Author Topic: Staff, I want an open dialogue.  (Read 9394 times)

Kalden

  • Posts: 822
Re: Staff, I want an open dialogue.
« Reply #50 on: March 03, 2017, 10:06:50 PM »
fyi, http://mudstats.com/World/ArmageddonMUD does not suggest player numbers have declined much - in particular, see average number of players connected by season. If someone was statistically inclined, they could try to normalize the trend against the general trend of MUDs declining.

I share the opinion of the OP that it would be nice to clear the air and discuss concerns openly.

Honestly, my experience with staff overall has been so-so. I don't blame them - it's a game. I'm not committing nearly the energy that they are, so I'm not going to begrudge them work-life balance.

Every individual interaction has been awesome. However, I've been involved with a key clan where the staffer was AWOL for a couple months, which is disappointing. Publishing metrics on how long requests to clans are taking might help? I had a request sit open for over a month one time, which seems like a really long time when you're playing actively. And I know (from the shadowboards) that a similar pattern earlier led to at least one player in said clan quitting the game a few months before I joined.

As I understand it, some frustration revolves around how the staff enforces the game world with powerful NPCs. I get that. I've actually benefited from staff backup probably more than most. Ideally, staff backup comes through indirect support of powerful PCs (e.g., nobles get coin which buys influence with templars), rather than overt "animate badass and kill person shaking things up"...
« Last Edit: March 05, 2017, 05:53:26 PM by Kalden »

Seeker

  • Posts: 1368
Re: Staff, I want an open dialogue.
« Reply #51 on: March 03, 2017, 10:20:08 PM »
There have been outreach attempts and reconciliation efforts in the past.

I remember an open amnesty attempt not that long ago - regardless of the conditions of a player's departure or their status, if they wished to return they were asked to open a request tool ticket and agree to play the rules that every other player agreed to abide by.  All could be copacetic.

I heard we got a pretty healthy dose of returnees.  I'd be curious how many of them stayed, how many eventually faded out and how many had to be separated from the game again for whatever various reasons.

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Asche

  • Posts: 84
Re: Staff, I want an open dialogue.
« Reply #52 on: March 03, 2017, 10:32:31 PM »
with advanced subguilds, elementalist subguilds and basic knowledge hidden behind a wall of vagueness, its harder than ever in the history of arm to be a new player and still be competitive.

Here's a major hitch in your perspective. If you are playing Armageddon to be 'competitive,' you are playing the wrong game. This is not a competitive game. This is a collaborative game. If your goal in playing is to 'win,' or be better than other players (as opposed to characters, for the sake of story), or to defeat players, as opposed to your goal being to create a better collaborative roleplaying experience for you and your fellow players, you're doing yourself and them a disservice.

If you would like to experience a competitive thrill through gaming, I suggest you play games such as chess, basketball, organized jiu-jitsu, Magic: the Gathering, Dota 2, Settlers of Catan, or other games designed to be competitive. You'll have more fun.

I don't think the game's mechanical opacity drives away new players we very much want to keep. People aren't playing MUDs in 2017 to have an amazing coded/PvE/PvP experience. People play MMOs for that (or other games that are designed for it, such as some I just listed). The newbies we want are those who are interested in roleplaying.

The extension of the above as it applies to your thread and OP: a community focused on becoming codedly powerful, competition, what PCs are codedly strongest, plot spoilers (I have personally had the then-current activities of at least one of my characters spoiled on the jcarter forum) and so on, has no legitimacy as a representative forum for a game that is really about collaboration and roleplaying.

First, I'm discussing things that halt player retention, not necessarily personal desires. With the exception of one elementalist who lived long enough to get strong, I've never had a mechanically powerful character. Two, powerful does not mean lacking in roleplay. If someone has to cover themselves in rocks and get drunk to get strong because thats what the code demands, that doesn't mean they're bad roleplayers. Third, the idea that power isn't something to aim for is silly when you consider that karma is explicitly divided into levels of power. There is a reason sorcerers were above templars, and the advanced subguilds are just straight power boosts. Karma is literally a measure of staff trust, and all it does is buy you access to stronger races and class options. You could view half-giants and delves as 'roleplaying opportunities,' but a half-giant is NOT a more in-depth role than a dwarf pursuing his focus, played properly. Karma buys you power. Towing the line buys you power. Progressing my character is not something I should be punished or looked down upon for pursuing, especially when virtually no one comes out of the box competent at their job.

Nergal

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  • Posts: 757
Re: Staff, I want an open dialogue.
« Reply #53 on: March 03, 2017, 11:00:03 PM »
Contrary to what some people believe, staff do enjoy an open dialogue. I'll try to touch on a few points mentioned throughout the thread, but with the understanding that staff have a policy on not discussing specific players' situations.

