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 Hoarding: is it kosher now?
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Daedalus
 Tuesday, April 02 2013 @ 02:53 PM UTC (Read 2192 times)  
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OK, first and foremost, this is NOT a complaint about anyone.

In particular, if the person who inspired me to raise this recognises his/herself in what I'm saying, please please please do not be offended. I'm not complaining about you or the action, It's just raised a question in my mind.

So, here's the thing. I recently over-'heard' a discussion in Banter in which a contestant was given, apparently, a bunch of OSTs and was really happy, and said that they would stack them in an Alt for future use. No one else in Banter reacted with any indication of concern.

Now, I wasn't around for S1, but I do recall hearing that one of the problems that arose in that period of the Island's history was contestants hoarding assets across DKs, and doing so reached a level that caused problems for the Island's internal economy. When I first started playing, early in S2, it was made clear that carrying assets across a DK, other than those things that do so by design, was ... frowned upon.

So my question, and I guess it's directed to the Mods and or CMJ, is: ... are we heading down the road to that same trouble, or are there now mechanisms in place to cope? Should a reminder go out to refrain from using Alts to hoard game assets, or is it a non-issue these days?

Again, I stress, I'm not complaining about anyone's in-game behaviour.

Peace. Out.

D.


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CavemanJoe
 Tuesday, April 02 2013 @ 03:40 PM UTC  
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Yup; this breaks rule three.


 
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Buddleia
 Tuesday, April 02 2013 @ 03:54 PM UTC  
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Obviously I'm not one of the mods, but my comment would be:

The Gifting Station, while wonderful in many ways, has allowed a change of attitude to arise and persist. A One-Shot Teleporter is no longer for transport or escape; it is portable req. And portable means not just transferrable, but bankable and storable and giftable and, yes, hoardable. For the low, low cost of one cent per around 5000 Requisition (yes, I know it varies), you can send money to friends who've just DK'd; you can store them in your alts and with your friends for your own next DK. When there's a Titan available, those with decent attack stats can quickly get 100,000 req and store up or hand out 20 teleporters.

Someone sad they can't quite afford a Chainsaw or a wedding ring or a bed for their house? You don't tell them about strategies for accumulating req, let alone mention the moneysacks or multipliers in the Lodge: you buy an OST and send it to them.

You're about to DK and you've got lots of req but not enough to upgrade your hat? You're a nice kind generous person, so you're going to buy OSTs and hand them out in Banter. After all, otherwise the money would only be going to waste.

You're about to DK and you want to go straight back to having good boots, gloves, helmet, weapon and armour? You are practical, so you buy OSTs and you send them to friends. "Hang on to this for me for five minutes while I DK". After all, you do the same for them. It's just like crates, only without disadvantaging anyone else - they're there to be used, aren't they, and how is it harming anyone - it's not like you're being selfish enough to actually use them, you're just ... moving them around a little. You buy it, you sell it, where's the loss? eBoy isn't a real person, he doesn't count. Etc. Except....

I think we've got used to having lots of req easily available. And I agree, this may be a problem. After all, the Bank itself limits you to 25 req transferred per level per gameday - that's, what, one or two Look For Troubles' worth? Much as everyone enjoys a freebie, thoughtful as people are with their altruistic gifting, fun as it is to have a giant walking pinata cash cow, delightful as it is to be able to afford an Elephant Gun and a wedding ring and a size 42 hat and enough Improbabombs to get a Scrambler and a land claim stake on level 1 of your first DK (ok, I exaggerate, but you get the idea) ... I think the Titans make getting stupid amounts of req too easy. I know there are lots of debates about the difference between making something an entertaining challenge and making it a frustrating grind, but surely getting enough req for the best possible weapon+armour+boots+helmet+gloves ought to require more than ten minutes worth of a lucky day's actions?

Ah - a definitive reply while I was typing!

Quote by: CavemanJoe

Yup; this breaks rule three.



If this alteration of the economy - of eBoy items as portable cash and of Titans as cash cows for and hence of expensive items as far far easier to get - is deemed harmful to the game, my ideas are:
  • make OSTs non-giftable
  • make all eBoy's items non-giftable
  • make eBoy's items much more expensive to send (on a par with buying req or multipliers in the Lodge)
  • limit the sending to one eBoy's item received/sent per character per gameday


Improbable Reference Links - goo.gl/MRBnb -------------- Land Registry (map of Places) ---- goo.gl/bpkRR
 
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Count Sessine
 Tuesday, April 02 2013 @ 06:14 PM UTC  
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Thank you, Buddleia, for that thoughtful analysis. I've long been of the opinion: to a very large extent, game design determines player behaviour. Rules of social conduct are one thing, but the rules of gameplay are what the game allows you to do.

The minute eBoy items were made giftable, it was quite predictable that passing them around via the giftstation would replace the vending machines of Season One and would become deeply embedded in the game's culture.

