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Old 03-20-2006, 12:41 AM   #1
Fern
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Today we introduce a new way to gain experience at Legends of Karinth. Many of the roleplay actions provide exp points which apply toward leveling.  This means that it is now possible to play your character in roleplay mode, interact with society, work with your guild, kingdom, clan and/or family, lead a nation (or plot to overthrow one) and gain experience points - without ever lifting a dagger or sword.
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Old 03-20-2006, 12:53 AM   #2
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Could you explain a little more? How are the points awarded? Is it an admin thing, or a code thing, or a peer (other players) thing?


--matt
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Old 03-20-2006, 01:48 AM   #3
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Entirely code-based.

I have played at places where roleplay experience is bestowed on a subjective basis, and found that the majority of action tended to circle around a set of very small cliques. This is fine, long as you are a member of one of those very small cliques, or have an 'in' to get into the momentum of things.

This is not everyone's style of gameplay though, and certainly not mine, so we looked for methods which do not rely on the popularity contest approach.

Still more to come, but the response thusfar has been quite positive.
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Old 03-20-2006, 02:57 AM   #4
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That's pretty interesting. Do you think the method you're using is "abusable" by people who aren't roleplaying but just looking for the reward?

--matt
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Old 03-20-2006, 03:53 AM   #5
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Like with any brand new module, I would love to think it's bulletproof (and in my heart I know it's not infallible).

We have a series of tests and monitors in place in code that are tracking several playing conditions, and I'm sure you'll understand if I do not reveal the details of them.  

During this initial first few days, while we do a bit of balancing, mileage may vary.  It is the first of several non-combat experience opportunities for our players.
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Old 03-20-2006, 07:04 AM   #6
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I'm not a player of Legends of Karinth but when I play Muds and find something funny along the way. I tend to use *chuckle/smile/snort/etc..* Would this be cheating? I'm using socials without anyone else around...

Presuming the answer is no, where do you draw the line? What if after each time someone kills an enemy does:
#alias honorDead
emote cleans of his sword and sheathes it.
emote scans the area and then turns to the corpse.
emote thanks the Goddess for her help and prays for his fallen enemy.
emote then kneels and searches the body.
exa corpse

Let's see 4 emotes...  +X exp/kill
What I'm getting at is that you have a huge gray zone, what is cheating? I've seen people do something like the above without getting any exp bonus for it. So to base cheating on speculation of the player's intent is imho not a good system. (Not saying that you do, just that I don't really see where to draw the line in iffy situations)
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Old 03-20-2006, 11:53 AM   #7
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I once tried a MUD that awarded "RP" by code. I was moving through the city when the following happened:

Quote:
Originally Posted by
s

s

ss

You receive x experience points!
I had accidently missed the enter key and typed ss, the social for "sniff sadly". This was interpreted as "role-play" and I was rewarded. Hopefully the system you're talking about takes this into consideration and has measures in place to prevent it from happening.

Overall, I've seen reward systems for role-play that work and systems that don't. Ultimately, it's not the systems but the administrators of the game that are the factor. Mature, responsible administrators can work with any system. Immature ones can f-up any system. But personally, I think coded systems invite attempts by players to deliberately try to find loopholes to abuse. Plus, it doesn't take into account quality, just quantity. A couple of well-placed emotes is better than dozens of them which are crude, inappropriate, and/or make little sense (hell, could even be gibberish: emote its tosses library 512 eating).

So, depending on your checks and balances, a code system may or may not work. I'd have to see it in action to say whether it does or doesn't. So, might cruise by to check it out.

Take care,

Jason
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Old 03-20-2006, 12:10 PM   #8
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Basic questions:

1) I log on, and start a script. As I'm playing (idle or not), it randomly pulls 10 words out of an attached dictionary file and constructs an emote out of them, like prof1515's example. This happens semi-randomly, roughly once a minute.

