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Ways to limit a particular role/class in MMOs.


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#1 Legendre   Members   -  Reputation: 966

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 08:50 PM

I am developing a PBBG - persistant browser based game. This is not a genre most are familiar with, and it is similar to an MMO, so I chose to use the latter term.

 

I intend to have a "thief" role/class in the game that can break into and burglar player houses, and steal/pickpocket items off players. I thought it might be fun if some players are thieves but not all of them are. That way, it will a catch and mouse of with a few thieves sneaking around while everyone else is trying to hunt them down and kill them (or defend against them).

 

How should I restrict the number of players who can be thieves and yet allow everyone a chance at the experience? Are there successful examples of similar class/role restrictions in multiplayer games? One idea is this:

 

1) Make all other classes/roles free to play, but thieves a premium pay to play class. I suppose the number of free to play players will vastly out number the pay to play ones.

 

2) Allow free to play players to buy a "thief's guild membership" for an outrageous amount of gold. This gives them X days to play as a thief.

 

Do you guys see anything wrong with this way of doing it?



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#2 Caldenfor   Members   -  Reputation: 323

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 09:01 PM

People aren't going to want to enter the world and find something valuable was stolen from their house. Not a rewarding mechanic.

 

Stealing off of other players, more of a situation call. Can you kill the thieves? Limiting the use of stealing can be done through a skill based system. Make it a very heavy difficult investment and you will scare people off. The added challenge/duration of skill gain required would entice certain players, but also allow for a long duration increase in "power" for your character. You just need to make the game fully enjoyable without needing higher end skills. Investment versus reward; a difficult balance.



#3 Dan Violet Sagmiller   Members   -  Reputation: 897

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 10:00 PM

A student of mine is developing a Thief mechanic for Minecraft, and I had the same discussion with him about how if I (not being a thief in the game) have my house, and my locked/protected areas, when I come back online, and find all my diamonds are gone, would be highly annoyed, and grumble at the admins.  If nothing satisfactory was done, I would stop playing.  

 

However, instead of leaving the decision there, I said that it was only my initial opinion, and we sat down and discussed it for a while, on how to keep the fun involved.  What we ultimately decided, was that it could be done, and still be fun.  

 

1) Thieves don't just steal from protected player areas, but also from vaults, banks, and stores in the game.  

2) Players can take extra precautions to protect their items, but not completely.

3) Players can purchase insurance for the items.  Essentially, just an insurance they drop money into, and then are given an insurance credit of up to 100 times the amount they paid.

4) If a player comes online and find somethings missing, they can make an insurance claim (simple command, no admin intervention) and if any player stole anything from their inventory within in the last 30 days, then it lists the stolen items, and they can use their insurance credits to automatically refill their inventory.  

5) If a thief is caught, in the act, or via an insurance claim, a bounty would be put on their head.  PVP is enabled against that player, and anyone can go after them to claim the bounty the bounty is equal to the total amount the player stole in value, even if the insurance didn't fully cover it.  

6) once a player is taken out for a bounty, their inventory becomes open to the player who killed them.  They may then select what they want, up to but not over the value of the bounty.  The rest of the items go back to the thief.

7) a thief's skill raises the more they do it, and the higher their skill, the less likely a claim will identify them as the thief.  The insurance still covers anything stolen, but the bounties on the thief are reduced or do not happen at all.  

 

This means that the player who had stuff stolen can go after the thief them selves, and then not only do they get everything recovered from the insurance claim, but they also get the value back again from what the thief was carrying on them at the time.  Added a fun extra challenge without too much loss to anyone.  

 

 

 

In regards to a thief's guild, and limiting the number, One way to limit it, is to make other areas more enticing in ways.  For instance, let it be known that taking up a Thief's role, could get them caught, and lose their stuff to any bounty hunter or police class player.  

 

Perhaps for your first idea, you could also make it so only "free" members can have their stuff stolen.  That once you pay to play, you can't be stolen from.  (enticement to pay perhaps?)

 

However, theives pay to play premium is probably a bad idea.  Once a player is paying, they are probably willing to pay for more than just thief class, like better weapons/armor, etc...   a paid thief will probably be more annoying on their ability to burgle and get away with it.  However, considering the bounty idea from above, you could probably do it.

 

Another thing you could do is keep the idea above for how to use bounties with thieves, and double the bounty for what they stole.  half goes to pay off the insured player (if they are insured) and the other half goes to the bounty hunter.  This means the thief always stands to lose twice what they try to steal.  Making it a risk to try.  


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#4 jdturner11   Members   -  Reputation: 186

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 12:11 AM

 I think you're finding cheap ways to restrict this class, OP.

 You have an idea you think is fun and want to throw it into the game, restricted. Why punish players for wanting to do something they like? Instead of preventing overpopulation how about actually creating gameplay specific consequences in the game?

