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  #1  
Old 11-13-2000, 03:09 PM
JeffCrook
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The Book of the East Wind

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Most people who play fantasy games have at least read fantasy literature, so most fantasy games have a medieval basis familiar to the average player. No one really needs to spend a lot of time explaining what a long sword is, or a shield, or chain mail armor, or a dragon. However, the opposite is true of a punjung bi or a judge’s pen. Yet even those odd weapons are drawn directly from traditional Chinese weaponry. Dienso Da War Wo uses the nomenclature particular to the game, so even if you know Chinese and are familiar with martial arts games, you wouldn’t know right off hand that this is a type of leather armor made in Dienso province. And where snake or tiger boxing seem pretty obvious, how many people unfamiliar with the game would know about White Eyebrow boxing, or even what Gong Fut style is?
Check out the first in a sporadic series of articles about the Qigung game. This series takes its name from one of the classics of Chan-la literature, The Book of the East Wind, a treatise on history and divination so named because all change is said to come upon the east wind. You can find the article at www.skotos.net/articles/eastwind01.html

Feel free to comment here.
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  #2  
Old 11-20-2000, 02:07 PM
JeffCrook
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Of course, the idea of concubinage is one that might raise a few eyebrows among players. Fear not, ladies, for there are male as well as female concubines in Chan-la. There are also eunuchs, so that ought to keep the guys in line. In Chan-la, slavery itself is a respected institution, as ancient as the empire.

This is a touchy subject, I know.

The newest installment of The Book of the East Wind is now available for your reading pleasure at http://www.skotos.net/articles/eastwind02.html

As always, comments are welcome.
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  #3  
Old 12-06-2000, 06:51 AM
JeffCrook
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The Book of the East Wind has a new installment, available at http://www.skotos.net/articles/eastwind03.html

In this article, I reveal the plot set-up for the first Qigung stage.

Comments are welcome.
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  #4  
Old 12-06-2000, 02:56 PM
StaciD StaciD is offline
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Jeff,

I just have to say that this sounds like a brililant solution to the problems you've forseen. By starting your story against the background of a single, dramatic event--a shared experience and a shared dilemma for all the characters--you've piqued my interest considerably. The vast world of Chan-La still looms out there, ripe with possibility for a multitude of stories, but this hook draws me into the game much more quickly and decisively than a more casual opening might have. It's like they always tell novelists--start your story in the middle of things. That's way to grab the readers'--or in this case the players'--interst.

Staci
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  #5  
Old 12-07-2000, 08:03 AM
JeffCrook
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Quote:
Originally posted by StaciD:
Start your story in the middle of things.
It was a real struggle to decide to go this way. SamW offered a good way to start it just before the cataclysm, but I decided to just go ahead and let the axe fall.

Another problem I was confronting was - if I designed the whole world before the cataclysm, then I would also have to redesign the whole world after the cataclysm. But if design the world post-cataclysm, then I only have one world to build.

Thanks for the positive response on this. My main purpose was to do just what you said:
Quote:
grab the readers'--or in this case the players'--interst
As much as I liked the game as it was, it lacked an edge. There was plenty to do, but nothing to get you started.
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  #6  
Old 01-02-2001, 02:17 PM
JeffCrook
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Which is better – concrete limitations to PvP conflict, or in-game consequences? Why?
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  #7  
Old 01-02-2001, 03:57 PM
Atama Atama is offline
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From what I have seen, a mixture of both is preferrable. That way you can have it both ways, those who want to be safe, can be. While on the other hand, those who choose not to be safe, might gain greater rewards for that risk (at the expense of others).

I think the key here is reward. I played EQ on the E'ci server for over a year, and knew hundreds of players, and saw thousands. And in all that time, among all of those players, I saw one, and only one PvP player.

Why? Because on that server, most people weren't PvP. They had no way of attacking each other, and the only risks you ran were people stealing kills from you, "training" monsters to you by running at you with monsters in tow, or stealing items from you one way or the other (all of which were against the rules and punishable by Game Masters). You can also duel another player, if both give consent, much like in Marrach. The only gain from a duel is that the results are broadcast across the server.

On the other hand, the PvP players only gained the ability to attack other PvP players at will, and since there were none, it was pointless. And there were hefty penalties, no other players could cast beneficial spells on you, such as healing, protection, strength, etc. And it was nearly impossible to switch back.

