Star Conquest is a roleplaying game. We have done our best to design our game's atmosphere and rules to be inclusive toward anyone who wishes to pass the time roleplaying with others in an original science fiction setting.
The policies listed here are designed to give guidelines to player behavior so that they can help us maintain the above goal. Here is a brief overview of topics that new players are usually most concerned about:
THEME: We describe Star Conquest's theme as "pulp science fiction." It is extrapolated from historical 1950s/60s "Space Age" optimism and inspired by various genres of science fiction, particularly "space opera," a genre that includes sweeping science fiction/fantasy epics. The setting of Star Conquest is in many respects an alternate history of humanity extended into the future. It is not intended to be realistic nor completely serious, but our goal is to give the game an overarching plot which is both exciting and consistent with itself.
ROLEPLAYING: Star Conquest enforces roleplaying. In other games, this means only that you will receive a warning if you are blatantly out-of-character. We go a step further and ask our players to develop a coherent background for their character, and then develop him or her naturally as they play. We have many tools in place to enable this, and the more a player puts into the game, the more they will get out of it. Players will tend to enjoy the game more if they refrain from playing "themselves" and instead create a character that fits into the game's setting. As a bare minimum, we require a character profile from each player, so that everyone has the same opportunity to create their character's own original story.
PLAYER CONFLICT: Many players new to this game, particularly if they are familiar with other games of the same genre, are worried about player vs. player conflict and whether they can expect to be harassed as they go about their everyday business. Our policy is that of risk vs. reward. Players are completely free to remain in safe areas of the game where it is virtually impossible to be attacked. However, there are less safe areas of the game where the reward to your character for exploring them is great. In general, we wish for any player vs. player conflict to be justified by well-roleplayed reasons, and there are a range of in-character consequences we can apply to people who seek to cause trouble without reason. On the other hand, we certainly do encourage reasonable player vs. player conflict as a part of roleplay and as a complement, not a detriment, to the game's environment.
SCRIPTING: In some games, players are almost expected to use complex scripts and automation of their character in order to remain competitive. Star Conquest is not one of those games. Our game is designed around the idea that players will be at their computers and typing commands themselves as they play. If a player finds a command too difficult to use readily, we strongly encourage feedback on the issue and we will gladly take any appropriate action to make the game more playable. Scripts or aliases of any kind should not be needed to play the game. Many aspects of our game are based on the actual behind-the-keyboard skill of the person playing, and any automation of the character gives that player an unfair advantage over others.
METAGAMING: Some players have a common practice of conducting a great deal of their "business" in the game over IMs or over Skype, or skipping roleplaying and character development entirely through this means. When this occurs and especially when it is widespread, it has proven to be an incredibly huge detriment to the game's overall roleplaying environment. Please keep all of your character development in the game. It actually makes it more fun!
MULTIPLE CHARACTERS: Of course, many games vary on whether multiple characters are allowed or not. In Star Conquest, you are allowed one account and each account may have one character. Our game is designed and balanced for each player controlling one and only one character.
SUGGESTIONS, IDEAS, & CRITICISM: We like to maintain a close and often casual relationship with our players, and we have several means of enabling this. You can send your feedback to all staff by using the SUPPORT command; or you may use the message boards; or, the least formal option of all, you may turn on the MTTS (messages to the staff) channel by typing MTTS ON. We encourage our players to communicate all their feedback about the game directly to us, whether positive or negative.
This is just a brief, simple overview of our game policy. The other policies listed cover many more issues in much greater detail, and it is important to be familiar with their content.
We hope you enjoy playing Star Conquest!
Star Conquest is a roleplaying game. We expect players to take a step back from themselves and play a character beyond a person earning points in a game. Players should develop a solid character concept with their profile, and once their profile is approved, they should look to telling that character's story. Star Conquest is a game where you get back what you put in, and characters who are roleplayed well tend to enjoy unique events and small, individual plotlines. It's not enough to merely avoid being blatantly out of character; we ask for each player to truly take on a role.
We use the terms in-character (or IC) and out-of-character (or OOC) to describe whether roleplaying is taking place.
As a general rule, players are expected to be in character (that is, roleplaying: performing actions and saying words consistent with their chosen character) at all times.
All interactions with other players should take place in character as much as possible. OOC asides are, of course, occasionally necessary, and may be done with the OOCSAY command. This command should be used very sparingly, as any good roleplayer will quickly become annoyed with someone who frequently breaks character. Unnecessary OOC asides are strongly discouraged by the staff.
The OOCSAY command, the Newbie channel, the Messages to the Staff channel, and the OOC message board section are the only mediums in which OOC communication may take place. All other interactions should be 100% in character.
