actually use them in a successful game ;)

Staff are permitted to be dark. Staff are permitted to be dark and listening on channels. Staff are not permitted to be dark in a room with a scene or conversation without announcing themselves.

Staff are not to use their position as staff to advance their characters, either by friendship with staff, or knowledge gained as a privilege of being on staff. A staffer might hold key positions in the IC world, but it would be because they have been asked by staff to play that position, due to the known reliability or imagination of the staffer.

Staff should show good judgement in handling players and staff decisions. If a staffer's feelings start to cloud his or her judgement for good or ill, the staffer should recognise such and hand the matter off to another staffer. A staffer should never make a judgement on a scene they are playing in as a player if there is another staffer online.

While staff are encouraged to keep other staffers apprised of any given situation concerning a player, if the issue becomes serious enough that it begins to affect staff's willingness to deal with a player, a staffer should talk to the player directly and try to resolve the matter personally.

Staff are permitted to keep their alt identities private if they wish. However, staff are not permitted to use information disclosed to a secret alt on an admin level unless they make themselves known. e.g., If a player pages a secret staff-alt about another player's conduct, and the staffer thinks he or she might want to act on this information on the admin level, then the staffer must immediately disclose that he or she is a staff alt, so the player may make the decision about whether or not the player wants to make an official complaint to staff. If the staffer has no intention of taking action, or passing the information on on the staff level, he or she is not required to disclose his or her identity.

Staff are not permitted to reveal alt information about other players.

1b - Player Conduct

1b - Player Conduct Impster Sat, 2008-02-02 15:57

[mudname()] is a game run by adults, for adults. And as such, we expect our players to behave like adults, and keep in mind the feelings and enjoyment of other people on this MUSH. This means that certain behaviors will be considered unacceptable.

No cheating
Players will not subvert any hardcode or softcode on the game, either by exploiting code flaws, or by setting up code that attacks the game.

Play nice.
Players out of character behavior will be polite and friendly. Harassment of other players or admin is unacceptable. Players will not employ profanity on public channels.

Privacy
There will be no spying. Players set dark must announce their presence to anyone else in the room as soon as possible and as often as necessary. Owners of puppet objects or objects capable of listening will announce the fact that they are listening to everyone else in the room as soon as possible, as often as necessary.

Logging is permitted. Players are not required to announce that they are logging. Posting or sharing logs is permitted. So if you don't want something shared, either don't say (or do) it, or discuss the matter with the players involved.

Keeping it real.
Players are expected to fully understand the separation between IC and OOC. You are not your character, and what happens to your character does not reflect on you. Players are asked to not take IC conflict OOC unless there are OOC factors involved. Likewise, players are expected not to let OOC dislike of a player affect their IC actions. This also means that you must keep careful track of what your character knows, and IC information gained OOCly may not be used ICly unless there is good IC reasoning behind it.

The admins are the admins.
When players have a problem in the game, either with another player, with the theme, with the rules, or with an admin, they should go to an admin to discuss it. If there are issues that require a decision, the admin will try to make the best decision for the game first, and the best decision for the player second. Hopefully, what is best for the game and the player is the same decision. If a player disagrees with an admin decision, he or she may appeal to the admin body. That decision will be final, and the player is expected to accept the decision gracefully. This means there will be no complaining about it on channel, or subverting the decision through a whisper campaign among the players.

The admins are players too.
The admins are volunteers who spend hours of their time trying to keep a fun and viable game running for everyone involved. They are to be treated with respect and courtesy. Admins are also players, and at times may want to shed the admin mantle, and just play. Players are asked to respect their wishes during those times.

2 - +logs

2 - +logs Impster Sat, 2008-02-02 14:22

Once upon a time. . .

Many years ago. . .

The OGR mu* used to hold training sessions for lack of a better term. And they've been saved on here for better or worse ;). I had completely forgotten about this command until I stumbled across it in the +help files. It was a bit broke but I think I've fixed it again. To review these logs see +help logs.

Now.. a lot of these are all dated. The newest one is 8-11-04. But I find it interesting look back at these things and its nice to be reminded that the growing pains you may be experience on various mu*s is something that everyone goes through and your not alone in your frustrations. Anyone who has ever tried to run a mu* has days when they wonder why the hell they bother and it would be better to just pull the plug. But there was a reason you started a game right? You thought you were going to have fun ;). Until you run your own place you don't realize how hard having fun can be :p. Now I haven't looked at these logs in /years/ but recently I went and read one of m*u*s*h's logs at http://mush.pennmush.org/99workshop.txt.
If I'm not mistaken that was done in 1999 almost 10 years ago yet I've seen several mu*s have the very same issues the last few weeks that we were trying to figure out how to deal with in 1999. And OH Leadership Panel log looks to cover some interesting things as well. These things that you may be experiencing is nothing new and in the end it usually seems the best way to resolve them is like some sort of truce during a war. Get both sides to sit down at a table and try to reach some sort of agreement that everyone thinks is fair.

Of course the best way to solve it is not to have problems at all ;). Perhaps looking through these old gems will give you insite on issues before they every come to light on your game.

Enjoy and thank Sio and Jav for preserving these ;)

3 - Mu* and the KKK

3 - Mu* and the KKK Impster Sat, 2008-02-02 14:23

Ok first off this is not intended to be antagonistic but hopefully thought provoking. I am not intending to point fingers at any one person and it seems like this has become more or less the standard way of doing things for right or wrong. This is merely just my opinion and I may be using something that is a bit extreme but I think it is a good comparison.

So what does the KKK have to do with mu*? That’s simple it’s the way a lot of staffs on various locations work. Now before you say ‘Whatcha Talkin Bout Willis’ for those children of the 80s just hear me out. When the KKK first started out they wore hoods for various reasons. Growing up in a small town where kids were not allowed to dress as ghosts for Halloween because it would cause people to think they forgot about a klan meeting (no I am not kidding) I’ve had a bit of dealing with this mindset over the years. So why did they wear hoods? Well in my opinion it was mainly twofold. The first was to create an environment of fear and mistrust. Is the guy your talking to the one that burned the cross in your front yard? What’s he really doing behind your back? The second was to help hide the identity of the people under the hood so there wouldn’t be retaliation or them being arrested for breaking the law. But even the Klan is starting to change the ways not that I agree with them in any way shape or form. But a lot of them are not hiding behind the hood at their meetings anymore.