Moreover, the Island gift shop's Improbable tissue paper and ribbon will hide anything from the Drive, which means that people are able to hoard unopened gifts through as many DKs as they want. This has also become a major part of the culture. Alts are only a very tiny fraction of what's awry with the economy.

As someone who once helped organize an entire S1 clan into making full use of the potential of the vending machines -- and had a whole lot of fun doing it -- it would ill behoove me to condemn the current practice of generous OST trading and gifting, even if it is ruining the economy. There are important positive values.

Tradeoffs. A socially cohesive culture with a strong emphasis on gift-giving and helping others out, vs. a... pretty much broken economy. CMJ is the one who gets to decide where he wants the balance point to be. If he wants to adjust it, there's point 2 from Buddleia's list, or making giftwrap non-protective, or... well, several other options open to him.

Rule Three covers using alts to give your main character some game advantage that was intended to be a benefit of social interaction; the gift station falls squarely into that category. The game is paying a big price by allowing these actions to happen at all. It's kind of cheating to reap the benefits without even having to interact with another player. So, indeed, people should not be doing it -- we'd really rather they didn't.

(Lodge items are different. For those, it was the player, the real human being out there, who paid real-world money or devoted their own computer's spare cycles to curing cancer, to obtain the supporter points.)

There are some code measures in place to prevent giving items to your own alt. They're not terribly good measures for today's world; people sometimes slide past them by chance without even meaning to, but they're all that's possible with the current game engine. So -- an exception to my first paragraph: if the game tries to prevent a certain action but for technical reasons can't always succeed, then it becomes fair to ask players not to take advantage of this.

tl/dr: Please, everyone, don't give your alt any eBoy gifts.


 
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Hairy Mary
 Wednesday, April 03 2013 @ 12:56 AM UTC  
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I was thinking about this, trying to marshal my thoughts on the subject. Then Budd said everything I was thinking, and expressed it all in a better way than I was likely to. Any stray points which she may have missed were then admirably mopped up by Sessine.

I'll reiterate anyway, the emphasis may be slightly different.

- OSTs are used essentially as gold - a nice, safe, easily transported/traded/stored form of req.
- Using alts to store/whatever OSTs is only a small part of the phenomena, and as such is only a small part of any effect that it has on the economy.
- A far bigger part of the phenomena is people being altruistic. This has its own inherent positives. Having a friendly, altruistic atmosphere on the Island is, in itself, a Very Good Thing. Indeed, I'd go as far as to say that it's one of the Island's big attractions.
- Nevertheless this also has a negative effect in that it makes the game too easy.
- Part of the problem seems to be the easy availability of req (to some players) via Titans etc. Would people agree with this? I'm not too sure.

- SO: What is needed is two fold:-
- A sink for excess req. Any ideas here? Maybe some sort of 'clan hat'. Something that clans can buy with no real effect on the game beyond bragging rights. Any other ideas?
- Some way for people to legitimately help each other, and encourage that helpful, friendly feeling, but which doesn't make it too easy for the recipient of such help.
What this might look like I really can't imagine. Perhaps some sort of side goals, for medals or somesuch. I don't have any good ideas at all here. Help? Somebody?

- Returning to the use of alts as opposed to friends. The big problem that this presents is, well, that it involves alts rather than friends. It's far better if people are interacting to achieve their ends. So from that perspective gifting eBoy items to alts is something to be discouraged. How this might be achieved I don't know. Sessine tells us that it's technically difficult to block. Is this due to people playing on phones and all sorts of other odd devices? Well whatever the reason. Just sort of asking people here to not do this isn't going to work. New people are joining all the time who aren't going to realise. Some people will be naughty and ignore the request - a wee bit dickish maybe, but that's how some people are. Ultimately I think that we're going to have to accept that this is going to happen - and that the people who really lose out by it are the people who do it. That's just the way it is. Maybe we can discourage this, but I think that turning somebody into a naughty cheater for gifting eBoy items to alts may be a little counter-productive. It would be better to encourage using friends rather than disencourage using alts.


 
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Ada
 Wednesday, April 03 2013 @ 02:06 AM UTC  
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HM, wasn't that req sink idea a huge problem and source of drama in S1? I'm not actually convinced that a req sink is needed; OST prices haven't jumped through the roof because we all have a ton of req to spare, nor have they become ridiculously cheap because people are selling them all the time. They tend to get much cheaper right around when someone makes a big donation - which is what happened before we were allowed to trade them. More people are buying expensive weapons and armour these days (do you know anyone who regularly ran around with a cat launcher and a lightning suit three years ago? I don't) to do more high-rank DKs, and the food system is much, much more expensive than it used to be, so both of these things are taking more req out of the game. And we still have hats. People are actually forgoing hats now because they feel that OSTs are a better use of their money - you see this get mentioned all the time in banter.
(Example newbie: "What do I do with my money? I hear it disappears?
Me: "You can buy a hat in Improbable Central! It stays with you forever and it doesn't do anything, but it's fun."
Everyone else in banter: "Hats are lame, they're just a pissing contest. If you get some SP from the WCG, you can buy OSTs and then send them to other players. Then they might send OSTs back to you later, when they DK.")

