Rare isn’t completely oblivious to the griefing going on in Sea of Thieves, even if it probably hoped gamers wouldn’t notice so damn much of it. A blog post from Executive Producer Joe Neate explains that it’s attacking griefplay from multiple angles.
- Insta-brig abuse will be stymied by management tools that give players the power over whether they are open to matchmaking in the first place. Matchmaker filtering by mic status and language will also be possible.
- Rare is changing ship respawn view distance so the ship that sunk you can’t immediately find you and do it again and again.
- And the studio is pushing players toward scuttling in the event that their ship is taken over and they’re repeatedly murdered by the invaders. “We’ll assess this before taking further steps,” Rare says. “We are also considering options around moving ships to other world instances if they are caught in a griefing situation.”
What would have been even better is if Rare had listened to alpha players (or any griefplay observers from the last couple of decades) and fixed it before launch, but we’ll take it.
Did you think Sea of Thieves’ patch yesterday, which aimed to address respawn griefing, was going to put an end to players’ torment? Yo-ho-ho not a single chance of that, me hearties. Not while the brig is still in the game.
As we’ve previously covered, the “brig” is sort of a milder version of vote-kicking found in other games; if you annoy enough of your fellow crew, they can dump you in the brig of the ship, locking you up until you apologize or whatever. Rare defended it as a “creative” solution that allowed people to roleplay their way out of a bad social situation.
But just as it did with its proposed (and since canceled) harsh death tax, Rare is now finding out the hard way that if you give a griefer an inch, he’ll take a mile, and now the tool meant to curb griefers is actually being used by them to, you guessed it, grief everyone else.
Forget group-kicks: If you’re a tool in Sea of Thieves, your own shipmates might just opt to stuff you in the brig – “a holding cell located on the bottom of the ship that disruptive players can be sent to after a democratic vote is held by their shipmates,” explains Polygon in a piece last week. The idea is to give toxic or obnoxious players a chance to apologize or shape up, even roleplay their way out of the situation they created.
This kind of penalty isn’t entirely new to MMOs, whether we’re talking jail in Ultima Online or Age of Wushu, but it’s certainly creative, right? At least as long as the majority of your ship isn’t toxic and you’re the one being shoved into a cell.
What’s the most creative in-game way you’ve seen an online game studio thwart toxicity?
I was snooping around the Star Citizen Spectrum forums last week when I bumped into a topic that made me back up my snooping truck for a second look. The author attempts to define “sandbox” as a “newer classification” than themeparks, which will make vets grin for sure, but then it goes on to argue that by definition, there’s not really any such thing as griefing in a sandbox as all activities are on the table.
2014 me already argued – successfully, I’d like to think – that PvP isn’t a crucial element of MMOs, let alone sandboxes, so I won’t do that again. But what I did want to home in on is how we ought to be defining griefing. I’ve always thought of griefing as having nothing to do with what is technically legal or socially acceptable in the game but about literally causing grief. Not trying to win, or trying to take something for yourself, which seem like perfectly reasonable activities in any game, but specifically making causing grief in other players your primary goal of your activities, whether or not you’re playing by the game’s particular rules to do so. For example: camping newbie spawn points even when the game doesn’t reward you for doing so. Consequently, it’s just as possible in a game that forbids PvP as one that enables it.
Do you agree with the OP? Is it possible to grief in an open PvP sandbox?
Elite Dangerous has once again become the battleground between griefers and everybody else, this time with real-life stakes.
A few weeks ago, the Elite community banded together to come to the aid of CMDR DoveEnigma13, a 39-year-old player dying of cancer. In his honor, players and Frontier announced what they called The Enigma Expedition, a month-long, open expedition throughout Colonia. Hundreds of players signed up to join in the journey, including DoveEnigma13 and his young daughter on what was likely be their last journey together in the game. Frontier even chipped in a huge megaship to anchor the event.
But midway through the expedition, griefers showed up to bomb and disable that ship. Because of course they did. Oh, and there’s a contingent of nihilists on the forums providing them cover. Because of course they are.
Last week, we reported on an impending roleplaying event in Elite Dangerous that was set to influence the outcome of Premonition, a game-based novel by author Drew Wagar. What players did during the event to hunt down or defend accused assassin Salomé was expected to be incorporated into the book, including NPCs being killed off permanently.
I’m sad to report that while many players did rush to Salomé’s (as played by Wagar himself) defense, the event was predictably run off the rails by players. First, a multi-guild faction calling itself Premonition Allied Coalition (PAC), which was sanctioned by Wagar and ostensibly there to protect the NPC, allegedly began threatening and attacking non-PAC players who arrived in the event locations, causing extreme uproar across the Elite subreddit.
And that, according to Ars Technica, is when the chaos really began, as amid the pandemonium, Salomé’s ship was actually destroyed by a PAC member who was in fact a mole named Harry Potter (sigh) from gleeful and notorious Elite griefer group Smiling Dog Crew, who had convinced PAC it could be trusted this time, and MMO players for some reason believed them.
Even if you can overlook the expense, the current lack of games, the potential for nausea, and the annoyance of wearing a clamshell on your sweaty face, virtual reality has a looming problem: trolls.
Turns out that the same internet jerks who ruin online spaces and games via text and avatar show up to do the same in virtual reality too.
As MIT Technology Review wrote yesterday, part of the point of socializing in virtual worlds is to feel the “presence” of other people — but the very benefit that makes “virtual reality so compelling also makes awkward or hostile interactions with other people much more jarring,” such as when people invade your private space or try to touch your avatar without permission.
The publication highlights AltSpaceVR, a startup building tools to help people deal with trolls. The company has some of the basics already — like a way to make obnoxious people invisible with a block — but it’s also working on a “personal space bubble” to stop people from groping your virtual self without permission, which they would otherwise do because people are gross and have no shame.
Here’s something you probably didn’t know: Online worlds researcher Dr. Richard Bartle didn’t actually write the Bartle test.
His original research explored, analyzed, and defined the four player archetypes — killer, socializer, achiever, and explorer — but the test based on that paper was created a few years later by Erwin Andreasen and Brandon Downey and named in his honor.
We’ve been talking a lot about Bartle’s ideas’ relevance to modern MMOs in the last month or two, so I thought it would be fun to ask the Massively OP staff and readers to take the test, share their results, and talk about what it all means in this week’s Massively Overthinking.
There are, of course, some caveats.