In the past I've been pretty neutral toward jcarter's forum, and have expressed those feelings openly, on the GDB. In the interest of getting this reply posted I'm not going to look back through my own post history to find evidence of this right now, but I may come back later to edit my post with links. Basically the gist of my opinion of that forum, which I have posted on the GDB previously, is pretty simple: players don't have a right to judge the forum or its users if they themselves read it regularly or even post on it. By extension, many people who post about the jcarter forum's "evils" on the GDB are themselves posters, or people who read the forum. It doesn't even take much proof to make this statement, other than the number of unique accounts and weekly views which are readily accessible on jcarter's forum's front page. However, jcarter's forum is harmful when it reveals plot information. I don't particularly care about code information except for magick and psionics, and have been supportive of releasing more information on how the more mundane things work during my tenure as an admin and producer, even getting into fairly in-depth code discussions with some of our more code-minded (but still very capable in roleplay) players.

The simple rule of "if it offends you, don't look" can and should apply to players. Unfortunately, this is the internet, and 99% of the people need something to be outraged about if they're going to be on it.

Of course, it goes the other way as well. The endless outrage from certain people on jcarter's forum is unrelenting, and frankly, a little sad if the posters there don't play the game anymore. That's why I've come to assume that most of the jcarter forum posters - especially the most vehemently hateful ones - play Armageddon. There's nothing wrong with that, of course. It just means that they're here, like everyone else, and should be treated like any other player.

One aspect in which jcarter forum posters are treated like other players is in the expectation that they follow the rules of the game. The game rules have grown less opaque over the years, and were revised relatively recently. When we want players to follow the rules, we do what we can to encourage following the rules, and discourage rule-breaking.

That being said, there was indeed a ban wave in which multiple players were banned for rule-breaking. Most of the players agreed to cease their rule-breaking and delete their accounts on jcarter's forum, which was sufficient for being unbanned. The ban wave begun because a couple of jcarter board posters were using their access to the game to collect in-character information and spread it, harming plots, and staff as a body felt that it was in the interest of the game's integrity to shut that down. There were also other things going on that I can't comment on here.

I would estimate that we lost a total of two or three players to the most recent bans directly. It is not a number I am concerned about, and I don't feel we lost players who were bringing any semblance of quality roleplay to the game. That's not an insult to their ability to roleplay, but simply an observation on their general behavior.

We've lost a handful of jcarter board posters-slash-players to past bans because we were simply incapable of having a dialogue with them. We tried to be open and received vitriol in response. I hate to hide behind the "staff are volunteers" mantra and generally refuse to do it, but to put it frankly, staff did not sign up to counsel people with anger issues and/or the mentally ill. Additionally, staff are allowed to get angry at people that refuse to take responsibility for their own actions, and own up to the understanding that what they did broke the game's rules. The relationship is best served by severing it, with a ban.

And I will say that bans are ineffective. People come back all the time, evading their ban in sometimes clever ways. I would not mind banned players coming back to Armageddon if they are willing to use it as an opportunity to reset their relationship with staff, but that also means actually behaving according to the game's rules. But staff do get the final say in deciding who gets to play and who does not. You'll have to take me at my word when I say that we're pretty responsible with this power, and we go by the rules listed on the website/helpfiles.

The fact of the matter is that we have a very small class of jaded veterans who no longer put in effort to roleplay, and mostly work to stir the pot via out-of-game back-channels, a much larger class of new players who are either excellent roleplayers or at least put in a lot of effort to roleplay, and an even bigger class of veterans (some jaded, some not) who are good roleplayers and who do understand why there are rules on not sharing plot information (the majority of players). I prefer the latter two groups over the former. And again, that is not a knock on anyone, but an observation as a staff member of a roleplaying game with an interest in preserving roleplay. The roleplayers come first, and the people who break rules don't get catered to. They can get back to roleplaying or they can simply leave. I am fine with the player count decreasing to an extent if the overall quality of RP increases.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2017, 11:05:14 PM by Nergal »
  

Malken

  • Posts: 8934
Re: Staff, I want an open dialogue.
« Reply #54 on: March 03, 2017, 11:14:09 PM »
Why do you think the playerbase is declining? What could staff (and players) do to bring the numbers back up?

Because it's a type of game that was popular in the 1995's when graphics were either non-existent or most people couldn't afford them. We are now in 2017 and our gaming choices are now hundredfold. The sane people have moved on with the next generation of games. The few left are clinging to text-based muds often for very specific and personal reasons other than 'This is a good game!'.

What I mean is that the slow and perhaps steady drop in number of players is probably perfectly normal considering that this game is almost 30 year old.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2017, 11:22:08 PM by Malken »
“When I was a fighting man, the kettle-drums they beat;
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But now I am a great king, the people hound my track
With poison in my wine-cup, and daggers at my back.”

Nergal

  • Producer
  • Posts: 757
Re: Staff, I want an open dialogue.
« Reply #55 on: March 03, 2017, 11:15:45 PM »
As for how to improve player numbers, voting helps. Word of mouth is excellent, if you know people who are into (or might be into) roleplaying.

As for what staff can do, I think we could be more on top of requests and we should continue updating the game in terms of code changes and such. We should run plots occasionally and empower players to run their own, though this is already something we do. I've been on break for the past couple of weeks but I have a big project in the works that I hope to get out before Valve releases Half Life 3.

