There comes a time in any evolving, living community and gaming community when changes need to be made, not just with game mechanics, but socially and with its focus.
Based on numerous... occurrences, some related and some not, over the last few weeks, along with the recent growth of the game's community, there are adjustments we are going to try to see how this affects the community and how they are received.
First, the rules have been reduced drastically, and what remains are closer to a code of conduct than anything, and could be boiled down to two concepts: don't cheat, and don't be an ass. Most notably, we are going to try allowing the removal of the rules against botting and multiplaying, and trying to work toward enforcement of only the rules as written rather than there being much wiggle room or interpretation. We are leaving 5 rules in place... 1) Report (and don't abuse) bugs, 2) Be considerate of other's RP, 3) Keep adult-level language off public channels, 4) Keep discussion about quests off public channels, 5) Take up any disputes with a member of the staff or rule enforce to me directly (see below for more specifics on this).
At present, I am the only staff member enforcing rules. I am not sure if this will change as others are promoted or if it will remain the policy moving forward regardless.
Second, with regards to enforcement, a focus on issuing a warning against undesirable behavior first, with any sort of punitive action taking place only after a warning is issued, and a focus on doing our best to handle warnings and punitive action privately and off public channels. The idea here is that no one, player or staff, should ever have to feel in a way that would evoke the thought of babysitting.
Third, I should be the one referred to and reached out to in any instance that may involve a dispute over punitive action taken by another member of the staff. Players and staff both should refrain from escalting or even engaging in a situation where a disagreement over a rule enforcement or punitive action has taken place. Along with the rules being changed to reflect the previous points and this one, the immortal laws file and the resolution dispute guideline files have been altered to reflect this.
I hope that these specific changes will ease some of the conflict that has arisen over the last few weeks.
Additionally, we are going to reclassify and refocus the game as RP Accepted instead of the previous classification of RP Encouraged, which is probably a better representation on how things have operated over the last few years anyhow. The only actual code or system change planned at this moment to this is going to involve clans, and while this will enact an immediate policy shift toward clans, the actual mechanics will roll out over time. Essentially, clans will no longer be Roleplay focused, but will begin to give out automated bonuses, perks, with things such as skills and equipment possible. Joining along with gaining rank will all be automated, likely through an autoquesting type of system. The leadership positions will be filled with NPCs, while there will be, when available, PCs filling what will be an effective leadership role, but actually ranked as 2nd in command. For example, Shin-Ra will be led by an NPC President and when a suitable 2nd in command is available, they will fill the role of Vice President and will be able to help direct the clans. There will also be ways for players to grow their clan's influence to increase benefits for themselves and the clan as a whole.
These changes should make it to where clans can operate without any sort of direct supervision, and when supervision is present then great. This should also allow for a more stable game world for the clans, since we won't have to address a change in leadership whenever a PC is no longer able to fill those duties. Likewise, deemphasizing roleplay with clans should also make it easier for players who do choose to roleplay to do so without the clans being a part of it, and I think will allow for greater freedom across the game and despite reclassifying as RP Accepted, I think this will have the effect of actually encouraging RP -more- by virtue of it being less micromanaged overall. Also I think this will better represent how the game works and help realign certain expectations that more RP oriented players may have when coming into the game.
I would expect all of these changes to stick, but will be periodically reevaluated and potentially changed further or again based on how they end up affecting the game and our community as a whole.