Goblinworks Blog: I Heard It through the Grapevine


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Web Product Manager

Removed a post and the replies to it. If someone doesn't like the rules laid out in the blog, that's okay, but making violent allusions breaks the paizo.com messageboard rules.


k im even more confused now,

by "violent allusions" I assume that was the reason for the removal of the judge dread voice thing, but what always happens with these removals, they throw the baby out with the bathwater, there were some good posts in there about the necessity of being specific about what is or isnt harassment, offensive, or abusive language. etc. now gone, when this sort of thing happened before in another thread, I did (I'm sure to many's joy) quit the forums for a period of a few months.

I'm gonna go back now and find the paizo.com messageboard rules (something I dont think I've ever read) and play lawyer for now on, but again, I would much prefer a system in-game that allows players to control their own content, rather than have admin's remove or ban content and force me to become a lawyer of the rules of forum/game censorship.

k read the rules (I have read these before)...

What are the messageboard rules?
The most important rule: Don't be a jerk. We want our messageboards to be a fun and friendly place.

Users who participate in our message boards agree to not: post any content that infringes and/or violates any patent, trademark, copyright, or other proprietary right of any third party; use profanity or any type of vulgar speech; make any bigoted, hateful or racially offensive statements; defame, abuse, stalk, harass or threaten others; advocate illegal activity or discuss illegal activities with the intent to commit them.

yes, paizo has the right to alter or remove any message on the boards, BUT what happens when you have postings that did not seem "to you" to break any of the above mentioned "rules" and were removed anyway?

kind of the same thing I think as what happens when in pathfinder online somebody gets banhammered without a good or obvious reason. It leaves the peson feeling paranoid about what could happen next because clearly the rules are not telling them what to expect or giving them clear examples of what specific actions are forbidden.

Goblinworks Executive Founder

On topic: Do you expect the authenticators to be USB dongles, standalone devices, or software which interfaces with a smartphone and/or email?

Goblin Squad Member

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Hopefully both like WoW. I like options.

Goblin Squad Member

I don't think there will be actual widgets. The ability to do them will have to be determined based on the cost by the time we get to that point, but if you figure the cost of the widget, plus shipping, we might have to charge you $10 or something close to that, and it seems a bit ridiculous to have to make you pay to access your account.

Using the Google Authenticator is the easiest option and that will probably be our base case until we have the time & breathing room to look into getting a custom app built. Google Authenticator has the advantage that it runs on just about every flavor of Android (and iOS), but the disadvantage that it's fugly, and if you have a bunch of 2-factor accounts it is a pain to ensure you're typing the right code in.

Goblin Squad Member

@Ryan, any chance we'll be able to reserve names before we're actually making characters in game? Or, better yet, if you will allow duplicate names?

Goblin Squad Member

@Nihimon - we're talking about ways to do that which don't lead to name brokering.

Goblin Squad Member

*counts letters in name* Hopefully there's not like a 10 character limit or anything :)

Goblin Squad Member

I can think of two names I'd like to use already, and neither of them is Blaeringr.

Goblin Squad Member

Blaeringr wrote:
I can think of two names I'd like to use already, and neither of them is Blaeringr.

Same.

Goblin Squad Member

Kryzbyn wrote:
Blaeringr wrote:
I can think of two names I'd like to use already, and neither of them is Blaeringr.
Same.

It could be kinda fun though if I could manage to convince you to make a character named Blaeringr. Think of the mind games we could play on the forums!

Goblin Squad Member

Oh, my. That's a good idea...

You make a Nihimon, and I'll make a Blaeringr :P

Goblin Squad Member

Kryzbyn wrote:
You make a Nihimon...

Why do you think I keep asking about reserving names? But, actually, I was going to offer to make a Blaeringr...

Goblin Squad Member

:)

Goblin Squad Member

Nihimon wrote:
Kryzbyn wrote:
You make a Nihimon...
Why do you think I keep asking about reserving names? But, actually, I was going to offer to make a Blaeringr...

And I'll form a company of assassins called "The Seventh Veil" >8D

Goblin Squad Member

We are so on topic now...

...is this a good time to mention how cool real Darkness would be in-game? *grin*

Goblin Squad Member

Don't forget non-unique names!


