Shroud of the Avatar: So…Starr Long Made Some Comments About PvP During Release 3…

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If you were following the Shroud of the Avatar forums during Release 3 last week and weekend, you may have taken note of this massive argument that sprung up around some comments that Starr Long made about player-versus-player combat — PvP, as it is more commonly known — in Shroud of the Avatar. It’s important to note, I think, that Long made his comments in-game, whilst wandering around one of the towns in Release 3 as his Darkstarr character.

Forum member Seir managed to grab screenshots of Long’s comments:

He also put together a short transcript thereof:

Greetings Avatars

Are you torturing OneAndOnly?

Imagine opinions about PvP

War will come for those who crave it

TTPvP

Yes danger for those who crave it or for those willing to take on some extra risk for greater reward

But for those who want a life of peace they can have it by avoiding those conflicts

Towns of course will be safe and much of the adventuring areas as well but there will likely be a few areas where open PvP happens. Those areas will have greater chances to find rarer resources and resources will spawn at higher rates to balance risk vs. reward

Remember seperate from PvP are the town seiges where NPCs will attack cities. Then NPC guard will be quite relevant. Also guards are there to police stealing from the NPCs

Dueling, Arenas, Guild vs. Guild will all allow you to play PvP at “any time” as you request

Or get to those open PvP zones

Guild warefare not faction based currently

Looting rules still being designed but we do want the ability for those in PvP to get items from each other

Killox why are they upset? (was blocked so I didn’t heard the question)

Ragnar: why disappointed?

(I like the feeling of danger in the world, if there is no other evil players then I won’t feel challenged)

(I want risk and danger everywhere – even though i will not be a murderer or thief myself)
(so do I…)

Hmm. I see that desire for full open PvP but a large segment of the audience don’t want that. We are trying to balance that and it is hard

The closest you will get to full PvP is in the PvP areas or Guild vs. Guild warfare which will be just about anywhere and anytime. Ideally even including attacking guild structures

Avatars I must depart for a tiny time to look at Release 4 maps. I shall return!

Your support means everything to us

Keep giving us feedback. Even the things we don’t want to hear. 🙂

Thank you all for being such an amazing community!

As you can well imagine, I had to spend — in my capacity as a moderator of the Shroud forums — a fair bit of my time cleaning up and trying (in vain) to manage the hostility in that and a number of other related discussions. And I use the word “hostility” deliberately, because Starr Long’s comments infuriated a number of people and touched off some bitter — epic, but bitter — debates between harder-core PvP proponents and…well…pretty much everyone else, but especially those who prefer to avoid PvP in favour of player-versus-environment (PvE) gameplay.

I’ve been mulling this over for a few days, and I still don’t get why the controversy erupted. Richard Garriott, Starr Long, and others on the Shroud of the Avatar development team have been relatively up front about the general design of the game’s PvP systems, or their intentions for it, from about the time the Kickstarter campaign launched nearly a year ago. Indeed, when I interviewed Richard Garriott at the time:

You know, UO was completely open PvP. The great joy was that…it was completely open PvP! You could go attack anybody you wanted. The great tragedy was that…it was completely open PvP, which meant that — generally speaking — people preyed on the newbies, which actually worked against the success of the game in many ways. But, you know, it was lots of fun if you were the guy perpetrating it.

So, in a lot of ways, few people have dared to do that again, and I think with good reason. On the other hand, the way people have tended to get around it is to make PvP fully consensual, or they put it in a…it only happens in certain raid conditions, or only happens on certain maps that you opt into. And the problem with that is, if you try to make it completely opt-in, only a handful of people opt in, and frankly it’s not very much fun to only PvP the people who have also only signed up to PvP. And it also leaves something a little lacking. So neither of those extremes really seem quite right yet.

