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What you need to know.
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Joined: 18 Mar 2007
Posts: 385

PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2016 2:41 pm    Post subject: What you need to know. Reply with quote

I know many of you have noticed that most of the immortal staff has been absent. There is a reason for this.

We have a command called "eval". This command essentially allows us to execute code without needing to create and upload a file. It makes our life easier. It allows for us to modify something on the go, such as when we need to set stats or race or basically anything if you are creative enough and know the code well enough.

Some years ago one of the admins decided that it would be a good idea to log this command. I am not sure who made this decision or what the original purpose of it was.

However, back in late May/early June I was looking at this log and noticed that Tsera was using the eval command to modify lots of things on her player characters. This ranged from giving gear, to changing feats, to resizing gear, and even gicing experience.

Had this modifications occurred on a test character - something like my testsubject character or had there been notes accompanying why the changes were made then I would not have thought twice about it.

However, as far as I could tell these were characters that she was actively playing, interacting with other's with. These were developed characters.

Furthermore I had been hearing rumors about her cheating by doing such things as retrieving her characters corpse. I honestly never paid much attention to these rumors until I examined that log file.

I stepped away from the game at this point because frankly I thought it quite hypocritical that someone who is a law admin and is in charge of enforcing/making rules seems to have no issue circumventing them for personal gain. I will never code and create for such a game.

I also let others know what was going on and a good deal of us walked away because of it. None of us want to spend our time creating in such an atmosphere.

Nienna confronted Tsera about it and was called a goober and told that she was making a mountain out of a mole hill.

Garrett was consulted about the situation but has made it clear that he wants to speak to Tsera before doing anything. I respect him for that. However, she has disappeared from the game. And I honestly hope all is well with her and I am not sure if she stepped away due to real life circumstances or not.

This brings me to today. I feel like we have waited long enough for an answer from the higher ups. So far nothing has been done.

I also believe that you, our players, have went long enough without knowing what has happened.

I do apologize for my absence but I can't in good conscience continue spending time crearing for a game that is lead by those who break their own rules while punishing others for less.

After this post it is possible that I will not be welcomed back. If that turns out to be the case then I want all of you to know that I enjoyed creating our game tremendously. It is my sincere hope that someday we can move past this and hopefully have trust and transparency among our staff as well as toward our players.

Whether or not I or others will be a part of it still remains to be seen.

Nienne when you read this I know you wanted it to work out differently but I think it's been long enough. Here's to hoping we can remain friends.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2016 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Saide!!!

It's good to know what's going on, so many of us have been speculating, and throwing out theories and being downright upset at the silence from up above.

Ts, I love you lady, and have been helped by you countless times when things go awry, and you've created some very thought-provoking and beautiful areas for the game. However, cheating is cheating and I will keep my fingers crossed that this is properly dealt with.

It SUCKS to lose every imm over the actions of one, if the authorities who are in place aren't willing to do their job in this case, and do the right thing.

The problem is that without you imms, Shadowgate is on a steep decline, and frankly it wasn't in the best of places to begin with. I would implore all the parties involved - Ts and Garrett especially - to do the right thing and get together, and do what you have to do to make this right for everyone involved. Tsera, it seems to me that if you actually care about the fate of ShadowGate, you would willingly concede your position, rather than just avoiding the situation, if that's what it takes to keep everything up and running.

So many of us have put so much into ShadowGate, and it's so disheartening to hear that it's being destroyed when I believe the solution is a fairly simple one.

