To rule or not to rule

 
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Alayla



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 88
Location: Prague

PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2006 11:23 pm    Post subject: To rule or not to rule Reply with quote

I am aware there has been a recent discussion on the topic of rules at TMC, concerned with player rights vs. admin authority. It, however, poses a few interesting questions that are out of the scope of that discussion.

(Lets assume a nonabusive, non-powertripping game administration here.)

1. Are rules successful at doing what they are meant to do?

My (somewhat pessimistic) answer would be: No. They cannot prevent abuse. They just create a different environment which favours different ways of abusal. If you create a rule to protect players from griefing or harassment, you give a weapon to the drama queens, which become your new griefers.

2. Can (good) game design replace rules?

I am not sure. It would be nice to think it can. So far we've been trying to do this on GW2, and I feel it's a worthy experiment, even if it should eventually fail.

Of course, a roleplaying mud, for example, will want to determine where players can use OOC/IC communication. I would consider this to be instructions rather than rules.

3. Is it even possible to enforce rules?

I would say: only arbitrarily and never in a completely fair way. We may be gods of our little universes, but even then we are not omniscient.

4. Do players want rules?

This is an interesting one. In the absence of rules, some players will request them. Is that because that's what they're used to, or do they feel uprooted, disoriented or vulnerable without some sort of framework?

5. What effect do rules have on the playerbase and community?

The two arguments go:

If players behave like 4 year olds, we should treat them as such.

If you treat your players as 4 year olds, they will behave as such.

Also, each mud gets the playerbase it attracts. What sort of players are attracted to muds with a heavy set of rules? To muds with a light or no set of rules? If given enough tools, can the community govern itself? I do believe peer pressure goes a long way, but self-governed communities often end up as spectacular failures.

Thoughts? Experiences? Anecdotes?
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Vavdichal



Joined: 01 Mar 2006
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 7:57 am    Post subject: Re: To rule or not to rule Reply with quote

Alayla wrote:
I am aware there has been a recent discussion on the topic of rules at TMC, concerned with player rights vs. admin authority. It, however, poses a few interesting questions that are out of the scope of that discussion.

(Lets assume a nonabusive, non-powertripping game administration here.)

Let's do this.

Quote:
1. Are rules successful at doing what they are meant to do?

My (somewhat pessimistic) answer would be: No. They cannot prevent abuse. They just create a different environment which favours different ways of abusal. If you create a rule to protect players from griefing or harassment, you give a weapon to the drama queens, which become your new griefers.

I agree with you. However, some people just need to be told what can and cannot be done. Most of these have been culled from GW2, though.

Quote:
2. Can (good) game design replace rules?

I am not sure. It would be nice to think it can. So far we've been trying to do this on GW2, and I feel it's a worthy experiment, even if it should eventually fail.

I enjoy your phrasing immensely. As one of the older players on GW2, I think this experiment has been successful thusfar, and love the atmosphere of the MUD. Even with the occasional bickering (some contributed by yours truly), this is still far better than your typical GW crowd.

Quote:
Of course, a roleplaying mud, for example, will want to determine where players can use OOC/IC communication. I would consider this to be instructions rather than rules.

I disagree; this would be a rule. This is something you would enforce, not just a suggestion.

Quote:
3. Is it even possible to enforce rules?

I would say: only arbitrarily and never in a completely fair way. We may be gods of our little universes, but even then we are not omniscient.

Obviously, true impartiality is impossible, given human nature. However, this IS your universe. Who else can the mere mortals turn to for justice? You are responsible for the game you've created.

Quote:
4. Do players want rules?

This is an interesting one. In the absence of rules, some players will request them. Is that because that's what they're used to, or do they feel uprooted, disoriented or vulnerable without some sort of framework?

This has a lot to do with your target audience: quality vs quantity of the player base. As I mentioned before, there will be those that need direction.

Quote:
5. What effect do rules have on the playerbase and community?

The two arguments go:

If players behave like 4 year olds, we should treat them as such.

If you treat your players as 4 year olds, they will behave as such.

Also, each mud gets the playerbase it attracts. What sort of players are attracted to muds with a heavy set of rules? To muds with a light or no set of rules? If given enough tools, can the community govern itself? I do believe peer pressure goes a long way, but self-governed communities often end up as spectacular failures.

The administration is the final arbitrator of justice. There can be instances where two people simply cannot get along, and no amount of community interference will resolve the issue. Also, you will get players that simply will seek to test your mettle at every turn. You know the kind of players I am talking about. How do you police such behavior?
I agree with most of your points, and your general analysis. I think most people can exercise enough common sense for a MUD without rules to exist. There will be occasions, though, where the administration will need to step in. Good game design goes a long way, but the depths of stupidity humankind may descend never fails to surprise me.
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bullseye



Joined: 19 Jul 2005
Posts: 10
Location: Kansas

PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2006 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
1. Are rules successful at doing what they are meant to do?


