[MUD-dev] Fun in Games

Ron Gabbard rgabbard at swbell.net
Thu May 9 08:24:32 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


From: "Adam Dray" <adam at legendary.org>

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

> Even in your example, there's plenty of room for griefers to
> operate.  Even if every player is dependent on others to succeed,
> there is nothing stopping a *group* of players from fulfilling
> each others' needs, and then going out *as a group* to wreak havoc
> and make miserable the lives of others.

Yes, there is always plenty of room for griefers to operate.
However, the interdepence model lessens the amount of single
psychokillers in the world which is the main problem.  The *group*
of griefers in this example is highly unlikely to occur...

  - Griefers are typically Killers

  - This world is equipment-dependent with all equipment (after noob
  level) being created by players

  - The ability to create items and the ability to kill are
  zero-sum.  Greater combat skills means lesser trade skills and
  visa versa.

  - The ability to create higher level items requires a high degree
  of skill and time investment.

You aren't going to find many Killers willing to put down the weapon
long enough to master a trade skill... especially if you make
multiple trade skills dependent on each other in order to make the
items.  However, what you described could happen in which case you
now have an 'evil guild', (where 'evil' is defined as deviation from
social norms and 'guild' is defined as an organized group).

This is a good thing as you now have dynamic, player-driven content
where there is truly a good (protecting social norms) versus evil
(breaking from social norms) -- not 'orcs versus elves' or 'white
hat versus black hat' prefabricated concept of good and evil.  Think
of Al Capone versus Elliot Ness.  Al Capone was the ultimate griefer
but he would have been powerless without his 'gang' (including
accountants and attorneys).  His 'griefer' activity spawned one of
the greatest good versus evil sagas in US history...  the
Untouchables.  I would bet that most designers would give their left
eyetooth to have that level of dramatic, player-driven content in
their worlds.

In a truly player-driven world, there are just so many ways to
punish griefers they're impossible to count -- no access to PC
vendors, no access to player-owned 'portals', no access to
player-owned 'bind stones', etc.  The technology is there to
implement this type of world but it's only been taken halfway thus
far.  Traditionally, MUDs have held to the asocial 'Disneyland'
model where a ticket gives one access to all the rides and a griefer
could anonymously power up on the coat-tails of others.  You take
away the griefer's anonymity and you've lessened their ability to
ride the coat-tails.

It gets back to creating a world and not a game.  In a game, the
content generally doesn't care what you've done to other players so
long as you have a valid userID and password.  In a world, players
have a true society with social norms and the ability to enforce the
social contract.  You don't have to eliminate griefers.  You just
have to give the players the means of holding each other accountable
for their actions.  That's what societies are all about.

Cheers,

Ron

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