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rpiller

MMO Limit number of accounts

27 posts in this topic

Is there any real way to limit how many accounts a person could have in an MMO? In my game you can only have 1 character per server (you can delete a character and make a new one, but can only ever have 1 at any given time), and that character gets x currency right away. I would want to stop/limit people from making multiple accounts just to give their starting money to 1 of their accounts and have an unfair advantage over others.

 

I'm sure I could limit by credit card and your normal person will only have a couple of those but then it might limit a household that has multiple players in it if they have fewer credit cards than people wanting to play, so that seems risky.

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I would not try to avoid multiple accounts (more accounts = more money), it is risky and will most likely hinder gamers who want to play more than gamers who want to cheat.

 

Best to consider this approach in game design by either giving them start equipment which you can't sell or to give them just enough money to buy some really low starter equipment.

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Yeah, I'm trying to do that, but the game itself is not an RPG. It's an economic, world building, resource gathering game that requires currency, with no NPC's. 100% player driven. It will work just fine, but it means that currency must just be in the game from the start and is a zero sum game, with rare injections from the "government". 

 

For the sake of the integrity of the game I can't see another solution other than limiting one account per credit card. That won't completely stop this cheating but it should limit it enough where a cheater couldn't affect the game that much.

Edited by rpiller
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With my bank, I have the option to generate as many temporary credit cards as I wish, so your solution would not work.

 

I think you should think of some in-game solution, such as not allowing new players to trade for x amount of days, or limit how much they can trade.

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With my bank, I have the option to generate as many temporary credit cards as I wish, so your solution would not work.

 

Wow really? Why would they allow that?

 

OK, back to the drawing board to figure out a way to do this in game. 

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With my bank, I have the option to generate as many temporary credit cards as I wish, so your solution would not work.

 

Wow really? Why would they allow that?

 

OK, back to the drawing board to figure out a way to do this in game. 

For secure online purchases. A lot of people are reluctant to give their credit card number to certain websites, so they allow you to make a temporary credit card for each purchase basically.

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Two ideas (apart from the obvious "don't give out free gold at all") come to mind:
  • Money. If someone buys 5 accounts, he "kind of" deserves having 5x the start gold, too. Don't give out gold without receiving real money (that is, no gold on "free trial" accounts). Nobody will buy 2,000 accounts, so this is somewhat self-limiting (but even if people do that, you can be very happy!). Alternatively, do not let "free" accounts trade with "subscribers". If I remember correctly, that is what LOTRO had in its early days.
  • Time. Set some time or level limit on "character maturity". Do not let characters trade money with others until they are "mature" (say, existed for 1 month, or have level 10).
But no, all in all, you can't stop people from doing such a thing. Edited by samoth
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Limiting 1 account to 1 user is the holy grail of PBBGs (persistant browser based games) developers. Unfortunately, a fully satisfactory way to do this was never found. Nowadays, developers try to design their games to work with multiple accounts.

 

In the old days, it is common for PBBGs to impose a "no multi" rule. They would try to catch "multis" - users with multiple accounts. This might be done through a "1 account per ip address" rule or painstakingly analyzing user behaviors. People are still able to get away with multi-ing despite these measures. In your case, you still cannot stop people from creating accounts from different computers. I can make one at home, one at my workplace...which happens to be an university, so I can make one in the library too. Or homes with multiple computers can use multiple IP addresses to multi.

 

One solution I can think of in your case is :

 

- Start players with $0.

- Make them do some work for their starting capital.

- This work is avaliable forever.

- The returns from doing this work is far below all other activities.

 

The last point ensures that once they obtain enough starting capital, their time is better spent doing other things. Under this system, whatever they can do with new multi accounts can be done on their main account anyway, but their main account have access to even more profitable ventures.

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In the old days, it is common for PBBGs to impose a "no multi" rule. They would try to catch "multis" - users with multiple accounts. This might be done through a "1 account per ip address" rule or painstakingly analyzing user behaviors. People are still able to get away with multi-ing despite these measures.

Add to that the fact that people in many situations and/or locations (family members, dormitories at university, some entire towns in Asia, ...) will share the same externally observable IP due to NAT. Therefore, not only do you not catch people breaking the rules, you also have a high false positive rate on entirely legitimate and honest players.

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With my bank, I have the option to generate as many temporary credit cards as I wish, so your solution would not work.

 

Wow really? Why would they allow that?

 

OK, back to the drawing board to figure out a way to do this in game. 

For secure online purchases. A lot of people are reluctant to give their credit card number to certain websites, so they allow you to make a temporary credit card for each purchase basically.

