[MUD-Dev] Reward system for social gaming?

Christopher Allen ChristopherA at skotos.net
Sun Oct 9 06:38:22 New Zealand Daylight Time 2005


Martin Gundtoft wrote:

> I'm a student of computer games at the Danish IT-university and
> currently in the startup phase of a theoretical, MUD related
> project.

> We're a small group of students who are interested in examining
> the possibility of creating a system for rewarding "socializers"
> or encouraging people to use social skills in MMORPG games.

> We believe that (MUD) games in general encourage people to
> socialize but that there are no strictly "game mechanical" system
> in any game that actually rewards the player directly. Of course
> one could argue that large raids or certain other actions would be
> impossible without a social game mechanic like the chat box, but
> what we are looking for is a more direct way of rewards than such
> a secondary relation.

> We have been discussing different approaches like a strictly skill
> based system in which the skills your avatar would be able to
> access, and the levels or skill percentage he would obtain, could
> be based on the way he reacts to other people. Maybe this could be
> implemented through some sort of voting system. A lot of other
> things is on the drawing board as well, but like I said we're very
> much in the startup phase. Basically what we're looking for is
> some system that could reward other forms of skillful play (in
> particular social) than merely being a good player in the
> traditional sense (killing monsters, other players etc.).

Skotos's game Castle Marrach (http://www.skotos.net/games/marrach)
is a socializer-only game, and just celebrated it's 5 year
anniversary.

All the "skills" in the game can only be gained through
socializing. All the skills are ranked 0-10. You can't practice a
skill to get better, you must find someone better then yourself,
persuade them to teach you, and then spend considerable time with
them practicing. At minimum you must spend 25 minutes with them in
the same room without leaving, and that gives you roughly a 1 in 20
chance to gain a rank in that skill (better teachers can improve
your chances, but we guarantee that you'll never take more then 20
lessons to learn a skill though). If you fail to learn the skill,
you must wait 22 hours before trying to learn the skill again. If
you succeed, you must wait 1 week before trying to learn the skill
again. Thus at absolute minimum it takes 11 weeks to get a skill
from 0 to 10, with 11x25 minutes accommpanied by a teacher. At
maximum it takes 42 weeks, or 297 days, to take a single skill from
0 to 10, if you take every opportunity to be taught, have someone to
teach you, but fail every teaching. More typically it takes about
half a year to bring a skill to the top where teaching is easily
available.

What this means is in order to advance, you must find some reason
for your teacher to teach you: either by persuading them that it is
in their interest, or entertaining them with role play while they
are teaching you.  Both are very social.

The only achiever mechanic in the game is teaching, which you learn
by teaching. As you become a better teacher, you can teach more
students at a time, and they can learn more easily. However, you
have to do a lot of teaching to become a better teacher.

Skills are "seeded" in the game periodically, either by bringing in
an NPC teacher played by one of the staffers who has a skill one
lever higher then anyone has been taught in the game. Typically a
quest or some other social achievement (for instance, knighthood or
a royal appointment) is required for the NPC teacher to teach the
next level of skill up to a couple of winning players, who in turn
will negotiate with others socially to teach those new best
skills. Sometimes these top skills are hoarded, but if you hoard too
much then you'll not be able to learn the top skills from others.

Also periodically new skills are introduced, and everyone will start
near the bottom.

In over five years of play, there are still quite a few skills that
are not maxed by the players, though there are some that the
staffers wish were under better control.

BTW, one of the consequences of having a socializer-only game is
that Castle Marrach is well over 50% women, and if you include men
playing women, it has about 2/3rd women characters.

Another BTW, there are some interesting unexpected negative
consequences of having a socializer-only game, search in my blog via
google at
http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Awww.lifewithalacrity.com+dunbar+marrac
h for a number of articles where I mention Castle Marrach as an
example.

If you want to experience what Castle Marrach is all about, there is
a 30 day free trial available at www.skotos.net

-- Christopher Allen

------------------------------------------------------------------------
.. Christopher Allen                                 Skotos Tech Inc. ..
.. <ChristopherA at skotos dot net>         2342 Shattuck Ave Ste 512 ..
.. www.skotos.net  www.rpg.net                Berkeley, CA 94704-1517 ..
.. office 510/649-4030         fax 510/849-1717     main 510-647-2760 ..
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