Edit: What Malken says above is true though. We have a great deal of competition. What we offer is very specific, and fairly unique in the world of roleplaying. If there was an "Armageddon With Graphics" run by CCP or Blizzard or something, we'd be dead. Fortunately there isn't, and we're still here.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2017, 11:17:56 PM by Nergal »
  

Jihelu

  • Posts: 2489
Re: Staff, I want an open dialogue.
« Reply #56 on: March 04, 2017, 12:38:21 AM »
"I don't particularly care about code information except for magick and psionics, and have been supportive of releasing more information on how the more mundane things work during my tenure as an admin and producer, even getting into fairly in-depth code discussions with some of our more code-minded (but still very capable in roleplay) players."

Does that mean we could get more information on how warrior/weapon skills work? It still confuses me.



As for shadowboards...I don't read it.
Anymore.
I used to be very min max heavy, now I'm just roleplay heavy with a side of "I know what I'm doing and not to go overboard".
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Synthesis

  • Posts: 9305
Re: Staff, I want an open dialogue.
« Reply #57 on: March 04, 2017, 12:52:44 AM »
Sometimes, in an open dialogue, the answer is "no," and you fucking suck it up and move on.
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Is Friday

  • Posts: 6099
Re: Staff, I want an open dialogue.
« Reply #58 on: March 04, 2017, 12:59:02 AM »
Sometimes, in an open dialogue, the answer is "no," and you fucking suck it up and move on.
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Wyrmboy

  • Posts: 172
Re: Staff, I want an open dialogue.
« Reply #59 on: March 04, 2017, 01:07:01 AM »
I remember a time when there was player staff meeting, everyone would logon and be taken to a specific room with all the avatars of the staff. There was a item that would be passed around to those that wished to ask the staff a question, if you had the item, I forget what it was, some kind of totem you would be the one that was allowed to speak and ask your question. I enjoyed those meeting we would hear the new ideas coming up, questions would be asked and answered we all had masks to wear to cover out characters identity :) It promoted closeness between players and staff a mutual respect that they cared enough to hear our questions and respond, and we cared enough to be there in support, to listen to the staffs concerns and issues with certain things. Idk why I brought this up I was reading this post and it popped into my head :)

wizturbo

  • Posts: 2476
Re: Staff, I want an open dialogue.
« Reply #60 on: March 04, 2017, 02:31:36 AM »
Would like to see player-staff meetings once in a while as well.

In the spirit of the open dialogue theme, here are some other thoughts:

1.  I would love it if there were OOC meetings between clan storytellers and their clan leaders maybe once every few months or so.  Back and forth discussions on the request tool are nice and all, but there's a big difference between a live conversation and request tool pen-pal talk.  I think this would probably improve collaboration between sponsored roles and staff, leading to more frequent and more exciting plots.  Even a 30 minute talk could greatly improve things.


2.  Exit surveys when a leadership role ends via character death and/or storage.  The survey should come 72 hours after the death/storage, to reduce the human emotion elements and provide more rationale and hopefully actionable feedback.  There are things I would love to say to my past clan staff,  but I don't want to write a random rant at them.   If there was a structured, normal way of asking for this kind of feedback I think everyone would benefit, the staff most of all!  Ideally, these surveys should come from Admins and they can share bits and pieces with storytellers if they think its relevant.  The goal being, if the player is just whining...don't bog down the storyteller with the whining crap.  If there's actually good constructive feedback, then share.

« Last Edit: March 04, 2017, 02:33:52 AM by wizturbo »

deskoft

  • Posts: 129
Re: Staff, I want an open dialogue.
« Reply #61 on: March 04, 2017, 03:16:02 AM »
Having tried a wide variety of games, and staffing in a couple of them, including one where staff hold weekly meetings with the players and every single action is done for the énjoyment of a population, I can confidently say that I came back to Armageddon again because I realized this is the game I wanted. I originally left for a plethora of reasons, many of them unrelated to the game nor staff, except the fact that at the time the fact that I cannot build my own house bothered me to no extent. So I tried other games, I staffed in some, I tried systems, I thought about systems and did a lot of other stuff. Here are some reflections I drew from them:

1) I think that keeping steady communication between a regular playerbase and a team of volunteers is unrealistic. Staffing is hard as shit, and when you establish a constant channel where the staff answers your every single request, posts on your every single threat, it becomes really weary. Mistakes will be done, but at the end of the day YOU could be one of them and when YOU are in their shoes, the game changes: it can suck. You love the game, you know the problems, you WANT to fix them, but you just don't know the path. Some things are impossible. This is not a corporation. This is a game paid and led by volunteers. They can't live to serve us, either. There are some priorities.

2) Regarding censorship and karma, this is not a democracy either. IMHO a staff should define what kind of game they want and work towards it. Censoring people who are affecting your game is perfectly valid considering that (A) this is free and (B) it is a game that relies on collaboration.

