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Author Topic: A truly good server should not need more than one GM.  (Read 15796 times)

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Offline Firefly

A server that is set up right from the start should not need multiple GMs, at least not until the population breaks 50-70 people or so online at a time. There really, really shouldn't be that much need for micromanagement. I've just seen too many servers with 20 people online, but 5 are GMs. Or better yet, 100 people are online, but 70 of them are autotraders, and 10 are GMs. What do these people do, exactly? Look at the common functions of a GM:

1) Fix glitches- This shouldn't happen much, if ever, if your server was set up right to begin with. If/when it does happen, have players report the bug on the forums, complete with an explanation of the problem, how it happened, and screenshots. The sole admin/GM may need to watch this daily at first, but then maybe once or twice a week once the server establishes itself. If it's urgent, players can send you an e-mail that should be checked daily. If a player abuses the e-mail, warn/ban.

2) Enforce rules- What rules need enforcing, really? On a PK server, PK rules should be enforced by implementing things like level restrictions and safe zones. If there's someone that continually stalks and harasses another player, either to PK or just for verbal abuse, have the victim provide you with screenshots, then ban the offender if necessary. Again, this really only needs to be a once or twice a week check. If someone can't handle three days of putting up with a minor annoyance, and can't seem to figure out how to block private messages and/or put Fly Wings to good use, then chances are you aren't losing a worthwhile player anyway. For skill abuse, simply turn off non-buff skills in towns. If someone finds some other way to abuse skills, require screenshots, then warn/ban as needed.

3) Attend to newbies- First off, there shouldn't be any reason to cater to noobs begging for freebies. Ever. If there happen to be regular players hanging around that want to spare a bit of zeny, so be it, but you don't need a GM for that. If someone has questions about the game, they can ask another more experienced player (easily identified by the fact that their sprite isn't a novice...), or they can use the internet. Yes, I am assuming that someone that managed to download and set up a private game server is capable of surfing the internet. If that's too much to ask of a new player, I wouldn't want that player on my server anyway. For anything that may require extra explanation (ie how to get around if you changed the default main town, how to use any custom NPCs you inserted, how your donation system works, any notable changes to the job/stat system, etc.), then explain those on your website and add an 'explanation' NPC to your main town.

4) Scripting- Shouldn't the server owner be the one primarily in charge of this? If not, why are they running the server to begin with? I can understand recruiting some help, but a staff position isn't really needed. If you have a friend who wants to get in on scripting, they should be doing it because they want to, not because you're bribing them with power. If they need to test something, allow them to have GM commands only on an unused map while the main GM/admin is there. If you notice that there's some scripting talent or some particularly creative people in your community, host a small event that's available for anyone to enter and hand out game-relevant prizes as appropriate. No part of that requires a person to have any additional in-game powers.

5) Events- Too many uncontrolled events lead to unbalanced servers, period, no matter who is in charge. How do you make sure the events are balanced? By doing it yourself. Besides, events like mass mob spawns or MvP summons are extremely lame and unprofessional. A good event can be made totally self-sufficient with some creatively scripted NPCs and minimal GM attention. For super high rate servers that host a lot of people and put a lot of emphasis on their fun events, I can understand having a GM that exists solely to hand out freebies, but those are the exception, not the rule.

6) Advertising- Really? Seriously? The admin can advertise their own server, and they can ask (not bribe, ASK) players to vote on the standard top sites. An artistically-inclined admin might need to ask for help with a cool banner, but again, that's not something that requires a player to have extra in-game powers of any sort. If you can't call in a favor from a friend, then host a small banner-making event with a proportionately small reward.

For any server with under 50 people or so, I really do believe that one person- armed with a well-designed website, a properly-scripted game, a reliable host, an organized forum, a respectable level of game knowledge, and at least a small (like 5 people) base of courteous and experienced players- can easily maintain a server by working two or three days a week. The extra time can be put to better use by programming future customs/events or by making appearances in the main town just to chat and appear friendly (and NOTHING else). Frankly, if a one-person GM "team" can't manage to avoid corruption, he shouldn't be a GM. If he can't set up his server properly, he shouldn't be a GM. If he can't put in two days a week for his own server, he shouldn't be a GM. If he isn't able to make good judgment calls on a regular basis regarding rule enforcement and punishment, he shouldn't be a GM. And if he can manage to do all of those things decently, then he really shouldn't need a team at all.

