Author Topic: Feedback on Changes You Want to See  (Read 4240 times)

MarshallDFX

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Re: Feedback on Changes You Want to See
« Reply #75 on: March 13, 2023, 06:23:40 PM »
Hi folks.  I played a lot in 2008/09 time and then again in 2017/18. I didn't leave over any grievance, just being off-peak and changing circumstances. I will play this game again, maybe regularly someday.  I don't have many axes to grind because I only really played 0 karma, irrelevant roles.  I had very little interaction with staff.  If this is about bad apples, there isn't much I could contribute.  There seem to be sensible suggestions about transparency, or trying to bring more independence to the review of staff complaints, and having tighter limits on staff PCs.

If you want a more general observation on Arm culture changes, here is a rehash of my thoughts I dropped into the Discord thread.  ie "Arm has no chill".

I think Arm players are nuts. Maybe that's a pre-requisite to being a great online RP'er.  And with that as crucial context, I think some of the sacred cows of Arm rules create an unhealthy, highly subjective and abuseable power dynamic. It is far from clear to me having them is a benefit. 

It's difficult because while I agree with the spirit of some rules, I would not have them if they are un-enforceable, or commonly broken.

I'm specifically talking about

  • the one year rule.  I think this can be totally scrapped in favour of a general principle.  So many easy wins, for example my suggestion #79753 re:posting character portraits.  Staff shouldn't be responsible for some people not being able to be objective.  The community will come to an equilibrium.
  • OOC info enforcement. I would reserve staff intervention to a fairly senior level and severe cases of metagaming, and otherwise keep staff out of it.  I see this as the logical conclusion of the player moderation approach.
  • I'd significantly expand the available information, potentially behind spoiler warnings if appropriate.  For example, I would actively feel shame if I happen to ask somebody OOC specific details on how a poison works.  It's like the Arm thought police will come and arrest me.  And then after thinking about this for a minute, I wonder: "Is Arm really this insane? Are some people actually this far gone in a weird rabbit hole? It's some mud in 2023."  Worse still, the lack of information and notional secrecy around it creates in-groups and out-groups, which fosters resentment.  Game walkthroughs and wikis seem to exist without ruining the popularity and enjoyment of those games by many.
Take, for example, the pinned post from staff post about OOC communication. It's not that I disagree with the spirit of the example, but I think it would be mad to expect mud staff to enforce that, and it will inexorably lead to inconsistent application.  Or worse, it can be abused badly by a bad actor.

Perhaps a sore spot, but Apocalypse seems to have more realistic rules (I've not played so I have no idea how they get enforced, I just read the site).  I think this might feel to some like giving up, but I don't think so.  I think it is a natural progression towards community moderation, and gets staff out of the way of subjective, highly charged conflicts.  I would think that might come as a relief to some...


Mellifera

  • Posts: 73
Re: Feedback on Changes You Want to See
« Reply #76 on: March 14, 2023, 05:50:36 PM »
There’s a lot I want to say, but this thread has been so long already with so many huge posts in it that I want to keep mine short, or at least much shorter than it could be. (It ended up being kinda long anyway). There’s also plenty I want to suggest regarding gameplay and development, but I feel like that’s not what we need to be talking about right now, clearly.

I’m also only going to be writing about things that are within staff’s power to change. I mention this because I know staff are probably getting sick of being told they’re doing everything wrong and that everything is their fault. I don’t want to add to that noise, but I can’t exactly request staff change the attitude or actions of some players, for example. There are so many other things that could change for the better that are completely out of their control, but I gather that this feedback thread is for staff, not for anyone else.

Staff need to focus on rebuilding the communities trust in them, I think that’s generally the consensus anyway. I think this can be done in a few ways.

