Sindusk

Open Reply to Abuse of Power Public Letter

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This is an open reply to the Abuse of Power claims public letter, specifically directed at Enki. To preface and clarify, I’m not the one who made all of the claims that were mentioned, nor do I pretend to represent the players or staff who did so. This is more of an opinion piece from myself with mild additional information granted by the players and staff who did report these claims.

 

Enki,

 

The public letter you made is an exceptional step forward. This statement here is something so critical, yet was obscured information that was difficult to find:

 

Quote

 

With transparency in mind, this is how our team is currently setup.

Rolf is at the top of the food chain as CEO of Code Club AB, and then there is Budda who is our Project Manager here for Wurm Online and those are the only two with the authority to investigate me should any claims be brought to them. As Head Game Master it is then my job to oversee anything that is done on the live servers by any avatar from our players on up including our Community Relations Coordinator. This means that no one may use any powers without my knowledge or ability to review.

 

 

Designating a clear chain of command is important, and letting the players know who to contact if they have concerns about a staff member helps immensely. Previously, when players had witnessed something questionable, they had no idea who to turn to. This statement clarifies that perfectly, so thank you.

 

I do have one question, though, mostly brought out of my own knowledge. What prevents a staff member from deleting relevant logs and information in regards to activities? There is at least one person not mentioned here who would have the ability to do so. I’m not making an accusation, I’m just asking for clarification about the safeguards in place to prevent “evidence tampering” so to speak. Would you be willing to further clarify the “chain of access” beyond the chain of command? Who has access to what, and what can they do with it? I’d understand if not, but I felt it’s a question worth asking.

 

Now onto the actual events themselves:

 

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1 - Horse with good gear taken from one person and returned to its owner.
Claim – Retrograde is accused of abusing his powers to take a horse from someone and return it to someone that he is friends with.
Status – False
Origin – In December of 2018 one or more of the servers had to undergo multiple restarts. These restarts were necessary but not planned and caused a player to lose a horse with a lot of high quality gear as they did not have a chance to secure, tame, or brand the horse during these restarts. By the time the player had managed to log back in someone else had obtained the horse and the gear on it. Following precedent in this situation, I retrieved and returned the horse, as it was lost by no fault of the player due to extenuating circumstances. Retrograde was not involved in the return of the horse to the player.

 

A classic player dispute where neither party was fully at fault. Player A gets impacted by forces beyond their control, and loses items to Player B because of it, without being subjected to proper in-game mechanics. There’s already a precedent set by previous GM actions that these types of situations are to have the “corpse” of the incident returned to Player A. In this case, the actions taken were warranted, and clarifying that it was done by the GM team instead of by a friend of Player A makes it much better. Thanks for the transparency.

 

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2 - Summer Hat
Claim – Retrograde gave a Summer Hat to a friend of his.
Status – True
Origin – Game Masters, Developers, and Team Volunteers are given an item or a coupon for each years Christmas as an appreciation of their service to the community. These items must be approved by the Head Game Master after a review of their affect on the game or community to avoid any overpowered or improper items being allowed in. Retrograde's last Christmas wish was a Summer Hat which is a gift that Rolf handed out once in the past to Game Masters. Team Members are allowed to use their gifts or coupons as they wish, including giving them as gifts. I approved the Summer Hat for Retrograde's Christmas gift and after that he was allowed to do with it as he saw fit.

 

This one is an issue. While the accusation was that normal procedure was skirted in order to obtain the item, the fact that the item was obtained at all is an issue. There are restrictions on the items that are to be given out to staff on events like Christmas. One such restriction is the ability to craft the item. This restriction was not adhered to in this case. Other staff members are rightfully upset that one person requested an item that was essentially “restricted” from being given out as a gift, and then was granted that item.

 

For reference, there are only a handful of summer hats currently in the game. These items have a very significant value because of this limited supply. While never officially declared, it was assumed that no more would ever be produced, granting them value. Players have spent hundreds of euros on this specific item, under the assumption that it was one of a very limited supply. By introducing a new supply (even just one), you have essentially diminished the value of all of these players investments.

 

I recall a discussion when armour changes were being considered, and the topic of summer hats being nerfed because they were no-drop came up. The consensus were that they were rare enough, and expensive enough, to not warrant additional changes to balance them. Furthermore, it was important not to devalue items that players had invested in. This line of thinking applies to all facets of the game. If scale was suddenly the worst armour, players who had invested in owning scale would be incredibly dissatisfied.

