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.
Identity is an open-world, cops-and-robbers sandbox, and it isn’t asking you for money. That’s because it was already Kickstarted to the tune of almost $150,000 back in 2015. It’s a real-world MMORPG with a focus on roleplay, economy, and yes, the dark side of human nature.
Developer Asylum Entertainment sat for an AMA on Reddit Friday — here are a few of the highlights:
- Custom server admins can enforce a “new life rule” — when you die and return, it’s as a new character — but the official servers won’t. NPC police won’t patrol the world, but players will be somewhat restricted, such that players can’t raid each other’s homes. “On official servers, we have a stress system in place to discourage random attacks or griefing. […] You won’t be able to shoot from inside your vehicle. We want to discourage random acts of violence for the sake of roleplay.” There will also be safe-zones for player gatherings.
- “Identity’s prison is very much a game within a game.” Players will join factions, attempt prison escape, create weapons, undertake a trial, or just chill out and chat until their time is served. There are no player prison guards (they said they couldn’t make it fun).
- Character customization will be limited to facial features, tats, jewelry, piercings (and presumable gender, skin color, etc.) but not physique, at least not for launch.
The developers of Albion Online want you to murder the heck out of your fellow players, but they also want to make sure that you’re not exactly rewarded for your decision to murder people for no reason. The game’s reputation system is a compromise between the two extremes. If you gather resources, live as a lawful citizen, and defend others, you can look forward to being well-liked by the Royal Expeditionary Forces. If you stab everyone you can see in town, on the other hand… well, for starters, you’re soon not going to be allowed in town.
Nine reputation ranks are available for players, with the more disreputable criminal ranks eventually barring you from access to all but the least-policed areas. You can, however, steal items from other players. That’s not counting the lawless areas of the game, where even upstanding citizens can wander around executing whomever they want. Check out the full rundown of the system, or check out the video explaining the system just below.
The Chronicles of Elyria team submitted itself to the wilds of an AMA on Reddit earlier this afternoon, allowing players to bombard the developers with questions about the soon-to-be-Kickstarted MMORPG. Here are some of the highlights so far:
- Pre-alpha/alpha 1 testing will begin “as early as possible,” potentially “as early as Q1 2017, with beta beginning in the summer.”
- CEO Jeromy Walsh previously worked at Microsoft developing automated test infrastructure; Elyria’s will be similar.
- How will the studio pull off something so ambitious? Experience, partly, but also middleware. “We’re leveraging as much middleware as we possibly can,” Walsh says. “We don’t believe in re-inventing the wheel, and where others have made progress and have license-able technology available, we’ll be looking to leverage that.”
Are you into grouping in The Elder Scrolls Online? Good news for you: ZeniMax says today in a new dev blog that it’s focused on improving the grouping tool once again with the Dark Brotherhood DLC. Specifically, the LFG tool is getting a standard “ready check” feature so your tank doesn’t pull while you’re away on a biobreak, in addition to a 15-minute cooldown timer to prevent griefing and the ever popular votekick button:
“Sometimes things just don’t work out, and this will allow you to fairly decide if someone should be removed. To initiate a vote amongst your group, just right-click another player character’s name in the group UI, and choose Vote Kick. Alternatively, if you’re on console, you’ll see this option when you select a player character’s name in the group menu. Anyone in the group can initiate a vote, but it does require a majority vote to remove a group member.”
Huge PvP battles have always been a core part of EVE Online
‘s territorial warfare gameplay, with fleets of hundreds or even sometimes thousands of players slamming into each other in the depths of space. Battles usually erupt at points of interest such as stargates, space stations, sovereignty command nodes or individual player-owned structures. There might even be multiple fights going on simultaneously at different points of interest all across the same star system, each of them happening within its own little bubble of space just a few hundred kilometers across. Now it looks like CCP may be planning to increase the size and complexity of those battlefields by a huge factor in preparation for the Citadel expansion in spring
We’ll be able to build citadels close enough together that they’re only a few seconds warp from each other, but due to a quirk of how EVE divides its space up into small bubbles, structures and players more than 500km or so apart usually can’t even see each other. That’s the problem CCP is experimenting with right now, with grid sizes on the test server currently increased from around 500km in diameter to 8,000km or more. This would allow players to build communities of citadels in order to work together or to use them as huge battlefields where warring corporations can have staging citadels within visual range of each other. The change could have wide consequences for everything from territorial warfare to piracy and even industry, and it could be the first big step toward finally fixing corporation wars in high security space.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I examine what increasing grid sizes would mean for EVE and propose some much-needed changes for the war declaration system that could soon be possible thanks to the Citadel expansion.
