Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sthenno's Comment

Every once in a while somebody writes such a wonderful comment that I feel like making a post about it. Sthenno just wrote a comment that deserves nothing, but to be quoted in full. I decided to put it on the front page.
I don't agree completely. But this is very well written and he certainly has a point.

I haven't been here for a while so I just read all the PvP posts at once, and I think a very important point has been missed regarding why people do and don't kill each other in games and why they do and don't kill each other in real life.

In real life, everyone is living a life. If you think that you are playing a game instead of living a life then you have a mental illness. The primary reason we choose not to kill each other is not the punishment we'd get (stronger and weaker punishments don't affect murder rates), and the fact that nearly everyone agrees that killing is wrong cross culturally suggests that it isn't really just a cultural thing. We see other people as being like us, and we know that no one wants to die.

In a game there are two equally valid points of view on the matter of killing other people: 1) we are playing in a virtual world and so we treat our character as having a life for the purposes of the game; and 2) this is just a game.

When you create a persistent virtual world you want to encourage the former way of thinking. Allowing PvP seems to do this because it makes the world more like life. However, nearly everyone who actually wants to run around ganking random people is playing the game purely as a game. They probably are just as appalled and terrified by the idea of murder as you are in real life. But this is game, not life, and for many of them the fact that someone on the other end of the internet is upset by being killed just makes it more fun: after all, that person is overly emotionally invested in something that is "just a game."

You can't put in restrictions to prevent these people. If they kill someone they risk punishment from the community? Who cares, it's just a game. Anyone who has played Grand Theft Auto for long enough has at some point gone on a murder spree to get the army after them so they can try to steal a tank. The penalties imposed on these people by the community are not going to be any different. It may scare away some people who aren't that great at games, but a lot of these people will probably just relish in the challenge.

Part of your solution is to make it not that bad to get ganked by making cheap starting equipment serviceable for most purposes. That just means that it isn't that bad for the ganker to get killed back, since they can readily run out and kill people in cheap starting equipment. The difference, again, is the gankee suffers both in game and emotional loss when they die. The ganker suffers only in game damage since it is emotionally equivalent to falling into a hole in Super Mario Bros.

The reason to disallow open world PvP in a virtual world is because this kind of PvP attracts the sorts of players who would rather play a game than a virtual world. The greatest possible threat to a virtual world is to have a player base full of people who don't want a virtual world, but would rather just have a game to play. If you attract these people to your game, no system of punishments and balances will fix the problem. Just tell the would-be gankers to go play counterstrike.

Added "Eat your Tanking or you won't get your Ice-Cream" to the Link storage.


  1. I came to conclusion not too long ago that there are people who simply want sandbox without ANY interference from other people .

    There is no way to accommodate them and other segment (those who want virtual conflict) within same rule context. Sthenno is firmly in the first camp (and many people like him enjoyed SWG, post -trammel UO and I bet like minecraft. A LOT) .

    The core of eve player base and organized pvp (which are clans , guilds etc) are second.

    I believe both segments are way too large to ignore one in favor of the other and would be core target audience of "worldly MMO".

    Therefore solution is to have flexible rule sets. More flexible than "pvp/no pvp" flags. You target each segement separately and let them play on different ruleset

    One of the "grand" visions I had is that ideally ruleset is flexible enough that you can give it other people to mod and tweak and run franchises of their own worlds.

    Comments like "go play CS" or "go to carebear land scrub" are largely only serve to alienate them further from each other, while in the irony is they are 2 sides of same coin .They both want world- because otherwise first segment could play minecraft(sims/oblivion ) and second play CS (dota/TF2/Starcraft)

  2. I agree, Max. We need market segmentation. There's just not enough choice for consumers right now.

    What makes my brain hurt at the moment is how to possibly combine PvP in a virtual world with harsh death penalthies.

    You know, WoW had PvP servers that had no protection/incentive at all from ganking. The game grew to 4 mio subscribers before they removed open PvP with flying mounts. So, obvisouly, ganking isn't much of a problem, as long as the death penalthy is low. But if you want death to mean something, ganking really becomes a a pain in the butt.

  3. We want to build our sandcastles and we hate for anyone to be able to tear them down. But if no one can tear them down, then their existence doesn't mean as much. In real life we don't have this problem, since our real life sand castles are not commonly torn down. But they are a lot harder to build.

    Maybe that's what sandbox worlds need, to be durable but hard to build.

    I have no ideas in regard to killing.

  4. Maybe that's what sandbox worlds need, to be durable but hard to build.

    Heh one design problem I did not personally solve yet is how to make persistent stuff but avoid urban blight (UO/SWG kind).