I know that this rule:

"Don't compare anyone to any person or group of historical infamy."

was only meant to apply to a couple of popular political groups from the 1930s. But I doubt it'll stay that way. In practice, anyone who's viewed unfavorably (even if it's because of membership in the groups the first four rules refer to) will have to carefully avoid words like 'vandalism' and 'assassinate' (even though everyone else can continue using them). And woe betide the angry player who calls your rules 'draconian' upon receiving his first warning... that might count as his second offense in and of itself. Yes, this is an *actual* concern.

However, I'm much more interested in the naming policy, especially since you specifically mention a bias toward 'immersion'. I'm all in favor of this, and a naming policy is a great start, but it takes more than good names to keep it. What I really wish your blog post would address is what you would do about other roleplayers such as:

1) a Chartered Company called Bantha Clan whose members claim they crash-landed their tie-fighter on Golarion, and are now training their jedi powers and building their lightsabers while waiting to be rescued?

There's actually quite a lot of immersion in such a story, it's just not immersion in the particular way you wanted. But that's how sandboxes work. And btw, it's *very* likely that someone will try it. Yeah, yeah, you'll just get them on trademark infringement. But then what about

2) a Chartered Company called Space Travellers who claim their spacecraft crashed on Golarion, and are now battling the natives with their ray-guns and psychic powers?

Just as jarring, but no trademarks... now what? Ban reference to future-tech (or superheroes or anything non-medieval) as if it's just as bad as religious slurs? Possibly... but then what about

3) a Chartered Company called Company of Nine, which consists mostly (but not entirely) of halflings, whose mission is to seek out and destroy evil magic rings all over Golarion?

Now it IS medieval, plus it skirts around trademark issues just as efficiently as the game itself does (really... Halflings?), but it's still fairly obvious.

Actually, there are many versions of number 3, from Knights of the Round Table to Crusaders of Christ to Knights Who Say Ni to various sparkly vampires. And for the most part, these are pretty much exactly the types of customers that you DO want to attract to your sandbox, as near as I can tell.

These are relevant because they are exactly the same issues the naming policy addresses. The blog mentions "makes our game less fun, angers someone else, breaks immersion, is a copyright or trademark infringement, or identity theft." But these people really and truly do not believe their clans make your game less fun... they're not trolls, they really want to play Pathfinder that way. And you'll be surprised how many of your customers agree with them.

Anyway, moving on... eventually you'll also get

4) a Chartered Company called Confederacy of Ar who found a large in-game settlement with high defensive walls, etc. to promote in-game trade. The Confederacy believes the men should all be warriors and PvP often, while the women stay within the settlement, doing tradeskills, running the taverns, playing healers, etc. (while wearing the least amount of armor possible).

This is basically the same as number 3, except they're immersed in Golarion lore as much as any group could be. They tie their backstories to real towns and historical events from the books, and definitely always choose 'good names'. Plus they're more active, popular, and successful than number 3 would be. It would be lovely if you could just let them die out peacefully when no women choose to join... but somehow that just doesn't seem to happen. Nevertheless, these Goreans can be quite controversial, and so are an interesting test of your policies: do you love them or hate them? I really can't guess, from your blog post. And then, of course, right behind the Goreans come

5) the Furries.

Do you even care whether they portray their characters as races not in the Core Rulebook? How picky will you be about that?

Believe me, I can come up with some even cleverer and stickier situations... but then we end up talking more about griefing than immersion and language, so I shant for now.

Anyway, THESE are the questions I really want answered in a policy on 'bad communications' and immersion. Could you possibly clarify now what you'd probably do about these five groups of 'roleplayers'?

Goblin Squad Member

Outl wrote:

I know that this rule:

"Don't compare anyone to any person or group of historical infamy."

was only meant to apply to a couple of popular political groups from the 1930s.

Er, no. I can think of modern groups (Crips) that are infamous in ways we don't need brought into the game.

Quote:
carefully avoid words like 'vandalism' and 'assassinate' (even though everyone else can continue using them). And woe betide the angry player who calls your rules 'draconian' upon receiving his first warning... that might count as his second offense in and of itself. Yes, this is an *actual* concern.

It's an absurd concern.

My response to all your example questions is the same:

I'd ignore them unless they somehow managed to get enough notice to be worth paying attention to.