And so our plan is to create a game where, nominally, you as a potential prey are safe from PvP; you’re not someone anybody can just walk up to and gank. However, there are story segments of the game, times and places in the game where you’ll be encouraged to do activities which will open you to be the target of PvP. And so…imagine, for example…I’ll give a hypothetical scenario. A hypothetical scenario would be that you’re really trying to earn a bunch of money in this game, and one of the ways it will be very profitable to make money in the game is to run a piece of what I would broadly describe as contraband across the country. Well, it might pay really well, but you also are explained to, well in advance, that by the way, this is contraband, and as soon as you pick up the contraband and start running across the world with it, you’ll be flagged as someone who is operating outside the law, is running this contraband, and in fact it will invoke other players — known to you or otherwise — they will be told “by the way, this player’s running contraband from the east coast to the west coast; look out…there’s a bounty if you manage to catch him.” And so now we’ve put you into the ‘fox and rabbit’ scenario, that now feels like fun PvP (I would hope), because you’re engaging in it in the proper spirit, which is that it’s now a ‘cops and robbers’ portion of the game, with real people instead of just NPCs.

Since this interview, Portalarium has more or less pitched the same ideas concerning PvP whenever the question has arisen. Some new features — guild-versus-guild PvP, for example — were added to the mix during the Kickstarter, and there has been some refinement in terms of how they’ve talked about these ideas…but in general, the thought behind PvP in Shroud of the Avatar has been consistent. PvP won’t be non-consensual, in the sense that all players in the game’s multiplayer modes are automatically and always available as PvP targets whether they want to be or not, nor will it be zoned off into tiny areas of the world, or to certain events. Players who don’t want to engage in PvE won’t be forced to isolate themselves in cities and other “safe zones”, venturing out into the wilds of Novia — and, later, New Britannia — only at great peril.

But equally, players who want to engage in PvP won’t have to go out of their way to find it. There has been a fair bit of discussion about people being able to “flag” themselves as open to PvP, the idea being that PvP-flagged players would be able to engage each other everywhere in the world (outside of towns and whatnot, at least), whilst also being unable to engage PvE players who were not similarly flagged. Granted, much of the discussion surrounding this framework has been speculative and unofficial; Portalarium has remained tight-lipped on the specifics of PvP in Shroud of the Avatar to date.

Now, Long’s comments seem — on the surface — to perhaps contradict this thinking, but let’s unpack what he said:

…for those who want a life of peace they can have it by avoiding those conflicts

This statement simply confirms what has already been said, by Richard Garriott and others, concerning the ability of players to avoid being PvP targets.

Yes danger for those who crave it or for those willing to take on some extra risk for greater reward

Towns of course will be safe and much of the adventuring areas as well but there will likely be a few areas where open PvP happens. Those areas will have greater chances to find rarer resources and resources will spawn at higher rates to balance risk vs. reward

While this sounds like one of the things that Richard Garriott labeled an “extreme” that Portalarium would seek to avoid in designing Shroud of the Avatar’s PvP, it should be noted that what is being reffered to here is “open PvP”. As I understand it, “open PvP” is basically the first “extreme” from the Garriott interview; the unrestricted, anything-goes, any player can target any other player PvP of Ultima Online. Which, granted, is the kind of PvP that a fairly vocal group of folks on the Shroud of the Avatar forums have been asking for.

That kind of PvP, as Scott “Lum the Mad” Jennings so expertly explained some years ago, will never happen again…not on a world-wide basis, at least. Which is the point of Long’s comments here: unrestricted PvP will have its place in Shroud of the Avatar, but that sort of thing will be limited to particular areas only, so that those who really, truly do not want to be targets of “ganking” won’t ever have to be, unless by choice or accident they wander into an open PvP area.

But this doesn’t mean that players won’t be able to engage in PvP everywhere else in the world, does it? It simply means that they won’t be able to target the players who don’t want to interact combatively with other players.

Long goes on to say:

Dueling, Arenas, Guild vs. Guild will all allow you to play PvP at “any time” as you request

The closest you will get to full PvP is in the PvP areas or Guild vs. Guild warfare which will be just about anywhere and anytime. Ideally even including attacking guild structures

Remember: per the $2 million stretch goal for the game’s crowdfunding campaign, a milestone that was in fact reached, player guilds will be able to declare as “full time PvP” in Shroud of the Avatar. Based on this and on Long’s comments, one obvious solution for those players that want to engage in PvP “full time” would be to join a guild of like-minded folks, and do battle with other guilds of similarly like-minded folks. Equally, there’s no reason that this system couldn’t be extended, per the speculation detailed above, to individual players. Either way, under these conditions, the majority of the world can be their battleground, and there could well be no shortage of risk (provided that Portalarium’s handling of matching up players works as advertised)…or, probably, reward given this:

Looting rules still being designed but we do want the ability for those in PvP to get items from each other

And all the while, those players who manifestly do not want to engage in PvP or be victimized thereby will be able to avoid the whole affair.

