[MUD-Dev] Griefing

Sean Kelly sean at f4.ca
Wed Nov 23 11:11:49 New Zealand Daylight Time 2005

Brian "Ayavaron" Ross wrote:

> I just finished reading an issue of Escapist Magazine
> (http://www.theescapistmagazine.com/) that dealt with the topic of
> griefers.  The topic was thoroughly analyzed and explored
> throughout the article, but it leaves one with the question, "What
> do you do about it?"

> The magazine suggested in one article that players who grief could
> be red-flagged, making them targets for vigilantes. However, I
> think we can do better than that. I remember the first time I
> played Elder Scrolls III, I went into a shop and tried stealing
> stuff. I was declared a bad guy and suddenly everyone wanted to
> kill me.

I always like the idea of a word-of-mouth type of system for
low-tech worlds.  Rather than the alarm being broadcast telepathy,
I'd much prefer if the bad guy has a chance of getting away with the
crime if he's sufficiently careful... or running into a guard who
simply hasn't heard he's wanted or who doesn't recognize him.  I
simulated a basic version of this in NWN, where various acts signal
nearby NPCs who, if they "see" or "hear" the event (seeing the event
requires LOS), will react in various ways--a shopkeeper might call
for guards, for example, while a child might simply run away in
fear.  This ties into a bounty system, and different witnessed
crimes will add an appropriate price to the bounty on that player
for the concerned faction (the citizens and guards of a particular
town might all belong to one faction, while the local thieves guild
might belong to another faction--there's no reason this system must
be limited to the good guys).  Finally, if a player encounters a
member of a faction that has a bounty on his head, that NPC has a
chance of recognizing the player based on the amount of the bounty,
and the NPC's response may change based on the bounty amount. Some
guards, for example, may attack to subdue if the player is merely a
wanted criminal but attack to kill if the player has a sufficiently
large price on his head.  The AI is fairly good at signaling other
nearby NPCs for help if something is amiss, and it isn't unusual for
a criminal player to suddenly be recognized by a passing guard and
to have other pasing guards join the chase (all NPCs either walk
randomly or are on patrol routes).  The final bit of the system
strips criminals of their possessions and transports them to a
prison, placing their equipment in persistent storage accessible via
chests in the prison area.  The cell they are placed in is based on
their bounty: low, medium, and high security.  The nice thing about
all this is that it even allows prisoners in low-security cells to
attempt a jailbreak and to recover their items, all without DM
intervention (assuming the low-security cell doors are breakable or
easily pickable).  For the high-security prisoners... well, they
usually go to trial a few days later.  There's a DM-only item to
mess with bounties and to trigger various NPC action as well.  I
never released this sytem to the general public because I didn't
want to support it, but the code behind it isn't terribly complex.
It would be fairly trivial to implement something like this in a
MMORPG, though the lack of GM involvement would make the arrests and
such a lot less fun.

> This leads me to the idea that a similar system could be adopted
> in MMORPGs where you have a griefer rating and people can mark you
> as a griefer. Once the rating becomes high enough, you might be
> declared WANTED and perhaps even, a bounty could be placed on your
> head. People could gain a lot from hunting you down for being a
> griefer. As your griefer rating increased, your bounty could
> possibly increase too. The justice system wouldn't have to break
> game and could even possibly become a large part of the game.

Oh great.  So if I piss off a powerful griefer guild they can all
mark me as a griefer and have half the playerbase hunting me down.
This reminds me of the bounty system in UO.  It was a great idea,
but didn't turn out so great in practice.

> The most obvious problem I can see with this system though is that
> griefers might exploit this system and start randomly calling
> other people griefers with no real reason. To combat this,
> perhaps, a griefer would have to select from a list which type of
> griefing was done to them. Then the game could check and see if it
> was impossible for that to happen. (i.e. A player says a griefer
> has camped him. The game could check to see if there was ever a
> PVP encounter with them at all and who won to decide if that is
> valid.) Naturally, such a system would not be perfect but it could
> weed out some of the wrongful griefing claims.

For this sort of thing, I would like the reputation to be a function
of a trust network similar to those in public key cryptography.  If
a good friend of mine dislikes someone then I am likely to as well,
but if an enemy dislikes someone then they may be alright in my
book.  This model could even be extended to NPC factions, with the
levels of trust defined by political relationships.

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