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Offline ~~T~~

Re: A truly good server should not need more than one GM.
« Reply #1 on: Aug 08, 2008, 06:49 pm »
Agreed.  But no man can do everything alone,
Quote
I really do believe that one person- armed with a well-designed website, a properly-scripted game, a reliable host, an organized forum, a respectable level of game knowledge.
only if he managed to have a normal life and being good at everything.

Also, Good and Private Servers don't come in the same phrase.

Offline Rehael

Re: A truly good server should not need more than one GM.
« Reply #2 on: Aug 09, 2008, 09:51 pm »
A server that is set up right from the start should not need multiple GMs, at least not until the population breaks 50-70 people or so online at a time. There really, really shouldn't be that much need for micromanagement. I've just seen too many servers with 20 people online, but 5 are GMs. Or better yet, 100 people are online, but 70 of them are autotraders, and 10 are GMs. What do these people do, exactly? Look at the common functions of a GM:

1) Fix glitches- This shouldn't happen much, if ever, if your server was set up right to begin with. If/when it does happen, have players report the bug on the forums, complete with an explanation of the problem, how it happened, and screenshots. The sole admin/GM may need to watch this daily at first, but then maybe once or twice a week once the server establishes itself. If it's urgent, players can send you an e-mail that should be checked daily. If a player abuses the e-mail, warn/ban.

2) Enforce rules- What rules need enforcing, really? On a PK server, PK rules should be enforced by implementing things like level restrictions and safe zones. If there's someone that continually stalks and harasses another player, either to PK or just for verbal abuse, have the victim provide you with screenshots, then ban the offender if necessary. Again, this really only needs to be a once or twice a week check. If someone can't handle three days of putting up with a minor annoyance, and can't seem to figure out how to block private messages and/or put Fly Wings to good use, then chances are you aren't losing a worthwhile player anyway. For skill abuse, simply turn off non-buff skills in towns. If someone finds some other way to abuse skills, require screenshots, then warn/ban as needed.

3) Attend to newbies- First off, there shouldn't be any reason to cater to noobs begging for freebies. Ever. If there happen to be regular players hanging around that want to spare a bit of zeny, so be it, but you don't need a GM for that. If someone has questions about the game, they can ask another more experienced player (easily identified by the fact that their sprite isn't a novice...), or they can use the internet. Yes, I am assuming that someone that managed to download and set up a private game server is capable of surfing the internet. If that's too much to ask of a new player, I wouldn't want that player on my server anyway. For anything that may require extra explanation (ie how to get around if you changed the default main town, how to use any custom NPCs you inserted, how your donation system works, any notable changes to the job/stat system, etc.), then explain those on your website and add an 'explanation' NPC to your main town.

4) Scripting- Shouldn't the server owner be the one primarily in charge of this? If not, why are they running the server to begin with? I can understand recruiting some help, but a staff position isn't really needed. If you have a friend who wants to get in on scripting, they should be doing it because they want to, not because you're bribing them with power. If they need to test something, allow them to have GM commands only on an unused map while the main GM/admin is there. If you notice that there's some scripting talent or some particularly creative people in your community, host a small event that's available for anyone to enter and hand out game-relevant prizes as appropriate. No part of that requires a person to have any additional in-game powers.

5) Events- Too many uncontrolled events lead to unbalanced servers, period, no matter who is in charge. How do you make sure the events are balanced? By doing it yourself. Besides, events like mass mob spawns or MvP summons are extremely lame and unprofessional. A good event can be made totally self-sufficient with some creatively scripted NPCs and minimal GM attention. For super high rate servers that host a lot of people and put a lot of emphasis on their fun events, I can understand having a GM that exists solely to hand out freebies, but those are the exception, not the rule.

6) Advertising- Really? Seriously? The admin can advertise their own server, and they can ask (not bribe, ASK) players to vote on the standard top sites. An artistically-inclined admin might need to ask for help with a cool banner, but again, that's not something that requires a player to have extra in-game powers of any sort. If you can't call in a favor from a friend, then host a small banner-making event with a proportionately small reward.

