I tried a few searches on this topic but didn't find what I was looking for. I'm working on a PvP game where each PC controls a number of resources. A group of PCs can gang up on another PC, so logically a single player could do the same thing with multiplayed alts. Other than rules that ban multiplaying and/or alts, are there mechanics that reduce the incentive for PvP with alts but do not penalize group PvP?
do mechanics include IP bans/lockouts? otherwise, increased/decreased resource|exp gains when grouped with real players/alts, respectively, as an idea. Another would be skills or abilities that either a) only affect other real players, or b) can only be used in cooperation with other real players in the group. (e.g. PLR1 begins Channeling Barrier. PLR2 begins.. PLR3 begins.. PLR4 begins.. PLR5 begins.. everyone finishes.. >GROUP A has erected a barrier around their resources!) Skills like that, where the skill fails if it is attempted w/ 1 or more players who are alts.
both of my skill incentive ideas require identification of alts.. I suggest e-mail registration with personal info (real name, birthday) in conjunction with an IP gate, as well as enacting a policy prohibiting falsification of registration information.. this gives you a good excuse to ban/delete alts created to deliberately exploit group incentives, while still allowing players to play alts (properly registered), albeit sans group incentives (where one or more members of the group has an alt in the group (see above))
this should be a fairly straightforward hack, excepting alt-skillchecks, tho that should still be pretty simple
06 Sep, 2012, Hades_Kane wrote in the 5th comment:
In my experience, MUDers are a paranoid lot, many of which will be unwilling to give a real email address, or any other personally identifiable information such as real name or birthday. Requiring this information very well may isolate many players who would otherwise probably not try to cheat the system.
It's also easy enough to register as many hotmail, yahoo or gmail email addresses as one would want, along with IP spoofing or VPNs…
If people want to multiplay, there's plenty of ways around it whatever a MUD owner could do in order to try to prevent it, and extreme measures to try to combat that will likely just run off legitimate players, as the ones who want to break your rules to multiplay will likely not have a problem using certain tactics to circumvent that.
I really do think there's a better option here than using bans, requiring personal info, et cetera.
KaVir touched on it (designing a system that automatically incentivizes real playing). If your combat system is dynamically interactive enough, there won't be a problem with anyone botting except for perhaps the most truly prodigious MUD scripters, which are usually easily identified amongst real players.
Cheating will always be attempted and people will always succeed at it. If you design a system that intentionally minimizes the impact of cheating, you'll probably not get as much of it.
both of my skill incentive ideas require identification of alts..
And that's the real killer. If you can identify alts then there are plenty of solutions. But how do you identify them? I've actually been working on a system for doing this, but it's far from foolproof.
I suggest e-mail registration with personal info (real name, birthday) in conjunction with an IP gate, as well as enacting a policy prohibiting falsification of registration information..
If people follow your policies then there's no need that information, you can just tell them not to multiplay. If they don't follow your policies, then they'll just give fake details. The only impact such requirements are likely to have is raising the entry barrier for newbies.
in my experience, it is easy to spot false entries, and multiple freemail addys from the same ip is a give away.. but overall, I disagree: if your game is worth players spoofing IP to exploit features by multiplaying, then it is probably worth players registering to help admin maintain a fair playing field. if it's not worth it to your players, or you're scared of doing this because you think you'll lose 'valuable' newbies, then multiplaying probably isn't the real issue here ;)
in my experience, it is easy to spot false entries, and multiple freemail addys from the same ip is a give away..
If there are rules against multiplaying, then only an idiot would connect with multiple sessions from the same IP address. Similarly, most people use multiple email accounts, and it's not unusual to create throwaway freemail accounts for playing games.
but overall, I disagree: if your game is worth players spoofing IP to exploit features by multiplaying, then it is probably worth players registering to help admin maintain a fair playing field.
If your game is worth playing, then (to some players) it's worth cheating. If your game isn't worth playing then I guess multiplaying won't be a problem, but I doubt that's the sort of solution Idealiad was looking for.
But regardless, registering doesn't help prevent multiplaying at all, it just gives players extra hoops to jump through before they can start playing.
There is no technical solution to identify multiplaying on internet. Hell even from the same IP you could just face a family playing the same game from their home. In the old days I was regulary accused of cheating and multiplay cause I was playing with a roomate… Only solution is a human one: talk to the people prefereably smulteanously. A solution was proposed in another thread, like making people count or stuff like that.
I don't feel that I have a good solution myself yet, but the point is not to stop multiplaying. I don't care if people multiplay. However I am interested if it's possible to design mechanics that discourage PVP with alts. KaVir and Oliver understand what I'm talking about. Lately I've been wondering if there are some subtle ways to do this with respect to player motivation but the idea is pretty vague at the moment.
I think you'd need to have a way to voluntarily track state. Like having heavy incentives to use an account system which tracks all of your account. I played a game that did this and had a global experience bucket that gained you things that unlocked only for character within the account system, they didn't ban people from making characters outside of the account but the incentives were really overwhelming and it was enough to take off the edge the advantage of playing characters outside of the account system which may limit what they could do in some ways. Like multiplaying those characters in this example.
