[MUD-Dev] More on Small Worlds

Lee Sheldon lsheldo2 at tampabay.rr.com
Tue Mar 18 15:45:25 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

From: Ted L. Chen

> Definately interesting.  However, I wonder what the factor of
> mobility of the 'defectors' does on a system with geography
> (physical and societal).  Modern con-artists rely on this mobility
> to enter a new community.  Compariatively, the early con-artist
> would just starve to death once exiled from the tribe.
> As the paper suggests, let's assume that a community ranges in
> size of 150-180 (rounded to 200).  On a MOG aiming for the say a
> half-million subscriber mark, that's roughly 2500 possible
> communities for a 'defector' to move to with relative ease.  Does
> the communication between the 'punishers' of these communities
> outpace the ability of these 'defectors' to move?  What affect on
> the effectiveness of 'punishers' does this enhanced mobility have?

Server-wide global communication is built into all MMOs I've played
or worked on.  Unlike the real world, it is with relative ease and
surprising swiftness that defectors are identified beyond smaller
communities like alliances, guilds and allegiances.  Extra-game
communication on boards, through multi-server and multi-game guilds
and individual gamers, can spread the word across servers and even
games.  All I have is anecdotal evidence, but sometimes punishment
is often enacted by the community at large through ridicule,
ostracism etc. to the point where some defectors pack up their tents
and move on.

The troubling exception is when defectors manage to group together
in their own communities.  No, there is no honor among thieves, but
what goes against a community is seen by some as funny or worthy of
emulation.  We have a racist player in the DAOC realm of Hibernia on
Pellinor who, because Mythic has been unable to do anything about
him, now enjoys a certain notoriety, and on the first weekend of
March I'm told (I was out of town at GDC), others have decided they
can voice their prejudices as well.  A recent cheater's acts were
greeted with mostly amusement (he was contacted via IRC and helped
an enemy realm to steal a relic they could not otherwise touch, then
was allowed to farm RPS off them as a reward), and a garden variety
griefer (killed merchants realmmates needed to interact with) was
booted from one guild only to be welcomed into another.

And of course entire guilds of griefers or outlaws have risen as
like minds gravitate to one another.  These seem to collapse
eventually on their own because of the very nature of defectors, but
they are often like globs of mercury: forming, splitting and
reforming at will.

Bottom line for me is that defectors -can't- blend into the crowd in
our games as they can in real life, but without rigorous god-like
punishment from the developer they don't really need to.


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