3) Declining numbers -is- a problem I have seen though. Armageddon a couple of years ago had way more players. The problem I'm finding is that sometimes you can spend a lot of time not finding any RP at any of the taverns. I think the text-based community has declined but there are some games out there with 100-or-so players. Retention is really not entirely up to the staff unless it's a code-based issue. They obviously have a hand in it, but ultimately retention is up to us, the players.

Sure, Armageddon is not a game where you're usually helping out people, but one of my favorite hobbies is to help out newbies. I'm not doing it nowadays because I'm still getting back into the game, but helping newbies grows the playerbase. Showing them a side of the game they would not get in without you is so pleasing. Seeing them stick around after your character dies and enjoy the game is the best.

Sometimes, it's easy to find guilt in others. Armageddon is a game where staff does everything I wanted them to do in the other games I tried. They run stories. They handle NPCs. They give the story a sense of direction. Sometimes, they might do mistakes, but if we are talking about player retention it is definitely something each and every one of us can do.

EDIT: I'm against player-staff meetings. I just can't imagine the workload for this game. Having to host a weekly meeting is another obligation that keeps them away from playing their own characters, creating their own plots, animating their own NPCs. I want them to have time to do what they like and create the game they want, not PR around. They are listening, it's just hard to answer requests on a daily basis. It gets absolutely weary.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2017, 03:18:18 AM by deskoft »

solera

  • Posts: 1731
Re: Staff, I want an open dialogue.
« Reply #62 on: March 04, 2017, 04:02:46 AM »
There are loads of free  text based browser games on offer, including Torn and Achaea. I don't know how the interfaces differ to ours, but their number suggests that text is not a dying genre. I guess Planescape may prove that, one way or the other.
Can MUDs in general be listed on the browsers?

I like your post Deskie. I think infrequent (annual?) player staff meetings could be managed.


Bahliker

  • Posts: 208
Re: Staff, I want an open dialogue.
« Reply #63 on: March 04, 2017, 04:51:13 AM »
When you take in all at once the complaints on jcarter's board (shadow board sounds idiotic) plus related threads on tmc forums, it paints a very negative picture of this entity called Armageddon Staff. I don't mean the random psychotic ramblings either, I mean the well documented screenshots of requests, with context, logs, etc. They give credit to the words like venomous and vitriolic that sometimes get thrown around those circles.

But the thing is, it didn't happen all at once, it was spread over many years People won't pick up on that when they read through it all. And Armageddon Staff isn't even a thing. There is no entity. IT has never done anything to anyone. There were a dozen or so people twenty years ago, new ones ten years ago, and a different dozen or so now, and they're all just players. JUST PLAYERS. To my knowledge the board of armageddoncorp never hired a new CEO because of her amazing performance at adventureco. So to hold grudges against the current crop of volunteers for the nasty way somebody else reacted to a stressful encounter a decade ago is a losing position. Are they a THEM to you? They're not. They're the players that happened, at the time new blood was needed, to have both the time and the inclination to step into a new moniker in order to pull the strings that make your hobby work. It's admirable work. But it doesn't fundamentally change who they are. That's... not always a good thing, though. We've seen bad ones come, but they always go.

That said, the jcarterites aren't just yipping for no reason but attention. There's truth in their criticism of gdb censorship. I witnessed this firsthand and was frankly shocked at the hamhanded edits to an innocuous post on this board. There's truth to their sporadic complaints that some staff members have been unnecessarily scornful. I can't speak for the butts in the seats right now, but in the past there's been a lot of behind-the-scenes mockery and eye-rolling that can't help but bleed through request resolutions. Maybe that's not the case any more, but with an ever-cycling roster, chances are good that somebody behind the keyboard is kind of a jerk.

It's unfortunate that the righteousness of their cause is horribly offset by the leaked wiki. What's worse is that jcarter repeatedly defends the forum as nothing but a place to 'hang out and vent' while smirkingly archiving the leak under the claim that it's not his job to make sure people aren't shitty. What I'm saying is, there are two types there: people who really love this game but think the atmosphere here is kind of dickish, and people who love to hate this game because they think everyone here is absolutely a total dick, and they only want to mock and deride and get a rise out of the GDB and the administration.

Don't reach out to the jcarter board, because engaging the latter would only fuel more derision. I can imagine trying to calmly and politely reason with a mentally unstable person who is determined to undermine you for the sake of lolz --  I don't have to imagine, actually, I already have a two year old. If I wasn't bound by legal responsibility, brain chemicals, and genuine love, I might have angrily told her to fuck off long ago. Encountering grown-up trolls you don't care about can only end in a "fuck off." They'll get their rise out of you and post screenshots of how unhinged it makes you look. However, the former group, the people that want to be a part of the community and play by (the spirit of) the rules, they ought to be retained in every way possible.

Rather than reaching out to their board, make an internal effort to instill a lasting ideology of fellowship within both the ranks of staff and the players at large. Do this by appointing someone to be a sort of PR advisor. Somebody who is good at engaging strangers with more than brusque bluster. This somebody, by prioritizing ooc player interaction above all other staff duties, could act as a touchstone for how other staff members see themselves relative to other players.