For some reason, Starr Long discussing these matters — in, granted, rather more terse terms — resulted in a massive explosion of argument and vitriol on the Shroud of the Avatar forums. A truly impressive battery of arguments got trotted out: any limits on PvP would be bad for the in-game economy, would drive away players, and would betray the desires of the however-many-thousand people have currently registered for the Shroud of the Avatar forums (because, as this last and rather baffling line of argument seemingly goes, there’s apparently no other reason people would sign up to discuss Shroud of the Avatar apart from being rabidly pro-PvP). This was, as various parties told it, “Trammel all over again”, a sign that the “carebears” (read: PvE players) had “won”.

Quoth Lum:

When you see a UO veteran spitting fire about “Trammel” or “Pre-UO:R”, they’re referring to that reaction — the rolling back of some of the more punishing full-PvP rules. No more were players vulnerable anywhere — half the world was now declared off limits to non-consensual PvP. Shortly thereafter, players could “bless” items and make them immune from theft and looting. Somewhat basic stuff in today’s MMOs. To some of UO’s players, this was the apocalypse, that they blamed for the end of their beloved game.

And again:

How viable do you think this game would be in today’s MMO marketplace? How many times do you think today’s MMO customer would meekly accept being killed and looted by someone whom they had no chance in fighting against. Losing their house. Abused after being killed verbally for being “carebear” (although that term came into vogue later, when choices began to appear in the market and said “carebears” opted out) and not part of the hard core elite. Entire skill trees devoted to allowing players to steal from each other.

How long do you think someone would pay a monthly fee to be a target?

Granted, Shroud of the Avatar won’t be a subscription game, but the point that Lum makes is (I think) still entirely valid: who would pay, given the plethora of multiplayer game options, to be an unwilling victim? It’s one thing to desire competitive gameplay against one’s fellow humans, and to seek out and pay for games that cater to this desire. It’s quite another to demand that a game which seeks to cater to a broader audience incorporate this mode of gameplay, the feelings and concerns of others be damned.

And really, it does seem like the ones who are most incensed about the direction that PvP in Shroud of the Avatar is headed are the ones who want the opportunity to grief other players. Some are actually quite open about this, whereas others try and hide behind buzz terminology like “risk vs. reward” and suchlike. Either way, the arguments distill down to a common theme: the desire for the opportunity to be able to engage and kill other players in combat whether those players similarly desire to be engaged in combat by another player. For some, it’s actually the explicit and acknowledge lack of the potential PvP victim’s consent that seems to be the motivating factor…which mentality, I confess, I find myself disgusted by.

21 Responses

  1. Rico says:

    “I’ve been mulling this over for a few days, and I still don’t get why the controversy erupted. Richard Garriott, Starr Long, and others on the Shroud of the Avatar development team have been relatively up front about the general design of the game’s PvP systems, or their intentions for it, from about the time the Kickstarter campaign launched nearly a year ago.”

    …which is precisely why I did not back the Kickstarter – just not my thing.

    I’m surprised that people are *now* getting up in arms about it.

  2. People don’t read. That’s the problem. It was said that “Shroud of the Avatar is the spiritual successor to Ultima”, and they read “Its Ultima Online 2!!!!!1!!!”, and assume that means whatever they want it to mean. So when their expectations are not met, as they never could be, they explode on the forum.

    Speaking of which, if you are Dev+, you should really read up on this. Just saying.

    • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

      I am Dev+, and I did in fact read that thread. No significant surprises…and I won’t say more than that for now, so as to respect the embargo on Dev+ content.

      (I also spent the better part of an hour cleaning that thread up after it took a turn for the…unfortunate. But that’s a separate matter.)