Welcome back to our ongoing exploration of Rachel Kowert and Thorsten Quandt’s book The Video Game Debate. As you can guess, the book itself focuses on games in general, not just MMOs and online games, so I was able to apply today’s chapter on moral panic to recent trending indie RPG Undertale. I’ve argued to educators that not only is there evidence that games can positively affect morals, but that part of Undertale’s charm is that we know we can do bad things yet are emotionally rewarded for acting in a peaceful manner. In fact, the game actively discourages you from committing violence by constantly trying to include you with its cast of characters.
Then someone on Reddit stepped into a conversation and asked, “What about all the griefing in sandbox games”? It’s a great question, and one addressed in this chapter.
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.
Those crazy ArcheAge kids, always mucking up the works! The latest bit of fantasy sandpark drama comes to us courtesy of the game’s official forum, where Trion laid the smack down on griefers who were blocking trade routes in safe zones and preventing players from delivering trade packs.
Trion community manager Celestrata outlined the changes, stating that while blockades initially seemed like a desirable offshoot of ArcheAge’s sandbox mechanics, the reality wasn’t as fun as the idea. Aside from the whole forced-PvP-in-a-safe-zone problem, the affected players typically have no way to free themselves from a blockade. As such, blockades are officially disallowed as of October 23rd. Trion did discuss a policy that included allowing blockades in conflict zones, but due to these zones occasionally changing to peace zones, the firm decided that preventing all blockade gameplay was a preferable solution.
You can read the full explanation, as well as a whole bunch of griefer guild tears, via the link below.
; thanks Matt and Kinya!
One quirk of some early MMORPGs was that character names weren’t always unique. It was possible to roll multiple characters with precisely the same name and appearance, and whatever unique identification system the game did have was completely hidden from the players.
Hijinks ensued, as you might imagine, when unsavory types rolled characters to trick their fellow players. I was fooled once myself way back in the early days of Ultima Online, when an outcast former guildie rolled up a perfect clone of our recruiting officer and managed to bluff his way into our castle and safehouses until we figured out the scam.
Modern MMOs usually prohibit reuse of character names, or at the least they’ll append some other unique signifier to help players avoid mistaken identity. But there are plenty of scams in MMOs still, particularly in lowbie areas, where naive newbies and trusting kids (like I was back then!) swarm. Maybe the most widespread is the lottery scam, so virulent that some games, like World of Warcraft, outlaw player-run lotteries entirely.
Have you ever been scammed in an MMO? What’s the worst scam you’ve ever seen, and in which game did it take place?
I hate to admit this, but sometimes it’s super hilarious to troll other players. In early Star Wars Galaxies, it was a petty amusement to tell people about the /qui command. SWG would allow truncated commands, so we would tell people that /qui was short for “Qui-Gon Jinn” when, in fact, it was short for “quit,” which would, of course, instantly boot them from the game. Now, I never did anything nefarious to the character as it was still standing in the world, but I saw some people train mobs to the link-dead character, which would kill them. And early, early in the game, the body could be looted.
In Mo’s MMORPG, we know that KaptainKuddles and DrL0v3 have a completely different way of trolling other players, and they are clearly nefarious. Let’s see what they do in this week’s comic…
A long time ago on a website far, far away, we were having a discussion about modern MMOs and their inability to make sandboxes more than thinly disguised FFA gankfests. I suggested that devs riff on Star Wars Galaxies and its early TEF (temporary enemy flagging) system as a way to incorporate optional FFA PvP into a PvE sandbox. As it turns out, the system was incredibly complex from a design and implementation standpoint, and it also assumed a certain amount of player competency if PvP avoidance was desired.
Raph Koster, the designer of SWG’s original TEF system, has posted a lengthy blog entry that outlines all of the challenges inherent in the system from both a developer and a player perspective. It’s a pretty fascinating read whether you’re a fan of SWG or one of those PvE players who would love to play a sandbox MMO but for the incessant Lord of the Flies vibe.
We’ve all been there: Stepping into a new game is frightening and exciting at the same time. We don’t know what to expect, especially when other players are involved.
Just like stepping out with this comic strip, it’s a scary prospect. I’m glad you guys have enjoyed it so far. Jef and I have been working really hard to make it interesting and funny for you.
So far, the comic has just been about Mo, but now we get to meet our first player characters. Now that is a scary prospect.
Our friend Mo has stepped out of the tutorial zone and is ready to take on the open world…