If they somehow got that much notice, I'd ask them to make changes as we deemed necessary to neuter the issue. If they refused they'd be asked to leave.

The stipulation in the prohibition against yelling "Fire!" In a theater is that there be someone else there who would panic. It is ridiculously hard to make enough noise by being immersion breaking or impolite to rise to the level of concern in an MMO, especially one focused on rewarding players who work together as opposed to being agents of agitation.

The easiest way to win the game you propose is not to play, which is exactly what we'll do.

Goblin Squad Member

There still seems to be a concern that the description of the guidelines actually ARE the guidelines. To me, (as I read both the lines, and whats between them) it seems the easier path to assume that this environment won't live in a vacuum, and within any given populace, the types of serious transgressions described would either A) work themselves out organically via the player base via exclusion, or B) elevate the concerns to the Mods where they follow their internal guidelines to decide on a proper course of action. When GW tells us they won't be explicit about those processes, that doesn't mean we can interpret the process via a short list describing it.

Allow me an analogy; A Car is a shapely box on wheels, that moves at greater than walking speed. By not describing the inner workings of an alternator, fuel pump, driveshaft, and wheel bearings, are you less capable of learning what A Car does? Goblinworks has said their policy is "Don't be a bad person, and think you can get away with it." Do you really need to have that parsed out in 50 ways to know that if you act like a racist misogynist dooshwaffle that you're gonna have to deal with consequences.

Goblin Squad Member

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Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.

-- Walt Whitman

Words to live by when operating an MMO.


Ok, time to get real. In other guises, I've been in a "Knights of the Round Table" MMORPG guild for about 20 years now. We started in an online D&D game (the first Neverwinter Nights on AOL), where groups did build social kingdoms and affect the world, and we have had chapters in a succession of online games since then (The Realms, Everquest, WoW, etc.), but going back to a D&D-style sandbox game would suit us. (We are some of the folks who've been waiting for this type of game for a very long time.) But a lot of our history and tradition is wrapped up in stuff that predates Pathfinder altogether, so obviously it won't match your trademarked lore.

The difference between 'don't use four-letter words' and 'don't say ray-gun or mention a wagging tail' is actually pretty huge. This is not a game you can choose not to play. There's a limit to how vague your rules can be. If your policy is truly that you will arbitrarily and capriciously impose a heavy hand to control which stories are allowed (like in a themed MUD with storylines), then players kinda deserve to know that before they invest too many hours into their characters and kingdoms. At first, even Chelaxian-themed companies will seek reassurance that they are allowed (as Cheliax is so far away from the River Kingdoms), whether you think their concerns are absurd or not. The language and content policy of a game is typically where such guidelines would be stated.

I'm not actually meaning to game the rules as trolls would, with a succession of companies to see how uncomfortable we can make people. I was just trying to be specific about the types of groups who are likely to show up (independently of each other, and without any help from me or you).

If I'm playing any game here in the forums, it's including my second topic: trying to get you to say in one thread "Goreans will not be allowed" while saying in another thread "Goreans will be tolerated". But it doesn't have to be Goreans in particular, there are any number of roleplay groups that create 'adult-oriented' controversies, even while the members are well-spoken, polite, mostly in-theme, and keep far away from the borderline of any language rules. This second topic doesn't bear quite as much 'players kinda deserve to know' status, so it can be hushed for now. But I do think the first topic is rather important.

Goblin Squad Member

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Quote:
If your policy is truly that you will arbitrarily and capriciously impose a heavy hand to control which stories are allowed ...

My policy is to be arbitrarily and capriciously light handed.

RyanD

Goblin Squad Member

My only real concern with this system is when it comes to PM conversations. For me this shouldn't be a huge deal because I operate my own Teamspeak where 90%+ of my non-public communications will probably be taking place, but if I still used in-game chat as my primary form of communication I could see this being a huge concern.

Basically I've always operated in-game with the same standards I do in real life. Keep anything said in public appropriate for the public. Keep everything said in private or in a small group appropriate to that person or group.