2) What if, instead of picking words randomly, it just selects from a list of 200 "canned" emotes. Assume I bother to write emotes that could be appropriate to the character, but pay no attention to the situations. (i.e. "... pauses to clean his sword.", even though I've been disarmed and I'm running for my life.)

Do I earn XP doing either of these? If so, you have a problem in your reward structure, IMO. If not, I'd also stop by and take a peek.
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Old 03-20-2006, 10:33 PM   #9
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Thank you for expressing methods of 'gaming' the condition. I appreciate it.

I'm afraid I can't reveal the methods we have in place, nor can I acknowledge nor deny which methods are in use.  The player does not see what actions directly give him exp or what contributes to exp, nor that exp has been awarded, nor what percent of his total effort toward a level is contributed by this method of experience.
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Old 03-21-2006, 09:27 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Fern @ Mar. 20 2006,22:33)
Thank you for expressing methods of 'gaming' the condition. I appreciate it.

I'm afraid I can't reveal the methods we have in place, nor can I acknowledge nor deny which methods are in use.  The player does not see what actions directly give him exp or what contributes to exp, nor that exp has been awarded, nor what percent of his total effort toward a level is contributed by this method of experience.
The question is, that being the case, how is it an incentive?
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Old 03-21-2006, 11:29 AM   #11
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Well, the same incentive as there is to gain any other exp: in our case, to increase training hours to gain more skills and abilities.
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Old 03-21-2006, 03:44 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
The player does not see what actions directly give him exp or what contributes to exp, nor that exp has been awarded, nor what percent of his total effort toward a level is contributed by this method of experience.
I roleplay for an hour, then idle for a couple more hours in case there's a time delay. Check if I leveled. If not, I do a bit more, idle, etc, until I do. Now I know.

Repeat experiment with hack'n'slash.

Now I have a very good comparison of relative leveling rates. I could also try this for other experiments, socials versus emotes, etc.

Of course, your system could be more adaptive - say, RPXP value changes so that RP is more effective at higher levels. So I'd want to repeat this experiment for more than one level. It might also encourage a mixture of RP and HnS. Okay, I can check that. Maybe it requires me to be in the presences of others, or not; maybe it counts socials, or not; maybe it aggregates the number of times I type "the". I can test for any of those things.

It suffices to say that if your system uses any simple metrics, it WILL be reverse engineered by any player who really wants to know, at least approximately. They may not be able to figure out if you reward 10 experience for an emote or a random range of 8-12, but hey, they can still figure out that you reward emotes and not socials, or vice versa.

That said, I presume your system is better than that.

My point, more generally, is that even if you hide the experience, players will experiment and figure out more efficient ways to roleplay, experience wise. It's just a fact of life. Maybe they won't get the details, but there ain't no stopping the curious.

Though I do recall being able to see experience gain of Karinth - however, I was there a long time ago and I guess you must have changed it since.

Quote:
Originally Posted by
I'm afraid I can't reveal the methods we have in place, nor can I acknowledge nor deny which methods are in use.
As much as I dislike security by obfuscation, I understand its necessity. That said, I don't see why you can't answer Valg's question, since it doesn't directly address your methods. He simply wants to know whether or not he can abuse your system given those fairly common techniques. He could log on and try it, but that takes time.

Plus, I think we're all curious.

Not answering his question isn't going to make your system any more secure. Any player with a mind to break your system and half a brain will have whipped out a canned dict script or a random emote picker already, to see if it works. And they'd be able to tell, especially if they were an experienced player aware of how leveling rates should feel on your mud.

If you post that, yes, these tricks do work, then your system is flawed anyways. If you say they don't, you stand to gain some interested new faces poking around your mud. I fail to see where you stand to lose.
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Old 03-21-2006, 05:04 PM   #13
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I didn't ask because I'm going to play the game in question and try to rack up XP. I asked because:

1) We've briefly kicked around ideas before about this, and those two cases shot the preliminary suggestions to pieces. It looked really hard to develop methods which couldn't be "gamed" by a player willing to invest 10-60 minutes of effort, so we worked on our other XP-earning systems.