Then, quit needlessly censoring minor things that are uncomfortable on the GDB. Let the players come back and get answers here that go beyond "find out ic", answers that could put them on the same playing field as people like myself, who could have an immensely unfair advantage because of the decades of secrets we're forbidden from sharing. Start a story-sharing thread of badassitude where old secrets get uncovered.

I'm starting to ramble and it's super late so I'll end it with this, hoping the whole thing still makes sense: while I read through this thread I thought about apms both big and small. I've only seen one person hesitate to reveal who he'd played in the past. I've never heard anybody say "Oh, that cave? Sorry, find out ic," or "you guys actually have it all wrong but I'm not going to tell you how parry REALLY works because it's code you don't need to know". I believe some crusty old veterans once told me, when I was still newish, all about adventures in advanced magick interplanar travel, with two overlords (producers) sitting nearby nodding as they listened. Nobody cared. No karma got docked. Passion for Arm awesomeness was at an all-time high and I wanted to wake up a zalanthan more than ever. Keep the current events quiet and there's nothing to ruin, because it's easy to put SPOILERS in a thread title.

Nergal

  • Producer
  • Posts: 757
Re: Staff, I want an open dialogue.
« Reply #64 on: March 04, 2017, 09:28:15 AM »
We're going to continue to enforce the rules of the GDB. If that is taken as "censorship" that is unfortunate, but it's not censorship. Let's bear in mind that censorship is usually charged in the context of a government body eliminating expression that is unfavorable to the government. Let's pretend that staff are the government and players are the citizens of a country called, say, Armerica.

If we censored threads unfavorable to the government of Armerica, this thread wouldn't be here, for one, and I wouldn't be posting in it, I would be deleting it. So it's always a bit of a head-scratcher when people assume that the mean old staff are going to delete a thread because it's argumentative. The whole point of a forum is that some topics are going to be argumentative, some are going to be complimentary, and others are going to fall in between. That's the exact opposite of censorship, that is maintaining an open, clean dialogue.

Unfortunately, the staff/player divide has led to players believing that they cannot have an open dialogue with staff, therefore there is no point in discussing something on the GDB. There's a lot of reasons for that belief, but it is false, as is demonstrated in this thread, and others that I and other staff have been engaged in in the past. I'm not sure what more staff need to do to dispel the notion that we are not approachable.

Rule enforcement goes hand-in-hand with maintaining a clean dialogue. We do not "censor" threads and posts that discuss IC plot information or very specific code information, because those things don't go against the Armerican government. They go against the Armerican citizens. We delete them to preserve the community's setting, and players have the expectation of not having to read about their IC machinations and magickal/psionic abilities on the forum.

I'm going to stop saying Armerican now.

I could support posting more about why a post is locked/deleted, but that goes into publicly discussing player issues and extending the discussion of a moderated topic. So I will try to explain staff's reasoning for a few recent moderation efforts without going too in depth.

The last few posts that have been moderated, were moderated because:
- Two banned players circumvented their ban with an alternate account to sockpuppet in favor of themselves
- A player posted vitriolic nonsense with no apparent intention to have an open dialogue, but rather to troll players and staff
- A player tried to get dirt on a player fiasco that led to force-storage of two characters nine years ago, and staff felt that was potentially harassing to those players
- A player wished a politician would be killed (the last thing we need is Secret Service attention, really, especially with an alternative community that has in the past been willing to make bogus reports about our game and community)
- Various incidents where Rule 2 is broken (be respectful of one another)

That's a handful of incidents over the past three months. The truth is moderation does not happen often, and we let a lot slide. But, yeah, we're going to keep this forum civil. Making the GDB a free-for-all is not the answer to the community's woes, whatever they may be. Letting up a little isn't really possible or practical, not because we don't want to, but because we do the bare minimum already.
  

Insigne

  • Posts: 273
Re: Staff, I want an open dialogue.
« Reply #65 on: March 04, 2017, 10:14:57 AM »
The last few posts that have been moderated, were moderated because...
I 100% agree that those posts fall under 'moderation' rather than 'censorship', but I've witnessed the deletion of a series of posts in a fairly recent thread. None of which seemed to fall under that list at all. I'm going to echo Bahliker's thoughts here because the posts I read were innocuous, and didn't discuss any IC information or specific code information. I actually had the urge to screenshot the last of that train of posts after the deletion wave, or whatever it was, started because, hey, they might not exist in an hour? And, what do you know, they were gone later.

What I mean to say is, whether or not some in the community of the jcarter/shadowboards are 'wrong' in some level, what I've seen has me inclined to agree that...
There's truth in their criticism of gdb censorship.