I think the PvP system on that server MIGHT have worked, if there were actual incentives to it. Perhaps, you can enter areas that others cannot (the barbarian guard looks you over and snorts, "No pansies in here."). Or there might be powerful artifacts that demand the blood of fellow players. Those things make the game more interesting, and give a reason for being PvP.
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  #8  
Old 01-02-2001, 04:09 PM
SamW SamW is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by JeffCrook:
Which is better – concrete limitations to PvP conflict, or in-game consequences? Why?
It all depends on what you're aiming for, but I can tell you this: assuming that players will police themselves is a dangerous concept. Treat PvP like you'd treat a primed nuclear device, and you'll be almost careful enough.

The numbers speak pretty loudly on this matter, though - very few people like unrestricted PvP, and only slightly more people enjoy PvP on a limited basis.

Of course, this might be because of the shoddy PvP implementation that's in place for most games. There's often no point in fighting other players, except to be an annoyance or to steal their loot, and death has such a light sting that ganking someone's character isn't really even much of a punishment.

If you can give PvP REAL purpose in your game and protect newbies from the predations of kick-murder squads (10 bonus cookies for anyone who gets THAT reference), then your players will likely embrace the system, or at least tolerate it.

In the end, though, it's best to apply Witt's Razor: Is this feature REALLY worth the grief that will come when it is abused?

Because, trust me, it WILL be abused.

My $.02,

SamW
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  #9  
Old 01-03-2001, 09:03 AM
JeffCrook
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Quote:
Originally posted by SamW:
If you can give PvP REAL purpose in your game and protect newbies from the predations of kick-murder squads (10 bonus cookies for anyone who gets THAT reference), then your players will likely embrace the system, or at least tolerate it.
I do have a couple of questions regarding this. You said that character death has a light sting. Do you mean you could easily resurrect a character in these games? Qigung will not have this. Resurrection is possible, but the spell is not only rare, it is illegal. For the most part, death is final. Undeath is an option, but one that will be offered on a limited RP basis.

PvP conflict in Qigung will have numerous purposes other than the ones you mentioned from the other games. Most of the purposes will be political, at all levels, from family fueds to school rivalries to imperial designs. And there will be an ongoing conflict between the forces of good and evil.

What won't be supported are pointless murder squads. I don't want to physically limit a player's or group of players' ability to go on a murderous rampage. In some cases, the story might support it - for example, the members of one boxing school decide to try to wipe out a rival boxing school, so they attack at night. With any kind of physical limitations to PvP conflict, something like this either couldn't happen, or could only happen under circumstances that would alert the rival school.

However, a pointless murderous rampage isn't likely gain you much of anything (except the satisfaction some players get from being an asshole). It will likely get your character killed in return.

Here is a question for Skotos. If a player has a character go on a murderous rampage for the sole purpose of disrupting the game, does the Storyhost/storybuilder have the ability to ban that player from the game? Note: not the character - the player, as identified by his credit card number.

On the subject of self-policing, are you saying it doesn't occur or it doesn't work? Because what I have seen in the Castle is that, given the ability to actually police the disruptors, numerous Castle inhabitants would gladly offer their services. The problem in the Castle is the inability to actually do something about a disruptive player. A more open PvP would allow policing characters to remove, subdue, jail, magically alter or transform, injure, even kill the characters of disruptive players. Of course it will be abused. There has never been a game system invented that couldn't be abused.

Is the feature worth it? I'd say the game depends on PvP. The things I belive I need to do to make it work are:

1)Have the ability to yank a disruptive player from the game.

2)Give PvP real benefits and risks. Whacking a rival could get you promoted. Getting caught doing it will get you beheaded.

3)Limit the game-mechanic advantage of PvP conflict. When XPs or Knowledge points or skill points (whatever they are ultimately called) are awarded, they aren't awarded just for 'the kill.' That way, no one can 'steal a kill' from you. And killing isn't the only path to power.

(What do you think of this wrinkle? You earn battle skill points for the difficulty of the situation. If you challenge those of significantly less total ability, it costs you skill points because, rather than learning, you are harming your ability. It's like a boxer who only fights poor boxers. When he gets in the ring with the champ, he gets his clock cleaned because all he has been learning how to do is fight people who don't know how to fight.)

4)Employ the concept of reputation - If you are the kind of person who gets his kicks beating up shoe-shine boys, you gain a reputation for it. Reputation is built by people talking about you, not by the actual actions you perform. The reputation surrounds you like an aura, and everyone can see it. If you have a bad reputation, CNPCs avoid you or flee from you on sight. Newbies spot you from a distance and can run away or avoid you. If your reputation gets bad enough, innkeepers and shopkeepers won't even open the door to you. And paladin-types will zero in on you as a good source of both experience points and good reputation.