So now lets look at staffing on a mu*. The common convention is the headwiz comes up with a naming scheme like on AM we were trying to use demons and devils which cause other headaches but it something for another topic and I’ve briefly covered it already in things I have posted on ElectricSoup.net and Community.Pennmush.Org. And as you can see in the sample files I have posted here already that if staff don’t want to reveal their alts then they don’t have to. But lets think about this for a moment. When I interview staff I don’t do it by myself, I make sure at least one other person talks to them. Luckily, I’ve got a co-headwiz I trust and we think along the same lines. And of course one of the first questions I’m going to ask is, "Where have you staff/played before and who were you?" We all know why we do this so lets not beat around the bush. We ask that for the same reason that a job interview asks you for a reference. I’m going to check up on you. I’m going to ask around and see what kind of problems you’ve had in our little community. So one day someone said something that really torqued you off and you did something stupid to prove a point. Does that mean I’m not going to want you to staff? Not necessarily unless it is a habit of yours cause /everyone/ has a bad day or two. I learned a long time ago that if you do something stupid, even if you sit and defend it for a couple of weeks, months, years. Most of the time if you come back and say, "Hey.. I screwed up." It impresses people because for better or worse most people do not like taking responsibility for their actions. If you take responsibility for it most people well tend to give you a second chance.

So now I as a headwiz know who you are and the issues you’ve had elsemu*. But your players don’t. Your players login do a +Staff and have no idea who any of these people are or what their personality is like but you expect them or in some case demand they trust you. That you know what’s best for the game and you’ve got secret alts that your RPing with as well. How do they know that the person their RPing with isn’t the one that burned the cross in their front yard? Some will say they hide their alts because they fear retributions on the games they play on. But if you’re treating everyone fairly then why do you need to fear retribution? You should only need fear retribution in 2 cases. You were unfair and what goes around comes around. Or the person you had to deal with isn’t playing fair and wants to take OOC action against you which to me means that I wouldn’t want to play on their game anyway because you’re more than likely having problems there already. People who staff should be /PROUD/ of the work they do and want people to know they were responsible for something someone else enjoyed. And if your players aren’t enjoying it then you should take a step back and evaluate why.

The other excuse I see for secret alts is, "Whaaa . . . my players will bother me and not understand I’m trying to relax." As I said I’ve been mu* since 82. In all that time I can count maybe.. MAYBE 10 times that when I’ve told someone that I’m just trying to relax and could they shoot me a @mail or a +request that they’ve continued to talk about the issue. If you respect your players they will respect you. And the first way to show your players that you respect them is to be honest with them about who you are and not hide behind a hood.

4 - The Usual Suspects

4 - The Usual Suspects Impster Sat, 2008-02-02 14:25

@set name=SUSPECT

Now why would you do this? Now there may be very legitimate reasons for setting someone SUSPECT like you think someone is trying to subvert your code/database and you want proof. Honestly for me if you feel that you need to set someone SUSPECT then your better off @booting/@sitelock the person. To me SUSPECT boils down to one simple thing. You want to spy on that person. Now again I don’t normally use MUX but I had been told that MUX doesn’t log commands like Penn does but when I looked at the changes on the tinymux.org I found this:

Wizhelp SUSPECT should describe that all commands from SUSPECT-set players are logged as controlled by the 'log' configuration option (Issue 199).

And playing around with Penn you’ll notice that when you set someone SUSPECT whatever they page to someone is going to be record to one of your LOG files on your server which is why I think that most places will set people SUSPECT these days.

So if you’re going to use SUSPECT how long do you leave them set like that? Some places seem to follow a one strike and you are SUSPECT for the rest of your life there and a lot of times it’s subjective like you made an offhand comment on Public about sex or something that a staffer didn’t like so boom! Congrats your SUSPECT. This is one reason I like things like Trispis Sanction code and the +SUSPECT list code that are here. These types of code let you set an attrib on the player that you can later refer to and see what they did to cause them being set this way. The cavat to this type of system is someone should stay on top of them and eventually decide it was harmless, a onetime thing, or an ongoing problem and deal with the situation. Leaving someone set SUSPECT for /years/ is just bad form to me and may cause you issues with your logs. Realistically I’d like to see SUSPECT go the route of @TOAD

5 - Why being a HeadWiz sucks. . .

5 - Why being a HeadWiz sucks. . . Impster Sat, 2008-02-02 14:26

So up until now most of these posts have been fairly nice and simple . . . But now for a subject that may rub some the wrong way

Head wiz have to have a thick skin and sometimes they need to be an ass. Like the old saying goes, you can please all of the people sometimes. you can please some of the people all the time. But you can never please all the people all the time. In the world of head wiz it should be added that you shouldn't please some of the people all the time either. If a player base sees or even perceives that you try to please someone all the time then a whisper war may start. I fully believe that when someone screws up there needs to be a public acknowledgment regardless of who it is and it needs to happen as soon as the event happened as possible. dragging things out for 2 or 3 hours sometimes is to long. Because people are going to RP whatever is going on and if it's been 2 or 3 hours there could be a lot of RP that has gone on that you have to go back and RetCon or RetCan which leaves a bad taste in their mouths.

It boils down to backbone and the need to put your foot down. Say No or take some IC action to fix things when they go wrong because things /will/ go wrong. In the end you /are/ going to run off players no matter what you do. If you gave everyone who plays $10 a month for playing someone would leave cause it's only $10. Or it came on the 5th instead of the 4th. People are going to complain so get used to it. All you can do is try to protect the game world and the vision. Sometime asking everyone on staff what they're opinion is a great idea when you have time but sometimes you're going to have to go it alone. If you all aren't willing to be ass then appoint someone to be your ass for you. Or hand it over to whoever was foolish enough to be player relations. I try to build games where you can get around without having had to read 2 or 3 books or seen some movie. But sometimes you may run a theme that the players have to know the background. For example the fact that Star Trek doesn't use "jump drives" and BSG does is a big thing if they're trying to play an engineer type. And if someone doesn't know the premise or has the wrong idea about the premise then guess what? They shouldn't be in that position. When I ran a trek game no on was made a department head/asst. department head until they had been on the game at least 3 months or staff had known 'em 3 months to get a good idea of their personality. It saves the headache down the road. Granted that makes a lot of highranking NPCs but as long you have a +news file stating that and that NPCs will be leaving/dying/whatever as approprate PCs become available it normally goes over well.

6 - @sitelock and You

6 - @sitelock and You Impster Sat, 2008-02-02 14:28

So earlier I said @stielock don’t SUSPECT. But let me tell you what I /really/ think :p.

The thing about @sitelock/SUSPECT and other things like that in my opinion it tends to give new Head Wiz a false since of security kind of along the lines that Microsoft sends out updates to fix things and my parents don’t think that a router is really needed for their one little computer. Just plug the thing right into the DSL line.

@sitelock can be a useful tool depending on who you @sitelock. Sometimes when you @sitelock you just create more headache for yourself. Normally you are not going to have to @sitelock average joe user because they’re not going to cause you the type of problems that I would consider @sitelock offense unless you’re being really anal about things. In all my years I’ve only @sitelock’ed one person. The reason I @sitelock’ed the person was they were having personal issues and were causing problems on our channel. I asked them to log off and get some rest come back a couple days later. They didn’t listen and continued to go down hill. So I told them I was going to @sitelock them for a week so they could focus on what was going on. After the week I removed the @sitelock and the person was back on their meds. All in all it worked out fairly well. But let me tell you about when I was @sitelock’ed.

