May 192006
 

The journey is the reward

That’s my friend Bridget holding a cartoon I scribbled years ago at a MUD-Dev conference. She’s hung onto it all these years and still brings it to gatherings, even though it is getting a bit worse for wear.

The caption reads, “The journey is the reward” is a fucking lie. (People would rather have the princess).

You can click on the pic for a MUCH larger version.

  79 Responses to “The journey is the reward is a f—–g lie”

  1. Link:Raph’s Website � The journey is the reward is a f—–g lie. I’ve posted a comment on what could be an interesting discussion, specifically since the advent of Xbox 360 Achievements.

  2. Existe una forma de concebir la vida en la cual lo importante es la forma en que la vivas, y no tanto el final al que llegues. Es decir, lo importante es el viaje, no el destino. Es los juegos las cosas son un poco diferentes, en las palabras deRaph Koster

  3. Existe una forma de concebir la vida en la cual lo importante es la forma en que la vivas, y no tanto el final al que llegues. Es decir, lo importante es el viaje, no el destino.Es los juegos las cosas son un poco diferentes, en las palabras de Raph Koster: “The journey is the reward” is a fucking lie. People would rather have the princess.(“El viaje es la recompensa” es una jodida mentira. La gente preferiría quedarse con la princesa.) ¿Bastante claro, verdad? La idea detrás de esta afirmación

  4. I refuse to accept the idea that shallow desire is worth preservation. The luxury of consumerism is corruptive.

    Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand. — Chinese proverb

    The reward of a thing well done is to have done it. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

    We destroy the love of learning in children, which is so strong when they are small, by encouraging and compelling them to work for petty rewards; in short, for the ignoble satisfaction of feeling that they are better than someone else. — John Holt

    The journey is its own reward. — Homer

    Read more quotes…

    Clearly, I’m not the only one who values experience more than possessions. By the way, the allusion to ownership of a human female is, at best, strange. "People would rather have the princess" could also be interpreted as "people would rather be provided the opportunity to experience that which follows a relationship with the princess" which would annihilate that consumerist opposition to learning. That brings me to another issue: you wrote a book on games as learning tools. How do you actually believe that education is not the reward of challenge without compromising A Theory of Fun?

  5. …this happens because the human mind is goal driven. We make pious statements like “it’s the journey, not the destination,” but that’s mostly wishful thinking. The rainbow is pretty and all, but while you were gazing, lost in a reverie, someone else went and dug up the pot of gold at the end of it.

    A Theory of Fun for Game Design, page 118

    The actual genesis of the remark came from the observation that players will bypass something fun in order to get to a specific reward. This may not be the wisest course of action, but it is the commonest.

  6. I’m with Morgan on this one.

    Sure, people want the reward, but they’re going to remember and talk about the time they worked for weeks and then slew the mighty dragon. They aren’t going to talk about that epic sword of foozle-slaying they collected from the corpse. That isn’t to say that they wouldn’t rather just pick up the sword and than have to work for it, but that they’ll get more out of it if they’re required to take the journey. When playing the game, the players want the MacGuffin, but after the game is over they want the experience of having worked towards it.

  7. This may not be the wisest course of action, but it is the commonest.

    True; however, support from design for "petty rewards" seems to supersede support from design for that which is bypassed. This activity results in games that form habits instead of games that drive players to fun. We then return to levels, which you’ve written about here and here, and other material award systems. These systems, of course, provide the foundation for what the Grimwell community has described as "RMT". What can be done to reverse this market-driven transformation to simple games? How can designers more strongly support the Journey?

  8. I think Raph’s point is that while it may be better in many ways to take the journey and learn from the experience and just enjoy it, that people don’t often take that route when a choice is presented.
    This is probably reading far too much into the quote, but it says “People would rather have the princess” meaning that given the choice of going on this journey to get the princess or just avoiding the journey altogether, they would opt for the latter. Now, if you had to go on that journey, I’m sure many people would find that the experience of doing that was just as enjoyable if not more enjoyable than the reward at the end.

  9. I like the strategically placed finger covering what could have been an embarassing element when you ran for public office 🙂

    In all these sorts of discussions though, I want to caution the use of anecdote vs fact vs expectation. For example, MMOGs being dominated by levels-based goal-oriented experiences isn’t because all of humanity derives pleasure in this singular fashion. We can’t even say that everyone who’s ever play an RPG will immediately become a grindy farming fiend in WoW.

    It mostly works because it has worked just enough to be emulated, and just enough to make people wonder why they should bother trying anything different. That motivation (the easy money vs the risky one) is at the heart of business discussion. Does it surprise anyone the corrolations between the sameness of the “successful” titles in this genre and the perception of their host companies as risk-takers (as in, not)?

    It also works because of the type of gamer targeted. WoW didn’t convert millions of previously non-involved gamers into MC raiders. It tapped the same core player that was already here, people from other of their properties and at a time when there simply was way many more people online. But it did it with an analog of a mechanic long ago proven to be effective at entertaining a certain type of gamer group with a certain type of motivation and a certain willingness to continually pay for it.

    These are goal driven games. They may start as paths, but often it seems those paths are just there to introduce players to the idea of gaming to increase their efficiency at gaming. Why people play these for long periods of time but grow bored of traditional single player RPGs after they’re done is another topic, but one that separates MMOGs as an entire method from the RPGs that were once part of their roots.

  10. Given the choice of gaining the goal or stopping to smell the roses, of course most people are going to go for the goal. It’s in out nature. “The early bird in the bush”, or something like that.

    When I tell my kids about how I used to have to walk 10 miles uphill both to and from school, through snow storms and past wild dogs and across raging rivers, it’s alot more fun than the truth.

  11. The moral of this story is, what people think they want isn’t what they actually want. And sometimes they just want to want, but they don’t know that.

    (Yes, I think the term “unknown unknowns” is particularly apt. Why do you ask?) 😉

    Seriously. In real life, yeah, most of the time what you’re working towards is worthwhile enough to have in its own right, and the obstacles between you and it are really just a pain in the neck. Really all overcoming obstacles is good for is to teach you to overcome obstacles, and that’s a kind of circular argument.

    Even if you count showing other people that you can overcome obstacles as worthwhile, (displaying to them that they either want you on their team to overcome more obstacles, or that they don’t want to become an obstacle to you) all that does is give you more resources to overcome obstacles in the first place. Again, circular.

    On the other hand, gaming isn’t real life. When you get to the end, you quit. And if you’re a commercial concern, you don’t want that to happen; so you make the journey as rewarding (and often as long) as you can.

  12. […] Our princess should always be in another castle. Why didn’t Mario just go straight to the last castle? Heh. Good old Raph. […]

  13. […] Comments […]

  14. […] "The journey is the reward" is a lie on Raph Koster "The journey is the reward" is a lie on Raph Koster […]

  15. This may not be the wisest course of action, but it is the commonest.

    Common among who? Amongst cheaters? Amongst hardcore players who feel they are beyond the game designers intentions and feel they need to ‘own’ the game?

    In my experience, and from my observations players/people define their own rewards regardless of those designed. You don’t need to reference Oblivion, GTA or WOW when discussing open structures of play; the “play how you want” moniker is tiresome when marketing currrent and next generation games. Players ‘always’ play how they want, creating their own reward set even in a contained level such as those seen in 2D Mario.

    Good design demands this behaviour in players at an unconscious level. So what can you do? Keep practicing good design, part of which is to provide what Morgan calls ‘petty rewards’.

  16. The journey vs. the reward

    Raph has a picture of a sign he made up during one of the previous MUD-Dev conferences on his blog (https://www.raphkoster.com/2006/05/19/the-journey-is-the-reward-is-a-f-g-lie/). The picture displays Raph’s doodling skills and has the caption: “Th…

  17. Journey followed by Reward > Journey + Reward

    … The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. If you eliminate either then the experience is greatly weakened.

  18. Maybe it’s a question of focus? For some goal oriented players obtaining the loot IS both reward and another step on an entirely different journey.

    Sometimes what we think of as the game isn’t the game they are playing. We’re on a quest to slay dragons, beat the bandits and eventually rescue the Princess. They’re on a box ticking exercise to say they’ve ‘pwnt’ that game and so on to the next as they’re in a race with themselves or their peers to achieve status by being able to say they’ve already finished whatever the latest game is.

    Me. I quite like the dragons and the Princess is probably perfectly happy where she is.

  19. Raph, I have to seriously agree here. We as players WANT THE LOOT. Yes, 5 – 15 years later, we remember the journey. We tell stories about events that happened that were unique. “Oh my god! remember the night we had to kill Stinky the Dragonbreath? I’ve never seen blah blah blah…”

    Do we remember the tedium of a 12 hour camp, or the the three people who bailed on the group at one point or another? Nope.

    We don’t remember all the frustrations of getting there, then having to run back and grab someone who couldnt make it solo either..

    What you remember years later was that initial awe, the heart pumping fear, the opening of a chest when you didn’t know what was in it, and actually accomplishing a quest before o-gaming had the walkthru.

    Those days are over.

    I get a kick out of a certain new mmo that is trying to fight a trend in modern mmo gaming by trying to make the journey meaningful… (not only physical in game travel, but trying to bring back long camps, deep dungeons, minimal player friendly travel tools, etc)

    Player surveys have shown for years that long camps, slow travel, and such are detrimental to subscription retention.

    Forget that. I’m playing a game. It should be FUN!

    If I need to get to point b, and I have a shuttle ticket, I want to go. NOW.

    If I need Grog the quest update troll, and I arrive at Grogs campsite, with the quest that requires me to slay Grog and loot his pockets, then Grog should be home. I don’t want to kill Grog’s unnamed troll friends for 3-6 hours.

    I’m gonna remember what I want years from now. I prefer to remember the nights of fun, not the nights of tedium…

  20. Brian (Psychochild) wrote an excellent response to the topic of this thread. I agree with his conclusions. In addition, we should also note that the reward is merely a milestone. Without preceding effort, milestones are meaningless. Certainly, such milestones (i.e., rewards) are important to the journey for these serve as indications of accomplishment. Providing rewards to players does not inherently disrupt the flow of play; however, the egregious error — in my opinion — in modern RPG design is the narrow focus on rewards as objectives. Instead of cultivating an environment in which gameplay drives "fun", focusing on rewards as goals incapacitates immersion and thus the educational effectiveness of play. Players then concentrate on completing some task for gain instead of actually learning anything substantial from the journey.

  21. The issue here is entirely diku-based. 100%.

    Once you turn a game into work, you think of it as you think of work. If i could get my week’s work done in one hour and still be paid for forty-five hours, i would.

    Levels, skills and grind make a game into work. Raph’s own “reward for repetitive action” ethos is what makes this a question at all. Nobody wants to do something a million times to get a reward when getting the reward for doing it once is an option.

    Sorry, but when you’ve painted your bedroom black, it’s no use complaining that it’s too dark in there.

  22. […] 19th May, 2006. 4:21 pm. The Princess https://www.raphkoster.com/2006/05/19/the-journey-is-the-reward-is-a-f-g-lie/Heh. That’s just too funny for me to not pass it on. Have a ball […]

  23. MikeRozak says:
    … The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. If you eliminate either then the experience is greatly weakened.

