ID:154567
 
I have read numerous posts by pro-PKers, but it got me to thinking... As a game designer why in the world would you want to encourage such antisocial behavior? I mean if players want exciting, intense PvP challenge then shouldn't they be playing Quake? I thought the traditional strengths of RPGs are strategy and cooperation. Sure, a little competition or rivalry might be fun but, come on, since when do we want to encourage the players to be the bad guys? Especially when these are the same players who want lots of power!

Any thoughts?

-James
On 5/2/01 12:29 pm Jmurph wrote:
I have read numerous posts by pro-PKers, but it got me to thinking... As a game designer why in the world would you want to encourage such antisocial behavior? I mean if players want exciting, intense PvP challenge then shouldn't they be playing Quake? I thought the traditional strengths of RPGs are strategy and cooperation. Sure, a little competition or rivalry might be fun but, come on, since when do we want to encourage the players to be the bad guys? Especially when these are the same players who want lots of power!

Any thoughts?

I believe that both path should be offered to the player. As a free human, do you wish to be told that you can only do something that your elders considered right?
Why can't a thieve steal or a assasin kill? Its only in-character for them to do so.
In response to sunzoner (#1)
I believe that both path should be offered to the player. As a free human, do you wish to be told that you can only do something that your elders considered right?
Why can't a thieve steal or a assasin kill? Its only in-character for them to do so.

My current plan for Hiawathaland combines "karma" tracking and players being wanted by the law, plus another little detail. Essentially, PK'ing will be permitted, but death will be much more inconvenient for PK'ers than for nice guys (though I'm planning it in a way that should fit in well with the overall game, and not feel too arbitrary).
In response to sunzoner (#1)
I believe that both path should be offered to the player. As a free human, do you wish to be told that you can only do something that your elders considered right?

Well, actually, that's how every society in history has always functioned. So in a way, since I know they are looking out for me, it wouldn't bother me overly much. I mean if my elders told me not to touch fire, I would probably be wise not too. Besides, this isn't a question of freedom, its a question of extremes as my next poertion will illustrate.


Why can't a thieve steal or a assasin kill? Its only in-character for them to do so.

They can- on NPCs. Why do they have to harass other players when you have a world full of NPCs to use these skills on?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not *inherently* anti-PK, I have just have yet to hear any really viable reasons to support it. In fact, the people who tend to be PK are the same ones who often abuse other methods to harass people. The problem is, most PKers do not kill in character. People kill for a reason, usually for self defense, sometimes for gain, occassionally beause of illness. However, almost all PKers kill for 1)sheer personal gain or 2)to bother other players. Since #1 can be accomplished by defeating computer controlled opponents, we must reason, then, that many PKers actually enjoy the 2nd part. Why the heck should we as game designers have any part in that? Why make hugely elaborate systems for punishing PK when the people who PK will just try to figure out ways to exploit them?
Anyhow, I realize this is sounding very negative, but surely there are some pro-PKers who are willing to answer these questions.

<font face="exocet">-James</font>
In response to Gughunter (#2)
See, this is what I feel is the best sort of solution. Violence is an excellent plot device, and PK is an easy way to let players exert some real power in the world, giving the whole game a much more immersive feel. The problem is when you have players killing each other left and right- unless your game world is one based on pure chaos, this should not be happening. PK should be a major thing with serious effects on both ends- and not all good effects for the killer. If soandso the famous assassin takes out a high-profile player for the incredibly rare and powerful magical artifact he had, it should be a very major event. It shouldn't be, "Oh, soandso just iced another 20 newbies."
In response to Leftley (#4)
On 5/2/01 6:55 pm Leftley wrote:
See, this is what I feel is the best sort of solution. Violence is an excellent plot device, and PK is an easy way to let players exert some real power in the world, giving the whole game a much more immersive feel. The problem is when you have players killing each other left and right- unless your game world is one based on pure chaos, this should not be happening. PK should be a major thing with serious effects on both ends- and not all good effects for the killer. If soandso the famous assassin takes out a high-profile player for the incredibly rare and powerful magical artifact he had, it should be a very major event. It shouldn't be, "Oh, soandso just iced another 20 newbies."

