I have always been a big proponent of setting up strict controls in the visibility of info in the who command for two reasons:
1) taper abuse of the system through avoidance behavior (i.e. I'll logout because Luminier is around)
2) protect those players that want to play alone (i.e. I just wanna mine without being bothered)
After many years of using our latest incarnation of the who system I am now convinced that the underlying mechanics of the who command are detrimental to the game, in several different ways. This is going to sound like an echo of woes of the past for some of you, but here they go:
A) with a waning player population, we should be promoting interaction, not anonimity and segregation
B) it is too difficult for players to find each other through IC means, even when they suspect or even known that the other players are around
C) it is impossible to know with certainty if someone is actually around or not
D) playing with other people should be (and typically is) preferable to playing alone
E) I don't believe the individual's right to play alone is more important than the overall health of the game
I'd like to propose a new approach to the who command, focused entirely on promoting interaction between characters.
1) Who should be an IC command. It should just be a special sensory power that everyone has. As such, it should have a cost associated with it. This could simply be a mana cost.
2) The information in who should be representative and reliable of the current amount of actors in the game at that moment. While showing a history of everyone that was online reccently is good, it's also useless to me as someone looking to spend the next few hours in the game. I need to know who is playing right now, and I need to know without a shadow of a doubt.
3) Who should give at least an approximation of an actor's location. It's ok if it's a rough approximation like (Somewhere in Elvandar). Depending on the location, the information could be more granular. This can be used to promote meeting spots like Marketplaces or Pubs.
4) Who off shouldn't exist. Ideally nobody would want to be who off, but I think people that play certain types of characters feel it's important to be able to. The reality is that who off is a mechanism that only promotes abuse and strife between players, not between characters. If preserved due to social issues it should be an IC mechanic, and it should be taxed heavily to make it an unattractive mechanic to use. 'Shrouding' oneself out of the who should be something you do IC that can be seen IC and has heavy consequences. I.e. you can make a pact with a spirit that allows you to become shrouded for an IC year, but no guards will let you pass if you're shrouded. Even after this I would still make who show the presence of shrouded actors in the last few days or more. Shroud makes your location or current online presence a mystery, but not your existence. This is equivalent to the current # state. Shrouded players should not be able to see anybody's location or online status at all. For them, everybody is shrouded.
Example who output, with a shrouded mechanism instead of who off:
Code: Select all
(Remember that the 'who' command is an IC command!) You concentrate and feel the presence of: (character emotes: Ferranifer closes her eyes and concentrates intensely.) * Arsicas (Elvandar Marketplace) * Aslak (Somewhere in West Amward) Dalamar (Faint lingering presence) * Ferranifer (YOU) (Scribe's Guild) ? Izydor (Shrouded) * Korsario (Somewhere in West Amward) Koschei (Faint lingering presence)) Lightning (Somewhere in Giat Mountains) * Luminier (Somewhere in the World) * Nadie (Somewhere in the World) * Roseywood (Padorn's Inn) * Sirfalas (Scribe's Guild) Stonebeard (Powerful lingering pressence) * Wade (Somewhere in the World) Zehren (Faint linering pressence) A male dwarf (Powerful lingering pressence) * A masked darkelf (Somewhere in the West Amward) * A masked darkelf (Somewhere in the West Amward) * A masked human (Somewhere in the West Amward) * A newbie female elf (Elvandar Marketplace) 135 characters have been around in the last @week.
In that list:
Izydor is shrouded (who off) OR offline. Probably up to no good as usual.
Dalamar, Lightning, Koschei, Stonebeard, Zehren and some dwarf are offline.
A newbie elf is.. talking with Arsicas in Elvandar? (btw, newbies should not be allowed to shroud)
Korsario and Aslak are.. killing stuff in Ironhold? Or only Aslak is and Korsario is at the bugbears? Searching for herbs? Killing darkelves?
Luminier, Nadie and Wade are in some non-descript location, i.e. a dungeon, or their guildhall. Main guildhalls and certain dangerous deadend locations would always show as Somewhere in the World.
Sirfalas and Ferranifer are at the Scribe's Guild summoning the end of the world. Secondary guildhalls are always shown because they should both be promoted as encounter spots AND also deincentivized as hiding locations.
A bunch of masked people is looking for trouble in West Amward.
All the lingering presences are players that were online in the last 3 days but are offline at the moment.
Please note that the summary player count is for the last week, not the last 3 days.
P.S.: I've been involved in many discussions and arguments about how who worked, should have worked, and all the different (typically very passionate) opinions and gameplay dynamics around the function of 'who'. My stance on this used to be one centered around protecting the individual rights to anonymity and personal space. That was a mistake. That might have worked when the game had a bigger and more mainstream playerbase but imho it does not work now (or perhaps never did). The enjoyment of the whole must be more important than any individual's personal goals and MUDs are inherently multiplayer experiences. If you want to say I told you so, go ahead, I'll accept that and hope you understand where I was coming from.