    Got to agree here, and with others too. But with all the comments about reward and the princess and all, I think it’s worth noting that rewards come in many forms and different players are going to appreciate these forms to varying degrees. MMO’s these days are concentrating on rewards we can touch….well, you know what I mean. But it’s easy to see that many players would be interested in rewards such as land grants. Of course, MMO’s can’t do that to much of a degree, since that kind of reward would be very limited. They can create new WMDs at will, but new castles and the land they sit on is another story.

    There are all kinds of rewards that can be used though. Knowledge is a good one. Those who played UO remember all the “secret” rune marks. This was a reward, and players desired them. They were, in effect, knowledge. It was cool to be able to get somewhere that most other players couldn’t.

    Most MMO developers look at this knowledge type of reward as something that they don’t really want to spend much time on. It’s limited to the few, they seem to me to think. But in reality, other players who lack this knowledge seek it. They want it. Even if they don’t have it, the mere fact that it’s present drives them on to attain it.

    There’s game play in this, even for those who haven’t found it. And to many of us, it’s far more interesting than raids and camping.

  24. Raph’s own “reward for repetitive action” ethos is what makes this a question at all.

    I have an ethos of repetitive action? I mean, c’mon, name a game that isn’t built out of repetitive action.

    So, on the overall commentary — people do have to realize it’s a cartoon, it’s at least a little facetious. 🙂 It also doesn’t have much room for the sort of detailed (and accurate) commentary that Brian provided on his blog.

    Of course some people are inspired by the journey, not the reward. I also happen to believe that as we gain more experience, we learn that rewards aren’t all they are cracked up to be — the joy from them is often fleeting.

    The comment, and the cartoon, was about the way in which humans tend to be goal-driven. The way in which it’s very hard to get people see the journey as worthwhile, particularly when they are on it. The way in which people shortcut journeys as much as they can.

    Sometimes, sure, we see the roadtrip as being the worthwhile aspect of traveling from point A to point B: stopping at goofy roadside attractions, enjoying the change in landscapes as we drive, discovering funky little restaurants. But usually, we want the fastest way of getting to point B — whole industries have been built on skipping the intervening space as rapidly as possible.

    This isn’t a game-centric phenomenon.

  25. Sometimes, sure, we see the roadtrip as being the worthwhile aspect of traveling from point A to point B: stopping at goofy roadside attractions, enjoying the change in landscapes as we drive, discovering funky little restaurants. But usually, we want the fastest way of getting to point B — whole industries have been built on skipping the intervening space as rapidly as possible

    Absolutely. The great little restaurant, or the antique shop, or the most outta the way hole in the wall tourist trap, etc… those are all GREAT to stumble on and find their worth.

    What I have a problem with is being channelled thru all this wonderful content that may or may not attract me. And even if it was something i’d enjoy, being forced to go thru it may not allow me to enjoy it…

    And yes…its NOT just game-centric… Go to a Staples or or Fry’s. Try to walk to a section to get one item, then direct to a register to check out. It’s not possible. You are forced thru anywhere from 25 to 100 yards of forced marketing.

    Finding an impulse buy and jumping on it is one thing….having 2000 impulse buys shoved down your throat in the hopes you’ll swallow one is another story….

  26. Thank you all for the kind words about my blog entry. I was there when Raph did that cartoon, so I know he wasn’t just being flip. We had a good bit of discussion about that afterwards; the goal of that activity was to generate discussion.

    Raph wrote:
    This isn’t a game-centric phenomenon.

    Exactly. This is a universal phenomenon.

    For many people, it starts when we’re young. I wanted candy, soda pop, and other sweets all the time when I was young, and didn’t particularly care for my vegetables. Hardly unique, I know. But, my parents cared about me and made me eat my vegetables even though I didn’t really want them, just like most other kids.

    Of course, now that I’m older and wiser and I understand why I couldn’t just eat candy and drink sugary drinks all day. The vitamins and minerals in the “healthy” food gave me what I needed to have healthy bones and strong muscles. The sugary stuff lead me to a life of being overweight and at risk for adult diabetes.

    It’s the same thing here. Sure, everyone wants the reward. But, a reward without a challenge is empty. Of course, if you invest time into attaining that empty reward you assign it some value in order to feel like you haven’t wasted your time. Kinda like how that $60 game is worth sticking with even though it seems to be the most boring, repetitive crap ever.

    The journey is vital, but you don’t realize that until you look at things after the fact. Or, until you try to circumvent the journey and realize how empty that really is. I recently saw a video of someone playing around with GM powers on a (presumably emulated) WoW server. Hey, it’s great to get all the forbidden items and find out all the little secrets. For about a day, maybe a week. Then it gets boring because you didn’t really earn any of that. That’s why you never have to worry about people like Raph or myself cheating in any game we work on: it just wouldn’t be fun.

    This whole discussion also leads back to the “games as art” discussions we have. Giving people instant gratification rarely constitutes “art”. But, do people really want to have their thoughts challenge or have their emotions manipulated? Not really. Just keep the mindless explosions and gun porn coming down the pipe! But, then, we never grow properly, we just get fat and sick.

    Some more thought,

  27. Psychochild wrote:

    Of course, now that I’m older and wiser and I understand why I couldn’t just eat candy and drink sugary drinks all day. The vitamins and minerals in the “healthy” food gave me what I needed to have healthy bones and strong muscles. The sugary stuff lead me to a life of being overweight and at risk for adult diabetes.

    Good analogy, cleverly jumping on the “obese” bandwagon the media has been riding. As long as you don’t start labelling everyone you don’t like an obese terrorist and tapping their phones, another bandwagon making the rounds…

    Personally, I came to the conclusion after doing a thought experiment of providing the player with a “Poof! You rescue the princess button”. The interesting thing about the thought experiment is that you realize the ideal difficulty of the challenge depends upon how difficult the player thinks the challenge should be. If princesses are a dime a dozen (to the player) then the challenge should be easy, or the player will get bored and/or whinge about the difficulty. If players think princesses are rare, then the challenge should be a lot of work or they’ll complain the experience was too easy. After all, the WASD keys are “Poof! You successfully take a step!” buttons; they work for adults since we expect to succede in walking, but toddlers would find the lack-of-challenge to be unrealistic.

    More randomness…

    In my verbiage, the princess is a goal that the player can internalize (players having real-life sympathies for princesses in distress). This gives meaning to all the tasks (like slaying dragons) they have to do to rescue the princess, and makes those tasks “more fun”. Another thought experiment: How eager are you to go to the library (or Internet) and research aardvarks? Not at all interested, I suspect. How would your attitude change if someone gave you a cute baby aardvark to hand raise?

    I’d ammend Raph’s picture… Players need a choice of goal. They should be allowed to rescue the princess (exclusive) or acquire the Sword of Might, depending upon their whims. More obviously, they should also have a constrained choice of tasks to accomplish on the way (either slay the dragon or cross the bridge of despair), as well as a choice how exactly to slay the dragon. More thoughts on http://www.mxac.com.au/drt/QuestDesign101.htm.

  28. Raph:

    I have an ethos of repetitive action? I mean, c’mon, name a game that isn’t built out of repetitive action.

    Good point, but there’s repetitive action and then there’s repetitive action. “Gain X amount of XP” when the most efficient XP/time model is killing SmallFoozles won’t make anyone kill InterestingFoozles. And gaining in power from doing the same thing over and over again is an open invite to bot, macro and exploit which is exactly the point of your cartoon – people want the princess.

    Unless…. the journey is actually fun, in a way that MMOgrind never is unless you havesome serous life-issues.

  29. I’m a firm beilever of the “journey IS the reward” philosophy, but, like all things, there is a limit.

    My wife was playing a console RPG (shadow hearts, IIRC). Classic to the japanese interpretation of the genre, the game has a solid story broken up by random encounters that seem… truly random. Finish a battle, go down an apparently empty hall, encounter a battle. Finish it, turn around… empty hall… another battle.

    It seemed fun and really engaging for a while, but then you were left frustrated: The STORY had you hooked, the STORY was the element you were craving, and the random encounters were holding you back. Combat and story were loosely-linked, at best, so completing one didn’t seem to advance the other.

    It was as if the game designers added TOO MANY random encounters to stretch out the “play value” of the game.

    MMO’s are even worse. We make a player run across a zone for 15 minutes, running past encounters to get to his quest location, then call this “pacing.” The journey is, by our design, nothing but the time wasted to the next “reward.” Engaging battles are separated by too much mindless travel that fails to feel like a part of the gameplay, but simply a timesink. Engaging stories (where they exist) are broken up by hours of combat grind that fail to really tie into the story you’re given. Rewarding loot is a testament to your patience, not your ability.

    MMO’s have it worse than a single-player RPG, though- they’re not hoping for reaching 16 or 24 hours of gameplay, but hundreds. Are we diluting the reward with the most “grind” that players will tolerate just to stretch “play value” also?

  30. All things in life are built around repetitive action. It’s both what makes things constant as well as the best way to learn how to perform.
    All living creatures reproduce (a repetitive action 🙂 ) and all rocks roll downhill.

    Through repetitive actions we intelligent species (and I’m including animals that use tools or even just hunting, foraging) learn the best ways to overcome obstacles.

    Does that mean we like it? Hell no. It’s the times when we are surprised by the unexpected that things get interesting.

    While it’s our nature to seek repetition, shortcuts, etc, it’s still more entertaining and interesting when we find new things. Change is good, or bad, depending on how you look at it. Some people don’t want to be surprised, especially when they are shooting for a goal. But that’s generally associated with work. When play is involved, surprise is good and interesting and fun.

    Really, are we talking about players here, or developers? It seems to me that it’s the developers who take the shortcuts, the quick and easy way to overcome obstacles. The rest of the industry history has been full of as much bull as claiming your levelling system is skill based.
    Go ahead Raph, make another game that’s centered around repetitive work. Make another boring, do-this-100-freaking-times-to-get-a-reward game. Drop anything interesting, it’s too hard to do and players don’t want “interesting”. They want dull, boring, repetative copies. And don’t forget, they all want one, so they all must have one. Give them what they want, Raph.

    (Jeezus! This industry is absolutely fulll of crock)

  31. I think the answer to that, Amaranthar, isn’t to do away with journeys or even with repetitive action. But the obstacles need to be each as entertaining as, say, Tetris. If MMO combat were pulled out and made a game by itself, we wouldn’t have a lot of patience for it; it relies on the presence of other people to make it fun.

    This is part of why I harp on the whole embedded games thing: it forces you to look at each game system as a game of its own that has to be fun on its own.

    You’re absolutely right that developers take the shortcut, because otherwise there is no way to provide enough content. Most developers cannot create one game as good as Tetris, much less dozens within an MMO framework — I don’t know that anyone can do that.

  32. Probably not as one developer, or even as one group of developers. But, given the developed framework, don’t you think it’s possible that the amazing modding communities we have might be easily invited to contribute game modules to an MMO world? And even paid for their work?

    I don’t know if this subject has been explored yet, but it does seem to me like one possibility which breaks open all the boxes we’ve locked ourselves into.