It's important to understand that replacing words with other words does not necessarily mean you're being in character. For example, "hosts" cannot turn into "technicians," "losing connection" cannot be "frozen ship controls," "downtime" cannot be "mass narcolepsy," all commands are not "buttons," and so on. Stating these things in character should have heavy IC implications -- teleporting technicians? Random starship failure? A plague of medical issues? Buttons for everything, even firing small arms? This is not usually considered, because players with this habit are not trying to communicate any IC implications. Rather, their statements have OOC implications. This makes the statements OOC, regardless of the words chosen. Some things just are not IC, and it's best to simply gloss over them when possible.
As long as it is consistent with roleplaying, players are allowed to use harsh language (as long as they aren't discriminatory) and they are allowed to engage in sexual activity (though this is most definitely not a focus of the game). BDSM relationships are not a focus of the game; whatever you want to do in private is fine, but if being a slave or master/mistress is a focus of your character, then it is not thematically consistent with the game. Players must be 18 years of age or older to engage in sexual activity.
You may not volunteer out-of-character contact information, knowledge of your previous characters, knowledge of your characters in other games, or identifying personal information without first confirming with the other person that they wish to know this information. Not everyone will wish to break character, but unsolicited OOC knowledge takes that choice away. We also strongly advise against sharing information about your medical conditions and in particular ask that you do not share this information with the entire base of players at large. It should go without saying that you should never share any such information about another player.
Certain players have a habit of immediately giving out Skype or instant messaging contact information to new people they meet. While we, of course, cannot prevent players from doing this, be aware that this habit tends to rob the involved characters of opportunities to roleplay together, and gradually affects the game as a whole. Players who prefer out-of-game communication over roleplaying are not likely to enjoy many staff-run events, as these players dampen the entire game's roleplaying environment and are an overall detriment to the entire experience. Is someone asking for your Skype, Twitter, or IM information? We encourage you to just say "No thanks!" and keep roleplaying!
It is also important to note the difference between IC knowledge and OOC knowledge. For instance, you may have heard someone ask an OOC question on the Newbie channel that indicates that person is doing something you dislike, but your character does not then have magical knowledge of this. Only if your character discovers the action through normal, IC means can you pursue it in character.
Please, also, apply some basic effort to make your input to the game understandable. While no one types or spells correctly 100% of the time, we do expect players to be able to correctly use very common homophones ("know" vs. "no"), to avoid netspeak ("2" in place of "to"), and to correctly spell very common words, including place names frequently encountered in the game. If you are not sure how to spell something in the game, we have a SPELL command for just this purpose. In addition, there are many online resources available to tell you the correct spelling of a word. Any custom items that you create (custom-named items, books, films, etc.) should also be proofread carefully so that the game's presentation does not suffer. Low-effort creations may be altered by the staff or removed from the game. This may sound overly draconian, but we assure you that our expectations here are really very minimal, and we seek only to maintain a merely adequate level of quality. We simply ask players to try to be understandable to others. Remember: effort counts in a roleplaying game.
It's also worth noting that impersonating game hosts or Squidsoft.net staff, or pretending some inner knowledge of the game or its mechanics that you don't in fact have, is not only very out of character but also detrimental to the game and a source of confusion. None of this will have a good result.
Finally, and very important, you must roleplay in a manner that's consistent with the game world and with your own character profile. You cannot have a profile approved and then go on to play a completely different character. We require approved profiles both so that you have a character concept that we can all be sure fits into the game world, and so that we can help your character grow. Characters who wish to suddenly change their entire character concept may not actually be able to do so without rerolling, or if they can, at the very least it will require a new submitted and approved profile.
Disruption, Harassment, and Discrimination
Star Conquest frequently involves conflict with other characters. We understand the frustration when things don't go your way, and when another character is becoming the bane of your existence. However, you must always be sure that your argument is with that other character, and not with the real person behind him or her.
- Any interaction with other characters, even (or especially) when you're angry, should be fully in character, unless you mutually agree to break character.
- It's generally a bad idea to address any comments, particularly angry ones, to the player behind a character without some kind of permission or invitation, even privately. Such things could get you in trouble if the other player feels uncomfortable as a result.
- Even if your retribution against another character is technically in character, you should take care that your punishment does not unduly affect the player's ability to play. As an example, it's technically possible and even, technically, in character to strand a person far out in uncharted space from which he or she has no hope of ever returning. For obvious reasons, however, this is illegal. At the end of any conflict, all players involved should still retain the opportunity to progress their characters.
- Squidsoft.net maintains a zero tolerance attitude towards interaction in the vein of racism, discrimination, sexual harassment, and homophobia. We seek to provide a comfortable gaming atmosphere, and having to be subjected to scrutiny because of racial, cultural, gender identity, disability or sexual orientation damages not only the integrity of the gaming environment, but also the person being discriminated against.
