On Tiers

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Dumastin
Posts: 374
Joined: 13 May 2010, 14:28

On Tiers

Post by Dumastin » 28 Sep 2010, 08:32

So. I was walking to work this morning, thinking about the subject, and I had some thoughts on the tier system in general. Some thoughts I guess I've always had, but didn't really listen to. It's a matter of perspective, I think; your perspective changes a lot between being in charge and not being in charge, and I think I always ignored the fundamental (and from my perspective, borderline unfixable) flaws in the system due to the fact that I still had a chance to try.

Well, not any more. I feel like I have the opportunity now to really sit back, look at the past couple years, and see how my baby turned out. And it was, in a very real sense, my baby; Rizion and Luke collaborated with me, but I felt like I really took it to heart.

It is, I think, a very elegant and balanced system, which fulfilled both the top-down requirement of requiring ingame interaction and PL grinding to advance and my personal requirement of not rewarding players for excessive PL grinding. I didn't want someone to go out and run a few HBTC spars and suddenly shoot ahead of their peers, for example. And I succeeded. The tier system does require PL advancement; quite a bit of it, really, because if I recall the t7 limit is somewhere between 1b and 1t. (Free tidbit, though not news to some of you since I think I've shared with some players before that the t7 cap was under 1t as far as I knew)

Unfortunately, that balance only exists between people of a roughly equivalent level, and I think that therein lies the critical failure of the system.

Let's get a bit of perspective. The tier system, as it is now, is not as I originally wanted it. I wanted something with far less variation of base power between tiers; I wanted a system where a t1 could conceivably fight a t4 or t5 on roughly equal footing, IF the use of abilities was completely left out. I wanted a much flatter base power curve supported more through the advancement of abilities rather than through tiers, and in this, I failed pretty miserably. In my defense, the critical time in the development of this trend was not a good time for me. The most critical point at which my vision for the system NEEDED to be enforced was when Lye and Kalmega were rising through the tiers far faster than expected, and at that exact point, my ability to do much about it was mired up in department politics. Rizion and I had zero sense of rapport at that point, and I couldn't make or enforce sweeping decisions or changes without his approval, approval I scarcely had a chance to talk to him about, much less acquire. The idea of co-Head RP Admins was a stupid, stupid decision, and it couldn't have come at a worse time. But in retrospect, it was also my fault; if I recall, Rendo felt even then that I wasn't doing enough to justify having a position over Riz, so whatever. There's nothing to be done to change it.

"But Nygmus! They earned it!" I disagree, strongly. I've heard that from four or five different sources several times over. I never wanted a system where the difference of a single tier was, in itself, almost completely decisive, and I had reason for that. Investment of time into RP should not, in my opinion, automatically equal high power. Decisive advantage should come from skill as an RPer, from planning and thought, not from simply having more time to invest; certainly, having more and more powerful abilities is a big advantage, but it doesn't come to the level of basic, insurmountable difference between powers that having major power jumps between tiers implies. The very nature of being able to "earn it" is counter to the way I had hoped to design the system, and I blame the difference between what I wanted and what we got fairly soundly on the scattershot, unfocused nature of the design flow during that period. Because quite simply, I was overruled, because in those days either Rizion or I disagreeing on something resulted in a veto pretty much by default. (Later, I tended to get my way more, simply because by that time I'd battered at Rizion enough that he'd give way just to shut me the hell up.)

Because you see, the core problem that I have with the way the tier system turned out is the nigh-insurmountable barriers to entry. Because of the sentiment that you should have to "earn it", advancing takes an enormous amount of time and energy. It puts RP advancement on much the same plane as PL advancement; if you have time and nothing better to do, you can gain an advantage. And RP should not be ABOUT "advantage," it should be about telling a story, about the interaction between characters governed by mutual consent and rapport over who has the bigger e-peen and longer numbers.

Entering into the tier system is difficult, and policies that grew as a result of the early breakings of the advancement scale make it harder. It was a mistake to set into a policy of tapering off red RPP gains as a player's tier rose; a bad mistake, because it meant that rising past that taper point required even more work. It was a necessary one, though, because the alternative was worse; allowing a situation to arise where one player was t3 while his closest rivals were barely hitting the first tier was bad enough, but allowing a situation to arise where the gap was between t5-7 and t3 was even worse...

oh... right...