Firstly, I think that the whole community needs to swallow its pride, and staff need to allow the players who have been hurt the most, and who have left, to air out their grievances if they choose to, and to listen to and fully address them. They don't need to do it publicly, but it needs to be done. Certain players need to be unbanned, even if they don’t intend to ever play again. Staff need to vocally show sympathy towards those who have been hurt the most in the past, and need to apologise to them directly. We need to stop pointing fingers, and calling people toxic, and blaming each other. I personally think staff, especially Halaster, have done incredibly well so far in apologising and trying to move forward with change, especially in a delicate, crazy, complicated situation like this that absolutely no one who's voluntarily staffing for a tiny MUD on the side while they still have to focus on and deal with their real, complex lives is at all equipped to deal with, and I do want to recognise that. Some people really do just want to see Arm burn, and I don’t think we’ll ever change their minds, but I know a lot of others are just hurt, and still want to see things become better, and I think there are still things we can do for them.

I think the most important change might even sound a little silly to some staff, but I think it’s vital, and I genuinely think it could truly change the most about the culture of this game and community, for the better. Staff need to be consistently nicer to all players, and more flexible and open to their requests. So many staff have been incredibly lovely to me, but I’ve also had some poor experiences too that still hurt me, and that’s while knowing I’ve had it much better than a lot of others. The vast majority of the time I don’t even think it’s intentional, but if we really want to retain people and foster a friendlier, safer community, I think that needs to be done by setting an example from the top down. Zalanthas is a harsh world, but we don’t need to be harsh people. Of course, this need to be nicer applies to players too, often even more so, and hopefully setting an example would change that as well, but again, I think this thread is for staff, not players.

Sometimes players are going to be shitty, sometimes they’re going to ask for too much, and they’ll clearly not understand the challenges of staffing and the work put in, sometimes they’re just going to be assholes, and much, much more often they’re just going to be emotional and upset. Armageddon is a unique game in those regards, I’ve never played anything ‘fake’ that made me feel real emotions as strongly as it can. Ultimately staff hold all the power, and the players hold absolutely none of it. Holding no power in situations where you feel that much can be incredibly frustrating, and it’s made a lot worse when the staffer on the other end doesn’t seem to care at all.

It doesn’t take much effort to watch how you word things, to be a little gentler, to try and be understanding of players feelings and to be a little more open when it comes to addressing their requests in situations like those, and to allow them a little more leeway, to make exceptions and do small things to help. To just be kind. It’s really not hard, and it can go so far. This applies to staff talking to each other about players too, not just when talking to the players themselves. There aren’t many of us, we’re just one tiny little community playing a tiny little niche game, and we need to be kind to each other. We need to fight any attitude that might grow of staff vs players, ultimately we all come from the same stock, and we’re all on the same side. We’re all similar people, we’re all weird, and we all love this silly game.

A while ago I had to store a relatively long lived, powerful character due to increasingly severe health problems IRL that made it steadily more difficult for me to consistently play Armageddon, and I still don’t get to play very much. I didn’t want to do it, but I had to. The unusual requests I made regarding my storage were honoured, and some staffers at the time that had staffed for me or just seen me around left comments about how they appreciated my play and my character and were sad to see me leave. I ended up losing all my Arm logs for about six years to a computer hardware failure too, so those comments (and my past requests) are essentially all I have left of that time now, which only makes them mean so much more. I’ll never forget that kindness, even though it must have felt like something very small to the staff actually commenting, and I’ll never stop being grateful for it. It meant so much to me, and it made things a lot easier. That’s the sort of thing that makes me never want to give up on this game. Staff can be amazing, and a little kindness can go really far.

Patuk

  • Posts: 4451
Re: Feedback on Changes You Want to See
« Reply #77 on: March 15, 2023, 10:05:38 AM »
I've sat on my post for a long while since - frankly - seeing the response to some other posters got me less than enthused. Still.. I'd rather speak than stay quiet.

Firstly..

