Retirement rhetoric

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DM Narshe
Posts: 1227
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 12:22 am

Retirement rhetoric

Unread post by DM Narshe » Sun Jun 26, 2016 3:52 pm


The Farewell
HDMs Dialectic, Theophanies and Ditto will be in charge. I'm stepping down.

My advice to you guys is that it sort of always feels like you're swimming against the current as a HDM. You're usually the bad guy who has to say "No" or make a "lesser of two evils" decision that SOMEONE will be upset with somewhere. Just part of the job. The best way for me to think of these kinds of things is with an old idiom "Like water off a duck's back."

My retirement has been something in the works for a long time now. For those who don't already know, I work ~55 hours a week and will have a newborn in a couple months as well. I just don't have the time to give proper attention to the server anymore and I want to free up as much time as possible for the kiddo.

I'll stick around through the week and see if the HDMs need help but after that I'm rejoining the playerbase as a casual player once again.

I love you guys and this server.

Now that the abridged is taken care of, I've been meaning to write a post on several happenings with the server. I had a big long list of them in my head when I came home from work on Friday... but forgot a lot of it. The only one I can remember mentioning is what the biggest threat to the server is currently. The rest I'll remember as I'm typing...

First of all, I'll say outright that not all of this applies to everyone and while I still think fondly of the vast majority of the community, there are a few aspects and players that NEED to change for the place to improve.

Server Never Dies!
First off, each time we think the server is kaput, it keeps going. Atari and Gamestop died off and BGTSCC stayed alive. The master login servers were removed and BGTSCC stayed alive. We had to figure out a server-side password system and fix dozens of game-breaking exploits and vulnerabilities as well. Our system administrator slowly lost interest over a couple years and eventually faded away entirely. All of the game updates basically stopped.

We now have Maecius taking up the reins in that respect. Endelyon is active every day working on making the server run smoother and Duster47 crams out a ton of updates and fixes faster than most of us even know there was ever a problem.

That being said, you guys think the server's biggest threat is the DDoSer or some tyrannical DM team aspect but it's not. In 100% honesty it's the playerbase (and mostly on these forums) that is the most negative, toxic and detrimental thing. Of course it's not everyone, but let me explain a bit.

DM Recruitment Process
We have been recruiting DMs every few months. It's a moment for us to address which timezones need coverage, who has been doing what, and where we need to focus our attention on -- as DMs. If we recruit as we get applications then we'd pretty much always have an application to review (usually a week process) and it would be very difficult to get a concerted effort from all the DMs. Which is why it's been a 3-4 month thing thus far. (I think the new Trio of HDMs might be changing this to a monthly basis, but that's up to them.)

So we get 5-9 applicants, two or three are zero-effort applications with either nothing filled in or the person has an offenders registry a mile long and we toss it out anyways. So out of those that remain, one or two are brand new players who just want to contribute (love you guys! :) ) but we prefer to see the applicants around the server for a while before joining the team so they typically get a "We appreciate the application and love what you're doing but would like to see you stick around and grow as a player for a bit first."

We don't like to pick the fruit before they're ready.

So that leaves one or two very prominent, veteran and amazing roleplayers who have completed or are near completing their characters saga and really want to start new stories with the playerbase. These guys usually are the ones who are the AMAZING ADMs that you guys will see join us.

We also have a couple applicants left who have made their mark and are still relatively new and naive and eager to contribute and we vote them on the team and they are great for a while.

Then they meet the playerbase. This is kind of how it goes -- The veteraned players who became ADMs and have played with everyones characters for years realize that their friends on the server have hidden agendas as players or that there are a ton of exploits being used by someone they respected or that the forums are toxic as heck and these AMAZING players and DMs burn out hard and NEVER RETURN. It's tragic beyond words. Pillars of the community gone. :cry:

The naive applicants usually do the same thing. They don't know all the players on the server as well but they start to see things from the DM perspective and it's very touchy getting to know these players through their offenders registry first.

