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BioMors

Variable payment types and fairness

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Here's another idea BioMors: my main concern is that by granting free play to the hardest of hardcore ultra-skilled players you will be supporting people who will drive the newbies away. However, as an alternative why not grant free play to a handful of players who make your game more friendly and beneficial to the new players? You could give them some title like "ambassadors" or have a society like a knighthood granted to those who make your gameworld a better place to play in.

That way, your most loyal players would be getting an incentive to play your game, and they would also be making your game better for the new players, making them more likely to stay and become playing players.

Now I'm not sure on the best way of selecting these players, as I don't know the mechanics of your game, but I'm sure you could think of something.

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“as an alternative why not grant free play to a handful of players who make your game more friendly and beneficial to the new players?”

I like that idea, it's difficult to implement fairly without harming role playing or immersion though.
With letting only helpful players, it would either have to be something too simple, like PKing versus no PKing (which would kill PVP role playing by denying PVPers that reward), alignment based (such as good can kill evil- which is completely contrary to the game design which defines a character by what they do, and not by what 'alignment' they chose), or it would have to be some indication to let the players know which characters are alright to battle.
Such an indication, for me, is probably the only way to go, but I'd hate to see a flashing icon over character's heads saying whether it's okay to kill them or not, as that would spoil immersion, and take everything sneaky and tactful out of game play, as it would become impossible to trick anybody into thinking you weren't a potential enemy with that thing above your head.

I could leave it up to the third way, taking into account how long the player has been playing, how skilled the player seems to be, and the various indications that the player might be a threat/enemy, but simply not share this information to the player- leaving it up to player intuition. This would probably help encourage players to be pretty sure somebody was an enemy before killing them.

“Now I'm not sure on the best way of selecting these players, as I don't know the mechanics of your game, but I'm sure you could think of something.”

The third method I described wouldn't be tough at all- it's a very open/free RPG environment, but the server keeps pretty good tabs on characters in various ways- molding their game play experience. So the question is, then, do you think it would be a big issue to have players out there you had to kill before they killed you, and players out there that killing would hurt your chances of free play rewards- or do you think that might make it more exciting?

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I was thinking something more along the lines of rewarding players who take the initiative in creating a friendly atmosphere in your game with free play. Since I'm assuming you will be keeping tabs on all your players and have logs of each players activities the reward could be given manually by your in-house game administrators.

So for example, assuming you have a combat based MMORPG, if you have a player who starts a guild specifically to train new players in the art of playing the game, and that is something you wanted to encourage, you could grant the player free play and a fancy title to show that they are something that you admire. Then hopefully the other players will try to do similar things in order to get the same award. Give the fancy title a special name like "Order of the Shining Sword" (you'll have to think of something appropriate to the game of course), and maybe a special uniform, medal or hat to make the players stand out, award it in a special in-game ceremony in (virtual) person to make the player feel really special, and I think it could go quite well.

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“I was thinking something more along the lines of rewarding players who take the initiative in creating a friendly atmosphere in your game with free play.”

I think I see where you're going with this. Just because your character might be a thief, doesn't mean you can be helpful to other thief characters in teaching them how to play, or that you can't give helpful/friendly advice/critiques to players you just successfully robbed.
For example, after a battle in which a player was defeated, the victor might say, “that was a good fight, your attacks hit hard, but next time you might want to pay more attention to defense- you were wide open for a number of attacks, which was why I was able to defeat you more easily than I should have been given your power.”

This is a kind of thing I would want to encourage- it's more productive than simply giving away a fight; and since this kind of advice can be given in a non-role-playing sense, it wouldn't harm that kind of play.

The issue would be detecting it- I think manually assigning such rewards would be very cost prohibitive. Perhaps some sort of rating system where the losing player could rate how courteous the victor was with his/her advice, and the winning player could rate how graciously the loser lost.

Being a sour loser, or an ass of a winner, is something I would want to discourage, and such a rating system may be functional to do that. If would work, because if somebody was rated as being a sour loser, their low ratings of the people who beat them wouldn't count for much.

I think that will work, and it will be rather cheap to implement- plus, it doesn't have to occur during the game and harm immersion- a little window with all of your loses and victories could come up as you log off, and give you the opportunity to send little notes, and rate people who sent you notes. I think that's a spiffy idea.

Thanks,

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The problem with automating a system like this is that gangs of players could use it to game the system; giving positive ratings to the gang members and negative ratings to anyone they don't like (acting like virtual bullies). Although I don't play MMORPGs and don't aim to make any, I suspect that the only way you can design them to be solid is to suspect your player base of being cheating, deceitful, game wrtecking bastards, and plan accordingly.

I think the only way this could be truly effective is if a staff member makes the final decision about who gets such a reward. However, I think it could work if you could have as the first stage a nomination system, where players can vote for who they think are worthy. Don't allow negative votes here so people can't be bullied. Then for everyone who gets over a certain number of votes can be investigated by a staff member to see if they are worthy of such an honour.

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“giving positive ratings to the gang members and negative ratings to anyone they don't like (acting like virtual bullies).”

This is why I think it could only be applied to after battles of some kind- otherwise there would be no good way to detect genuine evaluation of other players; In order for a group to rate each other up, they'd have to fight and lose against each other constantly- using up a sufficient amount of their resources to demonstrate to the server that it was an actual battle and that one side was clearly the victor. Doing this repeatedly- whether one side consents to lose, or the player loses intentionally, would have to not be worth the free play reward.

“I suspect that the only way you can design them to be solid is to suspect your player base of being cheating, deceitful, game wrtecking bastards, and plan accordingly.”

That's generally the only safe way to go about life as a whole, I feel. I'll give the issue some thought- I know we won't have the system resources to manually evaluate players regularly. There may be other methods of detecting player courtesy that I hadn't thought of, though.

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