Even today this still bothers me because I don’t think I did anything wrong. I was new to a game I couldn’t even tell you how long and I walked into a bar scene. This game had places installed and everyone was using TT so I’m not hearing or see anything so I ask in ooc if anyone is awake. That’s when 2 or 3 of them explain TT and that you can listen at table but if you don’t have an IC way to hear you shouldn’t consider what you hear IC but it gives you an idea of what the RP was like maybe give you a way to jump into the scene (another reason I dislike places but that’s another topic). I was like cool thanks. A few days later there was a big scene and I was using the listen at to see the RP going on in the various places and I stumble upon the head wiz alt. The head wiz is mad yanks me into his office and out of the scene asks why I was doing that. I tell him what his players told me. He bangs his gavel and says so you admit to me you are cheating and subverting a know hole in the code. Thank you and I’m @booted and @sitelock’ed. I was not a happy camper by any stretch of the imagination. So I release the IP address on my internet connection, get a new IP address and go back to argue my case. I should have just found another game but I was younger then and felt I was right. Next thing I know the entire range of IP for the ISP I used was @sitelock’ed. I imagine the head wiz felt fairly smug at that point. Only to have me show back up under the guest login by using SSH into one of my remotely located servers on a different IP range then telneting back in to continue my argument. In the end I setup 20 or 30 accounts on free shell accounts all over the world and continued to argue for 3 or 4 days.

I’m not saying what I did was right and looking back upon those days I was pretty childish. But the point is @sitelock can cause you more trouble than it’s worth and for anyone with a little bit of knowledge fairly easy to circumvent. The better options is talk to the player in a reasonable manner and see if you can explain your issues with whatever they are doing. For the most part I think @sitelock tends to be a knee jerk reaction to something you don’t agree with and there may be better ways to handle it. I’m not naïve enough to say that you are always going to be able to work things out with everyone. But I still think GAG and such may be a better option than @sitelock

7 - Can I be a headwiz too?

7 - Can I be a headwiz too? Impster Mon, 2008-02-04 14:02

So I’ve started building a new game called Project: Classified and I /hate/ @desc things so I put up ads looking for a builder. One of the people who offered to help said that they were interested in helping because they wanted to eventually make they’re own game but didn’t know where to start. They thought that helping on a place just starting would give them a good idea to all the work that is required to get a place ready for the public.

To me this is exactly how a person who isn’t sure what is needed to run a game should start out. Helping on some place where they’re not expected to run the whole thing cause there are a lot of stumbling blocks that even experienced people fall over. To many times I’ve seen someone ask something on a code channel or a linux type group about how to do something that basically turns into them wanting you to build their entire game for them. So to me there are a few rules about things a HeadWiz of an active game should know for their own sanity.

1) They should know basic commands for the shell. They need to be able to untar, patch, backup, and use some sort of text editor to modify their files. If they write their files up on a different machine then they need to know how to get them onto the server. And the most important thing is knowing how to start the game. If you don’t have any idea on how to do those you need to ask around, search some howto’s etc before you consider running your own place. If you don’t know how to do these things and you’re relying on someone else to do it for you then you’re not really the headwiz because you’re giving someone else the keys to your kingdom and they can destroy it or take it away from you in a heartbeat or a moment of anger.

2) Have a basic understanding of softcode. I don’t mean be a psychocoder and be able to make some incredible softcode cause I’m sure not. But if you have a coder that you haven’t got a lot of experience with and know what they’re like. It might be wise to look at their code and see what they’re making. By the same token if your players are able to build you might want to watch what they’re making as well.

There’s several other things that a headwiz needs to deal with but without these two basic things you’re dependent on someone else. As long as the person you rely on is someone you’d trust with your child then it shouldn’t be an issue. If it’s someone you’ve never dealt with then in my opinion is the equivalent of deciding to head out to the casino to try your luck and grabbing someone you’ve never met to watch your 16 year old daughter.

8 - Two headwiz or not two headwiz that is the question

8 - Two headwiz or not two headwiz that is the question Impster Mon, 2008-02-04 14:58

Various games run under a co-headwiz system. In my opinion that's a great idea and something I do as well on my games. The reason are many but to me the best reason is RL. As I've posted in other locations I spent about a month in the hospital last year but I didn't worry about the game because I had a co-headwiz I trusted to do what needed to be done. If the game went down I knew they'd be able to start it back up.

The catch to the co-headwiz(s) is who has final say. For the most part I would never have a co-headwiz who didn't agree with the basic concepts I see in a game. And there have been times we've disagreed with how things should be done. But we manage to sit down like two adults and discuss it until we come to an agreement. Just having someone to bounce ideas off of before I go and do something is a great resource in itself and has prevented me from shooting myself in the foot several times. Normally when I do something as a knee-jerk reaction without talking to someone is when I screw up.

On the flipside if you do decide to have a co-headwiz(s) I can not stress how important it is to make sure that you both have the same basic philosophies on admin, gaming, etc. The last thing you need is a headwiz who disagrees with everything you do cause that's what marriage is for ;).

9 - DARKening Of The Light

9 - DARKening Of The Light Impster Sun, 2008-02-10 16:17

So a lot of places staff sit dark and talk on the staff channel. Now I've sat dark myself over the years mainly when I'm working on things or don't feel up to dealing with people but there seems to be a growing habit with various people of almost always being dark. Now I've got no problem with people setting themselves dark the problem I have is twofold. If you're set dark I don't feel you should talk on channels. I almost think you should have a channel lock preventing dark people from talk on them. Now some people will say that is a bizarre thought. Well here is my reasoning behind it, most people aren't paranoid delusional like I am ;) but a lot of times if it doesn't look like staff is online what is an idle chat between people can suddenly become a chat about policy review which isn't a bad thing but can be unexpected.

The other thing that I've seen is people being set dark and something happening on a channel so they tell another wiz who isn't dark to explain or some such. Once in awhile isn't a big deal or if you have established that as a set policy that your "player liaison" does that for you because you don't deal well with people it's not a big deal if people expect that. But when it happens on a regular basis your not fooling everyone and it can make you look small and foolish or like you don't want to deal with the players. People will eventually realize what your doing and again if that's how you want to handle things it's not a bad thing but a policy explaining that this staff member is the mouthpiece for staff can help.

I suppose the short answer is if you set yourself dark because you don't want to deal with things then you should treat channels and such as dark as well. Deal with them when your not dark.

Experience

Experience Impster Sat, 2008-02-02 16:46

So with all these thoughts here's a place for me to show you I don't know anything about what I'm talking about.