The rewards for pk'ing should be nothing or too little to consider OOC.
In response to sunzoner (#1)
On 5/2/01 4:59 pm sunzoner wrote:
On 5/2/01 12:29 pm Jmurph wrote:
I have read numerous posts by pro-PKers, but it got me to thinking... As a game designer why in the world would you want to encourage such antisocial behavior? I mean if players want exciting, intense PvP challenge then shouldn't they be playing Quake? I thought the traditional strengths of RPGs are strategy and cooperation. Sure, a little competition or rivalry might be fun but, come on, since when do we want to encourage the players to be the bad guys? Especially when these are the same players who want lots of power!

Any thoughts?

Though I doubt you're actually not opposed to PKing, I still had to chip in. =)

I believe that both path should be offered to the player. As a free human, do you wish to be told that you can only do something that your elders considered right?

Since I do this in just about every post, I'll turn to my own game as an example...

In Haven, you get taught what is right or wrong; if you're a good character, then protecting innocent people is right, and killing is wrong. With evil, it is vice versa.

Essentially, the main thrust of my game is to put peoples' actions on the faces of their alignments. An evil character would PK because their simulated religion would probably dictate just that! But at the same time, there would be thousands of good characters roaming the planet, searching for the evil vagabonds, challenging them to a duel, and slaying them, to protect the weak and uphold their god's ideals.

And the evil character would just as likely select an NPC target, since realistically there should be no real difference between NPCs and PCs other than that one can respond intelligently. Along those lines, that would mean that everything PCs can do, NPCs should do to. So NPC traders would walk along dangerous mountain passages, NPC thieves would wander through crowds and liberate various worthy trinkets, NPC fighters would charge into the wilderness, chopping up monsters and going for loot in the dungeons and caverns.


Why can't a thieve steal or a assasin kill? Its only in-character for them to do so.

There is a subtle distinction; those skills are in-character when used in-character. An assassin doesn't just kill anyone; they selectively pick their targets based on wealth, and then plot for days, even months, on the perfect method of delivering the final blow, and then collect the loot and hightail it to freedom. And a thief also steals for a reason; thieves are always looking for the 'big score'. A thief isn't someone who wanders around robbing the clothes off of every person who walks by... indeed, not even pickpockets and petty 'pirahna' thieves do this. Rather, they plan their heists, and do it under the veil of darkness, slipping in, and slipping out with a heavy pocket. Sometimes, if they are particularly needy, they'll steal in broad daylight, but only to survive.


My point is, in a roleplaying environment, the depth of the characters has to be so much more than simply "Oh, I'm an assassin. Hey, look, there's someone, let's kill him!".

It's "So, thou want Spuzzum dead, eh? How much dost thou want for his scalp?", maybe even with a little "Aha! Know that the person to whom thou art speaking is Spuzzum, your arch-nemesis! Have at thee, despicable wretch!" thrown in. =)


And remember that roleplaying is for an audience. You can't roleplay by yourself, or, if you have a good imagination, at least not for long. Single-Player RPGs are massively different than RPG-MUDs... in single-player, the person playing is the one to entertain. In RPG-MUDs, one is also trying to entertain other people. If someone doesn't make a conscious effort to entertain other people, then I don't see any reason why that someone is a functional part of that roleplaying environment.

So yes, killing is indeed definitive of an assassin. But an assassin has more depth than that. The assassin must pick his targets carefully; studying poison, finding security leaks, gathering information, all for the big payoff.

If a character is murdered, then that murder is acceptable, as long as the person so doing was roleplaying every step of the way.


Note that even simply saying, "My character despises orcs, and will attack them on sight!" is good roleplaying. In fact, this could potentially lead to some interesting situations, where the character, hopelessly outnumbered, draws his dagger and leaps into the fray, because his burning hatred overwhelms his common sense. THAT is roleplaying.

