Last time, I was told that my editorials are not sufficiently editorial-like. An editorial ought to be more than an introduction of our new issue; it should actually contain opinions, viewpoints that are supported by our newsletter.
Now there are two problems, both very practical, that prevented me from writing editorials like this. First, there is the issue of journalistic independence: being the head honcho arch-wizard, I cannot really express an independent opinion in our newsletter! This situation can only be remedied when a new editor is found for our little publication. The second problem is more mundane: given that I have my very own column at the end of this newsletter, one especially reserved for my archly opinions, it seemed redundant to use this space for the same purpose.
This month things are a bit different, at least inasmuch as the second problem is concerned. My personal column now contains a description of an odd set of events that led me to wonder if I have made the wrong career choice earlier in my life. That concern notwithstanding, this leaves this column free for opinionated editorialising.
So what shall I editorialise about? There is, actually, an issue that was brought up by a MUD2 oldtimer recently: the issue of wiz "fairness". Are wizzes supposed to be always "fair", whatever the term implies?
For starters, I think we can all agree on one thing: mortals are never asked to be "fair". Many may consider it unfair when a killer disposes of their unarmed warlock through the efficient use of the longsword and some fine wafers, but few, if any, would think of complaining about unfair mortals or demand a restore because the killer carried better tools.
So why is it different for wizzes?
Two reasons, really. The first has to do with the immense powers of wizzes; the second, with their role in the game.
It is a given in MUD2 that wizzes can do anything. There might be some minor technical limits to their powers but those can be easily circumvented. It follows logically that there must be some limits placed on wizzes' use of their immense powers. We expect that wizzes don't FOD mortals on a whim, don't give their friends wiz powers, don't mess the game up and make it unplayable for mortals. In other words, we expect wizzes to wield their powers responsibly. But, and I must emphasise this, responsible playing doesn't necessary imply fair play! Indeed, wizzes can be unfair in a variety of ways. They can let a mobile lose on an unsuspecting mortal, they can move objects from places where mortals expect to find them, they can hinder mortals and help mobiles.
Or, to put it another way, wizzes are allowed to play the game.
And this is exactly where the second conflict lies: while wizzes are also MUD2's players, they are more than players. They can, if they so choose, act in a limited way as the game's managers.
And as managers, wizzes are indeed required to be fair. When they step in to resolve a dispute between two mortals, they should give both mortals the benefit of the doubt, and they should not allow their prejudices to take the place of reason.
But let's not forget: wizzes are not full-time managers of MUD2. Most of the time, they are in the game because they enjoy it as much as mortals do, and want to participate in it.
The trouble is, of course, that a playful wiz often resembles that proverbial elephant in the china store. Moreover, it's hard to say no to a wiz! If a wiz chooses to open up a quest area, hold a trivia contest, or just harass mortals for good clean fun, it's difficult, often impossible to ignore them. But is it reasonable to expect that wizzes will always leave you alone?
While exploring the dwarf citadel, you can rightfully expect to be waylaid by a dwarf or two. During a visit the dragon's island, chances are that you will be invited to dinner by the dragon (as the main course, that is.) While losing your way in the goblins' lairs, you'll risk being whacked to death by the goblins. Just as these mobiles are rulers of their realm, wizzes are also rulers of the entire Land: it's just as unreasonable to expect them to leave you alone as it is silly to expect the dragon, the dwarfs, the goblins to ignore your unwanted presence in their kingdoms. You have to learn to live with them!
The analogy can be carried even further. If you find that one of the goblins went berserk due to a software bug, you'd have every reason to expect that we fix this problem as soon as possible, and compensate mortals who may have lost points or personae because of it. This is no different in the case of wizzes; when a wiz goes berserk, we'll fix the problem by removing him from the game and compensating his victims. But in order for this to happen, the wiz has to exhibit really unreasonable, disruptive behaviour. Simply being unfair is not enough!
Of course there is one area where fairness is actually demanded from wizzes: no wiz is allowed to favour or hinder a mortal based on events that transpired outside of the game or outside of their existence as a wiz. "I FODded this mortal because he killed me once before I made wiz" or "I BANned this mortal because he owes me a hundred bucks" are the kinds of excuses that will almost certainly cost a wiz his immortality.
Fortunately, most wizzes are reasonable folks who know very well that it is not in their best interest to do anything that'd drive mortals away from our game. And in the rare case when you fall victim to a wiz who lost his marbles, you can always send e-mail to the ever helpful arch-wiz.
There! Good editorial, is it not! Think twice before you answer...
Ah, never mind. Don't answer that question; it is a terribly unfair question for an all-powerful arch-wiz to ask. Here is another one instead: suppose that one day a wiz orders you to do the dragon and while he watches you stumble (without interfering in any way), you die on the dragon's island. In your opinion, are you due to receive a restoral?
Send your answers and opinions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Viktor the arch-wizard
This Web page copyright © 1998 Viktor T. Toth