[MUD-Dev] To good to be TRUE, in an MMPORPG?

Sean K sean at hoth.ffwd.cx
Thu Jul 26 15:41:46 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

On Thu, Jul 26, 2001 at 12:26:32PM -0700, Koster, Raph wrote:
>> From: Freeman, Jeff

>> UO didn't try player-policing, either.  UO tried anarchy, and the
>> results were the exact same as the results you get on a
>> small-scale MUD: Dead noobs all over the place.
> Here, I disagree; plenty of muds exist where peer pressure alone
> (occasionally with some admin step-in) handles the policing. And
> the size of the playerbase does seem to matter a lot, in terms of
> the effectiveness of peer pressure.

> I think the main things that felt scale-impacted to me were social
> dynamics.  Over and over I found that groups of players behaved as
> I expected, but that the playerbase as a whole didn't. A lot of
> older problems were exacerbated, sometimes turning a minor problem
> into a big problem--like what happened with camping in EQ.

As you say, I think the size of the playerbase is the issue.  I
can't remember the term, but one of the nifty observations to come
out of sociology is that an individual is likely to answer a cry for
help in inverse proportion to how many other people are around.
Policing is the same problem -- the more players ther are the more
likely it is that a player will think "someone else will handle it."

I would think this extends to socialization as well.  In a small
MUD, evey player could be considered a member of the same social
group, with the same norms and mores.  So the playerbase as a whole
exerts peer pressure upon itself to influence behavior.  However the
larger the playerbase is, the easier it is to get lost in the crowd.
Once the playerbase is a sufficient size it dissipates into numerous
smaller social groups, each of which have their own norms and mores.
Peer pressure in this case serves again to enforce group behavior to
conform to those values, but some of those groups may have values
that are not in keeping with the overarching theme of the MUD.  In a
sense, they carve out their own territory.

I think the only solution is to accept the inevitability of such
behavior and either create a game which ignores it by insulating
groups from one another or encourages it by pitting them against one
another.  In either case, the player base is divided into subgroups
which ideally all have similar interests.

Hrm... interesting that my proposed solution to social problems in a
massively multiplayer game is to divide the player base into smaller
groups.  Seems a tad contrary to the intent of the game.

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