How to administrate a Persistent World (Editorial/Opinion
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How to administrate a Persistent World (Editorial/Opinion

Post by Winterhawk99 »

I just got back from a 21-day business trip. On the trip I did a lot of thinking on the problems with many pws in the later years of NWN and figured I needed to write about my thoughts on this due to recent encounters with some really bad administrators.

I don't have too much time left today to really start writing but will start it tonight or tomorrow evening. Just for reference I have dmed and administered from servers off and on since 2003 and before that Dmed tabletop since 1986 or so. I have a whole bunch of experience at this. I've done some brilliant things as an admin/Dm but I've also done a whole bunch of dumb stuff too. Tend to learn by my worst mistakes so to speak. So this thread is my opinion on how to be a good admin for a server. Take it with a grain of salt.

I'll be doing this differently from other articles. I'll add to it as I go and remember stuff so, please be patient. I'll open up my introduction soon.

Thank you,
Winter.
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Re: How to administrate a Persistent World (Editorial/Opinion

Post by Winterhawk99 »

There are two basic types of servers in NWN. The first is when someone wants to make a persistent world and just wants to have his or her friends on to play with. It is a private server and most private servers deal with just a few people having fun. When I started my own server that's what it was for the first year. Just my friends and I having fun on weekends. They are almost always password protected and exclusive.

I'm not going to talk about this kind of server because it's a completely closed loop and usually has no problems.

The second kind of server is a public server. When someone has an idea to create an area within an existing fantasy world such as Greyhawk, Krynn, Wheel of Time or The Forgotten Realms or completely makes up their own world like my wife and I did back in 2006. This is a server that is open to the public and anyone that wants to play on a persistent world in NWN can log into and play. This is the kind of server I'm going to be writing about.

Because a public server is for everyone the first and most important thing an administrator needs to figure out is that the players are your customers. We do not get paid as an owner or admin. Dms are all volunteer. Yes, I know all this. Yet still you are providing a service to the general public. Therefore even when you don't get paid you are providing a service and so you have customers. They are called players, and for the rest of this article I will be calling them what they really are. Customers.

In my real-life occupation, I am a gunsmith working for a manufacturer of high-grade shotguns (over/unders and side/sides) I normally don't even see a gun that's worth less than 7500 us some are worth over 100,000 us dollars. Who buys these types of shotguns? Customers that know they are Customers. They absolutely expect to be treated a certain way. When someone walks into the customs shop the first thing I always say is, "Good morning, Sir, Ma'am how may I be of service. The point is I'm showing a bit of respect to the customer to put them in a place of comfort before we even start. If I did not do this, I would not be a gunsmith in my position for very long. The owner would fire me.

Now, NWN servers are quite a bit different from real life business; However, you always need to keep in mind that you do need to show some respect to your customers. All of them. Problems do pop up where an individual customer is completely wrong. It comes up in both the real world and on servers. Before you talk to a customer about it, you need to think a bit on how to approach the customer so that there is no misunderstanding and that the customer's interests are also shown to be taken into account. If you don't you've just lost that customer to another server.

I've seen much of this happen over the past 2 years on NWN servers especially older ones. As happens often in business one person starts up with a great idea treats the customers right and has great success. They sell the business or retire, and the rats slowly take over. So too I have seen some older servers do the exact same thing. Their customer populations either slowly disappear over time.......or their customer population becomes unstable season to season. It is often because lesser men and women take over that forget that they have customers and treat players that are not dms or their friends like extras in their own show. Thats another very good way to lose customers.

I'm not going to write about some of the worst of what I have seen from admins over the last two years on this part of the editorial. Instead, I'm going to give you one of the best examples of an admin that knows she has customers not just players.

Echo of (The city of Arabel) Is one of the best administrators I have run into these last few years. I have had long talks with her on discord about players, pcs, In game personas and other things. She always puts the customer at ease so she can figure out how a player thinks and what they are doing in game. Not only that she offers and listens to various ideas about problems from the player. She will always give the player a certain about of respect with discussing things with them. She also always looks for a solution that both player and admin can work together and where both she and her customer are satisfied in the end.
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Re: How to administrate a Persistent World (Editorial/Opinion

Post by Winterhawk99 »

One of the great things about being an administrator is watching the world develop into having its very own lore. One of the really good things you can do for your customers is take that lore and place it somewhere, so people know what has been done in the past. When a player sees his or her character's name on a monument, or in an (in game) book it keeps them hooked to your server because they have a stronger sense of community when they are appreciated for their participation.

The city of Arabel places monuments for various pcs that have done great things evil or good. Anchorome one of the first servers I administrated for kept a timeline on its forums and added monuments for consequential characters. Netheril another really good server for doing these kinds of things has an art gallery with framed screenshots of past campaigns and players. I think that's a really good way to show player appreciation. In Harvest Moon we made in game books about the players and the campaigns Dms ran.

