GM "monitoring" of Whispers

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biodude
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Re: GM "monitoring" of Whispers

Post by biodude »

I am of 2 minds on this issue as well, and I see no reason to rush changing the way whispers behave in MapTool.

I greatly appreciate brigand's points about privacy: as a player, it would feel awkward to know that the GM was listening in on private messages I was sending to another user. It implies a fundamental lack of trust. If my GM doesn't trust me, why am I playing with them?

On the other hand, private chatting between players easily creates opportunities for 'meta-gaming' not easily analogous to situations in a face-to-face game. Furthermore, MapTool is primarily a VTT, for playing games. As noted by the OP, if the GM doesn't even know that players are chatting privately, the lack of feedback can lead to confusion. If users want to chat privately about something completely unrelated to the game, they always have the option of using an unrelated chat / communication client.
Then again, "net courtesy" also dictates that you notify others if you are distracted from a group interaction (AFK / brb, etc.), so this is not necessarily MapTool's responsibility.

The question to me becomes: is everything in MapTool a game-aid, or are some chat features more about the user? The current chat whisper sends a message from one user to another, not one character to another.
If whispers were to be made available to the GM (another user), MapTool should be obligated to notify users that this is happening, at the very least. It should also be an option that can be disabled, and clearly indicated to users who is able to read their whispers. I could see a set of "nested" preferences: "inform GM of whispers" ; "show contents of whispers to GM"

I agree that there is a distinction between In-Character, and Out-Of-Character "whispers". OOC whispers should be private. IC whispers may not be private, depending on events in-game. Whether or not the whisper chat command in MapTool is In-Character, or out of character should be up to the user, not the GM.

MapTool already has a distinction between in & out of character: the Impersonate function.
What if?:
- When whispers are sent while impersonating a token, they are available to the GM (subject to GM preferences: they may not want the extra chat-spam). They could even be sent to other tokens (characters), and would be received by all users who are owners of those tokens (GM by default, if no "owner").
- When whispers are sent from a plain chat interface (nothing impersonated), they are still secret, no matter what the GM wants.

Would you object to this sort of distinction, brigand?
I feel it is consistent with the current interface, could actually aid game immersion, and maintains a distinction between characters (in-game) & users (out-of-character).
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Brigand
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Re: GM "monitoring" of Whispers

Post by Brigand »

biodude wrote:On the other hand, private chatting between players easily creates opportunities for 'meta-gaming' not easily analogous to situations in a face-to-face game.

They're going to meta-game whether or not their whispers are private. If they aren't, they'll just use another chat program.

Would you object to this sort of distinction, brigand?

Yes, I would object. I am never not impersonating a token when I play and it would just be confusing and annoying to everyone. If you as a GM don't want your players communicating in-character privately, ask them not to. You shouldn't need a program to baby-sit your players for you.

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Re: GM "monitoring" of Whispers

Post by kristof65 »

biodude wrote:If my GM doesn't trust me, why am I playing with them?


Trust is a two way street, though. As a player you trust your GM to adjucate the rules fairly, keep PC secrets, and otherwise give you a fun game. If you can't trust your GM to not misuse "overheard" IC conversations, why are you playing with them?

Likewise, as a GM, if you don't give your players some trust, why are you GMing.

I digress, though - this was never about trust for me. It was about facilitating game play.

The question to me becomes: is everything in MapTool a game-aid, or are some chat features more about the user?

IMO, everything in MT is a game aid, no matter if it's character or user focused. MT is a VTT, and in my mind, it is a virtual equivilent of my game room with it's conference table. My game room is set up to help facilitate smooth and fun game play, likewise, I feel MT should be too.

I agree that there is a distinction between In-Character, and Out-Of-Character "whispers". OOC whispers should be private. IC whispers may not be private, depending on events in-game. Whether or not the whisper chat command in MapTool is In-Character, or out of character should be up to the user, not the GM.

MapTool already has a distinction between in & out of character: the Impersonate function.
What if?:
- When whispers are sent while impersonating a token, they are available to the GM (subject to GM preferences: they may not want the extra chat-spam). They could even be sent to other tokens (characters), and would be received by all users who are owners of those tokens (GM by default, if no "owner").
- When whispers are sent from a plain chat interface (nothing impersonated), they are still secret, no matter what the GM wants.

Would you object to this sort of distinction, brigand?
I feel it is consistent with the current interface, could actually aid game immersion, and maintains a distinction between characters (in-game) & users (out-of-character).