Why I think Arabian Moons Failed

Why I think Arabian Moons Failed Impster Fri, 2007-10-26 11:44

So, I decided to close my latest attempt at a game. The funny thing is since that time in the last 3 days 4 different games have asked me to look at things for them. I suppose I should be honored. But I keep seeing things that gave me issues. So I thought I’d put together a little post about things I learned from my failed games. For those of you that don't know me from jack. I'll give you a little BG on me to start with

Background: Impster has been running table top games and larps since 85. I start playing games on Compu$erve and GEnie a year or so before that time. These games would come to be known as MUDs. Believe it or not I was playing back on GemStone Ver. I and II (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GemStone_IV). I've lived in Oklahoma, Seattle, Florida, and Texas. I'm a Rep for Steve Jacksons Game, AEG, and I used to be part of white wolf (yeah, big deal everyone's a rep for some of these companies ;). I've been involved in national 'fan clubs' from StarFleet To Klingons To the Cam. In most of those orgs I somehow get sucked into local and national leadership positions. Granted I haven’t done any of that for over 5 years. And I've staffed on a handful of games and I've made 2 failed attempts to start my own MU* games. So I've been around a while. And when it comes to games I've been known to cheat. Yes, I fully admit if I sit there and roll dice that comes up and says everyone dies. I will normally ignore the dice if it doesn't make sense for the story. To me the story is the most important thing not what the dice say but by the same token I've been known to adjust the dice against the players because it made sense for the story.

Style: I always tell my players that I will never put them in a no win situation. They will never find themselves in a death trap with no way out. There will always be at least one way out. They may not like what they have to do to get out of it. But at least they will have an option if they can figure it out. Which brings me to the two thing about my games. I hardly ever plot out the story. I have an idea of where I would like it to go. But if someone says, "Hey I think if we do this to the cave of wonders then we could keep the door open." If I didn't think about that option then they may very well change where the story was going. If I wanted to read a book or play zork while trying to figure out the exact command the game expected I'd be doing that and not running a game.

Important Info: I will not spoonfeed RP to players. If they want to sit in their rooms and not do anything that's up to them. I will throw out plot info to various people but if they don't get off their butts and do something with the info I'm not going to drag them into it. I'll normal take the plot info and give it to another player. Just because the players don't do anything doesn't mean the plot doesn't advance. If Luke hadn't gone with Ben do you really think Vader would have sat there and waited for someone to show up?

So I imagine you may be wondering why I'm telling you all this crap. Well it's kind of simple. It seems like I'm seeing some of the same. . well what I consider mistakes that I've made in the past. It's great that you've got a group of people that all have the same idea for a game. And I hope you all make it. Hopefully this message will help in that process. Lastly I'm not even going to pretend theat I'm right in everything I'm getting ready to say, it's just my opinion and you know what they say about those.

Issue #1 Rules:
Here is something that I've seen happen time and time again. Not just in MU* but in the real world, at work, etc. Someone does something stupid. Someone else tries to tell 'em 'don't do that.' Then the first person says I didn't know that I couldn't do that. One of the 'real world' jobs I normally do is network security. I can not tell you the number of times I ask a client if they have an acceptable use policy only to shake my head when they say they don't see a need for it. Having the rules posted of what is expected by the players and what the players can expect from the staff goes a long way towards building trust between those groups. I'm sure we've all seen games or events where it's handled one way for X and then Y does the same thing and it's handled differently. Which can start a rumor war behind the staff's back about why someone was treated better then the other one. If you don't want off-color jokes great. But what you consider off-color may not be considered off-color by someone else. Something I hadn't thought about when I started Arabian Moons. Was a couple of people from the middle east actually logged in and was going to play. But they found the staff naming convention to be rude/off-color cause we used the devil. I hadn't even considered that crowd and what they might find offensive which was pretty stupid on my part. With the president elections coming up I'd be sure to cover that as well. Tell 'em you can talk about politics on or you can't whatever you all want. But you're going to have to tell 'em. All of that can start the wonderful flame wars.

Issue #2 Chargen:
What do you use for Chargen? Do you need one? I was looking through ftp.pennmush.org and I see there’s a couple out there. I’m just going to pick the d6 system there. I'm not say the d6 system you all got from the pennmush ftp site is a bad system. I've never used it. But here's the main issue I see with it. West End Games (WEG) re-published the d6 system under the name D6 about 2 years ago I guess it was. Is this d6 based on the new system or the old WEG Star Wars version of the system? I can't answer that but it does make a difference. If the people who are running your stories haven't used the system then they may want to get the rule book for their own use. But which version do you get? Someone out there is going to have used whichever system this is based on and try to min/max their sheet. It always happens. And the rule lawyer will know all the ways to squeeze the points. And if you're doing something different then the rules they'll point it out. And it's really bad when staff is trying to run something then has to wait for another staffer to show up to ask how do we handle this as far as the 'system' goes. Of course this gets back to being consistent in how things are handle for your player. Based on what I've seen chargen is what's going to cause you to miss the opening date you're wanting. And it takes time to code up a chargen system from scratch if you want the players to stat themself. I'd say chargen system like what you all have from the d6 code would take at least a month to code up assuming that's all a coder was working on.

Here's the other problem with using a chargen system you're not familar with and I've done it twice. It's part of what killed Arabian Moons. The FUDGE system looked great on paper. But until you've actually played the system and created about 20 characters you don't see possible problems with the system. Once you do start seeing problems in the system and go 'Gee.. I want to do that in a different way' you've got players on the grid and you have to figure out what to do with the existing characters. Do you let them keep the stats and the problems? Do you make 'em go through chargen again? There was a trek game I used to play on. The first headwiz had RL come up and gave the game to another guy. First headwiz was using a WoD type system. New guy didn't know it. He had me help him code up a new chargen system for a game system he never had played. Made everyone re-gen. Got 2 months into and didn't like. Had me build another. But the time he finally figured out he didn't like stats at all there were only 3 players left and we'd gone through 4 different systems.

I would /strongly/ suggest that everyone sit down and talk about the system and what they expect from the system. Which takes me to the next topic.

Issue #3 Communication:
So, I just decided to close Arabian Moons like Monday night after fighting a loosing battle. So some of these wounds are still kind of fresh. This is one of them. When I started Arabian Moons I was actually thinking about a wild west game. But someone suggest an Arabian Nights type game. The game we were playing on was dying and it sounded like an interesting concept. I actually went out and bough arabian nights and actually tried to read the book to get a feel for the type of stories. And after you've gotten this far you may think Damn this Impster guy likes causing conflict. Actually I'm pretty bad at and my wife says I'm passive aggressive. To me things are either black or white. Everything's fine or I can't stand the person. There's no middle ground. And that's part of the problem I had on AM. I had one vision of what the game should be other staffers had a completely different idea of what the game should be. Looking back on I should have been going over every NWS file with fine tooth come and saying this is great information but it doesn't really fit the idea I had for the game. Instead I was just thrilled to have help building the game! After my first attempt where I created 3 staff alts and would have 'em all logged in just to make it look like I actually had a staff :p. The other problem we had over there was I'd say something like, "I'm shooting for opening the game on x day do you think we'll be ready? I'd get a response back like, do we have to wait that long? Then 6 months later they're going, "We opened too soon. We weren't ready." To which my response is "You know, this is good information to have. Except you’re to late. Why didn't you say this 6 months ago?" AM has been sitting on it's current server for like.. oh.. 35 weeks. And there are /still/ rooms that need to be @desc'ed Rooms that were built before the place opened.. And there are /still/ jobs on our job board that people have never touched. If /you/ as a staffer see a problem or a concern. Don't think that 'Oh they'll figure it out.' Whoever's in charge of that issue may not even know! You need to be sure to make sure you make your concerns known. And I would suggest posting it to the bb or the +todo or whatever you all use. If you just say it on a channel people tend to forget and then it scrolls off the screen. You should put it somewhere there's a permanent record.

