[MUD-Dev] Player Justice

Brian 'Psychochild' Green brian at psychochild.org
Wed Mar 10 18:16:32 New Zealand Daylight Time 2004


Damion Schubert wrote:

> I've written about Meridian's Justicar system in the past, but it
> was a fairly simple and effective way to stop the problem.  In
> essence, in Meridian you are Guilty until proven Innocent - i.e.
> we made the system flag you as an 'outlaw' as soon as you did
> anything to harm a non-outlaw PC.  Being an outlaw changed your
> name orange, and made you killable without penalty to the killer.

> One person on the server was elected the Justicar, who had 6
> pardons per week.  If you felt you were unjustly accused, you
> could try to convince the Justicar that your flag should be
> removed.

[snip]

> There were no doubt abuses of the system, but they were mitigated
> by the following factors: 1) Most 'outlaws' who were wrongly
> pardoned usually went out and got themselves the outlaw flag
> again.  2) The player base was remarkably canny at determining
> which Justicars were good at sniffing out BS.  3) The lack of
> evidence meant that this feature had a strong political element to
> it - if it's your word vs theirs, then you can expect some
> interesting courtroom histrionics (at least, that was our spin).

Speaking as a more recent Meridian 59 developer:

The biggest problem with the Justicar system is that "Justice Is
HARD".

I think this is what Matt was trying to touch upon in his topic
3. The offline version is something that simply doesn't impact a lot
of us, and I think a majority of people don't really understand how
hard it really is even in the offline world.  Court cases take a
long time to succeed, and people often get confused as to why some
accused "get off" due to what appears to be inconsequential events
in published events.

In an online game it gets MUCH worse.  There's no "ultimate
punishment" (as it were) available to players in most cases, and the
threshold for having a conscience about killing people is lower
online since you can rationalize that it's just pixels on the
screen.  So, while most people in the offline world wouldn't even
think about shooting a police officer that stopped them for a
traffic violation, an online game player might think nothing of
trying to kill the equivalent character in an online RPG.

In the end, being a Justicar (or other equivalent) just isn't very
fun for most people.  You put in a lot of time and effort into
trying to maintain the status quo against criminals that simply
don't care about their continued existance.  It makes for a quick
case of burnout with the continual threats and murder attempts by
griefers against you and your friends.

On the bright side, I think Meridian 59's Justicar system did
something right: you can only remove a punishment, not inflict
punishment upon others.  The game deems you as guilty for your
actions, and the Justicar can remove that guilt.  If you allow the
Justicar to punish others, then it becomes a another tool for
griefers to use against others.  "Guilty until decided innocent" is
a much better tool in online games.

My thoughts,

--
"And I now wait / to shake the hand of fate...."  -"Defender", Manowar
          Brian Green, brian at psychochild.org  aka  Psychochild
         |\      _,,,---,,_      *=* Morpheus, my kitten, says "Hi!" *=*
   ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_               Meridian 59
        |,4-  ) )-,_..;\ (  `'-'        http://www.meridian59.com/
       '---''(_/--'  `-'\_)          PvP and full player interaction
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