For any server with under 50 people or so, I really do believe that one person- armed with a well-designed website, a properly-scripted game, a reliable host, an organized forum, a respectable level of game knowledge, and at least a small (like 5 people) base of courteous and experienced players- can easily maintain a server by working two or three days a week. The extra time can be put to better use by programming future customs/events or by making appearances in the main town just to chat and appear friendly (and NOTHING else). Frankly, if a one-person GM "team" can't manage to avoid corruption, he shouldn't be a GM. If he can't set up his server properly, he shouldn't be a GM. If he can't put in two days a week for his own server, he shouldn't be a GM. If he isn't able to make good judgment calls on a regular basis regarding rule enforcement and punishment, he shouldn't be a GM. And if he can manage to do all of those things decently, then he really shouldn't need a team at all.

Agreed on http://valiant-ro.net we have 100+ Players & only 2 Devs.
The players are quite pleased with our abilities. Gm's are trouble, their useless :L
The Greatest Server is in preparation phase : http://valiantro.com
Setting the standard so high the other servers will look like noob stuff. ;)

Descent

  • Guest
Re: A truly good server should not need more than one GM.
« Reply #3 on: Aug 10, 2008, 01:55 am »
"A server that is set up right from the start should not need multiple GMs, at least not until the population breaks 50-70 people or so online at a time. There really, really shouldn't be that much need for micromanagement."

Sure. Show me a server that comes right out of the box with customs, scripts, a playerbase, hell, sign me up. Oh by the way, I work a full-time job. Where can I get the free setup, advertising, et cetera?

Until that day comes, I think I'll stick with my staff and I'll keep my ideas in Realisticville.


Offline Loki

Re: A truly good server should not need more than one GM.
« Reply #4 on: Aug 10, 2008, 08:08 am »
About the customs, scripts, you can prepare it yourself before you open your server. Even if its little by little because of real life work.

But, you still need people to test your server for bug and glitches, unless you have loads of time on your hands, you can be a beta tester to your own server.

You need to have a lot of time on your hand to maintain a server. But if I were to have my own server, I would only hire 2 GMs.
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Whatever floats your boat.

Offline Mamimi

Re: A truly good server should not need more than one GM.
« Reply #5 on: Aug 10, 2008, 08:29 am »
Most server's I've been on had waaay too many GMs. The one I play now, I can see why we have as many GMs as we have, our admin works full-time, the 2 dev's work and one doesn't have stable internet; the 3 GMs are not always on all the time, save for me, I just dont sleep x_x;. The other 2 have irl things they have to deal with, but I do agree with you. If it was just the admin, a dev, and a GM, I could see that working out nicely. The GM would handle most of the server's problems, ie player questions, events, minor bugs, etc. The dev would handle new NPCs, bugs the GM couldn't handle, etc. The admin, of course, would do everything the other two couldn't, including donations.



edit: wow that doesn't make much sense. Sorry I'm sleepy. x.x;

Descent

  • Guest
Re: A truly good server should not need more than one GM.
« Reply #6 on: Aug 10, 2008, 02:19 pm »
So, by Firefly's way of thinking, if a server has more than 1 GM, it's obviously a sub-par server and should be overlooked?

Sorry, not to sound lazy, but I have real life obligations as well as server obligations. Having the staff partitioning the work is not only more efficient, but having more staffers around gives players access to nearly 24/7 technical and gameplay support, and frequent events aren't a bad idea either.

I just fail to see Firefly's reasoning, that's all. Not trying to start a flame or anything.

@Rehael: Don't advertise. I could say more about you but I'll refrain since this is a nice topic.

Offline Edward

Re: A truly good server should not need more than one GM.
« Reply #7 on: Aug 10, 2008, 03:23 pm »
I doubt 1 person knows all, and if that 1 person knew all... he'd need to not have a life in order to run a successful server, because when you think about it...

Forum Moderating
Forum Support
Updates
Bug Fixes
Website
Patches
In-game Events
In-game Support
In-game Moderating
Answering e-mails
Giving Donations to Donators

That'll take up breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with the person's sleep. It's quite illogical... and if a server didn't have all those, it wouldn't be good at all.

Offline Firefly

Re: A truly good server should not need more than one GM.
« Reply #8 on: Aug 10, 2008, 06:03 pm »
So, by Firefly's way of thinking, if a server has more than 1 GM, it's obviously a sub-par server and should be overlooked?

I said nothing close to this. You're assuming that just because I state that a good server does not need multiple GMs, I'm also stating that a good server CANNOT have multiple GMs. If a team of a few people can manage to actually split up work so that things are done more efficiently, then good for them. It's just extremely difficult to control that, especially considering the ridiculous ease of power abuse in this game. How many times have you seen a good server go south because just one of its many GMs made one or two bad calls?

