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Wavinator

What If Bill Gates Were Your Waiter?

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If a game allows the player to climb a social ladder and achieve greater and greater status, how should it handle cases where the player 'violates' that order by engaging in behavior that is 'beneath' them?

One observation you might make about a complex society is that what you do seems to strongly affect what people think of you. Magnates, politicians and rock stars weigh higher in our estimation than janitors, waiters and kindergarten teachers. In a fictional game world this means that if you're out slaying dragons for the king or leader of a massive business cartel, people should react strangely if they saw you sweeping floors or serving beer. When they don't, it creates a bit of dissonance that undermines the sense of the world you're in (e.g., being 'Bartender Hero' in Fable 2)

So what would be a good way of capturing this idea in gameplay given a world with lot of sandbox activities? Should you be prohibited from doing things based on your status, or should there be some cost to your reputation or what?

And what would you do for the cases where someone of a higher social standing does something to show solidarity? What if, for example, the general hangs out with the grunts to show he's "one of the guys?"

I'm imagining this sort of thing as a straight NPC faction popularity contest, where your status translates to who you can influence. If you "get your hands dirty" hanging out with the troops you raise your popularity but undermine your authority, for instance. This makes it a strategic choice that might allow a player with high social standing to rally / manipulate NPC factions at the risk of eroding the power of their station. So a general might make a strategic choice to "lower himself" in the eyes of other generals, which would weaken him politically but strengthen the effectiveness of his forces.

Thoughts?



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Reminds me ofthis.

I find the opposite is the case, for example in games like GTA: Vice City, though the story has you waxing as the pre-eminent gang lord in the city the missions become, after a while, mostly beneath the stature you have gained.

As for how to treat it - it could be presented as a gamble. Like the above anecdote, Bill does really well and the story passes into legend as something to strive to. However, had he failed to locate the information in the knowledge base, had he failed to get across the information to the customer, had the customer been extremely irate... well one can imagine the story would be equally legendary but for all the wrong reasons.

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I think you overestimate human stupidity. People do understand that if someone is a multibillionaire, he can do whatever he wants. The only important reason Bill Gates doesn't sweep floors is because he doesn't have to and doesn't want to. Who you choose to spend your time with is similar - common soldiers aren't going to think a general is one of them just because the general happens to spend time with them. What would make them think that is if the general acted like one of them.

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Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
If a game allows the player to climb a social ladder and achieve greater and greater status, how should it handle cases where the player 'violates' that order by engaging in behavior that is 'beneath' them?

One observation you might make about a complex society is that what you do seems to strongly affect what people think of you. Magnates, politicians and rock stars weigh higher in our estimation than janitors, waiters and kindergarten teachers. In a fictional game world this means that if you're out slaying dragons for the king or leader of a massive business cartel, people should react strangely if they saw you sweeping floors or serving beer. When they don't, it creates a bit of dissonance that undermines the sense of the world you're in (e.g., being 'Bartender Hero' in Fable 2)

So what would be a good way of capturing this idea in gameplay given a world with lot of sandbox activities? Should you be prohibited from doing things based on your status, or should there be some cost to your reputation or what?

And what would you do for the cases where someone of a higher social standing does something to show solidarity? What if, for example, the general hangs out with the grunts to show he's "one of the guys?"

I'm imagining this sort of thing as a straight NPC faction popularity contest, where your status translates to who you can influence. If you "get your hands dirty" hanging out with the troops you raise your popularity but undermine your authority, for instance. This makes it a strategic choice that might allow a player with high social standing to rally / manipulate NPC factions at the risk of eroding the power of their station. So a general might make a strategic choice to "lower himself" in the eyes of other generals, which would weaken him politically but strengthen the effectiveness of his forces.

Thoughts?


This is at best a tangent to your point but maybe it will help inform your question.

A general can't hang out with the grunts, not because it is beneath him but because the grunts are then forced to act like they should when in the presence of a general.

A good commanding officer makes himself scarce when he isn't discharging his duties among the enlisted men. It's not putting on airs, it's showing respect for your men, and allowing them to cut up when they get them time.

The reality of the situation is that you can't go do some mean task like everyone else. Other people don't allow it, and if you're in a position of authority over those people it tends to be unfair to them.

That's one of the burdens of duty that comes with leadership roles and even fame to some degree. Which is why celebrities tend to value anonymity when possible.


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Perhaps a better reputation would make for a better overall opinion of yourself, but more fame, as is the case in real life, makes for much more unpredictable popularity patterns. Everyone has a different opinion, and everyone has stronger opinions about people they know better. So perhaps if a character is extremely famous, doing something humble won't necessarily make people more warmed up to him. It might make 40% like him more, but the rest would have totally unpredictable opinions.
"What an asshole, taking a good job from a potential hard worker. He's got enough money."
"That man's crazy!"
"Uh oh, it looks like he's had a falling out with the company."
"Oh, what an eccentric billionaire. Gotta love 'em."
"Oh, what an eccentric billionaire. I hate them so much."

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People rarely fit in well outside of their social level. If you were a janitor having dinner with ambassadors and presidents you’d fit about as well they would having drinks with you and your friends. So perhaps you could have a socializing penalty when trying to perform task outside your level? Or like you simply prevent people from perform that task all together.

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You could give them the 'celebrity' factor, where people sort of worship famous people, and in the event John Travolta showed up at a bar and asked for a beertending job, they'd probably either have some sort of event around it or just offer him some free money or a loan, or maybe direct him towards some sort of acting/advertising/lying based job?

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I agree with Dreddnafious Maelstrom. Conveniently, this fits with the "easy-way-out" solution...which is simply to not allow the player to perform actions that are "beneath" his status.

Can the captain of a ship swab his own deck? Sure. Would he? Never.

If you're worried about this being restrictive in a way you don't like, consider how many doors are opened to the player upon escalating his/her status, opposed to what doors or closed. Sure, the player can't mop anymore, but he gets to choose where the ship goes, gets more clout in negotiations...it seems to me that the number of doors that open far exceed the ones that close.

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I don't like that thought process. Although certain doors would certainly be closed to anyone for doing anything in life, the captain of a boat certainly would not be refused the right to swab his deck. Just because the player shouldn't be expected to do it doesn't mean he shouldn't be able. It's like designing a platforming game where the player isn't expected to jump straight into the spikes below, so you just don't make the option available.

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One big challenge to this whole idea is that we have no idea really why the high status person is doing lower status work. Are they doing it to show that they're not high status, such as when millionaire presidential candidates get photographed eating greasy foods or playing sports they'd never bother with in real life?

Or let's take a leader of a town who helps with its construction. It's surely okay for him to get covered in filth filling sandbags to ward off an approaching flood, right?

It could come across as close attention as well, such as when Caesar was once under siege by a massive force and personally went around checking all the defenses and rallying the troops throughout the night. (To me that would score major loyalty points, possibly creating an army that would follow you to the gates of hell).

It might be wise to just restrict a player for the sake of simplicity. This can quickly get overly complicated.

On the other hand, if the player could pick the culture of the folks he surrounded himself with this would be a very important strategic choice. Maybe there's a choice between nobility and egalitarian folks, with nobility being typically more skilled and possibly even more disciplined, but menial work (even during a crisis) hurting you because you're violating your station.

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