[MUD-Dev] UO rants

nbossett at herbert.com nbossett at herbert.com
Wed Aug 23 09:17:34 New Zealand Standard Time 2000

Note: This message was written via the list web archives.  There is
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Original message: http://www.kanga.nu/archives/MUD-Dev-L/2000Q3/msg00700.php

On Tue, 22 Aug 2000 14:44:44 -0700
"Koster, Raph" <rkoster at verant.com> wrote:

> [Wes Connell:] 
> > I've always thought that a simple alignment/title system that is not
> > constant would do the trick. Start off as slightly good since everyone
> > is 'born innocent'. If they do something bad then their alignment gets
> > smashed and it will be hard for them to regain the trust of 
> > the community.
> > Even though its easy to be Evil it is still difficult to gain a Good
> > status. Increasingly difficult as the status grows.
> Actually, this was the case in that first notoriety system that UO had. It
> was very easy to slip down to dread lord--just a couple of say, kills of
> "blue" people (folks of positive karma) would do it. The problem was that
> people who were *truly* good often needed to get rid of people who were
> nominally good but in fact harassers or cheaters or whatever. So the
> vigilantes tended to have the bad reps, and the nominal good guys tended to
> be the bad apples.

Two things:
1) Under a lot of ethical systems, vigilantism is frowned upon- is it really
undesirable that one gets a bad reputation in the community for such behavior? 
Being able to get a false 'good citizen' flag is slightly more troubling.  A
'typical' fantasy player may be perfectly happy being a good knight with a
falsely tarnished reputation, provided he has a chance to redeem himself in the
community's eyes.  A new player being molested by someone falsely flagged 'good'
is more damaging to the game. 

2) Do alignment and reputation systems encourage certain negative behaviors by
the players?  If it's very easy to become evil, even by new player
experimentation with the world, and you are then stuck with a flashing neon sign
over your head saying 'Psychotic Freak', will this actually contribute to
delinquent behavior?  Will it help if reputations are strongly local within the
game, so that you can 'learn your lesson' and then move on for a fresh start in
a new city?

  It's always seemed as if some cryptographic protocols- webs of trust,
threshhold schemes, and the like might be good models.  They're effectively
community voting tools, except that it's very difficult to influence opinions
outside your social circle.  For instance, members of the "PK R US" clan can
boost each other's reputation, but these votes will carry very little weight
from the point of view of the community at large.  A scheme like this may have
the additional advantage of encouraging subculture formation on, say, a city
basis, for large online worlds.

Nathan Bossett
Herbert Engineering Corp.

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