Issue #4 Backup Backup Backup:
This is another one that hit home. So my staff over on AM said they wanted a softcode news/rules/theme and I fought 'em tooth and nail. It was all about control. I wanted to make sure those types of files had to go through me. I don't know why cause I wasn't doing any edits on 'em and fixing them to be more in the theme I had in mind. But back in Aug. I had a heart attack. I'm 37 and could have died. (If anyone really wants to read about it then checkout the blog on http://www.myspace.com/impster667). I was away from the computer for awhile and didn't really have the strength or energy to do things. Luckily I had decided about 3 months earlier that I needed a co-head wiz just to bounce things off and to play the bad cop to my good cop cause I didn't like being the bad cop. I wanted people to like me :D. Because I had done that, because she had all the passwords, because we had a softcode system for news/rules/theme. They were able to make changes and not waiting on me to hack the hospital's firewall to upload files or restart the game. It was a life saver. But be sure this is someone you trust! If you give them the keys to your server they can wipe out your game in a couple of seconds. Or take over your game and kick you out. It kind of gets back to who do you give a wizbit to? If they get mad do you worry that they're going to wipe out your database? If so then they shouldn't have a wizbit. But Backup is not just about taking care of your data. Backup is taking care of your sanity when you can't be there. It's trusting that if there is an in game issue they'll make a decision similar to what you would have made. It's also some one to grab you by your shirt and shake you when you're screwing up. I'd say a game needs to have at least 2 people in different locations who have access to the server. Living in Oklahoma all I need is a tornado to wipe out my city and kill the internet for a week.

Issue #5 SoftCode:
So I keep hearing that SGP is old. Not Support. Has Security issues. Does it? Maybe I code enough to get myself in trouble. Looking at code and going that's insecure is not my specialty. But it is old and I have had issues with it myself as far as breaking. But I am also lazy and if I can find something that does what I want without having to lift a finger. I'll use it. What I've seen seems to be two school of thoughts. Some want a bunch of code and combat and everything. Ooh! And that Shiny Space System I read about and Oh! You know that Impster guy? I heard He managed to hook Myd's BBS and softcode news/theme/rules into the website So whatever got added to the mush was automagically put on their website! And Ooh! What about . . well you get the idea. The problem is you get a new patch level and your game might break. Suddenly your combat system quits working and the game grinds to a halt. Now the Devs at pennmush are great and I don't think I've ever seen them release a patch that actually broke any code that I used. But I may have been lucky. The more code you put in your game the more potential you have for something to break. The more code you use that you or one of your staff didn't write the more chance you have to say WTH? Why is it doing that? I had code that @hook'ed into name to update the website so if someone changed their name it changed the login to the forums. It took me like a month to realize why it kept changing /my/ name on the web. It just wasn't important I knew it was happening and I could fix it. But I knew it was happening cause it affected me. Now if I hadn't made the code. It could have gone .. well 35 weeks I guess and done who knows what to the SQL DB. And combat systems. . . Some are going to want to slap me but I /really/ think they're bad ideas. 'Pecially one where everyone has a gun object and a PDA object and a compin and a GPS tracker and god knows what else. Yeah I know realistically that's only 4 or 5 objects times your player base. Realistically I'm happy if the game has 20-30 players object who log in on a regular basis. But if you've got 5 objects you've just gone from 20 objects to 120 objects. And then someone quits and you've got 6 objects to get rid of instead of just one. Again I'm lazy. If you want coded weapons or such. Fine.. make a parent object and have anything it needs to store go into an attrib tree on the player. That way if you want to backup the player before you nuke it you don't have to worry about their objects too. And if they come back you can dump it all back in instead of recreating the objects.

I also dislike combat systems cause I tend to forget to do things like +wear armor. Now my character should be able to go, "Funny, I feel like I lost 20 pounds. Oh crap! Armor!" Or "Gee, i'm not sure why I can't cut this guy. My sword is sharp. Oh Crap! Where is my sword?!" +wield sword! My opinion is it's ROLEplay not ROLLplay. I'd prefer to keep the dice out of it unless it's needed for randomness.

A final thought about softcode. DOCUMENT THE CODE! I'm really bad about throwing something together and then going back 3 months later only to wonder why I did something. And if you use some generic globals package like SGP. Take out the extra stuff you're not going to use. Cause someone may decide to use it and not tell you like +snote. Then you’re asking why didn’t you record they were Darth Vader’s father? I put it in the +snote! We don’t use +snote! Oh.. oopps.

Issue #6 Staff:
Hopefully this won't become an issue but. . as the size of your staff grows then so do the chance for misunderstandings. You all may be great friends but there may come a time when two staffers disagree about something. Believe it or not it does happen ;). When it does someone may have to say something along the lines of 'that's nice but i'm in charge.' So you want to make sure there's a chain of command for just such issues. That being said if the low man on the totem pole has a great idea you don't dismiss it just cause of their position.

So I'm sure a lot of this goes without saying. But I figured I'd say it anyway. If I think of anything else I'll add to this.

Managing your MUSH - A Working Picnic with Elvira - TOMORROW! Sunday 10th February

Managing your MUSH - A Working Picnic with Elvira - TOMORROW! Sunday 10th February Elvie Sat, 2008-02-09 09:52

Managing Your MUSH
A working picnic with Elvira

You are invited to a working picnic on Sunday 10th February at 4:30pm MUSHtime/CST (10:30pm GMT). It will be held on M*U*S*H in the pleasant springtime surroundings of Linden Grove. This is the first in a season of weekly events which will examine the topic 'Managing Your MUSH' using real life organisation management techniques to improve the performance of your MUSH.

The first of these events will be led by Elvira@M*U*S*H and will provide an overview of the season. The framework Elvira is using is drawn from the Open University Business School and focuses on the four key areas of performance they identify in an organisation:

* Marketing - So much more than just plastering adverts on other games, this topic covers identifying your target 'market' and ensuring you are giving them what they want.
* Operations - The nuts and bolts. What your MUSH does. Why it does it and how.
* People - How are your staff organised? What keeps them motivated in a job that is also a hobby?
* Finance/Resources - Keeping the game running, who pays for the hosting? Ever considered fundraising?

