How Do You Deal with Camps and Griefers

How Do You Deal with Camps and Griefers

The Patheon twitter asks yet another question I feel inclined to write up into a full post. Their latest question raises a tough point that many of us old school mmo vets will know all too well.

Scenario: You're happily camping a named mob after waiting patiently to get the camp from someone else, along comes a random player who just starts competing for the named spawn, you ask them to stop and they ignore you - what do you do?

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Here are the results of their pull at the time I took it.

Sadly, most people voting "train them" are probably responding that way because of Daybreak/SOE's complete lack of support in the past. Way back in the day there was something called the "play nice rules" that were actually enforced. How do I know? Because I was reported and a GM came and talked to me about what I was doing and forced me to comply.

It didn't take long for support to abandon the players, creating a wild west of kill or be killed. That meant you often had little recourse to protect yourself and/or your camp. Training was often your only option... or you could log out/find something else to do.

How this SHOULD Work

You should report the user for violating what should be a community standard. If someone has a camp, it's theirs. If you don't like the game because it has camps, lines for spawns, etc., then find another game. Don't punish a player.

The GM's should respond and police their game. If they are unable to police their game, then the game must change. Let's explore that for a second.

Should Camps Exist?

This is where a lot of people will chime in to the tune that this wouldn't be a problem in a game like WoW or a "modern" MMO. Instancing, phasing, mechanics et al that make it so that you're never waiting for anything you need to do are now the norm.

I find myself in what I believe to be a common dilemma. On one hand I like the idea of a static world where there isn't an instance waiting to be spun up to suit the needs of anyone who comes along. I like knowing there's one version of that boss and we're all sharing a world. It creates more immersion and realism for me. On the other hand, I like being able to actually play the game when I have time to play.

There's are Better Ways

We need one world. No instancing. We need to be able to have a full-time job yet still log in for an hour or two a day and make progress without being stuck unable to do anything. To that end, there are solutions.

Social Tagging - Everyone gets "credit", which in a game like EQ would translate to "everyone gets loot." I like this option. Everyone works together. This does favor a "no drop" system as to not break the economy.

No Loot from Camps - What if there simply wasn't a rare spawn in a camp that dropped loot? That would certainly stop us from sitting on our butts for hours waiting for a mob to spawn just to lose it to a griefer. Rethink your content design.

What Definitely Will Not Work

If there's one thing that will never work in an open-world MMO it's community policing. It doesn't work anymore because there are too many people playing. Back when there were a few thousand people on a server tops, maybe it meant something to put someone on an ignore list. Today? Not so much.

This is a complicated issue. I don't think I have the answers because all of mine have flaws. There's not going to be an easy fix. I look forward to seeing how it will be handled in Pantheon.

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  • You don’t mention how incredibly controversial and unpopular the “Play Nice” policy was. It was never dropped, as far as I know. It’s probably still technically in force even now but it became unsupportable to due players by and large declining to comply with it.

    One of the main reasons EQ2 failed to make headway against the original EQ, let alone WoW, was that SOE attempted to engineer out all the forms of conflict that had given thtem so many customer service headaches in the previous five years. There was a system of “locks” for encounters that could be broken if players “yelled” for help, for example. The result meant players couldn’t readily help each other and community relations wi thin the game were actually worse than they had been in EQ. Those restrictions were eventually modified but too late to bring back the large number of players who’d already left.

    If you want a pleasant, co-operative environment you need to go to something like GW2, where it’s hard, close to impossible, to grief anyone over anything in the open world and yet there’s very little sense of hand-holding. That’s not at all the game pantheon wants to create, though. I also can’t imagine Pantheon foregoing named mobs and drops, nor can I see them having the funds to keep a sufficiently large and active pool of GMs to police something like the “Play Nice” policy 24/7/365 so they are going to have to be very careful in their design.

    I like the “everyone who tags gets the drop” method but I would bet most prospective Pantheon players would hate it. I think the reason “train them” is by far the top response in that poll is that Pantheon’s audience is composed primarily of people who are specifically looking for an MMO that will not only allow them to train mobs on other people but will actively support it. I imagine that will end up being the officially endorsed policy.

    Personally I will do what I always did in EQ: never camp anything longer than half an hour and if anyone competes with me go do something else more enjoyable. It worked for me for years.

  • I agree with you. Based on the replies by VR to responses to that poll I fear they are going to take the community policing route. This will lead to a very toxic environment just as it has on all the EverQuest TLP servers. Doing VP keys on Agnarr was some of the most toxic behavior I’d seen from MMORPG players. The entire server turned on each other.

    My preferred solution to this would simply be to not have horrifically long spawn time mobs or camps. There’s nothing fun about sitting around for hours waiting on a mob to spawn. I spent the better part of last year playing EQ on Agnarr. There’s a lot of things I enjoy about the game. The long camps for rare spawns and rare drops is not one of them. That part of gaming has evolved for the better.

    Almost every interaction I had with players outside my guild on Agnarr was negative and it was almost always over contesting camps. I spent a regrettable amount of time as an officer in a guild and all day long I would get tells from people pissing and moaning about so-and-so and a he-said she-said spat over camps.

    I REALLY want Pantheon to succeed and to enjoy the game, but if they don’t create some sort of construct to deal with this or players don’t have a reasonable fear of consequence for bad behavior it’s going to turn into a cesspool.