Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rift, stupid. And, Facebook ?

Dear Trion, there are two ways to have mobs dismount you: always or never. Anything in between encourages players to try their luck and be annoyed if they fail. Either you force players onto the roads. That is very good for immersion - make mounts faster on roads if you want. Or you accept the already gamey nature of the whole feature and, while mounted, make players immune to aggro of mobs that are x levels lower. Everything in between is the worst of two worlds.

Usually I hate facebook-like features in MMORPGs. But earlier today I came up with something, and I quite like it: Every player can rate any other player. They can either be neutral, like him or dislike him. Now, before you start flaming me, wait a second.
From a simulation point of view this actually is very good. It makes sense that you have some fame in the world and this system allows other players to create that fame in the most simple and elegant way. And, in contrast to facebook, the "dislike" button is very useful: It allows you to dislike players that molest you in any way (e.g. open-PvP). And if that player continues to offend you, you can ask your guild to dislike him, too.
Player groups that are at war don't count in this system, for obvious reasons.
Make somebody, who is liked a lot, have more influence in this system. So, if you are liked by a lot of players it has more impact if you (dis)like somebody. This is also a reason to want to be liked.

Now, calculate some reputation from the likes/dislikes and you have a perfectly immersive reputation system. In a really big world you can have players near you count more towards your reputation. Anyway, this is a hard number that the designer can use for a lot of stuff. For example, upon death, disliked players could respawn in the wood (outlaws) with very bad equipment, while liked player could spawn in holy places and are supplied with relatively good equipment by the priests.

Merchant prices can be adjusted. Really hated players could be attacked by city guards. Really, really hated players could be hunted by head hunters. Make life hell for them; they wouldn't want it any other way.

Now combine this with an one-account-one-char-system (no twinks) and things like open-pvp become much easier suddenly, don't they?


  1. I think a rating system would be great, especially if after a certain number of bad ratings there were adverse effects like you mention with prices and respawning areas. I also wouldn't mind being able to see if the player has been disliked a lot before partying. Could help players avoid bad groups and make people more accountable for their behavior.

  2. I for long time advocated a rating system in MMOs .Similiar to matchmaking netflix, does.

    I am against rating other players having effect on anyone but yourself though. It naturally progresses to cliques and popularity contests.Or "epeen" "friends" .

    I want be grouped and associated with players who are similar to me (in their performance ,game attitude and such). Ratings is just another tool to provide better matchmaking .

    Allowing rating feature affect anything else but your matchmaking with them is a path leading to destruction.

  3. It might be a better idea for players to be "liked" exclusively so that someone could not sabotage reputations. The average number of likes for the level could be subtracting from the amount that the player has to give a score, and the score could be interpreted as general rank (above average or below average) so that players aren't nitpicking based on specific numbers.

  4. If I recall correctly, The Sims Online used to have "mafias" which would go up to people and require them to pay protection. If the people didn't pay, the entire mafia would "dislike" them, tanking their reputation.

  5. Max, if that's what you want, "my game" isn't for you. Matchmaking and segregating the community is exactly the opposite of what I want. If you want to make an elite guild, you'll manage without the developers' help. Otherwise, I always enjoyed having people from all walks of life in my guilds.

    Gilded and Rohan, thanks for mentioning abuse of such a system. I think this can be fought by implementing it in a smart way. I already wrote that your rating has the more influence the more people like you - and vice versa. That group of people who asks for "protection money" would have to deal with this.
    And, if that group of players becomes really big, I'd even praise "protection money" as an emergent gameplay feature.

    Make no mistake, I'm not advocating some MMO-'friends'. Like "I have 2x as many MMO-friends as you". I'd hate that.

    Your reputation would be calculated by a rather complex formuly and it would be subject to diminishing returns, of course. If you want to be the most liked guy in the world, go for it. It gets you some nice, credible, immersive bonuses. But nothing too special.
    The system is most effective if you have a really low reputation.

    By making your reputation change dependeing on the players in your vicinity (for a really big EVE-like world without teleports), people could even have a good reputation in one place and a bad one in another.

  6. The idea of a rating system interests me, but I would need to actually see the implementation. Any attempt to quantify and objectively measure and display reputation seems to fail to match the human-generated alternative.

    For example, I might refuse to play with Hitler and Pwnsarthas and negatively rate both, but for much different reasons. Hitler won't shut up but plays reasonably well while Pwnsarthas never talks and plays like crap. Maybe some guild wants Hitler but not Pwnsarthas, but a rating system of just positive/negative will fail to separate them.

