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Gamers Don't Want Grief 177

An article at the Guardian Gamesblog looks at the frustrations of online griefers. They talk about some of the unpleasant activities online gamers engage in, and briefly discuss the future of dealing with griefers. Scott Jennings and Richard Bartle chime in with ideas on how things might be handled. From the article: "'I expect we'll see more and more self-government,' says Scott Jennings, game developer and author of Massively Multiplayer Games For Dummies. 'The reason is fairly obvious if not particularly noble: it's less expensive for game companies to have their customers police themselves than hire people to do it. The trick, and why you don't see it generally, is to construct self-policing schemes in such a way that they don't enable unscrupulous players to use them as tools of grief.'" Darniaq disagrees, on the basis that players just don't care about immersion.
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Gamers Don't Want Grief

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  • Forget it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Azarael ( 896715 ) on Friday June 16, 2006 @03:51PM (#15550964) Homepage
    Bah, I have already have enough of online gaming idiocy. Even when you do get the majority of gamers to keep an eye on their peers, you get the exact opposite problem. Pedantic tight asses start running their servers or games like a police state and playing favorites with their cronies. Last time I checked, no one was buying a game called Fascism Tycoon.

    All that I ask is that studios give gamers tools to isolate themselves from having to deal with jerks. You are not going to get rid of them and probably the best that you can do is fence them off where they can't cause as much trouble. Otherwise you will spend far too much trouble on an ineffective solution when that time would have been better spent creating a better game.

  • Griefing annoyance (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zerocool^ ( 112121 ) on Friday June 16, 2006 @04:06PM (#15551070) Homepage Journal
    I play eve, and in the sector of space that I hang out in, there's a highly organized, well skilled, tech 2 equiped group of pirates that fly around looking for kills.

    They're not there to try and claim territory, they're not there to complete a mission objective. They're there to get easy kills. One guy in particular has been playing since 2003 (meaning, almost all the skills he could ever want are trained to the max, giving him lots of bonuses), and is flying the fastest ship in the game. All he does is look for solo miners and people in shuttles and frigates to gank. He always runs when there's any sort of resistance.

    I guess I just don't understand it. I don't get why people would want to do that. Spend all that time in game learning skills and earning money, only to never engage in anything challenging. Only to cause problems for people whom you really have nothing against. It just doesn't make sense, and I can't see how it's fun.

  • Griefinator (Score:1, Interesting)

    by gryphoness ( 841454 ) on Friday June 16, 2006 @04:09PM (#15551088) Homepage
    Graph theory has some very interesting applications in controlling griefing. Different companies have used this before, and it's a system maintenance sort of thing... you have to take out griefer networks, not just individuals. But this can be done. Almost everything you do in an MMO is probably tracked -- the people you talk to, the people you trade with, the places you visit. It's all data and it's relatively trivial to run analysis on it that results in a visual network map of connected players. This is fairly similar to what the FBI does to track terrorist networks, only obviously the data is a lot harder to obtain.

    Then, in the case of griefers, you can explore varying degrees of ugliness. You can warn them. You can ban them. You can cancel their accounts. And then you can contact their credit card company and report them for harassment and/or online fraud, which can REALLY suck. But the core point is that if you take out key nodes in a network of griefers, the pool settles out remarkably quickly.

    Griefing is controllable with the right expert developing the right tools. All the MMO has to do is decide that they want to do something about it. But so long as they keep getting subscriptions, cough, certain large MMOs are not going to make that decision. But some of it has to do with the age of the MMO. Young MMOs will tend to want to play nice with griefers. It never works.
  • by stlhawkeye ( 868951 ) on Friday June 16, 2006 @04:16PM (#15551151) Homepage Journal
    I started playing Warcraft. It was fun. I picked a PvP server. I got to level 20 and every goddam alliance I found killed me and camped me. Guys who were level 60 and elite mounts would stop, dismount, and come kill me. It drove me nuts. I never griefed alliance, I didn't kill half of the ones that I could have for Honor.

    This drove me nuts until I finally realized that I was going to get griefed no matter what, and the answer is to make sure I deserve it. I began griefing non-stop. I'd just hang out in lowbie zones and harrass and grief people. Eventually some 60's would show up and put a stop to it and /spit on me a thousand times.