  33. Raph wrote:

    This is part of why I harp on the whole embedded games thing: it forces you to look at each game system as a game of its own that has to be fun on its own. You’re absolutely right that developers take the shortcut, because otherwise there is no way to provide enough content. Most developers cannot create one game as good as Tetris, much less dozens within an MMO framework — I don’t know that anyone can do that.

    Adventure games, particularly those like the Myst series, are about creating lots of one-off cameo sub-games (not as fun as Tetris though) in a world. Many of these sub-games are, in turn, based on classics like Tower of Hanoi.

    I think the problem comes when a sub-game is repeated ad-naseum, especially when there is little or no variation in the gameplay. MMORPG combat is fun for the first few times, but loses its luster by the 10,000th orc.

    This problem is exacerbated by the fact that almost all MMORPGs use exactly the same combat sub-game, but with differently named weapons, armor, and monsters. They all use hit points, armor aboption, cool-downs, etc. So, if I’ve killed 10,000 orcs in one MMORPG, I’ve killed 10,000 orcs in all MMORPGs.

    Realistically, if you strip the eye candy from MMORPG combat you get a very dull game: “You hit the orc for 10 damage”. “The orc hits you for 5 damage.” Repeat. Try playing Legend of the Green Dragon (http://www.lotgd.net) as an example of eye-candy free combat.

    … Which is why Raph’s sub-game analysis is very useful. It points out in flashing neon lights that the MMORPG journey isn’t very fun.

  34. Incidentally, part of the “intuitive UI design” and “intuitive game design” idea is that players should be able to take already-learned things (gee whiz, I figured out how to manage aggro back in WoW; it’s just the same, here) and use that as a building block to further challenges.

    In a sense, some players come to your game having already gotten the reward, and they’re not too happy about having to go through the paces of doing the journey yet again. It’s fun the first time. So instead of forcing people to skill up, maybe it’s wiser to make it possible to skip ahead… but only if you can prove that you can. *shrugs* Just a thought.

  35. Bragging rights are fun. You don’t really get to brag unless you went on the journey to rescue the princess. If you just download the princess off of a website somewhere, people think you’re creepy.

    Something designing games (especially MMOs) can help us understand about the human condition is what gives existence meaning. Not the Meaning of Life, necessarily, but what people will fight and struggle and go down that road for.

  36. Round and round we go, and where we stop, everyone knows. Quit thinking “game”, and start thinking “world”.
    Where, Raph, does making each embedded game it’s own game get you away from the repetitive monoteny?
    The only way you can get away from repetition is to make a single world where everything affects everything else, i.e. as realistic as possible. Yes, that means what one player does may affect another player.

    You and your cronies have removed the human element from MMO’s. By doing that, you’ve left these games with nowhere else to go. And it’s boring. And it’s all because you’re affraid to cause an effect on certain types of play style, even though the majority of players would want it.
    You’ve screwed the whole thing up by giving PvP a bad name simply by not allowing for a justice that really works, all to protect the PKers. Now, PvP is laughably meaningless. Unless you like to collect merit badges that mean nothing.
    You’ve further scewed things up by feeding the elite players, the powergamers who seem to not need to spend any time in reality. Now, most players aren’t even aware that things can be different. Something that…you guessed it…you guys have told them, repetitively.

    You guys, the developers of the established industry, have taken it so far that we see the hogwash that is DDO, an “MMO” without a world. Yeah, segregation via instances is such a good idea. You see, it works, on paper, where the human element doesn’t exist.

    Game worlds could feel alive. Immersive, remember that word? Instead, they feel gamey, like the bunched metagames collections that they are. And restrictive, like they are intended to be, all to actually take out the human element.

    This is the shortcut you folks have taken.

  37. […] I agree with everything Geldon said. Shifting around the "achievements" one can make inside a game just leads to RMT businesses adapting their business strategies. Getting rid of RMT by design means getting rid of any way to advance a character (no matter if through levels, skills, gold etc). Even if today the bulk of RMT activity is "gold for cash", if that kind of RMT was not viable anymore, the focus would shift to "I grind for you" or "I sell you toons" or whatever else is demanded by people wanting a shortcut around advancement. "The journey is the reward is a f***ing lie. (People would rather have the princess) […]

  38. Long response coming, lol. Amaranthar touched a few nerves with me…

    Quit thinking “game”, and start thinking “world”.

    Did you PLAY SWG? This game in it’s early days had soooo much potential due to it’s community elements. Town Building (we built a city months before the city patch.) We had RP events on NON RP servers! Cantinas – (altho theres some negatives here too…) gave players a central location to hang out. And they all worked. The community was STRONG. We made our worlds interactive well beyond what the tools (the GAME) gave us to work with.

    To your comments throwing blame at Raph and ‘his cronies’–

    One thing I’ve seen time and again from game devs in mmo’s is a concept that stuck with me. They create the game and ship it. The players make it a much different game through their actions. It takes on a mind of its own. Games become what the players want, and it’s often not what the dev’s originally envisioned…

    PVP—

    PvP is a no win situation. Mmo’s are focused on community building, but PvP by it’s nature divides that community into factions. It also tends to attract players who are less interested in community and more in their own leetness. If an MMO has it, you’re going to see less community building, and a general decay to the glue that holds an mmo togethor… if it doesn’t have it, you’re going to lose a substantial market share of players who want it. How do the dev’s satisfy everyone? They can’t. Many have tried…UO was too hardcore for most. SWG has seen its ups and downs and has seen a real problem implementing it, and making it meaningful and challenging, without driving away the casual pvp’rs or the PvE purists. EQ2 PvP is a mixed bag as well. No MMO has truly succeeded at implementing PVP in a way that allows all styles of gamers to truly enjoy it.

    Immersion—

    Immersion – this is one of my favorite topics. I grew up with Choose your Adventure stories, Zork, and later Diku Muds. These were immersive. The mechanics, whether a simple $1.25 110 page book, or a text based game made you read, think about your choices, and become the character to make the best choices. The mechanics did not become the game. The STORY was the game.

    We don’t have games like that anymore. And honestly, if the folks at Infocom came up with a brand new text based game and made it today- it wouldn’t get published.

    Todays games are Graphical Adventures. They rely on reaction skills, motor coordination, and to some extent, strategic thinking. They don’t rely on creative thought processes, logic, or puzzle and problem solving. There is very little thought required. This is not the dev’s fault.

    It’s a generational change in gaming. Those of us who played and now miss immersive gaming grew up without Nintendo, Xbox, Playstation and multiple pc’s in every home. We had books, PnP Roleplaying games, and we used to go outside and play cops and robbers, (CHiPs when we were on our bikes) and such. We learned to be creative, to immerse ourselves into simpler games and entertainment.

    Today’s kids learn reaction skills, motor coordination and such in a much different fashion. They react, jumping and punching and kicking, and running through video game mazes in a much different fashion than we did. And these games are good. Tetris and PacMan and Mario were just the start. The market has moved on from creative thought provoking puzzle games, and immersive role playing games, to action adventure games. They’ve retained some concepts from the rpg days (character growth and customization) but they aren’t truly ROLE PLAYING GAMES.

    The market has swayed this way NOT by the desire of the devs to kill the RPG immersion, but by the desire of the players for quicker gratification, visual stimulation, and less time investment. Games have gotten huge, and beautiful. It’s what the players want.

    We’re not playing Wizardry I anymore with 16×16 grid maps that you need a pen and graph paper to map out anymore. We’re playing games that are 1,000,000 x 1,000,000 and there are no simple linear pathways anymore.

    Some players feel that in game maps kill immersion. Most however realize that in todays huge game worlds, maps are a necessary tool to navigate amongst the content.

    Either way you look at it, the mechanic is there because the game genre requires it to be functional. Graphical Ui’s, Maps, quest journals, !’s over mobs heads, fast travel, etc. are part of the games. And they are necessary to allow us to enjoy the game that is presented to us.

    What you are feeling as a lack of immersion really has 2 root causes. The change in gaming to this style of action adventure gaming that we have today is one. The other comes down on the players – we’ve done it all before. Killing your first Orc after levelling hard enough to keep him from killing you (along with getting better armor, swords, etc) the FIRST time is exciting. 15 years later, and hundreds of games later doing the same type of thing isn’t quite as immersive or engaging.

    I can’t fault the dev’s, (especially Raph!) for this failing– it’s industry wide, and the market does follow the consumer. People want hack and slash, or point shoot and run. We no longer are satisfied with Choose your own adventure and Zork. We look back at them fondly, and remember how awesome they were. But why blame the new game developers for not being able to keep that nostalgia alive?

  39. PvP is a no win situation. Mmo’s are focused on community building, but PvP by it’s nature divides that community into factions.

    Virtual worlds are biotic communities that contain various social groups which are usually privatized and organized into factions. Divisiveness is an integral feature of humanity that provides us with innumerable options — the capability of selection is that which we thrive upon. When designed and implemented correctly to establish a foundation for community-building efforts, Player-versus-Player conflict (not necessarily combat) can succesfully provide and support continuity.

    There is very little thought required. This is not the dev’s fault.

    Why fault rests with developers — in particular, I’m referring to those involved with strategy, operations, and marketing — is illustrated by the difference between the terms market-driven and market-driving. Market-driven product development is a traditional business practice that was formerly viable in a past marketplace. In today’s market environment, successful product development is market-driving, which essentially means that new markets are created and nurtured for products. Developers are leading themselves down a dimly lit road where failure to differentiate and failure to innovate are the status quo.

  40. Excellent reply, Brew. But I couldn’t find one thing that I agreed with.

    Lets start off with SWG. You call that a game built as a world? When you see one faction running through a town killing people, and there’s no responce by anything resembling a city police, and you yourself can’t do anything about it because you haven’t thrown a switch, there is no immersion. When you have to go to a cantina every so often to remain fit, there is no immersion. When becomming “force sensative” requires a static quest, there’s no immersion. When you have to spend XP points to advance and when levels place you into godmode compared to less advanced characters, there is no immersion. When you cna’t wear or use some equipment because you aren’t advanced enough, and this keeps going and going in step like fashion, there is no immersion. When you can mine for resources through city streets, there no immersion. When spawns and quests are static and predictable, there’s no immersion. Ect, etc.

    You seem to be making the point throughout your post that it’s up to the players. What you did do is show that players will do their part if they have the tools. Other than that though, games need to have code that enhances and builds on this player desire. There should be teamwork here. It’s not all on the players. Otherwise, it lacks the meaning it should have. Did your city nhave any need whatsoever to protect itself against any number of MOBs spawning regularly right in it’s streets? Did you even have streets? Grass is lawns.

    Games become what the players want, and it’s often not what the dev’s originally envisioned…

    Yes, if possible. And mostly because the Devs don’t place in the game the world physics that make it go in a realistic feeling, immersive feeling, and more predictable direction. But because the Devs don’t do this, because they don’t give the world meaning and laws, they didn’t like the directions players chose. So they did away with it all, instead of adding ways to fix problems. This leads right into your comments on PvP.

