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Northern Isles Moderation

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Since the game is still ongoing and could well continue into its fifth day, it might be best to have the discussion about how the game is moderated in a seperate thread - that way dead people can contribute with clear consciences. (Apologies to *i for not checking with you - ironically, you weren't online to ask...)

 

On that note, it occurs to me that the easiest thing would simply be to have two moderators, in different time zones. We could set up a new account for the purpose and give two people the password, or (possibly simpler) all of the initial PMs *i sends out could also be sent to the second moderator, who would then process any actions as and when they are online. It would make the moderator's job slightly more complicated, but since it would mean a halving in the number of actions to process (give or take) there would probably be a reduction in the overall workload.

 

In the long term, some kind of application is certainly the best answer, but I suspect that that would be no simple task.

 

-E-

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I'd rather not have this discussion until the game is over. I thought I said this many times now. The reason is I do not want anything to get inadvertently revealed that would affect the game. Let's wait please.

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All right, let's talk about this now...

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A write-only thread in which members could input actions and that only the moderator(s) could read would work quite well. There's no way to arrange that, really, but a separate email account solely for use by those running the game would work. That would, of course, require involving email in the game.

 

—Alorael, who thinks *i is the one who needs to weigh in. Would a helping hand make the workload easier?

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This game definitely was more constrained because of the fact the moderator (me) was ridiculously busy. Unfortunately, this is how my summer works. I get up in the morning, go to work, come home, go do some activity, return late at night, and sleep. The weekends usually involve some all day events. I'm sorry this did not work well with this game and I apologize if anyone's play was hampered.

 

About two moderators. This is possible, but will be tricky. There needs to be a careful division of labor with meticulous record sharing. Keeping track of things is probably the most difficult part of this game and this problem becomes more difficult with multiple moderators. I personally do not see an easy way to break up the work in a way that avoids this altogether.

 

I'm definitely open for out of the box ideas for dealing with this. Just thought I'd give you my quick two cents.

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For coordination, all you need is another forum visible only to the game-runners. The problem, of course, is that all mods could see that forum. Mod-free Northern Islse? Possible, but probably not ideal.

 

—Alorael, who supposes that once again external solutions can be demanded. It wouldn't take much of an Ezboard-equivalent to get things working right.

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Yes, another forum/thread would be necessary, but what happens when two moderators start doing things simultaneously? Also, this presumes that nothing gets missed or done redundantly. While this is possible, I'm seeing this as a pain in terms of people management.

 

A possible solution would be to agree on shifts. For instance, each moderator agrees to take only a portion of the day. This would help somewhat. However, it would still be important all moderators communicate quite regularly.

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You could start a new account and give all game moderators access to it. That way, whoever is logged in at the time can process actions, and they would have access to a single set of records. They would just have to remember to log out when they're not processing.

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Unfortunately, I believe it is possible for multiple computers (and therefore people) to be logged in to the same account simultaneously.

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You can have multiple people logged into an account simultaneously. "Who's Online" would help, but shifts might work better anyway.

 

—Alorael, who could also see having two moderators assigned to different roles. All the actions could be figured out and put in order in a master list between the two. While that requires some coordination, it also reduces the sheer number of people each moderator has to handle.

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I see three ways to divide the labor.

 

Time. Each person works a "shift". They are responsible for doing all action in that time period and no others.

 

Players. As Alorael suggested, each moderator only handles a group of people. This is tricky because often you would need to interfere with another moderator's players. I don't think this would work well.

 

Tasks. Each moderator handles some aspect of the game. For instance, one moderator could process all the ability/actions and another could handle all the trades, shops, and faction joining. I honestly see this as the most attractive because it allows each to function mostly separate and allow for each to have his or her own system which is key.

 

Thoughts?

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The "tasks" option is appealing, but doesn't it run into the same problem as the "players" option. The outcomes of actions, especially battles, often depend on the items and factions of the players involved. There would be just as much work necessary to coordinate as with any other option, save possibly the "time" setup.

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The simple (albeit not perfect) fix to this is to not allow any conditional actions or to simply ignore things that are invalid due to faction. An example of the former is someone wanting to use poison to attack someone before they have it. The latter case happens with Gladwell compelling someone who he does not possess.