I have no problem with such an implementation.

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Re: GM "monitoring" of Whispers

Post by Full Bleed »

biodude wrote:I feel it is consistent with the current interface, could actually aid game immersion, and maintains a distinction between characters (in-game) & users (out-of-character).


Your suggestions are certainly better, and more sensible, than the current implementation.

That said, I still think MT can (and should) give GM's the choice to police whispers in their games as they see fit. There are too many factors at play to assume that any solution will be one-size-fits all. So rather than have MT dictate how we should play, it's better to let individual groups/GM's decide.

So, yes, make all whispers by impersonated tokens be visible to the GM by default because that just makes sense. But I'd still like to have the option to turn off OOC whispers in my games (particularly if I find them to be disruptive to the game or if I believe too much meta-gaming is going on behind the scenes.) Players that meta-game or get caught up in private conversations during games aren't "bad" players or "untrustworthy." Maybe they're easily distracted... lack confidence... or simply rely too much on others for their actions. Maybe one player is just too dominant and I want to dissuade them from constantly weighing into the actions of other players OOC. Or maybe I just wholeheartedly believe that if my players (people I know better than anyone else in this thread) can't implicitly use MT for non-game related banter that the game will be better for it.

At the end of the day I want MT to help me run my games smoothly and give me the power to make and enforce executive decisions that will make that happen.
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Re: GM "monitoring" of Whispers

Post by Nonsapient »

I would be perfectly satisfied with just altering the behavior of whispers when impersonating as said above. That's all the added function I need. That's exactly how I want it.

I don't want to know about/hear the player's
"lol I can't believe he said that, he's such a tool"
or such. It isn't part of the game. Nor do I want to hear their discussions of TV shows.

I just want the ability to better model the game world.

Edit: It'd be neat to have a small icon somewhere (connections panel, on the token, etc) to indicate that a person is typing. That way when you have a hunt and pecker in the game, you can tell if he is TRYING or if he is sitting there. No need to know the information he is typing out though.

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Re: GM "monitoring" of Whispers

Post by Brigand »

Using /w shouldn't change based on whether or not you have a token impersonated. Myself and the players I've gamed with, never not impersonate a token. Adding this would just create confusion and unnecessary and pointless clicking and impersonationg and de-impersonating.

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Re: GM "monitoring" of Whispers

Post by CoveredInFish »

If you consider wargaming or boardgaming users (maybe even teams of them) the discussion will get a new turn.

So, make it as customable as possible. The GM should be able to set up the way whisper should work ... and the players should be informed about it.

On a plain rpg view i really like biodudes idea.

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Re: GM "monitoring" of Whispers

Post by biodude »

Nonsapient wrote:Edit: It'd be neat to have a small icon somewhere (connections panel, on the token, etc) to indicate that a person is typing. That way when you have a hunt and pecker in the game, you can tell if he is TRYING or if he is sitting there. No need to know the information he is typing out though.


Agreed. This would probably satisfy most GM's needs to know whether or not their players are even paying attention. If they are madly typing, but don't see any activity from them, chances are they are chatting privately, but at least you know they're not watching TV, or left the room or something.
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Re: GM "monitoring" of Whispers

Post by kristof65 »

CoveredInFish wrote:If you consider wargaming or boardgaming users (maybe even teams of them) the discussion will get a new turn.

True. For Wargaming or boardgaming - especially where you have teams - the privacy of whispers should be tantamount.

The settings definitely need to be customizable - perhaps even associated with the campaign so that a GM or host can easily set them based on the group/game playing, since different groups/games may have different needs, even if the hosting server is the same.

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Re: GM "monitoring" of Whispers

Post by plothos »

Not to be contentious or anything, and not to pile on against Brigand or anything; I'm just honestly confused by your view. It's not that I'm opinionated and won't listen. I'm trying to figure out what the issue is that you have and I can't.

I guess my hang-up is that I don't see how this is properly described as an invasion of privacy, unless you believe there is an understanding on the part of the players that the GM will not be able to see their chats. Seems to me you're equating this we me reading someone else's mail. If I did that, it would be horribly wrong and you'd be right to be upset. But as much as I try to, I can't see the analogy here, if, again, all parties know about the fact that the gm is sent the message and if there are other ways to send private communication.