I agree with Runter, as I said in my first post, skill/resource/exp incentives are probably a winning idea, but will still probably require some sort of account/alt tracking system.
@Kavir: there is no way to prevent multiplaying, hence, hoops. He wasn't asking for ways to prevent it, so my answer is probably more "what he's looking for" than your lengthy critique of my post. I gave a technical solution and an idea for a game mechanic.. You did…?
In general I like the idea of accounts earning bonuses but it may not work as well with this game, where players are fighting over resources (like in a RTS/RTT game). In other words designing for multiplay (with bonuses) may not be the right tack.
There is an additional issue in that conflict is turn-based. This might make it more difficult to discourage multiplay PvP through conflict dynamics, as players will have more time to make reasoned decisions.
At first I thought whether limiting a player's daily losses could work, but that's not satisfying and seems to lead to many other problems.
Another angle might be to reduce the effect of a player's victory if more PCs defeat the same opponent, but this probably discourages group PvP and doesn't do much for multiplay PvP, as there's no difference if you and two alts defeat a PC or you and two other players.
@Kavir: there is no way to prevent multiplaying, hence, hoops.
There are way to identify alts, although they're not foolproof.
But your "hoops" don't help. At all. All they do is raise the entry barrier for new players, in a genre that already has trouble with most newbies judging (and then quitting) the game within the first few minutes.
He wasn't asking for ways to prevent it, so my answer is probably more "what he's looking for" than your lengthy critique of my post. I gave a technical solution and an idea for a game mechanic.. You did…?
Me? Well I pointed out a solution that would at least partially address his concerns. As an added bonus, my proposal wouldn't drive away prospective players.
@Kavir: "I pointed out a solution that would at least partially address his concerns.." .. "Design a combat system that puts them on even footing."
Please… You partially pointed at a potential solution.
Your opinion (which is all your post really is) hardly disqualifies my proposal, or any of them (as there was more than one ;) … If you would like to substantiate any of your claims that such methods don't help at all, I would be interested in those numbers. Otherwise, I stand by what I said (and the implication thereof), both that skill incentives, account registration and a system to track alts/alt-tracking incentives are a good bet, and that your lengthy criticism of my recommendations are neither accurate, nor helpful.
@Idealiad: Do your players grow in levels and such over time/experience? Scaling, so that it's very difficult to get to high levels, in conjunction with diminishing returns on any activity between very low-level players and very high-level players can work as a game mechanic to deter multiplaying. If it's very time-consuming to develop more than one character to a competitive degree, and there is no major payoff to partnering low level players with higher level players, people will be encouraged to team with other players of similar level.
There aren't levels per se but certainly I can quantify a PC's power level. The PCs fight over rooms. The problem I forsee is a swarm of alts whittling away at a more powerful PC's dominion of rooms, so grouping between high and low level PCs may not play into it at all. Actually if you play KaVir's mud you may see such a horde of bots in action playing the War minigame. If I was a new player in my game I think seeing something like that would be off-putting.
I stand by what I said (and the implication thereof), both that skill incentives, account registration and a system to track alts/alt-tracking incentives are a good bet, and that your lengthy criticism of my recommendations are neither accurate, nor helpful.
Skill incentives can certainly help, but that was Runter's suggestion, not yours.
Tracking alts is a requirement for most solutions, as I mentioned in my first post. Your claim that "there is no way to prevent multiplaying" is not entirely true, but the methods for doing so are far from foolproof, and will likely require some degree of administrative effort.
However I was responding to your proposal for account registration, a suggestion which is worse than useless. It has no positive benefits (in the context of identifying alts), because anyone who wants to multiplay can simply give fake details and connect through a proxy; all it does it drive away potential players, and make it more difficult to spot the flaws in your game design that are rewarding multiplaying.
There aren't levels per se but certainly I can quantify a PC's power level. The PCs fight over rooms. The problem I forsee is a swarm of alts whittling away at a more powerful PC's dominion of rooms, so grouping between high and low level PCs may not play into it at all.
One possible solution is the Highlander approach; once a fight begins, no outside interference is permitted. The idea could be expanded to two per side, three per side, etc - but limited in such a way that players can't be swarmed. If the sides are uneven, you could even use some sort of handicap system to balance them out, so the side with fewer players gets some sort of buff.
Actually if you play KaVir's mud you may see such a horde of bots in action playing the War minigame. If I was a new player in my game I think seeing something like that would be off-putting.
It's off-putting for me as well, and the result of a sort of arms-race between me and the botters - they're now using strength of numbers to compensate for the penalties they're suffering. It's my move next, I'm just thinking it through.
You proposed bonuses "when grouped with real players/alts" and bonuses that "a) only affect other real players, or b) can only be used in cooperation with other real players in the group". As you yourself pointed out, those both "require identification of alts". So the idea is basically "track alts, then do stuff to them". The alt tracking is the difficult bit, if you can reliably do that then there are hundreds of solutions.
Runter's proposal bypasses that problem with bonuses tied to accounts. His solution doesn't require alt tracking, instead it relies on overwhelming incentives and rewards for tying multiple alts to a single account.