 

 

Allthough wouldn't your name and address be tied to the cards anyway(Last time i checked my billing address is tied to all my physical and virtual creditcards), so it should still be possible to tie the purchases to the individual.

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One solution I can think of in your case is :

 

- Start players with $0.

- Make them do some work for their starting capital.

- This work is avaliable forever.

- The returns from doing this work is far below all other activities.

 

The game is 100% player economy driven. That's the point of the entire game. It's why I'm making the sandbox game to start with. The players have control and build the world. So starting with $0 isn't really an option from what I can see as money has to get into the game somehow without any NPC involvement.

 

 

 

If someone buys 5 accounts, he "kind of" deserves having 5x the start gold, too.

 

It ruins the integrity of the game which can hurt the game in the long run. The game is also going to be on the low cost side so it wouldn't be a big deal for someone to get 50 accounts if they really wanted to have a ton of money.

 

 

I would never restrict on IP as I know the dangers there already. 

 

 

 

Allthough wouldn't your name and address be tied to the cards anyway(Last time i checked my billing address is tied to all my physical and virtual creditcards), so it should still be possible to tie the purchases to the individual.

 

This is a good point. I could require a paypal account be used, which then paypal sort of takes care of the uniqueness on their end since you can't have one card linked to multiple paypal accounts. However I fear this might be limiting in the people that would play the game then if they don't have or don't want a paypal account. Can't we just use social security numbers already :) Come on world, we need to uniquely ID people for certain things :)

Edited by rpiller
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Theoretically anybody can have a Paypal account with an email address, you don't have to add a credit card. And social security number is US specific.

 

And forcing people to give these is not generally a good idea. Not to mention Paypal or credit card, some people are even hesitant to SMS confirmation. People are not obliged to play your game after all.

 

Also as you mentioned IP tracking is impossible. The problem with catching multies is you can't bear a false positive, it lowers your success rate.

 

And I disagree with Legendre about holy grail of PBBGs, in a persistant game you can't tolerate multi account.

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[quote name='SimonForsman' timestamp='1357916962' post='5020330']
Allthough wouldn't your name and address be tied to the cards anyway(Last time i checked my billing address is tied to all my physical and virtual creditcards), so it should still be possible to tie the purchases to the individual.

[/quote]

Yeah, that's true.

 

However, I think you need to give up on limiting number of accounts. What's to stop me from having my relatives or friends buying me additional accounts?

 

If you design the game where having multiple accounts gives the player a major advantage, the players that actually manage to get multiple accounts (and they will!) will certainly break the integrity.

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 Not to mention Paypal or credit card, some people are even hesitant to SMS confirmation. People are not obliged to play your game after all.

 

People aren't obligated to play WoW or Runescape either but they give their credit card. I plan on having the game be 1 time $5 for the game and $3 a month. My goal is to make money on the game as well as provide a fun experience, so those who don't want to pay are already out of my scope and I'm OK with that.

 

I know limiting accounts is probably a bad idea (after all if someone wants multiple I'm willing to take their money) and there are ways around it, although the ways are still somewhat limiting and so fewer people will do it which is good (I don't need to eliminate it just make it difficult where most players won't bother), but balancing that with the integrity of the game is rough. The characters have needs that have to be met right away so I can't delay currency for a month or so. Trading for things is a nightmare and I don't think players would like that very much. The design of the game requires zero NPC's and I have to work around that requirement, although there is a "government" concept in the game.

 

I guess I could probably just hunt for cheaters in game. Track all money transactions and flag suspicious activity. If someone has just joined the game and gives all their money to another person you can bet that's a cheater. Watch marketplace sales for outrageous prices between 2 players, etc. Maybe that could even be part of the "real" aspect of the game. People cheat in real life too and all we can do is track them down. I could make rewards for finding cheaters so if someone brags about cheating with multiple accounts and they turn in that player they get a cash reward! Or perhaps the money the cheater has goes into a lottery of sorts so anyone could win it making everyone happy to turn in cheaters.

 

 

So maybe you can have multiple accounts as long as you aren't just giving a bunch of money to your other accounts via some of the ways below. 

 

 

Possible Cheating

==============

1) New player gives all money to another player. 

2) Player A consistently gives player B money to a point where player A has very little.

3) A lower price item(s) goes for insanely high cost on a marketplace.

 

In my game money can only change hands via a marketplace or a contract of service. The contract provides the money trail and can be viewed for outrageous contracts. You cannot give money to another player directly in my game. This also removes people begging for money.

