Naivete in game design

This isn’t SC-related per se, just two articles about other games that I came across this week. The first is by Richard Garriott (, pretty much the only person who can say “I had no idea what people would do with my game!” I’m not a fan of his, at all, but one must acknowledge that he was one of the early pioneers in the industry.

The other was a video discussing a Gamestar interview with Todd about Fallout '76 ( In this interview, Todd says:
“I don’t want to force people into playstyles. I want systems that reward certain behaviour. The thing why i can’t tell you how it works because we are still messing with it. We have the same goals where we don’t want other players ruining the experience. Thats the worst for us to bear. If you stop playing the game because of another player acting like an asshole, we have encouraged the wrong things. At the same time, its important to us to enable players to a certain kind of drama. As for the wanted level, maybe that was in one of the videos, we do have a system right now that if a player is acting up, let’s say he murders somebody who didn’t want to engage in combat. That’s possible at the moment yet very very hard to do that, maybe it will change. He gets a status as being wanted and can’t do a lot of the things other players can do. All the other players can now see him and he gets a big bounty on his head. He becomes some sort of epic enemy, that every other player can go after. And as of right now a player becomes wanted and everyone can see him, everyone will gang up on him it’s a lot of fun. How do you get to a wanted level? We’re still messing with. I think there is an interesting dynamic there, we don’t want to put the brakes on too hard right now. But if the system is becoming too problematic for players we will dial back and make gaining the wanted level harder. I’m going to throw one more thing in that i think is important for people: All the quests we have designed are playable solo or in a team of four. That means there are no quests focused on PVP. We want to seperate PVP and player made challenges seperated from the hand made quests.”

To me, this answer represents the height of naivete in game design. I link this and the Garriot article because I remember the “Ultra Reds” from UO. In UO, if you did a bad thing, you got a bad rep and were rednamed. The asshats in that game vied for the “reddest” name, the worst reputation, and there would be armies of them, roaming the countryside, all red and not giving a crap. It’s like the Outlaw armor in SC, you can only get it if you have a bad rep, so it’s a badge of victory for them. If you give something “prestigious” to people who are “infamous” (, they will wear it with pride and mock the system that gave it to them. This isn’t theory or paranoia, it happens in every single game where it has been implemented.

I do appreciate that he refers to PvP as “drama” and not “risk”, as that is a much better designation to me.

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“He gets a status as being wanted and can’t do a lot of the things other players can do. All the other players can now see him and he gets a big bounty on his head. He becomes some sort of epic enemy, that every other player can go after”

Not really any deterent to the pvp’er since he can create an alt. Also, griefer’s tend to have friends that they work with to circumvent any limitation that is imposed on them.

There are people in the real world with the same attitude, be the baddest. I don’t see how that is going to change people to be nice. In essence, Todd is just feeding the fire. Pretty sad that he has no clue of that.

Personally I am not a fan of PvP in a game world that has PvE. I don’t mind 100% PvP, like MWO and I played that for a few years. I just don’t like the mix and it rarely works anyway because balancing the same character stats for PvE and PvP just doesn’t seem to work or maybe I haven’t found a game yet that did it well.

PU for SC I just don’t know how that is going to work out really, except that characters don’t have stats so you don’t really need to balance anything there. That is a good thing. Space is really large and 90% of the population is NPCs. I think those elements will make a big difference.

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“PU for SC I just don’t know how that is going to work out really, except that characters don’t have stats so you don’t really need to balance anything there. That is a good thing. Space is really large and 90% of the population is NPCs. I think those elements will make a big difference.”

I so very much hope you are right in this.

Sadly the “not having stats” makes it impossible to balance…16-year old kids living in their mom’s basement, playing games 24 hours a day will simply be better in every way, with no hope of that changing…and they can not only do what they want, they’ll be “rewarded” for bad behaviour by infamy. That’s how Eve’s kill boards started. “Who is the Evilest most badass person in the game? Check here to find out!”

It’s like seeing one of those speed indicator signs and flooring it to get the “high score” :stuck_out_tongue:

Just this. I like PvP. Like PvE. I have never seen a game which has incorporated the two successfully because the goals of the two player bases are wildly different. That and the natural inclination of humans to be tribal results in both camps seeing the other as inferior (in-group, out-group dynamics being what they are). A player base that sees half of it as inferior is not healthy for any game.

IMHO step one of any multiplayer game design should be “Will this be PvP or PvE?” And once that choice is made, just don’t touch the other.

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I wouldn’t say inferior, I’ve never seen anyone as inferior. The problem is that it’s predator and prey. PvP players like to kill other players, often whether they want it or not. PvE players don’t want to kill other players or be killed by them. PvE players can happily live in a game without any PvP, but PvP players tend to wear out PvP-only games. Even Eve online has some PvE content, if only to lure PvE players in to be killed :stuck_out_tongue:

If it were a symbiotic relationship then it would be fine, but it’s not, it’s completely parasitic, which is why no game has gotten it right, they don’t grasp that concept. The devs are either terrified carebears who lock the PvP players off on their own shards to murder each other, or “PvP is the only real risk” predators who love PvP and simply can’t understand players that don’t, even when 85% of the playerbase has openly stated they don’t want it.