  3. Cromulus Prime says:

    People forget that UO started that way (full and open PvP all the time and everywhere), and for the vast majority of players (myself included), that system was broken. Unless you had hours and hours to devote daily to gameplay to grind up your stats, you were essentially prey for the so called ‘hardcore PVPers’. This detracted from gameplay. Everyone recognized it, which is why they released UO Renaissance. Whether or not that was the best or only solution, who can say. But given the technical challenges of the day, it was certainly not the worst way to handle the problem, and probably kept me in the game for a good 2 to 3 years longer than I might otherwise have been.

  4. Sanctimonia Sanctimonia says:

    “For some, it’s actually the explicit and acknowledge lack of the potential PvP victim’s consent that seems to be the motivating factor…which mentality, I confess, I find myself disgusted by.”

    That’s sadism, and is more common than you’d think. Some people become serial killers or rapists, others channel it through less harmful outlets. While sadistic and predatory behavior is reprehensible in real life, in a role playing environment (digital in this case) I think it’s as acceptable as the desire to craft and sell pottery or sit quietly on the docks fishing.

    What’s the difference between being beset by a band of orcs while travelling between towns and being accosted by a band of player-thieves hiding in the woods? Does the player going from town A to town B wish to be killed by orcs? Neither do they wish to be robbed and left for dead by player-thieves. And yet they are playing a game where no one thinks twice about the fact that you’re carrying a piece of steel carefully crafted to allow you to dismember and kill humans and beasts alike, burn them alive with magic, butcher, cook and eat their flesh. This isn’t a Dora the Explorer game, it’s Ultima, where dungeons full of little Doras are murdered and entire worlds are enslaved or destroyed. Some level of real danger, whether from AI beasts or other players, should always be present in any of SotA’s game modes.

    The three existing modes of play should satisfy all but the most hard-core of role players, but I see no reason why that particular group’s desires should be ostracized given the game’s tiered levels of interactivity. Why not simply add a fourth mode, “Unrestricted Play Online” that allows unrestricted PvP and looting for all in it. The “Open Play Online” mode could still have duels and designated areas for PvP and looting to give players a taste of the Unrestricted mode. I don’t see how that potential solution could still leave players blasting the forums with righteous anger, and truthfully find it hard to believe it wasn’t a part of the plan from the beginning. We always knew the single player Ultima fans versus Ultima Online fans was a ticking time bomb. BOOM! 😉

    • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

      I think it’s a bit different; one expects to encounter random groups of monsters whilst wandering through an RPG, and perhaps even anticipates this. Indeed, most PvE players favour combat against AI monsters, and even PvP players tend to be able to appreciate the utility of AI monsters as a source of experience gain. Getting set upon by a swarm of AI NPC orcs is a far different experience than being stalked and killed — and then maybe rez-killed, several times over — by a griefer.

      And, indeed, the NPC orcs don’t go out of their way to specifically seek out lower-level players and make their gameplay experience akin to that of the runty kid being met, day after day, by the class bully.

      • Sanctimonia Sanctimonia says:

        I agree with you on the part about stalking and killing the same player over and over, as though the goal was to actually make them quit playing the game, but there could be ways to turn such things to the game’s advantage. The player robbed and killed by thieves (after respawning or whatever) could create a quest in town saying, “There is a band of four thieves on the road to Sometown. Requesting four fighters to kill or capture the brigands. Reward is equal division of captured assets and applicable bounties, if any.” What was griefing has now become an emergent story.

        And if orcs don’t specifically seek out lower-level players that’s a problem with their AI. Predators always target the weaker prey; it’s to the benefit of both the predator and the prey species. Thinning the herd as they say.

        It may be easier to slap on a few “invisible walls” to prevent abusive player behavior, but a better game would be made if the bad could be cleverly turned into a win for everybody.

        Do you think a fourth, “unrestricted” game mode would satisfy the anarchists and sadists out there?

      • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

        The player COULD create a quest like that. And, indeed, anti-PK was a thing in UO.

        But in today’s expansive MMORPG market, they’re more likely to — pace Lum — cancel their subscription and move their dollars over to a less ganky game.

