Gamemaster powers

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petroglyph
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Gamemaster powers

Postby petroglyph » Mon May 27, 2019 8:31 am

I have the impression that there was no formal institution of a GM until 2018, maybe I'm wrong. It's a good idea, keeps things from totally descending into Thomas Hobbes law-of-nature (even though I know that would be fun for some).

However, seems to me there's also some real potential for conflict of interest if the GM is simultaneously a player the game he or she is GM'ing. I'm not naming any names, just talking theoretically, in a spirit of sportsmanship. I'm sure everyone wants to make the best game possible.

Two big questions:

1. What exactly are the technological powers of a GM, I mean over the machinery of the game itself?

2. Must a GM have a country in the game, or can he or she be a non-player?

I think depending on the answer to #1, #2 is extremely important. Even if the person has the best intentions, best reputation, best integrity, he or she is open to accusations of cheating that would be far worse than what could be said about a player using algorithms or scripts.

It's the difference between an athlete using a performance enhancement drug (give me some of that sweet sweet AI to manage my cities better) and having the referee of the game also playing it (don't like a player? oooop magically he can't access the game. having an argument with a player? oooop I need to do a "bug check" to make sure everything is hunky dory). Again, I'm not naming any names, but I think this needs to be discussed.

A third but small question:

There's another element to this. Let's say the GM needs to have a country in the game, but only builds one city. Very good of him or her ... but what happens if some jerk then destroys the city? Seems to me like a weird vulnerability to have in the game.

Post-script:

The easiest solution would be to literally have a referee system, such that there are people who are the "professional" GMs. That's not realistic of course because everyone wants to play. So, it would be good if there was at least a rule that a player cannot be a GM in the game he or she is GM'ing.

It would also be good to find some way of enforcing that rule (like if he or she slips in under another name). It's easy to see how GMs themselves could turn into a cabal. But maybe that worry is putting the cart before the horse.

Fundamentally, the GM situation goes to the heart of the legitimacy of the main FCW website. So, the issue goes beyond sportsmanship, to some extent into community politics. (There are already two clones out there, which I suppose is one answer to the problem...)

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Corbeau
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Re: Gamemaster powers

Postby Corbeau » Mon May 27, 2019 10:10 am

A few very short answers.

1. A GM doesn't have to play the game to be able to exercise his powers. Administering is done from outside the game or by using command line which can be done by simply logging in as an observer.

2. That said, it is OK for a GM to play the game, a very short and simple answer:

It depends on the GM.

I, for one, want to play and if the condition is that I can't be a GM (or that if I am going to be a GM, I can't play), then thank you very much, find someone else to be a GM.

As for others, there are certain people with certain reputation and if you see someone with shit reputation is a GM of a game AND he is playing it, you are free not to play. There are a few games being played simultaneously so there is enough to choose from. This is a community-run game, nobody is a professional, it's a hobby and no need to take things too seriously.

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petroglyph
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Re: Gamemaster powers

Postby petroglyph » Mon May 27, 2019 12:22 pm

Corbeau wrote:A GM doesn't have to play the game to be able to exercise his powers. Administering is done from outside the game or by using command line which can be done by simply logging in as an observer.


Okay, so in G19 and games in the Andreas era, what was the rationale, if any, to having a player also having those administration powers?

Corbeau wrote:I, for one, want to play and if the condition is that I can't be a GM (or that if I am going to be a GM, I can't play), then thank you very much, find someone else to be a GM.


I mean, it makes sense not to have a GM be able to play in the game he or she is GM'ing, under his or her normal name or a pseudonym, right?

Corbeau wrote: there are certain people with certain reputation and if you see someone with shit reputation is a GM of a game AND he is playing it, you are free not to play.


Yeah, that's fair. I suppose it's really more an issue for new players who don't know reputations yet, like me before G19. I think it would really be good to have a rule that doesn't permit a GM to be a player, and maybe as punishment the whole game gets canceled, something severe to remove the temptation.

Corbeau wrote:There are a few games being played simultaneously so there is enough to choose from. This is a community-run game, nobody is a professional, it's a hobby and no need to take things too seriously.


Yeah, absolutely. But even hobbies need rules.

Anyway, I'm not trying to argue. In the future if there's a shit player/GM, you're absolutely right, just best not to play.

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Cylon
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Re: Gamemaster powers

Postby Cylon » Mon May 27, 2019 5:46 pm

My man Petro. Just dont play if you think the game master gonna be shite.