So the premise behind PKing is bad, because everyone PKs for their personal gain and enjoyment in the suffering of everyday players like you and I. PKing should be legal, yes, but only when properly used. And the person who PKs should also just as logically attack NPCs as well; if a person only attacks PCs, you know they are doing it for the gain and not the roleplaying.
In response to sunzoner (#5)
Well, here's my thoughts:
I think that PK isn't nesscessarily a good thing, or a bad thing, I think it all depends on your game. If, for example, your game's main focus is fighting monsters and adventuring then PK probably isn't needed. But if your game takes place in an evil society that doesn't value human life, it would seem unrealistic to keep people from killing people. Games are designed to entertain people. If PK'ing would make your game more enjoyable then you should put it in. If PK would give a few people a power trip, and annoy everyone else, keep it out.
In response to sunzoner (#5)
On 5/2/01 7:26 pm sunzoner wrote:
On 5/2/01 6:55 pm Leftley wrote:
See, this is what I feel is the best sort of solution. Violence is an excellent plot device, and PK is an easy way to let players exert some real power in the world, giving the whole game a much more immersive feel. The problem is when you have players killing each other left and right- unless your game world is one based on pure chaos, this should not be happening. PK should be a major thing with serious effects on both ends- and not all good effects for the killer. If soandso the famous assassin takes out a high-profile player for the incredibly rare and powerful magical artifact he had, it should be a very major event. It shouldn't be, "Oh, soandso just iced another 20 newbies."

The rewards for pk'ing should be nothing or too little to consider OOC.

If you mean NET rewards, then I agree. If you mean GROSS rewards, then I think you're on crack. PK should be a very powerful expedient towards gaining massive power--but it should entail MASSIVE, MASSIVE risks, making it generally foolish to even try unless you're powerful both physically and politically. The net reward of PK'ing in such a system would be zero or less than zero--you can eliminate a rival and increase your inventory at the same time, but on the average you're going to end up worse off than you were before because you'd have a good chance of being caught and punished. This way, players generally wouldn't kill each other just for neat swag or bragging rights--most players would only be inclined to kill if they had very great personal reasons (IC playerkilling) or they were very, very talented PK'ers--professional assassins, who still wouldn't be able to go around racking up PK's left and right.
In response to Leftley (#8)
PK should be a very powerful expedient towards gaining massive power--but it should entail MASSIVE, MASSIVE risks, making it generally foolish to even try unless you're powerful both physically and politically.

Hrm, now that is an interesting angle- the political side. But how would you do this in a game setting? In real life friends can help papers to get lost, witnesses to disappear, and police to look the other way. But games have no such devices....

-James
In response to Jmurph (#9)
On 5/3/01 6:52 pm Jmurph wrote:
PK should be a very powerful expedient towards gaining massive power--but it should entail MASSIVE, MASSIVE risks, making it generally foolish to even try unless you're powerful both physically and politically.

Hrm, now that is an interesting angle- the political side. But how would you do this in a game setting? In real life friends can help papers to get lost, witnesses to disappear, and police to look the other way. But games have no such devices....

-James

Games have such devices only because no one has ever put them in. That doesn't mean that they're impossible. In fact, by putting players in control of a medieval justice system you actually make things easier and more interesting. By letting influential players become lawyers, judges, city guards, and other such officers, you remove the need for a complex and probably, in the end, arbitrary automated system for determining guilt or innocence, AND add in a guaranteed genuine system for bribery and other illicit influence over public officials.

And that besides, even without an actual in-game justice system, an online RPG with a considerable enough playerbase does indeed develop its own political systems. Taking out one member of a powerful circle of friends in a powerful clan/guild with powerful contacts in other clans/guilds is suicide unless you can count on the support of an equally powerful alliance behind you. With both of these types of systems in place, getting away with murder could become a very complicated matter.
In response to Jmurph (#9)
On 5/3/01 6:52 pm Jmurph wrote:
PK should be a very powerful expedient towards gaining massive power--but it should entail MASSIVE, MASSIVE risks, making it generally foolish to even try unless you're powerful both physically and politically.

