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Our programmers have given themselves "god mode" accounts in the online game we develop, and just fly around the world following people around. Players do not, nor have they ever had access to flight.

Obviously, this is weird and a bit unprofessional, but is something something I should talk to them about?

closed as off-topic by Jan Doggen, Jim G., gnat, user9158, user8365 Feb 2 '15 at 13:48

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  • 4
    You really need to add to this question what your position is in this company. Manager? Customer service? Tech support? Artist? – Carson63000 Feb 1 '15 at 0:51
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    Developers should have access to a "test" server where they can play (like the old Everquest Test server). Otherwise, developers should not do anything that could potentially interfere with customers, even if it is just flying around following them. – akton Feb 1 '15 at 2:32
  • Users have expectations of privacy when playing online games? I guess no one at facebook reads user posts either. – user8365 Feb 2 '15 at 13:48
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This is one were you need to get ahead of the curve. It's a a grey area and everybody has probably different ideas of what's acceptable and appropriate. You can't leave this open to interpretation. So here is what I suggest you do.

  1. Think about what you feel is the right behavior and what is out of bounds
  2. Review with management, stakeholder, and/or team for input
  3. Create a a written policy around it. Distribute and communicate so it's entirely clear to everyone what's okay and what isn't

I would NOT comment or reference current behavior but just focus on what the policy should be like and put it in place. In most case people will appreciate clear rules even if they disagree with them. At least you know what to do (or not to do) and it applies equally to everybody.

  • It's not really a grey area look at the trouble Uber got into with God mode - high level accounts must be heavily restricted and audited. – Pepone Jan 31 '15 at 16:42
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    @Pepone It is true that accounts with extra privileges should be closely monitored to prevent abuse, but there are legitimate uses for "God Mode" in a game you're developing. – ColleenV Jan 31 '15 at 21:59
  • @ColleenV I know I had root and beyond root on a number of systems for BT back in the day and now you have to have security clearance for those sort of roles – Pepone Jan 31 '15 at 22:28
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I think is probably OK if your employees are not active players of your game.

Otherwise, other players (your clients) will probably be upset because they are abusing their position to get advantages.

On the other hand, if they are "fooling around" in the game without actually playing it... I can tell you that is actually more common that you might think.

It's not unheard of that some "GameMasters" (employees of the company) have unique, overpowered abilities not available to everyone else. But normally it does not matter because they are not competing against players. It's actually pretty funny to be involved with them.

Of course, if they are doing it at work time, you can ask them to stop. But if they're doing it on their free time and/or after getting their tasks done, you can even ask them to help the other players. That way they get a break from work while at the same time they are building some sort of community in your game. Don't subestimate the power of having a community around your product.

My two cents as a former online videogame player.

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Not enough detail here.

Observing users -- if the user agreement is written to allow that, and most online game agreements are -- is one of the best ways to understand what's worki g, what isn't, why, and how to improve in the future. That isn't "god mode", it's sysadmin and user analysis.

If the observation interferes with the users, that becomes questionable. But it doesn't sound like this changes gameplay at all. It isn't even clear whether the users can be aware that they're being observed.

Violating privacy policies would be a problem and should be brought to management's attention. Interfering with the game in ways that favor some players at the expense of others, outside of game changes agreed to by the whole team and justified in the game context, ditto.

But without seeing what the users signed, we can't say whether simply observing is an issue or not. Determine that, then decide whether there's an issue that needs to be addressed.

1

Why are these developers doing this? If customers can see that someone is flying around in a scene that normal customers can't fly in, then this is going to upset customers, and that's very bad. As a paying customer, it be badly pissed of if I noticed this. Then there are privacy concerns. If they follow people, what can they find out about thise people? So this could be beyond unprofessional. It could be damaging to the company, and possibly illegal.

On the other hand, there may be a totally different reason. These developers might "fly around" scenes to see first hand how the game is seen by customers. If there are complaints about some scene in the game not working as intended, you want your developers to be able to get a look at that scene as soon as possible, without having to go through a ten hour campaign for example. There may be problems with a game that only can be found by a very experienced and well-trained gamer, and you have a developer who is very good at writing code but not at all good at playing the game. That developer needs a way to reproduce the customer's problem while being nowhere near as good a player.

So I'd recommend that you find out what is behind this before jumping to conclusions.

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Upsetting customers is not a good idea. If employee actions are causing this to happen, then their boss should have the good sense to put a stop to it.

Corporations need to realize it's not a good idea to piss customers off. It's really that basic.

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