[MUD-Dev] Reward system for social gaming?

Sean Howard squidi at squidi.net
Fri Oct 14 04:23:21 New Zealand Daylight Time 2005


Arnau Josep Rosselló Castelló <arossello at atmsa.org> wrote:

> So, bad socializing is not per se game destroying; I think game
> destroying comes from the different expectations different players
> have about the implicit honor code of the game. Someone may think
> that crossing an enemy newbie zone and slaughtering 30-40 people
> is ok, someone may think it's only ok if you don't camp, and
> someone hasn't even stopped to think that "PVP" in the server
> class means this behavior is legal.

Exactly. When you are online, just like in life, you are playing a
role with implicit (rarely explicit) social rules. I mean, you act
differently at a football game than you do a board meeting - the
social roles are defined by the "game".

Online, there are people who have different expectations out of the
social experience. Far too frequently, there are those who think
that MMORPGs are games and just games, and whatever social behavior
they engage in, supported by the game's systems or just as
frequently not, is okay because it's not "real".

Actually, that's a problem with the internet at large. I used to run
a forum community (that I'm glad to be rid of), and it was
frequently blamed to be too strict when it was merely an issue
between the rules (ie use actual words and sentences rather than
typing "lol!!!111 ur neet") and what the general internet population
considered acceptable behavior - just like a PvE player on a PvP
server.

Actually, the whole "PvP" or "Roleplaying" server distinction is
closer to an explicit declaration of social roles. A contract,
really.

Anyway, that's all besides the point. Whatever the situation,
whatever the contract, if you reward social interaction, there will
be those that minmax it - and you can't minmax social interaction.

Take WoW Battlegrounds for example. Some guilds actually get
together and let each other win in order to rack up honor
points. I've heard of some that play a battleground agreeing never
to win the scenario, so they can play 24/7 and rack up honor
points. And I've seen teams that were losing just up and quit rather
than lose. PvP is rewarded, but PvP can be "faked". PvP is something
people will do anyway. It is it's own reward.  And yet, people would
rather "cheat" the system to get rewards faster.

Now picture that with a MMORPG which encourages social
interaction. The very act of rewarding social interaction is
silly. It is it's own reward.  People do it anyway, and they enjoy
it. But when it gets rewarded, people will cheat it, and when you've
got a stated implied contract that socialization is good, there's no
way that's going to end well.

> Well, it IS a game, you can stop playing.

No, one you introduce a social aspect, it is something more than
that.  Ever heard of people quitting a game they absolutely adored
because their guildmates left for Guild Wars or something? Or
somebody who hated a game but still played because of all the great
people he met? (strangely, both these examples come from SWG...)

When you include social connections, there something far more
permanent than the fleeting enjoyment of entertainment.

> The problem with doing "bad" things in real life is people didn't
> opt in on you behavior and can't opt out.

Online (not just in MMOGs, but online in general), you either can't
opt out or can't get away until after the problem has happened. For
instance, if you are in a guild in WoW that has an external presence
(ie a website or associated with a big webcomic site or something),
stuff that happens in game can affect you out of the game. You piss
off a competing guild and suddenly your server is hacked or your
email is flooded with mailing list subscriptions.

When someone wants to be bad to you, it won't just stay in the game.
Normally, this isn't a problem because it's nothing personal. A gank
squad doesn't have anything against you. It's just what they do. But
if you don't understand that, it is VERY easy to think it was a
personal attack or something. The difference between the average
person on the internet and a psycho raving lunatic, inflamed in
righteous indignation, is about four seconds.

> However the game mechanics are equivalent, the only difference is
> the mindset the player comes to the game.

Not always true. There is always one exploit or another that gives
someone an advantage. For instance, I think it was Everquest where
there was no PvP, so people would aggro a bunch of monsters and run
past people to get them attacked and killed.

> I think that mindset has been ignored in many amateur games, for
> lack of tought of it; and I think in big MMORPGs it's deliberately
> misrepresented to sell to a bigger audience(also, many people
> think what they want about a game, without need to be encouraged)

I hadn't thought about that before, but I think you're absolutely
correct.  I definitely think the audience for SWG is COMPLETELY
different from WoW, and yet just today, I saw a thread in the WoW
forums bashing SWG and a thread in the SWG forums bashing WoW. :)

> So, uhm, I got carried... what do you think about that?

You're stupid and you smell like dead goats! Oh... sorry... took
your response too personally :)

- Sean
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