[MUD-Dev] SOC: Will company sanctioned cheating hurt theMMOcommunity?

Jaycen Rigger jaycen.rigger at sbcglobal.net
Tue May 10 16:25:57 New Zealand Standard Time 2005

Barry Kearns <barrykearns at qwest.net>  wrote:

> The obvious counter-example is the wide prevalence of PvP and
> non-PvP servers for the same game.  In this case players have a
> desire to engage in a behavior... attacking and killing each
> other, with griefing and PK'ing being the anticipated behaviors at
> the margins when you give players those capabilities.

Wait, it's not obvious just because it's prevalent.  I'm thinking of
the articles on Raph's site and Ben Hawes (a.k.a. Musashi) that
speak to the idea of segregated servers.

I don't subscribe to the idea that griefing and PKing should be
"catered to" just because there's a market for it.  It would seem
it's a smaller market, so why not try instead to channel that energy
into something else.  Those players could still get the rise they
would normally get, but in a more "socially acceptable manner".

> Some people really like that "freedom".  They get to (at least
> attempt to) administer their own forms of vigilante justice for
> whatever reason strikes their fancy... whether it is "justifiable"
> or not.

Right.  Why not create a system where those players administer an
accepted form of justice, instead of "their own"?

> Others disagree, and don't want the most sociopathic players to be
> able to ruin their game-playing experience just because they feel
> like it.  Game developers have (in some cases) responded to this
> split in community attitudes (towards certain player behaviors) by
> creating different environments, with different rulesets.

Yeah, there's the big difference in mind-set, I think.  What you
call a "split in community attitudes" I call "being a jerk".  The
players know it's "being a jerk".  The player perpetrating it knows
he's "being a jerk", but developers make up terms like "split in
community attitudes" and forget what it's like to be on the
receiving end of someone else "being a jerk".  That's what I mean by
"vacuum of developmental pontification".

> Under one ruleset, you'd be permitted to engage in attacks against
> other players (a PvP-enabled server).  In a different ruleset,
> your character would be blocked via game mechanics from attacking
> other players (a no-PvP server).  You could technically say that
> you have "lost some freedom" by choosing to play on a no-PvP
> server, but people who make that choice also GAIN the enforced
> freedom from being attacked for no good reason by someone else.

"Enforced freedom" is a gentle euphamism for facism.  It's not
necessarily bad.  In fact, I advocate enforcement of certain social
mores through facism.  I think that GMs/Admins could more
effectively handle these situations if they just made a judement
call and removed those players who were killing for the sake of
griefing.  I know I just made a faux pax by using the word
judgement, but someone had to say it.

> There appear to be literally hundreds of thousands of players who
> seem to think that "segregating player behaviors works well" in
> that instance.

I don't think that's a fair arguement.  There are probably a lot of
reasons that players continue to play on these various servers that
have little to do with how happy they are that certain behaviours
have been segregated.  In fact, I would submit that even if it
didnt' work at all, you'd still have people logging in.  People need
their fix.  They want interaction on this level, and for whatever
reason, they don't get it in the real world.  I'd say that faced
with the choice of not logging in at all, and possibly logging in to
be berrated/PK'ed by some jackass that many of your subscribers
would take the risk.

One could speculate that this means PKing really isn't that bad.  Or
one could take the position that some people are so desperate for
the kind of community and interaction they find in these games,
they're willing to walk over broken glass to get it.

> Yet today's reality speaks to an entirely different conclusion.
> You seem to be saying, in effect, that everyone would rather have
> fully PvP-enabled servers in every game and just have the GMs
> "punish" those who engage in PvP on a subset of the servers as
> "cheaters".

No, I'm saying that many (not all) would like to see GMs punish (I
don't understand why you put that in quotes) players who engage in
PvP for the sake of being an ass.  Pure and simple.  Do you know WHY
most of the guys who run free servers left the pay-for-play servers?
Do you have any idea?  Do you know why Eric S. created the free
emulator POL for UO?  Because they hated the rampant PK.

So many free servers have PvP switches (which suck) or are
completely PvP- (which sucks more).  Because the game companies
refuse to deal with bad behavior, many players take matters into
their own hands and leave the game to find a place where behavior is
"dealt with".

> Yet the code-enforced split between PvP and non-PvP servers has
> largely been considered a success in catering to differing
> audiences who judge the matter in different ways.  Manual GM
> enforcement under such a regime would be a complete customer
> service nightmare.

No, it wouldn't.  "You've been banned for being an ass.  Here's your
money back, pro-rated for the days you've used this month.  Thank
you for your patronage."

You seriously don't think that after a couple of e-mails like that,
the offender won't go out of his way to not be a jackass on
subsequent servers?

> I contend that the matter is no different with real money trading
> (RMT, or "commodification").  Some people want to engage in it,
> others think it "ruins their game" when people do so.  Fine, let's
> create a server split where people who agree that it's OK can all
> play together, and a different set of servers where the code
> prevents it from ever happening.  By doing so, people who hate the
> effects of people getting massive unearned power can "give up the
> freedom" to engage in that practice, in exchange for knowing that
> no one else on their server gets to... so it's a level playing
> field for those with less money (and/or willingness to spend it on
> in-game advancement).

I don't know how to approach this in a way that you'll understand.
I do think that this movement is going to bad for MMORPGs in
general.  I think it's interesting that you said "ruins their game"
when most of those same people really think that it "ruins THE
game".  You don't see the distinction, so we will probably never see
eye-to-eye on this.

> If everyone in an environment agrees that a practice is OK *in
> that environment*, how is it "cheating"?  Isn't it then just a
> different set of rules for that specific environment?

No, it's not.  Maybe there is no reasonable arguement I can give
you.  I think that most people are simply hard-wired to understand
it.  If it's cheating, then it's cheating no matter where you go.
It doesn't matter that 5 billion people are calling pigs, chickens.
Pigs are still pigs.  I'll always call them pigs, even if the rest
of the world has gone wonky and starts calling them chickens.

> The problem only arises when people *disagree* about whether it is
> OK.

It does?  Is that why so many players are dead set against it?  You
can't "teach" people that unfair is fair.  People can lie to
themselves and others and pretend that something unfair is fair, but
in their hearts, they know it's a lie.

> That's why I'm working to build environments where people who
> disagree with RMT can play, and the only people who would choose
> to play on that server would be people who agree...  or are
> willing to have the ability to RMT taken away from them for the
> duration of their stay.

I follow you, but the problem is that in order to enforce that, you
have to crank down on everyone's freedoms in-game.  There's no
system to enforce RMT- perfectly that doesn't involve the complete
removal of player's freedoms to barter and trade any way they like,
specifically in ways that everyone else would see as perfectly fair.
That's why it won't work.

> People who like RMT will play on other servers that support it.
> It's "live and let live", because the two cultures can't affect
> each other when they are separated... yet both still get to exist
> and play the way they each want.  How is offering such a choice a
> bad thing?

By existing, the two cultures affect each other.  The culture that
sees itself on the moral high ground will loathe and despise the
other culture and the game company that makes the other culture
possible.  They will migrate away from that game.  The culture that
gets what it wants at any price doesn't care about morality and will
do whatever makes them feel good.


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