        My point about the orcs had more to do with encounter mechanics. Especially in 3D RPGs, it’s typically too resource-intensive to have ALL the monsters pre-placed on the map. Encounter triggers are used instead to spawn groups of monsters in or near pre-determined areas. (Well-designed triggers do this well enough in advance that the player is never aware of the monsters “popping in”.) Even the Ultimas (from at least 6 onward) used this methodology, and then to great effect.

        Which, yes, does mean that the orcs aren’t out stalking prey across the entirety of the map. Few games can pull that off, and the detraction from raw, rabid realism is a necessary tradeoff to avoid a massive performance hit.

        Equally, in the case of well-designed encounter triggers, a lot of those fights are somewhat avoidable. Certainly, in Ultima 6, you typically get a warning from Shamino (as well as various other “barks” in the text window) well in advance of meeting monsters. In Reckoning, the triggers spawn monsters in place well before they are within draw distance (for the most part; there are a few “ambush” encounters), so it’s often possible to navigate around these.

        Griefers, on the other hand, aren’t as easily managed.

        Do you think a fourth, “unrestricted” game mode would satisfy the anarchists and sadists out there?

        No, because hardly any PvE players would opt in to that gameplay mode; the griefers and anarchists would basically have that mode to themselves. Which, as Lum explains, is NOT the point of the game for them. They don’t WANT to go up against other, like-minded sadists; they want the unwilling victims…the ones who won’t be logging in to that game mode at all.

      • Sanctimonia Sanctimonia says:

        Point taken about the mechanics of enemy spawning, although however they spawn they could still choose to engage or retreat based on their perception of player strength be it gear or number. They could also, once spawned, follow players across the map without performance degradation simply by disabling the spawning apparatus until they were defeated. I think that’s even been done in earlier Ultimas, leading beasts into a town causing guards to engage them (which Ultima slips my memory).

        What you say about lack of participation in an Unrestricted mode may be true, and it certainly wouldn’t completely satisfy the hard core crowd as it would limit their fodder, but as with any compromise there are both gains and losses. And without compromise these potential players will likely give up on Ultima until something like the original UO comes around again. If the forums posts were as great in number and emotional intensity as you made it sound I think a compromise is in order lest they abandon the game entirely.

        If a compromise is not in order, perhaps someone at Portalarium should kindly tell them to fuck off, that they are not wanted. All of Garriott’s retweets seem to indicate this is not the case however.

      • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

        Point taken about the mechanics of enemy spawning, although however they spawn they could still choose to engage or retreat based on their perception of player strength be it gear or number. They could also, once spawned, follow players across the map without performance degradation simply by disabling the spawning apparatus until they were defeated. I think that’s even been done in earlier Ultimas, leading beasts into a town causing guards to engage them (which Ultima slips my memory).

        The earlier Ultimas certainly did (and I think that trick worked in UO as well)…but even in them, I think it was limited in effect. Get far enough away from the monster, and the heap manager will solve the problem for you.

        That’s not to say that a game couldn’t feature just such a systsm…but that’s a very hardcore approach unlikely to ever appear again outside of niche games.

        What you say about lack of participation in an Unrestricted mode may be true…

        It is true. There are hundreds of MMOs; there’s no reason for any player who doesn’t want to visit Gankytown to visit it. Or be compelled to.

        …and it certainly wouldn’t completely satisfy the hard core crowd as it would limit their fodder, but as with any compromise there are both gains and losses. And without compromise these potential players will likely give up on Ultima until something like the original UO comes around again. If the forums posts were as great in number and emotional intensity as you made it sound I think a compromise is in order lest they abandon the game entirely.

        What compromise is possible? There’s no way to force people to step into the role of unwilling victims anymore. If denying griefers their prey means the griefers pack up and leave, feeding the griefers their prey means the prey will be the ones that leave.

        If a compromise is not in order, perhaps someone at Portalarium should kindly tell them to fuck off, that they are not wanted. All of Garriott’s retweets seem to indicate this is not the case however.

        That isn’t the case, no. But I’m not sure what the case is, either.