Please don't let this be the end of our MuD!
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2016 4:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well that is disheartening. I didn't realize there were actually still higher ups. So not as disheartening as it could be.
PM me in the forum here when you want me on to RP or dungeon dive. The forum will automatically notify me by e-mail. Then my e-mail will send me a text message. Then I will get on likely within minutes.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2016 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well then! So long as that catís out of the bag, I have a couple points to add. First off, sorry to everyone for the vague explanation as to why Iíve been away. I imagine most of us were put in a tricky position when this came up, since of the staff thatís chosen to step down over this, I donít think any of us was out to shame or string anyone up. I canít speak for anyone else, but I personally still respect Tsera, both as a staff member and as a player, and I was hoping this incident would pass without any need to bring it to playersí attention. On the other hand, this left the issue of explaining my absence in such a way that wouldnít launch a thousand conspiracy theories. It...sounds like I might not have been as successful with that as Iíd have liked. Confused

Iíd also point out that, at this stage, the issue isnít really about Tsera any more - itís about the gameís commitment to transparency and player trust. This is more vital than you might think. For a staff member, accusations of cheating/favoritism/anti-favoritism are all but impossible to avoid, since our RP-enforced policies mean we often canít give players the kinds of answers (usually IC info) that would satisfy them - not without compromising someone elseís game experience. In these cases, we can only ask players to trust us when we say that weíre taking the whole of things into account and contending with all players as fairly as possible. Unfortunately, we canít really ask players to trust us if it means we have to lie about the game being fair.

I am a bit surprised to see that the matterís taken this long to resolve, admittedly. We were already two weeks into it when I made my post at the beginning of July, and even then Iíd expected to be back within a week or so. So far as Iím aware, nobodyís asking for the whole game to be turned on its head over this - we mostly just want some kind of affirmation that this kind of ďsneakyĒ behavior is unacceptable, and possibly some policy spelled out to prevent this from happening in the future.

(If it helps make things any clearer, the biggest issue weíre facing here is that there -isnít- any policy written up for cases like this, since the current game rules only expressly apply to players and staff members of ĎOverseerí rank or lower. If the player in question hadnít been both Arch-ranked and a member of LAW, this case wouldíve been wrapped up back in June with at least a reprimand. Instead, all of this happened.)

Finally, I wanted to mention that while this is understandably disheartening, it isnít the norm among most of SGís staff. Most of us take earning (or at least being deserving of) player trust -very- seriously, and to that effect nearly everything you see from us is meticulously recorded, justified, and opened up to discussion on our side of the forum, since even if we canít tell players everything, we -can- hold ourselves accountable through peer-review. Hopefully the fact that most of us would rather walk away than stand for that breach of trust is evidence enough of that.

...and thatís everything I wanted to say! As to my future, Iíve already made it pretty clear that Iím with Saide and N in this - Iíll happily return to staffing if/when the situation is resolved to their satisfaction. Iím still hopeful that that will be soon, but I suppose I canít make any promises. Thanks for reading, and maybe Iíll see you guys around.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2016 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brandobaris, I wasn't going to respond until you posted, but now I will. If we are going to talk about player's trust, I trust Tsera a whole hell of a lot more than you. You are heavy handed and it is your way or the highway when it comes to plots. I do respect that you were trying to give other players a chance to shine, but you did it a way that caused one player to lose hours of work and you then in one move destroyed a character who has 151 online days. What Tsera did isn't acceptable and I understand Saide's frustration on the matter, lets be frank about it. Nienne is the backbone of this mud and as much as I respect Saide and love him for all his hard work, he has periods of immense work and years of disappearing. Nienne has stood through it all and been there to support us. The mud should be handed over to her and we should all be able to find a place of transparency starting with avatars who lie about giving one evil player chances in a plot and not another because the other was too famous when one had just destroyed an entire city like a RL month before.

If this sounds vague or frustrated, it because it is. You have an amazing ability as an avatar to be both awesome and a tyrant. It seems you gravitate to the Tyrant side with those who you didn't like as a player. My concern is you actually coming back more than anything, because the second you start your heavy handed agenda again I'll be out.

Kellan's player
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2016 11:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally I think Brando has been great in dealing with the many plot requests he was fielding. Keep up the good work Brando.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2016 12:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, Jesus Christ.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2016 12:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not to venture too far off course from Saide's original post, but I would just like to add that I think - should it ever matter again - that some bonus for the PCs of imms should be hard-coded into the game. It is the least we can do for them.. I can absolutely sympathize with the mindset of an imm who thinks they deserve a little extra, which leads them to just up and taking it, because they totally do deserve something above and beyond what normal PCs do.