Basically, if you have been talking with someone awhile, or their opening message to you is "***** you, you ******ing son of a ****** I will ****** your ****** and ****** with your (insert female relative here.)" or just "How the ***** is it going dude?" and the other person replies with a message about as appropriate how will that be dealt with? Will GM's be searching PM's for that kind of stuff or will it only be brought to the attention if reported. If reported are they going to read back a bit in the discussion and take a different action if there is back and forth going on than if one side is saying. "Don't talk to me like that, I don't want to hear that kind of stuff."

Goblin Squad Member

There is no possible way we could ever afford the time to sift through PMs. We're not even going to be able to sift through general chat.

Someone has to be offended enough by what you say to flag the conversation. Then we'll look at it.

You might get dismissed as not worth the time to bother, or get a friendly "don't do that", or get a real warning (which would be logged), a suspension or a ban. The severity of the response will be related to our subjective opinion on the severity of the problem and our history in dealing with you and your past behavior.

And enforcement of these rules will be arbitrary, and capricious. They'll vary from rep to rep, and with the load we're coping with, and a million other unquantifiable factors. You will have avenues to appeal these decisions, and those appeals will also be arbitrary and capricious.

And just so we're clear, this is exactly what every other MMO does. Some of them pretend there's some kind of formal justice system, but having seen it up close and on the inside i can tell you that's just PR.

If you're really worried about it, don't send PMs or post in open chat. Then you'll never see any effect.

But frankly, I wouldn't worry.

Goblin Squad Member

Ryan Dancey wrote:


But frankly, I wouldn't worry.

This 1000 times, This.

Goblin Squad Member

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Yep. As long as people just follow Wil Wheaton's golden rule we'll all be fine.

Don't be a d**k.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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Gruffling wrote:
There still seems to be a concern that the description of the guidelines actually ARE the guidelines. To me, (as I read both the lines, and whats between them) it seems the easier path to assume that this environment won't live in a vacuum, and within any given populace, the types of serious transgressions described would either A) work themselves out organically via the player base via exclusion, or B) elevate the concerns to the Mods where they follow their internal guidelines to decide on a proper course of action. When GW tells us they won't be explicit about those processes, that doesn't mean we can interpret the process via a short list describing it.

A 1964 US Supreme Court case raised the potential for the Court to create a strict definition of hardcore pornography. Justice Potter Stewart stated "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it..."

That's what's really going on here: no list of rules Goblinworks could make would successfully differentiate the exact set of "everything that's a problem" from the exact set of "everything that's not a problem." Instead, you get a list of examples, and a note that things will be examined on a case-by-case basis. Yes, this requires that anyone who wishes to play the game have some level of trust in the Goblinworks admins, and no, there really isn't a better solution.

Ultimately, you have two choices: Trust that Goblinworks will do a job that you'll find satisfactory, or don't. In the latter case, I recommend you don't play the game.

Goblin Squad Member

Now that was a refreshing post! It's good to see that Goblinworks plans to stick to their guns on things, I hope this continues.


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interesting convo, but back on topic: Will these authenticators be accessible without some sort of smartphone?

Goblin Squad Member

blope wrote:
interesting convo, but back on topic: Will these authenticators be accessible without some sort of smartphone?

I must echo this sentiment. I don't have a mobile phone or 'smart phone', and quite frankly, I don't want one because it's yet another drain on my power, my funds and my sanity.

Would it be possible to have the small authenticators like you can purchase from some banks, or perhaps more familiar to my fellow posters, the 'Digipass Go 6' authenticators that World of Warcraft uses?

Small, compact and doesn't require your players to buy a Smartphone just to play the game.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated! I cringe to play a game without an authenticator, but if it's a choice between a hundred dollars for a smart-phone that I'll only really use to log on to Pathfinder Online, or fifty dollars (including shipping and freight) for an Authenticator, I know which one I'll be gunning for.

Goblinworks Executive Founder

I think the default model will be an email sent to an account which you are expected to control.

Lantern Lodge

Perhaps I missed something, but what are these authenticators people are asking about?

I haven't played any MMO that needed anything other then an email, or payment info if I paid online. Do we really need to add another step? What for?

Liberty's Edge Goblin Squad Member

It's for account security. I have one for TOR. Basically it means that even if your password is stolen or discerned through other means, they still can't access your account due to lack of the authenticator code.

Lantern Lodge

I see. In that case it should be something accessable from whatever computer is being used to play the game.

