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Platinum314

Secrets in a Virtual World

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I have been watching some of the original Mission Impossible episodes recently, and it has restarted my interest in a massively multiplayer game based on information and secret agents. A couple of years ago I mentioned that I was thinking of a game where there are different factions, each with their own secrets, and having trouble with the idea that a person could use the outside world or multiple accounts in order to double cross their faction. I wouldn't mind if people figure out how to do it within the framework of the game, such as drawing a map and putting it in a place where one of the fellow agents will find it, but it can also be found by other people. Pretty much I have decided that I either would need a strong user agreement, or find a way to have people invested in their side winning (even if their 'side' is the opposite one.) I don't intend to make this game anytime soon, I am just interested in the game design implications. Is it too difficult to create a game based off of deception and out smarting people?

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The first security step you could take would be anti-multi measures, like IP checking and such.

In terms of game design itself, however, things may prove challenging. I'd personally love a game like that, but how you could make one where people wouldn't betray each other by external means is going to be difficult to determine.

I'd say the best way to do it would be to have a strong hierarchy within organisations. Force people to really work their way up in the ranks, identify with their comrades, develop feelings of accomplishment and responsibility. I play a text-based MMO with alliances. I lead my own, with people who have fought in wars beside me, talked to them a lot over the time. They become your comrades in your struggle to the top. If one of our enemies asked me to join, and I did, I wouldn't think thrice about betraying them to the advantage of my friends. I would never, however, betray the ones I've always led. If you force people to spend time with their group, sacrifice for them, fight for them, work for them for some time before they're given any secrets, then they'll be far more inclined to be loyal.

This works especially well if, at first, they're given less important information, or information with less time to act on it. This way there's a loyalty test of sorts. Before anyone's at the top of the leadership, they need to have proven themselves apt at serving, keeping secrets, and leading on a lesser scale. There needs to be ways for spies to be tracked and caught, and threats of real consequences. So no, oh I died, respawn with the people who you newly joined and be safe, situations.

There will always be spies too, it'll happen eventually. The key is to limit them to well-playing and 'honourable' ones. You, of course, need to have risks involved too. In terms of stopping people from sharing through other means... it's difficult. Make sure it's there only account, if you can, and have dangers of it being decimated and it's less likely to occur. Have incentives for reporting people who do the wrong thing in this regard, and be hardline and it'll also act as discouragement.

It's difficult policing these things, but the game itself could be awesome if executed properly.

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You won't be able to eliminate spying. The only thing you can do is allow it within the game design, and make your preferred method of spying the most convenient AND useful way to spy, under ALL circumstances.

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Embrace it. Make it part of the game. Make multiple accounts one way of acting as a double agent. Advertise it as "blurring the line between game and reality".

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Then you have the problem of people knowing information from both sides, without the real skill of manipulation/sneaking to get it. In a game with a lot of information/knowledge based gameplay this could really be a problem.

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Quote:
Original post by Way Walker
Embrace it. Make it part of the game. Make multiple accounts one way of acting as a double agent. Advertise it as "blurring the line between game and reality".


I think there was an MMO of some sort that tried to do that... I forget exactly what it was called... think it started with an M.

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Quote:
Original post by Way Walker
Embrace it. Make it part of the game. Make multiple accounts one way of acting as a double agent. Advertise it as "blurring the line between game and reality".


Quote:
Original post by NathanRunge
Then you have the problem of people knowing information from both sides, without the real skill of manipulation/sneaking to get it. In a game with a lot of information/knowledge based gameplay this could really be a problem.


Exactly, that's what I am trying to figure out.

Quote:
Original post by Sneftel
You won't be able to eliminate spying. The only thing you can do is allow it within the game design, and make your preferred method of spying the most convenient AND useful way to spy, under ALL circumstances.


How am I supposed to do this? It boggles my mind.

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Quote:
Original post by Platinum314
How am I supposed to do this? It boggles my mind.


One way to do it is to not allow the players to see in-game information.

Say the X Organization wants to find out where the Y Agency's headquarters are. Your character, a member of the Y Agency, knows that, but you, the player, don't.

Should you decided to switch sides, your character could hand the address in a piece of paper if it's a face-to-face encounter with the higher ups from X. If it's electronic communication, have an option "Reveal Y's hideout" for the player to choose.

But then, the fundamental question: is it more important that YOU know something, or that YOUR CHARACTER knows something?

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There's only one way I can think of that you could pull this off effectively, but unless pulled off well it will undoubtedly hurt the game more than help it.

First off, you wouldn't be able to have a friends list nor choose a server. Every time you play the game, you play with a random selection of other people, but have absolutely no choice over who you play with or where. This eliminates (Or at least drastically reduces) the potential for people talking outside of the game.

Second, all in-game communications would have to be restricted, so no free-text or speech. Maybe work it so that characters can communicate through a selection of emotes.

This would have to be worked in with the game style and the graphical style to be pulled off even almost effectively. You'd have to make people think that those 2 decisions were integral to the design of the game, or people would just think that you're limiting them for no good reason (Which, in a way, is true).

But if you want to keep secrets inside the game world, that's the ONLY way I see you achieving it.

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Design secrets so that they only make sense to a character, and have no value in the real world. The 'HQ' can be in a different building for each player. Everyone sees the world differently, based on what they know.

You earn the knowledge of the enemy HQ through gameplay. The same way you earn levels. So that no 2 users can trade achievements.

Let one player gather information and send a group of players out on a quest to do whatever it is that needs to be done. If all the quests are randomly generated, then none of the info stays relevant for very long.

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