Edit: On another note, I'd like to add that I much appreciate your taking the time to share a staffer's perspective, Nergal! The first page had me disheartened and uninclined to take part in the discussion but some of your posts have helped expand my view of the way things are going.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2017, 10:21:59 AM by Insigne »

Nergal

  • Producer
  • Posts: 757
Re: Staff, I want an open dialogue.
« Reply #66 on: March 04, 2017, 10:46:41 AM »
If it happened in the past couple of weeks, I don't know about it because I was on break for personal reasons. Either way, I would guess that there was other rule-breaking which I forgot to list. I was going off the top of my head based on what I remember moderating in the past few months (it was not a lot, so it's easy to remember).

As for the topic of player-staff meetings, I'm pretty neutral about them. As a player I didn't find them any more or less useful than asking staff on the GDB or through the request tool. I would say that meetings create an air of openness and you get to hear people's accents (if the meeting is on Teamspeak), but other than that it isn't any different from non-live media. As a staff member my opinion on them is generally the same. It's a good way to appear to conduct outreach to players, but the key word there is "appear to". Personally I think it's below the staff body to do things that appear to be helpful for the sake of appearances. We should do things that are genuinely helpful, and a part of that is fostering reasonable discussion in general. It may be helpful to some players to talk to staff live, but arguably there are players and staff who prefer non-live discussion so that they can get their thoughts together in a coherent way. Some people may feel put on-the-spot if they have to ask or answer a question within a few minutes or less. But I don't see any effective difference between a live chat and a not-live chat, except that the former is more personal.

I will say that we have tried to live-chat people in private for the sake of fostering that personal air and trying to get to the bottom of a problem. The results have been mixed. Again, some players benefit from that setting and some do not. One player used it as an opportunity to troll staff and cement our low opinion of them, but it didn't affect our willingness to treat other players the same way, if we think it would be more effective than an e-mail.
  

Armaddict

  • Posts: 5798
Re: Staff, I want an open dialogue.
« Reply #67 on: March 04, 2017, 01:09:17 PM »
I have been moderated and banned and still have no problems having an open dialogue via requests.  It just takes a lot longer to get replies.  I do not have what I consider a bad relationship with staff just because I am openly in disagreement on things or because I criticize their actions on some levels (I support them on others).

Given the number of times I've seen a post in other places about 'home court advantage', the press of the OP for staff to go over to those other places to argue seems like a dumb idea; what you're really looking for is a publicity stunt, and it's completely unnecessary.  Changing venue because you haven't changed their minds in the past doesn't fix a thing.

While I think moderation on the GDB has increased, I also think the amount of stuff being talked about on the GDB is both more profuse and more direct, and we as players have taken stances that are less about dialogue and more about winning which makes a lot of threads spiral out.

I can understand a lot of complaints.  I can't understand the weight put behind them or the 'mission' that they seem to adopt afterwards.  It reads less as 'love of the game' as is often professed and more as insistence on being right and insisting that grave injustices have been dealt to them.  It's like someone is going from DnD circle to DnD circle to talk shit about a DM and refuse to play in that DnD circle anymore; that's your choice, if you don't like the DM, but in the end, you're a vengeful anti-DnD'er.  Just play the game you love so much and if you must, roll your eyes at things that happen.  Sometimes, bitching about things can be fun because we're all critics on some level, but when you view the level of disagreement players have with each other, you really shouldn't get too wrinkled up over having a level of disagreement with staff either.

Edit:  I think that a lot of this is people being too attached to their arguments.  Just because I think my logic is more sound in a matter doesn't mean everyone will agree with it, utterly blown away by my powers of observation and intuition.  Just because they end up disagreeing with me doesn't make the dialogue 'closed'.  'No' doesn't mean they didn't listen, nor does it mean that all future communication is forever tainted by said communication.  While it can be frustrating to feel justified in a point of view and receive the 'end of discussion'...I fail to see why continuing to disagree over it endlessly would make it better.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2017, 03:13:52 PM by Armaddict »
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Re: Staff, I want an open dialogue.
« Reply #68 on: March 04, 2017, 03:08:25 PM »
I've been told "no" bluntly, before, in requests. I've also broken rules in game and been told, essentially, "that's bad, we're disappointed, don't do this anymore." I've been, in hindsight, unnecessarily rude with staff in some requests. I've straight up told staff in requests that I think they were being unreasonable and wrong, and doing things that were IMO bad for the game. I've had at least one staff member hand a request off to somebody else because they didn't want to continue discussing it with me (in hindsight, I see it was because of the tone I was taking).

But I've had at least one sponsored role after that behavior, and I've had productive dialogues with staff after that behavior.

I think the difference is you have to be 1) willing to come to the table and say, "whatever happened before, how can we make progress on the current matter at hand, and how can we make both parties happy" and 2) give people the benefit of the doubt, especially in text, about their tone and intentions.

It's real easy to assume someone is being a jerk in text. I've found that giving people a little benefit of the doubt goes a long way.

TL;DR: even if you've been a prick to staff in the past, if you make an effort to not be a prick today, they will probably have an honest dialogue with you. I have experienced this personally.