However, if you play your character right, you can build a good reputation even if you aren't good. Your reputation will lure others to you, rather than repelling them. And how you use that advantage is up to you.

5) Provide other paths to power and glory. You earn experience/skill points for training. Role-playing will get you just as far as sword-whacking.


What do you think? Have I missed something? Other suggestions?
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  #10  
Old 01-03-2001, 10:12 AM
SamW SamW is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by JeffCrook:
You said that character death has a light sting. Do you mean you could easily resurrect a character in these games? Qigung will not have this. Resurrection is possible, but the spell is not only rare, it is illegal. For the most part, death is final. Undeath is an option, but one that will be offered on a limited RP basis.
In most online games death isn't The End, because there are external factors that can kill a character through no fault of the player. Go poke around on Battle.net to see a recent example of this - a network error allowed delinquents to access Hardcore characters. Of course, they killed them, stripped their bodies of their gear, and ran scampering into the sunset. Blizzard is restoring these characters, but it is a major, major hassle.

Because of this sort of danger, permadeath is an idea that is greatly feared by players. What happens if they go linkdead in a battle? What happens if they run into a nasty patch of lag and aren't able to defend themselves? And if you do build in safeguards to protect those affected by lag or bad connections, how do you prevent it from being used as a safety net by everyone?

Still, as long as it is difficult to die, permadeath is a workable solution. You just have to make the penalties for murder staggeringly obscene to give the griefers something to fear when they contemplate going on a thrill kill.

Quote:
Originally posted by JeffCrook:
In some cases, the story might support it - for example, the members of one boxing school decide to try to wipe out a rival boxing school, so they attack at night. With any kind of physical limitations to PvP conflict, something like this either couldn't happen, or could only happen under circumstances that would alert the rival school.
Now I agree with this - I don't think the game should necessarily say "You can't attack another player."

But I do believe there should be a significant penalty for attacking other players, making it extremely unattractive except under specific circumstances. Duels, school wars, espionage missions assigned by a patron are all good, and would be cases under which the PvP penalty would be suspended.

An even simpler way to handle it is to have PvP-free zones (such as towns), where the penalty for attacking another player is death. Then you can have 'wilderness' areas where conflict is the rule, and death comes fast and easy. But if you go this route, you have to put a HUGE carrot out in the wilderness, or everyone will avoid it (see UO's split between Trammel and Felucca recently).

Quote:
Originally posted by JeffCrook:
On the subject of self-policing, are you saying it doesn't occur or it doesn't work?
It doesn't work, nor do I believe it will ever REALLY work, for a large number of reasons. The most important reason is that players want their characters to be special, and if you give them abilities that others do not have, they will use those abilities to reinforce just how special those characters are.

The only method of enforcement that really works in a game is for all players to have some way to report disruptive players to the game staff, who then must deal with the offender as they see fit.


Quote:
Originally posted by JeffCrook:
A more open PvP would allow policing characters to remove, subdue, jail, magically alter or transform, injure, even kill the characters of disruptive players.
PvP always favors the strong, those players who spend the most time developing their character and improving their abilities. These types of 'dominator' players tend to be extremely aggressive and goal-oriented: that's how they get their character's so amped up.

Unfortunately, they tend to not be the most . . . stable members of the gaming community. They do things in a manner that is best for them, and are little concerned with the effect this will have on others. Their goal is to succeed, and this often translates into acquiring a vast amount of wealth and power, and they'll stomp anyone who gets in their way.

If these players get out of hand, open PvP will work for them, rather than against them. The strongest members of a gaming community tend to not be 'dominator' types - they're socializers and politickers, not war machines. In open PvP, these types of players tend to get victimized pretty savagely by their opposite number.

I think that PvP is good, but I believe that it has to be carefully channeled and controlled in order for it to become an asset to the game as a whole.

Quote:
Originally posted by JeffCrook:
Limit the game-mechanic advantage of PvP conflict.
The people who REALLY enjoy PvP don't partake of it because it has in-game benefits (even though there is the famous monster/player equation at the end of this post), they do it because the reward they get is the thrill of crushing a human opponent. Monsters don't whine when you pound them, other players do. Laughing over the corpse of a fallen orc is not nearly so satisfying as lording it over another player. Most PvP players enjoy the conflict and discord they spread much more than even the loot they take from the fallen.