This is just a taster of the areas which are going to be covered by these events and we hope to recruit a number of guest speakers to address these issues. Some are already lined up, but if you have any experience in running a MU* and would like to share it, Elvira@M*U*S*H would love to hear from you. This is great publicity for your game and a real chance to get your voice heard.

There will be room for discussion at all of these events. All of the sessions will be logged and available on the web. Please tell your friends and don't hesitate to ask Elvira if you have any questions.

Thank you for your time!

MU* Organisation and the Social Contract

MU* Organisation and the Social Contract Impster Sun, 2008-02-17 17:52

-- Logging started at Sun Feb 17 14:28:36 -0800 2008 --
Êlvïrå says, "Ok, well, welcome everyone to the second in the series of
Managing your MUSH. Logs of the first event were posted on
community.pennmush.org."

Êlvïrå says, "Impster is going to talk about MU* Organisation and the Social
Contract. I don't know any more details than that, so I'm quite excited to
hear what he's going to say. Following his talk, there will be time for
questions and discussion."

Êlvïrå checks everyone's sitting comfortably and has plenty of nice picnic
snacks.

Êlvïrå fixes the microphone stand in place, looks to the side of the platform
to make sure that Impster is ready.

Êlvïrå says, "Hrm"

Êlvïrå waits :)

Diuturnal whispers to Elvira, "Faulty sellotape."

Raevnos walks in from the park to the south.

Raevnos has arrived.

Êlvïrå says, "Maybe the sellotape stuck somewhere it shouldn't :("

Judge Dredd says, "Or maybe we're about to get deluged in spam?"

Cheetah says, "Hmm.. Or maybe we're stuck with an evil robot twin, except he's
run outta power."

Sariah walks in from the park to the south.

Sariah has arrived.

Diuturnal says, "Wouldn't it be a GOOD robot twin of Impster?"

Êlvïrå says, "while we wait for Impster, I should say I've got several more
speakers lined up (including Javelin!) but I intend to run these events every
Sunday for as long as there is interest. If you have something you'd like to
talk about regarding MUSH management, please let me know. The framework I've
set out for this is Operations, Finance/Resources, People and Marketing. So if
you know anything about one of those areas with regards to MUSHing, you'd be
very, very welcome."

Impster sorries, "The kid need some help.. I'm here now :D

Sariah says, "is there a log for part one?"

Êlvïrå says, "Yes there is, Sariah. It's in my blog on CPO
(community.pennmush.org)"

Êlvïrå says, "Ok! Well, without further ado, I present, Impster! *claps*"

Diuturnal whistles, applauds!

Impster steps up to the microphone and clears his throat, "Thanks Kermit.. :p"

Announcement: Elvira shouts, "Managing your MUSH Picnic 2 starting at Linden
Grove now, guest speaker is Impster and the theme is MU* operations and the
social contract"

Teal walks in from the park to the south.

Teal has arrived.

Ruggs has arrived.

Ruggs waves. :)

Êlvïrå welcomes :)

Impster says, "Thanks for stopping by today's topic is mu* operation and the
social contract. I am not an expert on these type of things but I do play one
on my mu*. I do not pretend to have all the answers and you can find people
with more experience than I have in this very room I'm sure. This is going to
be a fairly short talk followed by a fairly informal Q&A/discussion which was
the same format Elvira used last week that seemed to work fairly well. If
anyone has any questions as I go through what my opinion on the subject is
just page me and I'll try to cover my thoughts or we can wait until I get
through my thoughts and covert hem all at the end. Which every ya prefer ;)."

Ruggs nods, listens. :)

Nymeria walks in from the park to the south.

Nymeria has arrived.

Impster says, "So lets get started. I don't remember who gave me the idea of
the social contract but I'd say more than likely it was Jav who was talking
about it one time and I overheard. So what is a social contract? According to
wikipedia, the term social contract describes a broad class of philosophical
theories whose subjects are the implied agreements by which people form
nations and maintain a social order. It seems like every mu* has it's own
philosophical theory on how a game should be run for me it's nice to be able
to lump them all into a category so everyone knows what you're talking about.
For a lot more information you can checkout
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_contract."

Impster says, "So in a mu* setting the social contract that you're entering
into with your players is going to be dependent upon the various code of
conduct you have for your staff and players along with any other information
you provide about your setting. Recently I've been on a RP game that after 6
months decided that they were going to change their theme and try to shoehorn
the existing characters into the new theme. For 80 percent of the characters
it wasn't an issue because the theme wasn't that different. The only thing
that really changed was the setting of the game. But for a few this was a
problem because the character hadn't been built to live on Starfleet starship
but had been built to live in a space station and interacting with people
other than Starfleet. The sad part is the staff didn't understand why a
portion of the player base was upset over the change and labeled those who
didn't like the change as troublemakers. Then both parties seemed to feel the
other side was wrong in their reaction and the people involved couldn't quiet
put their finger on where things went wrong until I brought up the concept
that the social contract had been broken. In the end things didn't end well
there because the headwiz took the stance that it was their game and if the
players didn't like it they should leave. Which just broke the contract that
much more."

Ruggs raises hand?

Impster says, "So does that mean that you shouldn't change your game if things
aren't working out? Not at all but if the game has been running for a while
you need to realize that not everyone will be rejoicing over the change
especially if they signed up for a star trek game that ends up more along the
lines of a WoD environment. And it would help if more people realized that
without players you're just playing with yourself which no one wants to see in
public ;). Yes Ruggs?"

Êlvïrå thinks we're generally doin questions after the talk. But if Impster
wants to answer it...

Êlvïrå says, "maybe you could page it to him :)"

Ruggs says, "Sorry. I'm just trying to understand what 'social contract' is. I
was a little unclear and wanted to be certain before we went further. :)
Erm...by 'social contract' you're saying, 'mutually agreed upon expectations.'
Sort of an unspoken trust about what players can expect from admins, and vice
versa?"

Impster nods, "Exactly. And in some cases it's not even unspoken. Sometimes
game spell it out right in the code of conduct ;)

Ruggs says, "Thank you! :) And, sorry for the interruption. ^^;"

Cheetah says, "Or in general, what people expect from one another, if I get
this right, but for this lecture, it's probably mainly players and admin."

WHUFFIE: Looks like you haven't given anyone whuffie! The whuffie system
becomes more powerful and useful as more people assign whuffie. +help whuffie
for information on how.

Impster nods, "Honestly I hadn't even thought about it from the standpoint of
one player to another player. But mainly players vs. admin. That might make
for an interesting talk sometime though.