2) If either of those work, your system will be compromised and exploited in the very near future by someone anyway, and it's better to think about it in advance.

If you're interested in discussing it privately, an email or private message will go no further than me. I'm happy to leave your players in the dark about the hows too. I'm just curious if you found a way to beat those two tests.
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Old 03-21-2006, 05:18 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Valg @ Mar. 21 2006,17:04)
I didn't ask because I'm going to play the game in question and try to rack up XP. I asked because:

1) We've briefly kicked around ideas before about this, and those two cases shot the preliminary suggestions to pieces. It looked really hard to develop methods which couldn't be "gamed" by a player willing to invest 10-60 minutes of effort, so we worked on our other XP-earning systems.

2) If either of those work, your system will be compromised and exploited in the very near future by someone anyway, and it's better to think about it in advance.
Weren't those two tests:

Quote:
Originally Posted by
1) I log on, and start a script. As I'm playing (idle or not), it randomly pulls 10 words out of an attached dictionary file and constructs an emote out of them, like prof1515's example. This happens semi-randomly, roughly once a minute.

2) What if, instead of picking words randomly, it just selects from a list of 200 "canned" emotes. Assume I bother to write emotes that could be appropriate to the character, but pay no attention to the situations. (i.e. "... pauses to clean his sword.", even though I've been disarmed and I'm running for my life.)
Surely one way to beat those two tests is just to avoid giving xp for simply typing an emote command or typing a free-form emote.

--matt
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Old 03-21-2006, 05:29 PM   #15
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Spazmatic pointed out that, at one point, experience gains were visible and that that was quite some time ago.  Yes, it was.  We have changed it, along with dozens of other systems in the game.  That's the beauty of being in beta - we change things, sometimes dramatically.  He also points out that no matter which way I choose to answer Valg's question, "I fail to see where you stand to lose."  That one I can easily answer.

I do not claim that we have happened upon the Perfect Mousetrap.  I am not claiming that we have uncovered the Holy Grail of Roleplay Experience Award Algorithms.   Neither is the case.  We have found a method to allow those who wish to roleplay non-combat characters and make progress toward levels.  We have found a way to encourage the combatist to interact with the world and other players, if he so chooses in a roleplay manner.   It's simple, it's objective, it's equitable, and yes - it can probably be taken advantage of if someone is determined to do so.  I'm not claiming it is bulletproof, nor am I claiming that it is without security measures and oversight.

As a result of this measure, we have seen a small rise in the population of roleplayers, a lot of smiles on the hard-core roleplayers, a few people cross over from the pure hack/slash approach to a mixture of activities, and the balance of the hack/slashers shrugging and picking up their swords to continue to beat the foe into submission the best way they enjoy. One person spent a great deal of time and effort trying to 'game' the system.  He was unimpressed with the results (he gained nothing).

Valg:  I appreciate your offer to keep further discussions of this on a private level.  Thank you.
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Old 03-21-2006, 05:31 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (the_logos @ Mar. 21 2006,17:18)
Surely one way to beat those two tests is just to avoid giving xp for simply typing an emote command or typing a free-form emote.
Yup, but you have to be tracking something that a machine is good at tracking. Speech, freeform emotes, canned emotes ("socials" like a "nod" command), etc. It's safe to assume you aren't tracking the quality of what is typed, so you're left with things like:

1) Quantity. Tally various RP commands. Maybe only reward people who use a reasonable diversity of commands.
2) Duration. The code makes an attempt to identify when a player is "RPing" based on their command input, and rewards you for the time spent until you "stop RPing".

Both of these are beaten with primitive scripts. If you require the presence of a second person, it's beaten by collaborating players with primitive scripts. If you require more than one other person, you're shutting out a lot of interactions that really should fall under "roleplaying".

As the_disciple alluded, if you make the system too obscure, it loses its incentive. If I gain 0 XP after an hour-long conversation with another character, I'm going to assume the system is flawed or broken and just RP when I want to RP, and hack up ogres when I want XP.