 

This actually might be a fun part on my side smile.png

 

Any others you can think of?

Edited by rpiller
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And forcing people to give these is not generally a good idea. Not to mention Paypal or credit card, some people are even hesitant to SMS confirmation. People are not obliged to play your game after all.

Quoted for truth. For me, having a game ask for my social security number would be "WTF???". No way. I might indeed be inclined to report you to IC3.

 

SMS confirmation? My reaction would be "Did you guys smoke crack?". There is no way you could convince me that you need to know my mobile number for a game. I'm not telling my mobile number to that Nigerian attorney who offers to give me 2 million dollars in exchange for transferring his 50 million either.

 

Even paying by credit card is something I'd only do if you use a well-known and (at least somewhat) trustworthy payment processing provider (and no, PayPal and MoneyBookers are definitively not among these).

 

Any such thing will lose you a lot of customers.

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Even paying by credit card is something I'd only do if you use a well-known and (at least somewhat) trustworthy payment processing provider (and no, PayPal and MoneyBookers are definitively not among these).

 

Since when is paypal not a well-known and trust payment processing provider? That's getting a little crazy I think. From my research Runescape uses PayPal and I think they are doing just fine. I think paypal is a fine payment processing provider, and it doesn't require you to have a PayPal account to make the payment. 

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 Not to mention Paypal or credit card, some people are even hesitant to SMS confirmation. People are not obliged to play your game after all.

 

People aren't obligated to play WoW or Runescape either but they give their credit card. I plan on having the game be 1 time $5 for the game and $3 a month. My goal is to make money on the game as well as provide a fun experience, so those who don't want to pay are already out of my scope and I'm OK with that.

 

I know limiting accounts is probably a bad idea (after all if someone wants multiple I'm willing to take their money) and there are ways around it, although the ways are still somewhat limiting and so fewer people will do it which is good (I don't need to eliminate it just make it difficult where most players won't bother), but balancing that with the integrity of the game is rough. The characters have needs that have to be met right away so I can't delay currency for a month or so. Trading for things is a nightmare and I don't think players would like that very much. The design of the game requires zero NPC's and I have to work around that requirement, although there is a "government" concept in the game.

 

I guess I could probably just hunt for cheaters in game. Track all money transactions and flag suspicious activity. If someone has just joined the game and gives all their money to another person you can bet that's a cheater. Watch marketplace sales for outrageous prices between 2 players, etc. Maybe that could even be part of the "real" aspect of the game. People cheat in real life too and all we can do is track them down. I could make rewards for finding cheaters so if someone brags about cheating with multiple accounts and they turn in that player they get a cash reward! Or perhaps the money the cheater has goes into a lottery of sorts so anyone could win it making everyone happy to turn in cheaters.

 

 

So maybe you can have multiple accounts as long as you aren't just giving a bunch of money to your other accounts via some of the ways below. 

 

 

Possible Cheating

==============

1) New player gives all money to another player. 

2) Player A consistently gives player B money to a point where player A has very little.

3) A lower price item(s) goes for insanely high cost on a marketplace.

 

In my game money can only change hands via a marketplace or a contract of service. The contract provides the money trail and can be viewed for outrageous contracts. You cannot give money to another player directly in my game. This also removes people begging for money.

 

This actually might be a fun part on my side smile.png

 

Any others you can think of?

 

I thought your game would be freemium, if it is subscription based then ofc go all with forced authentication.

 

If money will only find its way through marketplace or contract, your options for tracking is better due to this limit.

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Yes, but... to RBS Worldpay, not to you. That's the difference.

 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to personally be doing anything with payments. I'll be using a 3rd party for all of that. I don't want anything to do with processing payments myself.

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Since when is paypal not a well-known and trust payment processing provider? That's getting a little crazy I think. From my research Runescape uses PayPal and I think they are doing just fine. I think paypal is a fine payment processing provider, and it doesn't require you to have a PayPal account to make the payment.

 

PayPal is well-known, but was never trustworthy. PayPal operates as a bank without fulfilling the obligations of a bank because they claim that they are not a bank (although they are in every respect), according to some legal sophistries. You have no guarantees that your money is not suddenly "gone" once it enters PayPal. This is not only the case in the admittedly unlikely case that PayPal goes bankrupt. There are countless examples of small/medium businesses that had to close because PayPal decided from one day to the other that they will (for some reason nobody can understand) retain the money. For someone who has expenses (say, a car parts dealer) and who has already paid for the goods, this is instant death.