Being a coder, LAW, an avatar, etc., is such a thankless thing, and they devote countless hours into making SG a fun place for all of us. We players think we deserve amazing rewards for roleplaying in a plot.. what does the avatar get? What does Nienne get for giving us bards and warlocks and so many other awesome things? You could argue that they get the pleasure of seeing our smiling faces, but I think since we can't throw money at them, we can at least throw them -something- special.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2016 12:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've always had fun with anyone that took the time to help me or aid me in doing something, as well as anyone who has been against me, imm,player, or both. Can't have your way everytime in this game and I've been on the short end of the stick before, and I've been the blunt end too. It's a fun game! Love all you guys.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2016 1:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm going to be brutally honest here because I don't do political. I've also been around a lot and seen a lot of things. I've been mistaken in the past but having just started logging in when all this crap was going down I think I have a fairly fresh perspective.

In general, wizzes are not supposed to use their immortals to benefit their characters. Usually the penalty for this is immediate ridding, typically by Tristan when he was around (I have been witness to this about a half-dozen times). There have been exceptions, by the very highest wizzes when they were doing something for the benefit of the game. Tristan and thorn both used their immorts to actively benefit their own characters by coding changes, making rulings in favor of their characters' allies, and skirting rules other players had to live by, or wizzing up their own characters, in a way to actively influence the direction of the MUD and the balance between guilds, faiths, alignments, etc. Of course nobody knew at the time because nobody knew who Tristan and thorn's characters were. When I found out about this well after the fact, I was extremely peeved as you can imagine, but after thinking about it, it makes sense from a macro, mud-wide point of view.

With this in mind, it also makes sense Garrett would want to talk to Ts and find out if there are any extenuating circumstances before taking any drastic action and potentially losing one of our few wizzes and members of law. I happen to know that Ts is going through some almost unimaginably difficult (and personal so don't ask me about it) times irl and is unlikely to log in anytime soon, possibly for years or perhaps forever. Which brings us to today. A bloc of immorts have gone on strike in protest of lack of action against an admin nobody can contact. I don't know how much of this everyone already knew, but there it is.

Given all this, I don't think it makes a difference whether any action is taken against Ts so long as she isn't logging in. I don't think there is any benefit in continuing to refuse to log in or code changes or run plots or fix things that break. In fact, I think it is doing irreparable harm. The way I see it, we have two choices: make the game as good as we can and recruit new players ( new players means more conflict, more hms, more avatars, and more wizzes, so more help for everyone) to bring fresh blood in, or just stop logging in.

Edit: I'm absolutely against any additional perks for immorts above what they already get. Don't underestimate the impact of being able to see the code, create areas, see other characters' builds/ equipment, observe players unnoticed, or influence plots or other immorts' opinions. In exchange for this, the game is never as fun as an immort as it was as a pure player. The way I see it is you give up a little of your own fun to make the game a lot more fun for everyone else.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2016 2:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I want to say that I agree with Cyric, in that not coding, not creating, etc., is detrimental to the game. I believe this highlights the seriousness of where we are.

I also want to say that I am not arrogant enough to believe that I cannot be replaced. I am one of some 7 billion people on the planet. I do not believe that I am better than any others. I guess that's just who I am. I am far from perfect.

Kellan, did make a good point about the fact that I show up and change things, mostly for the better, sometimes arguably not. Nienne is the one who has really been here for the last years and even she has walked away. Nienne, I really have grown to respect you - and I hope that you do not consider anything I say to be out of line. The fact that she has walked away should also be evidence of how serious this is.

I want to present a scenario.

Bob starts playing a character. He invests his real life into the game, he recruits his friends, he works tirelessly to grow the game - because he loves the game. He may love it for some reason other than what I or Kellan or Cyric loves the game. However, he loves it, tries to improve it. He is not an immortal.

