Here’s how Saga of Lucimia says it’ll ‘keep toxicity to an absolute minimum’

    
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This week’s dev-written Saga of Lucimia blog asks everybody over the age of 35 to think back to bygone days “when reputation used to mean something” and miscreants were blacklisted by the community.

“For the most part, there is little cooperative spirit in most modern-day MMORPGs, even on the so-called PvE servers,” the indie sandbox’s creative director Tim “Renfail” Anderson asserts. “Instead, it’s a free-for-all storm of mayhem where play-nice-policies are no longer enforced, and player toxicity is allowed to run rampant in favor of generating the most amount of money possible to satisfy investor needs.”

“In a group-based game where you couldn’t really solo anything, reputation was the most important currency anyone had. If you did something bad enough to justify your name being posted in the forums, you very quickly found that no one would group with you. If no one would group with you, your forward momentum was halted; you couldn’t progress through the game. The bad apples of the community were quickly rooted out, and either rage quit, changed to a new character, or learned how to play nice with others.”

Renfail argues that Lucimia is going all-in on “old-school” mechanics “to ensure that community toxicity is kept to an absolute minimum.” While noting the play-nice policies won’t be easy to implement, he does say the team is “considering setting aside an official section of [its] forums where players can post video clips of players who slip through the cracks” of those policies.

Worth a note is that this is a studio that in 2016 put up an advertisement seeking an unpaid community intern who was female, “photogenic,” and not “easily offended,” such that she’d be able to withstand an “R-rated internal working environment where religion, politics, sex, and other NSFW subjects are talked about on a daily basis.” The studio did later edit that job description, but not before commenters took it to task.

I recognize Lucimia’s community ideal from the earliest days of then PvP-centric Ultima Online, but not at all from EverQuest, where my server was utterly dominated by extreme toxicity from particular PvE uberguilds that made blacklists useless. How about you?

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Robert Mann

Blacklists are easy to abuse.

Simply put, the problem remains unless there is some authority that is extremely involved and feels restrictive, or unless there is a real life consequence to being a jerk.

Why is it that none of the developers or publishers out there seem to recognize this?

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Dystopiq

Let’s see how well forced grouping works when their population drops.

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Toy Clown

I’m also curious to see how it pans out. We’re talking about a generation having passed (at least in gamer’s terms) since Everquest 1 to where MMOs are today with player behaviors. When we were playing EQ1, there really wasn’t a generation of gamers before us. Most of us on the internet in those days were sure-fired geeks, where we were busting at the seems to be mixing with other geeks after hiding (or getting beat up for it) our geekdom in the real world.

Maybe that’s what the difference is between then and now. I think back to my UO days and getting my first taste of being ganked, and the worst I ever remember dealing with was a PK guild called Insane Clown Posse (before I knew about that band!) that ran around in jester outfits PKing people. You could actually talk with them though! I got on good terms with lots of PKs, and they’d even rez you and gate you out of a bad place after looting your corpse. One even taught me how to fight back, taking me out to practice on his characters.

Now, people go out of their way to make sure you have a bad day in the real world, where it seems to go way past fun and games, and try to make it all personal.

That’s what I miss about PvP in the UO heyday, is that everyone was still chummy after a bang. At least in my experience.

So yeah, I hope they can figure out the psychological stuff behind it all.

Cadaver
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Cadaver

It will be an interesting experiment, if nothing else. I expect this to be a niche title and to attract a community of like-minded individuals drawn by the promise of old-school MMO mechanics. By appealing to a fairly narrow demographic, they may manage to maintain a cohesive, self-regulating population that will require minimal policing.

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Rolan Storm

This.

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Tim Anderson

Indeed; that’s the overall goal :)

borghive
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borghive

You can’t fix sorry. People’s behavior in gaming is a reflection of the world we live in today. I blame a lot of it on social media, bad parenting and the lack of good public education from k-12. Our society is breaking down and you are seeing this toxicity everywhere.

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___

The internet is the means for stupid, violent and toxic people to express themselves better than ever and for everyone else to see. The fact that you’re hiding behind a screen allows you to be the badass you never were or will be in real life.

I haven’t been on the internet before 2005 although I was born in 1991 and I feel like back then people were way more civilized and now the tendency is for things to get worse and worse as time goes on. Especially if we live in time where idiotic things like “memes” are considered a way to express yourself or use a picture with a text rather than write a few sentences… or purposely writing in broken English, because “that’s how the internet is”… or “emojis”. These are just signs that we are continuing to regress intellectually.

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Bruno Brito

How positive.

Pepperzine
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Pepperzine

A forum for shaming other players…? That won’t eliminate toxicity, it’ll create it. Requesting videos as proof only makes it worse as a lot will likely be presented out of context or edited in a way that favors the accuser.