 

It's not perfect, but it is a lot better than doing things by player.

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If we're not going to use a web app to handle everything, even some kind of offsite form for submitting actions to you so that it's clear what order they arrived in without you having to keep track of timestamps would be an improvement, and would be relatively easy to set up. Hell, I could probably make it for you myself.

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I think Thuryl's last idea is the best in terms of organizing all of the incoming data.

 

But I think the nature of the game needs to be changed, or else multiple submits or conditionals of some sort have to be allowed. It is not really apparent to me why conditions are prohibited, because it allows for multiple submits to make sense. For example,

 

"Trade 30 coins for weapon poison to Thuryl. If I receive the weapon poison, attack Marlenny."

 

Because many people only get 1 chance per day to submit actions (sometimes due to their schedules, or due to *Is), not allowing multiple submits makes the game not run as intended for them. If processing is the only problem, then perhaps trades should just have to take somebody's action, or only allow one trade per day? There are so many items in the game by now that it feels like trading has just gone up and up and up. Especially with the introduction of coins and the moderator shop.

 

edit: to further clarify, I never had a problem with only being able to submit one set of actions per day before this last game. Having to track coins and being able to buy/sell to the moderator shop, I imagine, seriously increased the volume of information to process.

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A suggested change to the trading rules:

 

* Unilaterally giving an item or coins no longer counts as a trade, you can do it as often as you like, and it no longer requires the recipient to actively accept, but you can't place any conditions on it and there's no guarantee of getting anything in return.

* Actual trading of one parcel of items/coins for another can only be done with one person or shop per day, and otherwise operates under the same rules as it does now (so you both have to state the exact same terms, or the trade fails).

 

Would this be a reasonable compromise between simplicity and power, or am I just blowing smoke? It seems like the two-way trades are the ones that cause the problems.

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That sounds great to me. The ONLY problem is that giving an item you need for a victory condition to someone makes them your enemy, and thus you can kill them, unless the rules were changed from like two games ago when I did that? tongue

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Originally Posted By: Sporefrog
The ONLY problem is that giving an item you need for a victory condition to someone makes them your enemy, and thus you can kill them, unless the rules were changed from like two games ago when I did that? tongue

Yeah, we were playing hot potato with the crystal spire, so I went bye-bye because I ended up having it again (I think *i implemented the trade acception rule in the middle of the game, though).

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I suppose an easy partial fix would be to make coin trading unilateral. In our last game, I could have just traded 20 coins to marlenny, then had marlenny trade andraste 40, rather than having andraste accept both to get around the trade rule (had I known donating coins counted as a trade). This would eliminate the need to mess with silly workarounds like that.

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The enemy rule has actually been subtly changed already: you're only enemies if you both need the item for your victory condition. The exception is the Skribbane Addict, who's effectively enemies with anyone who's holding Skribbane, but I'd rather remove the Skribbane Addict from the game entirely than have to live with lousy rules for his sake.

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Ahh! Well that solved that problem, I think. Is there any reason to still say trades require both people to agree?

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Originally Posted By: Sporefrog
Ahh! Well that solved that problem, I think. Is there any reason to still say trades require both people to agree?


Not for gifts, no. For trades where you're exchanging something you have for something the other person has, requiring both parties to agree to the terms makes sure that one won't cheat the other. But maybe we should just remove two-way trading entirely, and require people to give each other gifts and take the risk of being cheated? It'd be an interesting experiment.

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In terms of moderation, here are my thoughts:

 

You have either two, or three (if you can recruit them) moderators. They then work 12- (or 8-) hour 'shifts': note that they aren't necessarily expected to be online for all of their shift, simply that they're the only one allowed to process actions during their shift (thus avoiding redundancy).

 

All of the moderators are involved in the PM thread that goes out to each player, obviously. In addition, the moderators have a PM thread between them with the entire state of play written out; obviously *i still dictates things like the questions for Machrone and the tasks for Craftmaster Strine. (How are those generated, by the way?) At the end of each moderator's shift, they post the new state of play in the moderation PM, and put everything that was changed by them in bold for ease of communication. The biggest problem here is finding a way to list everything significant about the game in a way that only takes up a couple of pages or so, but I think it could be done. What information actually needs to be kept track of?