Quote:
Originally posted by JeffCrook:
Employ the concept of reputation - If you are the kind of person who gets his kicks beating up shoe-shine boys, you gain a reputation for it. Reputation is built by people talking about you, not by the actual actions you perform. The reputation surrounds you like an aura, and everyone can see it. If you have a bad reputation, CNPCs avoid you or flee from you on sight.
This is an idea I've been chasing around for a while, but I can't see how to implement it. How does your reputation spread to NPCs? Player-based reputation systems work pretty well, though, especially if you build in interdependency among character types. Reputation is very interesting in this context, because it's so hard to define and represent in concrete terms.

I really don't want to come off as a pessimist, or to suggest that PvP doesn't work in games. I really believe in PvP as a means for expanding the horizons of a game, and as a way to keep the high-level content exciting and changing. But I'm also a strong believer in controlling the conflict aspect of a game with an iron fist, so that it doesn't get out of control and turn an otherwise wonderful game into Kick-Murder 2000: Slayer Returns.

And that's enough from me -

SamW
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  #11  
Old 01-03-2001, 11:42 AM
Monkey Monkey is offline
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JeffCrook writes:

Quote:
PvP conflict in Qigung will have numerous purposes other than the ones you mentioned from the other games. Most of the purposes will be political, at all levels, from family fueds to school rivalries to imperial designs
I have a question. How will you encourage these political rivalries? In Castle Marrach, as one of the first two Watchmen, I was told OOC by a StoryHost that the Watch and the Duelists didn't trust each other. That was good enough for me to begin RPing that rivalry. But because Marrach is such a social game, many other players have been reluctant to make enemies.

I suppose Qigung already has rewards for conflict, making it a more conflict-oriented game, but how will you encourage players to RP rivalry, and not just either 1) Beat the snot out of each other on sight, and never actually RP the tension or 2) make friends with all of their rivals?

Quote:
The problem in the Castle is the inability to actually do something about a disruptive player.
This has been intentional on the part of the folks behind the Castle. Players are only supposed to police IC actions. Only the Hosts retain the abiltiy to discipline an abusive player. This makes sense from a business standpoint, as only the employees are able to take action against disruptive customers.

As for IC policing, the Watch members now have the 'restrain' ability and keys to the dungeon, and the Duelists are keeping a Hall of Shame for dishonorable characters, to create a policing by reputation.

Quote:
(What do you think of this wrinkle? You earn battle skill points for the difficulty of the situation. If you challenge those of significantly less total ability, it costs you skill points...
I like it http://www.skotos.net/ubb/smile.gif

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  #12  
Old 01-03-2001, 01:15 PM
JeffCrook
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Quote:
Originally posted by SamW:
This is an idea I've been chasing around for a while, but I can't see how to implement it. How does your reputation spread to NPCs?
I imagine it will work a lot like the favor system. Except that it is visible to everyone as part of the character's description. If you type in something like Recall Wung Zhou, it will tell you Wung Zhou's current reputation status. As for the CNPCs' reactions, it would be a simple logic reaction. If Rep > 10, all CNPCs in the area exit, generate description. This would tend to key the players to take a look at Wung Zhou when he enters the inn and the waiters bolt for the back door and the cook disappears into the kitchen.

How reputation is implemented would be much more subjective, and would depend on monitoring of conversations by Storyhosts. If everybody is talking about the time Wung Zhou beat up the waiter for not bringing him the rice wine quickly enough, then the reputation monitor would assign Wung Zhou an appropriate reputation rating. If he keeps doing things like that, his reputation gets worse and worse. On the opposite end, if Wung Zhou sows a reputation as a charitable and honorable fellow, while at the same time leading a double life as an evil wizard, he could gain a good reputation. The greatest weaknesses here are finding dependable people to be reputation monitors, and making sure that judgments remain IC and subjective. I would provide some sort of framework to go by, using frequency of comments and severity of actions as the foundations.

Quote:
Duels, school wars, espionage missions assigned by a patron are all good, and would be cases under which the PvP penalty would be suspended.
Wouldn't this require that all such actions be submitted to the storyhost, and then only take place during storyhost hours?