    When UO started and was being racked by rampant PKing, instead of fixing that problem by giving players the means to stop it themselves through a justice system that works, they tried to fake it. They gave it a system all right, but then they allowed PKers to have an out that they could use, called blue healers. These were friends of the PKers, or PKers themselves on “innocent” characters, who could keep healing the “murderers” without harm to themselves. When was the last time you read about someone in RL aiding and abetting a criminal and getting away with it? This is what I mean by “realism” and world laws. It doesn’t make sense, and of course the PKers used it to their advantage. In fact, it was so unrealistic that if the “good guys” decided to take down the blue healers in a fight with PKers, they themselves became criminal and were then attacked by fellow (although strangers) “good guys”.

    I noticed that when they added that system, touting it as a workable justice system, many players came out of the woodwork to play again. No one knew yet about this blue healer thing, even as it had been talked about and warned, players assumed that UO would have the common sense to make the blue healers helping their criminal friends go criminal at least for a few minutes themselves. But no, instead the Devs at UO at that time allowed blues healers to go unpunished, thus allowing a tactic for rampant PKers to not have to face justice’s penalties in most cases. It was enough to keep them in the game as almost as strongly as before. The other players, those who didn’t PK, were left unprotected as much as before. It wasn’t long (about a week) before players who were hyped on the idea that they could actually affect PKers seriously enough to stop most of them, well they just gave up.

    This is where I blame the industry for screwing up PvP and realistic meaning, because they just gave up too. Instead of placing the burden on the players who deserved it, the very players who would be asking for it since they would know the rules of a social structure that worked, they just gave up and mouthed their slogan that player justice doesn’t work! Raph said this himself. (Yeah, I know, he had his job to do and all that. It excuses him, but he’s still a part of that industry solution.)

    So, in review, first the industry (UO and then EQ) allowed rampant PKing, then they made a foul attempt to show a justice system that failed because it would, then they simply took it out and placed it in it’s own meaningless metagame. The industry screwed up more than just PvP, but realistic crime and justice and meaning to the game worlds. They told players it can’t work, and who’s to argue with the “experts”? Most of us rarely want to get into such a long post, especially when it probably won’t make a difference anyways. It’s hard to convince the masses that their view is wrong and in large part why their games are so boring, it’s hard to show them a better way when in their minds it’s been tried.

    Killing your first Orc after levelling hard enough to keep him from killing you (along with getting better armor, swords, etc) the FIRST time is exciting. 15 years later, and hundreds of games later doing the same type of thing isn’t quite as immersive or engaging.

    But it takes on a whole new meaning when you don’t know why that orc is there. It no longer matters that you have killed orcs for 15 years. If that orc might be a threat to your community, might be a spy/scout that represents something much more than just an orc, then it’s not just an orc.

    Maps- let them be maps, buy them, make them, open them to look at them, use landmarks, etc. Why should they be convenience and nothing more?

    Quest journals?- You call those quests? They lack all meaning, are unrealistic, repetitive, and boring as hell.

    !’s over mobs heads?? Common!

    Fast travel? Sure, they are after all fantasy games with magic and/or futuristic mechanical thingies. Just don’t forget that the world out there. (DDO did to an extreme.) And why do we have to be able to carry ungodly weights and teleport from point A1 to point Z72?

    And they are necessary to allow us to enjoy the game that is presented to us.

    No they aren’t. They are only necessary because the games are built for rapid and easy convenience. Don’t you recognize that this is a major part of the reason for boredom? More and more they are taking out the journey, and giving us the rewards. What’s next? “Lets don’t and say we did”?

    I can’t fault the dev’s, (especially Raph!) for this failing

    I can.

    it’s industry wide, and the market does follow the consumer.

    No. The market is being driven by the developers. They are pushing their desires to give us less and less, to the point of no land mass (DDO) to instant cash (AC2). They are driving this vehicle.

    But why blame the new game developers for not being able to keep that nostalgia alive?

    I’m not talking about nostalgia, I’m talking about advancement. And speaking of that, what do you think the Devs these days are trying to do? Do you recognize single player games here? In an internet chat environment?

  41. Amaranthar, your points of SWG being less immersive are well taken. Some of them were intentional and some of them were accidents, but oh well. Immersion as a goal sometimes has to compromise with other goals — read this post for the conflict between immersion and socialization, for example, which explains the cantina thing.

    On the others:

    The faction system in fact had NPCs attack people of the opposite faction. If you were in an area held by one side or the other, they served as the “police.”

    Neither the original design nor the launched design for Jedi involved static quests. Those came on long after I was gone.

    The original design for SWG, and at launch, also did not have “godmode” level characters; buffs were capped at a fairly modest 10%. Yes, you spent XP to advance, which was frankly a compromise between obviously macroed usage-based advancement, and a more immersive but not very Star Warsy system wherein you advanced solely via money for training, and in fact every skill had “dues” to pay. (This system let you buy your way up to the top, but if you couldn’t handle it, you’d slide back down to your level of ability, allowing people to skip to the game level that was appealing to them).

    Your chronology of UO is completely messed up. Blue healers were an oversight, and I worked on trying to get player justice to work through multiple systems (notoriety, bounties, murder count, ping pong count) until I left the project, whereupon my successors implemented Trammel. Two years worth of trying, and I didn’t give up on player justice in UO.

    And in fact, my proposal for SWG at first was all “wild” space (meaning free PVP) with a justice system called “Outcasting,” which was even presented to the public. It was axed from the design eventually, but not by my choice. I may have to write a post on justice systems…

    The only way you can get away from repetition is to make a single world where everything affects everything else, i.e. as realistic as possible. Yes, that means what one player does may affect another player.

    I’ve tried. With UO, the system where everything tied together worked during alpha, was rewritten by a programmer who didn’t believe in it very much, and fell apart, and had to be scrapped during beta. In SWG, arguably, we were too successful at having player roles tie together, because it made it very difficult to balance and manage, and players bitched up a storm about their interdependency.

    It’s sort of ironic you’re yelling at me in particular — I am so far in your corner that many devs (I wager to say Blizzard ones!) call me a crackpot. 🙂

  42. The most interesting part of discussions like this is that everyone has all these great ideas on how an ideal (MMO)RPG would work (you know this is starting up as soon as you see words like “immersion” and “realism”), but no one on either side has ever come up with a working solution.

    Less blame on people. More effort on what makes it better. Examples are good. (The above three sentences are a summary of what I learned about Japanese business practices via Michael Crichton’s “Rising Sun”. Less “who is wrong”, more “what is wrong”.)

    The perfect world of realism is an awesome dream, but I’m not convinced it could be done well. After all… it’s not real. And can’t be.

  43. Amaranthar wrote: The market is being driven by the developers.

    I wish.

    Michael Chui wrote: Less blame on people. More effort on what makes it better.

    Definitely.

    Raph wrote: I am so far in your corner that many devs (I wager to say Blizzard ones!) call me a crackpot.

    Does that mean you’re an outlier!? 😉

  44. I have to come in on Raph’s side here

    Lets start off with SWG. You call that a game built as a world? When you see one faction running through a town killing people, and there’s no responce by anything resembling a city police, and you yourself can’t do anything about it because you haven’t thrown a switch, there is no immersion. When you have to go to a cantina every so often to remain fit, there is no immersion. When becomming “force sensative” requires a static quest, there’s no immersion. When you have to spend XP points to advance and when levels place you into godmode compared to less advanced characters, there is no immersion. When you cna’t wear or use some equipment because you aren’t advanced enough, and this keeps going and going in step like fashion, there is no immersion. When you can mine for resources through city streets, there no immersion. When spawns and quests are static and predictable, there’s no immersion. Ect, etc.

    I played SWG from day one, and left before the first major combat revamp. In other words I played the game that Raph made, not the game that arose later, a pale, badly implemented, imitation of WoW. In that game, when one faction ran into a city firing, the local security forces would attack them. The NPCs of the opposite faction would attack them. The players of the opposite faction, whether flagged for pvp or not, could attack them to defend their friends. Yes, people did have to go to the cantina every so often, but those visits were few and far between enough to not be restrictive, and generally led to some great encounters with other players, which in turn led to great adventuring, new friendships, and new enemities. Equipment use was restricted, mainly combat equipment, but gaining the skills to use said equipment was a fairly laid back experience, and a profession could be mastered in a day or two, if a player really wanted to. Also the equipment wasn’t of type B supercedes A, and A becomes useless henceforth – as a master Bounty Hunter, my weapon of choice was a laser carbine, which could pump out more damage over time than most of my specialized equipment, even though it was a basic profession weapon, and I made regular use of the CDEF carbine, which is the the most basic weapon of it’s type, and useable from the get-go, because it was by far the best weapon for supressing enemies with knockdowns. Yes, the mining was a bit weird, but any more weird than having an exclusion zone saying “you can’t mine here”? And the quests were indeed static, and fairly pointless as quests. However, we never played those quests as such, and only used them when a group of us would get together to “go hunt giraffes” (corellian sharnaffs). Most “questing” was world driven – finding resources to get money, or to get that weapon you want made, big game hunting on the various worlds. We didn’t do things to get quest rewards, we did things to enjoy ourselves, test our skills, and socialize. Some of my best memories of SWG are of being in a camp somewhere deep in the Corellian mountains, playing jazz under the stars with a couple of friends after a good day’s hunting. Interestingly enough, one of those people was the most renowned PvPer on the server, and the other had been head of an intense PvP guild in a previous MMO, yet these supposedly “leet” people were enjoying relaxing under the stars as much as I was.
    SWG wasn’t perfect, of course, there were many things wrong with it, as there are with any game. But the vision was good, and that was Raph’s doing. The SWG you can play today has nothing to do with that game we had the privilege to play in the first year.

  45. As for UO, although it passed me by, the fact that it was produced and managed by EA pretty much meant that it was in trouble from day one – EA didn’t believe in online games then (as can be seen
    here
    ) and as far as I can tell, they still don’t really believe the whole “MMORPG thing”. Strange, but that’s just the way management is there.

  46. […] Gaia OnlineSocial networking services are looking closely at the world of MMOs for cues, and some of the first things they pick up on is avatars. Gaia Online is one I just registered for today, to check it out. It’s very very anime. You get a big-head kawaii avatar, and you can buy clothes with gold. I […] Games for ChangeGames for Change has opened early registration. I’m going to be in New York right at the same time, doing a panel thing for Harper’s, but I haven’t thought about going or not. Hmm. Private clubs or public parksI was reading this article about aSmallWorld, the country-club-like social networking service, and it sparked some thoughts about exclusivity. An environment like aSmallWorld is a a private club, but not one like most of the other social networking services, which use exclusivity mostly as a way to seem cool but in fact want to invite in […] The Sunday Poem: Caledonian Creation MythI was in a mythological mood, at the Caledonian Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland. Hence the title. And yeah, it’s a poem about sex. Sorry. At least it’s sex in the cosmic, way-the-world-turns sense, the ocean-and-earth sense. Caledonian Creation Myth It begins, a courtship Like others, earth and wave Meeting on the strands And sand, a wet periphery, an Intersection. He laps […] What I’ve read latelyRainbows End by Vernor Vinge is “a novel of the near future.” It’s also conveniently set in San Diego, in the vicinity of UCSD. It’s ostensibly about an old poet who is cured of Alzheimer’s and has to retake high school, but it’s really about the near future of security in a ubicomp world where […] The journey is the reward is a f—–g lieThat’s my friend Bridget holding a cartoon I scribbled years ago at a MUD-Dev conference. She’s hung onto it all these years and still brings it to gatherings, even though it is getting a bit worse for wear. The caption reads, “The journey is the reward” is a fucking lie. (People would rather have the princess). You […] The new book: A Grammar of GameplayNow that it’s on Amazon, I suppose that I need to actually write it. This is the follow-on to A Theory of Fun for Game Design, of course, and it’s called A Grammar of Gameplay: How Games Work. It’s intended as a companion, of course, but also as an amalgam of all the thoughts on game […] Entropia Universe vs. TerraNovaOh, the drama. Uru returnsCNet has an article on how GameTap is going to bring Uru Live back. Certainly unexpected… I assumne it will have a serious impact on the Uru communities in There, for example. ( vote for this news ) […]

  47. Raph, first off, I’m not yelling at you in particular, just including you in what the output has been. Secondly, you and some others here are talking as if you left shortly after release. I don’t understand this, or did you effectively leave much earlier than you did publically?
    Blue healers were an oversight? An oversight!#*. One that never got fixed, and instead the whole idea of one world was shelved, PvP (or really crime and justice) was separated from the rest of the game. I don’t really recall when EQ came out, but it was in that general time frame with Trammel. In developer terms, it was “soon”, if you will. And my point was that in that moment in time, in MMO development, PvP was shelved as far as being a part of the general world. Separated, segregated, made unimportant to the game worlds.