 

The actions taken to introduce a new Summer Hat goes directly against these philosophies, and have devalued the investment of players into the other summer hats that exist in Wurm Online. It also creates new questions: Will more summer hats become available over time? Are other items that were deemed “limited” going to become more common as well? What prevents a staff member from requesting a Bag of Keeping and getting it approved?

 

The important question to answer: What policies are in place for what items can and cannot be created? What type of reference point do you use to approve or deny requests for items? Is it simply off your own judgement, or is there a process of checks for what type of impact the creation would have before it’s creation?

 

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3 - Dragon Shoulder Pads
Claim – Retrograde gave dragon shoulder pads to someone
Status – True
Origin – For the purposes of advertising and promotion within the Vynora Entertainment Network, Retrograde did in fact create a pair of dragon shoulder pads that were given away during a streaming event. I found no illicit activity involved in this matter as the event and giveaway were public and anyone interested in participating had a chance to win them.

 

While essentially just a lighter version of the summer hat situation, many of the same concepts apply. While the act was with good intention and does not signify any abuse of power, the optics of the situation create concern for other players. This event leans much more towards favoritism than abuse of power. What prevents the ability to give a supreme pickaxe to someone “in an event?” When someone spends their time creating a supreme pickaxe legitimately, that act is devalued through events like this where an identical creation is made at the flick of a wand.

 

Along this line of thinking, I’d like to make a suggestion. Some of the most tempting rewards are items which cannot be obtained yet have no additional function over their natural counterparts. A great example of this is renamed items. They are identical to their normal counterparts, but have an additional flair added for the purposes of the event. You can take the reciprocal approach by adding rarity to items that are naturally unable to be rare, such as a magic chest, yet serve no additional purpose by being rare. The ability to obtain a shiny magic chest would be exceptionally tempting to players. Obviously, magic chests are on the more expensive side of examples, but hopefully the point is conveyed.

 

The creation of items by GM accounts is always going to be something that’s difficult to defend. I recognize that the best efforts are being put forward to keep things fair. However, putting policies in place in regards to their creation will be far more effective than defending the action on every single instance. Also, making those policies public. When a player breaks a rule, you point to the rule and tell them they broke it. When a GM creates an item, you should have a policy and be able to point at the policy and say it doesn’t break any of those limitations.

 

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4 - Finding creatures during unique hunts
Claim – Retrograde used his powers to locate dragons for his friends.
Status – False
Origin – Mainly just coincidence. Myself, two Developers, and Retrograde had been monitoring some peculiar situations regarding unique creatures. I can see very clearly who tries to use any powers to interact with creatures and when. Retrograde used his access five times in the last 2 years and during each instance it was for official business and did not coincide with any hunts that he or his friends were involved in.

 

Whenever a play account gets used in something that has the possibility of being impacted by GM account information, the accusation will always rise. As an unlimited server host, I know these accusations all too well. I also know that there is generally sufficient evidence behind the scenes to know if a malicious action was taken. Checking these actions like you have and releasing that information to the public builds trust that GM accounts are being held accountable for their actions. Thank you.

 

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5 - Retrograde hired a friend as a Game Master
Claim – Retrograde added a close friend as a Game Master and a Community Relations member.
Status – False
Origin – We have a team member who is connected to Retrograde who came up through the ranks and was given a green light for training as a Game Master. Retrograde has no authority to add Game Masters to the team. I added this team member to training on the recommendation of six of my most active Game Masters at the time. Their assessment was based on that members activity and positive record of good responses and quick responses and I agreed with their assessment. It is true that this team member is also part of Retrograde's community relations work. I have no issue with that at all, as we even have a Developer who is also a forum moderator.

 

This one is a bit tricky. On one hand, everything stated here is accurate. I know that only you have the authority to place a member on the GM team, being the Head GM. This is a fact. However, it gets into a light conversation about bias and how relationships between people can increase their standing. Did you feel pressured at all into making the decision? Were any of the others who recommended the promotion influenced by other actions? What were the key points which lead you to the decision you made?

 

Of course, all of that is hypothetical and nobody knows what actually happened. What did happen, though, and is plain to see, is yet another lack of communication between the staff team and the community in regards to the operation of the staff.

 

Let’s paint a picture here.

