Volunteer GM system

Understandably Funcom does not have the resources to GM all their servers. However, Official servers have become unplayable for the vast majority.
My suggestion is:

Volunteer GM System

A system of GM’s comprised of completely volunteers. No compensation whatever.
What this would require:

  1. An in game reporting system.
    A player would open the chat window, type GM/ message to send the message to the GM que that is not in game. A separate que system available only to GM’s
    Once a GM opens that message, they can contact that player in the server. see what is going on.
    If this is not an issue for GM’s the GM would merely state this is not an issue he/she could help with.
    If it is a blatant violation such as building to block resources or entrances to dungeons or inside dungeons, that is not allowed, the GM would have options to deal with this.
    A. First offense - give the clan a warning and tell them they have a specific time limit to remove all offending building structures. So if there are more somewhere else, that clan needs to remove them also, or a second offense may occur. Once the GM system was announced, all smart clans would immediately begin removing those offending building pieces to prevent action by a GM.
    B. Second offense - The GM would have the power to - remove all clan “XYZ”. This command would remove all offending structures owned by the clan along with all other structures. Bases outposts and thralls. Everything except the characters and their inventory. Seems harsh but it isn’t like they are doing this unknowingly and blocking resources.
    C. Bug reports. If a GM gets a bug report, he/she may attempt a fix temporarily for the player if possible, but more importantly, they could make a detailed description for the Devs. This gives the Devs a legitimate report to follow up on. Bugs would be a low priority for GM’s. Blatant misuse of building would be the highest priority. This would include but not be limited to:
    Blocking resources
    Blocking dungeon entrances
    Under-meshing
    D. Player hacking. If a GM is summoned by a player to witness hacking by another player. The GM would have options. Ban the offending player for 3 days, 5 days, 7 days. Permanent Ban (Lead GM only).
    This does not seem harsh but if a player base were being attacked, and they used hacks to defend it, by the time their ban was over, their base would be raided.
    My suggestion here is: if a GM witnesses this type of hack, they should contact a second GM to witness and then the two decide on the action taken. If they both agree this is a hack.
    Gm’s could have a wide range of issues they could deal with and also report to the devs in detail.
    Gm’s would not be Police, but instead strict parents.
    GM’s would have short shifts, 4 to 6 hours or more if they chose.
    GM’s would pick days, evenings, or whenever they can most likely be available.
    GM’s would be screened by Funcom in an attempt to find good fits for the position.
    GM’s caught abusing power, would be banned from the game.
    Players suffering from abuse by a GM, once the GM was removed would be given enough resources or other items to help them recover. Reports of GM abuse, would be directed to lead GM’s and to Funcom for follow up. A separate message command would occomplish this. Example: /GMAbuse message.

I feel a system like this would be relatively simple to implement. An application for GM would be made available. A screening process would be done by Funcom. GM’s would have limited admin powers. A lead GM would make the hard decisions. Someone Funcom has decided is reliable and trustworthy.
GM’s Would be chosen for different regions depending on language.
GM’s would be able to enter any server in their region, in stealth mode. Invisible.
GM’s would need the ability to message between each other in the same regions. GM’s would need the ability to message a Lead GM in their region. This could even be handled in a Discord setting.
The in game tickets system would need to be simple and easy to use for the player and for the GM. GM’s would need the ability to contact a player for more information (in game).
This type of system has been done in the past and worked very well. MMO’s have always had the problem with cheaters, hackers and abusers. Leaving them unchecked is a mistake.

This is just a bare bones implementation and suggestion and could be built upon easily as time went on. Lead GM’s would come from the ranks of GM’s who showed good judgement and reliability.

Funcom has the player base to draw from. There are a lot of players out there with the maturity and discipline to become GM’s. I feel that many would apply knowing there is no compensation, only the fact that you are helping make the game better for all.

All GM tickets sent by players would be available to Funcom along with the GM description of what was done to correct the issue. Funcom can then make decisions for policy on how GM’s should handle certain issues. This also lets Funcom know the report was opened by a GM and was either handled or forwarded for further review.

I think this would be overwhelming for the first couple of weeks but would settle down quickly to a manageable, reasonable work load.

3 Likes

While I think this is a good idea, I think it will not happen.

How could FC be assured of honest Moderators?
there is already abuse among admin on private servers, abuse by a mod on an official would be blamed on FC.

please don’t get angry with me, I’m only giving my opinion of why I don’t think it will happen.

I do think it is a good suggestion.