You want a carrot there, and the problem is that it seems like any carrot opens up exploits unless you build in human supervision (at which point you should stick with a system where the humans just hand out the XP).
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Old 03-21-2006, 06:29 PM   #17
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A very interesting player once sent me a rather large file containing a new method of gaming the game.  I read through it and was amazed at the level of detail that he'd put into this exercise.  In fact, I'd wager that the amount of effort he put into writing the gaming script was at least equal to the amount of effort it would have taken him to get through the same level of areas and wilderness legitimately.

Kudos to him for having gone through the tremendous task of logging and memorizing the paths to take in each of several areas in order to encounter the proper mobs, recite the right litany, gain the right keys, unlock the right doors, bash the right heads, etc etc.

I thought him to be a brilliant lad until I reached the end of the message... where he calmly asked me if I could please tell him why it did not work.... ... .. .

He did not quite understand why the owner of the game he was writing his cheat for would not assist in debugging it.  


There are often a handful of actions in a game that can be so earthshatteringly boring that they reach out and demand to be scripted.  Anyone who has played a game that still forces a player to eat and drink can attest to that.   Many crafting systems come to mind.

Personally I think we should thank anyone who takes time to script a portion of our games, even if they bring this to our attention unwittingly. It reveals places where we designers may need to spend time in the player shoes for much longer than the pure testing phase.
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Old 03-21-2006, 07:33 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
Yup, but you have to be tracking something that a machine is good at tracking. Speech, freeform emotes, canned emotes ("socials" like a "nod" command), etc.
There are all sorts of things to track that go well beyond this. For instance, one could track how effective a nature-lover is at preventing or extinguishing forest fires, or any number of possibilities like that.


Quote:
Originally Posted by

Both of these are beaten with primitive scripts. If you require the presence of a second person, it's beaten by collaborating players with primitive scripts. If you require more than one other person, you're shutting out a lot of interactions that really should fall under "roleplaying".

As the_disciple alluded, if you make the system too obscure, it loses its incentive. If I gain 0 XP after an hour-long conversation with another character, I'm going to assume the system is flawed or broken and just RP when I want to RP, and hack up ogres when I want XP.

You want a carrot there, and the problem is that it seems like any carrot opens up exploits unless you build in human supervision (at which point you should stick with a system where the humans just hand out the XP).
That same logic would say that there's no point in giving xp for most bashing wouldn't it? (since most bashing can be carried out with the help of primitive scripts.) Is a system that hands out points for RP perfect in rewarding roleplaying? No. But then, a system that hands out points for killing something where there is little risk of dying (which is the case in most MUDs, where the player wins a huge percentage of every battle against NPCs) is hardly perfect in the same sense, and yet it's quite popular.

--matt
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Old 03-21-2006, 08:51 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
That same logic would say that there's no point in giving xp for most bashing wouldn't it? (since most bashing can be carried out with the help of primitive scripts.)
Maybe I'm reading Valg's post a little differently here, but it seems what he's saying is quite reasonable.  An overly simplistic system is often too easily gamed or too freakin' boring.  On the other hand, an overly obfuscated system often fails to reward behavior that should be rewarded.

This doesn't mean a system is wrong just because it can be scripted - anything can, theoretically, be scripted.  So, I don't think your implication is fair with regard to Valg's post at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by
Is a system that hands out points for RP perfect in rewarding roleplaying? No. But then, a system that hands out points for killing something where there is little risk of dying (which is the case in most MUDs, where the player wins a huge percentage of every battle against NPCs) is hardly perfect in the same sense, and yet it's quite popular.
I'm going to point further down, into my response to Fern, for my response to this example.