These are all good ways the server can show that players count.

The only negative thing I can say here is that if you have a large community, be wary to make sure there are more players involved in this kind of thing than admins that play characters or Dms that play characters. When your put books and monuments in game. or a timeline on the forums and it's full of admin pcs and dm pcs it will do the exact opposite of what you want to achieve with it. The standard player will think that dms and admins are given preferential treatment when they play. That isn't good. and its a good way to lose customers.

So, In the end this is a very good thing but be a bit careful in how to go about it.
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Re: How to administrate a Persistent World (Editorial/Opinion

Post by Winterhawk99 »

If you have a roleplaying server of any kind you want to have some dms around. The first thing you need to think about is can you trust them. Trust is a big thing when you give a person the privilege of being one. So, what do Dms actually do?

The first thing they need to do is set up stories and quests for the customers to complete in their own way. Dms are not meant to have the whole story. They set up circumstances for the players to complete whether its a huge campaign or a little one-shot adventure. This is the Dm's first responsibility. If a Dm has not done at least a one-shot quest in a season or three months. I don't think they should be a dm anymore and need to have the privilege revoked and your dm password changed.

The second thing they need to do is co-ordinate with other dms so that the plotline for your world isn't criss-crossed with competing ideas. Usually setting up a forum for them on a site or on discord is a good idea for this.

You have to remember that even though Dms are volunteers they work for you and more importantly they work for your customers. Alot of worlds get this ass backwards and good players go find somewhere else to play. It's your customers that are the most important piece of your world. Make sure your dms understand this and treat the players like what they are, customers.

Dms should also be able to do small admin things. Some examples would be. getting a player stuck in a tricky walkmesh, possibly doing a strip and relevel because the customer had an idea to multi class and forgot feats they needed up to a certain point or level. Also say a tileset has a walkmesh a bit underneath the textures. sometimes items can fall into the walkmesh and the player cannot find their item. Dms should be able to remake the item as long as someone else saw it. This happened to me in Narfell and the dm remade the sword also giving it an awesome little background on its description.

These little administration things really help the customers feel like the dms care. I only had one instance where a dm just fail miserably at one of these things. That was on Cormyr and the Dalelands. I went into the world and blew through the language teacher, going into the world. While playing with the tools I accidently pinned myself to the start area.

So I called on a dm and asked if I could go back to the start area to pick up my languages. The Dm told me not only that he wouldn't do it. He told me that I had to make a special request in the forums to do it. I said okeydokey and moved on with quite a different attitude than I started reviewing the server.

There are two problems here. The first is this was a very minor request for a dm to do. All he had to do is teleport me to the start area so I could interact with the language pc. The second is the dm told me I had to make a special request on the forums.

Not all customers are going to go on to forums or discord. Most just want to join a game and have some fun so making red tape for them should be completely out of the question except for very special requests like playing a monster pc. If you are making customers beg for anything on forum or discord as far as I am concerned, you're in the wrong. The customers dont work for you. You work for them.
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Re: How to administrate a Persistent World (Editorial/Opinion

Post by Winterhawk99 »

Being that a persistent world is a social game for the most part; You need to have rules for your customers. I'm a bit wishy washy myself in this area. I like a few basic rules to basically keep the peace between everyone. I've been on servers and looked at their rules and it seemed like these rules look like a 38 page law contract. These are usually really heavy rp worlds. If those are the rules thats perfectly fine but I probably wont stay there for long.

I've also been on servers where there were almost no rules. I disagree with this too because you need some guidance when admining a server.

I'll post the rules for Harvest Moon here at the end. They are 14 simple rules. Some are redundant but its a good example that will work for most worlds. I really dont go much into customer game tactics like metagaming and tweeking. Back when Harvest Moon was running our customers really didn't do any of that and if they did we would correct it by scripting. I will go into some experiences I have had over the last few years as examples of things.

I was playing Lauriella on The City of Arabel. In my adventures I picked up a book that was only supposed to be used by conjurers. I saw that in the description. Now Lauriella although having a high aptitude for necromancy was still a general mage. So, I didn't use the book planning to sell it at an appropriate time. After all its treasure and must be worth something. I carried the book around a few days looking for a place to sell it but had not found a store that would take it.

After a few days Echo dragged me and some others up to a dm area and dressed us down for using the books. I was pretty new to the world, so I just put the book down and waited for her to teleport me back. Ok two points wrong with this.

First if you have books in the game only for use of some classes or races and dont want them in a non-race/class customer inventory there are ways to make sure that happens. You can do it by quest where only that subclass can do. You can give it as a dm reward, or you can script it so only that race or class can use it. If you put an item in the world like this and anyone can find it, then it should be available to sell to someone somewhere even if they cannot use it.