    If stuff is durable and does not decay there will be tons of ghost towns . I have some ideas but no "Eureka!" ones yet

  5. Urban blight can be fought with maintenance. You don't necessarily need PvP to destroy stuff.

  6. Urban blight can be fought with maintenance. You don't necessarily need PvP to destroy stuff.

    The problem is imagine you build a cozy little home, spent months on it . With furnishing , all that jazz . But then you stop playing. If you come back and there is no home anymore! - you wont come back.

    I have one ace in the sleeve in form that I can save his home template and allow him to recreate it later. But not sure how would that play out - that mechanics needs to be playtested

  7. What fun is a game without conflict?
    What fun is conflict when it is contrived?

    I'd rather have open potentials in a system that is dependent on balance and incentives than a sterile experience made from manufactured conflicts.

  8. Maybe the problem is we're thinking of a consistent rule set. Why not have mostly stable, safe periods, interspersed with times of war and destruction.

    With this system the builders can build and not have to worry that it will fall down tomorrow. There is no maintenance to make people fear logging off, nor random destruction.

    Destroyers get to have their orgies of fire and chaos.

  9. Max, allowing friends or your guild to pay for your would work. Also you could allow players to put currency into an account at a in-game bank that would sustain the building for as long as there's enough currency inside.

    Klepsacovic, I like that quite a lot. There have been tries to seperate PvP/PvE on a geographical level, but not a timeline.

    I won't have time tomorrow, but I already see a post coming. Unless you do one first ;)

  10. times or peace and times of war...

    breaking up pvp based on time reminds me of what gw2 is doing

    not sure how it will work out though or how applicable it is to these comments (after all it isn't really a sandbox)

  11. I think you'll beat me to it, my post for tomorrow is about repair bills and BRD.

  12. I think the time has certainly come for a PVE Sandbox. Maybe someone can throw some development funds Syncaine's way as he's recently blogged about it in a very interesting way.

  13. A lot of good points. But, if in RL we really don't like killing people why is it that 99.99% of games we play involve simulating fighting and war where the fun is in killing people or close proxies to people (Mobs)?

    In RL the taboo is not on hurting people per se, it is on hurting people in *our own community* or tribe. There is generally no such restriction on damaging people, who are considered to be outside our little cliques. In fact in RL we develop prejudices and rationales that make other cultures inferior to our own, creating an us and them distinction, so that the same rules do not apply and the process of civilisation is one of broadening the definition of our own culture to other people - which is why education is so crucially important in avoiding conflict!

    This is the pschology that rules not only in games, but all over the internet. Why is it that internet discussions so quickly devolve into flaming and personal insults? It's because the participants have little investment in the community that the discussion takes place in. But, immediately you start restricting the participants and they start to form a community, civilisation starts to reemerge.

    So if we want people to behave towards each other in games in much the same way that they do in RL, it's necessary to find ways of fostering communities in the games. That's why GW2, for instance, will be switching from the everyone in the same world model of GW1 to a separate world (server) model. If you encounter the same people often in a game and have formed a bond with them, then you are much less likely to want to gank them.

    Of course there will be always be people who wish to grief others, but is it prejudicial of me to think that many of these are adolescents or of that mentality and that is the time for testing the boundaries of society and what you can and can't get away with.

  14. I guess if I'm going to get quoted in full as a post I should come by and read the blog more than once every couple of weeks!

    I realize looking at these comments that I came across as overly dismissive of the legitimate desire of PvP players to have a world for PvP. As I said, people who go around ganking random people are playing the game as a game, these are the people you don't want around. The idea of a virtual world where you can run a massive siege on an enemy fortress sounds awesome. Teams of people fighting each other to control parts of a virtual world because that part of the world matters to them sounds like a great idea.

    In practice I think these things would be very, very difficult to implement, but if someone could do them right they could make a great game - and in that game random ganking probably wouldn't be a huge problem. After all the world would be set up in a way that people would generally have to be prepared for attacks.

    I said that I don't think PvP should be allowed in virtual worlds because it attracts players who would rather play a game than a world. That is not the same as saying that everyone who PvPs would rather player a game than a world. So I am not talking about the "other side of the coin" as Max suggests, I'm talking about people who are in the game specifically because they find it run to ruin other people's fun.

    In reference to Klepsacovic's first comment: In real life the fact that our sandcastles can be torn down is not a source of meaning or pleasure. In real life people make things because they either like making or they want the things they are making, the risk that it will all be for nothing is not an added incentive.

    And for Gilded's first comment, I think I find PvP conflict just as contrived as PvE conflict. Either way the source of the conflict is the design of the game. The issue I'm concerned about with PvP in virtual worlds is not that I want to take conflict out of them. The problem is that a high level (or very skilled) player running around killing people they don't know just because they can is not a conflict.

    You can like PvP as much as you want, but no game benefits from griefing.