Quote:
Originally Posted by
I do not claim that we have happened upon the Perfect Mousetrap.  I am not claiming that we have uncovered the Holy Grail of Roleplay Experience Award Algorithms.   Neither is the case.  We have found a method to allow those who wish to roleplay non-combat characters and make progress toward levels.  We have found a way to encourage the combatist to interact with the world and other players, if he so chooses in a roleplay manner.   It's simple, it's objective, it's equitable, and yes - it can probably be taken advantage of if someone is determined to do so.  I'm not claiming it is bulletproof, nor am I claiming that it is without security measures and oversight.
That is all very good (and from a design perspective, perhaps all that is required).  Also, let me note right now, I'm very happy that another mud has added RPXP to its system, and I imagine your system is very good.  I am not trying to criticize it, and I don't think Valg is either - I just want to know how good it is, since it would take hours of experimentation to discover its quality on my own. If it can avoid certain, traditional problem areas, then why not less other developers know so we'll come play and discover?

Also, you noted appreciation of Valg's willingness to take the discussion off-board. However, I think, more generally, people would like to know whether it passes the two tests he cited (and any similar types of abuses).  If your system can discriminate basic scripts from real roleplaying, there would probably be quite a few people knocking on your door to have an off-thread off-forum chat (though, admittedly, any sensible admin would probably go into hiding at that point, to avoid the time-sucking vortex that would result).

Anyways, to the point at hand.  At least in the cited post above, you only address coverage, while Valg and myself focus on discrimination.  That is, you're trying to make sure roleplaying is encouraged and rewarded by your system (at least in the above cited post), and we're wondering how well it keeps out the naughty types.

Yes, coverage is very important.  However, it's also very easy.  At the most extreme point, I could give experience per minute logged in at a fixed rate, so that socializing is encouraged, as is roleplaying and any other activity you can think of.  I'm not necessarily discriminating, say, roleplaying compared to idling, but I guarantee I'm covering it.

At the other far extreme, you could have a system that could identify good roleplaying by comparing it to examples of good roleplaying, but performs the comparison in such a narrow way as to be absurd, and requires all emotes to be the same.  That would be, well, idiotic.

This is a tradeoff that's common in a lot of fields. In statistics, a comparable issue is the bias-variance tradeoff (as an example). Finding a good solution somewhere in the middle is hard, so we like to ask.

the_logos' analogy of rewarding low-risk combat is a question of discrimination, however, I don't think it's the proper analogy to bad roleplay.  Rewarding bad (or scripted) roleplay would be comparable to rewarding a level 60 character killing level 1 rats.  Rewarding bad roleplay equally as well as you reward good roleplay would be comparable to rewarding a level 60 character with the same experience, no matter what he or she kills.

Very few muds use the latter system.

I realize this is a bit of a promotions thread, and we're rather OT.  However, such things happen on the web, and I wouldn't have posted if I didn't think I could maybe either clarify things or have things clarified myself.  I also respect your need to keep your methods secret, and if you really insist on that, fine.  

However, let me reiterate - answering Valg's question about whether or not those two methods work will not compromise your security, and has the potential (if your answer is "no, they don't") to generate a lot of chatter and benefit the community as a whole.  I can, for example, tell you how much computational power is required to break a method of encryption without revealing to you the method of encryption.  This is a similar request - we'd like to know how good it is from a developer's standpoint, knowing full well that it's probably very good from a player's standpoint already.  Consider it an exercise in the possible.

(Plus, seriously, if those two exploits DO work, then your players will be exploiting them like crazy in the near future.)
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Old 03-21-2006, 09:10 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Fern @ Mar. 21 2006,18:29)
Anyone who has played a game that still forces a player to eat and drink can attest to that.  
This is a tangent, but even something as commonplace as eating and drinking is only as boring and scriptable as you let it be.

If I am, for example, another player playing a dark wizard character who can, with a spell, befoul all of your food as you sleep, days from civilization, the fact that you need to eat regularly or suffer consequences has ceased to be in-game "busy work" and has become something interesting. Maybe I'm a thief who can steal your water. Maybe I'm a priest of a god of gluttony and excess who can curse you to only be able to eat the finest gourmet foods until the curse is removed. Suddenly, the need to eat and drink is a framework that allows many interesting player abilities.
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