[MUD-Dev] Reward system for social gaming?

Alex McGivern alex at aeonofdiscord.co.uk
Fri Oct 14 04:46:05 New Zealand Daylight Time 2005

Sean Howard wrote:

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

It's a game. Participation is voluntary, players can drop out at any
time, and the things that happen to your avatar aren't happening to
you.  I can't quite fathom what you mean by "the results are

> 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.

I'd assumed that there would be clear rules governing what kind of
behaviour was acceptable. If all participants were made fully aware
of the server contract, how would you feel about the idea then?

> 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?

That's really cool, in theory - I'd love to play in a game that
fully supported that style of play. But, unfortunately, EVE makes
that kind of thing far easier than it should be - in part because of
the size of the game, but also because the mechanisms for
disseminating IC information are limited at best. Consequences for
"indirect" PvP actions (harming other PCs economically or socially)
are minimal, which makes a successful coup like the one you describe
rather hollow.

> 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.

Hmm. EVE explicitly sets players in competition with one another for
resources, and is known to have a strong PvP culture. From their

"Political intrigue, corporate espionage, and the very essence of
Darwinism bring dimension and depth to the game as the struggle for
fame and fortune ebbs and flows with each new day in EVE."

Developers should always make sure players fully understand the
ethos of the game before they decide to participate. I think, in
this case, CCP has done that.

> NPCs are not human.

Don't you see? Dehumanisation is the first step; you've already
become inured to their suffering.

> 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.

Bleurgh. This is the kind of nonsense that puts me off Warcraft, not
because it's oppressive (I like playing the underdog), but because
it's metagaming (which I believe is allowed under Blizzard's
definition of PvP).

Tangentially, it sounds like the tactic only works because the
Alliance can prevent enemy PCs gaining XP: I'm generally of the
opinion that PvP (and roleplaying) don't coexist well with
treadmill-oriented games.

> 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.  >

The segregation mechanics are nonsense, I'll grant you; they remove
a lot of interesting play choices (no contact with the enemy means
you can't defect, spy, or play a double agent, for example). I'm
less sure about how problematic IC racism actually is - there's a
school of thought that maintains that inter-player conflict is a
good thing, and IC racism provides a ready-made impetus for
characters to do interesting things (as long as it progresses beyond
"My character kills orcs on sight.").

Alex McGivern - Æon of Discord LRP
alex at aeonofdiscord.co.uk

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