      • Sanctimonia Sanctimonia says:

        I need to figure out your nifty quote syntax. 🙂

        “That’s not to say that a game couldn’t feature just such a systsm…but that’s a very hardcore approach unlikely to ever appear again outside of niche games.”

        Is it just me, or are games getting less “hard core” by the day? I propose that realistic systems like this, while not immediately consciously noticeable by most players, inevitably create a deeper subconscious attunement to the reality they’d like to imagine is actually occurring as they play. When playing a game we assume it has limitations and rarely expect much new or innovative. The role-players take something innocent and common and extrapolate it to provide a fantasy for themselves to indulge in. I think realistic “under the hood” systems turn this on its head and force non role-players to eventually realize there’s more at play than min-maxing their way through old and predictable mechanics. If this is relegated to niche games, that speaks volumes to the complacency of the industry as well as the “average” gamer. It boggles the mind that 20 year-old games can best modern ones in both ambition and the clever implementation of the requisite algorithms for facilitating it. As much as I admire and respect you, it saddens me that you don’t seem to find the prospect of re-implementing ideas like that more exciting. Perhaps you’re just being practical and don’t expect much else from games like SotA?

        “It is true. There are hundreds of MMOs; there’s no reason for any player who doesn’t want to visit Gankytown to visit it. Or be compelled to.”

        There could be reasons. Within the realm of game creation lies infinite possibility. From design to coding, anything is possible and everything is controllable. What it boils down to is if one wants (and is able) to make a game that carves new paths or succumbs to old tropes and expected mechanics. SotA has the potential to accomplish the former, but it is half mired in the assumptions of old. I hope they can break free of that, but at this point I’m not sure they’re quite aware of the muck sucking against their boots.

        What’s interesting to me is the resistance I feel from many in the community with respect to these kinds of ideas. David (Lord Beard Commander) is one of the few who seem to really get what I’m talking about. I think it may all stem from the war between single- and multi-player ideals and expectations. I think those mentalities are poisoning the possibilities of SotA being a truly new kind of game.

        “That isn’t the case, no. But I’m not sure what the case is, either.”

        Heh, 100% agreed there.

  5. Sanctimonia Sanctimonia says:

    Somehow lost my window of editing opportunity. Anyway, when I said, “Heh, 100% agreed there,” I mean that we’re on the same page in not knowing Garriott’s intentions.

  6. MicroMagic says:

    Games like Rust and Day-Z cater to the audience of being an “unwilling victim.” There are people who want to play those types of games where there’s fear and uncertainty. From the vods of these games, I can see how it can create fun and interesting circumstances.

    With that said, the only experience I’ve had with free for all PvP was with Fallout Online the F1-F2 mod. And the experience was truly awful. It was almost every time you encountered someone were forced to duel. Or you’d have a posse of dudes standing outside a city with rocket launchers and they would just kill everyone that was unfortunate enough to encounter them.

    • Sanctimonia Sanctimonia says:

      Fallout Online was cancelled before release. Are you talking about the FOnline Engine?

      Your description sounds like a pretty un-fun game for sure, but what’s funny is that in a post-apocalyptic world that’s probably exactly what it would be like. That’s what it’s like on the show The Walking Dead. Everyone’s paranoid and violent.

      The only reason I can think of for a game to descend into perpetual free for all deathmatch is either by design or design error. If everyone’s fighting all the time, it must be the most entertaining thing to do in the game. So either fighting is too much fun (odd idea something can be too much fun), or everything else is boring or tedious. Actually another possibility could be imbalanced combat, as in improper weapon balancing or insufficient randomness. Sometimes games focus on offense far more than defense, evasion and counterattack, for example.

      Well, I guess as usual it’s just wait and see. I have mixed feeling about what’s going on so far with SotA. I hope the first one’s successful at least, as I’d like to see how (and if) it evolves over subsequent releases.

      • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

        The “only” reason? You’re missing the most obvious one: that people tend to be assholes, and that assholes armed with Internet anonymity make it their mission in life to make others miserable.

        Hence the term “griefing”.

