[MUD-Dev] Storytelling in a PSW from a Player's Persepctive

J C Lawrence claw at kanga.nu
Thu May 22 00:26:20 New Zealand Standard Time 2003

On Mon, 19 May 2003 01:09:29 -0700 
David Kennerly <kennerly at sfsu.edu> wrote:

> http://di.gamepoint.net/lejendary/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=710&perpage=23&pagenumber=5>

>   (Scroll down to my post, titled "Social Intelligence" on May 17)

Its a good thread, worth noting.  All formatting errors are of course

Tiny Harmless Goblin
Subject: Lightbulb My 2 cents...

Originally posted by Mythoxxus:

>  The fourth point may end up being the most logical of everything
>  mentioned thus far on this thread. It would require the least
>  programming work, and would accomplish the greatest benefit,
>  ultimately without lots of time spent developing an intricate
>  social skill system.

I think the above idea is going to be the best and easiest for all
around. With this simple feature, companies would not need to make
an RP dedicated server. Instead, this allows you to change your play
type on the fly.

There are times I would much rather hack and slash with my time in a
game. I might want to hang out in a bar all day the next time I
play.  A slider saying what your play style is more geared for would
help you in finding the group type you are currently looking for. I
like this idea and with a little thought on plugging it into a game
is all that is left.

Dave Johnson
MMORPG Network

Dreams Interactive
Subject: Re: Teegra... tsk tsk tsk...

Two points of order:

First, there are skill bundles in the LA game system, and most of
the skills mentioned would fall under the Urbane Ability. to
understand the LAO game some idea of the PnP version is most helpful

Political corectness is a relative matter, and many a public office
has been held by non-PC persons, especially in the case of the past
where birth, money, and influence were far more inportant than what
one said. Those of oratorial excellence were typicaly the rabble
rousers, not the rulers

I must admit that I do not much like subjective rankings, or voting
where the same individual can vote repeatedly--as in Chicago


Big Fat Goblin Geek
Subject: In reply to Gary...

Gary I made these points in an earlier post in regard to preventing
abuse of repetitive voting per say:

  This award system should be "highly" limited per ACCOUNT in the
  number of distribution points allowed A) A single point per month
  B) Per Account. (A limited pool that cannot be replinished per
  account) C) Or have only so many points to distribute per year.

-- I mention this again, but possibly one account may only be able
to reward another account once per lifetime of the account.  One
person mentioned this... Well what if they want to abuse the system
and have all of their friends log on and award them a point.

  1) Well, that means that many new accounts are going to be
  starting for Lejendary Adventures... So this is a plus.

  2) If they have only one point to award in a month... And the 1st
  month all of the friends or guild members decide to award one
  elected person in their guild. Well how many months will it take
  for those guildmembers or friends to do that for each person in
  their guild?  Months and months... So limiting the pool and
  availability of these points is very critical to balance.

Allowing players to nominate other players for role-playing awards
isn't really a bad idea at all. It's been known to work absolutely
perfectly. But as for abuse--there really is no such thing as abuse
for something like this. The values of the collective players will
determine how these things are awarded, much like the values of the
play-group would determine the awarding of merits in a table-top
game.  So what if you're recruiting all your friends just so they
can pump up your merits? If this sort of thing is wide-spread on the
game, it only indicates that recruiting and making friends are a
value prominent among the players, and therefore not a bad standard
for such awards.  Especially since it's only a fraction of total
merit awards, simply an addition to the above noted rewards."

But what if someone abuses the system and convinces a bunch of
friends or guildmates to give them points? First of all, what does
that person ultimately have to gain from this? Secondly, the point
system may have a "fading effect" in other words they may need
replinished to maintain a certain level of points. So if they have
all their buddies reward them one month, will they do it again the
next month? Or will they want to fairly distribute their points to
other players that they have met that really have earned their
appreciation and admiration in game?  What if my gaming style is
somewhat cliqueish and I am only accustomed to playing with small
circles of my friends? Then you may be missing out on some very
interesting aspects of a very interesting skill system.

Regarding the fading effect of the skills concept: This could have
an alternate solution of having a complete award history file or
pop-up window, that can be viewed to see if the same person has been
awarded solely by their own guild alone, or group of friends, or
individuals randomly - as to determine if there is any fishy pattern
to their award points. ***Another solution to this problem is to
make it so that each account could only award another account one
time and one time only maximum for the life of the account. Not one
point per account life, but one account could only award one other
specific account once in its lifetime. Thus encouraging good
roleplay among a larger cirlce of avatars instead of seeking all
your award points from a single or limited source. Thus higher
player interactivity with award. Also limiting abuse from one single
player to another as their source of unwarranted skill boosting.


Tiny Harmless Goblin

Perhaps it would be good to provide a reward for roleplaying, that
only helps in roleplaying terms. So here is a possible system. The
players wander around hacking monsters and chatting etc. Whenever a
wizard(or equivalent) spots somebody who seems to be roleplying
well, they are given a magical roleplaying token. This could be
tweaked, for instance perhaps the wizard could only give one token
per day or week or something.

The second part of this system involves the NPCs. By default they
are controlled by an AI. So there are bartenders/servers at the
bar. There might be the old wizard who identifies things for people,
etc.  Somewhere there is a 'RP tower' location of some sort. This is
where players can go to redeem their tokens. The reward the player
gets is a period of time during which they possess one of the
NPCs. At that point they get to be the bartender for a while. Or
whatever other NPC is not being used. Maybe they want to play a
guard that walks around the city trying to catch evildoers.

This might add a lot of spice to the game. Is the bartender you are
talking to the AI or is it an actual person? Why is it that
sometimes when you sneak up to try to backstab that guard, he senses
it and moves away or arrests you? Etc.

On the part of role-players, it allows them more variety. Many
roleplayers express the desire to occasionally be able to play a
simple farmer or merchant or whatever. This way they wouldn't always
have to play the adventurer.

There are a few logistic difficulties to work out. You'd have to
make sure that the wizards don't select the kind of people who tend
to abreviate their words as some are wont to do (or perhaps make the
AI emulate that instead). And you might program in delays for AI
response to questions so that the players can't tell simply by the
timing.  Anyhow, what do y'all think?


Dreams Interactive


Some cogent arguments you posted there in your last message, and the
limitation on the points, a fading quality (as with fame) seem
viable means of limiting abuse.


If it is possible to program, having RP Merits awarded mechanically,
accumulate and used to assume a NPC position for a time really
appeals to me. All sorts of fun possible this way for dedicated
role-players, and an ascending cost for more important NPC roles
assumed would encourage a striving towards excellence.

Sure am glad I flagged this thread for DI attention. I am goint to
have Dan read it when he comes by here


Tiny Harmless Goblin

Mechanistically determining roleplaying. That is a hard
problem. There are varying ways to do it, depending on how invasive
one wants to be.  The simplest way would be to log the number of
poses/chats compared to the number of combats. If the ratio in the
last n amount of time were high enough, then the player gets an RP
token. Of course it is trivial to twink this system as well. All one
would have to do is to say random things repeatedly.

One could fix that to some extent by scanning the chat input against
a dictionary and preventing them from 'say asdf' over and over kind
of thing. One could also prevent repetitions in a short amount of
time.  But that would only push the problem off to one more
level. They could still just type quotes out of Shakespeare.

Perhaps the most invasive method would be to have a wizard see the
player RPing at one point. That wizard would log the players
chats/poses and save them to a database tagged to that user. From
then on, any pose or chat made by the user can be analyzed against
the archive (which is known to be role-played). There are various
ways to analyze text to determine whether two things have been
written by the same author. I've got a friend who wrote a program
along these lines to see who was really who on irc. One would have
to experiment, but the mannerisms would likely be different if one
were role-playing a character rather than just talking. Therefore
you only admit text which matches with the database. People couldn't
just type in text from some random book because that would be listed
as a different author. This might be computationally expensive, and
would include some human intervention at the beginning of the
process, however. And some twinking might still be possible.

On the other hand, one could choose the simplest method, for if the
reward doesn't give any more power to the user, twinking might not
be done even if it were possible.


Tiny Harmless Goblin


/me wipes the sweat from his brow.

Lots of information here =) Lots of emotion... lots of
energy... both are good, despite the conflict. People with strong
feelings are the people that care enough to make a difference. You
will never agree with someone all the time, but sometimes two
completely different stances can find themselves closer to each
other than you'd imagine.  On one hand, roleplayers have never had a
real incentive to roleplay.  Obviously, we've all played our share
of EverQuest, and know that d0od speak is far more common =) They've
also rarely had an evironment that supports roleplaying... I say
rarely, because attempts *have* been made. The Realm is largely a
roleplayer's haven at this point, being so old. Dark Age of Camelot
also offers special "role-playing" servers which are policed by
players. I think many would agree that anything to bring the
roleplaying back into our MMORPGs would be a good thing, so, on the
surface, RP points, or Karma points, or whatever makes sense to many

On the other hand, any system where players dictate the advancement
of other players is inherantly flawed... we've all seen this... pick
any game that requires 40 players to kill one monster and recieve
one uber spear of duck raping, and the frustration is instantly
apparent.  Everyone wants an uber spear, but only one can have it,
and it is the players themselves that must decide who gets
it. Another difficulty faced is that roleplaying is an idea... you
can't really define it, just as you can't define love, or hate, or
even why you like a particular food that someone else would gag
on. How long would it take before players begin auctioning their
Karma points? How long before you'd offer to buy one, if it meant
your character would get better?  How long until someone made 50
characters solely for the sake of selling the points that would
accrue on them?