    My chonology on the UO PvP thing isn’t messed up at all, I didn’t have one. I spoke about the last effort, how it finally failed, and how the entire MMO fraternity has been affected by it. I was trying to show how one thing led to another towards this current scenario of building MMO’s with less and less.

    Two years worth of trying, and never once did you do the one thing that would make PvP work in a meaningful way. That one thing being that “crime” must be punishable in a hurtful enough way that it deters that crime. Sure, you folks came up with various ways to allow players to try to seek justice, but it was all empty in an internet game where logging off, on after scouting with a blue, etc., and the loss of a few skill points don’t really matter, all come into play. You never once addressed theft in the same way. Rampant run-by’s by naked thieves, using thief skills to set up free PKings, and you guys never addressed any form of ownership rights and effects.

    Michael, working solutions are out there. If you haven’t seen them, well, what can I say? If you mean they haven’t been produced in a released game, that’s the crux of the issue. But remember one thing, nothing works perfectly. Not in RL, and certainly not in games.

    How’s this for an example of imperfection: “In every game, there is a loser.”

    That loser may be a thing, instead of a person. The computer in single player games, the card deck in solitaire, etc. But someone or something always loses. Hey, how about playing chess against a computer AI that is designed to always throw the match to you? Fun? Modern day MMO’s!

    Immersion and realism isn’t that hard. But you have to try to build the game that way. Instead, games are tried to be built around gamey feature sets. And that leads to static instead. It’s two entirely different play styles.

  48. Lobosolitario says:

    As for UO, although it passed me by, the fact that it was produced and managed by EA pretty much meant that it was in trouble from day one – EA didn’t believe in online games then (as can be seen here) and as far as I can tell, they still don’t really believe the whole “MMORPG thing”. Strange, but that’s just the way management is there.

    Yes, and the same can and has been said about everyone else. The single players game builder’s mind set has infected MMO making. It’s gotten worse and worse over time as that mind set wins more and more battles in the boardrooms. It’s gotten to the point of DDO. I mean really, what separates DDO from a single player game with multiplayer function? A city with massive multiplayer chat and avatars? This is a serious question, btw, since I didn’t waste my money on it. But I do know enough to see the obvious, it’s an extreme example of less and less in MMO’s.

  49. The single players game builder’s mind set has infected MMO making. It’s gotten worse and worse over time as that mind set wins more and more battles in the boardrooms.

    To an extent, yes. But you need to take a closer look at the dynamics of the industry. Game designers take the flak for the types of games being produced, but at the end of the day, they don’t call the shots. Money calls the shots, and that money is in the hands of other people, often people who A)Have no idea about how to make games B)Think games are for kids C)Blindly follow their marketing department. If you don’t like the type of game they want you to make, tough luck, go find funding elsewhere.
    Game developers, just like everyone else, need to earn a living, and as such, have to work within the constraints of the industry. If you want a game made to your specifications, the best way to get it done is to fund it yourself, because games don’t get made out of thin air, and developers have to eat like everyone else.

  50. Secondly, you and some others here are talking as if you left shortly after release. I don’t understand this, or did you effectively leave much earlier than you did publically?

    Which game?

    In UO’s case, I was with it from early in development until a while before Trammel happened. I wasn’t involved with the development of Trammel.

    In SWG’s case, I was actually asked to become CCO before SWG’s launch (first discussions happened almost 6 months prior), and transitioned off of SWG by that fall, prior to the Holocron drops, which I wasn’t involved with. The last things I had real involvement with were player cities and vehicles and by then I was part-time on SWG.

    Blue healers were an oversight? An oversight!#*. One that never got fixed, and instead the whole idea of one world was shelved,

    Yes, an oversight. If you recall, we spent a LONG time plugging every hole in first notoriety, then in reputation. Each possible case of positive or negative interaction needed to be trapped so that the appropriate tracking could be done.

    We did in fact trap healing — multiple times over. Healing a low karma person could give you a notoriety hit, for example. It’s been so many years that my recollection is fuzzy on why we didn’t make it a criminal flag offense. We had a function call specifically for helpful actions, and I am pretty sure there was at least one point where healing was trapped by it.

    My chonology on the UO PvP thing isn’t messed up at all, I didn’t have one. I spoke about the last effort, how it finally failed, and how the entire MMO fraternity has been affected by it.

    FWIW, I actually believe that in terms of functionality the effort that was in place at the time of Trammel had finally had enough statistical impact on the incidence of PK attacks that the environment was actually tolerable. With the addition of player city functionality, I think it would have done the trick — a huge, overcomplex trick, but functional.

    But Trammel was put in instead, and arguably, in terms of growth for the product and overcoming the perception of it as a PK heaven, that needed to happen. I still wouldn’t have done it, personally.

    you folks came up with various ways to allow players to try to seek justice, but it was all empty in an internet game where logging off, on after scouting with a blue, etc., and the loss of a few skill points don’t really matter, all come into play.

    We never found a penalty of sufficient force that could still be reversed in the event of an error. Later on, I came up with the idea of Outcasting, but that was much later.

    You never once addressed theft in the same way. Rampant run-by’s by naked thieves, using thief skills to set up free PKings, and you guys never addressed any form of ownership rights and effects.

    Nope, because doing an ownership system was massively complex and liable to lead to as many exploit and loophole problems as anything. You have to understand, we prized the freedoms the system gave, and systems that could chop out vast swaths of freedom in the name of security were things we tended to avoid. That was not a philosophy shared by later teams, necessarily (a similar thing happened with /citywarn in SWG; a feature that I still believe in was axed because of the complexity of fixing it correctly, as opposed to just removing it).

    “In every game, there is a loser.”

    Technically, not true, but that’s a whole other discussion. 🙂

  51. Ah, after digging a bit on the web I am remembering a bit more. The issue with blue healers, as I recall, was twofold:

    One, there was healing people who were guilded during a guild war. Neither side was criminal, so the flagging mechanism didn’t work. We needed the concept of “TEF” that SWG later developed. I moved off the team before this was solved.

    Two, there was the issue of groups of mixed reds and blues. Say you had one group with some blues and some reds, attacking some other reds. The blues would aggress on the reds, but because we didn’t do aggress propagation, the healer who healed the blues didn’t and stayed blue. Again, flag propagation was something we put into SWG’s system.

  52. I’m curious now. Immersion I can understand to be working in most worldy games, but which ones have good examples of realism? Or more to the point, good examples of failing to break suspension of disbelief through unrealism?

  53. […] This post by Raph Koster is all too true (see the comments also). I try to take my time and enjoy the ride in games (and in life), but all too often I become so fixed on my goal that everything else fades into the background. Yet the things I remember the best or most fondly are rarely those goals, but rather the challenges and joys I encountered along the way. […]

  54. Michael, since you can understand the immersion aspect, you can see that it’s not really a question of have’s and have not’s, but rather a scale. Realism is so closely tied to immersion when you get beyond the visual aspects of the game in question (any game), since these are fantasy and sci-fi games.

    Lets start at the new players beginning.
    He can walk and/or run…a little realism. Yeah, I know this is so far down on the scale that it’s rediculous, but you get my meaning.

    Many MMO’s don’t allow a character to sit in chairs.
    Many don’t allow you to use items if you don’t have experience with them, and when it happens with commonly used items, say an axe for example, or any item that realistically a person, even a child, can use it’s unrealistic.
    I can go on about weights carried and lack of mounts and all kinds of things. Then we get into the things like open PvP, and justice.
    Games lose what could be very interesting play by not building in some realism. By looking at this you can also see what I mean by having one thing affect another, and this should work out in a natural way and without having to “make it so” with extra code to tell them to.

    Lets take PvP and theft,weights carried, teleports, and pets.
    Lets start by making PvP open, but with a justice system. Lets add ownership to property too. So, crime is allowed to be done, but it comes with penalties if you get caught up with. By ownership I’m not talking about every item a player carries, but rather using a system to mark things. Personal gear of importance, sealed crates and chests and even reagent bags, etc. This system can be made to add to both the need and the game play as well as the economic play of the game.
    Now lets make weights carried “realistic”. You now need pack animals and/or wagons to carry heavy loads in one trip.
    Now lets do something about teleports to make them, well not more realistic but more restrictive in use, and lets say that you can’t take anything beyond what you are carrying, and further that there’s reasons why you can’t just use this back and forth repeatedly to carry and dump large loads. Maybe due to costs, maybe due to restrictive locations, whatever some elbow grease can come up with.
    Lets say that pets are more to do with common animals like beast of burden and guard animals (breeding and training)rather than dragons and deities (to carry it to the obvious “overdone”, but not too far past what is done in some games before the nerf stick.)

    Can you see now how realism can add to game play? Can you see the natural need for caravans and protection, reduce crime yet allow both it and the game play that follows with bounty hunters and posse’s? Can you see how this in part can replace the static “fetch” quest type of play with a more realistic, and immersive type of game play?

    And speaking of quests, how unrealistic (and immersion breaking) is it to have quests that have everyone go kill the same NPC all the time? Replace these types of quests with player driven ones, “I am paying 10 silver for every pound of iron ore”, or “fetch me 10#s of Hippogryph feathers, so that I may use them in my researches”. Turn these over to players with a quest hand-out system through hired NPCs. Much more “realistic” as well as more immersive in that world feel and player interactions and recognitions. It simply adds to the social environment.

  55. Raph, your last comments boggle me. Why would you want to disseminate the red flag from a red to a blue healer, and make him red too? You wanted, everyone expected, that the blue healers would go gray to all for a few minutes. You could have used the thief flag code for this, removing the perma flag that thieves had untill death (against the victim), which might have taken an adjustment to the thief code.

    We never found a penalty of sufficient force that could still be reversed in the event of an error. Later on, I came up with the idea of Outcasting, but that was much later.

    What’s the problem here? And outcasting? How’s that gonna work? Players can get around that too easily. It doesn’t punish them, not when you lack ownership rights and when players can log in and out of various characters at will.