Impster says, "Ok so moving on. . . :D"

Impster says, "The next part of the "contract" I'd like to cover is the
expectation players have of staff members. Most people have expectations of
staff members whether it is covered in any document. These are the life,
liberty and the pursui . . . oh wait that's the wrong social contract.
Realistically they expect staff to be fair and honest with them. If players
feel like the staff is not obeying these agreements than the players should
find a different game but depending on the player what seems to happen instead
is the player feel like they're fighting the good fight and proceed to bust
the staff's chops over things. I would say this is fairly easy to avoid if
you're honest with the players from the start. If you're running an RP game
where you don't want the vampire characters killing children or you don't want
people TSing on your game then make that known in one of your files don't
spring it on people in the middle of a scene."

Impster says, "I have actually taken to fighting the good fight a few to many
times and I can promise ya in the end most people just look childish over the
drama. Even if people sit there and tell ya you're right. What seems to happen
is what I've said elsewhere people slow down their car to see just how bad the
accident was while some will say, "Excuse me officer but could you bring the
body closer I've never seen one mangled in such a manner before." In the worst
cases it divides the game in factions and things go down hill. You're better
off just walking away and investing that energy elsewhere."

Impster says, "The final part of the contract is going to be on the side of
contract is going to be on the players side. They should have an idea of what
is expected of them and the behavior. If you don't want people to use vulgar
languages then you need to tell them. If you haven't advised your players how
you expect a guest should act in your house AND you then DON't enforce those
wishes fairly across the board how can you expect them to be good children. If
you let player A get away with something and the punish player B. Player B is
going to say "Mom always liked you best!" Unfortunately many of the players
seem to be looking for acceptance from their peers which they may be lacking
in RL. And when they're rejected or treated in a maner that they think is
unfair it seems like some people respond in ways they never would in real
life. One of the biggest flaws I've seen over the year is that staffs expect
people to behave because "we're all adults." Alas if we all were adults and
had social lives we wouldn't spend so much time mu*ing :p."

Impster says, "So that's my basic ideas. Tell the players what to expect and
how you wish them to behave upfront and then live by those rules. From what I
have seen over the years if you do that then your players will do the same.
The trouble starts when you break the contract. So anyone have any questions?"

Êlvïrå smiles and claps hard for Impster

Ruggs agrees!

Judge Dredd applauds.

Cuiorne joins in the applause.

Ruggs says, "I was very glad to see this brought up. It's such common sense,
it seems few think to really implement it as a tool. Setting examples and firm
social expectations seem to work better than a written ruleset...though the
latter certainly supports the former."

Diuturnal applauds as well, and raises hand. "So would it be safe to say that,
in your experience and wisdom, you recommend that games outline these
expectations very clearly, and if anything new develops, that should be
documented?"

Cuiorne raise hand "By documented, does that mean add to a existing news
file?"

Cheetah also has a question, but will wait until Impster's ready ;)

SAVE: I found these in the dumpster behind the florist. Enjoy.

Teal says, "News file, softcoded COC command, connect screen, whathaveyou. (to
Cuiorne)"

Mike has arrived.

Teal says, "As long as it's openly accessible to the players."

Impster says, "See that's the trick. I think it was last week someone made the
suggestion that code of conduct could be as simple as be excellent to each
other. In my mind there's two rules of thought spell everything out where
there's no wiggle room or be vague. I think you need to find a balance between
the two. If you spell everything out someone like me is going to find
something you forgot and rub your nose in it. But if you're to vague then
people complain when they get in trouble and say I didn't know that's what you
meant. As for news files that's one place to put it. On my game NEWs is for
OOC info about the game, RULEs is for the rules system invovled in game play
and THEME is for IC info about the game. If you lump everything in the news
and mix it all together sometimes it can get confusing ;)"

Impster says, "Go ahead Cheetah :D"

Cheetah says, "When you find something you think needs dealing with (say, the
vampires killing children thing happens, and you'd rather it didn't) but it's
not explicitly codified in the rules (yet?), how do you recommend handling
that?"

Sariah has disconnected.

Êlvïrå hear hears the 'not spelling things out' bit. I know it was something
we discussed a lot when coming up with our profanity ruling. Make it too
specific and people will find workarounds. Stick with the spirit of the law.

Judge Dredd says, "Drokk it."

Ruggs might add, if the place doesn't--I don't know what the right word
is?--exemplify what they have written, why should I as a player think they
respect their own rules? I find myself responding to the social atmosphere.

Tyr has arrived.

Êlvïrå nodnods to Ruggs, "Leading by example is a good idea :)"

Ruggs adds a small disagreement, but...it may not be that, really. I think it
parallels some of what Impster's saying: I might suggest that the 'wanting
acceptance' is a human thing, and one MUs can use to their advantage. If to be
'accepted' in a MU then a player knows he or she has to behave within certain
limits, then they're more likely to. That's a slightly different form of
social contract, maybe. ...I'd also like to propose that this technique could
be used on admins. :)

Teal says, "I do agree with much of what was said here. All too often as a MU*
admin myself, I have run into problems where a lack of any sort firm rules,
code of conduct, or player/admin expectations of any sort introduced too many
problems. Mostly it happens with those players who intend to cause trouble, at
least in my experience as long as the admin's are mature and don't instigate
problems themselves."

Ruggs says, "I wouldn't say it's an end-all, but...the 'atomosphere' certainly
guides things. If I 'feel' by a MU's social atmosphere that I can't drag
someone around and call them names, then I'm less likely to. Why? Because then
I have to worry about not only the admins, but the /players also/. So..."

Impster says, "Don't run a vampire game? :p. Ok honestly to me staff needs to
be transparent. Something like that I would put on a +bbpost or have a mush
meeting about it and get a feel from what the players want. You may not like
it. Think it's sick and gross. But if your players want that aspect of the
game I'd think you'd need to leave it alone and let people do it. Now that
being said there's a couple other things I would put in. . First of all I
/hate/ consent games. To many times I've seen people rob a bank and then
refuse to consent to getting caught. If children are dying all over your city
from vampires and you don't want it but the players do. then I would say it's
time to bring the FBI in to deal with a serial killer picking on children and
deal with it from an IC point of view. If your players agree its wrong but
someone still wants to do it. I'd ask the player to treat it like a fade to
black cause you don't want it RPed on your game. And I'd still have some sort
of IC action happen. To often games don't deal with the after effects of
actions like that."

Tyr has reconnected.

Cheetah says, "Well, there's two kindsa things there. Rules that can be
implied from other rules, like swearing extending or not extending to certain
issues, and things that are 'bad', but aren't covered under any current rule.
I like Impster's answer, since it deals with the second case, which is what I
was interested in ;)"

Teal says, "Completely agreed with the point of dealing with things from an IC
point of view Imp. It just makes completely sense rather than pulling a player
away OOC and lecturing them about the matter especially when from their side
of the situation, it was just normal activity IC."

Teal says, "*complete"

Diuturnal pops up hand for another q.

Impster says, "Go ahead Diuturnal :D"

Êlvïrå says, "I think staff should retain the right to intervene should they
feel the need to. Especially if something threatens the server security or
legality. But they shouldn't exercise that right frivolously"

Tyr has reconnected.

