[MUD-Dev] RE: Oh dear (fwd)

J C Lawrence claw at cp.net
Wed Nov 10 14:57:07 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

Raph Koster sent me the following in reference to some off list
comments (there goes that peerage again).  The "Me:" sections are
Raph's comments.  I apologise the the lack of attributions for the
quotes, but they all derive from the ultima at onelist.com mailing


This [having non-consensual PvP in the game]
has always been the cornerstone of Raph's online community building 
paradigm.  Hearing that from him was always the most insulting thing I felt 
about UO.  A PKer is just being a jerk.  Raph had the audacity to tell me, 
and everyone playing UO, that I need players like the PKers to form strong 
community bonds and a sense of commitment to the game.

*cough*.... ahem....
Last time I checked people are social animals by their very nature.  The 
people I care about the most are those that I love, and that love never 
started because of someone else being a jerk to us in RL.

- ---

FWIW, I'm still here, and I even still think I am right and EQ has proven it
out in many ways. :) But I'm not going to get into a huge debate about it on
the mailing list. :) Quite willing to discuss it privately with folks
though. My position on it is generally misrepresented or misunderstood,
though--generally speaking, I mean "conflict" when I say "conflict" and not
"PKing" when I say "conflict."

- ---

I do beleive UO does have the best potential for community building,
but the majority of people just cant be stuffed dealing with people,
generally PvP wanks, ruining anything that gets started. Theres a classic
example on Sonoma, a great place was setup, lots of people put alot of
effort into building a community, but whenever they ran an event a bunch of
PvP dickheads would arrive and kill everyone, spam the area and do their
best to ruin it, most people just cant be stuffed dealing with this, and why
should they???

- ---

Okay, no big debate :) But yes, conflict is vital. And a dynamic
conflict between groups of characters is bound to be more interesting
than a static conflict against game-generated obstacles.

My position remains that you can have that conflict without PKing. And
I'll leave it at that.

- ---

True cooperation doesn't come from Code, it comes from
conflict/disagreements with other human beings, period.

That simple enough to be both flame and accurate?

- ---

PK'ing is an abberation. In it's purest form it is a misuse of the game. It
really has little to do with designed in-game conflict, even though it
contributes to it a great deal.

Now, sure you can have conflict without PK'ing. But PK'ing is a symptom of a
much much larger problem. The larger problem causes people to misuse every
multiplayer game ever written. 

If it's not PK'ing, it's killstealing, if it's not killstealing it's
spamming, if it's not spamming it's bug abuse, etc..etc..etc.. The cycle
will never end. You will never ever, EVER be free of the symptoms of this
larger problem (which I will leave undefined because it exists outside of
the scope of this discussion). There will ALWAYS be some abnormal use of
game code that goes contrary to the "spirit" of a game. ESPECIALLY WHEN the
game is as complex as MMORPG's are. The more complexity you have, the more
possibility of misuse. Noone can misuse pacman, the rules are TOO 
simple for that. It doesn't matter what code you throw in, by creating a
MMORPG, you're creating a system with enough complexity where abuse is just
a fact of life that will never go away.

For that reason, it is a better design to leave as much of the enforcement
of in-game laws as possible to the players, and not to the code. It is
impossible to cover every possible abuse of a MMORPG, attempting to do so
makes your game more complicated. With complication the game typically
becomes less fun, and documentation becomes more reminiscent of real life
Law books. It is a simpler and more elegant endeavor to give the players
tools to enforce their own laws/standards because the players are much
better judges than code could ever be.

Now, it is a different matter as to whether or not EQ or UO have accurately
represented either side of this argument. IMHO, UO has never given
sufficient tools to the players, and recall destroys most attempts at law
enforcement. Likewise EQ is in the situation of needing either their code
modified regularly to combat abuses, or their support team 
to patrol like policemen.

EQ may be fun, but it's no UO.

- ---

The problem is that for UO you made the conscious decision to make PKing the

most direct form of 'conflict'.  That was a design decision made and then 
defended many times over by you even if PKing is not your personal favorite 
form of online conflict.

- ---
> My position remains that you can have that conflict without PKing. And
> I'll leave it at that.

I agree that you can. I disagree that anyone's done it successfully thus
far. I'd also contend that PvP (not PK per se) is just a method of
expressing conflict. Until and unless games offer more means of expression,
you're not going to be able to grow away from it very well.

- ---

I haven't seen any proposal for "player justice" that wasn't as subject
to abuse and corruption as a hardcoded system would be.

And rest assured, if there were a head-to-head mode for PacMan, somebody
would find a way to cheat.

- ---

And that's the direction I'd like to see the game move: towards a richer
vocabulary of ways to interact with other people, cooperatively or
competitively, than hitting each other with big sticks. 

That said, I hope there's always a place in UO for people to hit each
other with big sticks. I LIKE PvP - just not a constant diet of it.

- ---

Actually, PKs do bring us together sometimes, like in the beginning when Og 
was terrorizing Moonglow the mage tower and several other people would rise 
up and smash him on Great Lakes, or when SiN/GoD/all the other pk guilds/pks

that have ever attacked Kazola's repeatedly there was always a large turn
of people to help smash them.

- ---

And therein lies the difference/problem. You and others believe that
MMORPG's are 'just games' where people should be able to log in, have fun,
never experience any unpleasantness at the hands of another player, log off.
There's nothing wrong with that view. If that's what you want, great, I hope
some game is able to achieve that some day for the people who want that.

Then there are others who are honest with themselves and understand that
when other people are involved... it's never going to be perfectly amiable
for everyone. If you ask me, the designers of UO were honest with themselves
and knew that there's no way to code a game to separate human nature from
the characters portrayed, and didn't bother to clumsily try.

- ---

Actually, I find the "just a game" mentality to be more rampant among
those that can kill other players without remorse. Most of the community
leaders I know, who are committed to the virtual world aspect of the
game, either never PvP or PvP only in self-defense.

All of us learn to deal with unpleasantness in the game. That doesn't
mean we shouldn't take steps to minimize it.


J C Lawrence                              Internet: claw at kanga.nu
----------(*)                            Internet: coder at kanga.nu
...Honorary Member of Clan McFud -- Teamer's Avenging Monolith...

MUD-Dev maillist  -  MUD-Dev at kanga.nu

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