GMing - What's essential, preferred and overkill?

A recent hot topic of debate among the staff is the extent of GM involvement we plan to implement for Untold Dawn.

Many of us have encountered worlds where overly controlling staff can feel oppressive, limiting player freedom. On the other hand, too little GM oversight can lead to chaotic or non-existent roleplay, low activity, and uninspired players.

Our goal is to find a happy medium. While a game with absolutely no GM oversight seems impractical, we need to ensure GM involvement is limited to where it is necessary, desired, and where it enhances rather than stifles player initiative.

So, the question is, what level of GMing do we prefer? Should staff have the ability to monitor all scenes? Only scenes in public areas? Or none at all? (I’m skeptical about the last option but open to discussion.)

Staff should have the option to monitor any scene; however, such snooping should be noted in logs and preferably in some sort of admin net or channel. Personally, I don’t see any issues with staff watching public scenes for any reason, though I’d hope discretion would be used when deciding to look upon private ones. Obviously, if a report is received, that’s probable cause that something is afoot and it needs to be investigated, which would give reason.

As to GM involvement, the obvious answer, and the one already given is somewhere in the middle. Finding that point can be tricky though. I’ve helped cook up events where there has been a high turnout, and ones that have gone the other way. I think your major chance to grab people’s attention is when UD comes out of testing and opens its doors to the public at large. If y’all can do something around that time, when the influx of new players is at a peak, like the hook of a song, you can grab their attention and keep them coming back.

I don’t think you need to have events every week or anything. Also, as this is a MUD, rather than a MUSH, and is likely to have a fairly high amount of players, you’re most likely not going to be able to be as flexible as a MUSH with 20 players tops when it comes to scheduling events that work with everyones’ schedules.

If I were in your shoes, I’d release on a Saturday, and have an event scheduled for the following one. This accomplishes a few things:

  1. The mass influx will most likely be at its end or nearing it
  2. The people who decide they don’t like UD will have already stopped logging in
  3. Players have a week to get used to the game’s systems, and way of posing

Item 3 is the most important, IMO, because it’s always a bit awkward joining a new MUD, especially an RPI, and trying not to make a fool of yourself while learning how poses work. Players and staff should try to be a bit more forgiving, since a few people will create accounts on Friday, or even the morning of the event, and decide to join in.

I’d also create a little events subsystem where players can view information on all scheduled events and RSVP to them; staff, on the other hand, can add, delete, or edit events. Over time, you can compare who RSVPs yes Vs. who actually shows up and determine a metric from that info to have a better idea what attendance will be like in the future.

IMO there’s two distinct roles being discussed here - moderation and event running. These may very well be covered by the same group of people, but I think it makes sense to discuss them as separate concerns rather than group them into “GM” unless I’m misunderstanding.

The reason why I differentiate is because event running, when done well, is hard to have too much of - if folks don’t want it they can just go somewhere the event isn’t happening.

Moderation, however, is the tricky one. If there is a way of clearly and reliably differentiating public/private then I like the approach of any public being fine to monitor and only reported private scenes being monitorable. If there’s not, then maybe they all need to be monitorable. A logging system that keeps track of when things are monitored and by whom sounds good though.

The post above hits the nail on the head for the most part. In my opinion, every interaction should be logged and available for an audit. GM involvement regarding scenes should happen if there is a need for that.

Here’s an example that’s common: X kills Y. Y reports that it was just some out of the blue random murder that had no reason to happen. Now you need to look into interactions of the two.

Next up is staff involvement with the world itself. There needs to be a balancing hand because player-led economies can go wild and ruin it for everyone. In this regard, staff acts as the greater hand of the market. Players ultimately represent the remarkable and influential characters standing up from the crowd, but there’s a whole universe out there.
Checks and balances regarding what happens are important of course

For events, honestly you can’t have too much as said above.

I think the only thing you need to be careful of us is to try and minimize the amount of perceived collusion between players and staff, or internally in staff members. There will always be people accusing others of favoritism, but too much and you get a bad reputation. It also leads to people hating a character due to OOC rumors, which is not fun for anyone.

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