Second when any item drops It should be of value to someone somewhere. I've been on many servers were say a trap drops and there is nowhere to sell it. There should always be a fence somewhere in the game where anything dropped can be sold except for quest items and whatnot. This is often overlooked by admins of servers and is somewhat important because these kinds of things only add aggravation to your customers.

The whole point of this is there are in game solutions for most mechanical rules. You just have to do a little thinking and creative scripting or quest introduction.

This next part is a bit personal for me and involves one particular server Narfell. Its about one the major things you'll have to deal with as an administrator and that's player/customer harassment by either a dm or another player customer.

As we should know as admins there's a huge difference between Out of character talk and in game talk as a character. So, let's take in character first.

All through my time playing pcs I've had at various times my character harassed by other characters. As far as I am concerned that's all a part of the game. Not one time have I complained about in game vendettes or other charaters. There's lots of very nice customers that play assholes, nazis (nazi like characters, evil twirps, communists, racists etc. That is all a part of the game and admins shouldnt get involved in that.

When harassment goes out of character in tells; that's another matter and an admin should get involved. Lauriella started in Narfell and this guy sort of befriended me. As we talked in tells he got weirder and weirder. I think we were talking one day. I think I was talking about various cars I have owned. I only buy standards because I like the control it affords me. He mentioned he had never learned to drive. I was a bit surprised at that because he was in his mid 30s pushing into his 40s. But I thought that's ok hes probably from the big city and doesnt need one anyway.

Now at the time his character was angry at mine which was ok. I rolled with it. But the next time I came on he started really getting on me in tells. I'm not sure the why or how of it but it escalated to the point the admins of the server had to get involved. I left the server shortly thereafter for other reasons but came back two years later.

So I come back and the same player was there. He got into tells with me and tried to intimidate me. I just said howdy and continued on my way. The funniest thing about this guy was he's an artist. I had happened to be looking for an illustrator for my books at one point. So, I asked him how much one of his illustrations would cost. He told me I could never afford it. That gave me a bit of a chuckle but what he doesn't know won't hurt him. I found a great illustrator in Elena and absolutely love her work.

So, if something is going on in game between characters not really the admins business. If it goes to out of character, then you have to step in and do something. Be respectful to both customers but try to do your best to decide what to do. Personally, I know that if a situation comes up involving myself if the admins are not respectful in the way they handle it I'll leave the server as fast as I can and burn all the bridges behind me. The reason is I'm a customer and should be respected as such.

Always remember that people come on to a world mostly to relax and get away from the real world for a bit of time and have fun. They don't need to be dogged by admins and dms all the time. Most just want to play and have no real ulterior motive. Let them play.

Here are my 14 simple rules for Harvest Moon for customers.

1. The Object of the game is for everyone to have fun. Respect each other and have fun with eachother. If you have a problem with someone take the high road and back down then seek out an officer either in the game or by e-mail. We will take it from there; that's why we are here.

2. If there's a Dm in the game they are the final word. The officers are extremely picky about who is a Dm in the world, and they wouldn't be if the officers don't trust them. If you have a problem with a Dm then speak to an officer.

3. Only players that are invited are allowed in the world. If you wish to invite someone please ask first

4. This is a (pg-13 site) it basically means that foul language is frowned upon and wont be tolerated on the boards at all.

5. No flaming in game or on the boards. You may have a disagreement with someone and debate over a subject is fine but personal attacks are crass first of all and extremely offensive and leads to nowhere. We don't need it on the server or the boards. any flaming on the boards will be either edited or deleted

6. Adults will be adults we all understand this. Two adults doing what adults do will be ignored. If an Adult does something adult with a minor they will be immediately banned from both the server and the boards. This is also an Illegal act. Pedophiles will not be tolerated in any size, shape or form. If this happens on this server both Bioware and the authorities that handle internet predators will be contacted.

7. Use // or OOC for out of character speaking

8. The shout channel is only to be used by dms

9. No holding levels. Holding levels means to not level up after you have earned enough xp points to gain your next level. Exceptions will be made for a limited set of in character circumstances.

10. Please stay within level range unless you are in a Dme'd event. If you have an apprentice that is out of level range or something like that state the relationship in the bardic circle and depending on whats going on this rule can be bent a little. This rule also encourages slowing down and the making of new characters to play with different groups. Level range is 7.

11. You don't need to yell or degrade other players for any reason we're all here to have fun. If there's a problem back down and speak to an officer

12. The password, both player and dm, should never be given to anyone for any reason. Our players have the password posted on the boards for them, so too the dms on the dm board

13. If you find an exploitable bug please let us know though pm or e-mail. benefiting from an exploit is not allowed and if caught will put your character to level 1

14. We cant be responsible for lost xp, gold or items due to server glitches or game glitches. they will not be replaced.

Since there are so few here, We really don't expect there to be any problem. So the rules are posted. Better to be safe than sorry
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Chief cook and bottle washer for Harvest Moon

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