- It's also walking a thin line to have your character be racist, homophobic, etc. even if you aren't. We strongly recommend against it. We're especially reluctant to accept this as an excuse after the fact.
- Remember that conflict is an aspect of roleplaying. This goes both ways, because while a "victim" player should not complain about properly roleplayed conflict, nor should an "aggressor" player attempt to spark a conflict without it being a justifiable part of their character. What this specifically refers to is players who connect to the game just to harass other players verbally, attempt to grab and strand random players, or attempt to steal or destroy ships, but do not roleplay or even play the game much at all. Players who start a conflict should be involved in their characters and therefore have something to lose themselves. But the act of connecting to a game, not out of interest in playing it but just to cause havoc and watch the reaction, has a specific name: trolling. The staff will not tolerate this and we'll step in as necessary.
- Generally and most importantly, when engaging in player vs. player conflict, we ask that you keep your actions somewhat in proportion with the situation. For example, if your character is insulted on the comms, it is probably not a proper response to pursue that player across the galaxy, destroy all of his ships, and end up holding him hostage on an abandoned, airless station somewhere indefinitely. We recognize that different characters will have different levels of response, but at the end of every conflict, everyone involved should be able to pick up the pieces and resume progressing through the game. Make sure that your actions are merely part of a conflict between characters, and that your intention isn't to somehow punish the player behind that character.
- Harassment which spills out into the real world, even just the real "online" world, is taken extremely seriously, and instances of this often leave us no choice but to ban the player who cannot keep the worlds separate. This is partially the reason why we encourage players to play a character separate from themselves. If a player proves that they do not have the capability to separate IC from OOC, they likely do not belong in this game.
Maintaining a Newbie-Friendly Game
Any online game is nothing without a solid base of players, and having a welcoming environment for newbies is key to maintaining that. We do our part by trying to make the early stages of the game as easy to move through as possible, and we urge our players, both new and old, to advise us in how best to do this.
We also rely on the players to help us in this. All players are to treat newbies with the intent of helping them get a foothold in the game, so that they return and stay with us. If a newbie needs help, we ask that you help them. If you have no help to offer, at least stay silent. They may ask questions in an out of character manner because they don't know how else to word it. As game staff, we recognize the need to allow some leeway in this for new players, and similarly, other players should not feel the need to berate them.
Newbies are free to use the newbie channel to ask their questions. This channel is only for questions followed by helpful responses. Note that "Ask IC" is not a helpful response -- newbies may ask their questions anywhere.
IMPORTANT: Newbies are known, in character, as cadets, and their [c] icon will appear in certain places to help you identify them and their ships. It is against our newbie-friendly policy to initiate conflict against players so identified. Even if alliance relations are poor, let them pass, and let them get a foothold in the game, so that they can become more interesting opponents later. You may, of course, react if acted upon, but we ask that you still show some restraint. Ask questions first, shoot later. Once the player has progressed past newbiedom, you may react however your character would be likely to react.
Some newbies are identified as rerolls, with the [r] icon. Each time you reroll, you should be starting a brand new character, and not simply continuing the same character with a different name. Players who seem to be doing this will have the reroll tag applied. Rerolls are not protected by the newbie policy.
Game Integrity & Bug Abuse
We rarely do any offline development of the game, and changes and new features are almost always performed on the live game. We have minimal staff and time available to thoroughly test these changes before they go live. Therefore, we often rely on you, the player, to find loopholes, weak points, and potential abuses in new systems and existing ones.
"Bug abuse" refers to any unintended consequence of an action you perform in the game which is either beneficial to your character, or a detriment to other characters or the game as a whole. You can recognize these when you are able to gain game rewards (points, money, experience, etc.) at an unlikely rate, gain normal rewards without having to put in the proper work for them, duplicate items, pick up objects which should be immovable, gain access to areas you would not normally be able to get to, do undue harm to another player which is beyond your normal capabilities, gain mission rewards without completing all of the mission requirements or required enemy encounters, and so on. Basically, if it seems way too easy, it probably isn't intended to be possible.
If you are ever in doubt about whether something is a bug, please send a quick REPORT and outline your uncertainty. There is no harm in false reports, and "I didn't know it was a bug!" tends to be a terrible excuse after one has suddenly gained a few thousand points in an hour, or any such event. Players who abuse bugs often assert that it's okay because "It was part of your game," as though any sizable amount of code is ever released completely bug-free; this is a fallacy and will not excuse the use of bugs and exploits. Indeed, when releasing new code into a live environment as we do, we rely upon the players to help us uncover bugs and other issues.
If a significant fraction of your recent gains are from a bug, expect them to be removed without other compensation, whether you intentionally abused it or not. This is often necessary to maintain the game's integrity and should not be confused with a punishment. However, if it is evident that you did intentionally abuse a bug, expect the consequences to be more severe. We take it quite seriously.