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Sorry, not to sound lazy, but I have real life obligations as well as server obligations.

Don't we all? The whole point is that you can set up a server to be almost entirely automated, if you actually put the time/effort into it BEFORE you go public.

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Having the staff partitioning the work is not only more efficient, but having more staffers around gives players access to nearly 24/7 technical and gameplay support, and frequent events aren't a bad idea either.

See, what I don't understand is what kind of player actually needs 24/7 support. It's not like you're running a credit card or insurance company, where people can have something go wrong at any time and need help immediately. It's a game that should be entirely self-contained. The only time I've ever needed a GM to fix an in-game bug for me was when the bug was due to the GM himself screwing around. Unless you screw with the code without knowing what you're doing, the game really does handle itself quite well. On the off chance that some bug does pop up and it's not anyone's fault, then players can e-mail the one head admin and get support within a day. That kind of thing shouldn't be popping up more than once or twice per patch, if you did your pre-launch job right. And game support? Are you kidding? A few years ago, I set my six-year old brother up on the game, and he never needed help from anyone, ever. RO is an EXTREMELY simplistic game, and if someone needs to bug a GM 24/7 for in-game support, I don't really need them on my server.

As for events... I'm split on this. On one hand, having GMs around to play host gives off a friendly feeling, in a way. It kind of gives the whole server a mom-and-pop, small town diner kind of feel. See, unless it's a super high rate server that thrives off constant action, why do you need GM-run events constantly? Any sort of low or mid rate, and even some of the lower-end high rate servers end up being thrown off balance by too many free event handouts. Doing things like constant unplanned trivia contests, mass spawning random mobs, dropping MvPs in towns, etc. is totally unnecessary and beyond unprofessioal. If you want to do those kinds of events (which I don't particularly like, but to each his own...), plan them and announce them well ahead of time, so it seems more professional and so that you can work it around your own schedule. Other common types of events, like hide and seek, scavenger hunts, lotteries, etc. can all be run by NPCs, which really aren't hard to set up. Generally speaking, the best events are the ones that are actually applied with sense and order, not the ones that cause a spontaneous burst of excitement and skill spam.

My problem right now isn't with servers that have a handful of GMs that are all responsible for in-game moderation, or just a team of people to discuss upcoming patches and events with. The problem is those servers that have a head admin, 2-3 regular GMs, an event GM, an advertising GM, 2 spriting GMs, and a couple of spare GMs that don't really have a job except to sit there and get spammed by noob begging. RMS even has a forum filled with people asking for any random GM position, without caring what sort of position they get or if they'll have an actual job at all. What's the point?

My most recent server has a team of 4 (or more?) GMs, and I'm really not sure why. The admin does a great job for the most part, and I've found that one of the other active GMs is generally helpful and courteous, aside from an occasional outburst of spawn/skill spamming. The unofficial "event" GM tends to sign on at random times, abuses the GM announcements to rant in broken English, then host some lame event that involves flooding one of the main cities with mobs too strong for the majority of players to kill. Then there's 3-4 other GM characters that pop up now and then, though I'm fairly sure some of them are alts of the GMs I already know. It's not just this server, either... It's been like this on every other server I've ever played, including the one that I staffed on a few years ago. The first two people could run the server by themselves, and we'd probably all be better off without any of the others.

I doubt 1 person knows all, and if that 1 person knew all... he'd need to not have a life in order to run a successful server, because when you think about it...

I know how to do everything mentioned so far. I'm choosing not to do it right now because I do have other obligations, and I'd rather wait until I do have the time instead of doing a rushed and half-assed job right now. I'll be launching my server once I scale back my work hours and start school again, probably around December.

Quote
Forum Moderating
Forum Support
Updates
Bug Fixes
Website
Patches
In-game Events
In-game Support
In-game Moderating
Answering e-mails
Giving Donations to Donators

That'll take up breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with the person's sleep. It's quite illogical... and if a server didn't have all those, it wouldn't be good at all.

Forum moderating isn't all that difficult while the population is still relatively low. There are always more players on the server than there are posts on the forum. Once it gets much higher, then yes, there probably will need to be someone in charge of moderating posts, but that's not what this topic is about.

