Updated Fri, Feb 13, 2009 by Shayalyn
A TenTonHammer.com network-wide feature on the common gaming issue of "griefing," this issue is addressed by each site for their respective games! Find out if it is severe enough to be a concern to you, learn what to expect and how to combat it, and see what the developers or community has done or will do to deal with it.
Griefing is something that has plagued online games for quite some time. What is griefing exactly? Simply, it is when someone does something intentionally for the purpose of hurting or inconveniencing others. For the majority of MMOGs, it is something that is sought to be minimized. In others, the potential of engaging in it is a significant appeal to its member base. Oftentimes, rules, game design features, and moderation are used to discourage or prevent such activities from happening.
For Dungeons and Dragons Online: Stormreach, does it exist? Well, the game isn't even out yet! Are the possible vectors for griefing being tested and explored in the alpha right now? No significant reports on that right now, either. However, the nature of utilizing the concept of instancing for parties and quests should reduce the severity of griefing that might happen. To be more specific, instancing makes it such that a old-fashioned MMOG environment is not present. An old-fashioned MMOG environment is generally regarded as one that has large persistent towns, over world, and dungeons. This type of situation allows for the potential for people to do the following: loot, kill steal, stalk, harass, and more. There were often ways that others could interfere with what you wanted to get done, and usually you had to either attempt to ignore, or call for a GM to moderate and resolve the situation. However, instancing implies that you only enter a quest or venture out with the party that you are a part of, and each party gets their own instance of a world! DDO promises an immersive experience that requires the skill and teamwork of a party to be able to succeed in their adventures. What if people don't want to go along with this? Let's look at some potential methods of griefing, and also potential solutions.
Methods of Griefing:
1) Joins up with a party, and decides not to work towards the group effort. Maybe they just want to mess around, and aren't taking it serious? A matter of inconsideration. But, they could also be actively trying to waste the time and efforts of others. Can the group survive being short a person or more in a game that is said to require significant skill and teamwork, when quests are designed for a certain amount of people? The group might need to start over.
2) Decides to actively work against a party, perhaps attempting to steal from them, or sabotaging the quest. If not all loot is assigned, perhaps there are opportunities in which someone may seize it for themselves and not work with pre-arranged agreements. Also, it may be possible for people to lure in mobs, set off traps, or engage in other actions that severely hinder or kill the party, or fail an objective. A critical quest item might be seized to prohibit advancement. Same as the first one, the group might need to start over.
3) Tries to take advantage of the good graces of a party, with the intention of only using them, or betraying them later. This mostly comes from being false and deceitful.
4) Attempts to get involved with a guild for the purpose of spying, or tarnishing their reputation. This one is also related to false and deceitful actions. However, since the game is mostly cooperative, this likely wouldn't happen unless for some reason some griefers are really set on giving someone a hard time for their agendas or jollies.
5) Pulling a scam, or spreading misinformation. Luring people into wild-goose chases to mess with them, or find some method by which people can be fooled into making a trade that they did not intend to. In some other games, a quick-switch with a similar looking item right before the final confirmation catches some people off guard, and they don't notice it. People may also be misleading about a particular item or service, and scam people through those means.
1) Preventative: Pay attention to community notices, or word-of-mouth from your social groups. Pay attention to your impressions of a particular person before accepting them. Reactive: Ignore this/these person or persons, and do not group with them further. Spread word about people of bad etiquette and report them if a violation of the official Terms of Service has been committed.
2) Same as the above - it is similar enough.
3) Preventative: Be careful, and try to read their intentions. If they seem to keep wanting, and have nothing significant to offer themselves, it could be a trap. Don't be overly generous or open if you wish to further reduce the potential of this happening to you. Hopefully though, this will not be the case often, as D&D has been a game of great cooperative spirit and adventuring. Reactive: As usual, let other people know if you want them to have a head-ups of possible trouble from certain individuals or trouble making groups, and report if applicable.
4) This one can be dealt with in about the same manner as number 3.
5) Preventative: Stay informed and up-to-date on popular and expected scams and misinformation. Develop a strong knowledge of the game so that such things are easy to notice and recognize. Pay very close attention to actual trade transactions, and confirm the corrects goods are being provided. In the case of services, check up on if so-and-so person has a good reputation. Reactive: Let the community know about scams and misinformation out and about. Report scammers as necessary.
Can the potential of these incidents happening be stopped or at least reduced before it even starts? Seems unfeasible, really. It already has so much going for it, with the instancing and all. Shared community knowledge serves as a rating or referral type system. Although some other games have implemented player-based rating systems, doing so takes a bit out of immersion, and also has the potential to be abused by those are out to give undeserving people a bad name. I think a company such as Turbine with a track record of having great live support teams should be able to address potential issues of abuse and griefing in a good manner, though. Getting those addressed and resolved would be reasonably expected.
Would the existence of griefing in DDO: Stormreach be a bad thing? I would say that most would consider it so. After all, it is considered by both devs and fans that it should be a game with an exceptional emphasis on cooperation, and griefing goes against this spirit. However, it is nice that the nature and design of the game in itself should prevent or reduce much potential problems that could arise that have been experienced by past games, as explained in this feature. Should be good news for everyone looking forwards to a friendly environment not plagued by bothers and troubles!
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