The Playerbase
So we get a few new DMs each recruitment period. Then a few weeks later the forums flare up in "we need to address _________" and "we need to change ________" threads that are largely pointless and completely innane discussions started and propelled by players who:
A) Don't play here anymore. Quit players who don't move on.
B) Players who do play here but have large commitments to other servers for those other servers aspects and keep wanting to change BGTSCC into w/e those other servers are.
C) Players who don't care either way what the topic is. They just like to argue.

I'm not even talking about the DMs. One or two will outright quit because of them. DMing is a pretty thankless job already.
The players, however. The silent majority who just want to play their characters and have a good time (AND CAN FOLLOW AND APPRECIATE THE RULES) don't log into the forums during this time or get depressed and quit playing for a few days and SOME never even come back.

Way to go, forum jerks. :evil:

So the process kind of goes like this:
Collect applications > Review and recruit > Forums erupt > Players and DMs either quit or silently burn out > repeat step 1.

Head DMs (and the various DM types)
This just a quick(ish) description of what the DMs do and what they're not supposed to do. How it works. Not everyone knows this kind of thing.

First of all, the system of three Head DMs has been working great. Not all of us has the time or energy or expertise to address all of the various problems. Maecius' last term as Head DM tried to split the tasks into various roles. It was pretty much a fruitless effort... but since then, we have had Duo or Trio Head DMs and one or two Campaign Coordinators as well. We've further added fresh Forum Moderators to help with those issues (and because the DMs shouldn't really be sticking their noses into too many discussions on the forums anyways imo).

The way the 3 Head DMs work is that there's always two of them on to divvy up the workload if one of them has to take a break for life-stuff or are going out of town or whatever. The way it worked most recently with DM Cradh, DM Golem and myself was that DM Golem (who is a WORKHORSE of a DM. Super-mega impressed by him) handled player requests and most of the lore concerns. DM Cradh helped with updating the forums quite a bit and then had to take an extended break as his day-to-day life changed. I've always been more of a mechanically minded DM who helped make systems to deal with issues as they appear, a bunch of server historical knowledge (I've been around a long time :geek: ) and above all FAIRNESS. Beat that into the every-moment-of-every-day thinking for DMs. It's something we think about with every decision.

The biggest difference between ADMs and DMs is that DMs are asked to focus more directly on conflict resolution and player request. They are also more experienced and tend to run longer plots and get involved heavily with the Campaign Coordinators and guild-based events.

ADMs are still getting to know the processes of the DM team and getting acquainted with the playerbase and DM client. They usually run shorter, one-time events or short series of events.

Oh, and back when I joined the DM team, it wasn't such a nice process. All DMs who joined were sat down and lectured for 2-3 hours by the Head DMs about favoritism and exploits and all the bad things in the world and how the Head DMs would be WATCHING them like vultures and that the new DMs had better not screw anything up or ELSE. I mean, I miss those days sometimes because it laid stuff out plain and simple, but that has been retired as well pretty much as soon as I became HDM.

The Rules

They exist for a reason! Believe me, they wouldn't be there if there wasn't a reason. If I could redo it all (and I've thought long and hard about it) there'd be only one rule: "Don't be a jerk."

We get Rule-Lawyers who like to try to find all sorts of loopholes to get around punishments. Really, at the end of the day all these people want to do is hinder or destroy the enjoyment of others. That's what the rules are there to protect. There's nothing you can't do within the confines of the rules if you're clever and willing to include others fairly.

We're not turning the server into a Call of Duty-PVP battleground or an R-rated shitshow. If you don't like it -- tough. Go somewhere else. That's it laid out plain and simple.

DM Anonymity/Favoritism
We pretty much don't care about anonymity anymore. It's a thing that exists because a lot of us still play our characters and things CHANGE when someone becomes a DM. Player-life gets harder once you're known and people get weird around you. Then when something happens in any kind of conflict the first card out of the deck will be something along the lines of DM Favoritism.