Do you mean behavioral (social) rules or gameplay rules (or both)? Assuming behavioral rules, I think the answer to this question depends on the participants and the administration.

In my experience, there are at least two types of player in every game, MUD, or social setting. The players for whom the behavior rules never needed to be written, and the players who will exploit the rules, just because they can. Add cyber-anonymity to the mix, and you'll probably have a higher instance of the latter group.

Speaking specifically of MUDs, there are situations where the administration lacks the ability/fortitude/whatever to handle rule violations, and the rules are useless in those cases. This is probably due to a desire to grow the player base at all costs. Other games have swift moderation, and have pretty good overall adherence to their rules, although those usually sit on the brink of dictatorship, if left unchecked.

Another thought (sorry, this is kind of a stream-of-consciousness-type post) is that the more rules you have, the less effective the rules will be. Even the most compliant player will have a difficult time staying within a 100 rule boundary. It is much easier to administer justice in a scenario where there are only 2 rules to live by.

Quote:
2. Can (good) game design replace rules?


Why not? With maybe a few exceptions, I think that any rule can ultimately be replaced or enforced by the system itself. And if a solution is not readily apparent, I believe there is enough creativity floating around the various forums to help implement a solution. The better your system is able to implement this "rules structure", the more likely it is your rules will be effective.

Someone mentioned implementing an ignore option as a means to curb verbal harassment. This is a great idea. It's fairly simple depending on the system, yet rarely seen in most games.

Quote:
3. Is it even possible to enforce rules?


If you have rules... it is critical that you do, when you can. Otherwise, what is the point of having them in the first place?

Quote:
4. Do players want rules?


Most players will want structure and consistency. Whether or not you accomplish this through design or actual rule enforcement is mostly a matter of style.


- Bullseye
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Sandi



Joined: 13 May 2005
Posts: 94
Location: Boston

PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2006 12:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I said my piece in the other thread, but here I'll admit my ROM deriv has the Golden Rule worded thusly:

"Do unto others as you would have the IMMs do unto you."


Mostly, I've tried to code out or around any "bugs" that give an unfair advantage and then allow anything the code allows. Scripting, bots, what ever... maybe they let their dog watch movies for them. If they're not really playing, that's their loss, it only impacts the other players if their bot cleans out newbie school repeatedly. Then I'll step in, have a talk wth the player, and explain they are welcome to have fun (hey, I'm a coder, too), but they can't spoil other's fun in the process.

I'm going to need some help with "Don't help a player far below your level.", though. Recent changes have made this one necessary, and I'm really not sure how to implement it.


Mostly, rather than rules, I depend on advertising and first impressions to deal with people that can't play. And I'll admit I play the "granny card" when needed. If you don't like dirty words, it works a charm. I cater to older players, and most of them bring their own rules with them. For instance, they all log one character off before bringing on another, even though I tell them they needn't bother.


Players that need rules scare me a bit. Players that enjoy Medievia scare me a lot. And yes, there are games that cater to masochists. Years ago the majority of the WoD MUSHes seemed to be of that bent. And players flocked to them. Sure, some were thinking, "The staff here got caught cheating. They're stupid. I bet I can cheat all I want and not get caught.", but others... I just keep thinking of the mechanism that keeps abused women in abusive relationships... "These guys are bastards. I'll get what I deserve.".
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Dace



Joined: 16 Apr 2006
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2006 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Would just like to interject my own little piece here.
On one of my muds, the rules were inspired by Godwars'
(And by inspired, I mean outright stolen from)

Quote:
The Ten Commandments:

1) Shoot first and ask questions later, or else:
2) Your corpse will be the one being asked questions.
3) Forgiveness may be divine, but vengeance is much more fun.
4) Don't bitch, or someone will kill you.
5) If someone bitches, you should kill them.
6) If someone DOESN'T bitch, kill them anyway.
7) It's not possible to renegade, so you're safe with clan members.
Cool That being said, there's more than one way to renegade.
9) Even *think* about multiplaying/bug abusing, and I'll kick your ass.
10) Kill! Kill! Kill!


Surprisingly, players have acted quite well. I've never had a major bug go unreported for more than half a day, and never had any multiplay warnings come over the comm chann.

They've formed a fairly close community, chatting happily (with frequently vulgar references, but I'm just as bad as they are there), crafting equipment for each other, and helping out newbies.

I've been trying to follow the same path as Kavir in letting game design replace a ridiculous amount of strict rules, and it seems to be working so far.

Perhaps it's the small playerbase, or the fact that it actually takes a modicum of intelligence to be able to play the mud.

However, it really seems to be working just fine.
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