What we should have done is been harsher in rubberbanding the advancement of player power to tier equivalencies. That is, we should have been harsher on the red gains from fighting someone weaker than you; a t3 fighting a tier 2 might earn some, but a tier 3 fighting a tier 1 (or multiple!) would probably earn nothing. Tier levels were decisive enough that I should have been harsher on that; it would have allowed us to continue a policy of being very generous with people who fought others who were above them or on the same level, and very strict with people who fought others below them. It would have, possibly, encouraged people not to kill or maim or ruin anyone else's fun, because of that time-honored tradition of comic book villains everywhere... because really, without Batman around, is the Joker really anything more than a loopy bastard with green hair and bleached skin? Without Superman, Lex Luthor isn't really a supervillain, he's just a rich dick.

While it's easy to blame many of these flaws on the division between the Head RP admins at the time, that's only part of it. Part of it was just hindsight being 20/20; there are things I didn't see then that I see now. Part of it was just being too focused on the problems to see the solutions. And a good part of it was, indeed, "my bad, guys."


But the fact remains that, from my perspective, one of the most critical, bone-deep goals of the tier system was failed miserably. And I feel bad for that, and consider it my fault in some ways... though I don't accept all the blame.

It's a flawed system, and I'm curious to see if Saeji can do anything to change that... though I doubt it, since he was always more keen on the "he earned it" scale.

What needs to happen is something to remove or reduce barriers to entry. Something to draw players up from entry to the "base" level of t2-t3 in 3-4 months, not the span of a year. Because that power level needs to proliferate, with players of different goals and with different intentions, with the good and the bad...

Otherwise, the current situation of the power scale being completely dominated by evil characters will continue, characters whose only obstacle is imm intervention (either in the form of rulings or in the form of more powerful NPCs, either of which is a pretty shoddy solution to a systemic problem).

Kalmega
Posts: 556
Joined: 23 Jan 2009, 21:06

Re: On Tiers

Post by Kalmega » 28 Sep 2010, 13:06

Okay, so this post will sound pretty critical, as it seems my posts tend to sounds, but do I mean this to be constructive criticism.

I think you are a bit of an idealist when it comes to MUD RP. To try and stray away from the notion of "He earned it" basically removes a huge motivator to do anything, not just RP. When it comes down to it, people like to be rewarded for their efforts and they like this reward to be more than just a pat on the back and have an Admin say "good job." Yes, ideally everyone can play nice and we all can respect the other's RPs and yes that would play into what you want, but people will always have pride and ego, thus they will always want to be better than someone else. It's just human nature. That sounds pretty down and dirty when referring to an RP community, but that's just the objective standpoint. We have an RP named "Khaos" who was reading over a recent RP between Saboath, Sargaakon, Ragnios, and Mekka and his only response was 'Just Wow. I can't wait til I can get that high and do those kinds of fights.' Now, I may be taking steps here, but to you that might set off a light in your mind saying "Hey, the long trip might be too much. We need to fix that." But to people who are goal oriented, it's just that: A Goal. When I was first RPing, I wanted T2 SO badly because, at that time, T2 was the time where we could pick up blast and I wanted to EXPLODE things. It took me a few months, but my god was it worth it. Having everyone be near the same base takes away that sense of accomplishment. I mean, if Lye RPs for... what... two years? and someone else RPs for a month, and they fight but one says "Hey! No abilities!" and Lye, by some chance, loses, does that seem fair? It may be an extreme example, but I think it makes my point: There need to be rewards and incentives to stick with it.


I can understand your fear of higher ups taking advantage of all the lowbies, but has that ever been a problem? You talk in a lot of hypotheticals, but a Higher Tiered player manhandling lowbies for the sake of being a bad guy just hasn't happened. Let's stick with Lye as an example since we all seem to be obsessed with him. Though he is only one Tier higher than a few players, he is by FAR the leader in reds. With that being said, though Lye can be problematic with how he interacts with people OOCly, he is a pretty mature RPer. He doesn't go hunting people IRP, though he threatens it all the time, and you can almost never say he portrays himself as terribly OP. He fought someone a tier below him while have an additional transformation than aforementioned player, but he still took a massive beating. I think you are doing the RP community a disservice by reading into so many "What ifs" that never occur. Hell, you were constantly on me back when I was on top about going around and killing people, but that never happened nor did you have any reason to think it would given I showed no desire to OOCly nor ICly. Being a bad guy doesn't make you a psychopath unless that's your theme.


