[MUD-Dev] Censorship, Virtual v Artificial Worlds, Python

Greg Munt greg at uni-corn.demon.co.uk
Fri Apr 30 10:59:12 CEST 1999

> [Ben Greear, on censorship code in ScryMud]
> Yeah, I generally don't like it.  However, it was a quick and dirty
> hack.  I don't generally think of myself as uptight or stuffy, but
> after a few times of having players log on and set their client's
> in a loop spouting vulgarities...well...I dunno.  I definately
> plan on keeping the list very small, and I will probably add a gag-list
> type of functionality soon to allow players to not be harrassed.

I guess my opposition stems from the fact that players are being influenced
from outside of the game world, rather than from within it. This is a big
topic in itself, not confined to the censorship issue. I believe that
external influences to the world make it artificial, and not virtual.

I don't intend to have the traditional mud
maintainers/administrators/gods/wizards/whatever - not in the sense that
they are 'playing' as a wizard. Per Keegan gospel, all players play 'the
game'. When a player becomes an administrator, they can no longer play 'the
game'. They make sure people follow 'the rules' (which may or may not be
related to any published rules), and play politics instead. This creates a
'them and us' between players and administrators, to rival the 'them and us'
between administrators and administrators. (I'm a cynic/realist, take your

Now, I tend to like the easy life, so would prefer to keep such 'negative
social interactions' to a minimum. The way that I would like to do this, is
not to have any administrators at all. Yes, that's right. Instead, you have
what I am (at the moment) calling software maintainers/developers - rather
than game maintainers. Instead of directly interacting with players, these
people influence the world behind the scenes (more like a Christian god,
than a Greek one). If they want to influence players in some way, they have
to do it implicitly, by influencing them via the world's rules and/or its

For example, if the maintainers want to stop play killing, they cant say 'PK
is against the rules', or change the code so that you can only attack NPCs.
Instead, they shape the world to their design, and channel player activities
down the required path. Changes could include lawmakers of the world
prohibiting murder, and allowing executions for PKers. (And allow PKers to
be 'caught' realistically - i.e. if you kill someone in the wilderness, the
chances of execution are slight. Go after the town mayor, and it's a
different story.) Part of the fun of this - for the maintainers, is that
influencing the world could (and should) cause unintended results - the life
of a PC is now placed at equal value to an NPC; is the community advanced
enough to produce lawmakers and police/militia? (If not, you need them
first. And they can't magically appear, either.) Then we have exciting
stuff, like corrupt officials, lynchings of innoccent people, etc.

Of course, this way, you can't completely remove PK from the game. But
replacing "You can't do this" with "You can do this, but there may be
serious consequences" produces a better game. At least I think so.

BTW, players can't be administrators, and vice versa. This does not exclude
an NPC being 'played' for a while, to influence the world (or player
community) in some way, however. I want player immersion in my world. And
that can't happen unless the players can see a relation between the provided
world and the real world. When was the last time you were struck down dead
for sinning?

> It's not that I personally care if someone types bad things at me,
> but I feel kind of responsible for the welfare of my players, and I
> don't want some young lad or lass to be exposed to senseless vulgarities.

5-year-olds hear things just as bad in the playground. You are protecting
people from things they are being exposed to on a daily basis.

> It would be kind of like having some guests over and then one of them
> being a total jerk...embarrasing for all involved!

You would kick them out, not stuff a hankerchief in their mouth.

>  Maybe even
> put the ability to censor certain individuals in the player's hands.  That
> would be a pretty strong island, and yet the river might not even
> notice :)

That has high potential for misuse.

I have recently been looking into the Python language. Is anyone using
this - either for an internal language, or an implementation language?


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