The natural conclusion thus far would be "roleplaying = good,
players directly affecting other players = bad, so let's find an
algorithm to take control from the players, but leave in the
rewards" Is this possible? I don't believe it could be implemented
in such a way that would make everyone happy... but then
again... it's already been said that any mmorpg will not have a
ruleset that makes everyone happy.

As I was reading, lots of ideas came to bear on each side...

  - why must roleplayers be given an incentive to roleplay? That's
  like saying "Yeah, I'll only do what I want to do if there's
  something else in it for me." Sounds silly to me...

  - why must roleplay encouragement be handled in some "point"
  scheme that has the potential to completely ruin the one thing it
  intends to save?

  - why must player A rely on player B to judge whether or not A is
  roleplaying, when A and B can have vastly different opinions on
  what roleplaying is?

I thought of these things, and then I came to the conclusion that
encouraging roleplaying is a no-brainer for any game that centers
itself around medieval fantasy. Immersion is a big deal in any game,
and everything a game can do to increase the level of immersion
would be a step forward. Certain things like non-crappy music, and
roleplaying have been overlooked too much in past MMORPGs. But
leaving player advancement, or judgement about a non-standardized
idea in the hands of other players can only lead to bad things. We
know powergamers. They will find a way to abuse a player-run system,
and if you don't think so now, you are sorely mistaken =) At the
same time, we haven't perfected AI yet, why implement a system that
calculates how many times someone talks or /emotes to define
roleplaying...  Kelgar over there in the corner has been /kiss ing
the wall and /jump ing in circles for hours... does that make him a
better roleplayer?  Only if he's pretending to be insane =)

Let's break this down logically:

  1. You've agreed there should be a system for rewarding players
  for roleplaying.

  2. Any reward system that grants a non-cosmetic reward should not
  be handled by the players

  3. We do not currently possess the skill for a computer program to
  determine whether a player is roleplaying or not.

  4. We can't even successfully define roleplaying and all agree on
  it.  So, what do we have? We want to reward people for doing
  something that we can't define, so we can't code it, but we can't
  leave it in the hands of the players to do it themselves without
  abusing it.

Who does that leave? What's left that can be done?

I wish I could give you an answer on that, but unfortunately, I can
only provide ideas for you to discuss... maybe you'll like one or
more of them:

  1. While not assisting players with problems, CS reps are
  encouraged to sit in taverns across the land in "invisibility"
  mode, and assign RP points as they see fit. Players are not
  notified when they recieve RP points, they must look at their
  stats screen to identify that they have received them.

  2. RP points can be aquired via RP quests, which are randomly
  generated and randomly placed on NPCs. Example: Player A walks
  into a bar, and the Barkeep has been flagged for a RP
  quest. Player A says "hail" and does business with the barkeep,
  ordering drinks and such.  Player B walks in and asks directions
  to the closest town. A phrase (not a keyword!) spoken by B
  initiates an RP quest for B and only B, only given by that

  3. Players use a /roleplayer command to flag a
  character. Characters cannot check how many flags they have. Once
  they have a certain number, GMs appear to them randomly, disguised
  as a player, and "test" them for RP status. Testing can be
  achieved a gazillion different ways from observation, to questing,
  to casual conversation.

In the end, I believe a human element must be involved, but can you
rely on the player population for that? I don't belive so.

~ Trevor Moore
Webmaster, Classes of Camelot
Internet Director, Boundless Adventures
"Once you know, you can never go back"

Big Blond Kobold Bouncer

Welcome to the board Tmoore

Gygax is to Gaming what Kirby was to comics
Alas poor Elric I was a thousand times more evil than you
for information on LA visit www.lejendary.com or http://www.gygax.com/

Larger Ineffectual Goblin

Well I fear I'm going back on my word as I had stated previously
"I've said my peace". But now I see a new wrinkle so I will once
again offer my 2 cents and let other agree with or flame it to their
hearts content.

I've only 2 points in the past several threads I'd like to comment
on.  1st from Myth was

>  Secondly, in the development of other skills such as streetwise,
>  interrogation, bribery, intimidation, investigation,
>  sweet-talking, you could somehow implement a bonus gained from
>  your "roleplay rewards" or "reputation points".

I thought the initial concept as you set it forth was for the RP
merit points to have no impact on game play. That way those who
choose simply to play whether others see them as being good "role
players" or not, aren't affected. By your quote above, this leads me
to think that besides not only wanting to strive to be the "most
popular Rp'er" you also want some added in-game advantage for it.

The other point regards your "very important paragraph" Myth. I have
mixed emotions about a slider that states my level of RP enthusiasm
(or however you want to phrase it). True, I'll admit it would help
people find those of a similar playing style maybe to group
with. But, I also feel it would cause people to be overlooked,
meaning it could be just another way to label (ie. stereotype)
players. Now that being said I'll say that there are groups I've
regeretted being in that had I saw such a slider I may have
avoided. But to be honest, I have a good time with almost anyone I
play with exception for those who act immature, constantly complain,
or doesn't respect their fellow gamers (ie, ninja looters, griefers,
etc). So whether or not someone choses to type all their comments in
chat in Dwarvish, Elvish, Olde English, etc and act the part of the
galant knight or unsavory thief ... or if they play and chat like
they're simply Joe, Bob, Paul .. I can have a good time with
them. It never will matter to me whether their peers think they're
the best Rp'er in all of Lejendary Earth, or a social leper to be
avoided at all costs. If I have a good time, then I have a good
time. And I hope that person or person feels mutually about their
gaming experience with me ... but I don't want or need a "point" for
it. A simple "thanks for the group" suffices nicely thank you. So
like I said, mixed emotions,

Anyway, I've now commented on what I wanted and instead of claiming
to leave this thread alone, I'll just say I'll fall back to
"trolling mode" for now. But, you present your case and argue your
points well Myth. But like congressional talks about
raising/lowering taxes, you're not going to get everyone to jump on
your bandwagon. There are those who have posted who see the merits
of your proposal. And there are others who for their own reasons
(posted or not), aren't going to.

Sunrise on the road behind, sunset on the road ahead. There's nothing
to stop you now.

Dreams Interactive

That which can not be quantified can not be fairly managed in clear
and certain manner. When only subjective judgement is possible, the
results will be disputed by many.  That said, Trevor's essay on the
subject of RP awards is worth careful consideration.

In general I love the idea, but managing it in game terms might be
problematical. That's why I keep referring to the judgement of the
DI team.


Big Fat Goblin Geek

These thoughts were sent to me via email by who will remain for now
an anonymous friend.

I thought that I would share them with you.

  A very similar system exists in the peer rating system used by the
  Shadowrun MUSHes. You get a certain number of +noms per week and
  hand them out for good roleplaying (sometimes also for roleplaying
  with you, as a sort of tip). If you ask me, it works out great
  there.  Although certain groups of people tend to play more
  together and hence +nom each other more, that only makes
  sense. Although some people are biased or give them out easily, it
  evens out pretty well because your *overall* +noms are formed from
  an aggregate of people, not just an arbitrary GM who has a crush
  on the sorceror's sister or whatever These are 100% roleplaying
  games, basically free-form, so roleplaying is the only game in
  town. Hence, it may be prevented from showing its potential by an
  environment which is already heavily RP, or it may be effective at
  all because it's such an environment. ...  Obviously conditions
  will be different in LA or wherever it is applied.

  It is a good idea that depends on good execution. It could be a
  big experiment applied elsewhere, but it works in practice.

  Here are my behavioral considerations. First some definitions so I
  can use vaguely technical jargon. Reinforcement is exactly us
  changing how much we do something in response to what happens when
  we do it and not when we don't. A reinforcer is something which
  elicits such a change. A schedule is a scheme out of which you
  reinforce, e.g. "every tuesday morning" or "when the cat uses the
  litterbox." A discriminative stimulus is a signal used to say when
  the action is available and will result in reinforcement, e.g. the
  green light for accelerating, or the red light for braking.

    - Are the reinforcers really reinforcing? What is a reinforcer
    in one situation, to one person, for one activity, might not be
    for another situation, another person, or another activity.