He breaks a rule, he is jail/rid for this. End of the story. Maybe he creates another character and learns from his mistakes - maybe not (Tristan believed that some people could change, I know this from my own stupidity as a teenager).

Why is bob's time, bob's investment in our game, less important than my own? I would argue that it is not. I worked to grow the game from a mechanical perspective - IE - creating poisons, diseases, adding areas. Bob worked to further the stories of our world. We are both essentially working toward the same goal.

Now if I decided that one of my characters should be able to circumvent the same rule that bob was rid/deleted for, what makes me special? Nothing. My time was no more valuable than Bob's. Either way we have both aged, we have both spent the most valuable resource imaginable.

I believe that we should both be held to the same standard.

If that standard is messed up - maybe it takes too long (too much real life time) or whatever, then it needs to be changed. Not so that I specially or that Bob specifically, would benefit, but so that everyone who comes after us might benefit.

I think that you and I might be on the same page with that Cyric. We both realize that there are some things with SG that need to be changed because whether or not we want to accept it, the world has changed.

I never agreed with Tristan's way of doing things. X person gets a pass because he likes them, Y person gets rid. That is completely and totally horseshit. Policies like that is what has lead us to where we are now.

What prevents me from coding, is not that Tsera cheated, it is that down the road - a year, 2 years, whatever amount of time, if I invest it into SG - then what stops Tsera, who is still a law immortal with more "authority" than I from logging in and telling whatever I am doing is wrong. Absolutely nothing.

What stops Tsera from deleting Bob from breaking rules that Tsera herself failed to abide by? Nothing.

We are talking about a RP game, that by its very nature, is going to change constantly - even D&D changes - quite quickly - so the idea that someone is doing something that is best for the game is really a poor argument in my opinion. Who can tell what is best for the game two years from now?

Why are we so against the very people that play our game that we do not trust them enough to be open? Is it because over the years we have rid/deleted/harassed/talked down to our own players? I mean congratulations. We have few now. So if that was the overall goal it was a tremendous success.

I have never ever understood why we talk about players like they are some separate entity from ourselves. It is not us against them. It is "OUR" game. We, as immortals and as players, forge the way the game will move forward. One dictator will never work, not now. I have heard Tristan say in his day that this is not a democracy. Well, guess what, fuck Tristan and fuck his stupid policies that only served to alienate people who did not fit his mold. Fuck Thorn too. I mean if we want to essentially cheat in a RP game, then hide that we cheat, then delete people who cheat, then they were excellent. Unfortunately, this leads to nothing substantial at all.

Why did we ever think that one person had a vision for a RP game that everyone else should follow? Why are we opposed to input from players? The sad part is that in Tristan's day he was bipolar, literally, and I am not putting someone down that has a serious issue, at all, but there should have been more discussion between immortals and players. We should get input from players about decisions. They are the ones that play our game.

I am not pointing at Cyric, specifically. I actually think he is pretty much open to the idea of trying to give players what they want, things that will encourage them to play, and making SG more adaptive to a changing world. I have learned that about him. But, as immortals in general we have a lot of issues we need to face and accept.

However, the problem is that if we have half of the team of immortals wanting to move toward more transparency of players, more trust, etc, and the other more willing to bend rules or cheat because they can or whatever, while leaving the players in the dark about even the damage that a spell does, we are never going to be a cohesive team. It is simply not possible.

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

I am just no longer willing to put up with the stupidity of it all. Of the complete ignorance. I am not going to accept anyone bending rules for the better of the game, we should just change the rules for everyone if that is the case. We don't do that, we make exceptions and everyone else can do whatever.

Excuse the language. I really sincerely hope that SG can pull together, be more cohesive, and grow into the potential that it has. It is sincerely one of the funnest and most in depth games I have ever spent time on.

