[MUD-Dev] Re: PK and my "Mobless MUD" idea

Koster Koster
Mon May 4 10:20:24 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

On Saturday, May 02, 1998 4:33 PM Dr. Cat [SMTP:cat at bga.com] said:

> I'm out on a limb
> hoping I can perhaps tap into a different and bigger hook - the same 
> that draws people into talking to each other on the phone (a highly 
> popular activity that has spawned a monstrously huge industry). 
> will tell.

cf my other post re: Bettelheim. Talking on the phone for social 
purposes is "play" by his lights. However, how much of a phone 
company's revenue comes from people in the business world (in other 
words, engaging in the "game" of getting ahead?).

It's interesting to note that these two hooks are almost always 
inextricably intertwined. A roleplayer who is "playing" finds 
enjoyment from it, sure, but I bet they will roleplay extra hard if 
there's some award to win that marks them as "the best roleplayer." 
Girls in their early teens form extremely tight social bonds (in my 
memory of junior high, they were like packs, or possibly schools of 
sharks...)--yet the environment in which they do so is often highly 

Dr Cat said:
> > >The "influence trees" mechanism I plan to put in later
> > >should do a lot in service of this.
> And Raph Koster said:
> > I'd be curious to hear more of this. Is it akin to the setup that 
> > Asheron's Call intends to use?
So Dr Cat said:
>I really don't know.  I haven't read very much about the game and 
>plans for it.  (quick peek)  I don't see anything about it on their 
>site, either.

[snip Dr Cat's cool influence trees system]

I read about it in various articles. Might want to take a peek through 
Gamespot (there's a fairly recent preview there). I described it in 
another post, but your system sounds similar in intent, though not in 
all details.

> Oh I might note in passing here that this is the kind of question 
> many people concerned about "keeping secrets from the competition" 
> have responded to with an "I'm not telling" because they don't want 
> "have their ideas stolen".  To those people, though none of them are 
> probably reading here anyway, I just want to say "get a life", "get 
> clue", "figure out how things really work in this industry and 
what's not
> worth time spent worrying about it", and various crude and childish 
> comments not suitable for reproducing here.

No worries here. :)

Raph (yeah, me) said:
> > Yes, there is considerable demand for a "safe" virtual 
environment. I
> > just don't think it is feasible. As we all know, "playerkilling"
> > exists on servers that don't even support combat. There's only two 
> > ways I know of to handle this. One is to try to empower players to 
> > handle it. The other is to ban it, attempt to handle the problem 
> > administration, and suffer the PR hit of not being able to do so. 
> > (Yes, I am cynical about this).
> > I regard it as axiomatic that the more sophisticated the 
> > the more ways players will find to screw each other over. And the 
> > possible it is to actually block said methods. A glance at most 
> > the projects of listmembers reveals an environment which is 
> > enough by players that they can cause harm to others via extremely 
> > indirect means. Your choice is to either constrain your feature 
> > or accept that you can't possibly trap all the indirect means of 
> > harm. And we don't want to constrain our feature set to prevent 
> > from taming a dragon and then releasing it near Buffy, whom he 
> > and letting nature take over.
> I'd contend a lack of willingness to make drastic changes or take 
> solutions, like seriously constraining your feature set, or adding 
> "weird and unrealistic" rules modifications.  Taking the serious
> constraints approach, one could dig into the code and find where 
> is applied to players, and just disable it, so everyone is 
> immortal all the time.  Most players would find this game to suck, 
> they could easily be reminded "nine out of ten shards work the way 
> prefer" and people could see what happens.  If you want to spend a 
> more time and effort you could define regions where all players are 
> immortal, and regions where they're not.  "All non-dungeons are 100% 
> safe", or "all places not within X distance of a monster spawn 
point", or
> "all towns and roads are safe and noplace else", or "towns only" or 
> Frankly, even the flawed approach of "a direct attack by one player 
> another player doesn't work anywhere, buy every other trick in the 
> does, dragon-taming or anything else" has some level of value, in my 
> opinion.  The frequency of players killing other players wouldn't go 
> zero, but it would change.  Players of the game might find the new, 
> presumably lower frequency of being killed by players to be 

Apologies for the lengthy quote--I felt the need to put this in 

We're in agreement, at least, that such methods are flawed. :) My 
personal feeling is that once you say, "This place is safe" that 
players will approach it with a reasonable expectation of said promise 
being met. A promise which it appears we agree *cannot be fulfilled.* 
Therefore I prefer to a) not mislead the players and b) not incur the 
inevitable hit when they realize I did so. There's also the question 
of whether making such a promise stifles the playerbase from seeking 
their own solutions,and thus taking the development of virtual 
societies a little further.

It boils down to the fact that players will attempt to exercise power 
over one another. Presence of a combat system, the ability to do 
damage to one another, whatever, will not change this. Now, the server 
may attract a different audience because of its stated rules--eg, less 
people seeking to kill, or possibly MORE seeking easy targets--but the 
underlying dynamics will not change. I am interested in finding 
solutions to that dynamic, not in providing a stopgap measure. I think 
said solutions will HAVE to arise from the players, not from a 
supposedly-all-powerful-but-actually-flawed "God" up in admin-land.

