Today is Tuesday and that can only mean one thing: The cafeteria is serving up hot ground meat in between your choice of soft tortilla or crunchy corn shells. Regardless of your preferences of sauces and toppings, Taco Tuesday is inarguably the greatest day of the week, unless of course you hate life. It is around the taco table that we come together to discuss MMOs, in particular those big things and little things that make the genre great. So grab yourself a shell, load it up, and get ready to dig in.
Ever since MMOs first introduced the concept of open combat, the question has lingered as to how to allow players to battle each other to their heart’s content, while at the same time preventing people from griefing new players and driving away business. Games have attempted to throw in a number of features, all with varying success. Criminal systems are often used which prevent characters from entering certain areas/cities until they either wait out a period of time or grind faction points. The goal in these cases is to allow for free range murder with the penalty of inconveniencing the character for the duration of their criminal reign. Certain MMOs go further by punishing the character with experience/stat penalties if they are killed while flagged.
Two recent games are taking a far more hardcore approach to dealing with griefing and mitigating those with a strong habit of randomly killing/kidnapping everyone they come across, and those games are Wizardry Online and Age of Wushu. Wizardry Online is a hardcore MMO with permadeath and open PvP, a combination which means there is an obligation to ensure that opting to be a criminal is difficult and dangerous. When one player kills another in Wizardry, the victim is able to place a bounty on the head of the killer. Bounties are temporary and will eventually expire. Players with more than five bounties will be imprisoned upon their next death. Imprisoned players are unable to delete imprisoned characters, nor are they able to access other characters on the same account. Between paying back bounties or long hours of grinding to get out of jail, a particularly bad griefer could be punished past the point of being willing to play anymore.
Age of Wushu features a similar jail system. Snail Games may not have implemented any kind of permanent death feature in Age of Wushu, but they’ve managed to make prison almost as bad. Instead of trying to explain it myself, I will allow user Smokefin to give his testimony:
72 hours in jail. I killed 30 people and after that i died to 4 other players and went to jail. Now i need to serve 72 game time hours of jail. I literally didn’t believe it at first, but its true. SO: I play 4 hours a day, that means that i will be released from prison in 18 real life days, IF i managed to be online all those 4 hours a day, after that i will be executed and i will have halved stats for 24 hour game time. So i’m back to normal in 26 days if i play 4 hours a day.
72 game hours in jail followed by 24 game hours with stats halved? That is harsh. Maybe a little more punishing than I would have thought, and apparently enough to cause Smokefin to quit.
Where do you stand on penalties for griefing/rampant ganking? Should the worst offenders have their games essentially rendered unplayable for long periods of time?