    Maybe we need a two-axis system instead. Skill on one, social skills on the other. And yet that still doesn't work. Maybe the guy with slow reflexes is an amazing leader. Maybe the person with poor social skills is just quiet, which works for some people and not for others. Let's just go with resumes and three letters of recommendation required for all instances.

  7. You don't get my point. I mean, your points Klepsacovic and Max, are interesting as well :). But I really don't want to make a matchmaking system.

    The whole idea is to have the open-PvP system know who are the nice guys. And, more importantly, to give an incentive to anybody who doesn't really want to play a badbass, to not behave like one.

    Players should always have the option to offend and molest and kill each other. But they should never have an incentive to do so, except if they really want to play such a character in-game seriously - and face the in-game consequences!
    This system allows that rather well, I think.

  8. Are you describing something more like a morality system or lawful/chaotic, rather than a rating or like/dislike system? That could be cool.

  9. Yes, Klepsacovic. It's more like the Bioware hero/villain systems - but without the stupid dialogues.

    And it is not the end in itself. It allows the designer to allow the players to behave any way they want, but judge them according to what they do. The big probem with any open-PvP system is always to find out who was the bad guy.

    Most systems can very easily be gamed. They work only if the incentives to not be the bad guy are really strong - I wrote about that last week.

    A like/dislike system uses the swarm intelligence of the players to determine paragons/villains in a very immersive way. And in a way that is relatively hard to game if implemented right, I hope.


    Ultima Online already did this. Check it out.


  11. Most systems can very easily be gamed.

    And that is precisely why I dont like player ratings. You just give people power to affect other people in MAJOR way. That invites griefing (dedicated people, sometimes very smart, who will go all out of their way to screw you and your systems)

    If the ratings are given by players and control something of any use - it WILL be gamed.

    In my system all player has power to do is say if action of other player was negative or positive. And he could only do that in very specific circumstances ( receiving treshold damage is one) System would decide everything else - reputation , consequences etc.

    Players could rate others for purposes of match making. In kleps example system would track that you rated both a and b negatively, then it will try to find out what is similiar between those players based on wide range of parameters.

    It wont work with just 2 people but works amazingly well with a few more. Amazon ,netflix, newegg , okcupid - are proof .

    Why I want matchmaking -because belonging to a guild is great but sometimes you want expand your horizons , and not all people in guild are great either. In big events associating with many unknown people is inevitable, so I want put similar people together in order to make their experiences most pleasant

  12. The problem that I see is that the rating system will include both players who are nasty and players who are just bad. There is a difference between a player who ganks you repeatedly and steals all your stuff and a player who just sucks in a dungeon run and disagrees with you, but the system won't differentiate between them.

  13. Maybe players can chose to like players (a one time thing) and the game could decide to dislike specific actions? Players can choose to benefit another players reputation if that player is good, but the game can take away from that reputation depending on what the player does (like attacking low level players or being on a lot of revenge lists or stealing/killing). The reputation comparatively could be ranked and the rank could dissuade players from grouping up with trouble makers.

  14. Talarian, thanks for the link. UO has something similar, but with added restrictions. These restrictions can be gamed.

    I think that by allowing players to just like/neutral/dislike somebody whenever they want (and let the other player know), you get a system that cannot be gamed. More precisely, the only way to game it is to organize a lot of other players. This organizing is exactly the kind of emergent gameplay I'd like. This is also my answer to Max.

    If possible, I'd like to not discuss the topic of matchmaking here, because it's just another topic; even if an interesting one.

    TheNoisyRogue, I agree that this system were a major problem in WoW. In fact, the system would be a grave mistake to introduce in WoW. But within the framework of a world without teleports and a reasonable number of other players in your vicinity, things work out differently. There is 100% accountability (no twinks) and no anonymity. Moreover, disliking someone encourages the other person to dislike you. So you have no incentive to do it for trivial things.

    Also, I'd never make a game with such a focus on skill and balance in PvE like WoW. It produces elitist behavior, which hurts the community. Of course, you always have some elitism - but the game shouldn't encourage it.

    Gilded, the system is not indended to allow you to not group with troublemakers. There are not even instances. *sigh*. I fear I need to make another dedicated post about the framework of the game I am actually talking about.

  15. Would the reputation be visible to other players or would it just account for game-specific systems like rates and npc guards? If that's the case then it doesn't really mean too much in terms of the actual community.

  16. Gilded, my current idea is to allow players to only see some tresholds. Like hellspawn, evil, disliked, ..., loved by everyone.

    A related idea: One could add a very grindy questline at which end a player can send out a message to everybody who dislikes him. The message would be kind of:
    "Hi, player X has just killed the 1000 werewolfes of evilname-woods. He asks for forgiveness. Do you have mercy, Sir?"