 

Lastly, there would have to be a quarter- or half- hour downtime between shifts, to be certain that no action is processed by both moderators.

 

-E-

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Quote:
It is not really apparent to me why conditions are prohibited, because it allows for multiple submits to make sense.


I don't want to go down this path. Trust me. You won't like it either. The problem is not when one person does it, but when multiple people do. It can become very confusing to sort out a chain of logic when it is contingent on other people's actions who have actions dependent on yet others. The simple solution is just to say no.

Quote:
Unilaterally giving an item or coins no longer counts as a trade, you can do it as often as you like, and it no longer requires the recipient to actively accept, but you can't place any conditions on it and there's no guarantee of getting anything in return.


Even gifts still need to count against something. Infinite is too much. People WILL abuse it and make my life miserable. It's happened before and will happen again. I'm open to some suggestions, but long gift chains with conditionals got old fast.

To answer your questions, both donations AND bilateral trades cause problems. I put in the both sides to agree to avoid "hot potato" games and to add a little viscosity to the trading. While it is fun to be able to do everything instantaneously, I don't want alliances to be too powerful.

I do like the idea of treating pure coin gifts as not needing both sides to agree.

Quote:
The exception is the Skribbane Addict, who's effectively enemies with anyone who's holding Skribbane, but I'd rather remove the Skribbane Addict from the game entirely


No roles will be removed. Suggest changes to the role.

Quote:
You have either two, or three (if you can recruit them) moderators. They then work 12- (or 8-) hour 'shifts': note that they aren't necessarily expected to be online for all of their shift, simply that they're the only one allowed to process actions during their shift (thus avoiding redundancy).


Read my post on the three options. I covered this. The problem is recruiting people who can actually work their shift reliably. Sometimes my schedule gets messed up and I get to it when I can. This game was notoriously bad for me.

Really, if someone just processed the item management and we allowed simple conditionals on using items/attacking, it would help a lot.

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Originally Posted By: *i
No roles will be removed. Suggest changes to the role.


Well, the obvious change is to simply remove the special case: the Skribbane Addict no longer has any special advantage when attacking someone who's holding Skribbane. I don't think this would make the Skribbane Addict too weak: in fact, it makes it easier to ally with him, because you can just say "I have the Skribbane; would you like to take it and use it to kill my enemy?" and not worry about taking special precautions to avoid being killed for it.

Another option would be to make a special case for Skribbane only: all gifts of Skribbane must be actively accepted, while gifts of other items don't need to be. I like the first option better.

Oh, and sorry if I offended you. I didn't mean to imply that your rules are lousy, just that if we decide that this particular rule is otherwise lousy in terms of its effect on gameplay, we shouldn't keep it just for the sake of its interaction with the Skribbane Addict.

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As a personal opinion, I'm not sure I like how item-dependent the game has become. Roles seem to have taken a back seat to the stuff that's thrown around among players

 

—Alorael, who thinks conditional action in response to trade would be helpful at the very least. There's no way for it to become an immense snarl of conditionals because the trade itself can't be conditional, but it does let people not have their schedules wrecked by someone else not logging in on time to complete the trade before an attack or the supposed use of the item

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I second Alorael's opinion questioning how item-dependent the game has become. It was less enjoyable having to rely so heavily upon them this game, but that may have just been due to my role. It certainly adds more complexity to the game, but I'm not sure complexity is what we want when we're talking about a human processing every command by hand.

 

Originally Posted By: *I
Really, if someone just processed the item management

 

Unless I missed the answer to this, wouldn't that be really hard to manage because many non-item actions are dependent on having used or traded items? Or would it be when you are logged in, you'll process any items and regular commands as usual, but when your backup moderator is logged in, he'll just process item-related requests?

 

As for the case of skribbane, I don't have a feeling for how powerful the role currently is. If it's fine the way it is, then just make skribbane only tradeable by consent.

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The trouble with having a second moderator just for items and factions is that they'll have to report everything to *i anyway, which wouldn't reduce his workload any, and would have a large risk of having actions happen out of order.

 

The big advantage of having two moderators work shifts would be that there would be more immediate feedback between actions. Would it be acceptable to run a test of that as a system? I can't see that it would mean an increase in workload, even if it wouldn't necessarily be much of a decrease.

