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An RPP system with increased granularity

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Re: An RPP system with increased granularity

Postby Brian » Mon Dec 30, 2013 9:43 am

Rivean wrote:One of the things I always found ironic was that the ones most likely to get the points for powergaming PCs were usually the ones that least wanted to make them.


Funny!
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Re: An RPP system with increased granularity

Postby Eugene » Wed Jan 15, 2014 2:54 am

tl;dr: being a newbie helper sucked and we need to reconsider both how we advertise the MUD and how we orient new players. Also, we need to make the admin team bigger and include lesser roles.

As someone who tried their best to help newbies, I can tell you that it gets extremely tiring. Sometimes, you get someone really good that knows what they are doing. Even if they are clearly new to Tolkien, they attempt to fit in and find their place. There were many newbies that I saw with my mentor flag that went on to become more influential characters than my own.

However, the vast majority of them flunked out. The concept of a roleplay intense game is something alien to most. We can all understand it, but most people do not associate role playing games with actual role playing. The majority of new players I encountered were painfully slow and stubborn to the point that I did not even want to seek them out anymore. I loved being a mentor at first. Then, when I saw so many of the characters I had previously encountered becoming problematic players, I just wanted to jump off the Zakim Bridge.

One of the biggest deterrents was showing up and becoming their friend without seeming like a tutorial NPC. Making my appearance believable and substantive was a feat in of itself. I really wanted to make the new players feel welcomed and apart of something, as well as orienting them to the game. If I was in an inn and a new player happened to plot right in, it was easy to try and catch their interest with an emote. Even then, many new players would ignore all emotes thrown at them to go run around the town. In some cases, they would just start attacking NPCs, die, and never return. When I was a Guide, verified their character, tried to help them get oriented, and saw them just commit suicide and never return, it was sufficient to break my spirit.

It is more than likely that I was just awful at it, but even I can't blame myself for situations where a newbie logged in, immediately left, and started punching a guard.

As a second note, I think the administration and playerbase needs to become more integrated. One of the things I definitely noticed in the last game was a ridiculous dichotomy between the players and the administrators. There needs to be a great deal more transparency, and I think a sort of middle management is required to solve this problem. Trusted players should be given pseudo-administrative permissions in order to deal with problems that the administrators cannot always see or deal with. Furthermore, the management for the MUD should be lateral, not be top-down. Simply put, admins should act like players. It makes them far more accessible. What this allows for is volunteers that are willing to handle issues that our puny administrative team cannot. Can they give items or spawn NPCs? Hell no. Can they make note of players, or devise and execute plots? Absolutely.
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Re: An RPP system with increased granularity

Postby Throttle » Wed Jan 15, 2014 5:17 am

Nobody should be a full-time helper, honestly. One barely plays the game when in guide mode, and the idea of having a small group of people who do all the tutoring never worked. Nobody can stand to do that for any length of time. Newbies tend not to actively seek out help - I was a guide for years with my mail, AIM and PM open to newbies and not once did I ever get contacted that way - so to be a useful helper, one has to basically wait for them to come in and then pounce before they can even do anything. It's impossible to do this regularly while retaining some semblance of in-characterness, let alone doing any actual gameplay.

The ARPI engine has an in-game helpline channel that new players automatically join. This helped immensely, allowing them to ask questions as they came up and allowing any guide to answer instead of having to catch and individually babysit the player. Guides can look at the list of people logged into the newbie channel, see everybody who's online with a new player tag, and can tune out of the channel when they need to actually play the game. I would recommend taking this even further and allowing anyone with RPP to rejoin the channel and answer newbie questions.

However, I also suspect that guides matter a lot less than previously assumed. Usually, when a player tries an RPI it's almost immediately evident whether or not they're the type of person who belongs in a game like that. If they came to the game because they thought it was something else (usually they googled 'tolkien RPG' or something), it's almost unheard-of for them to stick around and give the game a chance after finding that it wasn't what they were looking for at all. Conversely, when someone comes looking for an immersive roleplaying experience, they'll almost mentor themselves if you just point them to the right parts of the documentation. You can tell right away which of the two a player is, and I've never seen the former become a proper roleplayer while the latter typically doesn't even need active guidance, just answers to the many questions that crop up in the beginning. A helpline channel suffices for this and makes the job of helping newbies a lot less soulcrushing.
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Re: An RPP system with increased granularity

Postby Roheline » Thu Jan 23, 2014 9:17 pm

tl;dr : Instead of having RPP being strictly based on staff observation, have a player comment/compliment system that is tallied regularly into points, which can be used for IC perks such as skill boosts, special events, different races/roles or influencing the course of a gamewide event/policy through players' combined "votes" of their xp toward a given cause.

