[MUD-Dev] Reward system for social gaming?

Sean Howard squidi at squidi.net
Thu Nov 3 03:43:28 New Zealand Daylight Time 2005

"Sasha Hart" <sasha.hart at gmail.com> wrote:

>> Social people will find ways to be social, and anti-social people
>> will find ways to be anti-social.

> No, that's a false dichotomy. .... They occupy the large middle
> ground.

I wasn't talking about the middle ground. I'm talking about the guys
at opposite ends of the spectrum that have to coexist in the same
virtual world. They still deserve to be taken into account when
making design decisions... perhaps moreso.

> In a certain respect, these games are a lot like buffets:

Buffets where you COULD choose the fried chicken, but there's a guy
behind the table who beat you with a stick every time you tried.
Nah, most games and most MMORPGs are more like theme park
rides. Very controlled experiences, and if the kiddie ride doesn't
meet your fancy, you can go ride a roller coaster instead.

> By compensating for differences in the consequences, and
> encouraging people to explore more of what you have for them, you
> are INCREASING their effective choice, not decreasing it.

I disagree fundamentally. You are confusing social behavior as a
gameplay mechanic. I'm a perfectly healthy, intelligent adult and
I'm more than capable of deciding for myself what game features I
wish to partake in and the level of my own social involvement. The
choice has always been mine and I'm more than capable of making it
without gentle (and not so gentle) nudges. It's been a long time
since someone has forced me to eat squash, and I don't miss it.

> If someone wants to be a autistic hermit on a MUD,

Since when does being a hermit mean you are autistic?

> Even if a designer decides to strengthen the appeal of doing a
> sort of newbie apprenticeship underneath another player for a week
> by making this more xp-efficient than being an autistic hermit,
> the autistic hermit is still not being forced.

He is if there isn't a viable alternative. For instance, back at the
beginning, SWG forced you to train other players to get apprentice
pts needed to master a profession, just like they forced you to
interact with other players to get your wounds treated. SWG was
filled with such folly, and tellingly, it has ALL been reversed or
circumvented as the game went on.

> In any case, it is perfectly normal for minmaxing basement-hermits
> to complain.

There you go again, attributing some behavior to hermits which is
absolutely not true. I'm here, complaining, and I'm certainly not a

>> Once you get Sally, 58 housewife, to group with Phat L00t-R, 14
>> year old kid, what then?

> If they find it boring and not worthwhile, what happens then is
> that they find something that is less boring to them on their own.

You can't just force people like that together and expect that the
worst thing that's going to happen is a yawn.

> I'm talking about increasing people's effective choices with
> payoffs, which is possible just as decreasing their effective
> choices is possible with payoffs.

You can NOT, I repeat can NOT, do this with social behavior. You
don't just reward somebody for being who they are, or punish someone
for not being that person. And you can't open the door to people
manipulating each other for gain. It has nothing to do with gameplay
and everything to do with when socializing goes bad.

> But you don't have to. This is just a tool in the toolbox, more
> suitable for some tasks than others.

My point is that apply this tool to socialization is a recipe for
disaster, much like applying a pair of metal tweezers to a wall
outlet.  Use this "tool" for gameplay only and don't even remotely
think about monkeying with social order.

- Sean
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