      The proposal seems to bear most on people who like to
      roleplay, or at least would roleplay if there were a
      point. Obviously the reinforcers available here are limited,
      since it's all in the game (too bad, no brain stimulation for
      good RP rewards). I would suggest just being told truthfully
      that someone thought you did a nice job. You could also give
      out some xp or whatever. My attitude toward the idea that
      people 'will just roleplay for xp' is this: if they are
      roleplaying enough to get a bunch of admiration, they deserved
      it whether or not they were ultimately doing it for xp. They
      are making atmosphere and better scope to the roleplayers. On
      the other hand, I think it would be sensible to make the
      available xp somewhat lower than possible for treadmilling, to
      cap the rewards and not to give out exclusive rights to RPers
      that anyone other than an RPer would like. That's just my

    - Does the schedule encourage what you want it to with those
    reinforcers? For example, it is easy to make a schedule which
    gives moderate reinforcement for doing exactly what you ask (say,
    roleplaying) but strong reinforcement for doing otherwise (say,
    exploiting a bug); or that makes strong reinforcement available
    for strong performance, but very good reinforcement available for
    a much easier to attain mediocre performance. Or, if you like, you
    can make reinforcement depend on how good this performance is
    relative to past performance, so you only get outstanding rewards
    for unusually good performance. What's acceptable depends on what
    you are looking for.  Personally, I would use the ratings system
    as a way to support anyone who was basically a consistent
    roleplayer, without making it into a competition per se, and treat
    people who had lower ratings as learners or dabblers rather than
    people who are behind. I wouldn't do a top 10. This will fall out
    naturally if you let people rate as they like out of a limited
    pool of points per period, and if maximum benefit is capped at a
    not extraordinary level.

    - Will people use discriminative stimuli as you like, or against
    the system?

      If no GMs are on at night, and GMs give out the awards, then
      people will work out fast that there's no point bothering at

      Or, if people get a message every time they get an RP point,
      then if one time they try really hard and don't get one, they
      might be less inclined to keep going, since it seems to have
      dried up. But if they only see it every once in a while to
      begin with, then they will be better prepared for momentary
      adversity like this.  This is a strength of the peer rating
      system. The presence of other people is the discriminative
      stimulus for roleplaying, so it's not just at night, when a GM
      is around etc. but when other people are around. Likewise, if
      it's just you and two RL buddies from school, they might have
      already rewarded you for the week, or don't care, so you can
      talk about whatever.

  What you are doing is harnessing the player's natural judgement
  and ability to get a pleasant result in game, and to make the game
  pleasant for certain kinds of play.

Thank you anonymous friend!

Big Fat Goblin Geek


I try not to limit my ideas to a specific rigid guideline. I am
considering all possibilities looking for the best common
denominator for everyone involved.

In saying that, do not be misled to believe I am trying to please
everyone. I am simply looking at every possible angle, so that I
feel that I have evaluated the subject matter thoroughly.

So in one of my posts you may see one perspective but on another you
may see a branching of ideas and potential solutions or
alternatives.  I think this subject is worthy of a full multi-angle
evaluation. I have enjoyed all of the diverse input on this matter.


Great Goblin Master

Welcome to the board TMoore

OMG I am such an idiot!

Kung-Fu Coder
Dreams Interactive
Subject: Question Programmatical role-playing assessment

First of all, thanx for the great input guys (and girls)! This is
really useful stuff for us at DI.

  1) I think the idea of taking over NACs by players in order to
  role-play could be really cool but I think there is a major
  continuity issue here. I dont think it would be wise to for
  instance let a user occupy an important guard NAC because the
  player might not be totally alert all of the time. Numerous other
  examples can be given when NACs are user-controlled which normally
  supply important resources to other users. Then there is the
  little issue of abuse. What if someone from a hostile clan
  masquerades as being a role-player just so that he can posses the
  gate-keeper of your city, very dangerous =) Or perhaps take over
  the bar-tender at your local inn where most of the battlefield
  tactics of your clan are discussed. At least there should be a
  system in which there is some level of mutual control between
  role-players (and/or non-role-players). I guess a simple solution
  would be to log all the actions that are performed by the
  role-player through a NAC so that domain-owners (or whatever
  hierarchical structure is applied for controlling game-resources)
  can check these logs in order to determine who made a NAC do what
  and when (not everybody should be able to see this information I

  2) Although I agree that a programmatical approach of measuring
  role-playing is at best very dodgy there might be some
  constructions which could yield acceptable results. What if for
  example you as a role-player predefine some character traits of
  your avatar in the form of a ratio-system for a fixed set of
  traits. We could then supply the players a (preferably large) set
  of emotes which have been rated for their emotional impact. So
  bowing for instance rewards you politeness and charming points
  whereas snarling, growling or drawing weapons will decrease
  them. Saying something with a smile, spitting someone in the face,
  killing specific NACs or players, these can all be valued on their
  emotional impact. Then after a given time-period the system
  evaluates the trait-points you have obtained during that time and
  determines how close these resemble the settings you originally
  intended in order to reach an objective verdict (I should probably
  put lots of quotes on the word objective We could then let players
  tweak their settings if they want to so that it either matches the
  character they would like to play or give themselves a new goal (I
  assume that all role-players do plan ahead on the type of
  character they want to play). The rewards for getting a good match
  should however be moderate then because anyone can tweak their
  settings in such a way that it would be easy to obtain (although
  it might not be that easy if players do not know how many
  trait-points each emote generates). The fun thing with such a
  system would be:

    - You can see what kind of character you are role-playing (and
    you are good at it or not).

    - The system could tell you how many characters there are which
    similar to you.

    - The system could tell you which characters profiles are rare.

    - Thus, a player could decide to take up a challenge and take on
    character profile which is rare, this might ultimately enrich
    gaming experience I guess.

Perhaps it would be desirable to encourage players to do this by
somehow linking the awards you get for being a good role-player to
the uniqueness of your character.

Perhaps we could also use a predefined set of character profiles in
which you can apply local variations. This would make it easier to
classify personalities and we could even go as far as to only making
certain emotes (commands which make your character show some for of
emotion/action) available to specific personality (that could
perhaps also be one of the rewards of being a role-player:
additional emotes).  Of course, I am well aware that role-playing
goes far beyond the boundaries of a limited set of emotes. Verbal
communication would probably cover most of the role-playing impact
for most of the times.  However, role-playing should be supported by
graphics in some way or another because this is after all an on-line
game =). Since we at DI want to supply avatar emote animations
anyway it is at least feasible to link these with some sort of
role-playing measuring system I my opinion. However, I'd like to
hear yours first =)

Oh and Lunamancer, your virtual bar-keeper is an excellent idea, I
think we should look in to that . =)

Big Fat Goblin Geek

Hey just adding a few more thoughts...

By the way, I had a very extensive conversation with my brother last
night on this topic and he suggested the identical same thing.  He
suggested that as players acquire these reward points (However you
want to classify or label them) that they may benefit the "helpful
player or the recognized roleplayer" by allowing him to choose from
some class/race specific additional unique graphics for his avatar
or possibly open up more specialized emotes to be used. Also keeping
with the ideas of the thread, and/or making it possible to take on
the role of an NAC in some political station, depending upon the
level of award achieved or the level of "fame" maintained could be
very interesting.  In direct relation to filling in a political
station of an NAC. If one has aquired more "fame" points or
"reputation" points and maintained them, they may be able to fill in
a more "significant or role of importance" on the political scale or
heirarchy, I believe as Gary had touched on.

In a system like this, of course it is going to be subjective if
players award players, that is the beauty of it. And if the reward
is strictly roleplay oriented, it does not seem to me that
powergamers or achievement based players will be manipulating that
side of things anyway, so it would be safe to impliment roleplay
reward based system that has benefits to encourage and promote the
overall roleplay experience, by offering specific rewards that would
appeal to roleplayers and make their roleplaying experience more
immersive and avatar specific.

If there is no achievement/combat skill advantage to the "avatar to
avatar roleplay or reputation system" then it would be safe to apply
to the world. It really does not matter if it is "fair" all of the
time. It really does not matter if everyone will "like" the
system. I find it difficult to believe that people will not be able
to maturely deal with whether they get "paid a compliment" of a
reward point by another avatar or not. To get complaints on an issue
like that would really be nonsensical.

Would people trade money or items for "fame points", "reputation
points", "roleplay reward points"? Possibly. But when that other
player gives that point away for that item or money, they will not
be able to do that again to that specific account. But in the same
respect, that really may not be bad manipulation because politicians
have to be creative to earn favor, celebrities have to do some wild
stunts to keep their notoriety up. Those points are subject to "fade
away" if not maintained, and sometimes that may mean coming up with
creative ways to maintain those points. I think this could add an
interesting element to the game.

Think about it, guilds already have to deal with this sort of issue
when awarding rare items when defeating a difficult foe, for
instance the spear of duck raping. We all know people have a
difficult time and grumble about the reward of those items. But they
don't necessarily complain to the Game Master. They might grumble
among one another. But this offers a lot more rewards to be offered,
and a lot more potential for recognition, that may feel just as
rewarding as getting that rare magic item. Being recognized by a
peer or stranger for having done a good job, really would brighten a
lot of peoples day and keep them coming back for more.

Should people roleplay for the sake of roleplaying without an
expectation of reward? Sure, but did they do that in pnp roleplaying
games or were they hoping to be elected as the best roleplayer at
the end? People love to be recognized. People love to have some sort
of power. Giving each person a right to make a vote based upon their
own opinion of what good gameplay is, makes each individual a
judge. That alone should limit a lot of potential for any sort of
complaint issue.  They are in themselves already the final decision
maker on who is worthy to get that reward point based on their own
personal opinion.  Some people don't want to get involved in trying
to get lots of reward points. Fine. Don't. Not everyone will be
striving for that. Again it will not affect the combat skill
system/or the powergaming side of the game. Not everyone will be
interested in the political side and government structure of the
game either. Not everyone wants to run for office either. Not
everyone is likable either. Does that make the mystery and wonder of
the political system any less a perspective that should be addressed
in these new upcoming MMORPGs? Turning away from something simply
because it has a level of complexity and cannot and will not always
be fair to everyone all of the time is really not an excuse at
all. In a simulation environment it is getting a little closer to
realism, and there may more creative efforts needed to be a high
achiever on that side of things. In my opinion, it is going to exist
whether you want to admit it or not, so it may as well be built into
the game. Human nature is human nature. And complainers are going to
complain regardless. They will complain no matter what the medium is
to be debated. The best and fairest possible scenario is to let
"everyone" be the judge of "everyone". It cannot be much more fair
than that.

