contract system, can it be done?

Discussion in 'MMO Design and Virtual Worlds' started by elliott20, Sep 15, 2010.

  1. elliott20

    elliott20 Member

    I have a lot of ideas when I'm tired. Most of them colossally stupid when I reexamine them whilst awake.

    One of the ones that came to me the other night was a contract system in MMOs between players. Some of you might remember an old thread about the "quest giver" feature, where players can give other players quests and reward them accordingly.

    The idea was what if you can expand upon that, and create a full blown contract system? In the game Burning Empires, player social contracts is one of the most important aspects of the game that allows the RPing to happen properly.

    In game, social conflicts are not just talked out. They are actually handled as if they are combat, but instead of using swords, you use different methods of debating.

    before entering into the conflict though, both players must be willing to put something at stake. That is, they must state what the loser will do or what the winner will gain.

    Following through on this basically requires the players and GM all agree that this is how the game will proceed, depending upon who wins and loses.

    The idea then, was what if we could find a way to create a contractual system in MMOs? If we can do that, systems like the ones outlined above might not be impossible for computer games.

    But then the first thing that hit me is... is this even possible?
  2. Nielas

    Nielas Member

    Would these contracts handle exchange of goods (eg bring me an Amulet of Awesome and I will give you an Egg of Radiance) or of services (I help you get the Silver Pony and you help me kill the Evil King). Contracts for goods are easy to enforce while contracts for services are very hard to enforce even in RL.
  3. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    Asheron's Call had an "allegiance" system that was vaguely like this. You could swear allegiance to a higer level player. And basically, that other player would get a percentage of all the xp you earned. However, it was basically expected that the higher level player would award you with items and/or assistance with quests and whatnot in order to maintain the alliance.

    And then in practice it would really turn into a huge pyramid of players. So, kind of like a guild in any other MMO, except with a gameplay-based reason to keep new players involved, and more explicit rewards for helping each other.
  4. elliott20

    elliott20 Member

    I was hoping for both. You have several uses for this, obviously.

    The first type is easy to do, since you can basically just designate what the physical reward is for the job done. But the second type is what really interests me.

    Enforcing is exactly the problem I have. In Burning Empires, you got the players and the GM sitting there, so not following through on what you said you would do would probably get you slapped pretty quickly.

    Something tells me that using GMs might be the only way to actual handle this.
  5. Rokmo

    Rokmo New Member

    It can easily be done, and in fact I have played games (moslt text base space games) that have excellent contract systems.

    The thing is, you just need a place in limbo where everything goes (like a bank or whatever place you want to keep inside the magic circle).This prevents a player from not having the available funds when it comes down to it.

    First to continue, however, you would need a robust contract system. For example, say you want to kill a boss. One would have a list of places/dungeons, select the boss, decide how many times to kill the boss, a time frame, and then automatically assign party status until either the time or contract is up.

    Next, you have a deposit. Don't do what was asked? Too bad, your deposit is gone. Of course you have to do things like have forced parties (to prevent a player leaving it when the boss is at 1% health, taking the deposit and getting the kill).

    Doing good contracts (i.e. "I want the sword of slicing +3 to be delivered somewhere in 2 days, will give 10 gold pieces") is hella easy since the deposit and price will keep things in check. Also, perhaps have a rating system like Ebay so you can know who to trust as well as make sure everything can be mailed and don't force two people to be online.

    As for being a mercenary, it's a bit more complicated. Definitely doable, just a couple rules would be needed. And make sure players have access to know what those rules are.
  6. Milskidasith

    Milskidasith Active Member

    There was something like this in another MMO I played, except the percent didn't cut from your EXP (it was just a bonus) *and* as long as your higher level guy was online, you got a massive boost to a stat that was used for determining PvP damage (basically deciding it unless you massively outgeared your opponent or the difference was <5%) and EXP... so having an ally meant they got a good bit of EXP (and gold, and crystals) and you got doubled EXP while they were on anywhere, effectively.
  7. Logo

    Logo Well-Known Member

    EvE online has a robust contract system. My understand is it works, but can be a little tricky as you're vulnerable to scamming.

    Just some examples...

    Courier contracts where there's a huge insurance paid on taking the mission. Scammer creates the contract with the intention of killing the person who takes the contract and collecting the insurance.

    Kill contracts where the person who creates the contract is friends of the target. When someone accepts the contract and goes for the person they're met with a large force and killed.

    Buy/Sell contracts that are off on the price and open to creating huge losses for anyone who takes the contract.

    Delivery contracts to places that are locked down.

    Basically contracts are cool, but you have to be willing to accept a high level of scamming.

    The way I'd 'solve' scamming is by having contract reputation. First you'd want a time/level/skill requirement to deal with contracts so level 1 alts can't make contracts. Second each time a contract is completed successfully each person gets +1 reputation, fail and each person has the option of giving the other person -1 reputation. Then contracts can require and display reputation so people have a better idea of if they are getting scammed.
  8. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    I was unclear, in Asheron's Call it was also a bonus, not a cut.
  9. elliott20

    elliott20 Member

    shared XP for having alliances sounds like a good incentive for leaders to go out and get followers. That's a cool little concept. But it seems like this more likely externalizes the contractual agreements.
  10. Rokmo

    Rokmo New Member

    I am hugely in favor of bonuses instead of cuts. Also, not having to allocate skills of your character to make a guild.....also no "% of EXP you would like to donate".

    Then again, I don't believe in exp. systems. Mostly because they are more about how much time you spend rather on how much skill you have.
  11. Seth

    Seth Active Member

    I was thinking about this as well when I was imagining an economy/corporation-based MMO. I see maybe three good ways to do this, all very interesting. Prepare to hear made-up names for these contracts...

    You could have a "personal court contract", that is, a strict, specific contract with success/fail goals that the game could automatically measure. In addition to defining the contract terms, players could also set the legal punishments for failing to meet the contract (which again, the game would automatically enforce... somehow). Ie: you didn't pay back your loan within the timeslot, now you have to serve 1 week in one of my prisons.

    You could have a "loose court contract", which would be loosely written by players, and that the game does NOT automatically enforce. If a player thinks a contract has been broken, he or she could take it to an in-game court made up of real players, who would examine the contract and both sides to determine what happens. The contract could have a pre-defined punishment for breaking it, that the court would/would not enforce, OR it could allow the court to determine the punishment or lack of, within a defined limit.

    Third, you could have a "loosey goosey contract", which would basically just be a loosely written agreement with no defined punishments, which both players agree to. Players could keep a copy of the contract, and either could spread word of what happened, if the contract was broken in that player's opinion.
  12. qzujak49

    qzujak49 Active Member

    I'd modify the failed contract penalty to be an option for

    If rep is > 10, then -10% rep
    If rep is = or < 10, then -1 rep

    This makes it harder for people to do the xkcd bobcat trick (read the mouse-over).

    Also, if a player has negative contract reputation, then maybe failed contracts involving money get turned into bounties (WANTED: Dead or Alive) for 50% of the value of the contract. The system would have to hold the money in escrow to make this work.

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