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Blog #13: Signed... in Blood

MumboJumboMumboJumbo Member UncommonPosts: 3,219


Signed... in Blood
The Ties That Bind
How do two (or more) anonymous players in an MMO make an agreement that is meaningful to all parties, and that creates a system where people will fulfill their commitments even without real-world social pressure or legal consequences?
The solution we have evolved is to have a variety of contracts tailored to various purposes. Characters can enter into contracts specifying various aspects of their deals, the rewards for success, and the penalties for failure.
You can think of these contracts as a questing system hidden in plain sight. In most MMOs, an implicit contract is formed when you accept a quest—if you do the thing that the questgiver requires, you'll receive the offered reward. The trust that you must extend is to the development team: they would be unlikely to have the quest giver cheat you; if they did, nobody would accept those quests, and word would quickly spread that the quests are scams. Other than occasional bugs, NPCs who give quests in MMOs always stand behind their offers.
In Pathfinder Online, the dynamic shifts from NPCs giving quests to players interacting with each other to advance their own agendas. However, without the good will of the developers standing behind the deal, odds are that many people would renege on a deal, or in some way scam or steal from the other parties. Unlike NPC quests which have virtually no security (but very high trust), PC-to-PC deals have to have strong security to overcome very low trust. The metagame solution to this problem is to simply say that such schemes are violations of the code of conduct for the game and will not be tolerated. Rapid and effective enforcement of such a policy will substantially reduce the number of people who try it.
Escrow, Reputation, Alignment, and the Law
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