Though they could just do the IP rememberence thing that banks do all the time. Logging in from a new IP requires the full gamut of security questions, or maybe even another email authentication.

Though if they do that they should allow you to remember a couple IPs, in case yoou have a seperate computer at your summer house or something.

CEO, Goblinworks

Too early to be definitive, but my guess is we'll use Google Authenticator, so it will be useable anywhere you can use Google authenticator.

Smartphones seem the most likely place for that to happen, and the venn diagram of people who play MMOs and people who have smartphones overlaps at the 99% percentile, so I don't see that being a handicap.


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Is Google Authenticator usable by a home PC?

Goblin Squad Member

Yes - Guild Wars 2 is the best current user of the tech for their game; it seems to be working quite well IMO

Goblin Squad Member

blope wrote:
Is Google Authenticator usable by a home PC?

This. I really do need to know if I'm going to need to splash out for a Smartphone. If so, I need to start saving now, because the decent ones are freaking expensive where I live.

Goblin Squad Member

Ryan Dancey wrote:

Too early to be definitive, but my guess is we'll use Google Authenticator, so it will be useable anywhere you can use Google authenticator.

Smartphones seem the most likely place for that to happen, and the venn diagram of people who play MMOs and people who have smartphones overlaps at the 99% percentile, so I don't see that being a handicap.

Finally: I'm one of the 1%. And it is a game.

</em head on desk, sobbing>

Lantern Lodge

What is Google Authenticator? The only authentication I ever had to do for any other MMOs was responding to an email, so I'm kinda wondering if it is a one time thing (account creation, maybe for lost passwords, etc) or if I have to use it every time I log on?


It's a program that verifies that you are who you say you are (to the game server) through your smartphone.

Goblin Squad Member

I used to really like the extra security provided by an authenticator. But then my mobile RIFT authenticator broke (it kept giving me invalid keys) and support didn't want to help, so I ended up being forced to cancel my account.

So. Yeah. I'd prefer an authenticator system that doesn't do that, or have some kind of recovery option for if/when it breaks. Or if the phone croaks. Because that sucked. And it would suck infinitely more in PFO.

Lantern Lodge

Do I need to use it every time?

And thankfully someone above said it could be used from a computer as well, or I really would have a problem (I think it's crazy enough as is, though I have an inkling of an idea about the concern, but needing a special kind of phone to play a game on a computer when both the game and the computer are entirely unrelated to any phone is so far beyond ridiculous, that I am amazed we even need to mention and clarify the matter.)

And yes, I will not have another smartphone with phone service for a few years and probably not then either. My current phone I use for internet has no service because $200+ a month is unreasonable at current economic standpoint, which probably won't change even when I have enough to buy games again (which I am hoping happens before PFO comes out), thankfully I can use my grandparents wifi.

Goblin Squad Member

@DLH - many players use same un/pw across their online a/c's - there's not a lot anyone can do to solve that if players are "ridiculous" enough to not take their online basic security seriously. So authenticator is good idea. The idea that it is useable (additionally) from smart devices (via an app) just reflects the growth in ubiquity of these (as with wallet, keys etc, usually on/near person).

Goblin Squad Member

AvenaOats wrote:
@DLH - many players use same un/pw across their online a/c's - there's not a lot anyone can do to solve that if players are "ridiculous" enough to not take their online basic security seriously. So authenticator is good idea. The idea that it is useable (additionally) from smart devices (via an app) just reflects the growth in ubiquity of these (as with wallet, keys etc, usually on/near person).

Speaking of user names, I really hate the current trend of using your email address as your user name. And THEN they tell us not to share it with anyone. Uhm, sorry, but I don't think you understand the purpose of an email address. :)

Goblin Squad Member

That, and eg limited number of chars with only characters and numbers input... the list goes on for terrible account creation security. Increasing the number of pieces of information required is a very simple and powerful improvement.

Goblin Squad Member

AvenaOats wrote:
That, and eg limited number of chars with only characters and numbers input... the list goes on for terrible account creation security. Increasing the number of pieces of information required is a very simple and powerful improvement.

I recall how baffled I was when I realized that a certain large online account system (there's this net. Where you do battle) didn't even use case-sensitive passwords. I mean, sure, brute forcing passwords isn't terrible common in this day and age, but come on!

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