There has been a lot of commotion in our OOC channels about a certain incident lately. I'm not concerned with the incident itself, but with the patterns that lead to incidents like it and what our expectations are of our fellow players.
I believe that we have a systemic problem caused primarily by unclear and divided expectations of player conduct with regards to some mechanics.
When players feel that they have been cheated by other players, this makes them feel violated and hurts the community. That alone is a simple concept, but in order to understand what constitutes a violation, we need to discuss our mutual expectations. I am hoping that this forum will provide a channel to discuss these matters civilly.
I would like to assert that I believe this game, best played, to be a social game first and a roleplay game second. Therefore, any roleplay, while it does add depth to the game, must be limited by our sense of social standards and ethics with respect to the other players. In addition, roleplay should not be used as a cover for antisocial actions. For example, a character's lack of morals is never justification to breach a sense of player ethics.
A strong belief of mine is that we have duties to deliberately restrict the way we play in order to foster social interaction and growth. We should never be tapping against the ceiling of the rules to test its limits: consider that a computer system will not be able to make moralistic judgments of your actions. I believe that it is reasonable that we, as a community, reward fair play and harshly admonish those who harm the integrity of the game.
I would like to draw attention to the topic at hand specifically, and that is the lack of clear and shared player expectations with regards to guild membership and exclusives.
It is a common understanding that joining a guild grants access to new exclusive perks, most of which are retained even when leaving a guild.
What is not common, and what is the focus of this post, is our expectation of what the player must do in exchange for these exclusives, and what our expectation is about what happens after a relationship with a guild is terminated.
I don't want to continue to speak in abstractions. I want to start to define things in concrete terms.
We, as a community, need to define what our expectations are of players with respect to guilds and exclusive perks. The goal of doing so is to make it so that we have a CLEAR and UNIFIED set of guidelines that can be referenced in the future as "fair play", so that players do not feel cheated.
I would like the community's input, but the following is what I personally offer.
Joining a guild represents a contract with that faction in exchange for its perks.
a) This contract should not be ended trivially and has an OOC component.
Players invest a lot of personal time and loyalty in their factions. We must respect our fellow players who commit.
b) The contract represents an obligation on that player and character to roleplay within the faction.
Individual characterization is obviously important and is not downplayed here, but faction roleplay must not be ignored.
c) There is allowance for character dynamism, but it is expected that players will not make a long-term plan to breach loyalties.
Players and characters who have met the obligations for faction play, who have given significant time, and who have roleplayed
character dynamism will generally not be considered to have taken advantage of their faction.
Why? Why do we have to do this in such a forced, OOC manner? I do think it's necessary, and I think it's time we accepted that this is the reality.
The idea of IC punishment for treachery and exploitation is an unrealistic ideal.
We as a community need to embrace this truth, because it has been proven time and again, and it is the reason why we need OOC ethics involved in guild roleplay at all.
Between unreasonable expectations of playtime, privileged information known to traitors, and the general "avoider's advantage" that is so hard to beat, we need to just STOP citing this as a solution! I think we can all agree that skillful and unoccupied players will always "win" any such contest. It must not be a contest. Treachery is an OOC problem that needs OOC answers, and it should not be something that we welcome as a community.
This all leaves one serious hole, this much I must admit. How, or under what circumstances, will it be fair to acquire some limited number of exclusives, as an outsider? I think this is a very important question, because its answer is in some respects a solution to the root problem.
I sincerely believe that if we can both agree to terms and find ACCEPTABLE and fair avenues for exclusives to be alternatively acquired, then we can solve the systemic problem of guildhopping and the community backlash that comes from it.