 

That, and the fact that you must register and abide to some obscure terms of service. I own a VISA card exactly for the reason that I do not need to register and that I have a guarantee. I do not need to abide to some random guy's rules (PayPal or otherwise). Payment against service/goods, otherwise refund. Backed by unlimited insurance. No risk on my end.

 

It is true that Runescape in the mean time also uses PayPal (they did not in the beginning!), but that is for another reason.

 

PayPal accepts customers that are as untrustworthy as itself. In other words, people who will not be given a credit card by any bank (either because of age or because of non-existent credibility). Now, sometimes, one has to value one evil against the other. These people are not trustworthy, but you still want their money. How to get to that money?

 

You're not going to get it unless you also allow something like PayPal (or pay-by-SMS or pay-by-instant-cash or whatever they're called).

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Instead of forcing the players to only have one account by using complicated means that can also limit players who do only have one account, try instead to make the idea of one account highly attractive. A game I once played had a system that used your account age for unlocking different things. The age went up every time you logged in and participated in the game. It wasn't perfect, but it's a start.

 

Maybe earning points for each action you do in game, like daily quests. Or just logging on, or for a variety of things that are attractive to players

 

Players could unlock special customization's on their profile, certain clothing, raise limits(like extra credit cards), etc. Nothing game breaking, but beneficial. 

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Well, I'm on the "If they pay for the accounts they deserve to do what they want with the money" side, but.  If it's about resource gathering, is there a reason player can't either start with no money and earn it by selling resources to an NPC (who might buy a limited amount if you want to cap how much currency the player can have) or produce currency by mining gold or whatever your currency is made out of?  If you're giving the player currency at the beginning I assume you intend them to be able to spend it on something near the beginning; if they are spending it on starting supplies from an NPC, you could open the transaction with the NPC for them, give them the money (or fake starter money which isn't actually part of the game's currency system), make them make all their purchases before they can exit out of the transaction, then have a mechanism where any money they don't spend on starting supplies is forfeited; thus leaving none to be sent to another account.  Also, isn't the player going to have opportunities to earn more currency as the game progresses?  I would think the best way to discourage people from making extra accounts just for the starting money would be to make the starting money small comparable to what they can earn at higher levels on the same character.  People want to get the most money with the least work, that's a given, so you should make the earning potential of one account with a regular input of time be as high or higher than a new account, and people won't have a reason to make new accounts.

Edited by sunandshadow
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@sunandshadow The main point of the game is to be 100% player driven. There are no NPC's outside of animals. So because there are no NPC's there is "no money out of thin" air concept that most MMORPG's have. It's meant to be a zero sum game where the starting money each player gets * the number of players is all the money in circulation on that server. Now there is a "government" concept (me) which can play with that idea some in creative ways (random treasure chests with money in them or lottery for example) if I see things getting "out of hand", but it won't favor anyone. It'll be totally random.

 

I know players will try to cheat, but I think if I make it clear up front the intentions of the game and that cheaters will be punished, and I have stats to find said cheaters I think I'll be good.

 

 

 

Well, I'm on the "If they pay for the accounts they deserve to do what they want with the money" side, but.

 

If expectations are set up front that multiple accounts are not to pool money for an advantage, then I think players will respect that. Some will cheat but the expectation is set and so they have no ground to stand on when caught cheating. I created the game to be played a certain way and it's of no fault of the game design that the world we live in today can't effectively accommodate that, so I openly ask the community to play in said fashion. In fact I will probably make the cheaters currency go into a lottery which will give an incentive for people to report cheaters. At some level have the community police itself (but still have the data to back it up). This isn't much different than a game of dungeons and dragons. Not much in rules stops me from just "cheating" and being totally ridiculous in some of these games. It's the people who want to play fair that stop the cheating. I think it's the same people who want to shape a video game world in a fair way.

 

 

@Dasha I'll have to think about this. Starting with money however changes lots of things and I have to think differently. They won't start out with an insane amount of money, but it has to be high enough to purchase some land, and some things to meet their needs right away. If I give them access to more things it'll have to require money, because the entire game revolves around money really, and that'll just mean they make more characters to get their starting funds and give it to their main in creative ways (as there will be no direct money transfer without goods or contract/service being performed.).

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Didnt you write you put out all money the government earns out as random treasures? Why not let new people make their first money from treasure hunting then?

Or really, why cant you just give each new player a government granted first plot of land to make his first money out of when you would put the money from buying it back into the game anyway?

Are there other immediate needs like game characters starving without food? Then let new people not get hungry for a reasonable time period?

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