What I am concerned about is the Griefer. The Griefer likes to flaunt the rules, likes to call attention to himself (usually) and has a huge ego. So, EPIC enemy. Don’t they think the Griefer A-holes are going to want to be EPIC and not play the game the way “intended” and flaunt the rules. If they have all the lawful people against them, it will pump up their ego… remaining at large and doing destructive things. CIG is not naive, they seem to be MORONIC. That is way way worse.

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I started to write a wall of text about this lol.

It’s always a slippery slope. The more freedom without consequence you give a player in a game the more potential it has to go all screwey.

Public beta testing needs to put a HEAVY focus on tackling this issue. While it’s nice to ‘check’ out the next hot game for free (bugs and all) before it gets released, it should drop you in somewhere where it is almost ‘forcing’ you to test these interactions that the devs really want an answer to. And not the typical beta testing where you start a new game from scratch (which I think is more about server load balancing and stuff??).

It’s a slippery slope and a “baby/bathwater” problem. 99.999% of PvP players are great folks, salt of the Earth, etc. But that .0001% are a nightmare, ridiculously loud and disruptive, and ruin it all for everyone. If PvP is allowed, they will run rampant and ruin the game for both sides.

I’m with you on the value of beta testing, but only if the devs are committed to it. CIG has an entire server filled with sociopaths doing hurtful things and tainting the PU, and they’re not doing squat about it. I’ve zero interest in logging in, given what I’m reading.

And those are the two pejoratives I often see between the two camps when they are forced together in the same game. Which is what I meant by each camp seeing the other as inferior.

I guess we use different definitions, then. I actually embrace the carebear moniker and being a predator is what PvP is all about, that “thrill of an attack at every second” that they always speak of, so I don’t consider that inferior either…just alien to me.

There is a difference between someone who likes PvP and a Griefer. They are not synonymous. They are highly different. A PvP player likes to play against other PvP players, to compete and to ‘win’ whatever the goal is. A Griefer player likes to sadistically impose his/her will on unwilling players who want no part of competition with the intent of causing grief to said unwilling player. Whether the motive is sadism, ego, desire to ‘beat the game’s intent’ or a combination or something not stated is different for every griefer. So, no, “PvP” predator is not what I, at least, am talking about.

I see it even less binary than that. There are PvP players who like to “prey” on PvE players who I don’t consider griefers. I look at H1Z1 and DayZ for examples of that. There is no “grief” in that game, at all, how it is played is how it is intended to play. The PvP players don’t attack each other, there is too much to lose, and they rarely kill zombies because there’s no sport. They hunt human beings, that’s what they enjoy…a lot. But it’s not griefing because it’s contextual in the game. SC pirates claim to be this way as well. They don’t want to hunt NPCs, that’s boring and unchallenging. They want the real sport, and it’s contextual, piracy will exist.

That is a pretty narrow view of PvP. Not entirely accurate for all PvP players, just as not all PvP players want to ruin other players’ game time. PvP is about facing up against an intelligent player instead of a computer more than nay thrill of the hunt for me. I am not big into PvP because I am just not that good at it, but I never join PvP for the thrill of an attack. In any game. I engage in PvP for the higher skill requirement as it pushed me to be better.

We have sliced and diced the topic to death here and in the past.

People who enjoy PvP will always defend it and people who have ever, even once, been griefed by a PvP player will hate on it.

I am really hoping that CIG finds an effective way of merging PvE and PvP into one verse, but as we have talked about in the past, that is not simple nor has it been done very well in any game prior to this. So it isn’t like they have a template to go by, or an example to follow. With that in mind, I expect they will make plenty of mistakes along the way until they get it right.

In the end, it doesn’t much matter what we think about it because CIG has made up their mind that PvP is going to be part of the game, it will be unavoidable, and there will be consequences for engaging in PvP without cause. How all of that will look up close is yet to be revealed.

Keep in mind my perspective of PvP. I’m not competitive, I don’t do arenas or duels, I don’t go to tournaments, I don’t “live for the thrill of being attacked every second”. 100% of the PvP players I see are either predators or griefers, because I don’t go where the other PvP types are.

It’s like racing. I’ve zero interest in it. Someone shows up next to me and guns their engines, I ignore them. The difference here is that racers can’t force me to participate in their game style. They can take off and say they “won the race”, which they did, but my participation in that scenario is optional. PvP, not so much.