Unfortunately, as Dr Cat well knows, a stopgap measure has immediate 
commercial appeal. ;)

[Total aside: the fact that virtual environments by their nature will 
ALWAYS have a "god" lurking out there--even if it's only the guy who 
has the power to turn the machine off--introduces an often baffling 
social dynamic into the design. Thoughts, anyone?]

> And most importantly, I think it would be a really positive PR move. 
> Taking something very dramatic, which a lot of players have talked 
> and making a big, bold, obvious change and slathering "this is here 
> because players asked us for it" all over the thing, that would be a 
> helpful PR move in my opinion, even if the gameplay of it didn't 
work as
> well as the people asking for it had hoped for.

I believe that if we did this, and it didn't work out as they had 
hoped for, they would blame us for "not doing it right." Without 
understanding the underlying dynamic. More interesting to me is seeing 
stuff like this article show up on the fan sites. (Warning, lengthy 
quoted article follows). I find the final paragraph particularly 
cheering and interesting:

------<start quote>-------

Sonoma-Oasis Call to Arms; Restructuring of the Oasis Guards

After careful consideration we have appointed Lord Dyvim Slorm (ICQ# 
774416) as the first Captain of the Oasis Guards. Dyvim now faces the 
unenviable task of heading perhaps the first (and currently least 
organized) group of city law-enforcement players in UO. We are 
implementing the following changes to the Oasis Guards, largely in 
response to those players who have been wronged by overly enthusiatic 
volunteer Oasis Guards who did not have an adequate understanding of 
the principles behind our city:

- An Oasis Guard guildstone has been placed in the Inn. All guilded 
guards will be removed from the [Oasis] guild, and added to the [Oasis 
Guards] (abbreviated OaG). We have had many problems with criminals 
impersonating guards. If the guard is not guilded as [OaG] or [Oasis], 
please check with us or our page 
(http://steroid.cchem.berkeley.edu/~fields/main.htm) before taking 
their word as fact. ONCE AGAIN, to clarify, NO guard has the authority 
to "ban" or list as KoS any player. If someone claiming to be a guard 
tells you that you are "banned" from Oasis, please ICQ me at 5896613 
with their name.

- The Oasis Guards will be stratified to recognize those who have 
dedicated a large percentage of their UO time to being responsible 
peacemakers and effective law enforcers. We always prefer peacemaking 
over attacking, and the guards will learn to adopt this philosophy.

- Guards will be equipped with platemail suits, bone armor, and 
weapons crafted by the many superb Oasis smiths. Our uniforms will 
also be changed.

- Guards will no longer be accepted on a purely volunteer basis. Dyvim 
will briefly interview each candidate guard to test his or her 
understanding of our laws and maturity in handling situations.

- All official Oasis Guards, whether guilded in other guilds or in 
[Oasis Guards], will be listed on our webpage, with their ICQ#s if 
they allow.

- All requests for immediate assistance should be ICQ'd to Dyvim at 
774416. As our guard ranks develop, back up contacts will be posted.

- Detailed accounts of all complaints about the guards should be sent 
to Dyvim Slorm at ICQ# 774416. An Oasis Guard can be dismissed for any 
action unbecoming of a representative of the city, INCLUDING actions 
which technically are not crimes in Oasis. For example, if you are a 
rampant bug exploiter or like to pk newbie just outside Oasis, you 
will likely be stripped of your guard status.

- Naming of criminals to our Kill on Sight list will still be handled 
by the founders of the city, but we will place special weight on the 
reports of our guards, especially the more senior members. Our 
upcoming Oasis Court will hopefully provide a more fullproof method 
for listing criminals.

Finally, we are expecting a large (I have heard as many as fifty 
players) attack on Oasis to occur this Sunday around our event at 5 pm 
Pacific time led by the FoH. We are asking all players and guilds who 
believe in the concept of the player-founded city and in 
player-sponsored events to move their beliefs into action and assist 
with the defense of the city. Feel free to ICQ me at 5896613 for 
questions or suggestions. We expect gated monsters, energy vortexes, 
as well as direct player invasions. Please see 
http://steroid.cchem.berkeley.edu/~fields/KOSframe.htm to become 
familiar with a list of city criminals, as those players will likely 
lead the attack.

In a sense,. we view this challenge not only as an opportunity to 
engage in perhaps one of the largest PvP events in UO history (which 
will hopefully be fun for all), but also as a test of how much the 
roleplayers and supporters of player events and player-founded cities 
are willing to do endure for our right to peacefully exist.

It is the idealistic goal of most citizens of Oasis that one day the 
city will need few active guards, and the spotlight will rightfully 
fall on our tavernkeepers, smiths, tinkerers, seekers, innkeepers, 
chefs, tailors, beggars, alchemists, mages, bards, rogues, librarians, 
scholars, rangers, miners, assasins, diplomats, and tamers- ALL of 
whom currently exist in Oasis but are frequently overshadowed by 
conflicts with those who would attack us. To approach that state, 
however, we need to continue to surmount substantial challenges- and 
this Sunday, we will face one of them.

----<end quote>-------


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