 I get kind of ill when I see premium classes and cash shops already being made in games that are literally just ideas. That's so cheap man, you can do better than that, it's just bad design. There are a number of things you can do, none of which I expect you to choose but at least lead you on a more developer-y path:

1. Add a special feature that retains the same entertainment value of stealing for each class. Mages that can research, knights that can duel, rangers that can hunt.

2. Scrap classes altogether. Give everyone the ability to steal and a chance success rate, but being caught is an arrest (winning the success roll would give them the object they're after). Give them the opportunity to arrest, too! Sandbox type classes have a huge demographic.

 

3. Make classes feed off each other, thieves that need merchants, police that need thieves, merchants that need police. You see what I mean? Synergy. It's a powerful thing.

 

 

No offense, I just think you can succeed and hate to see you cut corners!



#5 Caldenfor   Members   -  Reputation: 323

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 12:32 AM

hpdvs2

 

Rare items can be stolen to duplicate them via insurance claims. This can be abused by players purposely allowing goods to be stolen without any desire to "hunt them back" so to speak. They would abuse it just to duplicate rare goods.



#6 Legendre   Members   -  Reputation: 966

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 02:34 PM

Thanks for the input. I should elaborate a bit more about the game.

It takes place in a dystopic medievial world overrun with crime and monsters. Players are "heroes" who try to defend their small settlement and restore order to the world. During normal gameplay they have to defend their settlement from computer controlled thieves or when going out to trade with other settlements defend themselves from computer controlled bandits.

I thought it will be fun if sometimes players get to play the role of thieves or bandits. There shouldn't be any annoyance because this is the core game after all. Also, there are limits on what can be stolen/robbed - e.g. only goods/resources meant for trade, and not equipment. With no restrictions on the number of thieves and bandits in the game, I run the risk of too many people becoming thieves and bandits...which I think will bring about some problems (e.g. too little heroes, have to make more content for thieves/bandits instead of just a "mini-feature" etc).

Please let me know what you think about this.

Edited by Legendre, 01 January 2013 - 05:55 PM.


#7 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3988

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 04:41 PM

Tell me this, do you find the prospect of being robbed by another player (assuming you are not and never wil be a thief yourself) enjoyable? It's a feature that bring fun to thives only and reduces fun to everyone else. I recomment to not implement it.

 

Take a note that a game where there are wizards that can kill you in a battle or archers that could kill you from distance is not unfun, because you could be a warrior that could take them in melee. There is fun from diversity (introduction of wizards here brings fun for both wizards and non wizards).

 

Thieves that come to your house and take everything/something while you are offline and you can't do anything about it is simply unfun.

 

 

If you want thieves you can make them steal from NPCs only. And to make it more interesting the more total is stolen from NPCs the more the "economy" suffers and income of all players (except thieves) is reduced. Therefore "honest" players would want to put some cops to protect the NPCs.

But that's rather heavy mechanic and work best if implemented as the core gameplay, not as an addition.


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#8 Legendre   Members   -  Reputation: 966

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 06:01 PM

Tell me this, do you find the prospect of being robbed by another player (assuming you are not and never wil be a thief yourself) enjoyable? It's a feature that bring fun to thives only and reduces fun to everyone else. I recomment to not implement it.

 

Take a note that a game where there are wizards that can kill you in a battle or archers that could kill you from distance is not unfun, because you could be a warrior that could take them in melee. There is fun from diversity (introduction of wizards here brings fun for both wizards and non wizards).

 

Thieves that come to your house and take everything/something while you are offline and you can't do anything about it is simply unfun.

 

 

If you want thieves you can make them steal from NPCs only. And to make it more interesting the more total is stolen from NPCs the more the "economy" suffers and income of all players (except thieves) is reduced. Therefore "honest" players would want to put some cops to protect the NPCs.

But that's rather heavy mechanic and work best if implemented as the core gameplay, not as an addition.

 

Like I mentioned in my previous post, defending against NPC thieves stealing from you and NPC bandits robbing you during a trade run is the core gameplay. Player controlled thieves and bandits will have the same capabilities and weakness as NPC ones.

 

There will be traps and security measures you can install to deter thieves while you are offline, and ways to hunt them down and recover the goods if these fail. Although some bandits destroy your goods if they defeat you on a trade run. 

 

Also, only "resources" can be stolen/robbed. E.g. Your farm produces wheat, which you can try to transport to another town to sell. The wheat can be stolen or robbed. No other equipment and items can be stolen or robbed from you.



#9 Dasha   Members   -  Reputation: 140

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 05:56 AM

If a player looses something, it shouldn't be the game(or anyone else) forcing it. If a player felt like they were given no options, no way of protecting themselves, then they will feel cheated and angry. As long as they have methods they can use to defend or protect themselves(like your traps and security), and the stuff stolen has not taken a huge amount of time/energy to earn, then it shouldn't be too large of an issue. Insurance may not even be needed to keep players satisfied. So I think you are fine there.