If the big issue preventing fair allocation of RPP is not having enough staff/enough staff time to observe players enough, then why not allocate some of that observation onto the players themselves?

One MUD that I played in the past had an XP system where players primarily earned points by earning other players' compliments, which were submitted via code and then tallied every week and points handed out. These points could then be used to help a character gain a player-set goal (not dependent on other PCs), such as a promotion, admission into the college, learning a difficult skill, etc. Every now and then the admins would run an event "auction" where players could bid their XP and the winner would win a special staff-run event for their character, usually something bad happening to them. Most interestingly, players as a whole could vote/donate their xp to influence the course of gamewide events like elections, laws being passed or not, and how badly affected different groups of players would be affected by certain adverse events (usually by setting an xp target which had to be met and injuries dealt out according to how much of a deficit there was).

This game was pretty much strictly RP, without any coded crafts or combat, but I could see these points being used to obtain different coded benefits such as a small skill increase, weapon/armor upgrade, etc. Obviously there would have to be some care taken to make sure the system wasn't abused (but if admin could see who wrote the compliment it would be fairly obvious if they were serious or not and if it was one player trying to give boosts to their friends, for example) and the perks offered by such a system would have to carefully balanced.

This type of system would not be a perfect evaluation of a player's ability to run a clan, but it would be a way to award consistent, quality roleplay with tangible benefits while taking some of the burden off staff. I think that having a more diverse array of perks that can be earned than just "more badass races" might also improve players' enjoyment of playing regular humans and take away some of that urge to always be upgrading to something "better", as has been previously noted in this thread. Putting in an additional system of allowing players to "donate" their xp towards certain IC gamewide targets (such as an edge to winning a battle, elections of officials, preventing or allowing a potential even to occur) would also give players who *aren't* interested in changing to a "higher" race a way to use their earned points to influence the game.

Another option might be to separate the race role allocation from RP points entirely by having a feature application process *only* when a given elf/dwarf role is needed in the game.
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Re: An RPP system with increased granularity

Postby Throttle » Thu Jan 23, 2014 9:58 pm

If the big issue preventing fair allocation of RPP is not having enough staff/enough staff time to observe players enough, then why not allocate some of that observation onto the players themselves?


The short answer is that players can't be trusted with it.

Even if you manage to prevent abuse by OOC buddies (which would honestly take about as much effort as the act of handling RPP staff-side would, if not more), most players simply aren't qualified to make decisions like that. For one thing, we see very little of what really goes on when playing mortal PCs and constantly misinterpret things. Also, people are overwhelmingly biased against characters of evil alignment, so to speak, and you will receive a lot of thinly-veiled OOC hostility by simply playing a villain. This will strongly affect people's propensity to appreciate and reward anyone who plays an unpopular character.

Also, the commendation patterns would be heavily influenced by playtimes, clan/sphere populations, OOC popularity and so on -- in fact, it'd be likely to turn the game into a horrible popularity contest where people go out of their way to not only become liked outside of the game but also to inform everyone of the identities of their PCs. The whole thing would open so many cans of worms and be so abusable, so potentially damaging to the community, and still probably wouldn't bring us any closer (probably the opposite) to the goal of more fair and appropriate awarding of RPP.

It simply affects the game and the way people play it far too much to work on an RPI, and the goal should always be to make people worry less about RPP. Vesting players with the responsibility of awarding RPP would do the exact opposite. ARPI and PRPI had a 'nominate' feature that allowed players to merely inform staff when they thought someone deserved RPP, and that feature showed all the aforementioned signs and pattern despite doing nothing tangible. I sincerely hope never to see a system that allows players to actually grant rewards to other players, on any RPI MUD present or future.