    And then when my alts got griefed or ganked or whatever, I laughed at the dancing night elf who was /spitting on me a thousand times because, quite frankly, I knew that I really really had that coming. I gave better than I got.

    The fact that I was der uber Shaman only made griefing more satisfying. Run the boards, little boys! Complain that you can't take a shaman 20 levels above you!

    So yeah. Solve griefers with more griefing. The problem doesn't go away I guess but you enjoy the game anyhow. Flame away, I don't care, I cancelled months ago. After PvP grinding to get my elite super dooper PvP set I tried some PvE, but when they announced Necropolis I said fuggit. It's just another treadmill. I think I'm done with on-line gaming of that sort.

  • by Hannah E. Davis ( 870669 ) on Friday June 16, 2006 @04:23PM (#15551224) Journal
    I occasionally grief in online games, but it's more of a roleplaying thing for me. If I go ganking noobs as my undead rogue, it's because she's a freakin' undead rogue. What do you expect, hugs and kisses from the walking corpse who just happens to be a trained and specialized thief/killer?

    However, if I play an evil character, I usually have at least a few extremely kind and benevolent alts. I've played MUDs before where I'd strip someone of gear with my evil character but happily re-equip them with better than what they had before as one of my alts. I just don't want to play good characters all the time because it gets boring.

    I don't really understand people who'll spend absolutely all their time griefing, however. To me, that's just as boring as spending all your time helping others as a good character, and while it may be fun to gank a lowbie once, I rarely see the point in corpse camping. There's no challenge in it, and one or two kills are enough to convince the guy that you're evil and dangerous.
  • by A-Z0-9$_.+!*'(),-, p ( 982701 ) on Friday June 16, 2006 @04:29PM (#15551289)
    I play EVE and constantly grief people. Why? Because I can truly play out the part of a space pirate. I'm playing the game to have fun -- and living the life of a space pirate... = fun. I suppose in some sense of the words, I'm not a griefer. I don't go out of my way to pick on noobies, nor do I run from a fair fight -- but I sure don't avoid new players and I have a strong sense of self-preservation. There is no reward without risk. And this is where EVE succeeds completely. No other game has such harsh penalties. What EVE brings to the world of MMO's is truly lacking in every other game out there. When you win -- you REALLY win, when you lose, you REALLY lose. On top of that, players are MORE then able to gang up and take charge of a situation. I enjoy this system, win OR lose. If you want your hand held by GM's while you play a cute, safe game -- fine by me. But I want to play something that's *hard* and has a point. Don't like it? Don't play.
  • by Achoi77 ( 669484 ) on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:24PM (#15551777)
    There is no real easy way to get both parties (Horde and Alliance) to deal with griefers diplomatically.

    Just yesterday I was playing with my cousin (lvl 29 and 30), running around and trying to quest over at Hillsbrad. A pair of NE rogues would be stalking around looking for some easy ganks. After getting ganked and watching them camp us about 7 times, we've decided enough is enough: we logged on our mains, a 60 war and 60 rogue.

    So we brought them over to hillsbrad, and at first, I stealthed in and stalked around some fellow horde casters trying to level. Whenever I see some NE rogues sneaking in for the kill, I would take them down in 3 hits. Easiest kills ever. Ganking gankers was about liberation. After a few minutes, it was a clear message that they weren't going to have fun, and they stopped trying and went else where.

    Every once in a while some lvl 40s (clearly looking for some easy kills as they are too high for the area to get exp) would be roaming around ganking lowbies. Took them out too. After a while, they got the message as well.

    After about 20 mins of that, my 60 warrior buddy was getting bored, and stopped looking for ppl to defend, and decided to have more fun rampaging around downing any alliance he could find. So him and I, we mounted up, and went lowbie hunting. Wiping out parties here and there, we did it enough times where we could clearly see that alliance were getting frustrated, shouting obscenities and whatnot. We didn't care. We were a buncha angry lvl 60's that were all caught up in the moment, when we were just trying to quietly level our way out of hillsbrad an hour before hand in the first place.