I don't do politics either BTW, at all. I just also don't do bullshit. Though in hindsight, if letting players know why there have been few immortals and letting them know what is actually happening with the game they play, is considered politics, then maybe I do politics. However, I'd rather they know the truth rather than sit around and guess and what has happened.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2016 7:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ViolaRose wrote:
Not to venture too far off course from Saide's original post, but I would just like to add that I think - should it ever matter again - that some bonus for the PCs of imms should be hard-coded into the game. It is the least we can do for them.. I can absolutely sympathize with the mindset of an imm who thinks they deserve a little extra, which leads them to just up and taking it, because they totally do deserve something above and beyond what normal PCs do.

Being a coder, LAW, an avatar, etc., is such a thankless thing, and they devote countless hours into making SG a fun place for all of us. We players think we deserve amazing rewards for roleplaying in a plot.. what does the avatar get? What does Nienne get for giving us bards and warlocks and so many other awesome things? You could argue that they get the pleasure of seeing our smiling faces, but I think since we can't throw money at them, we can at least throw them -something- special.

I am still a relative new imm, and unfortunately been weighted down with work to immerse myself into the coding as I'd would have liked to.

But for me as a imm. It is very rewarding seeing players enjoy the areas I've done. The Praise command are noticed and really appreciated!
And I believe thats is why most of us do it. the knowledge of making the world a richer place and more enjoyable for everyone!

Brando do get the harder end of the stick I believe. As a player who failed a plot, or just doesn't agree with a ruling will always will see him a tyrant :p
But rather than only seeing the negatives. I will urge our players not to rain critics down on the Avatars for a ruling against them. It will never be possible to please all, everything should not be at a 100% succesrate. (My own PC have had some pretty rough dealings as well) It is through hardship and walking against the flow that really strengthen a character. I would never like to see our game 'go eazy mode' like some other games do and have a "epics for everyone" spree. People should be challenged if they want to achieve something. Even be pushed backwards at times. Some people will drop everything and walk away to other goals while others will grit their teeth and be even more determined in their pursuits. We'are all different in that way and we should always allow for such difference as well. So please, even if you feel a Ava have given you a back-hand ... Try to appreciate that there are someone there so make the game flow and throw plots to you. The alternative would be ... utter silence.

Lastly ... I am not for the idea of 'imm perks on characters'.
I have a few characters I play now and then. I do enjoy playing on the same turf, experiencing same ups and downs and the feeling of achievement when that dragon finally go down, as everyone else!
I fear that altering that would make a us more complaisant when playing as a character. When I play, I want to enjoy and fight in the game on the same level as the person next to me Smile
Thank you for the kind thought tho, it is appreciated!

I too hope that the issue would be resolved. Even I work slow, I have some stuff I'd love to put into the realms.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2016 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I _am_ arrogant enough to think I'm better than others, but hey, whatever floats your boat. Smile

I'm sorry you feel that way about how T and t handled things, I actually had a lot of fun playing when they were "cheating" (I put it in quotes because they were not governed by the same rules as the rest of us, as someone pointed out above). Yes, technically what they did if anyone else did it would have been rid, but it multiplied the fun factor for SG as a whole. I think Tristan had some communication issues, but once you were able to translate/understand what he was trying to say and see things from his point of view, he was almost always right. That may or may not be the case with Ts, but the whole reason I made the point is to defend Garrett for taking his time in making a decision because there is precedent for high level wizzes to break/bend the rules. I would like to point out that I was rid by T at one point, and I didn't even break any rules to deserve it. It was more of a 'nothing personal, but you're bad for the MUD right now, feel free to make a new character'. I don't hold it against him, and if anyone wants to know more about it send me a mail.

I have seen many immorts make (incorrect) assumptions about players and their motivations. It's not right, but it's human nature. The only thing we can do for this is to simply be aware of it and engage the playerbase as best we can while still keeping some things hidden for their own benefit/enjoyment. The way I see it, the players are customers and we, as immortals, are putting together a product. Getting rid of one or two customers who are bad for business is necessary, but slam enough of them and pretty soon you're out of business.