Also related to game integrity, please refrain from acquiring large numbers of unneeded objects (artifacts that you have yet to turn in, outfits you like, lots of food and drinks, etc.). Use these things promptly or get rid of them. It is a strain on the server to maintain lots of unnecessary objects, and a very large database full of item bloat will create instability and downtime. It is not necessary to buy a lifetime supply of food, decoy beacons, gunnery reports, film, or any other item, consumable or otherwise. Instead, please visit these shops again as needed, as they will not be going away, and buy in reasonable amounts. Penalties may be applied to discourage particularly egregious hoarding behavior.
Attacks aimed at our server itself are treated even more severely, up to and including involving law enforcement and seeking legal action, depending on the level of damage done or the intent to do damage. There can be no excuse for this.
Because banned players often seek to return via the use of proxies and VPNs, it has become our practice to block such IPs on sight. Given certain past events, we consider this necessary to maintain the game's integrity. In the rare event that a legitimate player requires the use of a proxy, please contact the staff.
Workarounds of Game Limitations
This is a complicated topic with broad implications, and often a source of confusion, particularly for newbies, who sometimes don't understand why it's wrong. Before going into a full explanation, let's start with a couple of examples.
Example #1: You are a newbie. You've just taken out a loan and bought a whole lot of shiny new equipment. You then decide that you have nothing much to lose, and why pay for equipment that you don't have to? You drop all your stuff in a place that is likely to be safe for a few moments, delete your character, and promptly create a new one. This new character goes and picks up all the items that were just dropped. Free stuff!
Example #2: Your friend is in the AEU and he isn't able to buy your fancy Fringe exclusive specialty ship. You both consider this to be quite a shame. Your friend offers to pay you for one of the ships. You agree, take his money, buy the ship, and hand him your key. He flies the ship around for a while, until he can claim it as his own under the rules that allow players to steal a ship. However, this was not a theft, but rather a voluntary transaction. (Or, perhaps, he never claims the ship and simply effectively owns a Fringe ship, which may be even worse.)
The key to understanding why this is wrong is to compare it to the intent of the game. In the first example, the intent of the game is clearly to allow new players to take out a loan to buy a ship and the equipment they will initially need, and then to gradually pay off that loan as they make money. It is NOT the intent of the game for new players to get equipment and ships for free, else we would provide these for free ourselves. In the second example, the intent is to restrict Fringe ships to Fringe players, unless another player should succeed in forcefully wresting that ship away and stealing it. From an in character standpoint, alliances and pilots wish to keep their own ships within their own alliance. The intent of the game is NOT to allow players to buy exclusive ships from alliances besides their own, else they would simply be able to do so and the workaround using the command to claim stolen vessels would not come into play.
We also restrict the operation of warships to members of their controlling alliance who have the correct amount of points. Currently this is a hardcoded restriction, as well as an in-character verification when you seek launch clearance. Attempting to circumvent this would fall under this policy.
Another consequence of this policy that we must enforce for balance purposes is that, unfortunately, you cannot accept windfalls (as in, ships, other high-value items, or massive amounts of money) from a player who is retiring their character. For one thing, this doesn't make sense in character, as someone retiring from being a pilot would probably still want to keep all their money or their unique item. But the main reason is that the efforts of two people are suddenly concentrated into one character, and one character massively gained wealth for ultimately out-of-character reasons, which isn't fair for anyone else. This also applies even if a character is not retiring when there is a great disparity between the two characters; for example, it is clearly counter to the intent of the game's progression for a week-old player to be handed a billion credits from a more experienced player. Basically, if a gain is wildly disproportionate compared to what that character could gain on their own, you should not hand it over.
Also note that you should never transfer the title of ownership for your ship to someone else unless you intend to in fact transfer ownership of it for the forseeable future. Titles are not intended to be handed back and forth on a whim, and if you feel the need to do so, you're probably working around some game mechanic or limitation.
Additionally, quests and various puzzles (such as the Glyphmaker color puzzles) are meant to be figured out, and the solution should never be simply given away. This goes double if the solution is being passed around outside of the game.
So in summary, if there is a restriction or limitation built into the game, it is illegal to employ some convoluted method to get around it. If it is evident that a particular reward or outcome is intended to be the result of some work or player vs. player conflict, then it is illegal to achieve the same end without doing the required work or by mutual agreement with the one who should be your enemy.
Again, this is a broad topic and applies to many things besides the above examples. If you're ever not quite sure about what you're doing, it is always better to ask the staff using a quick REPORT command, and we will give you a yes or no as soon as we see it.