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Hikari Kenzaki

Yeah, I agree with statements that these guys aren’t very coherent in their philosophy or strategies. And a public forum to shame supposedly toxic people? Yeah, that will go well…

As for capturing the love and peace of pre-turn of the century games. Not going to happen. If it ever really existed.

1) There were A-holes in those games, too. Lots of them were considered the ‘Greatest Players’ or ‘Leaders of the best guilds’. They were still jerks. So, the rose colored glasses argument is valid.

2) And this is the important one. In those old games, we were a very small portion of the world’s population. We were the freaks, the geeks, the nobodies. We spent 7-10 hours every day being shunned and ridiculed by our peers. We weren’t about to log in to our favorite game and do the same to each other. (But of course, to point 1, some of us did. Just in less obvious ways).

Today, more people play games. A LOT more people. Those people we were trying to get away from now play the games, too. Now, they have no accountability beyond the possibility that they might be one of the 0.1% that gets hit with a 24 hour ban.

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David Goodman

Bad behavior was always rampant; toxicity was already there, from the very beginning. I feel that even these developers have rose-colored glasses of what the past of MMOs ACTUALLY looked like. They were probably in a large guild or collective that could do content.

Bear with me while I explain how things looked and worked to everyone else. Buckle in, this is gonna be a long one.

At first, it seems to work out well: If you are an asshat in a group, the word will spread around the forums or other community sites that you were a bad player. Screenshots and player shaming – justified or not – were how these things were “proven”.

However, as time played out, the players who gathered into the larger guilds and groups – the people who were able to actually do the content – began publicly shaming and naming people for more and more frivolous reasons. Say, you looted an item that someone on the bigger guild wanted; now, you’re labeled a ninja looter despite it not being the case. (And they of course say that the rules were stated up front even though there’s no real way to prove that.)

And you know what? Nobody is going to fight them on it — because they are the Big Guild on the server, and if you want any chance of doing that content yourself, you cozy up to them or else they will blacklist you from their runs.

Eventually, so many people will have became blacklisted that the ‘innocent’ people will probably leave the game as it’s a really negative experience. The people who ARE toxic, will do something else.

They will create their own guild together.

Now, since they are their own guild, their reputation with the rest of the server no longer matters, so they are free to be as toxic as they want, and you can’t do anything about it. This will actually ATTRACT people who were refraining from bad behavior due to the social consequences of it, and make them even larger.

Eventually, they will be large enough to actually compete in content with the previous big guilds, and there’s literally nothing you can do about it, because they don’t care what you think or who you are. If your content is instanced (e.g., WoW raids), then at least you don’t really have to deal with them directly. If it’s public (EQ1), then you do, and they will grief the hell out of you, because they can.

THAT is the legacy of allowing a game’s own population to police itself. I speak from experience. I’ve been all of those situations – You may be surprised at how easy it is to become a toxic piece of crap if you’ve stepped on the Big Guild’s toes and got blacklisted on the server. It’s not my proudest moment.

TL:DR: I don’t think this is a game for me if they want a ‘return to social consequences’ and don’t plan on doing anything as a company to deal with this themselves

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Chris Neal

These weekly posts always make me headtilt; one week, they’ll touch on subjects that I agree with and approaches I support, other weeks it sounds like gorilla chest-thumping about how they are The One True Way and all others must be shunned.

It’s a baffling dichotomy and, frankly, one that doesn’t install a great deal of confidence in me about their game.

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camelotcrusade

This reminds me of my own experience with early internet chat rooms, wherein a bunch of anonymous people would meet to chat, ostensibly related to the topic of the chatroom. In the earliest of days, almost everyone was just happy to be there. The medium was fascinating, the new twist on interaction was compelling, and the darndest things came off people’s keys.

In barely the span of a year, A/S/L checks and oddly quiet rooms where everyone was whispering became just as common, as did the astonishing idea that some people in these rooms didn’t want to “chat” at all, they wanted to get off or to troll (though we didn’t have that word, then). And there went the neighborhood, also known as “we can’t have nice things.”

Of course, that’s not where it ended. Moderated and members-only chat, specialty rooms and private channels all arose to filter out the riff-raff. It still wasn’t perfect, but it was better than what it had become, and it was a good example of both behavior and technology adapting to changing expectations. Even so, the giddy days of the frontier were gone.

Taking it back to MMOs, I wonder how much “we didn’t know any better” is part of why things were the way they were. And now that we do know better, I think anyone claiming they’ll take us back to those early days has a good intentions but is wasting potential. After all, it was moving forward that gave us these plateaus of peace and pleasure amidst the chaos of change, and I believe that moving forward–not back–is much more likely to yield them once again.