Here’s my take on it. There are two very different camps for PvP players. One camp is filled with people who like PvP and want to engage with other people who also like PvP, to find out who’s the best, to enjoy the hunt, or the battle. Most people don’t have problems with these PvP players. Even in an open world game where everyone is always an eligible target, these kinds of players usually won’t bother you. They might kill you to see if you were a challenge, and then move on and not interfere with you again.

The folks that give PvP a bad name, and make people unhappy, are the ones who actively look to cause trouble. In some cases, they just want to rack up the kill count, and if you’re an easy target, they’ll keep killing you until you leave, or they get bored and wander off to find someone else. In other cases, they enjoy the QQ, and want to hear you complain or beg to feed their power fantasy. Many of these folks like to repeat kill the same victims (griefers), or seek out defenseless targets (gankers).

To the griefer or ganker, being “wanted” is a badge of honor. The more hated they are, the more successfully they’re doing their job. Putting a bounty on them is counter-productive… it tries to force the community to do the job of the game developer, and relies on the notion that there will ALWAYS be enough “sheriffs” around to police the world, even at 3AM on Christmas Eve.

The way to deal with unwanted PvP interactions is to not allow them to happen. Give players the ability to flag for PvP, and offer them a reason to do so! Beyond just the LULZ… I’ve always thought there should be whole quest chains and rewards ONLY available to people who are flagged for open world PvP, but nothing that’s essential to the game overall.

My favorite example that I suggested was to have cooking recipes that gave PvP-only bonuses and required “human flesh” as an ingredient, only harvestable by looting the corpse of a player in PvP. Likewise, scrolls for PvP-only spells would need to be written on “human leather” parchment, or penned in “human blood”.

The idea is to embrace PvP as a big part of your game, but to keep it distinct and separate from the PvE side. Whenever there’s overlap, things go bad. Even the dreaded nerfs could be avoided if PvP and PvE used entirely separate stats, and all gear either had both, or you could equip separate PvE and PvP sets at the same time.

The problem is that there is a grey area. The “good” PvP players stay in their own lane. The “griefers” are clear, obvious, asshat trolls. But in the middle is this broad range of people who are just out to have fun. They’re not trying to grief, they’re just hitting you because you’re there. They don’t care if they make a profit, they just like to fight. Hard day at work, wife on their back, kids won’t shot up, don’t give 2 shits about “role playing”, it’s a fighting game and they want to fight. They’re not killing me 5x, unless I’m in their path 5x, they’re not spouting hate speech, it’s not personal, I don’t exist as a human to them, I’m pixels on a screen. They’d never do it in real life, they’re a quiet accountant normally, but in the game they’re here for the fun.

This isn’t grief, at least by most common definitions. This is just “playing the game, get over it”. I can’t say they make anyone look bad, it’s just a game after all.

I absolutely agree with “not let it happen”, but that’s my philosophy about most things, honestly. Identify the behaviour you don’t want in the game, and design the game to minimalize it as much as possible. People will find a way, of course, but making it hard to do will drastically reduce the casual occurrences, which in turn makes the trolls that much easier to find. I don’t know about flagging and such, but for me the easiest solution is using the PU engine to simply not create encounters of that type if they’re unwanted. If you and I are at the same spot, there’s not much either of us can do about that, but if I’m QT’ing across the galaxy and don’t want PvP, then players can’t interdict me, only NPCs can. I still get interdicted, often, it’s just NPCs doing it, so it’s not risk free, I’m just not f orced into a gameplay I don’t enjoy.

No clue if they’re doing any of that, but I’ve been asking for it since '12.

I fall into the middle group, but leaning more towards the “good” side. When I played WoW on PvP servers, back in vanilla, I had no qualms about killing (or trying to) someone of the “enemy” faction… but I didn’t attack them while they were fighting NPC’s, nor mining… and once I either killed them or died trying, I’d remember their character for at least a few hours and if I ran across them again, I’d just go around them.

For me, I don’t really mind being on the receiving end of that kind of behavior. The reason I stopped doing PvP servers was that players who felt that way disappeared, and seemingly only the gankers and griefers remained in the open world.

I play Elite Dangerous, and I don’t do open mode because of this. I wouldn’t object to a little PvP on occasion, but I know better than to try and do ANYTHING ELSE in open mode, because someone will just negate my gaming session for a quick laugh.

This. Absolutely this. And this isn’t “griefing” by most game devs definitions. I work 60 hours a week, I don’t have time to spend 20 hours a day in a game, which is why I don’t mind buying ships to back SC…I’m buying “time”, not “win”. I spend all day planning out what I want to do in game, I spend 3-4 hours of my precious time doing it, then some asshat decides to undo all of it for fun.

To CIG, they have to do this 4 more times and then I can put in a ticket and they’ll review it. It won’t take 4 more times, after 2 I’m logged out and playing another game. I’ve left games for less and stopped buying from publishers for as much. IMHO, no other player should be able to dictate my play experience. I know that’s a minority opinion, but it’s my opinion and how I spend my money.