1 Like

You always run the risk of abuse of power. How Funcom dealt with an abusive GM, would probably be severe. Limit admin power is part of the key. The rest of the key is the application and screening process.
Finding people who would take the position seriously is never easy, but I believe they are in the player base.
GM logs, along with tickets and GM descriptions, would give Funcom all the info they needed to make a decision. Was it bad judgement? Was it out and out abuse?
In my opinion, the risk would be worth the reward. Most of the Official servers players would benefit from this type of system.
If you have someone, unchecked, building foundations and things in the Shattered Springs so that no Brimstone can spawn - is that better than running a risk that a GM may dip his fingers into the cookie jar and end up banned from the game permanently. I think most players would agree that having GM’s - even volunteer GM’s is better than nothing.
I never get angry. Everyone has an opinion, whether there’s is the same as mine or not.

maybe something could be done now that more resources are coming available.
up until now, I’ve always heard it was a manpower issue.

But with more resources maybe a team could be formed to police the servers.

Or nothing at all like Capcom. XD

Sorry…had sneak that in there. Was a Capcom Mod for 15+ years… had took another mod less then a minute to delete my account, and destroy everything I had done. (and staff was unable to restore any of it. ) Other Mod? another 10+ year vet of mod system. Walked away with no issues. (every mod got removed, and site basically died…(and closes soon(or maybe have)

I would not trust randoms… I barely trust most Mods, even when I was/I’m one. I’ve seen plently across Games and Forums cross the line. Not talking using Nuke button, but you know “grey area” Were no one agree on what should’ve been done…

Even payed staff makes mistake. (had that during MH1) Several instances over other games I’ve seen.

It really needs to be a payed staff member who has some sort of “punishment” when they mess up. And proper tools to go thru a list of issues, and visit each server and slowly clean up.

At same time, Funcom has slowly been fixing holes. Its only matter of time before its done…or they move on to next game. =(

I can understand what you are saying. However, a GM would not be ruling over a server. They would not even be on your server unless a player had a complaint that needed GM assistance.
Funcom is already responsible for the Official Servers and how un-playable they have become for the vast majority according to these very forums. Being responsible for a handful of people screened by Funcom, would be much less headache than watching the 1000’s of servers not allow players to reach resources and have an enjoyable game experience.
If you are not experiencing any of these abuses by players, then no GM would need to come to your server. If on the other hand you were a person who felt they needed to place building pieces to block others from resources or dungeons (not saying you are at all) then I suppose you would not want a GM to show up on your server.
GM’s are not rulers or Police, they are people who have made their time available to assist players. Now I am sure that some players would report things that are not abuse and simply a side effect of PVP or because they felt like they were mistreated. This is not issues for GM’s and they would be told that by the GM.
As far as Funcom employees being tied up monitoring GM’s, it would be much easier to monitor a handful of people than 1000 servers.
GM levels would mean that only a small amount of GM’s would actually ever talk to a Funcom employee. Lead GM’s. A handful of GM’s could cover a lot of servers. A lead GM could oversee a lot of GM’s.
No one is ruling over or in charge of any server, that is not a GM role. A GM would simply log into the GM system and begin picking tickets. One at a time.
I appreciate your opinion and understand your fears but, how would you do it differently?

I have read that also, and to be honest. The number of paid employees it would take to GM the number of servers they have, would make this economically unrealistic. You could have three or four times the number of volunteer GM’s handling the same server load.
That’s why I feel the player base should jump in and help Funcom with the game we all love so much.
I understand how players would fear other players being a GM. Ask yourself though, if you were a GM, would you abuse your position? I think most would truthfully answer no.
PVP breeds an environment of distrust of those you do not know. So having someone you do not know, being called to your server… yes that is scary. But if you are playing by the rules, what’s to worry about. An abusive GM? It could happen, I’m not saying it can’t. I’m just saying it would be extremely rare and Funcom would undoubtedly handle it to the players satisfaction.

I have worked as a volunteer GM on several MMO’s in the past dating back to Dark Age of Camelot. Tells you all how old I am. lol
To be completely honest, I have never seen a case where a GM hand picked by a company, was abusive.
Some were over strict and either learned to be more lax or they moved on.
Limiting GM admin abilities means just that, they would be extremely limited in what they could do. That said, the Lead GM would have a lot more power and be able to do much more if necessary.
What I have found in the past is most GM’s are hesitant to take action and then hesitant on how severe an action be. They typically will contact the Lead GM for advice or to verify the level of abuse by a player, prior to any action being taken.

I’m sorry about what happened to you at Capcom. I can see where that would turn you off as far as Volunteer GM’s go. All I can say is hopefully if a system like this is taken seriously by Funcom and implemented, there would be some safeguards built in.

Although I wished that there were moderators for official servers, I think this would be about the most difficult job in the whole gaming industry:

  1. Complexity of the gaming situation

I am playing and loving this game for a long time now because of it´s complexity. All the different aspects like building system, terrain and map knowledge, raiding techniques / siege warfare, character progress, ressource management and thrall capturing, stat builds and fighting, alliances and diplomacy make this game one of if not the most complex computer game out there.