Quote:
An even simpler way to handle it is to have PvP-free zones (such as towns), where the penalty for attacking another player is death.
Those free zones are anywhere you aren't seen committing your crime. Naturally, this would be much harder to accomplish in a town. Conversly, it is easier outside the town, but also much more dangerous because of the monsters stalking the countryside. (sure, there are 'orcs', but you are just as likely to meet Godzilla as you are an orc). If you whack somebody in the middle of the market during shopping hours, you'll be reported, jailed, etc.. If you can't prove justification, or if you resist arrest - bang.

Quote:
The most important reason is that players want their characters to be special, and if you give them abilities that others do not have, they will use those abilities to reinforce just how special those characters are.
They will only have the special abilities that they work for and gain. Gaining abilities that others don't have is fundamental to any game, the key being to provide a balance of powers through restrictions to access, difficulty, etc. I wasn't suggesting putting special powers into the hands of players who express a desire to police the game. I am thinking more on a level of a neighborhood watch. If Wung Zhou goes beating up the waiter, the other people at the restaurant stop him, if they are willing and able.

Quote:
What happens if they go linkdead in a battle? What happens if they run into a nasty patch of lag and aren't able to defend themselves?
This is something that I haven't addressed yet, but one that needs to be addressed, because it will be true for any game. What does happen? My first concern was about off-line times or if you lose your connection in the midst of a battle. My hope is that the system can run an offline player's character as a CNPC, intelligently and capably, so that attacking someone offline would be just as dangerous as attacking them when they are actively playing.

But what does happen if you hit a lag? Perhaps the system could automatically act for you if you fail to act within a certain period of time, just as though you are offline or lose your connection. This would require some kind of battle mode option, because you wouldn't want it to act for you while you are at the tavern and have to run to answer the phone.

Maybe in both these cases, you could provide a contingency option. If I am attacked while offline, I cast these spells, use these techniques, run away, shout for help, etc.. the system would then utilize these instructions first, before choosing actions for you.

Quote:
You just have to make the penalties for murder staggeringly obscene to give the griefers something to fear when they contemplate going on a thrill kill.
There is one that I haven't mentioned. In addition to the civil repurcussions, there are spiritual ones. In other words, if your character is murdered, you can apply to have that character become a gaijin - the spirit of a murder victim whose main goal is to destroy the murderer. So if you whack some newbie, the newbie might come back as a powerful and vengeful spirit bent on destroying you. Do you think this would be a powerful deterrent?

Quote:
Monkey said - I have a question. How will you encourage these political rivalries?
Inter-school rivalries will be inherent with joining a particular school, like with the Dualists/Watchmen. When you are accepted into the snake academy, for instance, you must swear to oppose your master's enemies, and there will be a history behind these rivalries. I don't want to give away the store right away, but fairly soon in the life of the game, high-level political rivalries will begin to exist because people from certain schools/guilds/trades/races/classes will be assigned certain responsibilities and priveleges by the ruling elite, largely based on the results of the first couple of stages that are run. For example, lets say that the dragon boxing school is made the official training ground for the imperial bodyguards. All imperial guards are drawn from the ranks of this one school. But should this school fall out of favor for some reason, or prove itself incompetant, some other school might be able to take over this position. This could come as a result of a political scandal orchestrated by another boxing school, or by something as simple as the dragon boxing master losing a challenge to the tiger boxing master. Imagine, as another example, the Duelists arranging an embarrassing incident to discredit the Winter Watch, and the Queen removing the Winter Watch from its position and replacing it with the Duelists. This is what I am talking about.

I do appreciate your questioning of my ideas and suggestions. If you don't agree or have problems or warnings, please go right ahead.
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  #13  
Old 01-03-2001, 11:00 PM
ShannonA ShannonA is offline
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I've traditionally seen three problems with PvP implementations:

1) There is insufficient risk for player-killers. Sam already addressed this quite a bit, talking about how there should be repercussions for actions. The more recent games tend to implement this through getting a PKer status, by which anyone that wants can kill you and by which certain things might not be available to you. It's a start. "Kill a PC, go to jail" would be a good extension.

2) It's too simple for PKers to gain enough power to disrupt the gain for new players in a very short time. When I tried Diablo Online a few years ago I found it totally unplayable due to a combination of PKing and being able to modify characters via hacks. Some games have tried to solve this via putting unrealistic level limits on what you can attack. Sam offers a better suggestion in some of his MetaStatic columns by proposing a paradigm where newbies are valuable and therefore experienced players will seek them out and protect them.

