Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Even real-life actions like leaving a multiplayer game are a form of
divergent goal. The player leaving the game has the goal of getting up and
doing something else. The players left behind have the goal of continu-
ing play.
But the worst kinds of divergent goals are the ones that are driven by
the pleasure of irritating others. This is called griefing. .
GRIEFING is deliberately destroying others' play experiences for one's
own entertainment.
Shooter players wedge themselves in doorways so that their team can't
leave the starting area. Strategy game players attack their allies' units or
wall off their bases. Even in games with no obvious way to harm other
players, finding ways to grief people becomes a game in itself. World of
Warcraft players used to cast a water-walking ability on allies as they fell
from a height into a pool. The hapless victims would splatter onto the
water which was suddenly, to them, as hard as concrete. Counter-Strike
players used to use the game's spray-tag function to place horrifyingly
offensive images in high-traffic areas of the level. Other players would be
forced to look at the Internet's most shocking pictures as they tried to fight
their tactical battles (and that's not the kind of juxtaposition that enriches
an experience).
In face-to-face games like board games, sports, or barroom billiards,
people don't grief because of the threat of broken friendships or bar fights,
so designers of these games don't have to worry about players moving
other players' pieces or throwing the cue ball out a window. But these
social enforcement mechanisms don't exist online, where everyone is
anonymous and can leave at any time. In these kinds of games, the design
of the game itself must handle griefing.
The first line of defense against all divergent goals is the same as with
desk jumping: motivate players to have goals that make sense. Players
don't assign themselves divergent goals randomly; they do it in response
to the same kinds of impulses that drive them to play games in the first
place. They want to conquer, explore, communicate, and affect people. If
the best way to do these things is to play the game as it was intended to be
played, that's what they'll do.
Unfortunately, achieving perfect goal alignment across all players at
once is nearly impossible. Usually we need other measures to keep multi-
player games on track.
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