      • Sanctimonia Sanctimonia says:

        Hey man, I’M the misanthropic cynical one, who peed in your corn flakes this morning? Perhaps against my better judgment I venture most people, anonymous or otherwise, are pretty nice under normal circumstances. True griefers are a minority of the playing populace. If a game allows mechanics that if abused could be considered griefing they of course will be exploited to the fullest by griefers. If a game’s design and gameplay feature implementation decisions inadvertently encourage griefing that is a design flaw and will result in “normal” players indulging in griefing (my theory/guess behind MicroMagic’s experience with Fallout).

        So, if you want to stop griefing without invisible walls:

        1) Balance combat so the playing field is more forgiving to less powerful opponents.
        2) Implement strong systems of combat evasion, defensive capabilities and counterattack.
        3) Ensure non-combat systems are plentiful and highly rewarding. Don’t make combat the major focus or significantly more entertaining than other systems.
        4) Provided realistic consequences for bad behavior constrained to the game world (no GMs, banning, etc. except for game hacks/cheats).
        5) Provide healthy outlets for player aggression and disputes (sparring, jousting, wrestling, boxing, judges/courts for peaceful dispute handling, etc.).

        I think the reasons a lot of this hasn’t been done is because invisible walls are much easier/cheaper to implement and there’s not a lot of outside-the-box thinking going on in the AAA space. If they think it isn’t broken they’re not going to spend a lot of time and money trying to fix it, at least not until someone steps up, succeeds wildly, and it becomes fashionable.

      • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

        Hey man, I’M the misanthropic cynical one, who peed in your corn flakes this morning?

        And when have I ever shown myself to be anything other than a misanthrope?

        Also, I had an egg sandwich on English muffin for breakfast.

        Perhaps against my better judgment I venture most people, anonymous or otherwise, are pretty nice under normal circumstances.

        Heh…whereas I tend to believe that people are concupiscent, and increasingly prone to giving in to their darker urges and temptations as the probability of being personally identified and called out for it diminishes. Exceptions exist, thankfully.

        True griefers are a minority of the playing populace. If a game allows mechanics that if abused could be considered griefing they of course will be exploited to the fullest by griefers. If a game’s design and gameplay feature implementation decisions inadvertently encourage griefing that is a design flaw and will result in “normal” players indulging in griefing (my theory/guess behind MicroMagic’s experience with Fallout).

        True in some respects. But even if they’re relatively rare numerically, their impact is far greater than mere numbers would suggest is possible. Take the example of the rocket launcher gang outside the town; there might only be five guys in it (let’s say), but how many dozens of players do you think they’d be able to off — wantonly — before someone gets the jump on them and is able to break up the party for a while? And how long after that do you think it will be before they get back into their sniping spot…more mindful of keeping an eye on their flank?

        It’s sort of like the stereotype of “YouTube comments”; even though probably only a relatively small percentage of pre-2013 YouTube users were virulent racists and misogynists, they were prolific and anonymous virulent racists and misogynists, and they gravitated to those videos that allowed their virulence to have maximum visibility. Not a lot of people, but a HUGE perceived impact…and for no other reason than “trolls gonna troll”.

        So too, griefers. They gonna.

      • Sanctimonia Sanctimonia says:

        Agreed about the griefer ratio of number to damage, and good example in the YouTube comments. That being said, for the sake of the future of the gaming industry I simply cannot believe invisible walls are the only viable solution to the problem of griefing in an MMO-type game.

        Back to the rocket jockeys standing outside a city. A city has a local government, and probably a regional or state government over that. The governments exist to ensure the safety and well-being of the people they represent by preserving law and order and regulating the economy. A city contains people who labor, buy, sell, trade and perform services to ensure their livelihood. It requires that people be able to enter and exit for things otherwise unobtainable and to extend their livelihoods beyond what an isolationist society could offer.

        So other than as the result of a design or execution failure, or perhaps a complete lack of imagination, why would armed gangs be permitted by either the government or the city’s citizens to stand outside the city gates shooting rockets at anyone within range? That sort of thing wasn’t even tolerated before people knew how to forge steel thousands of years ago, much less in a future society (though post-apocalyptic). I just wish someone would step up and find a better way, yet I’m consistently disappointed. Shroud is just my latest facepalm in this respect.

