Privileges or Rules?
Posted by Blessing of Kings [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 7 March 2013, 1:29 am
Consider the difference between privileges and rules. Ideally, rules are for everyone. Everyone has to obey the same rules. Privileges on the other hand, might be specific to individuals. A privilege usually must be earned in some fashion, and can be revoked if the person proves unworthy.

When it comes to player interactions, privileges might be a better model that one-size-fits-all rules.

Over the course of an MMO's lifespan, we see the same pattern. There are simple rules which govern player interaction. They work well for 95% of the time. Then someone figures out how to exploit those rules. The developers have to modify those rules, making them more complex, more onerous and more inconvenient for the rest of the players.

Instead of rules, perhaps structuring interactions as privileges is a better way to frame the situation. Then you can use a player's past behaviour to control whether a privilege is granted or revoked.

For example, take vote-kicking. The basic vote-kick system worked well for all the people who used it judiciously. Then people started abusing it, and the devs had to include more and more safeguards. You can't vote-kick in combat, or for a bit after combat. All of this makes it harder to vote-kick someone when you need to actually kick.

Maybe the better model is to think of vote-kicking as a privilege, not a rule. If you abuse vote-kicking, or vote-kick too much, your ability to vote-kick is simply taken away. Other people's vote-kick privileges can remain intact and untouched.

Or take the latest rule change, the removal of /follow in battlegrounds. It's a rule change made to target bots. But it does remove an option for players who are not abusing it.

As well, take the old Need/Greed loot system in Raid Finder. Perhaps it would have worked out better if rolling Need was a privilege instead of rule. If you rolled Need too much, you could lose the ability to roll Need, and/or lose the ability to trade gear.

Another example could be talking in general chat. Right now there are restrictions on how fast you can reply, which came in because of spammers. Maybe freely talking on general chat channels is a privilege that should be earned.

A final example might be ganking. The ability to kill players lower level than you should be a privilege and can be revoked if you kill too many, or exhibit a pattern of corpse camping. Revoking a ganker's ability to kill lowbies shouldn't affect people who rarely gank.

Of course, the hard part here is determining patterns of behavior that should lead to a privilege being revoked. However, I think that if you look at play patterns, people who show restraint will have very low incidences of negative behavior, allowing even a moderately low bar to avoid false positives.

To sum up, I think that one-size-fits-all rules that govern player interaction have proven to be overly restrictive and vulnerable to exploitation. I think player interaction in MMOs would be better modeled as a series of privileges that need to be earned and can be revoked for those who abuse them.

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