Amazingly, staff seem to respond with respect when you treat them with respect. They tend to be unhappy when you are disrespectful. Imagine that.
It is said that things coming in through the gate can never be your own treasures. What is gained from external circumstances will perish in the end.
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Asche

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Re: Staff, I want an open dialogue.
« Reply #69 on: March 04, 2017, 03:34:25 PM »
I appreciate the staff response. I think its a little condescending to call all the people you banned sub-par roleplayers not contributing anything, Nergal. I mean, one of them claims to have been high-karma. Isn't that kinda the Arm seal of quality? You're telling me the bulk of players you ban are bad roleplayers, even though you ban them for reasons unrelated to roleplaying? I'll be frank, that just seems... unlikely, looking at the general quality of established players in Arm I've seen in-game.

Akaramu

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Re: Staff, I want an open dialogue.
« Reply #70 on: March 04, 2017, 03:35:24 PM »
I hate to hide behind the "staff are volunteers" mantra and generally refuse to do it, but to put it frankly, staff did not sign up to counsel people with anger issues and/or the mentally ill. Additionally, staff are allowed to get angry at people that refuse to take responsibility for their own actions, and own up to the understanding that what they did broke the game's rules.

I feel I have to speak up at this point, because I'm pretty sure there are several players with mental / psychological issues playing this game who mean no harm and just want to have fun. No, it isn't staff's job to counsel those people about their psychological issues. However, staff should be aware that because this game and community is such an emotionally charged environment for players, especially those who might not be able to enjoy fulfilling real lives, they have a responsibility to communicate in a way that leads to de-escalation and doesn't needlessly trigger those people.

Because staff potentially has the power to really ruin someone's day, especially someone who is unreasonably attached to this game / community for escape reasons. I know because of the way I was triggered 3 years ago, and how I felt afterward, and for how long I kept feeling that way. I'm an autist. I get stupidly obsessed with stuff sometimes, and when something makes me feel bad and I can't address or resolve it with real life communication options, I'm going to feel bad about it for a long, long time. It's silly but that's how my brain works and there is no 'off' switch for it.

truth to their sporadic complaints that some staff members have been unnecessarily scornful. I can't speak for the butts in the seats right now, but in the past there's been a lot of behind-the-scenes mockery and eye-rolling that can't help but bleed through request resolutions. Maybe that's not the case any more, but with an ever-cycling roster, chances are good that somebody behind the keyboard is kind of a jerk.

Yes. It absolutely does happen. Especially when a particular staffer doesn't like a particular player.


De-escalation is easy. I learned this while working a helpdesk job where people literally screamed their rage at me, called me names because they didn't understand the instructions I was giving them, or demanded to talk to a male technician because they thought there was no way in hell a woman would be able to understand and solve their internet issue.

Note: none of this is aimed at Nergal or any staff member in particular. I'd just like to share my experiences with de-escalation and deling with unreasonably angry people.

1) Tell the person you understand how they feel and why they're upset, even if you don't. It gives them the impression that the person on the other end cares (even if they actually don't) and it's usually much easier to have a productive conversation afterward. Even if it boils down to 'no'. A player will be much more accepting of a 'no' if they feel they're being taken seriously and understand the reason behind the no. Some players, like me, are a little dense sometimes and don't understand the reasons for the no until it's spelled out in baby blocks - anyone who wants to communicate with me has to be incredibly blunt and direct or else I won't get it. But good communication will solve anything.

2) Don't respond to snark with snark, ever. If someone's being unreasonable and / or disrespectful, simply ignore what they just said and move the conversation to a point / argument that's worth discussing. If they figure out that their BS is being calmly ignored and staff doesn't rise to their bait, they'll eventually get the point and adjust their tone.

3) At least pretend to try and understand why the angry customer is frustrated / angry. It's probably not your fault, but they might have good reasons for feeling the way they feel right that moment, even if their reason is a stupid misunderstanding about the way something was communicated.

Other thoughts for better player-staff communication:

Let players voice reasonable, constructive criticism about broad, general issues on the GDB. If players are being told to keep their 'negativity' to requests, it can give an impression of censorship. Requests should be used when the player has concerns about something personal that affects only them, not when they're concerned about a general change.

Don't ever force store characters if the player and their character have done nothing harmful to the game and not broken any rules. Especially not without hearing them out and taking their side of the story seriously. In the past I felt, and more than once, that forced storage was used a bit heavy-handedly. This is exactly the kind of thing that makes players leave the game. Maybe staff already stopped doing this. If so,  :-*

Announce big, game-altering changes in advance and give players a chance to share their thoughts before these changes are made. I'm sure staff wants to run a game that as many players as possible can enjoy.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2017, 03:37:09 PM by Akaramu »

Nergal

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Re: Staff, I want an open dialogue.
« Reply #71 on: March 04, 2017, 03:50:19 PM »
I appreciate the staff response. I think its a little condescending to call all the people you banned sub-par roleplayers not contributing anything, Nergal. I mean, one of them claims to have been high-karma. Isn't that kinda the Arm seal of quality? You're telling me the bulk of players you ban are bad roleplayers, even though you ban them for reasons unrelated to roleplaying? I'll be frank, that just seems... unlikely, looking at the general quality of established players in Arm I've seen in-game.