I accordance with your suggestion Kung-Fu Coder, I have to say it is
very logical as a scheme of reward for those that have been
recognized by their peers, I agree completely with your proposals.

I am sorry for giving so many potential definitions to this system
without clearly defining each individual possibility. I think there
was sort of a bleeding of ideas affect that made it difficult to
differentiate where one idea stopped and a new concept started.  I
still think that the player "sliding bar or scale" (that may be
accessed in a LFG window or when inspecting or searching for other
avatars) may prove beneficial in finding like minded players for
roleplaying or achievement based gaming for that day, regardless of
your whim of style of play for that day.

The slider bar would essentially breaks down locating or helping to
bring players together who wish to focus on achievement based
gameplay or the social roleplay style of gameplay. The scale could
reflect that. The purpose of this particular concept is to
accomplish the most with the least effort for all involved. it also
could be easily adjusted to make yourself easier to find and vice

The question is how could this system potentially affect/effect
other areas of the game including NAC interation and response based
on the individuals merits gained and how they chose to invest them.

One other suggestion that I wanted to make, is that if players will
be able to reward one another with this system, that if one were to
create an account that they may not be eligible to offer a point to
another player on a new account for a period of at least a month, to
ensure that people do not create an account to quickly distribute
the award point. In addition, someone mentioned people creating
accounts for the sole purpose of selling off the points that they
have to offer out. I hope that we could perfect the system enough
that the gain in doing this would not be worth the effort
involved. As one point that they may be able to offer in a month may
affect very little, where as it may take a much greater scale to
accomplish something of value that would take a much more calculated
effort, that also in my opinion should have to be earned and
maintained over an extended period of time to decrease point
distribution manipulation.

I think we are getting much closer to narrowing it down to a system
that will be advantageous, worthwhile and of utility, and rewarding.
I would like to quote a friend that dropped me an email on this
matter. I think he summed up some of my failings to clarify a few
things by stating this... I will keep his name anonymous at this
time also...

"Most players will not use the reputation system very much at
all. The ones who do use it will be the griefers who want to exploit
it (unless NPCs react to it, in which case take-up might be a little
higher). If you want an eBay-like reputation system you have to
pressure all players to use it after each interaction, otherwise
it'll be abused.

You need to decide whether you want your reputation system so that
the virtual world (eg. via NPCs) can react to it, or soother players
can react to it (or both). The two are different."

I think I have worked so hard to finding different perspectives and
possibilities that I have failed to clearly define all of the
different possibilities discussed up until this point on this
thread.  And even now I really haven't specifically broken down all
of the possibilities mentioned.

Regardless of what is chosen or decided upon, I would like to say
that it has been very meaningful to me to discuss this topic at
length with all of you. I hope deeply that we may develop a
successful and useful system that will both be beneficial and of
good utility, that possibly will set LAO apart and above the
competition at its release.

A couple of other questions to ask ourselves while in the design
phase of these particular concepts is, are we working toward a
unique and focused roleplay based element game or are we working
more toward an achievement based combat system game? What will the
focus be?

Also are we working toward a political social simulation or are we
working on a "game"? What ultimately do we want the final outcome to
be, and how do we want the defination of LAO to be generally
percieved, when others are bullet pointing the differences of LAO
from other MMORPGs on the market?

Is it possible to make it a balance of all of those things? Very
possibly. Although I am not bringing this question up to digress
into another debate.

I also would like to thank the community that participated on this
thread for making well calculated posts so that we could more
intricately/elaborately dissect these issues.

Roleplaying will only once again become a widespread priority in an
MMORPG when there is a ladder or scale of achievement to be strived
for and the game supports the importance or usage of it. Again this
should not be in direct relation to the combat skill achievement
scale of things, but should seperate unto itself, specifically with
roleplaying based skill achievements and rewards centered around the
like. Then and only then will roleplay become a prominent element
once again of an MMORPG. But if a system is not built to support and
encourage it, the game will become much like other
achievement/treadmill games where roleplaying becomes more of an
obstacle to the high end achievements and focus of the game. D0od
speak has become popular because people are cutting corners every
way they can in game time to get to their achievement based goals
and to getting those uber items. If a world rewarded and supported a
roleplaying structure system, "MORE PEOPLE" may actually take time
to enjoy and impliment roleplaying back into their gameplay.


Tiny Harmless Goblin
Subject: Social Intelligence

This topic has intrigued me for years. I've experimented with it a
great deal. But let me just jump to the chase:

  How about awards for community contests?

The awards can be recognition. Award by position within a
guild. Those that want higher status can be awarded the status by
their roleplaying demonstration.

And then discuss why. I apologize in advance for anything I wrote
too hastily.

leafe wrote (05-13-2003 05:05 AM):

> You were rewarded not with something that would facilitate
> socializing or roleplaying in the future, but instead with
> something that could help you fight something.

leafe wrote (05-13-2003 05:05 AM):

> It was taken away in January, because of problems of cliques
> giving each other the coupons, which really turned off newcomers.

This is an excellent reason not to implement it.

Mythoxxus wrote (05-14-2003 12:12 AM):

> Should it be that we could only award one another in a positive
> manner?  Maybe. Should there be a negative point system also?
> Possibly, although at this point in time, I do not see any benefit
> of implementing a "This guy is a griefing little punk point
> system".

Let's use the worst case scenario to help validate a usable design.
Let's consider the design itself, and not the intentions behind it,
for the designs will be used in unintended manners. Good designs
survive the worst case scenario.

The worst case scenario will be within a limited scope. It will not
be like: The world blows up, the sun extinguishes, US declares war
on everyone. All of these are outside the scope of the game. It is
not even, the database got deleted and backups are a month old. Or
even, an outsider hacked the security and modified data. It'll all
be a working system, with moderate bugs, but with the worst case
usage. The meanest, nastiest, least-desirable usage of the
system. As the number of players grows, the probability of the
least-desirable usage becomes inevitable.  If the system is
completely open, such that: 1 time per month a player may vote for
another player for a roleplay award, then the cliques that RPGA
encountered qualifies as a worst-case scenario candidate.

leafe wrote (05-13-2003 05:05 AM):

> It was taken away in January, because of problems of cliques
> giving each other the coupons, which really turned off newcomers.

But it can go a step further. Suppose one of the cliques actively
denounces what most players agree is good roleplaying. They are l33t
d00ds and actively insult all forms of roleplaying. Yet through
their mutual cooperation, they actively secure enough votes for some
of their members to insure they have the highest status.

It could be argued that only the admins should decide. In that
system, the labor required in a worst case scenario could exceed the
revenue any player is willing to offer by a factor of 10.

If there is a penalty that any player can bestow on any player, then
the worst-case scenario can be similar to the above. The same l33t
d00ds can cooperate to shut down any player they choose. They could
institute a virtual dictatorship. Anyone who disagrees with them
gets maximum roleplay penalties. This would be unfortunate, but the
system permits it.

Again it's not practical to appeal to higher powers to
intervene. The intervention cost outweighs the benefits of the
system in the first place. An admin's intervention into this chronic
abuse would make many players miserable. It'd be an all-around
failure. So, in foresight, it's preferrable to have no such system
than to have it.

Since the freeform system is ruled out as a bad design because it
permits a horrible worst case scenario, let's examine some specific
limitations to attempt to limit what the worst case scenario could

Mythoxxus wrote (05-14-2003 12:12 AM):

> This award system should be "highly" limited per ACCOUNT in the
> number of distribution points allowed A) A single point per month
> B) Per Account. (A limited pool that cannot be replinished per
> account) C) Or have only so many points to distribute per year.

The most restrictive of these is "B". A single point per month can
be duplicated for each character in the account, even by deleting
characters and using duplicating even further. Having so many points
per year can cause a new account to have the same weight as an old
account during the first day. So the single point per account per
month is the most restrictive.

> 1) Well, that means that many new accounts are going to be
> starting for Lejendary Adventures... So this is a plus.

In the worst-case scenario, enough will be purchased to outweigh any
democratic process. However, it's their money, and that shows how
strongly they feel about it.

> Well how many months will it take for those guildmembers or
> friends to do that for each person in their guild?

In the worst case scenario, they don't need to. The guild just needs
to agree on one recipient. The guild can agree that their Rolezilla
will accumulate all points. Their satisfaction might be in their
support for this truly Lejendary Monster that they have helped
create. Or it might be another reason. In any case, since it could
happen, it is a candidate for a worst case scenario.

This restriction depends on the affect a "roleplay point" has.

It's important to distinguish between the best case scenario and the
worst case scenario.