'The rules say X' is a terrible justification

Much of what has went down lately has been done with the (weak) justification that the rules are on staff's side. I am, frankly, not impressed. The rules were nowhere when administrators went to play adventurer dragonthrall politicking noblemen, they were nowhere when staff banned sexual harassment victims, they were nowhere when they banned people for the crime of frustrating someone (hi Delirium), they still aren't anywhere when administrators can get bigass compounds for their own PClans, but point this out? Banned. Rules say so. The rules are never a shield for players, and ever a shield for staff. In the decade I've played, and I'm absolutely not alone in this, I've seen the rules conveniently forgotten about so often that everyone knows they aren't consistently applied. So, genuinely, stop hiding behind them. Everyone knows you can ignore them when you feel like it, because it keeps happening. Insisting your hands are tied is nothing short of pathetic.

Stop talking down to people, stop talking at people, start talking to people

Everyone loves Halaster. I do, too! And, frankly, he does one thing very few people on the staff team seem to ever do: he actually talks to people now and then. You can read his posts or chat away on Discord and actually get what kind of a person this is and what vision for the game exists here. Nobody else does this! Staff are extremely allergic to actually talking to people and I do not know why. Please. Tell me why you never talk to us. We had a producer who nominally wanted to be about community management, and he still thought it a great idea to be haughty and make a stupid bait-and-switch thread rather than actually talk to people. Have issues? Want a chat? Clarity? Anything? No conversation to you - try and scream into the void visit the request tool instead.

I can't overstate how inhuman this is. I've seen scores of issues that might be solved with a fifteen-minute conversation that instead had to go through Byzantine paperwork trails. I've seen people wonder for years why X and Y happened when that could be resolved just with a dumb chat and that never fucking happens. Players get directed to a request tool that is wholly illegible to us, instead, where we have no idea who will read our requests, what'll happen to them, how long it takes, anything at all. I hate it. Lots of people hate it. Please make the request tool a last resort's issue, and just talk to us anywhere else: in-game, Discord, freaking email chains if need be. It's hard to treat just-about anyone as a fellow human being when you don't get treated as one in the first place.

Be positive, here and everywhere

I remember, six years ago, some hubbub from when Starmourn launched. Our very own LauraMars/Eukelade was their head administrator, and I read an interview with her where she talked about stuff a bit. I remember one quote in particular - about her time on staff here, and how consistently her staffers were plain-old kind and malicious, how that was the very one thing she sought to avoid there. Staffers have come and gone in those six years, and those who have left have given no indication at all this has changed: grudges and gossip and presumed bad faith are common as it comes. It's disappointing. It's really really disappointing. I'll echo Mellifera above me in how important this is. I've had a year of a rather good time in Armageddon, myself, in large part because I've kept staff contact to an absolute minimum - the median interaction I've had is more tedious, annoying, or disappointing than it is nice. This is echoed in so many places by so many people that it should be more than clear this is a problem, and that it's one in need of solving.

Which.. Is the final point here

You cannot ban or ignore problems; you can only solve them

Time and time again, issues with the MUD see the same excuses come up. They'll be back! They're just bitter! It was just one guy! It's always been this way!

None of it checks out with me. For the past decade, we've only ever bled players, watching a dozen or so leave a year, never to return. Like clockwork, there have been flareups when someone's in a bad mood, cheats using their own privileges, talks down to people, and so on, and so forth: it isn't new. It hasn't stopped. And, frankly, it isn't ever just one guy. It is consistent and painful enough that no individual person is to blame for this. The game's own institutions are busted. Old rules and facets of staff culture are busted. We can't continue going on as we have. It hasn't worked in the past decade, not with today's playerbase being a third of what it was ten years ago. Anyone not an ostrich can see this. Things are broke, they need fixing, it requires change, openness, and rapprochement.

Or we can just go have fun @ Apocalypse rather than beat our heads into brick walls. That'd be nice, too.
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Halaster

  • Producer
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Re: Feedback on Changes You Want to See
« Reply #78 on: March 15, 2023, 11:28:43 AM »
Closing this thread now, it's been two weeks.
Halaster