        And nice breakfast; really got my concupiscence going while considering the possibility it also contained melted cheese. 🙂

      • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

        Not just melted cheese, my friend. Mayonnaise too, and a slice of tomato. Did I mention I used to work for this restaurant chain?

        I think you may also be reading too much into things when you begin to discuss local governments, trade, and the protective obligations of the former with respect to the latter and/or their citizenry. It isn’t that a game couldn’t simulate a world to this depth — it’s technically possible in UO, really — but I don’t think there are enough players who have the necessary mindset to pull it off. I mean, that’s the sort of comprehensive, all-consuming role-playing that would make even a LARPer say “whoa, dude”.

        Is that a failure of game mechanics? Maybe. Maybe it’s what I jokingly refer to as a “Layer 8” problem instead, an issue with the audience. Lum makes this point as well: when there was only one game in town, people played it and stuck it out, griefers and all, because it was the only game in town and they wanted to be in on it. But that era is gone, and (barring some sort of cataclysmic societal upheaval) it won’t ever be back. There’s no NEED to be the hardest of the hardcore anymore.

      • Sanctimonia Sanctimonia says:

        Damn, those look like some good eats on that web site. I think I’m going to have to concoct your breakfast creation for myself. Don’t know if you know this but I’m as OCD with my food as I am with my game dev efforts. I remodeled my kitchen a bit, taking out the pantry walls to open up the space, installed shelves as a replacement so my pantry’s more like a grocery store, have rows of sorted measuring cups hanging from screws on the back of a cabinet door with padded backing to mute the noise when opening it, have a gas range, pressure cooker, meat grinder for sausages and burgers, modified my gas grill with an extra grate and river rocks, and keep my knives sharp and clean. If I didn’t program I’d be a chef for damn sure.

        Back to gaming though, your last point there got me thinking outside of reflexive defense. Do people -want- that kind of a game, and if so can it be pulled off without requiring players dedicating every waking hour to it? When I see something as old and (relatively) simple as camera algorithms being poorly implemented in modern games by AAA studios my instinct is to say no, hell no. It’s not just a matter of risk, but of being competent, clever and imaginative enough to build it. If someone like Carmack could pull their head out of a circuitboard long enough to dedicate their efforts to design it could happen, but people like that are rare and often doing something else entirely.

        Obviously I’m making a game, and creating it in the image of what I perceive as being the “ultimate” experience in the context of the basic definition of an MMO. As such my observations on other games which have some overlap with mine are filtered through the lens of my own goals and aspirations. I don’t -want- SotA to be like my game; I’d even have emotional reservations about joining their team as we see things a bit differently, but when I see what look like mistakes or lost opportunities I can’t help but suggest solutions that make sense to me. I’m starting to think Garriott needs to spend more time in the office, or smoke some weed and get philosophical, or otherwise whip out some classically brilliant and unconventional directives and make SotA stand far above anything else around it. With some exceptions I’m not seeing that and it makes me want to kick someone’s ant hill.

        A potential solution to the “full-time job” or “layer 8” problem as you say that I’m toying with are player notifications of significant events through cell phone text messages. You could configure your notifications through your phone around a regular schedule or manually, if for example you’re on vacation. Your phone would whisper in your ear were the Twin Towers attacked, for example, allowing you to choose if you should jump in the game quickly or simply send an in-game (through your phone) textual response or physical action. Everything else would be accomplished by you being personally in game or through your customized AI. The more I think about this, the more I think I’m the only one thinking about this. Maybe I have more in common with CCP that I previously realized. I haven’t played Eve Online, but from everything I’ve heard it seems born from a similar mentality.

      • Micro Magic says:

        It was a fan mod for fallout 1 and 2.

        http://fonline2238.blogspot.com/

        I think someone took the code and opened a new server for it, if you want to check it out. It had some neat concepts to it. Like factions invading and taking over cities, crafting, area based combat, broken bones, you could have an eye blown out decreasing your vision, etc. It was neat, except for the rocket launcher assholes camping outside of town.