We close these loopholes as we're able, but by their nature they are tricky things to detect and enforce. This is why we rely on the common sense and understanding of our players in such cases.
Macros & Scripting
Macros are commands that let you perform complex actions instantly with a couple of keystrokes; for instance, a command that allows you to immediately stun another character and flee into your ship without delay. If engaging in conflict with another player or otherwise working to make gains for your character, you must do so on level ground. This "level ground" is the game's built-in output and command parsing, neither of which require significant alteration to make the game playable, regardless of the player's individual circumstances.
Scripting is perhaps even worse, and involves complex programs that completely automate some process in the game, usually something that generates money or other rewards from game activities. This is, obviously, unfair to other players that put effort into their characters.
Two things are specifically and entirely disallowed, though this is not a complete list:
1) Any alias, trigger, or script that sends input to the game (that is, enters commands for you automatically, or shortens multi-line commands into one command).
2) Any command, single line or multi-line, bound to a single key.
In general, any client-based system that you might use to bypass the usual typing required to accomplish something that impacts your character (such as combat gunning, salvaging, and so on), in order to perform tasks faster or more easily than normal human capabilities, is likely to be a violation of this policy.
- We're fully aware that the capability for macros and scripts is built right into several MOO/MUD clients. We're also aware that many players have received a "soundpack" with a suite of macros and triggers built in. This doesn't mean that you should be using them. Scripting is acceptable and even almost required in some games, but this is not one of them.
- We have systems in place that automatically analyze player actions and alert us to potential scripting, and we also have over ten years of experience in directly observing and detecting scripters. We can tell with a reasonable level of confidence when players are doing it, and in the event that somebody is violating this policy but has not yet been penalized for it, they should not take that to mean they're escaping our notice.
- There are client-based systems that can mimic the use of scripts and macros: command stacking, command history, copy and paste, autocorrect, and others. These things cannot be differentiated from plain aliases and macros. Any use of client functions that allows one to exceed normal human capabilities is illegal, regardless of the particular methodology used.
- You should also avoid excessive parsing of output. This includes adding client-side "commands" to the game, applying stored output to inputted commands, or gagging any essential information that the game provides. Classic examples generally involve gunning, and may include a "retrack" command that shows stored output to the player, an automatic addition of the last tracked location to the "aim" command, and the gagging of identifying information in tracking output.
- Triggers which are purely for accessibility (i.e., adding sounds or colored highlights to the game) are allowed.
Interactions With Hosts & Squidsoft.net Staff
First of all, hosts are real humans too. We have, over the years, put thousands of hours and hundreds of dollars into persisting with our game-making hobby. We create these games because we enjoy seeing others enjoy our creations. We don't ask you to kiss our feet, but we do ask that you show some basic respect to us as people, and recognize the fact that you're enjoying a free, quality text-based game made by people who are under no obligation to allow you to do so.
- Perhaps most basic and most important, hosts are out-of-character entities. We shouldn't be referred to if you're in character, nor are we to be considered part of the game world.
- We do not divulge information about other players. Not their email address, not their IP address, not out-of-character actions between them and us. For example, a player will sometimes ask us, "Why didn't he get punished for doing the same thing I did?" The answer is, he very probably did. But if he doesn't want to tell you, it's not our place to tell you either.
- As hosts, we will sometimes play our own game, using separate characters which are no different in nature from yours. Be aware and assured that it is against our own staff rules to cheat in the game or to use any host knowledge to get ahead, and we have taken action against staff members over this in the past when necessary. We take the issue of fairness very seriously. Because there is an inherent advantage in our thorough knowledge of the game, we do tend to consider it unfair to initiate conflicts with other players; however, we also consider it fair to react if acted upon. Our characters will also always be in character, and we universally find it irritating to be addressed as a host while playing our character.
- Finally, on a more general note, we aren't here to screw you over or mess with you. We are here not just to help you out, but also to maintain the game's integrity and balance. If this involves stepping in, then we must step in. If this involves occasionally doling out punishments, then we must do that too. We are here to keep things fair. We have had hosts in the past that could not be fair to players and, always painfully, they were removed from our staff. Those of us that remain have been doing this for years, and we all embrace the philosophy of maintaining an inclusive, enjoyable gaming experience for as many players as possible. We ask that you allow us the benefit of the doubt, allow us the simple respect of not assuming that we are out to get you. Unless you can come to the hosts as a whole with serious evidence, never accuse us of being unfair. If you don't understand why we did something or why something happened, we urge you to simply come to us with your concerns and we will gladly explain to the best of our ability. We do not create games and open them to players just to drive those players off. We ask you to accept this as simple truth, and if you ever cease to believe this, you will be doing both us and yourself a favor if you choose to simply find another game to play.