Hrm, now that is an interesting angle- the political side. But how would you do this in a game setting? In real life friends can help papers to get lost, witnesses to disappear, and police to look the other way. But games have no such devices....

-James

Politics and legal system???
That is one idea I have not thought of.
I'll try to work on that one. :)

But I think it can be done. I wanted to create a jobs system for my game where the players can work as miners, cook, blacksmith, guards... I guess it will be possible to work in a script for judges, police, even a President.
Now I just have to start working on it...
In response to Leftley (#10)
"Taking out one member of a powerful circle of friends in a powerful clan/guild with powerful contacts in other clans/guilds is suicide unless you can count on the support of an equally powerful alliance behind you. With both of these types of systems in place, getting away with murder could become a very complicated matter."

The only problem with this is what I call 'gang-banging' PKers, PKers who run around in a group to terrorize individuals (usually newer players).

-James
In response to Jmurph (#12)
On 5/3/01 8:30 pm Jmurph wrote:
"Taking out one member of a powerful circle of friends in a powerful clan/guild with powerful contacts in other clans/guilds is suicide unless you can count on the support of an equally powerful alliance behind you. With both of these types of systems in place, getting away with murder could become a very complicated matter."

The only problem with this is what I call 'gang-banging' PKers, PKers who run around in a group to terrorize individuals (usually newer players).

-James

But my general idea behind the PK systems I've proposed is to make pointless PK something that no one in the right mind would ever attempt to engage in. I mean, in the real world organized crime syndicates would not mobilize their best hitmen to eliminate random college students just so they could brag about having 'l337 sk1lZ.' I mean, essentially there's two motives for PK'ing:

1. PK a powerful or powerful-looking target to get their loot, or

2. PK a bunch of newbies so you can look tough.

My proposition is to make PK hard to get away with, thus making it considerably less worthwhile. If you got very little stuff from killing newbies and tended to run very high risks of getting caught and losing most of your stuff and being incarcerated and such... few people would kill newbies, at least not on the scale many players in other games do. If simply the act of having killed someone is dangerous to you, you'd only want to PK very powerful people, and very powerful people have very powerful friends. Thus motive #1, while still alluring, is discouraged by the sheer difficulty of getting away not only from the police/city guard/etc. but also from the threat of their friends bringing down their own brand of vigilante justice.
In response to Leftley (#13)
But my general idea behind the PK systems I've proposed is to make pointless PK something that no one in the right mind would ever attempt to engage in. I mean, in the real world organized crime syndicates would not mobilize their best hitmen to eliminate random college students just so they could brag about having 'l337 sk1lZ.' I mean, essentially there's two motives for PK'ing:

1. PK a powerful or powerful-looking target to get their loot, or

2. PK a bunch of newbies so you can look tough.

My proposition is to make PK hard to get away with, thus making it considerably less worthwhile. If you got very little stuff from killing newbies and tended to run very high risks of getting caught and losing most of your stuff and being incarcerated and such... few people would kill newbies, at least not on the scale many players in other games do. If simply the act of having killed someone is dangerous to you, you'd only want to PK very powerful people, and very powerful people have very powerful friends. Thus motive #1, while still alluring, is discouraged by the sheer difficulty of getting away not only from the police/city guard/etc. but also from the threat of their friends bringing down their own brand of vigilante justice.

Well, it seems to me that this has more to do with social standings in the real world. For a reallife hitman to take out a college student would require an unusual reason. However, most pk'ers seem to be prepubescent boys. Remember when you where in grade 7? If you walked up to the grade 9 boys and whupped one of them, you'd have 'l337 sk1lZ.' The toughest kid in jr. high...

You probably will not see a 25 year old brag, "yeah, I kicked that little boys..." because he will actually lose social standing from it. The way that I see it, the swag is just a badge and the means to a greater end.

If an item becomes keyed to a certain player after say 5 levels, It could be a flag to point out injustice. say "[usr] carries the two-handed sword of [c.key]" or some such. That sword with a +20% bonus to hit becomes an awful burden to the 20th level warrior who stole it, because he is going to need 1M xp to really own it. Lots of time to hunt him down.