    Nope, because doing an ownership system was massively complex and liable to lead to as many exploit and loophole problems as anything. You have to understand, we prized the freedoms the system gave, and systems that could chop out vast swaths of freedom in the name of security were things we tended to avoid.

    So…you replaced rights with…. freedom?? As in rights for criminal actions but not for lawful actions?

    I not only get boggled when you Devs start talking in circles like this, but suspicious too. Why the hell protect players who are driving other players out of a game, while at the same time not implementing “realistic” things like law and order and justice?

    Going back to your original topic, it’s no wonder the journey isn’t the reward. The PKers took it. 😉

  56. By the way, this goes back to my original point. You guys chose to protect these PKer players. And in so doing you put the screws to their very freedom to choose, with threat of penalty, by causing the removal of their importance in a world environment. The snowball efect has gone on to cause the removal of all players, untill we see todays output with little choice and control-freakish production of game play. Herded we are.

  57. err, that last bit should read:
    The snowball effect has gone on to cause the removal of freedom to all players, untill we see todays output with little choice and control-freakish production of game play. Herded we are.

  58. So, Amaranthar, it’s really interesting reading your posts, because they articulate something I have very much reached for with the games I’ve worked on, but at the same time you clearly have so much frustration! 🙂

    To run down your realism list, I do believe all of those are something that I’ve tried at one point or another. An anecdote:

    In SWG, I tried to make running be an action that caused fatigue, so that people would not run everywhere, but other folks said that was too much.

    Then I suggested that running be left at its regular pace for the sake of travel, but that we add code that detected the amount of other people and obstacles nearby and gently capped the maximum movement rate, to simulate impeded movement in a crowd and in cities. This was too expensive to do, and it was felt it would be confusing as well.

    So then I tried making running be something that was at marathon pace, and adding in a “sprint” action that caused fatigue. This is what went in, under the name “burst run.” Everyone still ran everywhere, only now they hammered burst run as often as they could.

    I relate this anecdote simply to tell you that realism is hard, particularly when it is fighting against everyone’s (including other dev team members’) desires to be a hero and superpowered.

    You’ll note that the few MMOs where you can sit include all the ones that I have worked on. 🙂 In UO we actually did the weight limits and the beasts of burden (and were pushed regularly to increase them, because “being overloaded is no fun” — the miner lobby in partcular was loud about this, since they were the ones who would have had to go into the whole caravan thing, and it would have been a massive extra load of work). SWG had a player contracts system like you describe, but it was axed during alpha because we had so many problems closing all the obvious exploits.

    Why would you want to disseminate the red flag from a red to a blue healer, and make him red too?

    No, no… detect that a blue that was being healed was in combat action against a red, and propagate an enemy flag from the blue to the healer. Or if it was two guilded people, propagate a temporary guilding to the healer. This is exactly what “temporary enemy flags” were in SWG, and they worked fine until you introduced the notions of groups and guilds always being able to defend their brethren. That made it very complex.

    What’s the problem here? And outcasting? How’s that gonna work? Players can get around that too easily. It doesn’t punish them, not when you lack ownership rights and when players can log in and out of various characters at will.

    You clearly have a solution in mind that implies inability to log out in some fashion, but I don’t know what it is.

    So…you replaced rights with…. freedom?? As in rights for criminal actions but not for lawful actions?

    No… the way we were trying to approach things was “provide tools, but do not actually solve the problem for people.” So for example, means for tagging or inscribing items so you could claim ownership would be fine. Supernaturally protecting items from theft, over the line.

    That’s the realism you are asking for, after all. And we had to back away from it, because lacking the infrastructure that exists in a civil society, being able to prove ownership means nothing.

    Why the hell protect players who are driving other players out of a game, while at the same time not implementing “realistic” things like law and order and justice?

    We were not trying to protect griefers. We were trying to provide an out for when the system caught an innocent person in its gears and mashed their character into a pulp.

    Well, given that I have failed to persuade you that we tried, I have to ask for your law, order, and justice system that would work right off the bat and also keep players happy.

  59. Ignoring the comments in between….

    Amaranthar, I’m aware of everything you said in response to me… but that didn’t answer my question. Kinda overlapping with Raph when I say this, but the more you implement things based on realism, the more it breaks. The less you do so, the better it works, because you don’t have to worry about things breaking like they would in real life. You take a game like chess and the very idea that a pawn can’t stop a knight charge is questionable. You have to add in dice rolls, and then you lose the power of strategy in favor of a random chance, etc., etc.

    I’ve never worked on a game without factoring realism in. I’ve always tried to include it. And on the same note, I’ve always failed.

    I know how realism can add to gameplay. Really, I do. I also know how it can take away from it. If absolutely nothing else, consider the factor of time. Or heck, the very nature of skill training is problematic. (One of my current projects, actually: developing an experience system that accounts for sudden insights as well as practice. It’s not easy.)

    Unrealism is a very important and necessary part of it. The balancing act is even harder than implementing the realism in the first place.

    What I asked for was examples of this comment:

    Michael, working solutions are out there.

    To wit… I’m not aware of ANY. There hasn’t been a game that I have heard had nothing wrong with their PvP. Even the IRE games, being focused around PvP and lauded as doing it really well, have problems. (And they’re very unrealistic; though for the record, I think the IRE games rock.)

    The justice system in real life isn’t working either. If you want a realistic justice system, there aren’t any around. Justice is an abstract human concept; we haven’t figured out a mathematical formula for it yet.

  60. Realism vs immersion – Two almost polar opposites in most mmo’s.

    Most mmo’s we’ve all played are fantasy, some sci-fi. One thing is consistent accross the genres tho – the player character is a ‘HERO’

    We are olympic quality atheletes, strong barbarians a la Conan, Rocket Scientists, Wizards on par with Merlin or Gandalf, Thieves on par with the Grey Mouser, etc. (for one of my favorite systems of all times whe it comes to dealing with this, try out Champions aka Hero Roleplaying. It gives gm’s the abilities to build campaigns based around everything from normal to godlike power levels. Almost everyone preferred over time to go high level, as it was always more fun!)

    We aren’t NORMAL – if we were, we’d be the npc barkeeps, the strolling villagers, and the trash mobs that you kill when you’re a noob.

    The atheletes SHOULD be able to carry all their gear and backup gear. The scientists and mages should be able to create mechanisms to carry excess weights, or enchant bags of holding. The thieves would obviously steal all this high tech or high fantasy gear from the scientists or mages, lol.

    No one wants to play a normal. Why? Realism is what we do when were NOT playing a game. Even with a suspense of disbelief and trying to apply realism to travel for instance: Travelling from Tatooine from Dantooine should take hours if not days. Why doesn’t it? it’s NO FUN. Heck, waiting 10 minutes for a shuttle to the starport wasn’t much fun, so it was cut to 5 minutes. (or was it 15 to 10?) either way… dead time = no fun. A modest wait prevented lightning speed zerg raids on pvp heavy outposts, like Dant’s imp outpost. It’d didn’t mean we didn’t do it, It just took a little more care. Zone the whole force in, fast loaders went off first, ganked the terminal scanners with their at-st’s out, commandos flamed the people the tka’s didnt have tied down, etc. We bought our return tix in advance, and tied the outpost down. When the next shuttle arrived, we’d jump out if it was hairy, or we’d continue to tie the outpost down for multiple starship visits. Loads of fun in 5-10 minute spans of time.

    Realism = perma death, minimal non noticeable character growth, and playing norms. No thank you. I like my games fantastical.

    Immersion is a whole different story. It involves engaging the players minds, their senses, their feelings, and sucking them in at a level of depth thats hard to reach these days. The UI must be minimal, and intuitive, because the mechanisms of gameplay must be subtle. Sound is crucial. Teamspeak and Ventrillo are much better that Chat Channels for immersion. Global Channels detract as well, but they do add to community building, and as we all know, community is what keeps people playing mmo’s.

    Honest opinion here – please forgive me if you are a game dev…

    Remember, these games to date have all been sub par as far as video games go. They are not as full featured as Morrowind or Oblivion. They are not loot fests like Diablo 2. They are not great FPS’s like Ghost Recon, or Halo, or Half Life. They take a bit from each genre, and add a chat system, and add character interactions, and call it an MMORPG.

    This isn’t a bad thing. MMO’s are really just chat lounges with a game attached at their core. They are graphical outgrowths of the Diku Style muds. Those were horrid games. Zork was a better text game. Might and Magic IV was a better RPG, etc… We played them, and got addicted due to the people we played with. People met accross the world, conversed in common languages, and struck up lifelong relationships, got married, took vacations to visit each other, and kept playing long after the technology got better, and games around us got better and better.

    But they worked. And todays MMO’s are working too. Some work better than others, but it seems that the further away from that core simplicity of the Diku Mud we get, the shorter our attention and subscriptions last.

  61. Raph, I’m not frustrated, P.O.ed at your industry is a better description.

    You’ll note that the few MMOs where you can sit include all the ones that I have worked on.

    I believe you that you’ve tried, but by the same token look at where the industry is today. It’s better suited for farmers than interesting for players.

    You’re comments about the history of sprinting and weight limits… well, if you want a good game, you can’t give in to player complaints on key issues. I hated the timed aspect of sprint bursts in SWG. So unrealistic, and I always wanted and believed in your original idea of fatigue. However, I also subscribe to Brews thoughts that our characters should be athletes. Some more “world class” than others depending on the action and their choices in character creation and development. Should a scholarly mage be able to sprint for as long as a fit ranger? No, untill he cast a spell to affect him maybe. But my thoughts on the subject is that the fatigue loss shouldn’t be too fast either. The ratio of fatigue loss to recovery should include consideraton with fatigue loss in combat. Let a “fit scout” run for maybe 4/5ths of the time, if he’s willing to risk being caught with low fatigue by a MOB and thus risk death. (The “scholarly mage” or any character that’s on the low end of fitness, maybe half the time.)

    Weight limits too, for the good of the game and the other aspects of game play, you can’t give in on these things.
    If the rest of the game is alot more interesting because you didn’t cave in to complaints, players aren’t going to leave even if they do complain. Players didn’t leave UO because of weight restrictions, and some even loved their packies. You had as many complaints about lack in pet features such as training, stabling, keeping alive, and even effects due to recall and how that affected packies, as you did weight restrictions. Unless you are talking about something in beta that I’m not aware of. Maybe it was too restrictive, I wasn’t in beta so I don’t know.

    I’ve got to cut this short, so I’ll get to it.

    First off, when I, and I dare to say every one of us who do, talk about “realism”, I don’t mean absolute here. What I really mean is more realism so that the game can have features that are affected by these things.

    Raph, on PvP and guilds and flags, are you talking about the old Orcs and Elves guildies syndrome? Because if you are, then they should have problems. Realism, in a fantasy sense.

    No… the way we were trying to approach things was “provide tools, but do not actually solve the problem for people.” So for example, means for tagging or inscribing items so you could claim ownership would be fine. Supernaturally protecting items from theft, over the line.

    That’s the realism you are asking for, after all. And we had to back away from it, because lacking the infrastructure that exists in a civil society, being able to prove ownership means nothing.