Our definition of metagaming is using out-of-game communication to gain an advantage over other players. This can take a lot of forms. The effect of metagaming can be very, very harmful and has even sometimes culminated in bullying and abuse, so it's important to understand what metagaming is and the damage it can do to roleplaying.
There are two basic classes of metagaming which we'll dub "mechanics metagaming" and "social metagaming."
Mechanics metagaming is simple. You're in trouble somewhere out of communications range, so you get on Twitter and DM a friend, telling him where you are, and he rushes over with an armful of charge boosters. In character, he had no way of knowing where you were or even that you needed help, so within the context of the game, this event is unexplainable and nonsensical. Mechanics metagaming is easy to grasp and it is easy to understand why it's wrong, because of the direct mechanical advantage it provides.
Social metagaming is far more subtle and insidious and, over time, does the greatest harm to roleplaying. Social metagaming is usually a group dynamic, and its symptoms include disliking all the same people out of the game that one's character dislikes in the game, positive feelings toward another person resulting in one's character doing special favors for theirs, romance, feuds, and resentments within the social group crossing the IC/OOC barrier, and so on. In short, social metagaming involves a group of people far too close to their characters -- so close that they may, in fact, not really be playing characters at all -- who play the game through outside communications as much or more than they do through in-character interactions.
Except, since this is a roleplaying game, by definition it cannot be played except through in-character interactions.
Social metagaming is not lesser than mechanics metagaming; it is only more subtle, happening over a longer timeframe. It is not necessary to be giving or responding to specific, detailed instructions in order for metagaming to be occurring. Any circumstance in which out-of-game conversations or considerations strongly influence your in-game actions is metagaming. Having a discussion out-of-game and then asking others to have a similar conversation in the game (or hinting that a certain subject should be broached) to make things "legitimate" does not produce an ironclad exception to metagaming -- in fact, that sort of thing is very specifically what this policy is about. As this policy hopes to explain, avoiding the more simple "mechanics metagaming" does not mean no harm is being done. Metagaming in its most insidious form is not just one specific act, but rather a culture in which a group of people have rationalized allowing relationships and motivations to freely cross the IC/OOC barrier in either direction.
Social metagaming does great harm to the roleplaying environment because, very soon, things are happening in the game for seemingly no reason. What is the motivation for the relationship between these two players' characters to persist through rerolls? Why did this feud persist through a reroll; why does the new character dislike all the same people as the old character? These two were fighting yesterday but today they're friendly; when and how, exactly, did they make up? This character has always acted like great friends with this other character, so why do they always choose to work against their friend whenever they're confident they won't be caught? What these questions all have in common is that they cannot be answered by examining interactions within the game, nor, usually, the profiles of the characters involved. These actions and attitudes only make sense in the context of players grown too close to their characters, interacting in ways no one else is privy to.
This sort of metagaming is a temptation for all players, almost natural. Growing too close to your character is something every roleplayer, experienced or new, struggles with, especially over a long period of time. The only cure is vigilance: establishing a firm definition of your character and becoming aware of when you're straying from it, examining your motivations carefully whenever you are tempted to stretch the rules you've set for your character. Ask yourself: Am I doing this because my character would do it, or because of my own motivations? And if I can't tell the difference, might that be a problem? If you've rerolled, ask yourself exactly how many of your motivations, relationships, and resentments might have subconciously transferred from your previous character when you crafted the new one. No one sets out to metagame in a harmful way, it just happens in small easy-to-rationalize increments; it is simply the long-term result of avoiding this sort of necessary introspection.
Most of this can be taken to simply be advice about good roleplaying practices, but unfortunately it does not stop there. At its worst, social metagaming culminates in an irrational "us vs. them" attitude and, sooner or later, includes abuse of players who dare to roleplay their characters instead of doing what's perceived as best for the group, or for whoever has apparent leadership within the group. We do not tolerate behavior of this sort, and those who take metagaming to such an extreme will receive lengthy account suspensions or be banned outright. If you feel you are being abused outside of the game for your actions within it, or vice versa, please let us know immediately, telling as much as you feel comfortable telling, and we will discuss the next steps. There is always something that can be done.
Our only goal is for every player to be able to roleplay their character in an immersive world that is consistent with itself. Metagaming prevents this by introducing motivations and actions into the game world that do not make sense. For this reason, it is against our policy.
Note about Community Channels: Because these are player-defined, they lend themselves easily toward self-isolating behavior and metagaming. It is important to understand that community channels exist only for their social aspects, for characters who share certain interests or want to join a channel with a specific concept. In terms of game mechanics, the only divisions between players should be alliance divisions. So, to come to the point, the exclusive organizing of short term activities involving strictly game mechanics (missions, decoy beacon drops, RATS nest exterminations, ground force raids, and so on) should not occur on community channels, but should ideally occur on the Tactical channel or, at the least, alliance channels. While we dislike having to enforce such a rule and recognize that most community channels would never run afoul of it anyway, the exclusive organizing of activities within a small clique has proven to encourage metagaming and harm player retention.