Maybe there is a spell for summoning your stolen weapons. Just wait till that sucker gets into a fight then... blink!
In response to Ernie Dirt (#14)
You probably will not see a 25 year old brag, "yeah, I kicked that little boys..." because he will actually lose social standing from it. The way that I see it, the swag is just a badge and the means to a greater end.

Another good point. Suppose PK systems took into account relative power standings as well as uniform punishments for PK. So someone who killed a newbie would not only be wanted for murder, but would also suffer a loss in status associated with such a cowardly act. However, if the player had killed someone of equal or greater status, the slayer's status may actually increase, or at least not decrease. Additionally, the law enforcement may be more lenient, seeing it as more of a duel than a murder. Law enforcement is usually meant to protect those incable of defending themselves afterall.

Another concept I thought of dates back to the Vikings and early Germanic peoples. It is the concept of 'weregilt' or bloodmoney. That is , if someone commits a crime against another, they owe them (or their kin) an amount that varies with the severity of the crime. This is what forms the basis of our civil law system as well. In concrete terms what this would mean is that players can negate a murder/thief flag by paying off their victim or their victim's guild. This would entail returning an amount equal to the value of all goods lost plus an additional say 10% for theft, 25% for duels, and up to 100% for murder.

Perhaps the gods may strike at those who attack the faithful. The Navajo, like many mystical peoples, believed that sickness was a direct result of immoral actions. So perhaps players and thieves run a greater risk of contracting random ailments, suffering curses, etc. This would help offset one problem inherent to many PK systems- that frequent PKers tend to be much more powerful than other players because the more you kill, the weaker you will probably get. Kind of a karma system, I guess.

Just some ideas this thread got me thinking about....
<font face="exocet">-James</font>
In response to Jmurph (#15)

Another good point. Suppose PK systems took into account relative power standings as well as uniform punishments for PK. So someone who killed a newbie would not only be wanted for murder, but would also suffer a loss in status associated with such a cowardly act. However, if the player had killed someone of equal or greater status, the slayer's status may actually increase, or at least not decrease. Additionally, the law enforcement may be more lenient, seeing it as more of a duel than a murder. Law enforcement is usually meant to protect those incable of defending themselves afterall.
Status as a character is fine but dont forget that status as a player is what pkers are all about. Thats why they use speed cheats and such that boost them to superhuman levels. It makes them LOOK good, regardless of their actual skill levels.

Another concept I thought of dates back to the Vikings and early Germanic peoples. It is the concept of 'weregilt' or bloodmoney. That is , if someone commits a crime against another, they owe them (or their kin) an amount that varies with the severity of the crime. This is what forms the basis of our civil law system as well. In concrete terms what this would mean is that players can negate a murder/thief flag by paying off their victim or their victim's guild. This would entail returning an amount equal to the value of all goods lost plus an additional say 10% for theft, 25% for duels, and up to 100% for murder.
This is an awesome idea, but weregilt should be based off what the antagonist can pay, otherwise kings will slaughter peasants, pay a few shekels and laugh. Also, If I trip a kill flag, I can kill someone else and only have to pay off one kill price to reset the flag. Rapid, multiple kills become profitable, and someone misses out on justice. You cannot have an infinite number of kill flags, but ten or so might do the trick. Better yet would be to add up the accumulated debt and have them pay this off.
In response to Ernie Dirt (#16)
On 5/5/01 2:16 pm Ernie Dirt wrote:
Another good point. Suppose PK systems took into account relative power standings as well as uniform punishments for PK. So someone who killed a newbie would not only be wanted for murder, but would also suffer a loss in status associated with such a cowardly act. However, if the player had killed someone of equal or greater status, the slayer's status may actually increase, or at least not decrease. Additionally, the law enforcement may be more lenient, seeing it as more of a duel than a murder. Law enforcement is usually meant to protect those incable of defending themselves afterall.
Status as a character is fine but dont forget that status as a player is what pkers are all about. Thats why they use speed cheats and such that boost them to superhuman levels. It makes them LOOK good, regardless of their actual skill levels.