Let's say that it's true that a banned player has high karma. Well, there's a reason the karma system is under review - it's increasingly been shown that it doesn't accurately reflect skill and effort. Also, good players turn bad. I don't think it's condescending to say that all of the banned players who are still banned weren't trying to roleplay - it's just a statement of fact. As a staff member I'm able to watch what players are doing with their characters, and it just so happens that players who tend to lean toward skilling up and random NPC killing are also players who tend to break rules. It's almost as if players with little regard for the game will show their lack of regard in every aspect of their interactions with the community.
  

Nergal

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Re: Staff, I want an open dialogue.
« Reply #72 on: March 04, 2017, 04:00:43 PM »
I hate to hide behind the "staff are volunteers" mantra and generally refuse to do it, but to put it frankly, staff did not sign up to counsel people with anger issues and/or the mentally ill. Additionally, staff are allowed to get angry at people that refuse to take responsibility for their own actions, and own up to the understanding that what they did broke the game's rules.

I feel I have to speak up at this point, because I'm pretty sure there are several players with mental / psychological issues playing this game who mean no harm and just want to have fun. No, it isn't staff's job to counsel those people about their psychological issues. However, staff should be aware that because this game and community is such an emotionally charged environment for players, especially those who might not be able to enjoy fulfilling real lives, they have a responsibility to communicate in a way that leads to de-escalation and doesn't needlessly trigger those people.

Because staff potentially has the power to really ruin someone's day, especially someone who is unreasonably attached to this game / community for escape reasons. I know because of the way I was triggered 3 years ago, and how I felt afterward, and for how long I kept feeling that way. I'm an autist. I get stupidly obsessed with stuff sometimes, and when something makes me feel bad and I can't address or resolve it with real life communication options, I'm going to feel bad about it for a long, long time. It's silly but that's how my brain works and there is no 'off' switch for it.

Absolutely - and my intent is not to belittle those people. But there is a huge difference between those people and the people who are banned for raging against staff, breaking character to rage OOC at players, and stuff like that. There's a difference between struggling with issues on your own and working to resolve those issues, and letting those issues take control of all of your actions. I made it a point to tell people who cannot control themselves to look at the ban as a break, and to give themselves time to help themselves, because the game was clearly an unhealthy influence for them.

Sadly this is one of those situations that would best be clarified by posting request logs, and I don't plan on embarrassing players like that.

Quote
Other thoughts for better player-staff communication:

Let players voice reasonable, constructive criticism about broad, general issues on the GDB. If players are being told to keep their 'negativity' to requests, it can give an impression of censorship. Requests should be used when the player has concerns about something personal that affects only them, not when they're concerned about a general change.

Don't ever force store characters if the player and their character have done nothing harmful to the game and not broken any rules. Especially not without hearing them out and taking their side of the story seriously. In the past I felt, and more than once, that forced storage was used a bit heavy-handedly. This is exactly the kind of thing that makes players leave the game. Maybe staff already stopped doing this. If so,  :-*

Announce big, game-altering changes in advance and give players a chance to share their thoughts before these changes are made. I'm sure staff wants to run a game that as many players as possible can enjoy.

Again - reasonable, constructive criticism is allowed on the GDB. Players aren't told to keep "negativity" to requests - they're told to keep specific player or character issues to requests. We don't want an environment where players are criticizing each other over specific or general things happening in-game.

Storage is used in accordance to the rules of the game, so random force-storage is not an issue here. When people say they were force-stored for no reason, they're generally lying. It also happens so rarely that it is practically a non-issue.

We do like the idea of sharing plans with players. Resistance to these changes is acceptable, though dealing with players who do not want any sort of change at all - or on the flip side, players who only want changes that benefit their character, or their style of play - is exceedingly difficult. The game needs to move forward. That means things are going to be changed, sometimes whether players like it or not, though staff always hope players will like it eventually, once they have time to assess the changes for themselves. Sometimes forum discussion on a change doesn't do it proper justice, because there is no in-practice experience to back it up.
  

Akaramu

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Re: Staff, I want an open dialogue.
« Reply #73 on: March 04, 2017, 04:26:47 PM »
In the discussion thread about the plot lottery, a staff member (I don't remember who) asked players to keep negativity out of the thread and send requests instead. But I can't find that thread now, looks like it's gone. Oh well.

Anyway, thanks for all the detailed responses! I'm glad this turned into a discussion thread after all... see? De-escalation. I did it.  ;)

yousuff

  • Posts: 179
Re: Staff, I want an open dialogue.
« Reply #74 on: March 04, 2017, 04:29:11 PM »
I rarely make input on the GDB but that was quite well put Nergal, thanks for the insights on staff policy and your own opinions. I would like to state many players have taken slight in the past from staff policies and actions, not to drop any names, but would you be willing to address any of their general issues with the game/staff in a public forum (I.E the GDB) as long as it didn't delve into IC territory?
yousuck