 

Assistant community relations officer applies to become a GM. The application goes through, and is approved. The assistant community relations officer is made to be a GM. The community is not informed by either the GM staff or community relations that this happened. Where’s the announcement that the person was made to be a GM? Why is this all being done hush-hush? If this person is going to be ruling over incidents in the game, shouldn’t the community at least be aware of what’s going on? I’m not saying you need to announce every GM, but surely you can see how weird it is that the community relations assistant being promoted to GM has nothing but silence?

 

Imagine how the optics would look if you announced it in public:

 

“Due to X contributions to the community and their ability to Y and Z, we are happy to announce X as our newest addition to the GM team!”

 

You explain why they were promoted, you inform the community as to what’s going on, and you now have a platform of public approval and appreciation instead of gossip.

 

Sorry… starting to rant a bit - I think we both know my stance on that topic. I’ll try to get back on topic.

 

In conclusion, I believe you (Enki) have been doing a great job at increasing the transparency of the team recently. The addition of the gallows is something that I had been pleading for since the ban of Propheteer last year. Posting a public investigation into one of your own staff is a risky move, and I commend you for it. It helps show that the staff is being held accountable, and improves the faith the community has in the actions of the team. Of course, I do not agree with every decision made, but I believe you’ve done the best with the hand you were dealt. I hope to see this trend continue moving forward, and the trust in the staff from the Wurm Online community be rebuilt. Thanks for taking the time to write the post you made.

 

Sindusk
 

Edited by Sindusk
Added link for the GM post

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I was personally surprised to see this was all mounted against Retro, who I don't believe abuses powers, I never did and was just surprised this was a thing.
He was in TC for a short time, he won hotas undefeated and to me his legacy as a TC pvper for those sweet few weeks are concreted in my mind and something that won't be easily collapsed by accusations.
I'm glad tho it shuts people up and Enki/Rolf took the accusations and debunked them through all the power they have. 

I'd personally like to see Propheteer reasoning, evidence and everything else posted to the gallows because to take somebody like him out of the game, who for both sides was a legend and a villan, you should explain why.
many people were and still are upset and with reasons being thrown around and nothing clarified, we basically go off the fact that propheteer got banned for something that a Staff member saw him say in Discord.

 

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41 minutes ago, Sindusk said:

Assistant community relations officer applies to become a GM. The application goes through, and is approved. The assistant community relations officer is made to be a GM. The community is not informed by either the GM staff or community relations that this happened. Where’s the announcement that the person was made to be a GM? Why is this all being done hush-hush? If this person is going to be ruling over incidents in the game, shouldn’t the community at least be aware of what’s going on? I’m not saying you need to announce every GM, but surely you can see how weird it is that the community relations assistant being promoted to GM has nothing but silence?

 

I was GM before A-CRC.

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36 minutes ago, Sindusk said:

They are identical to their normal counterparts, but have an additional flair added for the purposes of the event. You can take the reciprocal approach by adding rarity to items that are naturally unable to be rare, such as a magic chest, yet serve no additional purpose by being rare.

That has the problem of people going ahead and selling it "WTS rare steel 99ql LMS Can't be crafted!", I've been offered such gm spawned items in the past. Personally i think every item should only be player crafted and gm spawned items should stick to starter towns and whatnot but that's my own opinion. I don't feel that preventing things that can be crafted from being spawned would change much, the "GM SPAWN ONLY" items fetch quite a premium

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If I inadvertantly hijack your response, Sindusk, I apologise. I am just glad someone who can not easily be shut down has responded to this.

 

I can appreciate Enki's investigation, and the tough position he is in.

 

I respect that all Retro's actions have been within the official lines. However, there is still an element of bias that cannot be seen without reviewing similar circumstances involving unrelated players.

Anyone who takes an unbranded horse off-deed would have been told "tough" by a GM.

Staff members were told not to request uncraftable items - so why was Retrograde gifted one?

An amazingly rapid promotion for someone Retro is close to

not to mention more I cannot put in a public post

 

If Enki were a scientist, his letter would have been pulled apart for poor method already.

 

 

 

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16 hours ago, Grumpled said:

An amazingly rapid promotion for someone Retro is close to

 

This keeps coming up and I'm getting rather sick of it. Joelle and I were friends from when she was a player until her and Retrograde became close. She got to where she is as a GM on her own. If anyone has a problem with this fact, you can take it up with me and I'm not exactly in a kindly mood. I'd consider any more attacks leveled at Joelle as staff abuse.