Mythoxxus wrote (05-14-2003 12:12 AM):
> Quote Lunamancer:
>> values of the collective players will determine how these things
>> are awarded, much like the values of the play-group would
>> determine the awarding of merits in a table-top game.

This is the best case scenario. It couldn't be any better than this.
And most table-top games would love achieve this lofty a state of
affairs. It's important to see how it could go wrong; thereby, we
may save the world from unnecessary suffering.

Mythoxxus wrote (05-14-2003 12:12 AM):

> As for "Who deserves to be awarded, what is good roleplay?" Leave
> it up to the individuals, it empowers them, and it makes it really
> feel as though the rewarded character accomplished something
> worthwhile if the distribution of these points are somewhat of a
> rarity.

This distribution, under a worst case scenario, no longer becomes a
roleplay award. It becomes a favor. It devolves to favoritism. In
the worst case some socially least-desirable players dedicate
themselves to the exploitation of the favors and end up with the
highest concentration of favors.

The specific limitations heretofore listed do not limit the worst
case scenario I've given:

Mythoxxus wrote (05-14-2003 12:12 AM):

> Another solution to this problem is to make it so that each
> account could only award another account one time and one time
> only maximum for the life of the account.

This creates another problem, not a solution. The limitation is true
for desirable and undesirable players. So the field is still
level. It changes nothing, in the best case scenario. And worse, it
allows for a new form of abuse. A person can delete his account and
create a new account to gain additional voting power. Good players
will not do this, so this solution increases the probability of the
worst case scenario.

Mythoxxus wrote (05-14-2003 12:12 AM):

> Well if you earned these points from other player avatars wouldn't
> that be similar to accomplishing mini-quests with or for your
> fellow gaming community very similar to the rewards gained from
> Non-Avatar Character skill quests, although possibly not identical
> in the type of reward gained...

There is a difference. Game designers are paid to write balanced

But in the worst case scenario, undesirable players are motivated to
create the easiest and most undesirable quests, such as:
tit-for-tat.  "You support me and I'll support you. And let's show
these losers with the funny accents who's boss."

Now, let's consider what could be a better worst case scenario.
Suppose that the admins sponsor roleplaying contests. Roleplaying is
not so easy to detect. So, instead, consider a writing contest. The
writing must be completely in-character. In the worst case scenario,
a good writer who can pretend to be a role-player wins. Is that so
bad? No. Add to it though, that it takes time and money to judge the
contest. Now the time and money required in the worst case scenario
exceeds the time and money that the service can sustain.

Mythoxxus wrote (05-14-2003 08:14 PM):

> Ebay has a reputation system enabled on their website.

Now we're getting somewhere specific. Ebay's reputation system
requires a monetary transaction. A candidate for a bad case scenario
(probably not their worst), is someone creating two accounts, one to
sell and another to buy, both to boost award. That one can only give
the rating once does help in this case. But the reputation has a
monetary cost. Someone has to exchange an amount of money. And on
Ebay, Ebay takes a percentage of that money.

If the goal is as Dyster wrote (05-14-2003 06:20 PM):

> I think what we need is a system that does the following: 1)
> Rewards people for roleplaying, but in a way that gives them
> something inline with roleplaying, and something that powergames
> won't care about.  2) Something which brings the gamers together
> who want to roleplay.

Then perhaps what is needed is not a score, but a community of
cooperative role-players. A guild. Guilds are common. Although,
there will be guilds that roleplay and those that don't. So be
it. All good roleplayers, plan to join the guild and recruit other
good roleplayers.

But if the goal is as Mythoxxus wrote (05-14-2003 08:14 PM):

> Secondly, in the development of other skills such as streetwise,
> interrogation, bribery, intimidation, investigation,
> sweet-talking, you could somehow implement a bonus gained from
> your "roleplay rewards" or "reputation points".

Then it's hard to define. How was the roleplay award given? That
will define what the worst case scenario is. I'm taking a wild swing
in the dark that it is an agreement by a respected roleplayer that
the player has previous succeeded at her execution of a dramatic
role. In this case, what she needs is highly elusive. It requires
more effort than can be mustered. It effectivley requires more
resources than the player is willing to offer. So perhaps making the
social skill checks adjustable with the assistance of another player
at the same time will be helpful.

Then the player must find her roleplaying advisor. In the worst case
scenario, she finds no one to her liking. No one is harmed, and no
scandals win the so-called popularity contest.

How can a machine measure merit?

I agree with what Teegra wrote (05-14-2003 08:54 PM):

> The guild's I belong to on line are like a family, everyone helps
> everyone and enjoys each others company. Now mind you they do this
> WITHOUT getting recognition for it. Why? Because they want to and
> like playing the game with people like them.

With qualification: they are recognized. It is just not a
machine-readable recognition. They recognize each other's help
everytime they meet. It may be one of the reasons that they do help
each other. Matt Ridley explained why in The Origins of Virtue. The
recognition is personal. According to Ridley and his sources, we may
have evolved to become excellent cooperation recognizers.

But more deadly to the original details of this proposed design, we
also may have evolved to become excellent at cooperation
deception. So any social intelligence less than human (arguably
anything programmed heretofore) has a worst case scenario that much
worse than a human performing the same task. If so, then it may be
quite a while before a roleplay award will actually reward
roleplaying. How can an automated system--that was never evolved to
handle the issues that humans have handled since the species
began--recognize roleplaying?

Roleplaying has been a topic dear to my heart. I won't go into
details. A quick look here would be enough to understand where I'm
coming from. http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~kennerly/game_design/To_Be.html

David Kennerly

Big Fat Goblin Geek
Subject: Thoughts by Paul Schwanz

This was sent to me by Paul Schwanz... It deals with player
immersion, which is along the same lines that I was aiming at, in
regard to encouraging roleplay, for the affect of a more immersive
game experience.

I wanted to share it with all of you.


Also, David thank you for the above very insightful post!

Taken Directly from the email sent to me by Paul...

  When you are posing a multiple-choice question, don't forget the
  ever-present (D), as in:

  Which method is best for encouraging players to role-play or
  otherwise maintain consistent character values?

    A) The game engine should track some sort of metric to determine
    if the player should be rewarded.

    B) Other players should have the ability to evaluate or rate a
    player to determine if she should be rewarded.

    C) The GM's should listen anonymously to interaction to
    determine if a player should be rewarded.


  Sure, any sort of metric that is tracked by the game engine can be
  "gamed." But players hate it when others get ahead through
  anything that hints of cheating (cf. twinking, ebay, etc.). That's
  why I'd give every player a list with five slots where they can
  input other character names. The list would be weighted and
  players could select favor or disfavor for each name entered. If
  GM's had ready access to the results, they could focus their
  attention on those with high marks and reward them
  appropriately. Alternatively, they can watch those with very low
  marks to see if any kind of admin intervention is necessary. In a
  sense, this approach reflects the US government with its three
  branches providing checks and balances for each other.  Here are
  some thoughts pulled from design documents I've prepared for a
  hobby MMORPG. Although they are not directly related to awarding
  role-play points, they do explore the whole area of encouraging
  game players to strongly adopt a specific set of values for their
  character and then to consistently play the character in concert
  with those values. (I often approach these games from an immersion
  standpoint much moreso than a role-play one.) Some of the ideas
  are still a bit half-baked, but you should be able to see where I
  am going with them for the most part.




  Virtual worlds are artificial worlds, yet the interaction that
  takes place in them can seem very real. This is perhaps their
  greatest attraction. However, even the interpersonal relationships
  in a virtual world, especially at a community level, don't seem to
  line up with our expectations. Virtual worlds are struggling
  especially to handle malcontents and anti-social behavior. While
  the real world hasn't really solved these problems, it has at
  least managed to set our expectations at a level which virtual
  worlds seem unable to attain.  Why is this?

  I think there are still some gaping holes in how virtual worlds
  work.  Because there are still large foundational differences
  between how virtual worlds operate vs. the real world, there are
  large differences between what we experience and what we expect to
  experience. Here are a few differences that I think contribute to
  the discrepancy between how virtual worlds work and how we
  intuitively feel they should work.  Characters are not
  persistent. They drop in and out of existence in a manner that is
  very much not like the real world. With Magicosm, we are working
  to change this. I think our implementation of scripted, persistent
  characters is a very good thing. But even though we give
  characters the ability to be persistent, this still leaves us with
  the following.

  Players are not persistent. This means that you may interact quite
  a bit with my scripted character on a particular day. You may
  bring him certain items and he might craft a wonderful sword for
  you. But if you greet me the next day when I am actually playing
  my character, will I recognize you? Or what if my character "sees"
  you murder his best friend? This is probably something we need to
  think more about. If important things happen to my character while
  I am offline, how do I "remember" them when I log back in?

  Players just play. They don't really model a life very well
  because they are really just there to play, not to live. Because
  of this, they are often very goal oriented. They are interested in
  squeezing as much entertainment as possible into the few hours
  they may have to enjoy the game. As a result, the lower priority
  endeavors that would be common in everyday life, and which form
  much of the fabric of society, are often neglected. The amount of
  emphasis placed on playing vs.  living can vary quite a bit
  between players, but in the end, the community at large falls
  short of our expectations about what online life should be like.

  It is just a game. While there can be lots of debate over the
  truth of this assertion, the real importance lies in the fact that
  the perception persists for many players. The problem is that,
  while this may be just a game to the players, to offer
  believability and immersion as a virtual world, it needs to be
  treated as a life by the characters.