Lexxie
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Re: Gamemaster powers

Postby Lexxie » Tue Jun 04, 2019 9:24 pm

Petroglyph, you bring up a lot in one long post, I will try to answer it all accurately.

petroglyph wrote:I have the impression that there was no formal institution of a GM until 2018, maybe I'm wrong. It's a good idea, keeps things from totally descending into Thomas Hobbes law-of-nature (even though I know that would be fun for some [e.g. Corbeau--RP]).

There is potential conflict of interest. Therefore the culture, rules, and etiquette of being Gamemaster starts from a recognition of this fact and is built around mitigating it.

petroglyph wrote:Two big questions:

1. What exactly are the technological powers of a GM, I mean over the machinery of the game itself?

Please ignore counterfactual answers given above. The role of GM has zero power over "game machinery." Actions requiring game machinery escalate to the admin level of multiple people considering the situation, or a player vote, etc.

petroglyph wrote:2. Must a GM have a country in the game, or can he or she be a non-player?

Either. The reality has been that getting a volunteer to come up with a game and settings and contribute free work to all this, without getting to play, has been a "theoretic ideal" that never happened in reality. FCW is proud to be the first to evolve and make strides in creating a REAL culture and preference for non-player gamemasters. Please congratulate the people who have worked so hard to get this idea up and in real action!

petroglyph wrote:Even if the person has the best intentions, best reputation, best integrity, he or she is open to accusations of cheating that would be far worse than what could be said about a player using algorithms or scripts.

It's a tough job that needs more appreciation. For example, while faithfully fulfilling GM-19 duties, I was forced to escalate to admin level to get a massive subversive multi-account cheater ring banned. Hours of drudgery and thankless work investigating the complaints and collecting evidence, and proper action taken. When it's done you risk not get a proper "thank you", but instead some player subtly impugning you.

petroglyph wrote:It's the difference between an athlete using a performance enhancement drug ... and having the referee of the game also playing it...

Nice metaphor but let's look how it really works. If a particular GM is untrusted or you have some kind of in-game feud with them, on FCW at least, you are 99.9% still in a safe and fair environment. Your only hypothetical vulnerability is in some rare grey-area where the GM has unilateral powers that can affect you--but most GM decisions are already regulated what is possible, controversial decisions fall back to votes or escalate to admin level. Even then, if a unilateral decision harmed you, you may escalate the issue yourself and perhaps create an alternate outcome.

petroglyph wrote:A third but small question:

There's another element to this. Let's say the GM needs to have a country in the game, but only builds one city. Very good of him or her ... but what happens if some jerk then destroys the city? Seems to me like a weird vulnerability to have in the game.

You are probably referring to G18. It was port of a .sav game from someone else's failure to maintain their server, to generously allow those players to continue to play that game. Big thanks are owed for the hours of work trying to set it up and work out the kinks and bugs on the fly, in the midst of hackers and malfeasants trying to take the server down. The 'ghost country' was an exceptional case, a way to be able to log in and see the game is up, do a save, or restart it, amidst all the hacker-induced crashes, etc. Those hard efforts successfully made it through to a successful finish of that game!

petroglyph wrote:Post-script:
[
...it would be good if there was at least a rule that a player cannot be a GM in the game he or she is GM'ing.

It's similar to what exists, which literally is: Rule 1. Have a game. Take a player-GM if that's what's needed to even have one. Rule 2. Prefer a non-player GM wherever possible.

petroglyph wrote:It would also be good to find some way of enforcing that rule (like if he or she slips in under another name). It's easy to see how GMs themselves could turn into a cabal...

Non-player GMs sneaking into their own games is a complete non-issue at the moment. If things ever grow to thousands of users and hundreds of concurrent games, I'm sure it would be. All we can do is grow organically and fix problems as they arise. Everyone is encouraged to empower progress by contributing/donating/volunteering.

petroglyph wrote:Fundamentally, the GM situation goes to the heart of the legitimacy of the main FCW website. So, the issue goes beyond sportsmanship, to some extent into community politics...

If legitimacy is based on such things, let's pause and look at our legitimacy checklist.
1. We liberated ourselves from a cheating-GM-server operator-dictator.
2. We put new higher-than-ever-before ethical standards in place against cheating and similar ills.
3. We are the very first to start initiatives prioritizing and actualizing non-player gamemasters
4. We fixed an enormous amount of bugs and cheater hacks.
5. We put in an enormous amount of new features and improvements.