Teal says, "Oh. No doubt Elvira. That just comes with the job. If it comes
right down to server security, you reserve every right to take the most
extreme disciplinary action required. But honestly, and thankfully, these
situations are few and far between it seems as long as you keep on your toes
and your softcode well managed."

Diuturnal says, "I've been in a situation at one point-- on a consent game,
Impster-- where staff generally were called upon to exemplify the notion that
people reasonably pay for their actions. One staff member was in a situation
where something that was NOT spelled out as wrong, but which was often
considered a squick topic, ended up being the logical outcome of an IC
situation with them. The staffer blew a gasket and immediately said that X was
wrong, and proceeded to post that on the boards for future reference. It left
the players feeling as if they were some sort of social dysfunctional scum
with the way it was handled. Anyone have some general opinion on how you
handle that as a headwiz?"

Diuturnal says, "Because that violates social contract in my mind more because
it was staff, but we didn't have codified to other staff that it was really
expected to deal with IC, even if it went unpleasant for them... huge mess."
Judge Dredd reckons that falls more under 'diplomacy' than 'social contract'.
Ruggs hrm's. Does it? I could see it touching on expectations of how staff are
expected to respond and handle things. Also staff respect of said player.
Blowing a gasket then making a public post sounds like it could tread on alot
of that. Respectfully disagreeing, of course, JD.

Teal says, "Aye. In my own opinion, since it came down to one of your staff
treating players so harshly for something that made sense in the moment, I'd
take said admin aside and discuss with them their reasoning and try to rectify
the situation from there."

Judge Dredd says, "Diplomacy is about not treading on toes and not leaving
people feeling like socially disfunctional scum."

Êlvïrå says, "One of the things staff on a RP MUSH come up against is that
they can't predict everything a player might do. They may say 'No rape, no
paedophilia, no torture' but then something may come up that upsets a
particular staffer or player. It's very hard to rule against everything. So
that's where trust comes in, and hand in hand with that, good communication on
both sides."

Teal nod violently.

Judge Dredd nods to Elvira.

Impster nods, "Yeah, that's a lot of fun. The first thing I'd suggest is when
something like happens regardless of it violate the rules or not is if you're
not going to be objective about the issue is let another staffer handle the
issue. It's hard to say that I can't be objective about this subject but
sometimes that's exactly what you have to do. If there's not another staffer
on to deal with the issue I hate timestops but that may be the best answer.
And posting a message when your angry usually results in you coming back in a
couple of hours going I'm a jerk sorry guys. Or ya make matters worse by not
coming back and going i'm a jerk. Normally when I've seen that happen it's
some softcode staffer trying to change things he shouldn't be invovled in. Not
that I've done that myself .

Êlvïrå says, "I've always been fairly lucky that people I've RPed with have
been like, "Ok, this might be a consequence of this. My character isn't a nice
person. Are you ok with this?" before things go too far. There's a way of
negotiating things reasonably OOC."

Diuturnal listens and nods and nods. "I'd go on a bit with this, but I don't
want to get insanely far off topic. Thanks for those points, everyone."
Ruggs hrm's, and has a related question. :)

Impster grins, "ok Ruggs hit me :D

Ruggs says, "An issue somewhat similar to the one Di mentioned came up on a MU
I was on, and the admins handled it well. However...a new problem sprang up,
one that ended up not being with any of the original parties involved.
Question is: How do you handle drama-ists from a staff PoV? Someone who
thrives on a situation like Di mentioned, but works socially to make it worse?
Perhaps not because they have a stake, but...they like drama. So they'll
spread word in pages, gossip, etc. at the very point you're trying to calm it
down."

Judge Dredd would suggest being open, Ruggs. If everyone knows what's going
on, it's a bit more difficult to stir things into trouble.

Ruggs says, "Not a bad idea. Being open sounds as though it could solve quite
a few issues like that."

Diuturnal says, "Even being open, there can still be people who will imply
that a ruling was made because of OOC favoritism, or some other unfair means,
and continue to tell people something like that in pages or private
conversations. If it gets back to you that someone's doing that, should it be
ignored?"

Impster chuckles, "Did I play on that game? To me it kind of gets back to the
rules. One of the things from our code of conduct on my game is: When players
have a problem in the game, either with another player, with the theme, with
the rules, or with an admin, they should go to an admin to discuss it. If
there are issues that require a decision, the admin will try to make the best
decision for the game first, and the best decision for the player second.
Hopefully, what is best for the game and the player is the same decision. If a
player disagrees with an admin decision, he or she may appeal to the admin
body. That decision will be final, and the player is expected to accept the
decision gracefully. This means there will be no complaining about it on
channel, or subverting the decision through a whisper campaign among the
players.

Tyr has partially disconnected.

Impster says, "if they're not doing that and causing drama then Staff would be
dealing with that like any other issue."

Êlvïrå nods to JD, "Really good answer"

Tyr has partially disconnected.

Judge Dredd also notes that on a game with a social contract understood by
all, it's a lot more difficult to get people to believe player X over staff,
especially if the place has been solid for a while.

Ruggs says, "Whisper campaigns sound about right. I suppose a good analogy
would be high school gossip chains. It's possible being open is the only way
to deflect that."

Ruggs would have to agree with JD on that one.

Êlvïrå says, "Ok, that's the end of the 'official' talk and discussion and I'm
going to be closing the log now. Of course you're all welcome to hang around
as long as you like and keep talking..."

Diuturnal says, "Thanks, Impster. Great topic!"

Mike nods at JD, "Having things written down, even if you don't go into a huge
amount of detail, tends to create more trust with players, IMHO. Because if
something is handled wrong, you can call the staff out on it, and staff can
easily explain why they've done things."

Êlvïrå says, "I want to thank all of you for coming and for the very
impressive contributions. And I really want to thank Impster for a very
thought-provoking and illuminating talk..."

Ruggs nods. Likewise. :)

Impster nods, "Give me a chance to talk about myself and I'll always show up
;)

Êlvïrå says, "We'll be back next week with another talk from Nymeria. I
haven't got confirmation on a title yet, but it'll be posted on M*U*S*H, CPO
and elseMUSH. If you have a MUSH you'd like an advert on, let me know."
Nymeria says, "I am horribly indecisive, but its about running MU*s based on
pre-existing themes and the advantages and disadvantages that can involve."

Ruggs says, "Sounds like a great topic, Nymeria."

Êlvïrå says, "Thanks Nymeria :) I particularly want to also say hi to any
newbies who've come along for the picnic and to welcome them to M*U*S*H. And a
reminder that whuffie is a great tool for showing appreciation! (+help
whuffie) Have a lovely day/evening and enjoy your stay on M*U*S*H ;)"

-- Logging stopped at Sun Feb 17 15:49:22 -0800 2008 --