For the most part, I find that the supposed faults of the traditional RPP system are quite overblown. Players who really deserve to be rewarded almost always are; usually the only problem is with the first point because it can be hard to notice when someone is at that stage if they're not playing a notable PC and the player is not yet a familiar name to admins. Any higher and it's typically quite obvious who does and doesn't deserve points, and most of the complaints come from players who don't but think they do.
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Re: An RPP system with increased granularity

Postby Matt » Thu Jan 23, 2014 10:25 pm

What Throttle said times a million.
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Re: An RPP system with increased granularity

Postby Roheline » Fri Jan 24, 2014 12:14 am

Interesting. All the times I've seen such a system used have worked remarkably well, with players giving really genuine, discerning, carefully thought-out comments. Then again, I suppose it works differently for roleplay only games with smaller player bases. Without any coded benefits or even the possibility of powergaming, there is no temptation to "cheat" the system.
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Re: An RPP system with increased granularity

Postby Brian » Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:30 pm

I think one of the key things, which has already been suggested numerous times, is to not make the rewards for spending RPP so great as they used to be on SOI2. As long as different roles/races are not game breakingly good there is less feeling of needing them in order to be able to compete or be the best.
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Re: An RPP system with increased granularity

Postby Emilio » Fri Jan 24, 2014 3:04 pm

In my opinion, RPP earned through roleplay should be spent with the current character and not a future one as that leads to suicide. It is better to see your character is improving as time goes on.
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Re: An RPP system with increased granularity

Postby Matt » Fri Jan 24, 2014 8:43 pm

RPP should never give in game boosts after character creation.
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Re: An RPP system with increased granularity

Postby tehkory » Fri Jan 24, 2014 9:39 pm

Emilio wrote:In my opinion, RPP earned through roleplay should be spent with the current character and not a future one as that leads to suicide. It is better to see your character is improving as time goes on.


How do we then hand out Elves/Dwarves/etc., if not via RPP?

Matt wrote:RPP should never give in game boosts after character creation.


Arguments rather than statements are probably more helpful; not that I don't agree.
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Re: An RPP system with increased granularity

Postby Emilio » Sat Jan 25, 2014 5:50 am

I don't know... keeping how many RPP costs for races secret and don't tell the players how many they have? Open new races during character creation without hinting the values. Reward the players with surprise birthday parties with gifts? And so on...
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Re: An RPP system with increased granularity

Postby Letters » Sat Jan 25, 2014 6:11 am

Only open non-human races for special application, which will be reviewed with an eye to how well a player would be able to portray a quasi-NPC, and only when a non-human is needed for a particular storyline or temporary purpose, with the understanding that the character will not be a permanent fixture in the game and is intended to fulfil a certain purpose?

Run-on sentence. Whoops.
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Re: An RPP system with increased granularity

Postby Octavius » Sat Jan 25, 2014 7:29 am

I think Letters raises an important point - the switch in mindset involvef in Narrativist vs Gamist motivations. I expect Gamist motivations, naturally, from most players because it is important that this is a game and meant to be fun, rewarding, and leave players with both satisfaction and accomplishment. This leads to a view of characters as something owned, earned, and generally perpetual.

Some roles should be directed to those with Narrativist mindsets, where the focus is on the story being told. This leads to viewing a character as a piece of story, with a beginning, climax, and end.

It is also important to recognize the value of a good Simulationist mindset for a race or role, too. Someone focused on the realism and detail of immersion synergistically improves the experience of all around them.
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Re: An RPP system with increased granularity

Postby Throttle » Sat Jan 25, 2014 11:16 am

I'm not sure that the game stands to benefit from making it so that humans are, for most players, the only playable race at all. I think it's safe to say that while some will like the idea of playing a temporary PC dedicated wholly to some piece of plot, this is not what most want out of a game like this one. Many more simply wouldn't be given such a PC for the same reason that they wouldn't ever earn the RPP required to create one in the traditional system.

There's definitely room for such a thing as temporary storyline characters who get more support to carry out some plot or story segment with the caveat that they are bound to that purpose and can't be played with the freedom and permanency of a regular PC, but I don't think this should be the only way to play something other than humans; especially in a setting where it finally makes some sense for players to play elves and dwarves, unlike in SOI's past where they didn't really fit in at all and had no real purpose.
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Re: An RPP system with increased granularity

Postby Burke » Sat Jan 25, 2014 10:50 pm

Playing a temp character can be a lot of fun. In fact, some of the most fun I've had recently was on a MUSH that was starting into a big scene but because of a sudden staff shortage didn't have anyone to set it, do atmosphere emits, and play a necessary character. Even though I had just finished chargen, I ended up playing my character, the crowd, a high-ranking NPC, the weather, a dwarf, and several boats full of soldiers on the fly with no real preparation.