  17. I think the safest route would be to keep player created negativity player-side (like revenge lists). As far as reputation goes, I can see players being able to *like* other players and boost their reputations but I don't think that it would be a good idea to let players directly decrease someone else's reputation. I can see the actions of the players being what determines if their reputation goes down automatically (like if they steal/kill/grief).

  18. Gilded, if you think you can develop a non-gameable system that determines whether somebody killed/stole/griefed, I encourage you to write it down.

    But my fear, and the motivation for this entire idea I presented, is that such a system doesn't exist. To access the swarm intelligence of players seems to be the best way to me.

  19. I'd like to see a game and system where death and an automatic return to life was not built into the game.

    Everyone gets one life. If you die that character is dead, gone Kaput! Although I would follow this with the ability to will your character's property, minus an inheritance tax, to the next character you make. Limit everyone to one character per account, and inheritance only functioning within an account. Or maybe allow it outside of accounts but increase the inheritance tax.

    To prevent or cut back on players killing other players establish rules whereby the game can automatically or through the help of a player jury can mark a character as a Murderer. When a murderer is marked as such they forfeit all or a very large percentage of their property that isn't equiped. Killing a murderer can not earn you a murderer tag. An account that has a murderer marked character die loses login ability for some period of time and so can not immediately create a new character. You could even make it so that the more murderer characters an account has had the longer the login cool down. Although the cool down could be allowed to decrement also for every period of time that they don't have a murderer character.

    If you went with a player jury random jury characters could be presented with the combat logs and such from the encounter with character names replaced of course with random names to try to maintain impartiality. You could even allow the involved parties to allow their chat logs to be included, in case they felt the killing was justified by it.

  20. Nils,
    I "like" it. :D
    It would be awesome to have a negative threshold that when you cross it you become "wanted" and a reward for killing you in PvP is placed on your head. Maybe the deeper into the negative you get (and/or the higher your level) the bigger the bounty. To really make it work you would have to play a human with hair like Dog the bounty hunter.

    I think that it was your blog that discussed a game where there was not so much disparity between the levels. Where levels are gained not by XP points, but by ACTUAL experience. "hey, I have played enough to know that THAT is a bad move and will get you killed." Anyway, that sort or level structure with this sort of PvP sounds interesting.

  21. Personally I love this idea in an MMO. Reminds me a lot of a book I greatly enjoyed -- Daemon, by Daniel Suarez -- which by the way, I highly recommend to anyone who likes a good thriller, but especially to the gamer/technical community. (

    In the virtual world that is the Daemon, anyone could see your level and reputation score right next to your name in their HUD. People could rate others, but the overall rating was only affected based on the strength of their own reputation. So if I had a very high reputation, and I gave a negative rating to another player, it would adversely affect their reputation much greater than the effect from a player with a poor reputation. Which I think is what you're actually describing.

    I also really like your immersive suggestion that the weight of distance would provide, or that you might carry a different reputation score depending where you happen to be at a given moment. Both are really thought-provoking ideas!

    The only problem I can see with that in an MMO, is exactly what Adam mentioned above -- there's no simple way to differentiate assholes from poorly skilled players.

    You say it wouldn't work well in a game like WoW, but I'm having a hard time envisioning a successful longterm game world where it would work well. The ability to accumulate, feel superior (whether by skill or some other artificial method) and otherwise show off your so-called epeen is one of the primary elements of keeping people interested longterm. (Then again, perhaps that's just the sad state of my experience with the people I've enjoyed playing with over the years...)

  22. In WoW the "PlayerScore" addon (most popular addon on, ex GearScore) already have this feature since a while (if it wasn't already mentioned in the comments).
    See picture here with the thumb up and down for any player you meet in the game:

    I'm personalty concerned of the effects of reducing people and relationships to numbers. We saw what it did to the WoW community with GearScore. Another player won the roll ? (=> dislike) etc. I'm worried there's so many way to abuse the system and that people won't "real play" any more but only "role play" the system. I personalty want to play with authentic genuine people who dare to be themselves.

    I read an interesting post/comments on the subject there a while ago:

  23. Actually I thought about this myself about 8 months ago while I was still playing WoW. I think it would be a great idea to allow players to police themselves.

  24. Metareal, the "player A wins the loot roll, so player B dislikes him" scenario could be addressed by advertising likes/dislikes in the area. So not only would player A dislike B right back, but the other players they are grouping with might dislike B as well. Thus while everyone in the group got a dislike, player B got (group size - 1) dislikes. Now B's reputation is lower and the power of his dislikes is reduced as well.