 

But as for preventing people from thieving too much. Letting players earn a special type of currency that can be spent on thieving, as well as other special things, might be beneficial. So now you are not heavily encouraging players to thieve, but also making them spend the majority of their time on core gameplay to prevent overflow.

Special currencies can be bought with cash, and/or be earned by doing things in game. Just spending time online, completing special tasks, meeting goals, achievements, etc

To keep it in game, players could possibly have to buy the time by paying the local thieving guild for the rights to steal on their turf.


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#10 samoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5034

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 06:59 AM

I've been thinking of something similar for a long time, and come to the conclusion that there is probably no truly good solution.

As was mentioned before, players logging in only to find that their stuff is gone, and nothing to be done about it, will likely make them leave (even if it's "only" farm produces). This just doesn't fly.

One way of limiting this might of course be to make a thief's life much, much harder. Did you ever wonder why pirates bury treasures on lone islands where nobody, sometimes not even themselves, can find them again -- instead of bringing them to the bank? Well yes, obviously... a pirate wouldn't precisely trust a bank with his money, and more importantly, the dress code in banks doesn't allow for parrots.

Put that in context... a thief cannot put his loot (or any items) in a bank, as banks do not serve criminals. Yes I'm aware of the cynism in that last sentence. :-)

 

It is also plausible that thieving gets you a negative reputation with shopkeepers, so most shopkeepers would eventually not want to deal with you any more. That means you will need a fence, who pays significantly lower rates, and who is quite possibly a thief/cutthroat as well.

 

The only practical options for a thief are thus to rent a vault in the thieves' guild, to bury a hoard (where everyone can dig it up at any time!) or to carry everything valuable with him.


In addition to rent, the thieves' guild charges a "tax" for items in vaults, and occasionally people had expensive items "disappear" from their vaults at the thieves' guild (no surprise there!). Therefore, a thief will usually want to carry his most valuable possessions on him.

And now add full loot on death, patrolling guards, and lethal traps in homes. Plus, if you die to a trap, that trap gives you "dread" for some time (say, 2 days real time), making disabling it next time 10% harder (not any trap, just any trap of the kind that killed you). If you die while entering someone's home, your items are left in the house and you must enter again to retrieve them. If lockpicks are expensive (a plausible assumption!) and there is an increasing penalty on dying many times in a short time, this is a good deterrant.

If you successfully plunder someone's house and take something more valuable than X gold pieces, the owners can hire a sherrif/investigator/diviner to find out who did it, so they can hunt you down.

Sounds good you think? Maybe, but maybe not.

The problem is, I doubt anyone would like to want to play a thief under such circumstances. Most people who would want to play a thief wouldn't do so for roleplaying, but simply because it's easy money and because it's cool to steal everything from some "stupid loser" and walk through town in their premuim armour that they worked for so hard.

Which means that when thieving doesn't cater to that extent, basically you're only wasting your time on implementing something complicated that nobody (maybe 0.1% of your players) will ever want to use.

Add to that the fact that there is still the risk (especially since you will have low test coverage) that there come new, unknown exploits with that. Which of course some people (guess who!) will abuse.

Also, people will likely try to work around the restrictions, for example by storing their loot on "mules". Which means you have yet another problem to solve, for which there is no good solution that I'm aware.



#11 Legendre   Members   -  Reputation: 966

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 12:01 PM

As was mentioned before, players logging in only to find that their stuff is gone, and nothing to be done about it, will likely make them leave (even if it's "only" farm produces). This just doesn't fly.


Defending against thieves and bandits is the core gameplay. It is like playing a kingdom management browser game but logging in to see that you have lost a few battles while offline.
 

If you successfully plunder someone's house and take something more valuable than X gold pieces, the owners can hire a sherrif/investigator/diviner to find out who did it, so they can hunt you down.

because it's cool to steal everything from some "stupid loser" and walk through town in their premuim armour that they worked for so hard.


Strange as it sounds, gold won't be steal-able. Only farm produce and other trading resources. Also, personal equipment and items won't be steal-able either.

Basically its one big trading game: either you buy goods from one trading post and transport it to another for profit, facing bandits along the way, or you can build farms and etc to produce your own goods, facing thieves.

Although personal equipment/items are 100% safe, I suppose players can get defeated again and again by thieves and bandits and go bankrupt. Even if there are no player controlled thieves/bandit. The AI can beat weak players again and again until he has no resources and no money left.

In that case, there are free resources (harvesting/mining from the wild) or he can join another's trading party and help them fend off bandits. In the process he will be able to grind level and gold, and hopefully beat the AI.






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