 

-E-

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The other option, of course, is to have longer days. That would give people more flexibility, since we'd have 48 hours to work out their trades and alliances before submitting actions.

 

Having an external site, or a message board or email account that only the mods can read seems like the easiest solution to "having to report everything to *I anyway" since either moderator could just bold, delete, or otherwise mark every command that they've processed. Then there's no risk of overlap or need to worry too much about communication.

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An external forum would work. An email account could become messy. An internal subforum can't be hidden from mods. While the honor system could work, I'd rather play without accusations of cheating.

 

—Alorael, who has had another thought. Part of the problem is order of actions. It would be interesting to try to have all actions resolve simultaneously once every 24 hours. It would require a fair amount of reworking of rules and figuring our orders and priorities, but it would definitely increase fairness.

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Originally Posted By: Et in Arcadia Alorael
An internal subforum can't be hidden from mods.
Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if there is a way to do this. Are you quite certain that it's not possible?

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It can be hidden from mods just fine. It can't be hidden from anyone with administrative privileges. That's us.

 

—Alorael, who would rather not mess with mods and their access for a game. You know that's when someone would start spamming horrific things.

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Here's how I try to process actions and trades.

 

First I go through all of the new topics and write down every trade and put actions in the queue. Placement in the queue is based on when your last action became valid. I'll talk more about this later.

 

I then do every trade/faction joining that both parties have accepted. This is followed by me going through the queue, in order, and processing every action that is currently valid.

 

The algorithm for ordering things is as follows: I receive your action and look at the time stamp. If you have no previous action or your last action was valid more than 24 hours ago, I insert it in the queue at the current time. If your last action was less than 24 hours ago, the time I place it in the queue is 24 hours after the last action became valid. The exception is for actions on the first day that kill people which gets put at the start of day 2. The order in the case of a "tie" is the order of submission.

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I was going to suggest letting people have one of each type of action submitted at the same time, but I'm still finding problems with that.

 

I don't know what the best option is for scenarios like:

1) joining a faction and then doing something that requires being in that faction

2) trading an item, and then, if you get the new item, using it and attacking somebody.

 

I think so far the best rules we've come up with are donating coins, and donating non-skribbane items (or slightly changing the addict's enemy list).

 

I also feel like there's a conflict between roles like Shanker that try to keep people alive (and thus relying on a lower time limit on games) and letting the game proceed until it's reasonably clear who the winners will be (like how the older games turned out). It's certainly part of the strategy to fulfill your win condition in 5 days, and I have no inherent problem with that, but it makes the volume of moderator traffic I think possibly have an inflated effect on the outcome of the game. People have to act quicker when they have a smaller time limit.

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The fact that the queue is determined by who submitted when, particularly since the 24 hour limit means getting your first action on the first day in early means you'll be ahead all game, bothers me. It would be quite similar and probably just as fair to have all queued actions execute at a specific time (when the moderator wills) in random order.

 

—Alorael, who thinks interesting things could be done by making priority rules. That's added complication, though. For now, random would be good enough.

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Originally Posted By: Delivered to you by the
The fact that the queue is determined by who submitted when, particularly since the 24 hour limit means getting your first action on the first day in early means you'll be ahead all game, bothers me. It would be quite similar and probably just as fair to have all queued actions execute at a specific time (when the moderator wills) in random order.

In my experience, this is not as serious a problem as it seems like. Even in tense, fast-paced games, I don't usually resolve an action every 24 hours on the dot, or even close to that. One reason for this is that getting the information necessary to take the correct action is just as much of an obstacle as the time constraint. Even times when I've tried to get an action in at the earliest possible minute, I've often rescinded it hours later after learning something new. Another is that day 1 actions are likely not to accomplish much, since you have the least information and the largest field, and also can't attack anybody.

The way things are set up now, the people who figure out what they need to do quickest come out ahead, which I think is fair. If actions resolved at a specific time in a random order, then Player A could identify and attack his enemy Player B, Player B could hear what happened through the grapevine 12 hours later and attack player A, and the outcome would essentially come down to a coin flip, even though A deserves to win the battle.

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