Tobold's Blog
Friday, July 02, 2010
Player reputation systems

Saate sent me a link to a recent post of his in which he proposes a system which lets players give other players a score for maturity, and then apply a maturity filter to block out immature players. It is easy to see why one could think this would be a good idea, but there are a lot of pitfalls related to player-run reputation systems.

Being able to rate a player as immature or bad or anything other negative for everyone to see is something which will almost certainly be abused by some people. A group of people experiencing the same event will often end up with very different views of what happened and who is to blame. The classic example is assigning blame for a wipe in a group or raid, where the tank, the healer, and the dps all end up having very different opinions on who is to blame for the wipe. In caricature, the hunter got impatient and pulled, the tank lacked situational awareness and couldn't grab aggro on all mobs, the group wipes, and then everybody blames the healer. That, or some other permutation of events, happens all the time. Do we really want to give players angry after a wipe and blaming somebody else the power to leave a permanent black mark on somebody? Do we really want big guilds in which people are prevented from leaving because of a guild policy to blackball anyone who gquits?

Another possible abuse is the formation of virtual mafias, as it happened in The Sims Online. One day you get a visit from a gentleman with an offer you can't refuse: Pay up, or him and his 100 buddies are going to put a "bad player" mark on you, preventing you from ever finding a group again. And if there are "good player" marks players can give each other, how long until current gold farmers will start offering good reputation for cash?

Thus I think that the current system, where you have to remember bad players, or put them on ignore for only yourself, is the better one. Most of the things happening in a MMORPG are just storms in a water glass, short tiffs that don't really deserve a permanent record. If you open your ignore list, you probably don't remember what half of the people on that list did to you. There are up to 20,000 players on a WoW server, the human brain simply can't hold that much information to remember how mature or how good/bad players all of the players you came into contact with are. And that is before considering cross-server dungeons and battlegrounds, or name and server changes. I don't even use ignore very much, and then I regularly clear out my ignore list. Instead of needing a maturity filter, we should opt for the mature solution and just move on.
I'd like something like this implemented, but instead of making it a global system, each player could karma rate people they play with, so they know who to avoid in the future. I believe there's addons for WoW that do this already, come to think of it..

But it would be neat if I could positive rate someone and have a higher chance to be grouped with them in LFD tool, and reversely if I rate someone down, I can avoid getting grouped with them again.
While everything you wrote is true, you missed the reason why these could happen (as opposed to "all homes can be robbed yet they are mostly not").

The reason is that most players in WoW are bad. Any democratic "one vote" system would give power to the bad to exclude or blackmail the few good ones.

If people wouldn't be bad your example guild (where you can't gquit) could not exist as no one would join such guild.
Guess why facebook only has a 'Like it' button and not a 'Dislike it' button :).
I'd be happy if they just removed the "you cannot kick this player for another 15 mins" insanity.

If a player gets kicked there's a big chance he deserves to be kicked in the next group too.
I'd be happy if they just removed the "you cannot kick this player for another 15 mins" insanity.

Haven't you heard? They modified that one in the patch 3.3.5 which got released this week in Europe. Now there is a system that if you DON'T vote kick or desert groups very often, your vote kicks are immediate and don't have a 15 minute timer any more.
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The reason is that most players in WoW are bad.

Silly Gevlon the simple most logical fact is that the amount of good people and bad people in wow is the same. There is just no reward in wow for being good.

The best real world example is somolia vs any other 1st world country. A relatively small number of people have hijacked the country and turned it into a complete mess.
Blizzard's default response (The same as most game devs or any IT staff) is that it is not thier job to provide incentives for behavior. So there is no incentive for being good. There's always an incentive for being selfish that's why we have laws in the real world. WOW is what you get when Technically minded people design social systems. Great game with more reward for being selfish than being a good team member. The armory was thier Biggest screw up. The fact that they couldn't see how it was going to stratify the wow community shows they have no understanding of human behavior at all. I think they "lucked " into the perfect formula that created this sensation and they have been trying to figure it out ever since.
Maybe Nil's has it: WoW needs a like button. Give players 15 like points a day. Any remaining at the end of the day turn into 5g. This gives incentive to not just spend all the points willy-nilly, since it's effectively spending gold.
Better to use the social tools already available to you in most mmos (friends lists, block lists, etc) to do that. A reputation system where such an ephemeral thing is reduced to a number will be too easy to game and abuse.

There are some things that you can't reduce to a number and human social behaviour and interaction is one of them.
The way around the mafia problem is to weight your score per viewer, lending more weight towards people that vote similarly to the viewer. You can like/dislike as many people as you want (and should be encouraged to do so), but your votes only really affect people that tend to vote in the same way as you. Any person you'd actually want to play with is pretty unlikely to have the voting pattern of extortionists, so your score won't be affected to anyone that actually matters.
Blizzard has implemented a number of "sticks" to try to improve player behavior in PUGs - seems like it's high time to consider a "carrot".

A simplified example: after a successful run, each PUGger gets eight points to distribute (or not) amongst the other four. Points can be redeemed in-game for something desirable but not essential.

I posted something along these lines on the US Suggestions forum, got trolled of course but apparently not enough player interest to for constructive replies.

The thing is, I don't care if those four random strangers are cussing me out in the privacy of their own rooms. I don't care if they're utter arrogant selfish cretins on whom I would not deign to spit if their hair was on fire... so long as they do not reveal their shortcomings to me in-game. If they knew the purchase of some coveted 32-slot bag (or whatever) depended on currying our favor - I think they'd at least pretend to be civilized.

That's all I need.
It's odd that group content in MMORPG's typically combines two things :

1) "Weakest Link" group encounters, where one uneducated/substandard/sleepy group member dooms the whole group, and
2) Very little feedback to players about what they are doing correctly or incorrectly.

Blizzard used to have heroic dungeon and raid attunements, and they should bring them back. You should not be able to physically enter a dungeon unless you know how to get out of the fire, or heal your tank, or hold threat, etc. And if you can't do those things, the game should teach you how.

But there’s nothing like that, so it’s left to players to be the bad guys when people can’t perform. Blizzard, and MMO developers in general, should be the bad guy.
I was considering a player reputation system like that, but with one small tweak: Any submission to the system would be moderated. I quickly abandoned that idea because of the massive workload it would put on any staff running the game.

It seems that something like an individual reputation system would be the way to go, where you can mark a player's reputation for yourself. It would have to be something only you could see though, and one where you wouldn't be able to share that information with others as it would cause the same problems as having a server wide system.

I don't think this idea would really work on an individual player basis, but it might work for guilds. Each individual player's vote goes towards a total guild reputation value. That reputation value would then affect different things according to guild rules, or perhaps other things the guild does such as the behavior of guild hired NPCs or merchants towards the player.

Besides, players already have a reputation system in place. It's called "Remember who the jerks are and don't play with them." I don't think we really need an in game numerical system for individuals.

It's not so much that the game (WoW) doesn't teach you how to get out of the fire it's that it doesn't even teach you that you're *supposed* to get out of the fire.
I generally blacklist/ignore a vanishingly tiny number of names, but when I do so, I would prefer the ignore to function against the player's account rather than just one of their character names.
Perhaps a reasonable measure of anti-social tendencies would be the frequency with which a player's account accumulated in game sanctions from the GM's for anti-social behavior.

If you used a tool like dungeon finder, you could opt to filter the more anti-social players out.

Similarly, from a guild perspective, if someone wanted to sign up for a guild, you could filter them based on such a statistic.

While it wouldn't be a perfect filter, it would attach a modest cost for anti-social behavior.
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