Another concept I thought of dates back to the Vikings and early Germanic peoples. It is the concept of 'weregilt' or bloodmoney. That is , if someone commits a crime against another, they owe them (or their kin) an amount that varies with the severity of the crime. This is what forms the basis of our civil law system as well. In concrete terms what this would mean is that players can negate a murder/thief flag by paying off their victim or their victim's guild. This would entail returning an amount equal to the value of all goods lost plus an additional say 10% for theft, 25% for duels, and up to 100% for murder.
This is an awesome idea, but weregilt should be based off what the antagonist can pay, otherwise kings will slaughter peasants, pay a few shekels and laugh. Also, If I trip a kill flag, I can kill someone else and only have to pay off one kill price to reset the flag. Rapid, multiple kills become profitable, and someone misses out on justice. You cannot have an infinite number of kill flags, but ten or so might do the trick. Better yet would be to add up the accumulated debt and have them pay this off.

In BYOND terms, this would be accomplished by having a list; just make a list that can have any length, and subsequent debts are added to it.

Thing is, though, who's to say that a PKer is going to pay? They'll just kill everyone who comes after them... after all, if they PK, they get strong quickly!
In response to Spuzzum (#17)

Thing is, though, who's to say that a PKer is going to pay? They'll just kill everyone who comes after them... after all, if they PK, they get strong quickly!

Hrm, good point. What I was thinking is this: PK/PThieves (PTs) would have a list a players they had molested, how much they owed that player, and maybe how much they owed the state (fines, etc.) Players could surrender to guards or turn themselves in, in which case a magistrate would review their records and announce a sentence. All money and goods would be confiscated to pay debts and any remaining time would be served in jail. Repeat killers would be judged dangers to society and permanently executed(and thus would probably seek to evade capture!). Any player who failed to turn themself in within a given period would then forfeit trial and be banished. Guards would attack and attempt to slay banished players. Merchants would refuse to deal with the characters except MAYBE shadier ones who would charge steep premiums (dealing with murderers can be hazardous to the health, after all). Of course all of this assumes that A) players need something from town and thus are penalized if they cannot restock food, water, gear, etc. and B) They are not grossly more powerful than the guards.

This is the model I am considering for my current game with the added implications of status. That is a player's status is earned by their crafts or exploits. A valiant dragonslayer will have a high reputation from killing fell beasts or a master bowyer for making impeccable items. However, should the knight start attacking a weak, albeit evil, charater his renown will surely drop just as if the bowyer were to start crafting items with lower quality material. In this way, not only is antisocial behavior discouraged, but so is fraud and preying on the weak, all through social mechanisms. This may not slow down Ragnor the evil barbarian who keeps to the wilds and slays travellers who cross his path, but odds are the roadguards a reputable merchant could hire will.

-James
In response to Spuzzum (#17)
Thing is, though, who's to say that a PKer is going to pay? They'll just kill everyone who comes after them... after all, if they PK, they get strong quickly!

(jumping into this convo)

That's really the ultimate problem. As long as PK is an option, some idiot will find a way to make it profitable to them, while ruining the fun of the game. "There is always someone stronger" stops working when the PKer reaches the top possible level of the game, can solo guards in his sleep, etc.

That brings up the issue of optional peacefuls. Most MUDs, and even Everquest, have the option of allowing a character to fully disable character/vs/character damage.

Many people join a multiple player game for the sake of questing, teaming up against monsters, and having fun exploring the world. In those terms, PK enabled just makes the game less interesting.

The opinion I've seen about that is that for realism reasons, nobody should be able to make a character that can't kill or be killed by players. Yet, PK in essense creates a realism gap, since players can very easily play characters far less moral than your average human.

Yesterday a game, some idiot was running around killing players and laughing at them. Admittedly there's no pk defense in effect, but something like that, happening in the real world, is unlikely at best, even ignoring the laws about it.

allowing PK in a game with no option of peacefuls makes the game itself become a PK game, with a large part of PKers goals being to avoid whatever is there to stop PK