Which is ridiculously ignorant. DMs actively avoid and go WAY out of their way to not even be questioned with favoritism. DMs don't talk with or get involved with guilds that include their characters. They don't contribute to threads about incidents that their characters were involved with (unless asked to supply screenshots or whatever). You'd probably be amazed to see how prolific this practice is.

We have systems in place where other DMs can get involved with a plotline if it becomes compromised. If there's ever an issue, DMs are always quick to ask someone else to look into it for them.

To some degree we support this wholly. I love explaining why we do things the way we do them -- because it's the best and fairest way!

To another extent it would just become another way to "game the system". I can explain what I mean by that with a discussion the DMs had a short while ago. We were addressing Player-Titles and Nobility. We have a vague list of criteria for what we should go by when reviewing those kinds of things, but if we made it publicly known then we'd get requests forwarded with all the bare minimum requirements of the criteria filled out appropriately (to the requestee's satisfaction) and if/when it ever gets rejected they'd freak out because they feel that they have satisfied all the requirements and that the DM Team are JERKS for not upholding any sort of strictness to the process.

Another fun bit about transparency that I've noticed is that the people asking for transparency are those who benefit quite a lot from it not being publicly known. For example if someone has an extensive offenders registry but otherwise caters to the public image of the playerbase. We don't disclose all the ways these people breakrules/exploit/lie/cheat/etc because if we did it would alienate them amongst the playerbase. Our goal isn't to remove these people from wanting to be members of the community, our goal is to help them adjust to the rules that exist and allow other players their freedoms as well.

Some of our most abrasive players in the past have turned out to be excellent additions to the staff and paragon members of the community.

The server is what you make it.
You get from it what you put in.
If you're not on-board the ship, you're dragging it in the water. :evil:

This thread

I'm going to lock this thread as it's mostly rhetorical. It's not a discussion, it's just me talking. :P

Like I said far above though, there's a bunch of other subject matter I could address but I just don't recall it at the moment. What I will do (when/if I can) is add to the thread this upcoming week.

If you want something brought up, PM me.

DM Narshe
Posts: 1227
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 12:22 am

Re: Retirement rhetoric

Unread post by DM Narshe » Sun Jun 26, 2016 9:53 pm

Guilds (Focal vs Non-focal)
Focal guilds are persistent. They're grounded in lore or otherwise exist AFTER the players interested leave or become inactive. They often have numerous NPCs and some sort of NPC in a leadership role, even if it's shared with player PCs.

Some people have argued that this lets the DMs control their guild.
It does. It allows the DMs to keep player characters from destroying a faction for future use... (believe me, people have tried...)

It also allows DMs a plotpoint NPC to get an event chain started. Just another tool for them to use if able. They usually receive more campaign attention than non-focal guilds.

I believe all the focal guilds have a persistent guildhall as well...

Non-focal guilds or player-created guilds are usually short lived in comparison. They don't have as many NPCs in them and very rarely any NPCs with a leadership-position.

They're also not bound by any pre-existing lore or requirements. Can basically make one from anything.

Sometimes the trouble with this is that the leaders become inactive and the guild stalls, or a DM involved with them retires and the plotline dies. It's difficult for other DMs to get involved with this as we typically have a hands-off approach when it comes to guilds governing/managing their own members.

Surprisingly, not many Non-focal guilds have inquired as to how they become focal. I think the last guild that looked into it was Doron Amar. :geek:

Retired DMs (and their plots)
These plots typically just fade away unless there was someone else co-DMing. The DM Team doesn't often get involved with the plots or uphold any sorts of agreements/promises/whateverelse that the retired DMs have made.

It's just something we can't really deal with because a lot of the time the retired DM is unreachable for communication. It becomes a big hassle. Especially when someone comes back from a long break and their favorite DM is gone and they spark up a conversation like: "Well DM Soandso promised me that my character could visit the Dukes and eat cake with them and maybe get a shiny title." There's often no record and the DM involved is long gone...

There are efforts to post plot details in the DM forums or make open discussion with either the HDMs or the whole DM Team about something involving players. Those sorts of things can be easily referenced and sometimes are enforceable.