Forum support that isn't part of daily moderation is pretty much non-existent. Set it up right the first time, add new features on your own time if necessary, and hope you don't get hacked.

Updates, bug fixes, and patches are all pretty much the same thing. The way I see it, if someone isn't willing to take the time to learn how to script game features correctly, patch them to the server, and instruct the players how to update on their end, then they shouldn't try to be a server admin. Getting ideas or even occasional programming tips from another person isn't unreasonable, but there's no need to reward said person with a position of power. Finally, none of these things are tasks that need to be done on a daily basis. Constant work is good, but if you have other things to do, it's not a big deal.

Anything regarding in-game events, support, and moderation, I've already covered before. Not much work should be needed, and the work that does need to be done can be done on your own time, as long as you give players the correct expectations before they register.

Answering e-mails is the only thing that I can see being a pain to maintain on a daily basis, but the problem is that chances are people will only want an answer from the head GM, or the answer requires something server-side that only the head GM can actually do. It's an unfortunate sacrifice, but if you can't set aside 20-30 min once every day or two for "urgent" support, then you probably should consider applying to be a GM on someone else's server instead of trying to run your own.

Donations can be handled by simply checking either daily or every two days, then adding the appropriate items to a player's inventory. Alternately, you could set up a token system so you give players tokens that can be traded to an NPC for their donation items. Isn't that what most people do now already anyway?

All things considered, this whole list should take maybe 30 min out of an average day, plus any extra time you want to spend on developing new features and custom items/quests/events/etc. That's a notable commitment, but if you can't manage it, why are you hosting a server?

Descent

  • Guest
Re: A truly good server should not need more than one GM.
« Reply #9 on: Aug 10, 2008, 09:55 pm »
tl;dr

Bah, what's the point in even bothering debating.. Get your server out there and successful with this formula and you'd make a believer out of this skeptic.

« Last Edit: Aug 10, 2008, 11:10 pm by Descent »

Offline ~~T~~


Offline Scars

Re: A truly good server should not need more than one GM.
« Reply #11 on: Aug 10, 2008, 11:43 pm »
Some people have what it called leadership.

No one can do everything themselve.

Offline P4rD0nM3

Re: A truly good server should not need more than one GM.
« Reply #12 on: Aug 10, 2008, 11:59 pm »
Some people have what it called leadership.

No one can do everything themselve.


I believe the OP was just saying that on relatively small servers or servers that are just starting out...there isn't that much of a need for multiple GMs. The OP also states that one or two GMs is actually enough to handle a server with a small population. Only when the server breaks out in the 50+ barrier should the current GMs consider opening a slot to better handle the demand (If there was).

The OP was also saying that you don't necessarily have to give everyone that helps out a GM account. If their intention is really to help you out, then a letter of appreciation and/or recognition should be enough. If someone wants to be a dev in your server, then by all means let them be...again it does not mean that you have to give them a GM account on your public server. They can pretty much relay to you what they are doing and you can implement them on your test server (Which I believe every server owner should have even if it's hosted in your own desktop computer).

And with that being said, forum moderators can just be forum moderators with their accounts still being normal accounts.

I'm still new to the RO community, however I'm not new to managing large communities. And pretty much keeping everything simple and the access level low or non existent helps keep the community together.

Offline Scars

Re: A truly good server should not need more than one GM.
« Reply #13 on: Aug 11, 2008, 01:09 am »
The thing is you have players or clients I believe from all around the globe with different time zones, and your human means you have emotions, gets tired, and get sick of answering the same question or doing the same thing over and over again. Even with GMs players much prefer to ask the head admin questions instead of the GMs.

Its really easier to manage, control and just make sure GMs doing their job and not doing things they aren't suppose to do. Most importantly sharing your vision with them so they know what is expected of them. Cause there are some really decent GMs out there that really can help you and make your job alot easier.


Offline P4rD0nM3

Re: A truly good server should not need more than one GM.
« Reply #14 on: Aug 11, 2008, 01:30 am »
Do you really need to have a GM account to answer questions? Even if you have players from different time zones, you can always point them to a FAQ that you have made or someone in your community has made. You can pretty much assign certain people to answer questions regarding the server, but it doesn't mean that they have to have a GM account of some sort. I don't think it makes a difference at all if it's just question and answer. And besides I think you're missing the point that we're only talking about small servers in general. Of course if you have quite a lot of players in your server then things would be different.