  1. Excessive demands

Because there are so many different aspects involved and because of the sheer amount of time people invest, most of the players are highly emotional about things that happen ingame. Modarators will have to be skilled to cope with this emotionality as well as with the complex game mechanics.

  1. Diversity of opinion

Even in this forum, where I suppose some of the most experienced and mature Conan Exiles players are participating, people don´t agree about every rule in the game. Let´s take the example “building over ressources” (it´s nothing personal nor do I want to discuss this topic here): Funcom always claims that blocking resources is considered a legit war strategy, still there is always someone who wants to call out for banning players who do that (crap).

  1. Available individuals

What will happen if moderators will come to different decisions regarding similar situations on different servers and how will this be displayed in public? Imagine how toxic players will rage against the moderators…
I think that most of the reasonable people will therefore not participate from the beginning. The few mature ones with enough time and patience probably already admin their own servers. What if most of the players to apply for beeing a moderator will do it because of personal or their groups benefit?

  1. Judicial subjects

Then there is the legal aspect. Can you sue a game company for banning for the wrong reasons? I can imagine that having moderators involved might render this question a little complicated (sorry, I´m clueless here).

In the end, I think that the biggest part of the job (the inspection of abuses as well as the decision on the actions taken) has to be done by paid workers hired by the company. Voluntary moderators could only support, but never replace professionals.

I agree 100%

Again I agree, however GM’s would be sympathetic and state this is not a GM issue. People are always emotional when they spend a lot of time building in a game. That feature is one reason people stay with the game so long. They don’t want to lose what they have built. I think most players understand that.

This is part of any relationship. Differences of opinion are the most gray area in any relationship. Who is right who is wrong? Maybe neither. Gray areas can not be acted upon by Responsible GM’s. That decision would have to be made by a Lead GM or Funcom themselves if the Lead was unsure.
Is this abuse or a war strategy?


It could be considered a war strategy, but this type of war strategy will kill a server. So who wins?

I know it would be extremely difficult to find people willing to deal with this type of headache, but I think they are out there and it would grow over time to include more and more GM’s having a smaller and smaller work load. Some players want this game to succeed and are willing to give a bit of their own time to help it succeed.

The terms of service agreement already addresses this:
Taken from the Conan Exiles Terms of Service Agreement
“FUNCOM RESERVES THE RIGHTS TO SUSPEND, TERMINATE, MODIFY, OR DELETE ANY ACCOUNT, SERVICE OR YOUR ACCESS TO THE GAME AT ANY TIME FOR ANY OR NO REASON, WITH OR WITHOUT NOTICE AND FUNCOM WILL NOT PROVIDE REFUNDS OF VIRTUAL ITEMS OR VIRTUAL CURRENCY. IN THIS EVENT, THIS AGREEMENT WILL TERMINATE IMMEDIATELY.
You may terminate this Agreement by ceasing use of the Software and Service, cancelling any account you may have with us to use the Service (if any), and permanently deleting all copies of the Software in your possession or control.
All other Sections of this Agreement will survive such termination.”
You can read the entire Agreement here: https://store.steampowered.com/eula/440900_eula_0?eulaLang=english (English version).

The system would need safeguards, Funcom would have to screen applicants. Applicants would have to be willing to deal with the headache. There would be growing pains. There would be disputes. But in the end, I think, there would be a more enjoyable game play experience for everyone.

Wow… That was a long post and took a long time to respond to. :slight_smile:

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Sounds quite explicit to me :grin:
Well perhaps then it´s time to make some more use of this …

I think the decision to ban an account on a permanent basis should rest with Funcom. A 3 day ban for exploits and things, until Funcom can review the situation, would be a reasonable action. In my opinion.
Not applicable for first time offenders unless an extreme case presented itself. Warnings seem to work because people then realize someone is watching and paying attention.

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I didn’t say they would be available to “fix” glitches and bugs, however they could document them to the point Funcom Devs would have reliable info to go off of. instead of some of the non descriptive bug reports that people submit and then say, no one has answered me. Usually no answer comes when no one can figure out what the heck people are talking about.
Bugs are above the head of a GM. They have to be fixed by the Devs. That said, giving Devs complete descriptions of the bugs by a trusted source, would reduce the time they have to spend researching how to duplicate the bug to figure out what or how it ishappening and the best method to address it.

I had literally PM’d Hugo about something like this a few days ago. Even if they don’t grant admin rights maybe they could have volunteer players visiting other servers to snap screen shots or videos and verify things on Funcoms behalf so that a proper admin could step in as needed.