  The point is, if we want the virtual life we offer our customers
  to be more in keeping with their expectations as set by their real
  life experiences, we need to model some things to help fill in the
  large gaps created by unavoidable discrepancies. The following
  proposals attempt to do exactly this. Mostly, they are concerned
  with helping characters seem more persistent, more consistent, and
  more "real" despite the transient nature of players. They do this
  by enacting intuitive consequences and are based upon four
  interrelated concepts.  The ValuesSystem hels define a character
  and also gives us a basic language for allowing the server to
  express, analyze, and communicate character actions. The
  PsychologySystem builds on values and centers around the notion
  that performing actions that fall short of a character's values
  typically leads to internal dissonance which can affect the
  character in negative ways. The ReputationSystem is about how
  other player characters and non-player characters react to actions
  or news, based on their own values and perceptions. It is also
  concerned with how information about actions or personal feelings
  about a character are communicated to others. The KarmaSystem
  assumes some form of omniscient knowledge about player actions and
  responds with mechanisms (whether the reaction of a specific deity
  or the setting in motion of basic spiritual forces) to ensure
  that, in general, characters reap what they sow.


  Owner: PaulSchwanz

  People generally act in a consistent manner because they have an
  underlying set of values or beliefs about life and how it should
  be approached. Because players are only playing, they bring to the
  game beliefs about games and not beliefs about life. If players
  act consistently, it is typically related to selecting the best
  course of action to advance their character as quickly as possible
  to a winning situation. There is nothing really wrong with this,
  but in a virtual world, the result can often be situations where a
  character's actions are not consistent with what that character
  purports to be. I might complain that the character is acting
  "unrealistically," but what I'm really saying is that I've been
  forced to see the min-maxing player behind the character. And this
  shatters my immersion.

  To me, the solution would involve helping the player create a
  character with its own values and beliefs about life, and then
  giving the player incentives to play that character in a manner
  that is consistent with the values he has selected for the
  character.  Obviously, since the player's goals are often about
  moving his character toward a winning game situation, it would be
  good to have the incentives reflect this. We'll talk more about
  incentives in the next section, but let's take a closer look at

  While there are scores of different values or beliefs that we
  could offer the player to help him build the sort of character he
  wants to play, many would be spurious, since we might not have any
  ability to really track the player's success in these areas. So
  far, I've been able to identify four basic areas where I believe
  values could lend themselves well to being tracked. They are
  health, wealth, information, and power. (In some ways, these are
  individualistic reflections of the community pursuit of security,
  prosperity,technology, and advancement.)

  So how will your character feel about the health of living things?
  Will he nurture or conquer? Will he be a healer or a warrior? Will
  he be a farmer or a hunter? Will your character primarily be
  health giving (H+) or health taking (H-)?

  How will your character handle money? Will she take a vow of
  poverty or amass great wealth? Will she live like a priestess or a
  merchant?  Will she be a minister or a miser? Will your character
  primarily be wealth giving (W+) or wealth taking (W-)?

  How will your character approach knowledge and information? Will
  he spread it to all that are interested or hoard it to himself?
  Will he be a wandering mage, sharing his knowledge with each
  village, or like a paranoid wizard, will he shut himself in a
  tower to protect his research from prying eyes? Will he become
  involved with unions or guilds that attempt to control knowledge
  concerning their professions, or will he gladly train and mentor
  all? Will your character primarily be information sharing (I+) or
  information hoarding (I-)?

  What will your character believe about power? Will she see it as a
  means for helping others or for imposing her own will? Will she be
  servant or master? Will she invest or control? Will your character
  primarily be power giving (P+) or power taking (P-)?

  While we may think we've made some progress toward helping players
  define their character's values in these four areas, there are
  still some obvious inadequacies. For instance, we've said that a
  character that is health taking is a warrior, but what kind of
  warrior? Is this character a patriot or a murderer? There is quite
  a bit of difference between the two archetypes, yet clearly they
  are both health taking to a certain extent. In order to refine our
  system, we need a fifth value rating that can act as a modifier to
  the others.

  It seems to me that the key distinction between a patriot and a
  murderer, at least from the perspective of society, lies in their
  allegiances. Whereas a patriot is being loyal to a certain
  community, the murderer is viewed as betraying it. So it seems
  that this fifth rating has to do with loyalty, betrayal, and

  How will your character treat allegiances? Will he honor pledges
  or break them? Will he take his responsibilities to societies and
  groups with which he associates seriously or spurn community
  mores? Will he place great weight on his relationship to others
  when acting or will he be indiscriminate? Will your character
  primarily be allegiance honoring (A+) or allegiance breaking (A-)?

  The real test of how appropriate these five areas are in defining
  values is to try them against all of the common archetypes. I
  encourage you to do so. If they do not reflect a particular class
  or play style with which we are familiar, then they need
  additional refining. I'll get the ball rolling with a few
  archetypes that may not seem to work well with what we have so

  What about the warrior priestess? Is she health taking or health
  giving? Or take Robin Hood, for example. Is he wealth taking or
  wealth giving?

  I would say that the warrior priestess really doesn't seem to have
  a strong belief about health one way or the other. It seems to me
  that what is of primary importance to this archetype is their
  relationship to the recipient of their actions. In other words,
  the warrior priestess is comfortable killing as well as
  healing. (She probably leans slightly toward healing, but maybe
  not.) The thing that will primarily determine which action she
  performs on an individual is likely to involve that individual's
  relationship to her religion. In this, she shows herself to be
  very discriminating and loyal first, and only slightly health
  giving later.

  In a similar way, Robin Hood steals from some, but gives to
  others. In general, though a thief in the eyes of many, he
  probably leans slightly toward being wealth giving. Again, the
  thing which will primarily determine his actions toward a
  particular individual is whether or not he considers that
  individual to be one of "the rich" or a member of "the poor." In
  this, Robin Hood is also very discriminating and loyal, and only
  slightly wealth giving.  These two examples help highlight the
  need for us to prioritize our values. It seems that each archetype
  forms a sort of natural hierarchy of values for their particular
  world-and-life view. Someone might view Robin Hood's approach to
  life like this.

    Extremely Loyal or Discriminating (A+5)
    Very focused on Helping and Serving (P+4)
    Quite committed to Nonviolent Methods (H+3)
    Tends to be Secretive (I-2)
    Slightly more likely to Give Wealth (W+1)

  How can Robin Hood be considered extremely loyal? He certainly
  isn't loyal to the rich. As I mentioned earlier, allegiance keys
  off of relationships. As long as Robin Hood has no relationship
  established with the rich, he doesn't need to be loyal to them in
  order to be considered extremely loyal.

  What about Bubba Smythe, the owner of a pawnshop who feels a
  strong bond of loyalty to close friends, but couldn't care less
  about the fact that the town in which he is a citizen has passed a
  law against fencing stolen property? (We're straying a bit from
  the typical archetypes, but I'll address the question anyway.) In
  order to facilitate this distinction regarding loyalty, characters
  need to be able to prioritize their relationships with various
  groups in which they are members. There are some groups in which
  characters will automatically be members, but most are
  voluntary. Bubba might have the following priorities for his
  groups (where priority is lower moving toward the bottom of the

    Bubba's Merry Band of Friends
    Union of Pawnshop Owners
    Merchant's Guild
    Smythe Family
    Shrine for the Veneration of Mithra
    Town of Nunford
    Human Race

  If he breaks a law against fencing stolen property in the town of
  Nunford, he is still allegiance breaking, but to a much lesser
  degree than if he harms Boffo, a member of Bubba's Merry
  Band. This can occur because each character or group that Bubba
  interacts with is given a relationship rating from -9 to +9 (where
  -9 is a mortal enemy and +9, as defined in his group priorities,
  is one of Bubba's friends). But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself
  here. The main point is that sets of values do not have to exist
  in a vacuum. Instead, values can be dependent upon other factors
  that define who characters are and how they relate to others.

  This concept for values also gives us a language for expressing,
  analyzing, and communicating actions. Suppose we had a number of
  database entries that looked like this:

    Action _Expression of Values
    --           H  W I  P  A
    murder      -5  0 0 -5 -5
    kill        -5  0 0 -5  0
    kill enemy  -5  0 0 -5 +4
    mug         -2 -2 0 -2  0
    pickpocket   0 -1 0 -1  0

  Now we can express an action like murder in a way that can be
  processed differently by characters that have different
  perspectives when it comes to health, wealth, information, power,
  and allegiance.  In a similar manner, we can work backward from
  value expressions to express something in text. For instance,
  suppose that Buffy's player logs out, but the character is set to
  remain persistent in the game world. While the player is logged
  out, the character is updated with the following database entry.

    Rumor     Iteration Source Actor _Expression of Values Reciever
                                      H W I  P  A
    12867548 E          Buffy  Bubba -5 0 0 -5 -5           Boffo

  When Buffy's player logs back in, the game sends her a text
  message such as the following.

    You saw Bubba murder Boffo.