Lag, Downtime, Loss, and Character Purges
Once a game has gone live, downtime is rare, and we do our best to keep lag to a minimum. This game being entirely free, we are under no obligation to compensate players in the event of downtime.
However, sometimes downtime is sudden and unexpected, and players can experience losses of ships or equipment when the game suddenly restarts and players are not in their ships. We will do our best to compensate affected players in these circumstances for any losses that can be proved. We can't promise, however, that we can replace everything, and though we are sympathetic, we are in the end under no obligation to replace anything.
Sudden disconnections which are on your end and not gamewide are a much trickier area and are much harder to prove. We will in many cases not be able to do anything for you here. However, you have nothing to lose by using the REPORT command to make your case. We will look through our logs and, if they are consistent with what you tell us, we may be able to help. We are, however, unlikely to do this repeatedly.
Sometimes players complain that they lost items, points, or credits because they mistyped a command, or "didn't mean to" do something. Unfortunately, this is impossible to prove and there is likely nothing we can do for you here. We ask simply that you double check your typed commands and think about the potential consequences of your actions before going ahead with them.
If you've just returned from a long absence and your previous character is no longer available, let one of us know and we may be able to restore your last character. You will not necessarily retain your ships and all your equipment, but your points and credits should be intact. Other than that, restoration is what it is, and we can offer no compensation for things that may be missing after the process has completed.
Characters who have been inactive for three months are at risk of being purged permanently, but our current policy is that they will be retained with most of their inventory if they have over 1000 aggregate points. Less important items of inventory -- clothing and miscellaneous items -- may, however, still be deleted due to the prohibitive cost in database space of permanently retaining unplayed characters with large inventories. If you are planning a long absence, please let the staff know via support ticket and we can ensure your character remains more or less as you left it.
First of all, let it be made clear that this game, and others like it, are not a secure form of communication. Although we're not likely to spy on players for no good reason, it would be dishonest to say that it isn't possible. We tend to leave players alone when they are paired in ships, apartments, or other private areas, unless we find them suspicious in some way (i.e., we suspect scripting). However, there are no guarantees.
Things we do tend to check in on include: pre-announced roleplay events, impromptu larger gatherings of players in public areas, player vs. player battles, and other things which seem like they may be some kind of event. This is a roleplaying game and we enjoy being able to respond dynamically to actions that players take. This means we need to know what's happening.
We monitor most communications that potentially reach a large number of players: all communicator channels, phones, the mining channel, every mentor channel, and so on.
We do our best to respect the privacy of other players, but in the end, an online game is not a private place. All we can do is recommend that, if you want to communicate sensitive information, or say something that you want to be sure no one else can hear, do it outside the game.
Changes to the Game and Game Policy
As the game is in constant development even when live, changes occur frequently and often without notice. Though we'll notify players of important changes, balance tweaks or smaller additions may go unremarked upon.
We don't make any changes specifically to benefit particular players, though it is a slightly different matter to address player complaints about the game with new changes. If there is an ongoing conflict and one side seems likely to benefit suddenly from a new change, or if a balance issue is suddenly noticed in the midst of a battle, we usually consider it most fair to let the conflict play out under the circumstances in which it began before going ahead with any changes.
Similarly, changes and additions can be made to the game's set of policies without notice.
Intellectual Property and Creative Works
From Wikipedia: "Intellectual property (IP) are legal property rights over creations of the mind, both artistic and commercial, and the corresponding fields of law. Under intellectual property law, owners are granted certain exclusive rights to a variety of intangible assets, such as musical, literary, and artistic works; ideas, discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols, and designs."
In Star Conquest, our intellectual property includes all original characters, storylines, and text, as well as all original, specific aspects of our game design, either individually or in whole. It is against policy to reproduce or make use of any of our intellectual property without permission from us, the creators. While copyright law does not apply to games of similar design (that is, a game inspired by another game), it does protect "the particular manner of an authorís expression in literary, artistic, or musical form." (http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.html) This means that no creative or artistic aspect of Star Conquest (text, characters, and storylines) can be legally reproduced exactly or just with certain names changed. It is also, of course, illegal to make use of any leaked or stolen code that we have written.
Star Conquest also allows for players to be creative: writing books, producing films, creating music, and performing live broadcasts; all, of course, in the medium of text.
From a legal perspective, Squidsoft (the group that owns Star Conquest) claims copyright on all text which can be encountered in the course of playing Star Conquest. Text found within Star Conquest may not be reproduced outside the game in any manner which would violate our copyright. This includes our own text as well as text produced by other players. Remember: Legally, it is not required to claim copyright on a work. Copyright is granted by default, and the work can be reproduced only with the author's express permission.
