[MUD-dev] Fun in Games

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Tue May 7 07:43:31 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

Ron Gabbard writes:
> From: "John Buehler" <johnbue at msn.com>

>> Note that my suggestions above will probably not inhibit griefers
>> one bit.  They will grief at whatever level of control that they
>> do have.  However, those actions will not take away from the
>> apparent fiction of the game world's day to day activities.  So
>> the griefer can't go running down the street naked, shouting like
>> a loon (because the game doesn't permit such things), but the
>> griefer can manipulate the iron market if clever enough and
>> malicious enough.

> I've been thinking about this issue a lot.

I suspect we all do, once we get far enough into the design space.

> The main way I've seen of dealing with this issue is extreme
> player interdependence.  There has to be a reason to adhere to the
> social contract outside of just wanting people to think you're a
> 'nice guy' as some people don't want to be 'nice guys'.

I think that interdependence will produce some of the effects that
you're shooting for, but you'll also have problems.  The first one
that comes to mind is that in a large player population, enough
grief-minded players can get together to form a self-sufficient
community.  The second one that comes to mind is that in an
environment that permits multiple characters per player, you
immediately permit an individual to form a small community, which
can be self-sufficient to permit griefing.  A third one that comes
to mind is that in a game where a character can be a master of all
skills, which essentially produces the same effect as multiple

> Example:

>   Imagine an online world of 6 people where all equipment outside
>   of the 'noob' gear is made and sold by other players.  You now
>   have a system where players are heavily dependent on each other.

Yup, but with an online world of 6 people, you can have a single
game administrator watching over everything that they do.  The
nastiest problems appear to lie in the larger communities, where
cohesion of the community is lost.  It ceases to be a single
community and turns into many communities.  One or more of those
communities may have an agenda which is contrary to the game

Consider a bell curve.  With a small population, two or three
standard deviations out produces a very small sample.  With a large
enough population, you can go many standard deviations out and still
return a large enough group of people to support a sense of
community.  Provide the ability for them to locate each other and
they'll definitely form that community.

Consider also the difference between a small town and a big city.  A
small town has the feeling that everbody always knows what you're
doing.  A big city has the feeling that nobody ever knows.  Your
example of a population of six is going to be self-governed by the
small town phenomenon.


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