3) PCs are the most valuable things to kill. This is pretty epidemic in MUDs; I don't know if the graphical games have a similar problem. There tend to be two types of 1st level monsters with 10 hit points that you can kill. The cats/chickens/sheep that hang out in the fields and tend to drop a fur/beak/wool worth 1-5 silver and the player characters who come loaded with 200 gold, leather armor worth 15 gold and a short sword worth 25. Why would anyone choose to kill the chicken? The solution here is that players need to be a sensical part of the economy and ecology of the game ... and that's something that hasn't tended to happen yet. It could be addressed partially by some of the other things discussed here (yes, killing a player doesn't have a greater physical risk, but it does have a greater political and social risk.)

Shannon
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  #14  
Old 01-04-2001, 08:24 AM
JeffCrook
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Quote:
Originally posted by ShannonA:
It's a start. "Kill a PC, go to jail" would be a good extension.
I intend to extend this to CNPCs as well.

Quote:
a paradigm where newbies are valuable and therefore experienced players will seek them out and protect them.
I've been thinking about this method and I'd like to see (Sam!) more discussion on it, as I am still unsure how to implement it. My fear is that it will backfire, as experienced players come to see newbies not as allies but as treasure.

Quote:
The cats/chickens/sheep that hang out in the fields and tend to drop a fur/beak/wool worth 1-5 silver and the player characters who come loaded with 200 gold, leather armor worth 15 gold and a short sword worth 25.
I would say that avoiding this sort of button/reward system altogether might help. If killing something, even a chicken, gets you a reward of treasure, then you are teaching the player to kill everything he comes across. And that seems really... well, dumb. If you create that kind of game, that's exactly the find of gamer you are going to create. Shannon addressed this, on a different level, in his early article about the tendency of players to take everything they come across, to open every door and look in every closet.

Because my game will emphasize combat, I imagine I will experience this problem to a large degree. I intend to deal with this through in-game consequences for actions. Hopefully, once word gets around that you can get arrested for taking the candlesticks from the empty house, or that taking the jewelry from the tomb almost always causes the ghost of the tomb' occupant to hunt you down like a dog, players expectations will evolve. I don't see how else to accomplish this except through a slow process in the evolution of player expectations.

The key, I hope, is to create a game environment that discourages senseless PvP conflict. Sam's suggestion of making newbies valuable is a good way to do this, a positive rather than a negative reinforcement (like my consequences plan). I'd like to see more discussion on how this could be accomplished. For my game, one way is that newbies are an important source of income and influence. Experienced players can take students for a fee. The larger their cadre of followers, the more influence they wield in the society. The latter is true even of non-combatants, and is an excellent way for those not keen on combat or magic to find their way into the upper echelons of power.
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  #15  
Old 01-04-2001, 08:42 AM
SamW SamW is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by JeffCrook:
I've been thinking about this method and I'd like to see (Sam!) more discussion on it, as I am still unsure how to implement it.
Okay, I will reveal a portion of my Grand Newbie Preservation Plan - but not all of it.

The idea revolves around Windows of Opportunity. During certain periods of your character's life, there are certain things he or she can do that are extremely beneficial in terms of personal growth.

But by doing those things, you are slowly moving out of the phase of your development where they are beneficial. One day, you discover that the return on investment for these activities is very, very small and it's time to start doing something new.

Almost all games have that part - you do X until you are good enough to do Y and then you do that until Z. The thing is that you won't ever do X again once you reach Y, nor will you need the product from X.

The key is to make sure that the products from X and Y are always valuable to those who are working on Z. I'll use a Horizon Station example here to clarify.

Power Cells are very important in Horizon Station. At the start of a character's career, she will only have the skill to manufacture the contact pads for the power cell. After a few days of doing these, she can produce the core casings that hold the reaction system that gives the cell energy. Still later, she'll be able to develop more and more efficient storage methods, creating high-capacity power cells that are the same size and weight as much less powerful sources.

But no matter how good she gets at making quantum-fusion cells, they don't do her any good unless she has the contact pads needed to connect the cell to the device it powers. The pads take a long time to make, though, and she derives no new knowledge from making them - they're simply beneath her skill.

So, the obvious solution is to hire newbies to make the pads, or buy them from a merchant that has already purchased them from the newbie and installed them in his drone vendor. Everyone benefits from this, and newbies provide a valued service.

That's the basic concept, anyway, though there are a number of refinements necessary to make it work in different environments. I'm lucky with HS because there are so many built in things to do that don't involve combat, and require teamwork to succeed at.

Hope that helps a bit,

Sam
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