    Well, about 20 minutes after that, we started seeing some alliance lvl 60's coming on in to help escort the lowbie alliance. They took us down and started camping us. We called in our guild members. We took them down. They called their guild members. And shortly after that it was a grudge match and nobody was getting anything done for about an hour.

    I hate Hillsbrad. Wish I joined a pve server.

  • by DarkGreenNight ( 647707 ) on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:41PM (#15551901)
    Ok, lets explain this for non-EvE players.

    You are in a not-secured zone, it's security rating probably going from 0.1 to 0.4. In a secured zone (security from 0.5 to 1.0) if a player attacked another police would come and kill the griefer (avoiding destruction from police attack is cheating). This does not mean that secure zones are secure, simply that you have lots to lose if you attack.

    The pirate loses security rating attacking you, that means he is not able to enter secure zones. There are ways to improve it, though. Zone security 0.0 would mean that no security rating is lost, but these zones are usualy home of aliances.

    A three year old character, even if it's the only one trained in that account, does not have all the skills he wants to max, but probably he has enough to fly that ship perfectly, it it's requirements are not much, and for what you say it seems an interceptor, a ship that you can more than confortably fly in 6 months if you are focused. Training for all the skills to the max would mean more than 10 years, in real time, training.

    Tech 2 ships are expensive, much more than what they give you when they blow your ship (yes, in EvE you can insure ships). And that is not counting the tech 2 equipment they may have, as equipment is not insured.

    So now we have some competent players, with expensive to replace gear, attacking in a PvP zone, easy kills. Why? because a hard kill could mean their destruction, and that's a good reason not to engage what you can't win. But if they got near you you could jam them (ensnare them) so they could not flee, all you need is some basic equipment. Web (slow) them too, unless you want them to go out of your jamming range and flee. So you have options.

    What can they win? A miner can leave equipment worth as much as a ship of these they are flying, people in shuttles and frigates could be transporting great treasures that don't use much cargo space.

    And they teach you to be alert in a PvP zone, and everywhere too, just in case.

    I am a person who spends all his time in secure zones, because I don't like many risks, but I accept them, and learn from my errors. The most exciting time I had in a game was being pursued by a pirate across a system, he in a big but surprisingly fast ship, me in a small but not so fast one. I barely managed to escape, but that adrenaline rush was so great...

    A last explanation for non-EvErs, a three year old player can lose to a determined small group of newbies. So it's not like those other games were a level 60 can kill hundreds of level 5. Use what the system offers to you and have fun.
  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Friday June 16, 2006 @06:06PM (#15552116) Homepage Journal
    When they did the beta-test of Sims Online, my ex was a griefer - she used to go around killing off Sims, starting fights, and that kind of thing - mostly because IRL she never did any of that, and she wanted to test the limits.

    She got quite good at it too, to the point where many would just give her what she wanted in hopes she'd go away.

    I think that, if it were like the death experience in Sims - where you just die, but people can mourn over you and you just have to win a fiddle contest with the Grim Reaper or pay him $100 to become alive again - it wouldn't be such a deal. Or if objects were the same as in Animal Crossing, where you can go into someone else's house all you want, you can play with their toys, and open their drawers, but you can't take anything away.

    In such worlds where death or destruction becomes less of an issue, griefers are just annoying little boys and girls with butterfly nets that keep wacking you on the head.
  • by DS-1107 ( 680578 ) on Saturday June 17, 2006 @09:14AM (#15554500)
    Exactly, and while people did petition the GHSC nothing came out of it as in EVE it is even stated as a feature. A feature that protects us from our own stupidity more then a GM can, example: EVE had a new scam a week ago when someone used IPOs to scam people for 25 bil ISK (GHSC took 30 bil or so, & destroyed more), as usual people petitioned it. Here comes the shock for the EVE community, the GMs caved in and restored 'order' in the anarchy of space, and the people went crazy - and the devs had talks & the anarchy that is EVE was restored once again, the scammer got his cash back and the rules was clarifed that scams is indeed valid. So what GHSC did bring in the end was advertisment, & self regulation; while people complained it would be the death of EVE the growth curve from last year to now is telling something else (I would not claim GHSC is the reason, but the friends who have started playing since have all soaked up the story & loved what it brings to the game; even if they like to play nice) Oh and people don't give away rights to corphangars anyone anymore ^^

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