  At first, this may not appear to be such a great achievement, but
  we will develop this concept extensively when we discuss the
  ReputationSystem later. For now, it is enough to see how the
  concept of values can help us define characters as well as provide
  a language for expressing, analyzing, and communicating character

  See also: SocialSystemOverview


  Notes to self:

    A. I also want to add the idea of dynamic values to the
    document. Will include the concept of values changing when:

      1. Player plays consistently different from values. (Very slow

      2. Player undertakes some sort of "conversion"
      experience. (Rapid change with "crisis" causing major skill

      3. Player is cursed, i.e. by equipping an item. (Frodo's ring
      moves value P toward -5. Speed of change may vary.)

  B. Add Iteration and Source fields to events (more for the
  ReputationSystem) [Done! PaulSchwanz - 20 May 2002]. Iteration is
  initially "E" (or just zero in the actual DB) and then is a number
  that counts up as events are communicated. So, in the Bubba
  murders Boffo example above, initial iteration would be E
  (eyewitness), and source would be Buffy. If Buffy "tells" someone
  else about the event, the message passed to them would have an
  iteration of 1 (1st hand) and a source of Buffy. If they "tell"
  someone else about the event, the iteration is set to 2 (2nd hand)
  and the source is set to their name.  This gives a couple of
  advantages: an event can be set to die after a certain number of
  iterations (you can no longer pass on the event, but can still
  give someone your "opinion" of Bubba) and also, information can be
  traced back to its source.

  C. Is the determination between "murder" or "kill" based on
  Buffy's (the eyewitness) relationship to Boffo, or on Bubba's (the
  actor) relationship to Boffo? It seems to me that it might be more
  appropriate for the message to be modified by each person's
  relationship. So, Bubba modifies the message sent to his psyche
  based on his own relationship to Boffo, and Buffy the eyewitness
  modifies the message she receives based on her own relationship to
  Boffo. In other words, if Boffo is Buffy's friend, then to her the
  action is "murder" with no regard given to Bubba's relationship to
  Boffo or his relationship to herself. But Bubba's relationship to
  Boffo matters a great deal when determining what message his
  action sends to his own psyche. It may also make a difference in
  determining what message is sent to the KarmaSystem
  (e.g. deities). Additionally, it may make a difference to any
  court or council he finds himself facing under PlayerJustice?.

Paul Schwanz

Big Fat Goblin Geek

I think the object of this thread has started to evolve into "What
can we impliment as far as usable design within the game to
encourage a more socially immersive gaming experience?"

I like moving the topic in this direction because in my proposal of
the roleplay player reward system, my ultimate goal was to bring
roleplaying back into the game with game design that would immersify
the player experience by having the backing of a system that
prompted or promoted player interactivity by offering a measurable
system of reward that possibly could compliment the game mechanics
side of things in regard to politics and social interactions albiet
quests or social tasks.

There are specific reasons why roleplay faded or was limited in its
effectiveness and opportunity in games such as Everquest. Would
anyone propose offering specific insights to why this happened and
what could have been done to prevent it? This failure is opinion
based, but I think most agree that Everquest is not a strong
"roleplaying" environment.

I propose the question, in creating an MMORPG that promotes a title
of being an online "Roleplaying Game". Should it be a game that
promotes more of a social simulation or should it be a game designed
around game mechanics and just let the social side evolve into what
it will and leave it as simply a game that will have its own social
cliques regardless of implimentations? I know as it is in games like
Everquest, I know of a guild that left a server specifically because
other guilds did not "like" them because they knew they were an
"American" guild. Thus the hardships imposed was enough for them to
seek a server that would not be so strong in opposition and
hardship.  This was an entire guild. I can't imagine the
complications a guild could impose on a single character. Although
the dynamic could be quite the opposite.

Does it make sense to try to creatively develop a system that
somehow will put the Roleplay back into Massive Multiplayer Online
Roleplaying Games? Underlight has created such a system, although
would it be defined as a game or as a social simulation for
chatting? Does Underlight actually have a system that rewards
roleplaying or does it have a system that is more or less a
reputation system to identify the jerky types? I want to be clear on
those two definitions because they both deserve equal and seperate

What about the system mentioned above by Paul? A system that affects
the politics of the NACs and possibly even influences the NAC
reaction of the dieties of the game? How could something like this
be implimented. Hmmm... Well there is already a pretty successful
faction system in other games, wouldn't this quantify as being
similar? But I think the key here is to immersify and involve more
player interactivity by affecting the player base more not just the
reactions from Non-avatar characters.

Does it make sense to develop a system to promote roleplay that
would offer benefits of reward that would accomodate the roleplay

Should it be part of the development teams obligations to create a
game system that would encourage player interactivity or should that
be left up to the players? Should this be a focus because it is such
a failing in so many other MMORPGs?

Cliques are extremely difficult to counter. But the could the walls
be brought down potentially by a system that encourages interaction
outside of ones normal circle of player interaction ie buddies or
guildmates? What kind of system could be created that would embrace
new players that arrive two years after the game has been in
operation/gold play?

Possibly human psychology as a whole would not support such
endeavor.  On this I am unsure... This theory may need to be
considered to create something that may actually influence the
game. It would not do much good to create a system encouraging
player relationships if human nature itself will be its main
obstacle. Is this concept in general simply futile? Is this possibly
one of the real limitations of MMORPGs that never will be creatively
countered? Or can they be countered, just possibly never fully
balanced or fairly? I think some games addressed encouraging player
interaction by promoting experience gained by grouping in groups of
6 to 10 players. I don't think that overall this really helped to
build player relationships and create a more immersive game
experience although. But possibly it was one of the only simple
resolutions that could be implimented. I don't think too many
MMORPGs consider these issues initially in their development.  It is
pretty clear that this along with a structure that supports guild
creation is not enough, in my opinion.

David and Paul above have some very insightful new perspectives
presented in the thread that I believe can offer whole new material
to be considered and carefully evaluated.


Tiny Harmless Goblin
Subject: Idea

Ok there is another MMORPG game in the making that wants to try a
reward system like you are talking of. There are dif ways to maybe
accomplish this and your posts have arisen a dif idea within me but
my original idea is this to one help the system and to also help
guilds from just turning up guildies. First if anyone is mentioned
to RP well Guild Masters can then investigate and see if it is
true. If so then if they feel it is note worthy they can report it
to a ingame official who in turn can create a cahrecture as he sees
fit (i mean a Customer Service Rep) to go and see how the RP of said
person is.

But you have generated a new idea that may work well in any game
that wants this form of reward system. How bout everyone is alloud
to vote on one person only per month. Thus say on the 5th the names
are tallied. This is assuming that names in some way are unique
Weather its a first name like in DAOC, or a Combination of First and
Last name. This way anyone can cast a vote during the 30 day period
but if they run across someone diffrent they can change it. Also at
this type of system would not work for anyone within your GUILD,
Alliance's maybe but not in guilds.

Also the reward would be something only a RPer would like, IE a Bard
in a local town sings a song of a great warrior, or a bar tenders
mentions the persons name in general talking. This can have a
seperate system to when you vote you put Positive RP, or
Negative. Thus a Scoundrel would be mentioned in songs and off
tounges also. So in essence you vote on a Hero and a Naive each

Make the rewards things only Gamers would love to see, not things a
a powergamer would do just to attain. That is just a idea.

Tiny Harmless Goblin

Hello gang,

First off, thanks to Keeg for tipping me off to this forum. Lotta
great stuff in here. Now on to my two cents

Consider for a moment how people are rewarded for social interaction
in real life. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that they are
directly rewarded with one thing: access to a larger social
network. I know some will see this as an oversimplification but bear
with me for a moment and hopefully this will begin to make sense.

I think that rewarding players with points of any sort for
role-playing is not a wise idea. I say this because good
role-playing is difficult to quantify. While you could have GM's
doling these points out, there is still the open possibility of
abuse when they are spent. Frankly, I think that points should only
be used to quantify things in a manner that makes sense to the
player and makes sense in your code.

When a player kills a monster they get X amount of points. The
player understands why this has happened and the code of your game
can make sure that this sequence of events happens
consistently. Rewards like trophy items make sense in terms of
fighting monsters for the same reason. When a player is given points
for RPing (either by the system, another player or a GM) it is
difficult to ascertain what those points really represent. Points
work great when they are used to abstract concrete things like kills
or tasks. Good RP is already pretty abstract, and therefore is not a
great thing to set to a higher level of abstraction.

Heres a possible solution:

Yes, I think its necessary to have a human element involved in the
distribution of rewards for RPing. Incognito GMs will do. When a GM
witnesses some good RPing they could offer the player an invitation
to a members only establishment. These establishments could be
implemented in a variety of contexts (i.e.- a private club for
aristocrats, an underground meetinghouse for rebels, a thieves den,
a bards parlor, a secret society etc.) to accommodate a variety of
character types. An important part of how these establishments work
is based on the fact that they are not guilds. Guilds are
businesses. In MMORPGs they serve important social functions as
well, but RPing is not necessarily a requirement. Keep the standard
guild system intact I say, but give the players who actively seek
out RPing opportunities the means to explore that avenue further.