No offense Saide, but I don't think getting rid of the dictator model will work because we don't really have anything to replace it with (open to ideas though). Ruling by committee we're at major risk nothing getting done, because eventually one or two or three people get stuck in "no" mode and effectively deadlock all major changes. Seen it on SG, seen it at work. At some point you need an unquestioned decisionmaker to push things forward and come down on one side or the other.

Technically as an avatar I rank somewhere between player and creator in The Hierarchy, but I like to think I have a decent amount of trust capital floating around so I'm going to spew my thoughts on you now.

Were I in charge, what I would do is brainstorm with everyone (players included) what the biggest issues facing the MUD are, then huddle up with immorts and some HMs on possible solutions. The immorts would then distil them and figure out how they could be implemented/coded and put them into two lists, short/long term coded solutions and non-coded solutions. They'd be prioritized by whoever is in charge. Wizzes would still work on whatever they want, but they have to pick up one of the tasks for coded solutions and alternate with their pet projects. Anyone could pick up non-coded solutions and would get perks for their character if they complete one to the satisfaction of whoever is overseeing the solutions. Every 6 months we go through the same exercise and update both lists.

Since I'm on a roll, I'm thinking the biggest issues facing us right now are:
1. Low Playerbase/lack of new players
2. Not enough NPC action (low plot to player ratio)
3. Falling RP standards
4. Worthless gold
5. Lack of end-game activities

The reason I think these are our biggest issues is because they cut to the heart of what differentiates us from every other game out there, or are central to D&D or SG in general. The reason why I'm moving past the whole Ts thing is because I'm pretty sure she's not going to log on for an extended period of time, if ever, which means garrett followed by nienne, saide, and ares are the ranking active wizzes (apologies to anyone I forgot) and I don't think anyone will have a problem with that even if g is still allowed to bend the rules he sees fit (if it benefits the MUD as a whole).

Maybe you think you're replaceable Saide, but from an urgency standpoint it's not possible to train up a new coder and fix things without risking our playerbase dropping below the point of no return or having our RP standards drop so low it wipes out the whole point of playing, so the way I see it, you're pretty darn irreplaceable.

Now, I've done what I can to try and address the low playerbase issue as best I can (it's possible I've missed things), but I can't be charging up the hill on my own here. Right now we need to counter the RP supressing effect of removing levelcaps with perks for levelling slowly, otherwise any new players who log on will be like..."no RP here, bye". Which I don't want. And you don't want. So is anyone willing to help?
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2016 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm certainly willing to help as I can if there are coding things that need doing that are within my capabilities as a coder. I do have a very big project well underway at the moment, but I'm willing to put time aside for other stuff.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2016 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suppose at this point it's appropriate to throw in a few coppers, given the extended silence of late. I don't really feel appropriate to be throwing commentary or details on the greater situation; I feel I've already taken what action I could/was appropriate at the time, given my rank, and have deferred anything further to higher powers.

I personally left due to my ongoing frustrations with the situation, and the lack of outcome/resolution. This wasn't a decision I made lightly, given I've been coding upstairs for around a decade now. Perhaps it wasn't the appropriate response - one less coder is only a detriment to the mud and its players, after all, not to the party in question. However it was something I felt I needed to do to avert further frustrations for myself.

Does this mean I'll drift back in? I'm unsure at this point. RL doesn't currently allow me much MUD access until at least late next week anyway, which gives me time to digest the situation and consider if the frustrations will still be more than I'm willing to deal with.

At this point I would only stress my ongoing faith in the greater immortal base - this issue is certainly not representative of our imms as a whole, and I maintain the utmost respect for each of their individual efforts thus far. The mud cannot continue without respect on both sides of the fence, and transparency wherever possible is integral as well (obviously given the RP nature of the game, this will never be 100% or it removes the storytelling element). That said, the airing of 'dirty laundry' so to speak tends to cause more drama than it's worth, so any further commentary on this matter beyond my own individual decisions, I will defer to higher powers unless directed to do otherwise.

I'm sorry it came down to this kind of messy situation - it really isn't where I like seeing our imms and player-base end up.
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