    Thieving, ahh. So much to get into here, and I think I’ll post to this tomorrow, maybe tonight if I can. Running out of time right now, but to me this is as critical as PvP. But yes, ownership can mean something and be very effective.

    As well, I’ll answer to you on my PvP system. Which really, I already have, if it has been jumbled in between all the others tuff, except for one critical aspect that I feel you are wrong on.

  62. Well, given that I have failed to persuade you that we tried, I have to ask for your law, order, and justice system that would work right off the bat and also keep players happy.

    “and also keep players happy” ? I’m going on the assumption here that you don’t mean “keep players from complaining”, since that would be impossible of course.

    -Flags would be associated with a victims guild, city, religious, or any other social element he/she belongs to, including any “secret” societies, also including alliances, as well as the victim himself. If the victim doesn’t belong to any, he/she’s on their own. This gives an important and “realistic” meaning to being socially involved, even if it’s just as on a sign-up list. However, for those who don’t contribute at all, they run the risk of being dropped by the leadership. Not finding anything to join is unlikely if the game promotes these social elements properly. There can also be NPC elements to join, and even NPCs such as guards should be able to inflict “justice” on flagged characters. AI needs to be built well here, as a lowly tavernkeep with no fighting skills would be better to call for guards than attempt anything foolish.

    (I’ll address your problem of reds being joined in alliances after the fact later on.)

    Flags-
    Red flag-permanent untill justice is carried out by the offended element(s). Penalty needs to be heavy, such as half advancement loss (skills, increased stats, etc.), or even perma-death. I prefer perma-death, but I’m influenced after having been PKed a kazillion times in early UO. However, the penalty must be so hurtful that it takes the murderer out of the picture at least for a good time, as well as keeps such activity to a minimum. “No prisoners” taken here, otherwise no system will work. If the character isn’t perma-deathed, they are left in prison for a week (here’s where prisoners are taken), and then not released untill a fine is paid on their behalf. I can’t spell out what exactly that amount would be without looking at the economics of a game, but it should be pretty stiff. Proceeds (in all cases) go to the prison, which may be owned by a player run city or other social element, or by an NPC city. The choice of prisons can be the closest one when the criminal is caught, or maybe the choice is left up to the justice bringers involved, which I would prefer since it gives them some extra inniciative.

    Pink flags– A lesser murder flag- lasts for 4 real life days. Penalty to gains (skill, stats, etc.) on a decreasing scale. Larger at low skills, decreasingly lower penalty at higher skills. For example, in a skill based game with 0-100 in skills (such as UO was), skills under 50 might suffer a 50% loss, at 60 a 40% loss, at 70 a 30% loss. But at some balancing point the penalties need to be reduced drastically if the skill gains are very hard to get. The least penalty might be a 2% loss at the highest skill levels. This is something needing balance accordingly to the games set up. As in the red flag, if the criminal is ensnared in the net of justice, they go to prison for a week, and aren’t released untill a lesser fine is paid.

    Dark Gray flag– Pemanent untill justice is carried out by the offended element. Penalty is prison for a week, and then not released untill a fine is paid.

    Light Gray flag– lasts 4 days. Penalties are a very small loss to skills/stats, 3 days in prison, small fine before release.

    Secondary Light Gray flaf– lasts for 15 minutes, no other penalties except to allow free attacks on.

    Murder and Theft-

    Agro on and kill a player or a NPC hireling and you get a Pink flag to his/hers social elements. However, these flags need to be kept separate as you’ll see next. (The act of agroing on and killing a player might better be called a Light Red flag.)

    Agro on and kill a player for the second time (from the same social elements) while still flagged pink (i.e. within 4 days of agroing on and killing a player), and you get a Red flag.

    Heal, buff, or otherwise aid a player who’s flagged in any color, and you get a secondary light gray flag. (15 minutes)

    Killing or being involved in the killing of any non-flagged character gets you the same Pink flag as agroing on them. This means that if a thief steals from someone, gets noticed and attacked, and wins the fight, they just committed murder. And if this happens to be the second time in 4 days, just as if they agroed on the victim, they go perma-red. Thieves should not be allowed to get away with murder just because they got caught in the act of a lesser crime.

    Steal from a players person and you get a Dark Gray flag, if noticed.

    Pick up/handle any item marked by ownership , an in-game inscribing mechanism, and you get a Light Gray flag. (lasts 4 days). This happens every time you handle it, resetting the 4 day time period. This applies to anyone/character, so reds passing looted items marked in this fashion to the blue characters or friends are still subject to these rules.

    However, these ownership markings should not last forever. But rather than giving them a time period, they should have an increasing with time chance to lose the ownership marking, with every handling. In other words, the thieving player would have to handle the item first, and accept the 4 day light gray penalty, before it had a chance to lose the mark. This shouldn’t be done on a handling by handling basis, since that player can then repeatedly do so to get it worn off. Rather, something like an increasing 1% chance per handling, with a limit to the increase to 1% per day. What this will do is cause players of thieves to concentrate on smaller, less valuable things that carry no ownership mark, but still leaves the possibility of theft on all items.

    MOBs should loot items. The problem with training has long since been solved. Therefore, any ownership marks can be removed if an item is looted by the MOB. This increses their hoard/loot. However, this leaves a possibility for a thief to more quickly get around the ways to remove the mark, as they can choose a MOB that they know they can beat, die on purpose, let the MOB loot them, then kill it and take the item that no longer holds the mark. Therefore, if the item with a mark on is looted from someone else besides the actual owner, or someone the owner gives an OK to loot to, then the mark should still remain even on the MOB.

    There’s alot more I could go into here. For instance, maybe dead MOBs who decay should leave behind a small pack with such items in, which don’t decay for days. This would allow for a player to reclaim lost items that carried the ownership marks later.

    One last thing concerning ownership marks. For transportation of bulk items, players should be able to seal and mark crates, chests, bags, whatever. (This can also apply to such things as reagent pouches for personal use, but should render these items unusable untill the pouch is opened, thus breaking the seal. The costs should limit the use in this manner though, assuming that the games economics can be held in check. Hint, static spawns and quests allow for cheating and ruining of game economics.)
    There needs to be a contract system between players to allow one to handle marked items of another, as in a caravan master moving sealed containers for other players. This allows them to handle the container, but breaking the seal should still inflict the theft penalty.

    Ok, I think I covered everything.

    As far as making everyone happy, no game will do that to all players. This system won’t make griefers happy. So what? Nor will it make extreme “carebears” happy, and for that one I’m sorry, but that’s not a very interesting game to play.

  63. In response to this comment:

    Most mmo’s we’ve all played are fantasy, some sci-fi. One thing is consistent accross the genres tho – the player character is a ‘HERO’

    There are different takes on what being the hero means, and I think current games really focus on one very narrow, very D.C./Marvel super hero view of that meaning. This is a kind of heroism where you never really have to make choices that affect you or the world, and where there is rarely a cost for your power.

    As many have said, though, this model is difficult to move away from when your producers and players all want a certain kind of (adolescent power) fantasy. But… imagine all the other options! Just looking at fantasy literature, two great uses of the ‘epic weapon’ trope come to mind:

    I would love to see a character like Michael Moorcock’s Elric; an invalid without the use of his magic sword or “medicine” (drugs). If set in a world where losing your belongings was a real possibility (what does it say about RPGs that it normally isn’t?), how interesting the gameplay possibilities would be!

    Or a ‘relic sword of uber slaying’, driven by an ancient power source which will only run for a limited time (from The Scar by Mieville). How angry would the average WoW raider be, to find that their new OMGPURPLEZ sword turns into a normal lump of ceramic unless they carefully conserve its power?

    I think there are lots of ways to have a fulfilling, fantastic experience, while still keeping a grounding in ‘realism’; that is to say, a world where nothing is 100% good or bad, nothing is cut and dry and simple. But whether it’s pack animals, or a realistic political situation, the problem remains: how many players would be interested in a game where their power came at a real price, or had real limitations?

    This is a compelling but somewhat depressing discussion. Especially some of Raph’s anecdotes about the design process he’s been through. Ah well, these are just some of the challenges of creativity, I suppose.

    Eli

  64. Two features I wish were never abandoned are true thievery and lootable player corpses. Thief characters should be able to pickpocket any character, including player characters. Characters whose corpses are left unattended should be lootable. Some people might scream, "That would be annoying!" Only when more value is placed on not annoying players than on providing players opportunities for fun.

    Excerpt from Guy Kawasaki‘s 2006 keynote speech at Tech Coast Angels:

    You should be willing and unafraid of polarizing people. In other words, create something great. Create something great. Create something that people love — or people hate. To try to create a product that everybody loves, you will create mediocrity. … I’m not telling you that you should piss people off when you design a product. I am telling you, however, that great products do piss some people off. Don’t be afraid of polarizing people.

  65. in most fantasy genres, thieves make up about 1/4 of the population (in various roles, rangers, assasins, bards, etc all based on a rough thief classification)

    in swg, the smuggler was an even smaller portion of the breakdown.

    could you really set up a working business model of a game that involves TRUE open thievery? I’d highly doubt it. You’d have a very small percentage of your player base happy with it. The majority would be extremely unhappy.

    If the entire game was based around being thieves, and this was fair game accross the board for all players, then thats another story – but in the majority of genres that have been hit in mmo’s to date, true open player vs player thievery would not succeed.

  66. I did forget a couple of things. Raph, you thought my comments meant something about murder characters not logging out, but that’s not quite it. Just allow for them to be tracked to the log out location. Even though, say a bounty hunter, or a player cities elite police unit, can’t immediately find the murderer, it becomes a game of cat and mouse. This is for the perma red murderers. Also, even though the justice seekers may not be able to catch the criminal themselves, they may be able to leave some NPC hirelings there to attempt it. The tracking shouldn’t lead them directly to the exact spot, just very close.

    Another thing, about the situations where a red is involved through his guild into what could be contradictory situations, causing the system to fail. The criminal/justice system should always take precedence over anything else. Are these roleplaying games or not? If the player wants to play in a situation that his red is in danger in, let him play a blue character, or put the red at risk. Let the burden always be on those who do the wrongs to other players.

  67. Brew wrote: Could you really set up a working business model of a game that involves TRUE open thievery?

    Yes, of course. This issue is simply a matter of balance.

    Dan Rubenfield wrote, "Rubenfield’s Law — Just because someone does something completely wrong doesn’t mean that it can never be done right."

    Brew wrote: You’d have a very small percentage of your player base happy with it. The majority would be extremely unhappy.

    So what? People who aren’t thieves are normally upset when their possessions are stolen. That conflict adds value to the total end-user experience. Virtual worlds need crime.

  68. Virtual worlds need crime.

    I disagree. In a factionalized game such as SWG, or in a PVP enabled mmo with guild wars or open pvp, the players need conflict and rewards for success. Penalties for failure are possible, but the negativity takes the fun out of it. For example – winner gains 2 gold, and loser loses 2 gold is a LOT less fun than winner gaining 4 gold, loser gets trounced. The perceived gap between winning and losing is the same, but the negative effects of losing are much more easily dealt with. Pride being hurt now and again spurs players to become better. Losing a battle, at a cost of gear, coin, or exp loss makes repetitive loss a downward cycle.

