I'm purely talking about gameplay mechanics here. Disguise's job is to hide the identity of characters who wish do remain anonymous and/or do crimes around the game. Appear code was a significant force-multiplier to disguise, and has absolutely no counterplay, since it can't 'slip' or fail regardless of what you do ICly.
We're also discussing making it so that appear doesn't break on corpses, or when naked. So that will further muddy the waters in determining who did what, and linking them to that action.
We like to say that actions have consequences in SD, but right now, with a relatively low investment of UE into disguise and it's relevant stats, used in conjunction with appear, it's quite possible, if not downright easy to commit perfect crimes.
We allow people to change their height, weight and apparent sex with appear on the fly with no skill or stat investment. In addition, you can hide your @nakeds by using disguise items. But you can also hide the way your character looks by being clever with other game mechanics.
This has, in effect, made it so security gear, the chatter system, NPC reports (assuming you go about asking NPC's for intel with @Request_puppet in the first place) and eyewitness reports effectively useless.
If you're not in a position to physically intercept someone doing a crime or something that you wish to prevent, then it takes but a moment to swap a disguise item and use the appear command to walk into an alley a midget mano and walk out a amazonian walker. At which point... you've lost your ability to retaliate without simply smallworlding the person.
We were told when this code came out, in addition to the changes in rules whereby staff will no longer investigate smallworlding, that the game is now about linking activities with motives. This is a fine solution if you are in a position in the game with relatively few enemies. It is significantly less than fine when you have a position of power whereby your own friends and allies are want to cain on you.
I'll also say that the solution of attacking random disguised people on scene who you think might be involved isn't working. And truthfully, chasing down motives can, in and of itself, be extremely smallworldy. We're told to respect the ambient population of the game, but the ratio to puppeted characters doing crimes to players doing crimes is obviously, very skewed.
In the past, I've suggested blanket nerfs to the appear skill. Things such as requiring people to do it in their pads, requiring people to do it using items that take not-insignificant amounts of time to use, requiring disguise kits that are consumable, etc.
There's also the issue of appear effectively stripping the informational value of eyewitness, photographic or video evidence of events down to slim to zero value. This code disproportionately affects the mix more than anyplace else in the game. Gender neutral appearances make it extremely frustrating and gamey to even describe shrouded people. "He looked like a.. human wearing a poncho." "Get that average human being!" "Look out, an average walker is coming for you!" These are gamey/cheesy phrases to use, and convey extremely little actionable intel for players not willing to simply smallworld shrouds.
However, I see a conflation of sex and gender related issues with gameplay related issues here, and while I personally think a more progressive approach to allowing players to express their character's gender more freely is awesome, I don't think it should come at the cost of gameplay.
I want to solicit the community's feedback on this, because I feel that it's an issue that's significantly impacted my own gameplay, and I'm curious as to if it's been the same for others.
The TL;DR version: Appear when used in conjunction with disguise code makes it relatively easy to get away with near perfect crimes. Clearly, there's a lot of ambient pop in the game at all times to witness appearance changes, but the lack of reaction of the ambient pop, as well as the lack of mechanical constraints on the verb itself are allowing people to radically change their appearances in a very small amount of time, and so attempting to enforce consequences on actions as players seems at times, overtly difficult.