Tradeable OSTs actually changed the game a lot less than I thought they might. They certainly have changed it, but I'm not convinced it's a particularly dire change. You do see people begging for OSTs in Banter pretty frequently now, and where people used to think r7s were crazy difficult, and bastard ranks insane, they've become more trivial. It is way easier for rookies now (provided those rookies speak up) - I made a new character once, and laughed in banter about how I couldn't beat Tom Carney - not asking for any help! I thought it was hilarious! - and got advice on how to beat him and, you guessed it, a free OST. At the time it would have netted me about 9k, which would put me well on my way to having a chainsaw at level 1 on my first DK.

I think if anything were to be done about this, the best (and simplest) way to do it would be just to block OSTs from being tradeable. Done - everyone's basically back to just using their own money again. And then there are no issues with players accidentally losing gifted mementos or something when they DK (sad), or with someone who's been collecting OSTs in boxes for a while having their stash wiped out overnight (ouch), which might happen if the boxes suddenly didn't last over a DK.


A bit of an aside to HM: People on the Island don't need medals or incentives to help each other! Watch Banter when a rookie comes in with a question like "I just slept in someone's bed, is that okay?" or "How do I get an avatar?" or "Where do I buy food?". They'll probably get answered by multiple people, all at once. I don't think people need some game-sanctioned way to be nice to each other, and people are fine at being nice even when OSTs aren't involved (like when rookies ask questions). (I actually see the potential for helping people getting competitive if there's some sort of reward for it and... well, no one likes salespeople who get paid on commission.) People send OSTs because they can - the friendly, helpful feeling will persist after trading them is blocked, if it is.
(Also, is this just me? I don't know how I would feel if I got a "reward" of any kind from the game for helping people. It would make me feel kind of... gross. Like I'm charging money for something I know can be had for free. I don't help people because I want a reward or want to feel good about it - I help people because there are people who need help, and I can help them.)


 
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Hairy Mary
 Wednesday, April 03 2013 @ 03:10 AM UTC  
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Quote by: Ada


Lots of interesting and relevant stuff.

A bit of an aside to HM: People on the Island don't need medals or incentives to help each other! Watch Banter when a rookie comes in with a question like "I just slept in someone's bed, is that okay?" or "How do I get an avatar?" or "Where do I buy food?". They'll probably get answered by multiple people, all at once. I don't think people need some game-sanctioned way to be nice to each other, and people are fine at being nice even when OSTs aren't involved (like when rookies ask questions). (I actually see the potential for helping people getting competitive if there's some sort of reward for it and... well, no one likes salespeople who get paid on commission.) People send OSTs because they can - the friendly, helpful feeling will persist after trading them is blocked, if it is.
(Also, is this just me? I don't know how I would feel if I got a "reward" of any kind from the game for helping people. It would make me feel kind of... gross. Like I'm charging money for something I know can be had for free. I don't help people because I want a reward or want to feel good about it - I help people because there are people who need help, and I can help them.)



Um, sorry, I didn't explain myself at all well there. When I suggested medals (which was a bit of a throw away remark) I wasn't meaning as a reward for altruism. I was thinking more as an outlet for the altruism that already exists. So there are small side quests for some sort of reward (eg. medal) which then other players could help with. Thus helping, but without making the main game too easy.

It really was only a bit of brain storming. Everything you said above is absolutely spot on.


 
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Maniak
 Thursday, April 04 2013 @ 05:24 PM UTC  
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Quote by: Hairy+Mary

- Part of the problem seems to be the easy availability of req (to some players) via Titans etc. Would people agree with this? I'm not too sure.



Looking at the first page of the Hall of Fame, I would say most people gather their fortune by collecting interest. About 80% of those accounts are concerned mostly on roleplaying, with about a handful of Titanslayers. What's of note here is that the top two players (Jakell and Carter) hold about two-thirds of the fortune, so I suppose one could say the wealth distribution is a bit of a problem. I'll address this after, combined with your req sink.

Quote by: Hairy+Mary

- SO: What is needed is two fold:-
- A sink for excess req. Any ideas here? Maybe some sort of 'clan hat'. Something that clans can buy with no real effect on the game beyond bragging rights. Any other ideas?
- Some way for people to legitimately help each other, and encourage that helpful, friendly feeling, but which doesn't make it too easy for the recipient of such help.
What this might look like I really can't imagine. Perhaps some sort of side goals, for medals or somesuch. I don't have any good ideas at all here. Help? Somebody?



