Saturday, August 26, 2006

An extreme contradiction

I've written before about an odd thing I see in MUDs, where features that are used without problem in one MUD (or many) are forbidden in another, because they would "inevitably be abused", with no rhyme or reason to the inconsistency; and the idea that it's just a "one bitten twice shy" attitude causing it.

One mild but amusing example came up shortly after I started playing Harshlands. In many MUDs and most MUSHes, there's a command that lets you set what you're currently doing, as will be seen by people coming into the room. For instance, pose is juggling eggs and singing. This is good for RP; if you come into a room why can't you tell that Bob is juggling eggs and singing? Harshlands does this especially well, even lets you do this on objects (omote cloak is hanging by the fire, drying) and on your movements from room to room, and I have never seen it abused.

This got proposed in Lusternia, and people went berserk. No way, that would be abused! People posted some absurd abuses, like pose stands here with the Creator God kneeling before him. Who would really do that, and who would get away with it? And why are't people already emoting things like that? But Lusternia would not hear of it.

About the same time, the exact mirror image of this discussion was happening in Harshlands, with regards to the suggestion of being able to make changes in your description. And it wasn't even because the result would be badly written descriptions with grammar and spelling errors (at least half the descriptions in the game now have grammar or spelling errors anyway). No, it was ludicrous abuses. People will completely change their appearances after doing crimes to avoid being caught (doubly ludicrous because people doing crimes do them hooded and/or masked anyway, so you can't see the descriptions). Even the idea of having a single line you could control, to reflect things like "has a freshly shaved chin" or "has red eyes from crying", was summarily vetoed without consideration. Naturally, Lusternia, like many MUDs, allows anyone to change their description on the fly, and while I've seen a lot of spelling errors, I've never seen it abused like that. But Harshlands became convinced this would be unavoidably abused.

Recently, I've been thinking about another matching pair of issues like this in Harshlands which, the more I think about it, the more ridiculous it seems. The Harshlands admins take the most extreme possible viewpoints on one issue, which is bad enough -- but they take both opposite extremes on that issue simultaneously, and I can't see any way to justify that.

The Harshlands rule is that no IC information can ever, ever, ever be shared by OOC means. You may have heard a rule like this somewhere else and think, that's not so extreme, but this version is far more exaggeratedly strict in Harshlands. The assumption -- and I'm not exaggerating here, this is essentially a paraphrase of what admins actually have said -- is that no one, no matter how mature, no matter how good a roleplayer, can ever be trusted with IC information their character wouldn't know, passed from another player; that allowing this will inevitably, unavoidably, lead to changes and corruptions in their roleplay. This goes so far as to not permit people to mention on the forums things their characters have done.

So that's a pretty over-the-top extreme thing, no doubt caused by having been once bitten, but at least it's conceivable. I mean, I don't agree with it. I've seen OOC knowledge compartmentalized on a regular basis by far less mature, far poorer roleplayers than Harshlands has. For instance, Lusternians. So you can't tell me it can't happen when I see it happening all the time. And when it slips, it rarely leads to the end of the world, or indeed anything hard to deal with. But it feasibly could have bad results. Okay, let's grant that for now.

I have never seen or heard of any MUD in which admins are allowed to have player characters, because admins don't just have access to a little bit of OOC information that a player willingly offers up, they have access to all the OOC information they want, without the player even being known he's been spied on. People can compartmentalize, sure, but there's a limit to how much you can rely on. Thus, admins with active characters is verboten everywhere.

Except Harshlands. The admins there are allowed active player characters.

Seems the height of hypocrisy and hubris and condescension to me, for them to tell me I can't even go tell someone in IM that I just went wolf-hunting, because that leak of IC information will ruin the game, while they're watching character actions and viewing their hidden stats and checking their logs and spying on them, and then going on to play characters that interact with the people they were just spying on. It's entirely irreconcilable.

Just one of a number of reasons why I have been looking at Harshlands as someplace where the fun is directly proportional to how much admin attention you can avoid. Still trying to figure out if I can make a place for myself that entirely avoids needing any, and how much admin attention I'll have to endure on the way to that place, and whether the result is worth it.

Sounds familiar. Am I just having terrible luck, or is everywhere like this?

1 comment:

Siobhan Perricone said...

I dunno if it's so much bad luck as just, you're a sensible, logical person. Most people just aren't. They don't do what makes sense, they don't try to figure out what makes sense. They just react to whatever is in front of them at the moment.

Most people don't even seem to give a crap about consistency!!