Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Uplinks

Slept more this weekend than intended, also played a fair bit of Ni No Kuni. (Hey Wildstar looks awesome, but I need to play something until it releases.) I had put a call out to my guild mates to get their impressions on one of the more core issue blogs, but I guess I'm not the only one busy in late January, I have only gotten an answer from one of them, so I'm holding off on that post. Instead I'm going to look at the post from November 16, 2011 where they discuss the two Uplinks that they have had. Events and Griefing.

Side note : It's been really cold, and after my spill in the parking lot I have been a little gun shy about hitting the gym. I need to be more consistent.

I went into detail on my feelings about events in an earlier post. In general I think they are what keeps an MMO moving. Having regular events gets players to sign in and spend time in the game. It also serves to stretch out the end game progression for the players who are consistently playing. The uplink had some interesting responses, some seemed to spur the staff into a new direction. "Re-imagined seasonal events, set in our world. That makes the list." was on response from the community team. Another response read, "Faction exclusive events are now on the list for exploration by the Social Systems team." The end result of the discussion seemed to result in while Player Driven events and Live events were cool, perhaps scheduled events that ran for a period of time were more desirable because they allowed a greater percentage of players to participate. The team seems responsive to events that change the world dependent on participation. Many games have proposed this and usually back down. The Christmas Tree event in FFXI comes to mind. I think this would have to be mostly cosmetic otherwise you run the very real risk of players abandoning a server that is failing events. A good uplink full of good feedback for the development team.

The next subject was Griefing. I didn't see this one mentioned on the blog ahead of this post, so I am going to analyze what was said before I give my opinions.

The responses here were less coherent, and also seemed to get less direct feedback from the devs on how they plan to address the situation, which is fair. I don't think you can really know how you are going to deal with griefing until you know how griefing is going to happen.

There are things that are perceived as griefing that are not, such as I kill you because your name is red and then you call in six guys who are in the zone to kill me, and then kill me again to teach me a lesson. Hanging around a high level zone that has daily quest objectives and killing everyone who is trying to complete those quests. These are not griefing actions, they are world PVP. There is a line though. camping a low level player and refusing to let them quest or pass through an area, that's taking enjoyment not just at the expense of another player, but from their lack of enjoyment. There should be in game systems that protect players from being griefed mercilessly which still allowing the normal world PVP situations to occur.

There are other types of griefing that don't fall into combat at all. Tagging mobs, spamming chat channels, running around with your giant character model getting in the way of important in game objects. Coming into a low spawn area with a high level character and keeping a set of quest objectives always dead preventing other players from questing.

Then there is creative griefing, taking systems designed to help players and turning them into tools of mass destruction. There are many examples of this, but I think the best of them comes from City of Heroes and two great powers that was really helpful to a team. Teleport Friend and Resurrection. One tiny oversight lead to lots of player frustration. A high level character with these powers would come into a low level zone and stand in the middle of a large group of hostile NPCs that did not aggro to them because of the level difference, then send a blind party invite (some advertized in chat but that usually lead to warnings from other players.) As soon as a victum excepted an invite they would use the Teleport Friend ability on them, they would appear and be murdered by the group of enemies and suffer a 10% experience debt. Then the griefer would use Resurrection on them, they would pop up, and again be instantly killed. This process would be repeated until the player could manage to click the button that sent them to a nearby hospital before the griefer could cast the Resurrection spell again. All of this possible because of the lack of a "Player is trying to resurrect you, do you accept?" This was added in in short order along with a confirmation box for accepting teleports. The default was set to no, so afk players could not be griefed. Sometimes you have to wait to see how ass-holes are going to use the tools you give them. Hard for this stuff to come out in beta because usually ass-holes are not the most diligent of testers, but even if they are, they are not going to tell you about the abuses they find.

I am glad the team is looking into these things early and making them a part of core systems design and I look forward to learning about what they plan to do in the future, both with events and griefer prevention.

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