[MUD-Dev] Player Justice

Brian 'Psychochild' Green brian at psychochild.org
Fri Mar 12 00:35:41 New Zealand Daylight Time 2004


Matt Mihaly wrote:
> On Wed, 10 Mar 2004, Brian Green wrote:

>> "Guilty until decided innocent" is a much better tool in online
>> games.

> That is pretty interesting. Do you find your players ever object
> to this principle, given that it's contrary to what most of them
> probably believe in the physical world? Does it mean that a player
> suffers some ongoing punishment until he/she can get an Justicar
> to declare him/her innocent?  Do you think this creates more or
> less work for the Justicar?

Object?  Sure.  A good number of players complain about the system
being unfair.  I suspect this isn't unique to M59's justicar system,
though; you'll find people complaining that the (offline) American
justice system that advocates "innocent until proven guilty" is
unfair as well. Unforutnately, no system is perfect.  In general,
people who are willing to accept that "murder is an acceptable way
to resolve a dispute" usually don't balk when the rules also say
"guilty until decided innocent" within the context of a game.

The system is a bit deeper than Damion described it.  You become an
outlaw for attempted murder of an innocent (or stealing certain
types of property, such as tax money the Duke asked you to collect).
If you actually kill an inocent, then you become a murderer.  Outlaw
status can be removed by dying (or getting a pardon from the
Justicar), but murderer status is permanent until removed by
Justicar.  An innocent can attack both outlaws or murderers without
penalty.

Murderers, but not outlaws, take additional penalties upon death due
to their status.  This means that the life of a murderer is a hard
one. Notice that only people that have successfully murdered get
this penalty.  So, yeah, players keep taking the associated
penalties until pardoned by the Justicar.

It's a tricky balance to maintain since Meridian 59 is supposed to
focus on PvP; to this end, we've added mechanics so that two guilds
can mutually declare a war and neither side will take outlaw or
murderer penalties for fighting between the builds.  Also, we've
developed these items called soldier shields which allow players to
attack other soldiers without penalty.  (I discussed both these
systems in relation to a "PvP switch" in my talk at last year's
MDC.)  Most forms of consensual PvP are like this.

Does it create more work for the Justicar?  I'm not sure about that.
I think it makes the player Justicar's job more stressful, since
people that have proven their willingness to murder other people are
interested in pardons.... ;) In the end, I think the system works
fairly well, but I'm hesistant to say that player justice as a
general concept "works", especially in any of the ways we've come to
expect in the offline world.

--
"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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