A problem I see with gifting OSTs is that it benefits just one person. That's also the problem with a req sink; the money just disappears. What it should do is trickle down, from the experienced Titan Hunters to those a bit further along to Rookies. Which is why I recommend buying and throwing Improbability Bombs. The charm, req or cigs you get have no real effect on the game beyond bragging rights, but most everyone profits from a high price on Improbability Bombs, from Jokers to Rookies.


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Wongo the Sane
 Sunday, April 07 2013 @ 01:43 PM UTC  
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Genuine Question:

How do Rookies benefit from a high price on Improbability Bombs?


 
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Maniak
 Sunday, April 07 2013 @ 02:17 PM UTC  
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Grenades, whether they're WHOOMPH, ZAP or BANG, turn into Improbability Bombs when a Joker has them overnight. Their prices are closely linked. So, a higher price for Improbability Bombs mean a higher price for grenades. Rookies get three free grenades per day, which they will be able to sell for a better price.


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Daedalus
 Monday, April 08 2013 @ 02:31 AM UTC  
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Jeepers, there's some thought gone into these replies. Which is kinda gratifying.

So, thread seemed to split into two themes ... hoarding using alts, and gifting in general.

CMJ quite rightly put the "hoarding things in Alts" in the 'out-of-bounds' category.

Gifiting is somewhat more complex, it seems. As said above, the altruism and community building effect are very positive outcomes. The economic ones perhaps not so much.

A couple of thoughts on hoarding using Alts (and other cheaty uses). These are not tested for practicality, cost effectiveness, or anything else.

A complex, lotsa-work-for-somebody (else) and difficult-to-do approach occured to me. The rules say no Alts. Then sort of hint that sometimes Alts will be, hmm ... tolerated, for good RP purposes, not for cheaty purposes etc. This is a bit problematic. Is it a rule or not? We know that people are using them for both cheaty and good RP purposes, and allowing the latter makes the former hard to enforce. So ... here's a thought. You might want to sit down. Here goes ... mind the step ... Create purpose built RP-ing Alts:

- That don't have Backpacks, or at most very small ones to allow a minimum of Lodge goods and Ratpacks etc so they can survive moving from place to place.

- Can't level up or DK. (Maybe have high starting Defence stats?)

- That can't receive OST's as gifts!.

- Maybe they cost some SP to activate. Not sure about that one if the idea is to make them really attractive alternative to cheaty Alts. Perhaps some SP enhancements?

- Have other cool features ... like, um, other cool features that I can't think of right now.


Then it becomes easy to identify the white hat Alts from the cheaty black hat Alts, and owners of cheaty black hat Alts can be politely asked "Please explain?" .

I was going to ramble on some about the problem-side of gifting, but I'm all out of ramble, so I'll leave it there.

D.


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Count Sessine
 Monday, April 08 2013 @ 03:31 AM UTC  
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Quote by: Daedalus

A complex, lotsa-work-for-somebody (else) and difficult-to-do approach occured to me. The rules say no Alts. Then sort of hint that sometimes Alts will be, hmm ... tolerated, for good RP purposes, not for cheaty purposes etc. This is a bit problematic. Is it a rule or not? We know that people are using them for both cheaty and good RP purposes, and allowing the latter makes the former hard to enforce. So ... here's a thought. You might want to sit down. Here goes ... mind the step ... Create purpose built RP-ing Alts:

You've stumbled into a maze, my friend -- one that I've been lost in many a time.

Would that it were that simple -- only two kinds of alts, cheaty and RP! Alas, people are not ever simple. Just as a for-instance: there are alts created because someone wants to play the game from the beginning all over again using different strategies. There are alts who begin as minor characters or extras in a plot, then inexplicably turn into the player's main character, and go on to rack up dozens of DKs. There are alts who are dedicated to building. There are... uh, sorry, I'll stop. Anyway -- one way or another, most alts are just made to have fun with, and we don't want to stop people having fun, that's what the Island's for!

In an ideal world (read: a hypothetical Season Three), I imagine there'd be a clear distinction between a player's account and all of the multiple characters created within that account. Then it'd be much easier to make a hard and fast rule of no multiple accounts, and set defined limits on what players are and aren't allowed to transfer around within their own cast of characters. But, we're not in that ideal world yet. Until we are, I suppose we'll just have to muddle through.


 
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Daedalus
 Monday, April 08 2013 @ 03:59 AM UTC  
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Quote by: Count+Sessine

You've stumbled into a maze, my friend -- one that I've been lost in many a time.



Demostrating yet again the awasome power of combining my aptitude for re-inventing the wheel with my equal aptitude for unworkable solutions. Fear my glass drum! Respect my wrought-iron kite! Mr. Green

Season thr ...? (gagged muffling sounds) Nothing to see here, move along.


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