To conclude, we've made more overall progress in 3 months than the entire up-time of FCW under former management, in the whole past two years. Yet why is public discouse mysteriously silent on this? I'll answer at bottom. First I will say, we have high hopes for the future. We passionately agree on a new culture of fair, right, proper play: anti-cheating and anti-anything-that-smells like cheating. And more. Also creating a new environment with great reduction of anarchistic malignant politics and the stinkholes that accompany sites run by mismanaged cronyistic cheater cabals (not naming any names ;) Sometimes, bitter medicine is required to stamp out an infection. Always remember to do an internal "consider the source and motives" check-up, when considering drama controversy stirred up by the very people who did their utmost to prevent all these good new achievements, Take them cum magno grano salis.

In a few short months freeciv on FCW is operating at a higher level of ethics and zero-tolerance for foul play, than longturn freeciv has ever experienced anywhere else before, on top of numerous other progressive achievements. And we're not done. We are really going to go to big places! Stay tuned !

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petroglyph
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Re: Gamemaster powers

Postby petroglyph » Thu Jun 13, 2019 10:17 am

Lexxie, thank you for the reply and sorry it took me a while to respond. Let's see to the most important bits...

Lexxie wrote:1. What exactly are the technological powers of a GM, I mean over the machinery of the game itself? The role of GM has zero power over "game machinery." Actions requiring game machinery escalate to the admin level of multiple people considering the situation, or a player vote, etc.


Great, good to know.

Lexxie wrote:2. Must a GM have a country in the game, or can he or she be a non-player? Either. The reality has been that getting a volunteer to come up with a game and settings and contribute free work to all this, without getting to play, has been a "theoretic ideal" that never happened in reality. ... Please congratulate the people who have worked so hard to get this idea up and in real action!


Sure!

Lexxie wrote:It's a tough job that needs more appreciation. For example, while faithfully fulfilling GM-19 duties, I was forced to escalate to admin level to get a massive subversive multi-account cheater ring banned. Hours of drudgery and thankless work investigating the complaints and collecting evidence, and proper action taken. When it's done you risk not get a proper "thank you", but instead some player subtly impugning you.


I totally get what you're saying, but I don't think that really resolves the image problem. Maybe a good analogy is that of being a police officer in the United States. It's a thankless job par excellence -- all us Americans really should be grateful to have professional law enforcement, because in many other societies police are truly corrupt (taking bribes, extorting people, and so on) -- but the police should also not hide behind that and not take care about how their actions can be misinterpreted. Of course, sometimes police must police and worrying about people's sensitivities gets in the way of the job, but how often do such situations really happen? (They happen for sure, but if it's a really common occurrence, then likely there's an issue in the underlying society that more and hard policing will not solve.)

Lexxie wrote:If a particular GM is untrusted or you have some kind of in-game feud with them, on FCW at least, you are 99.9% still in a safe and fair environment. Your only hypothetical vulnerability is in some rare grey-area where the GM has unilateral powers that can affect you--but most GM decisions are already regulated what is possible, controversial decisions fall back to votes or escalate to admin level. Even then, if a unilateral decision harmed you, you may escalate the issue yourself and perhaps create an alternate outcome.


Hmmmm I'm new to the community, so I don't feel qualified to touch this.

Lexxie wrote:The 'ghost country' was an exceptional case, a way to be able to log in and see the game is up, do a save, or restart it, amidst all the hacker-induced crashes, etc.


Ah, I see. But please correct me if I'm wrong, that ghost country has since grown to become one of the superpowers in the game, right? Or am I confusing in-game nations?

Lexxie wrote:... it would be good if there was at least a rule that a player cannot be a GM in the game he or she is GM'ing. It's similar to what exists, which literally is: Rule 1. Have a game. Take a player-GM if that's what's needed to even have one. Rule 2. Prefer a non-player GM wherever possible.


Okay. The community's probably too small to try anything more formal than this.

Lexxie wrote:To conclude, we've made more overall progress in 3 months than the entire up-time of FCW under former management, in the whole past two years. Yet why is public discouse mysteriously silent on this? ... Sometimes, bitter medicine is required to stamp out an infection. Always remember to do an internal "consider the source and motives" check-up, when considering drama controversy stirred up by the very people who did their utmost to prevent all these good new achievements, Take them cum magno grano salis.


Cute Latin there. Pliny the Elder's actual statement was addito salis grano ("after having added a grain of salt") and regarded a way to cure being poisoned, post facto. In Latin, sal connotes "wit" as much as "salt", wit not so much in terms of skepticism as irony, but not in a Socratic sense, more of a Stoic notion of the term. You probably have more in mind the Classical conception of skepticism, albeit with something of an edge -- you feel that there are people in the community actively deserving of distrust rather than of mere fallibility. And that's totally cool, because as I don't really know all the personalities of the community yet, I'm going Pyrrho on everyone so far anyway ... But thanks for the tip, nonetheless! :D