Monday, June 12, 2006

Builders Port Experiment

As mentioned in a previous entry, the amount of work required for people to become successful builders of areas on Sloth Mud 3 is extensive. This hurdle aside, there are other reasons why people who are willing to contribute have not been able or chosen to do so. At least a few that I know of include:
  • There are a couple restrictions on what you can do as a player while being a builder since there is access to information beyond what a normal player would have.
  • It is relatively well known that players with administrators are often asked to do administrative things while they are playing. While not always a bother, it can be distracting, and some prefer not to deal with it.
  • They could not continually get along with the administrators of the mud because of prior conflicts. There are several examples of this, and it isn't intended to be personal (implied or overtly).
  • New builders can not play on the game at the same time they are building. (I'll cover this more as to why this is enforced in a future post.)
For these reason, Jake and Splork decided to allow for another path of contribution. I believe they couched it a little differently when they posted it on the Town Crier, but the gist of it was that anyone who wanted to build could apply for a building position without too many strings attached. They went through a lot of effort to set up another copy of the game on the machine. They did a thorough job securing it (making it a different UNIX user, files, etc.) and setting up processes to get areas that would be built on it eventually integrated onto the live game.

A couple of differences that are quite apparent on the builders port include the highest player count staying in the low single digits, the silence on public channels and the steady progress of the new builders. There are at least three builders out of five that have completed over 25 rooms and a steady stream of creative ideas.

One of the projected pitfalls of creating another port is that it is so quiet. Many builders actually do like to have some distractions from (er, I mean interactions with) players as the belief is that it helps to keep them motivated. I'm not convinced and the evidence so far is inconclusive. We've done a couple of things to help create a small sense of community for the people building on the port, including:
  • trying to have at least one active administrator on the port most of the time
  • creating email addresses for them on the domain (as is done for full admins)
  • creating a mailing list for them
This setup also allows us more flexibility with allowing access to more commands. On the live port we are pretty regimented about who has access to what commands and what must be completed before being granted additional powers. The reason is with additional power often quickly has followed abuse. We not only were forced to validate the quality of the work that a new builder produced, we also had to examine our level of trust in the "individual" who did the work. We were often taken advantage of and this only made matters worse. Having the separate port allows us to skip the unnecessary step of judging trust and promote people on the quality/quantity of work as soon as they need new functionality.

Splork has commented that he would be satisfied if this "experiment" resulted in one area being transfered into the game. I believe it will be a complimentary and long standing way for people to contribute to the game they enjoy playing while not being burdened with responsibilites and rules they don't wish to bare. Time will tell.

1 comment:

Splork said...

It sure didn't take you long to get back into our game.

Great post...