Deity Do's and Dont's
Being a deity isn't easy. Being a player can be quite easy by comparison. Players devote a great deal of energy and effort into building their country, and when something goes wrong with the game, you can expect the players to be upset. Scratch that...very upset.
Deities are human. We all make mistakes. No doubt, you will come up with new ways to screw up. Fear not! Here are some common things experienced deities do in running a game, and common errors that newer deities make:
- Make daily backups of the entire directory the game has been built in. This is usually done via an automatic means, but you can do it manually too. Just make sure it is done every day, especially before updates. If something goes wrong with the game, you've got to have a reliable backup to rewind to. If you do nothing else that this page recommends, at least do this.
- Announce new games at least two weeks in advance. If you don't, you will suffer for lack of registration.
- Plan to launch your game when another game is winding down, or another game is not running. This helps to get you more registrations.
- If you have the ability and assets, make a website for the game. This site should include all relevant details of the game such as the output from version, start date, expected end date, how to register, any differences in the game from the stock code, etc.
- Respond to player's e-mails and telegrams as rapidly as possible. This makes you appear to be a competent and responsible deity, even if you aren't :-)
- Try to be fair in the placement of countries. Before you allow players to login, review the country placements and see if it is fair. A nation 10 sectors from the nearest free land is at a serious disadvantage if everyone else is only 4 sectors away from free land. Have a look at resources for similar problems.
- As the game progresses, make a posting every week or so to rec.games.empire telling about how the game is going, what wars are being waged, what the power report looks like, and whatever else you'd like to put into the post. Make sure you do a post at the end of the game too, announcing who the winners are, and showing the complete report *.
- When the game is complete, send the game ending post to email@example.com. Doing this makes sure the Empire News is aware of the end of the game, and will include details about the end of the game in the next release of the Empire News. The game ending post should contain who the winners are, awards (if any were given), a final power report, and a final 'report *'.
- Be consistent, fair, and mature in your treatment of players, even when they tick you off. You should not play favorites.
- Be stingy with information. Better to not give out information that players can't readily obtain themselves.
- Read "info God" for more tips on being a good deity.
- If you're a relatively new player, don't run a game. There are too many nuances to the game that new players do not understand that you need to understand to be a competent deity.
- If you're a new deity, try not to stray from the standard setup. There's enough that can potentially go wrong without you making any changes.
- No matter what your motivation, do not ever play in the game if you are a deity unless all players know what you are doing before they register for the game. Deity misbehavior can happen all too easily, and most players will not trust a deity who is also a player. One of the most egregious cases of this was a player who happened to be deity who got so mad about his country being destroyed he physically unplugged the machine the Empire server was running on.
- Do not ever allow any one player to know another player's e-mail address. This information can be absolutely crucial to a potential enemy nation. If the players want to know someone's e-mail address, they'll have to get it on their own. Thus, when you're sending messages to all the players before a game begins, make sure you use Blind Carbon Copy (aka BCC:) rather than placing all the registrant's e-mails in the To: line. Be careful about this. Players get very ticked if you make this error.
- Do not change the rules of the game after the game has begun unless a vast, vast majority of the players agree to the change. Most of these rules changes usually have to do with changes in update time and/or frequency. This can upset players who are in the game, and can potentially debalance the game if you change the updates without virtually all the players agreeing to the change.
- In the same vein, don't change the victory conditions after the game has begun. For example, if you say "a maximum of three countries can be part of the winning alliance", don't go and change that to two or four. Players base their entire game strategies on the winning conditions as set forth in the beginning of the game.
This is not a complete list of what to do and what not to do. Think ahead, be reasonable, and go for the obvious solutions. When in doubt, ask. It is far better to appear to be inexperienced than it is to allow your inexperience to totally screw up the game.