 

I can take snarky accusations (un-accusations) easily. I will not stand by and watch someone that I proudly saw climb the ladder be thrown under the bus countless times.

 

End of story.

Edited by Pandalet
Moderation edit

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This is not directed at Sindusk or any particular person, but I would like to point out that if you think it’s weird or outrageous that two people knew each other then eventually came to work together, you’ve probably never held down a real job before :V

 

Anyway definitely agree Retro should be banned, that’s what this is all about right?

Edited by Chakron

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55 minutes ago, Joelle said:

I was GM before A-CRC.

I apologize for getting that wrong. I don't know the exact progression taken through staff. Obviously, I was given poor information and it's my fault for assuming it factual. Sorry.

 

I do however stand by the point of what I mentioned, which is to make a more public statement and introduction. If you mean to be a relay between the community and the staff, it would be wise to give yourself a bit of a background.

 

Also, I doubly apologize if any of my post came off as an attack towards you. My primary point of issue is the policies in place which cause these events and drama, not the events themselves or the people associated with it.

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A little personal venting.

 

It's this kind of stuff here that brings me to the verge of just quitting everything to do with Wurm.

 

I do a lot. I don't ask for thanks. I don't even post what I do unless it affects players. Yet here we have a situation where Rolf himself investigated. The results are made transparent, and a former developer who has a knife sharpened for the rest of us is making unsubstantiated posts for the player base to read. We have members of that player base taking it to heart and continuing with the attacks on a staff member who has done nothing wrong. It's disgusting.

 

I don't get paid for this anymore. I gave up my salary to make this game better, and stuff like this makes me wonder if the stress I'm feeling right now is still worth it. I'm still here. I'm still doing everything I did before. I want to still be here until the last player leaves, no matter how long that is and I want to keep the damn lights on for however long that is. This is my passion. I'm not in it for anything else but love.

 

I'm a wee bit emotional right now, but you know what? Maybe that's what this thread needs. Some emotion.

 

I wasn't even upset at the unnamed insinuation that I delete logs. I was more upset that Joelle is yet again being dragged through the mud for someone to stoke their ego and base.

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There are some details here that I am forced to respond to as to clear the air with the community

 

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What prevents a staff member from deleting relevant logs and information in regards to activities? There is at least one person not mentioned here who would have the ability to do so. I’m not making an accusation, I’m just asking for clarification about the safeguards in place to prevent “evidence tampering” so to speak. Would you be willing to further clarify the “chain of access” beyond the chain of command? Who has access to what, and what can they do with it? I’d understand if not, but I felt it’s a question worth asking.

Not feasible.  I will not be more specific because of those safeguards.

 

The summer hat issue.  There are items I am not to make such as the Bag of Keeping.  The Summer Hat was not on that list, perhaps it should have been! But to answer your question, no I will not be making any more unless I am instructed by Budda or Rolf to do so, and should the Devs wish anything like it be added they can make a version of it I can use in events.

 

There are policies in place for the creation of items that are handed out at events like this or my Random Enkounters stuff.  Most of it is at my discretion within those policies, but when Rolf or Budda put something out that is a one time item, that is it... period!  I do not make items intended for a one time gift, I do not hand out fantastic items, I do not hand out improperly enchanted items, I do not make items that will break mechanics! (Okay okay.. there was that one time with the water....)   Like it or not, I am very careful about this stuff as I do not intend to affect the game negatively.  The items I do make on occasion are not limited to team members though as we put on promotional events that give us an opportunity to give the items to anyone and that is their primary focus.

 

The stuff about  our team additions is incorrect, it is exactly as I stated in my letter to the public.  There is nothing more or less to it.  They climbed the ranks on their own skill and effort and did not even become a part of the Community Relations team until after I had decided to train them as a potential GM.

 

You did ask why I do not make team additions an announcement to the community...  part of it is lack of time, part of it is the community itself.  It's not as simple as saying "Congrats so and so has become a GM"  I remember a time when we did that in event, but then the community got all up in arms about it and wanted it handled more anonymously.  So... well... we started doing that.  This way should a team member wish to play anonymously but have a public GM avatar, they have that option.  This isn't the best explanation I know, but there is a lot that goes into becoming a GM.

 

 

 

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