However, I am, to use Octavius's categories, absolutely a simulationist player. I don't plot out my character's stories; I map out their histories, personalities, flaws, and quirks, and then drop them into the environment and see how they act. That does affect what I want to see in gaming terms because, while I can play Beginning Craftsman or Beginning Soldier alright, I quickly get bored if all I can do in that role consists of either Beginning Guy stuff or tavern talk. I'd like to be able to start a character that is at least far enough along that quickly moving into journeyman status is possible so that the character's stage is a bit bigger. If RPP help make that possible, then I'm all for them. In fact, I'd prefer them to be CG-only so that your character doesn't have to suddenly explain being a wiz at big honking sword forging when yesterday he could barely hammer out a kitchen knife.

That said, if everything gets implemented so that it's possible to CG an elf with RPP, you can believe that I'm going to RP my ass off to get enough points to do that. I love playing elves.
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Re: An RPP system with increased granularity

Postby Octavius » Sun Jan 26, 2014 12:19 pm

The categories - GNS Theory used to be over at The Forge, but now has a wiji entry. :)
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNS_Theory

In designing for here, I think it is important to consider and plan for all three. (I usually bring it up when Narrativists are talking down to Gamists and callong them twinks.)

SOI has always one of the rare places that truly caters to the Simulationist behavior (particularly with our crafting system).

One of the reasons for Laketown as a setting is that is one of the best locations to support multiple races. Silvan Elves, Dwarves, Humans, and Orcs all have civilizations on the map.
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Re: An RPP system with increased granularity

Postby Throttle » Sun Jan 26, 2014 2:00 pm

While the game should be designed with all three tenets in mind, the important distinction is that only one of them can really break the game. I think the Gamist aspect of SOI was too prominent, not only in the races (although especially there) but also in the itemization and, later on, with the power attribute and the introduction of a system that let you buy stat boosts with RPP.

It often allowed Gamism to get in the way of Narrativism. Those who knew how to optimally game the system got better results out of using that to their advantage than those who were best at "narrating" got out of using roleplay to pursue their interests -- especially because there were rarely good ways to do the latter. There were long stretches of time where the Ithilien conflict was a chaotic mess of Warcraft-like PvP, or where it was completely dead because one side had discovered some severe code imbalance with which to win every encounter. The same was largely true back in Tur-Edendor, and briefly in the ill-fated Moria.

The Simulationist doesn't need much guidance because the game's inherent design takes care of that, and a Middle-Earth game has great propensity to serve this need as the setting is so well-known and the source material so strong. There isn't really such a thing as "too much" Narrativism, so that part isn't grounds for concern, either. It's the Gamist whose influence can be problematic, and that's why I harp on about balance in threads about armor and stats and such.
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Re: An RPP system with increased granularity

Postby Octavius » Sun Jan 26, 2014 3:09 pm

Which brings us back to the topic of this thread...

Gamists tend to do what is necessary to earn rewards.

If you want to incentivize Narrativist mindsets, clan-based gameplay, helping acclimate and retain new players, or other behaviors, then we need a Reward system (RPP or Badges for meta-game, or in-game rewards) which encourages it appropriately.

Discuss. :)
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Re: An RPP system with increased granularity

Postby MrDvAnt » Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:06 am

After reading through that wiki and then The Big Model which the creater of GNS left GNS for, I'm afraid I have to agree with the critics of the theories. I've been playing both tabletop and computer RPGs for 23 years now and have seen people with different playstyle meld together and not ruin the game for each other. People can get along and each get what they want out of the same game, even if their goals are different. I guess if I had to define myself by the GNS rules I would be a mixture of Gamist and Simulationist. I still don't see any problems with unbalanced races/classes. I've read varying peoples' opinions on it, both here and on other mud forums and so far haven't seen an argument that changes my mind. It all seems like "nuh uh! It's not fair for someone else to have something better than me!" I think as long as everybody is adhering to documentation, role playing, and not breaking rules it shouldn't matter if they want to purposely put themselves in bad situations to further a plot, make their character as codedly strong as they can, or just get lost in playing a role within the confines of the world. They all seem like valid pursuits to me. There are plenty of games out there where every race, class, item and ability are perfectly balanced and the only way to be stronger than another person is through mutual roleplaying. They call them MUSHes.
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Re: An RPP system with increased granularity

Postby Feawen » Tue Jan 28, 2014 8:05 am

I've only seen freeform MUSHes like that. Or maybe things like Multiverse Crisis which is impossible to balance (and might be freeform? I've never played it).
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