However, within the confines of the game, characters should be considered to have their own copyright on works that they produce. In character, anyone who reproduces another person's work without permission will face various consequences as appropriate. Out of character, as stated in the above paragraph, works produced by players within the game should not be shared outside of it.
Players may import their own outside creative works into the game; however, they are thereby granting us the right to reproduce that text within the confines of Star Conquest. If you do not wish to allow us this right, you may not import your work. Players may also import works for which the copyright has expired (that is, works in the public domain), though the work must be attributed to the original author. Players can most definitely NOT import any creative work on which they do not own the copyright. Song lyrics are a gray area; lyrics are certainly copyrighted, but traditionally, it's considered harmless to reproduce them as long as revenue is not being generated thereby. Titles of creative works are not copyrighted.
Players should not reproduce text within the game which has been generated by the staff without the staff's permission. Characters may, of course, quote headlines and portions of broadcasts freely, but they should not reproduce significant portions of books, films, and broadcasts without the staff's permission. Players should not reproduce text generated by the game (including output messages, room descriptions, store menus, and such things) and sell it as a creative work, as this is out-of-character. Players can, however, "transform" some of this information into their own format and then sell it as a creative work. For example, you should not sell a book called "Sightseeing Within The AEU" which simply has a few copied-and-pasted room descriptions on each page; however, you could sell such a book which tours the planets of the AEU and describes, in your own words, what characters within the game can find there.
Finally, and very importantly, you should consider your work to be part of the game's "presentation"; that is, it will join the staff's own descriptions and generated messages as text regularly encountered by players of Star Conquest both old and new. We hold every part of the game's presentation, including text generated by our players, to reasonable standards of quality. Works which do not meet these standards may be edited by the staff or excised from the game without notice or compensation.
As always, if you are not sure whether your work is acceptable, please ask the staff in a support ticket.
This is our official policy for player-initiated roleplaying that requires staff involvement.
Even in between the major plot points and events that we put together, we don't want a player's daily experience to be nothing but gaining points. We're happy to host small interactive events or conversations with non-player characters that are relevant to your character. These events can include:
* Doing investigative work related to recent events or to some ongoing plot with your own character.
* Discussing an issue with an alliance leader or, more likely, one of their staff.
* Doing or planning something that might influence an ongoing plot, if it makes sense for your character.
* Or even something as simple as a meeting or a party that could use hostly catering and decorating.
If you wish to set up anything like this, please use the SUPPORT command and state what you'd like. Note that we don't have constant staff coverage, and that sometimes only one or two hosts are involved in particular plots, so don't worry if it takes a little while to get a response, especially if it relates to a particular ongoing plotline.
You can also initiate some interactions by mailing a letter to a non-player character, such as an alliance leader, station owner, or their staff. Sometimes small, individual events can happen to you even if you don't speak to anyone, just based on your own recent actions. However, don't assume that we know what you want to happen. It's always better to use the SUPPORT command and tell us what your character's goals are.
Also keep in mind that your in-character actions often have consequences. For example, if you do something to hurt an alliance, you might face repercussions beyond the usual automated game mechanics. These consequences can be negative for your character, but our goal is to allow all characters a path to further progress and another chapter in their story no matter what. If you don't like the path events are taking, use the SUPPORT command to speak to a host and we can discuss your options.
Do note that we can't fulfill every request, as they all take time and creative effort. Your request for a special roleplaying event is more likely to be accepted if:
* You have an account in good standing.
* Your character is roleplayed well and with consistency.
* You have a history of appreciating major plot arcs as well as your own character; that is, you involve yourself in major events, and you persist with your character rather than excessively rerolling or simply rerolling to avoid consequences.
* Your special event involves several players or will at least be a point of discussion for the players at large, thus adding to the overall game experience for everyone.
* Your event does not, however, directly interface with a major plot or significantly alter the game world. You can expect that we have our own plans for such things, and in general, major events will involve every connected player rather than a few heroic individuals.
* You have provided us with a clear goal and course of action, rather than an entire plotline. Event requests should be along the lines of, "We're heading Coreward and hope to find something unique," not, "We're heading Coreward and we want to find a Jinu shipwreck with a salvaged plasma cannon that we can attach to our ship." Just give us the goal, we'll have ideas for the outcome!
Essentially, these minievents are a way for you, as a player, to act as a miniature "dungeon master" for a little while. With a little help from the staff, you can go on to involve other players and enrich the game experience for many others. It is only with this expectation that any player will receive special staff attention.
There are many different types of events we can work with you on. Just use the SUPPORT command and ask.