    Crime is something we don’t need.

    It’s already hard enough to have fun in mmo’s with griefers, ks’rs, spawn jumpers, and scammers. Not to mention all the othe reasons people get dissatisfied with their mmo of choice, such as rampant nerfage, game redesigns, constant class balancing, imbalances, broken quests, spawns, slow travel, tedious tradeskills, etc.

    When I mentioned TRUE open thievery, you responded with it being a matter of balance. The second you try to constrain it within certain balance methods, you have ruined it’s essence. It ceases to be TRUE open thievery.

    Like I said, a game based AROUND a thievery concept, with ALL player characters engaged in a constant thievery between each other would be another story… but such a game has not been published to date that I can think of. Items would have to be easy reattainable, and/or almost disposable in nature to make it enjoyable. That in itself takes a lot of the sting out of the theft, and pretty much negates the impact…

  69. This idea of a thieves game gets me back to one of the basic issues with PvP that I haven’t quite figured out: How to make it fun for both sides. In duels, we have one winner (the quick) and one loser (the dead). That’s a lot more losers than in PvE per two players. Worlds of Warcraft sidesteps this somewhat by tieing your rank to the number of people you kill not the number of people you kill minus the number of times you die, thus both players can fight a few times and get points out of it. So, how do you tweak the PvP game so that everyone wins 80% on average?

  70. Rik, you do realize that a game where everyone wins 80% of the time, if possible to make, would mean that no one’s really a winner, right? Does that bother you? Would playing in a darts league, or any other competative activity, where all you had to do was score more points than 50% of the other teams total to “win”, and every team in the league was tied for first place, would that sound interesting?

    But when you speak of winning percentages, you’re thinking of a PvP only game if you leave out all the other things players should be able to do in a fantasy world. A player that likes to be a blacksmith more than anything else, wins in different ways. So too do all the other possibilities of play style in a well rounded game. And a well rounded game, that’s the goal I would think.

    Take a look at the games that are currently available. They all are very good at one or more things, but none of them are good at everything. Some don’t even try to put in many aspects. And none of them have tried to tie everything together in a meaningful way, with PvP being the heavy favorite in this category. They are all less well rounded because of it.

    Another aspect about percentages that’s out of whack is that, if 20 players are PKed and looted by a single PKers, who in a true justice system faces punishement if caught, when he is caught then all 20 victims suddenly feel the joy. And the same goes for thieving.

    Beyond that, most PvPers I’ve seen enjoy a good fight more than they do winning. I’ve seen many get together after fighting and chat, “good fight” and all that. It’s not really the winning or losing, it’s the enjoyment. And remember too, in a system with true justice you still gave guild warfare and possibly other ways to engage in battles. Only, in a game that strives for more meaning in the game world, you can also add more meaning to these wars. Lands, resources, even anteing up with some coin, guild wars can mean something beyond bragging rights.

    The journey can be meaningful.

  71. Crime is something we don’t need.

    More accurately, crime is something we generally do not desire; however, crime is indeed necessary to a virtual world. By definition, the virtual world provides players the liberty to choose from a variety of options — options that include opposing worldviews. Should the player desire his/her character to become the King of Thieves or an underworld Crime Boss, the player should be provided those options. Without the options to deviate, to travel an offbeat path, to combat and transform the status quo, the virtual world becomes a mere shell for an idealistic utopia that disdains personality in favor of conformity.

    In the keynote to which I previously referred, Guy Kawasaki said [sic]

    You ship a product, you think the product is perfectly positioned, you know the right marketing, you know the right niche, you know everything, and then you put the product out there. Low and behold, customers who were never anticipated start purchasing the product in large quantities, and using the product in ways never imagined.

    Some people will freak out, "My god! Who are these people buying our product? They are using our product in ways we never anticipated. Get sales and marketing in here! Get engineering in here! Hire a better PR firm! Change our ad agency! We want the intended customer to buy our product and use our product the way we intended."

    You know what? That is just stupidity. I’ve never heard an investor say, "You’re selling too much product to the wrong people." I’ve also never heard an investor say, "Be careful. Your company is quickly approaching a monopolistic position."

    As an entrepreneur, just take the money. Make your investors happy. Take the money.

    I believe that we can design to support emergent gameplay. We can support emergent gameplay by providing players the open-endedness they require to branch from the intended design. I don’t mean that we should respond to every player’s request for a new feature. I’m talking about the design process that occurs prior to launch. When players are provided the resources and tools they need to explore and learn, they’ll explore and learn. As an added bonus, through emergent gameplay, players will also adopt behaviors that increase their subscription lifetimes. The Wikipedia article on emergence describes the emergent gameplay of poker. Poker is not fun because of the opportunity to gamble for monetary gain. Poker is fun because the experience is different at every table. If the experience was not different at every table, poker would cease to be played. Many so-called "successful" computer and video games are not continually played by droves of people beyond the few years after their release…

    Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was a popular single-player role-playing game that involved the paths of the Darkside and the Lightside. The Star Wars universe neither defined the Darkside and Lightside as inherently good nor inherently evil. This perspective encouraged flexibility in the players’ approaches to play that enabled players to seek their own destinies [as certain characters.]

    Fable: The Lost Chapters provided Good and Evil as opposing worldviews, however, there was only a single objective — to be an extreme. Fable‘s reputation system was actually the driving aspect of the game. Completing Good deeds resulted in a Respected reputation while completing Evil deeds resulted in a Feared reputation. The changing reputation allowed players to experience the virtual world as a dynamic society where "what you did defined you". Players’ actions affected how the people (AI) reacted. "You are defined by how people perceive you. Your actions only affect what they perceive." If player characters were deemed "criminal", player characters were pursued by law enforcement. This perspective also enabled players who accepted this truth to seek their own destinies. The game questions the player [as a certain character], "Who do you want to be? How do you want to be remembered?"

    Morrowind: Oblivion featured a similar justice system which involves the side of the law retaliating against the criminal underworld, and vice versa.

    Divine Divinity featured a similar reputation system; unfortunately, reputation had little effect on gameplay. I believe some quests were enabled by a higher reputation, just as some treasure sanctuaries in Fable were enabled. This system is an acquisition-focused gimmick. You’ll find this gimmick in World of Warcraft called the honor system. By achieving some status, the player can access certain areas and some merchants; overall, this system contributes little to the total experience — the total [learning] experience being more than a beautified spreadsheet for crunching numbers. Second Life has proven that the acquisition-focused system can work in a social world; although, for how long this system can work in a social world is not yet determined.

    Ultimately, the answer to the following question becomes the deciding factor with regard to crime and justice systems: how do you define "right" if you’ve never known "wrong"?

  72. More accurately, crime is something we generally do not desire; however, crime is indeed necessary to a virtual world.

    The overall most important thing to remember, is that this is a game. We are here for entertainment purposes, and are paying to play.

    Allowing crime to be perpetrated in game does take away the fun from all but the criminal (unless you take the sting outta the crime, or again base a whole game around criminal behavior)

    Sure you can bring out ideas like ‘if there was a working justice system’ or some such, but we haven’t seen it so far. Crime is just griefing, it’s not a game feature at this point.

  73. Allowing crime to be perpetrated in game does take away the fun from all but the criminal

    Does it really do so for all players? Perhaps even the majority? Likely, but it doesn’t for me.

    I and many other people play multiplayer games for the sense of challenge; to match wits with other players, not to passively recieve mindless positive feedback from killing drones. If another player outsmart me and steals my items, or hides in the bushes and kills me when I’m recovering from combat, I respect their success and would tell them so (that is, if I was allowed to communicate with them). Granted, many people get angry in these situations, but I get angry when these situations are denied me through what I see as artificial or arbitrary rules.

    I think Morgan’s first Guy Kawasaki quote sums it up perfectly. No great creative work (I think any kind of product design is covered by this as well) will please everyone. Trying not to offend people will just create a watered-down, mediocre experience for everyone. It is possible, of course, if you know your target demographic, to cater to them. But this creates a static customer base, and often leads to a spiritless reproduction of ‘tried and true’ patterns, and an industry incapable of reinventing itself or evolving.

    My example would be the Marvel/D.C. controlled comic industry. By myopically focusing on what would entertain their pre-existing readers, they rendered themselves obsolete in the face of the more diverse and idiosyncratic Japanese comic industry. Contrast the american model with the Japanes, which attempts to have multiple comics that cater to every concievable whim and prediliction of their possible readers.

    Of course, the population of comic readers in Japan is much higher than here. It’s odd that we don’t see more innovative games coming out of Korea…

    Eli

  74. I was under the impression that crime was more entertaining than following the law.

    Also: Crime follows naturally and necessarily from the enactment of law. It’s the same reason that turning on a light creates a shadow. Laws are made for breaking; a law never stops crime, it simply lays out ritualized consequences for retaliation.

    Working justice system or not, crime is inescapable. Trivialize crime and you trivialize law, which is a strong reason why crime needs proper implementation as well as responses to it.

  75. But when you speak of winning percentages, you’re thinking of a PvP only game if you leave out all the other things players should be able to do in a fantasy world.

    I am very much aware of that. I’m trying to design a PvP system that would be fun if it existed all by itself, then when it becomes part of my Very Cool Virtual World it will be the greatest thing since the world wide web. Clearly in the real world we have things like Darts and bowling, and clearly people enjoy it even thou on average half of them lose every match. Logically, either the people at the bottom lose a lot and quit, and need to be replaced, or they see they are improving and stay, and move up in ranks, in which case they need to be replaced. This could be done with people trying out different things in the larger virtual world, maybe some simple quest to encourage sampling, then most quit to try something else. I guess really what I’m saying is that if the journey was the reward, then defeat must really be horrible. I don’t want to lessen the sting of defeat, what can be done in PVP to cause the sting to happen less often?

  76. Rik says:

    I don’t want to lessen the sting of defeat, what can be done in PVP to cause the sting to happen less often?

    “The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat.”

    See, by reducing the agony, you also reduce the thrill. However, if you feel you must, you could simply not allow looting in guild warfare and other sanctioned battle systems.

    I don’t like that idea at all, but if you look at my system, ownership marked items would still apply the light gray flag on anyone taking such things. Even in sanctioned warfare, and after the war is over. This would reduce the incidents of players losing their most prized possessions.
    They can go back to the battle site with another character of theirs, or give an OK to loot to another friend, to retrieve their ownership marked things.
    There’s some “unrealistic” features here by neccessity. Lets say a large guild war battle is over, and some of the victors loot ownership marked items. Especially if the war is not over yet, these players now become subject to the light gray penalties, and during the next battle may well end up dead, and awaken in their enemies prison for 3 days, taking them out of the war for this period. I don’t think this is bad, but it doesn’t make sense when stacked up next to the rest of the warfare rules. I’ve always felt that sanctioned wars needed some way to actually win anyways, so maybe dying to an enemy should leave that character in a prisoner of war camp for a while. I haven’t thought this “victory conditions” thing through, that’s just an idea. Another rough idea that I’ve had for a long time is to simply drop those who die against the enemy from the “list”, taking them out of the warfare picture. But again, I haven’t thought this through so I’m not sure if there’s any affects from it that wouldn’t be good for the game.

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