So what is the reward then? I role-play well and now I get to go to
a secret room with other people that role-played well? Thats part of
it, but only a small part. First, these exclusive clubs serve to
create networks between people who specifically want to
role-play. Not a bad start. However, there does need to be some sort
of tangible reward for the player to make sense of why they were
chosen. To that effect, these establishments should offer more game
content to the players that belong to them. This shouldnt be
anything that inherently unbalances the game like super-weapons or
the like. Perhaps they could hold the opportunity to do quests that
arent offered anywhere else, quests that specifically require
groups. Perhaps they allow access to new prop and emote items a week
or so before they are released globally. The bottom line is that
they are doorways to a slightly bigger game.

As far as implementation goes, these private clubs should be located
only in the largest cities rather than littered across the world. If
you are going to have GMs scouting for good RPers you need them to
focus on where there are the most people. Also, most games force new
players to start out in the boondocks and work their way up to a
point where they can hit the big city. This is a good thing in this
case. By the time a player can get to the big city they generally
have established their playing style. Ever sit around in a large
city in a MMORPG and just look around? The powergamers fly in, sell
off, buy potions and are gone. The RPers form circles, talk, use
emotes and to put it frankly, play their roles. Big cities are the
perfect place for GMs to efficiently and affectively scout.

Finally, from a designer/programmer perspective, this solution
should prove to add a relatively low degree of overhead and risk. It
mainly requires creation of some specialty content which can be
handled by level designers. Building out a separate system for RP
experience, RP skills and RP points opens up a Pandoras Box down the
road in terms of tweaking code to keep the game balanced and for
that matter keeping working at all. I think that building out more
content and keeping it modular offers a higher degree of control and
stability. A side effect of having these clubs up and running is
that the design team can use them to test out new content before
releasing it globally. Not a bad tool for a designer. Its also not
bad for a designer to be able to slip into one of these clubs and
get a sense of what the RPers are up to (dare I say focus group).

In sum, I think that numerical acts like killing and questing should
be rewarded with numerical things like points. Social acts should be
rewarded with social things like exclusive social groups. And theres
my two cents.


Great Goblin Carebear
Subject: Reputation Voting

Originally posted by David.Kennerly:

>  Now we're getting somewhere specific. Ebay's reputation system
>  requires a monetary transaction. A candidate for a bad case
>  scenario (probably not their worst), is someone creating two
>  accounts, one to sell and another to buy, both to boost
>  award. That one can only give the rating once does help in this
>  case. But the reputation has a monetary cost. Someone has to
>  exchange an amount of money. And on Ebay, Ebay takes a percentage
>  of that money.

If a system of voting, for lack of a better term at the moment, is
used then I suggest the following:

  1. You can't vote for yourself, and you can't vote for your Alts.
  Unless you have two separate accounts, I'm sure someone will
  figure out a way to vote for themselves.... but the main point is
  you can't vote for yourself unless you are really creative and
  want to spend a lot of extra money on new accounts.

  2. You can only vote for someone once, but you can change your

  3. You can vote either Good, or Bad. (or positive, negative) or
  maybe a third option of neutral, but I don't know what the point
  of neutral would be.

  4. If you get enough votes you can get some kind of bonus, like
  prestigue or charisma or reputation bonuse or something.

  5. Someone who is leader of a guild may be able to gather more
  votes due to his personal charisma and roleplaying skills.

  6. Someone who is a "jerk" can get enough bad votes that they lose
  some of their prestigue/charisma/reputation bonus... or whatever.
  Possibly in some areas a low reputation would be an advantage?

  7. Someone who is leader of a guild can coerce a lot of Positive
  votes, but then non-guild members can still vote Negative.

  8. One Negative vote cancels out a Positive vote.  Whadda ya

"Peace on Earth to men of good will - All others, Stand By"

"Most people want to serve God, but only in an advisory capacity."
... More Wisdom One Liners

Quotes of Infamy:

  "Just when i was thinking, "how off topic can this thread get?" it
  starts to gets so interesting that i don't care..."
  -K.R. Bourgoine More Quotes Archived Here

Tiny Harmless Goblin


I got linked to this discussion by Keeg who got a hold of my Article
i wrote on Mygamer.com, i think anyway.
http://www.mygamer.com/article.php?view=3563 There you go, if you
wanna check it out that is. It was just on the social stature of
MMORPG's in general.

As far as this reward system goes, i'm really on the fence with it
as i think if it's done well enough and reasonable enough it has the
potential to work. However, i think that the only way an MMOG is
going to get anywhere near a succesful *Roleplaying* experience, is
the game is going to have to be more personalized and not so
populated. I'm really not so sure how to do that, considering it's
going to run into a few problems.

If developers manage to personalize a game more and take the
Massively multiplayer element out of it, then it's going to have a
rough time being a "Get in and go" experience. However, i think if a
game managed to put you into a server or a gaming session randomly
with a handful of people, or at least less than one hundred the role
playing element could grow. Again, i really don't know how anyone
would make this work at all.

But, the people who truly would like a game where they can
*Roleplay* above most things, have to be with a crowd that wants to
do that very same thing. Maybe if each "world" fit 20 people or so,
and had some kind of storyline and progression it would work out
perfectly. Many problems again though, as it would be rather
difficult to work all 20 people into a progressive story where
they'd be forced to role play their motives, just as difficult as it
would be to give a crowd of over a thousand role playing
insentive. Maybe a closer GM role would work out best, i'm not sure.

What i'm really trying to get at is i think the only way an MMOG of
any kind is going to be a successful role playing experience is if
the population is cut down severely so everyone knows their
purpose. When you have over one thousand wizards, looking for the
same items "Spawn points" and the rest of the like, it just becomes
a chaotic arcade game.

I don't know. People need a stronger and more personal role, in
order to role play, in order to seem important. It needs to be kept
fresh and close. How to do that though, i really have no idea and
i'm not even sure if i'm making any true sense while typing this. I
just think the MMOG Role playing experience isn't upon us yet, or
isn't close to being. The greater the population, the greater the
problems. There's too many personality clashes that are *out of
character* instead of in character. You just need a small group of
know how. I'm not sure a reward system would change that, it's
really just up to the individual. It's almost like making your dog
roll over for a milkbone.  Sure, he rolled over, but you know it was
more because of the milkbone and not because he wanted to. It kind
of leaves a bitter taste.  Okay, that was a really, really bad
analogy. I'll get over it though.

Thanks guys.

- John.

Tiny Harmless Goblin


Like some others in here, I was hunted down (teasing :P) and asked
to read over this thread and post my opinion on the matter. I
suppose Keeg/Mythoxxus caught my email at rpgfan.com, where I do
some work.  I've been a rather big fan of the MMORPG genre for some
time now and I've dipped my fingers in many of the games available
and in beta atm.  I, however, do not consider myself to be an expert
and my opinions should be taken as such...my opinion.

So, to get to the topic at hand. I must agree that today's MMORPG
surely lack the "RP" that they so boast in their genre title. More
suitable would be MMOHASG (Massive Multiplayer Online Hack And
Slash), though some have tried to add some RP. I find the games that
have added RP servers to their games a rather meek effort on the
developers behalf.

Some suggestions made in this thread have been nothing short of
inspirational, and I hope that the people of this game take notice
and make steps to attempt some of them.

The most notable point made so far (imho) is Tmoore and the chat
system in place. Reason why people rely on bars and taverns for
information is because people gather there. Do you really think we
could have such a system with wide chat options in place? Not only
that, you can talk to people across the map, why meet up with
someone when you can easily talk to them while doing some questing?

It is human nature to think of oneself first, and others
second. Only a few of us have the strength to improve upon others to
improve upon ourselves. You NEED to keep this in mind. A gamer is
more than likely to think of his self preservation before your
own. So, to put in a reward system for role playing is to kill the
very thing that makes role playing fun...it's sincerity.

Killing the people's true desire to role play is to kill the beast's
very heart. Reward people for role playing and you get a massive
amount of people who will role play only to gain the rewards. And do
we truly want to reward people who fake?

Yeah, you'll get a much more rich environment with characters
playing their part, you'll also have a bunch of angst people look at
role playing like some of us look at the level'ing treadmill. Being
forced to do it only to gain whatever benefits they need to attain
new stature in the game.

I find that communities such as EQ, AO and DAoC are good examples of
people rewarding people without the system being integral to the
game.  An example:

  While I was playing EverCrack (yes..I call it EverCRACK :P), I was
  a ranger and any of you who have played EQ knows that rangers
  where not exactly the most useful or looked for class in the
  game. How did I get into groups? Become an important figure in my
  guild? Raid with the high-end gamers? Because I was a great role
  player/gamer. I knew my place, acted my character and was
  generally a great person to be around.

  News gets out, people start to recognize your name and stories
  start to spawn. This is the same for real life society. You don't
  need to reward role players for role playing. They do it because
  they enjoy it, not because it gives them more uber pixels to go
  kick more uber butt.

So, though the idea of a reward for role playing is a wonderful
direction, I find it unneeded and to a certain extant,
unwanted. I'll role play no matter the reward and I would rather
posers stay away from something I hold dear...Truthful, heartfelt
and honest role playing.

Not to say that the idea is no refreshing, I'd just rather we let
human nature take its course.

"Destruction is a cycle born from violence, sustained by pride..."


J C Lawrence                
---------(*)                Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas. 
claw at kanga.nu               He lived as a devil, eh?		  
http://www.kanga.nu/~claw/  Evil is a name of a foeman, as I live.

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