[MUD-dev] Fun in Games

Talies the Wanderer snicker at pinkpig.com
Thu Apr 25 10:22:05 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

At 12:03 AM 4/25/02 -0700, shren <shren at io.com> wrote:

> I've only seen one other person do this.  Oddly enough, we both
> were fans of the Ultima series, one of the first games to try to
> incorporate moral elements.  Playing games that feature moral
> aspects may not have made us more or less moral people in real
> life, but, oddly enough, it's made us more moral in other games.

I recently finished Siege of Avalon.  In the beginning, I had the
feeling of a "morally inclined" character, so I was playing him as
such - I didn't open any chests or boxes in people's rooms (and
there are a lot of those).  I was feeling pretty good about it -
except for the one small quest where I had to open someone else's
chest and take things - but at one point, after I had become stuck,
I got some help from a message board, and at the same time,
discovered that there were a number of hidden items in chests all
over the castle, some of which were important to the game, so there
went that idea.  I laughed, though, when later on in the game,
someone accused my character of stealing people's personal
belongings.  I denied it, naturally, but it did make me wonder if
the game had been programmed to detect morality.  A quick peak at
the code says "no," that those events were scripted like that,
nevertheless it gave me pause.  Would I have continued playing the
game "morally," had I known there was a penalty for amoral play?  I
think I would have - because I tend to play within the "moral
structure" of a game as it's laid down.  I can play immoral
characters in a setting where it's encouraged, ie GTA, etc., but the
tendency to "good play" as opposed to "grief play" tends to dominate
my play styles - thus, I find myself attracted to either
helper-characters (clerics, enchanters, 'Jumpstarters' in E&B) or
"Jacks of all Trades" like Bards and explorers, because of the
perceived "self-sufficiency" aspect.  In either case, I very seldom
refuse any request for help, and usually refuse any offered reward.
It's my perception of the "morality" of the games that leads me to
play as I do, and I wonder if grief players play as they do because
of a lack of awareness of game morality, or a lack of caring for it.

My question is this - if you placed an in-game penalty for amoral
behaviour, but still allowed it as part of the game, what would be
the implications and repercussions in a game world?  I'm not talking
simple things like jailing (which has proven unsuccessful at curbing
the thieving tendencies of pickpockets in Elanthia (DragonRealms)),
but rather actual game-based penalties.  For example (and this has
long been an idea of mine): to curb "l33t h4xx0r" names, utilize a
name approval system similar to EQ, where a GM has to actually
approve each name (in EQ, if a name isn't denied within a certain
period of time, it is automatically accepted, making it very easy to
get "bad" names through in the early hours of the morning on most
servers).  In my example, approval does two things - it flags the
character with the name of the approving party (for later followups
if necessary), and it adds a temporary bonus to successes in game
play - this bonus would have a significant impact on a newbie
character, but that impact would drop off rapidly as a character
advances until it vanishes completely.  Denial of a name results in
the usual results for "Class 1 rejections" - cursewords, CS rep
impersonators, etc.  Class 1's are changed on the spot or banned
completely.  "Class 2 rejections" are for people who's names aren't
really disruptive, but distracting or "cheesy," like "LordHaxxor" or
"Gandalfthegrey".  A Class 2 rejection results in a permanent
game-based penalty to all successes in game.  This penalty simply
exists to increase the difficulty curve for those people who lack
the ability to follow the suggestions in naming conventions.  If you
truly want to earn the name "Sirsmacksalot", you will truly have to
EARN it.

Would the players notice this effect?  And more importantly, would
it be "fair" to them, or would they see it as an IMM's high-handed
methods of name-control?

Talies the Wanderer

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