[MUD-Dev] Reward system for social gaming?

Sean Howard squidi at squidi.net
Fri Oct 7 03:20:16 New Zealand Daylight Time 2005


"Alex McGivern" <alex at aeonofdiscord.co.uk> wrote:

> And - given that it's an experiment - even if the players do
> commit deplorable acts of vileness, that's a valuable outcome. The
> sum total of knowledge about socialisation in MMOs is increased
> whatever happens.

Yes, because people make beautiful guinea pigs. They love
it. Nothing like a little Battle Royale to really get good data -
who cares about the victims of the deplorable acts of vileness? You
can't play with people.  It's not right and the results are
dangerous.

>> Whatever system you create, it will ALWAYS be easier to screw
>> over another player to beat the system than play it.

> Doesn't this apply to game mechanics in general? I don't see why
> socially-focused mechanics are more exploitable than any other
> kind.

Not all game mechanics, but yes, most game systems can be taken
advantage of in some way. However, real live people aren't involved
there.

>> You can't have players manipulating each other to get ahead. It's
>> a recipe for disaster[...]

> Why is that? Is it worse than allowing them to get ahead by
> killing and looting each other?

Did I EVER say that I approved of allowing players to kill and loot
each other? There's a reason why there are PvP and RP servers out
there - it's a contract between the players that a certain type of
social behavior is not only tolerated, but expected. When you go
onto a PvP server and get ganked, you knew the contract going in
(even if it is merely implied and not explicitly stated). In that
way, killing and looting is fine if it is explained as a
prerequisite to play.

The problem is with the no-contract servers. Everybody plays those
according to their own belief systems. So you've got the minmaxers
in there with the dabblers and the checklist gamers and they are
have expectations of each other that don't mesh. There's no implied
contract to behavior beyond "don't curse on the general
channel". It's all just a game and that means very different things
to each player's social interactions.

Did you read that article about EVE Online? The one where a group of
assassins spent nearly a year infiltrating a rival guild, earning
their trust, and then backstabbing them and stealing all the guild
assets? There is NO WAY to justify that kind of behavior, unless
both parties understood and agreed to that particular brand of
roleplay ahead of time. Maybe they did, I don't know, but I'm never
going to play EVE Online because I won't.

> MMORPGs already have "spawns": areas into which large numbers of
> NPCs are placed in order to be slaughtered en masse by the
> players, who revel in (and profit from) their murder. It's not
> such a big step.

NPCs are not human. They do not have self esteem, and they aren't
teenagers with self esteem problems.

There's a lot of behavior that is possible in these games which
screw over other players - not NPCs. In WoW, it's possible for a
large enough force (in a PvP setting) to actually take and hold a
low level area of the opposing team. You could grab a few hundred
level 60 Alliance guys (most servers are 2-1 in favor, and some are
as much as 5-1) and just take over the Barrens, for example, and
really make it impossible for any Horde character to level past
15. It sounds really cool, but it is literally racist
oppression. The barrens would become a virtual concentration camp -
because the gameplay encourages segregation (Alliance and Horde
can't trade or even communicate with each other) and racism.

- Sean
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