Let me put forth the following situation and see how you feel about it.
I have a whiteboard in an office I share with a coworker. We communicate through notes, secure in our privacy because no one else has a key to the room. The other might reveal what's on the board, but they could show letters I send them too. If someone broke in and read the board messages, this would be a violation. If someone else had a key and used it to read the messages, violation. If, however, due to other reasons (like, say the need to communicate with us in similar fashion) someone else were now given a key to the office, and both I and my office-mate knew about it ahead of time, is this then a violation? After all, anything I write on there I know can be seen by both parties, and I have plenty of other ways to communicate with my buddy. I simply now have one fewer. I can see lamenting that loss - it was handy - but labeling this a violation of privacy seems a stretch.

Similarly, I can see lamenting losing the existence of a private in-program communication tool, but labeling it a violation seems a stretch.

Just so I can understand you, Brigand, can you tell me if you do indeed think the whiteboard case is a violation of privacy, or if not, then how you think it differs from the maptool case so as to explain the change in your evaluation?
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Re: GM "monitoring" of Whispers

Post by Jshock »

biodude wrote:
Nonsapient wrote:Edit: It'd be neat to have a small icon somewhere (connections panel, on the token, etc) to indicate that a person is typing. That way when you have a hunt and pecker in the game, you can tell if he is TRYING or if he is sitting there. No need to know the information he is typing out though.


Agreed. This would probably satisfy most GM's needs to know whether or not their players are even paying attention. If they are madly typing, but don't see any activity from them, chances are they are chatting privately, but at least you know they're not watching TV, or left the room or something.

Not only that, but it could keep people from tripping over each other in chat - if everyone can see "player X is typing..." onscreen somewhere, they might let him finish before saying something.

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Re: GM "monitoring" of Whispers

Post by plothos »

Jshock wrote:Not only that, but it could keep people from tripping over each other in chat - if everyone can see "player X is typing..." onscreen somewhere, they might let him finish before saying something.
This would be the major selling point for me. I want this bad.
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Re: GM "monitoring" of Whispers

Post by Jector »

Brigand wrote:They're going to meta-game whether or not their whispers are private. If they aren't, they'll just use another chat program.


If that's the case, why object to the OPTION of GM monitoring whispers with PLAYER NOTIFICATION if it's enabled? The words in all caps are so because they are the important points that have been made numerous times in this thread and left unaddressed by you.
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Re: GM "monitoring" of Whispers

Post by Brigand »

Jector wrote:
Brigand wrote:They're going to meta-game whether or not their whispers are private. If they aren't, they'll just use another chat program.


If that's the case, why object to the OPTION of GM monitoring whispers with PLAYER NOTIFICATION if it's enabled? The words in all caps are so because they are the important points that have been made numerous times in this thread and left unaddressed by you.

Because I prefer to use MapTool and MapTool only when I am playing a game. That way, even when I am communicating privately, I am still focused on the MapTool chat window.

Regardless, private communication is just that. Private. Nosy GM's can go frak themselves.

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Re: GM "monitoring" of Whispers

Post by Darinth »

Okay... when this topic was originally brought up I read about the first paragraph and then I immediately abandoned the topic because I was really really afraid it was going to get ugly, and to some degree it apparently has.

So... I'm going to through my cents in here to make it apparent that while I've got concerns very similar to Brigands but understand that also in the case of IC whisper many players *WANT* the GM to see what they're saying. I like the idea of having methods of controlling who sees what whispers, but rather then having it be based on impersonation I'd much rather simply see /characterwhisper (/cw) and /playerwhisper (/pw) commands added and a new campaign option setup that controlled which command the /whisper (/w) defaulted to. /cw is then always sent to the GM as well and /pw is not.

In addition, there's need to be a VERY obvious notification if /w is defaulted to using /cw as there is an "Expectation of Privacy" (I believe that's the legal term) from most people that the /w command is indeed private. This should be a popup box with an alert icon and text that makes it's message very clear. There should never be any method of disabling this notification. This needs to exist for obvious moral reasons, and possibly for legal reasons as well. The chat log should also have an alert when you whisper and it's also seen by the GM.

The current whisper looks like this "You whisper to Player: stuff" and when the GM is also overhearing it should probably be something like "You whisper to Player and GMs: stuff". This means no violation of privacy and maptool is still facilitating the option of player-to-player interaction, not just character-to-character. Maptool is both an IC and OOC tool IMO and needs to remain both.

My apologies if my post here has seemed at all... erm... bossy. But privacy is something that I take very seriously from both a moral and legal stand-point.
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