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  Policing Role-Play In ‘Age of Conan’  
Posted 2008-05-03 by Tony Walsh
The operator of the upcoming adult-oriented Age of Conan MMO intends to establish strict rules about role-playing on designated servers, according to an official community bulletin. This might be great news for role-play enthusiasts, but I have to wonder if AoC's operator has a plan to police and enforce its own proposed rules. Any such plan must involve human moderators at some point along the chain (software isn't smart enough for the job), which is an awfully costly investment in role-playing, if you ask me.

Names from outside the 'Conan' universe (as in, from another fantasy universe, such as Pokemon) are not allowed. Names from inside the 'Conan' universe (such as Conan) are also not allowed. Neither are derivatives or sound-alike names. Out of character chat is to be "avoided." Making fun of role-players is not allowed. Using role-play to justify immersion-breaking actions and exploits is not allowed. Interfering with in-progress community-driven role-playing events (such as a wedding) is not allowed.

These rules are setting the game operators up for major headaches. A good rule is one which doesn't need to be discussed--it's simply incontrovertible. These are bad rules. Not only do they require human supervision, they are open to interpretation. Who's going to moderate player names, and when will that moderation occur? How much out of character chat is acceptable, and when is it acceptable to speak OOC. What if the sight of weddings drives my character into a berserker rage--isn't it about my immersion, too? What if my entire clan of players has an in-character grudge against that wedding?

Unless the rules are tightened up, enforced transparently, frequently and consistently, the whole system's going to spiral out of control. Transparent enforcement (i.e. we see who was busted for what, and how the policing or punishment was carried out) and frequent enforcement are expensive. Consistent enforcement is sure to be a joke--I can't even go to a bank and get the same answer about the same question from 5 different tellers.
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Comment posted by RyanHensonCreighton
May 3, 2008 @ 10:41 am
You punch in at 8:30 every morning, except you punch in at 7:30 following a business holiday, unless it's a Monday, then you punch in at 8 o'clock. Punch in late and they dock you. Incoming articles get a voucher, outgoing articles provide a voucher. Move any article without a voucher and they dock you. Letter size a green voucher, oversize a yellow voucher, parcel size a maroon voucher. Wrong color voucher and they dock you! 6787049A/6. That is your employee number. It will not be repeated! Without your employee number you cannot get your paycheck. Inter-office mail is code 37, intra-office mail 37-3, outside mail is 3-37. Code it wrong and they dock you! This has been your orientation. Is there anything you do not understand, is there anything you understand only partially? If you have not been fully oriented, you must file a complaint with personnel. File a faulty complaint and they dock you!
Comment posted by Ian Betteridge
May 4, 2008 @ 9:44 am
Other companies have tried having strict rules for role play on appropriate servers before (notably Dark Age of Camelot) and those servers have always proven to be the least populated ones.
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
May 4, 2008 @ 11:25 am
Yeah, makes me wonder how the investment in RP cops could be worth it. Is "we offer policed RP servers" going to set one operator that far ahead of others?
Comment posted by evilphd7
May 15, 2008 @ 5:16 pm
I'm not sure what the issue here is; if you don't like the rules on the RP server, play on the other 20 servers. As it is, RPers are lucky to get one server to themselves. The designation of "RP server" is important because otherwise it becomes difficult for RPers to find one another. As someone stated previously, RP servers tend to be low traffic anyway, so why would a Non RPer even want to be there if not to harass RPers? Believe me, we like it low traffic; quality over quantity any day in my book.

Rules and policies like this are necessary to limit the "moron" factor that utterly dominates and ruins every other MORPG out there. It is impossible not to be interrupted when "FukU2d00d" runs by chased by a screaming "Chewytabacca33."

I agree about the rules enforcement issue though; policing this stuff is impossible.
The only way to enforce rules like these is to make them impossible to violate. Force players to choose from a list of randomly generated, acceptable names. Presto! Avatar name issue solved! Players are disrupting your RP events? No problem, have a "mute avatar" feature that not only silences them but makes the two of you invisible to eachother. I also wish they'd come up with guild mute lists that can be shared. Guild officers can mute a troublesome player for the entire group so that everyone doesn't have to do it (guildies, of course, would have the option to allow or disallow the guild to have this control).

These two features alone would solve 90% of these problems without punishing the other players. Of course, what "disrupters" really want is attention so making it easy to mute them not just verbally but visually will not only solve the problem, but they will likely leave of their own accord when there is no one left to harass.
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