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Yes I could have worded that better. To fix a bug would require a Dev. To “fix” wrong word to use (I should have used Solve temprarily).
What i was referring to is:
Have you ever been stuck in a wall and unable, no matter what you did, to get out of it. I have. Only way out was to log out of game and back in and the second time it happened, I had to re-log twice.
it would have been nice to be able to just conatact a GM and state I’m stuck. they could pull you out of the wall and all is good.
Or,
Have you ever just finished crafting that armor your have been working so hard for and put it on your best thrall, handed him/her the sword of Crom and set the thrall next to the front door of your base while you run to grab that axe you’ve been saving in your vault. Run back to the door only to find your thrall has fallen through the floor. Sure you can rescue the thrall, but you would lose that armor and the sword.
If and I do say “If” a GM were available to answer your call, they could retrieve the thrall inventory in tact.
GM’s are not just looking for exploits or someone to lord over. They would be there to help. Even if in small ways.
Both of those examples above show a temporary solution to a bug, the fix would have to come from the Devs.
I hope that explains things a little better.
Thank you for catching that and keeping me on my toes.

GM’s would not have full admin rights. A very limited set of functions. Move to a certain player. Move a certain player to the GM. If exploits are found, a lead GM (someone Funcom trusted) would have to make the call. If that Lead GM were unsure, it would then be referred to Funcom.
Like I said in my opening statement, GM’s are not Police. They do not have a specific server they are in charge of, they simply pick up tickets submitted by players and go through them. If there is a ticket they can deal with, they would. If it were questionable behavior, documentation in detail would be the best solution.
It sounds like PVP Official servers don’t want anyone looking at their server and that’s fine. Do PVE Official servers feel the same?

I have to call it a night guys. I promise I will read this in the morning and answer any questions or concerns the best I can.
Keep in mind I do not have a plug and play system for this. This is a system that Funcom would have to develop and implement. I don’t have all the answers. I do want to hear the questions, because that furthers answers.
Opposing opinions are also very welcome. There is always the possibility we will find the solution somewhere on common ground.
I think a system like this could work to everyone’s benefit. It would never happen over night. It would probably never be a perfect solution. It would most certainly be better than what we have currently.
Anyway, with that I am out of here for the night. Thank you all for posting and challenging my suggestion. I appreciate your thoughts and ideas.

Another unfortunate point that needs to be considered is international legislation regarding volunteer work and how it’s different in different parts of the world. There are countries and states where you can’t use volunteers for tasks that require specialized skills or training; these need to be done by paid employees. And acting as a GM/Admin in an online game is definitely not something you can hand to the next random passer-by on the street.

I don’t know how other online games handle this these days. What I’ve seen (and experienced) in the past seems to indicate that any volunteer moderators etc. act on a purely volunteer basis, ie. they’re not required to spend any number of hours per week on moderating duties. This, in turn, can lead to people wanting to become moderators just for the status boost, and end up being unproductive. This means that the company needs to have a large pool of volunteers in order to have at least someone available to act upon critical issues, and a large pool increases the risk of having bad apples among the group.

And the Community Management (or some other department) would need to manage and coordinate these volunteers and ultimately act on the more serious cases. Volunteers who don’t work for Funcom couldn’t terminate contracts, ban accounts, etc. unilaterally.

This is an interesting and important topic, but we need to understand the challenges of making it a reality. It’s a lot more complicated than just handing out deputy badges and forming a posse.

For PVP-servers, this kind of “help” is NOT TOLERABLE AT ALL from my point of view
(I cannot speak for the PVE / PVE-C community here for the lack of experience).
I think that´s why @Shadoza dismissed the idea of moderation completely:

PVP means competition, you cannot allow anybody to help in any way when this help is not available for someone else in a similar situation. This would only open the door for a whole lot of s.h.i.t.storms.
But:

NO! PVP-servers need to be looked after more than anything else. But not in the way of babysitting beginners when they loose their gear to lava or loose their base to the purge.

PVP-servers need somebody to fight cheating. This applies to three main topics:

  • fighting exploits (speed hacks, lag switching, scripting ect.)
  • exploits gaining ressources (for example duping)
  • base building exploits (mainly building under mesh and outside the green wall)

To keep it simple: I think the third point is the most fatal for the gameplay, while at the same time beeing the easiest to combat. Introducing moderators to prepare reported cases of undermeshing for one or two funcom admins could change SO MUCH …

A good way that there is no abuse of GM is by encouraging them, it does not need to be monetary, with having the DLC’s for example, I am a Spanish youtuber and I already offered myself once to help manage your servers as GM, to help the Spanish community, I only asked in exchange for the DLC’s on PC (on PS4 I have them) but they never answered me.