Having said that, I think your greatest flaw when you were Head RP was that you only looked at the top of the pile. Though I can be quoted saying that "Most games tune themselves to adjust the gameplay at the top levels, including our MUD" you took it a step further. You weren't tweaking the higher level of play, but the players who were at that level. The rules seemed to change for a few players, and that's just bad for business. It's fine to look an something someone is doing and say "Hey, we aren't comfortable with this pattern of play; we need to tweak it," but saying "I don't want him to do X," is a slippery slope. Consistency was a big issue and I think a lot of players saw that and became disenfranchised with the RPverse.


At this point, I'm proud to say that RP here is flourishing. I'm almost scared to say it, given these trends are fragile like glass, but we are seeing a lot of new faces here at DBi and even seeing a few folks who were "done" come back with great fervor.

What changed?

Honestly, there was only a minor tweaking of the rules, a few addendum, and some new RP schwag, but those are just motivation to keep RPing. I honestly think the biggest change is how we do business. I've gotten some help tag teaming people from Luke and Rizion (and even Rakam, though he swears he won't help :p) but I think even presenting the Administration as those who will take an active role in a players RP encourages those new guys to hang around. The key here is that we are active again. Everyday we are talking about player Arcs that the new guys are working on, I try and keep a rapport with the big kids, who honestly already have direction, and let them know that I am just as interested in keeping them around as I am seeing new faces.

I think the most important change, however, is that I stopped outright saying "No." Now, I knock down ideas, but I try to at least tweak it so the vision is still there. Instead of saying "No," I say "How about this?" and try to meet them in the middle, and when I have to say no, I try and be clear about why that wouldn't work, why it would be broken, or what they can do to make it happen. I recall multiple times where I, or some other player, wanted to do something, but we got "No." When asked why, they got "Because we don't want that in yet." The statement is viable, but a reason might have softened the blow. Instead you have people who think they won't be able to construct the vision of their character here at DBi.


Basically I think you and I had a different vision but the same notion. I think we both want "Power to the Players," but I want them to shape this world and you wanted to give them a restricted world to work with. The word "restricted" has some nasty connotations, but in this case it is more of "parameters." Not bad, just different.


Usually I hate threads like these because we have so many of them and they produce nothing good for the MUD. It's just people bitching and saying how they would do things, but I think presenting the different views of how things should be run, from a former Head Admin to a Current, is a constructive exercise. I'm going to slap a note on the RP board about this thread, but I'll be a little more clear on what "Keeping it Civil" means ;)

Thanks for expressing what your vision was, Nygog. You aren't an RP Admin anymore, but you did a lot for the MUD, so your voice is never Mute in the decisions I, or those who may work under me, make.


~Saeji

Lye
Posts: 1660
Joined: 23 Jan 2009, 02:24

Re: On Tiers

Post by Lye » 28 Sep 2010, 13:24

So your method of controlling the game was to alienate and screw over one of the most avid RP'ers. Yep, that's bound to work wonders. How'd it work out for you? It must've been effective, I mean before Saeji got hired how many active RP'ers did you have compared to what we have now? Yeah, some of the new activity is because there are better incentives in game to RP. But a good chunk of it comes from people know they aren't going to be screwed over and told 'no' on everything anymore. Anyway, if you wanna improve the speed at which the playing field is level drop the Red requirements for lower tiers. When people started hitting T3 en-mass then the T1 Red requirement was dropped from 20 to 15. Now that there are people t4 and T5 I would suggest dropped the requirements for tiers 1-3. Make t1 10 red, Tier 2, 40 red, and T3 70 red. Yeah, it's only a difference of two or three well written combat logs, but when someone's starting at the very bottom and they see the guy on top is t5 with 220 Red RPP it might be a bit discouraging. The opportunities for reds aren't scarce by any means. Specially now, low tier'ed people look up and are like "Oh gods... I have to get 75 Reds before I even has a chance of being a 'real' threat to the highest. Seriously, A T5 could take on like 7-8 Tier 2's and not break a sweat whereas I imagine 7-8 T3's would assrape violently a T5. Reducing the red reqs is a fast way to get the newer RP'ers up to a Tier where they feel like they actually have a reason to go and RP with the big bad Evil T5 because a group of them aren't going to get completely assraped.

Kalmega
Posts: 556
Joined: 23 Jan 2009, 21:06

Re: On Tiers

Post by Kalmega » 28 Sep 2010, 13:30

We took a step in that direction. I don't mind sharing with you all that I pretty much made a department wide decision... my department being me!... to double minimum rewards from T0-2. Two reds is the minimum now to expedite the growth process without having to code anything new. If someone gets less then two reds while being under T3, talk to the Imm who rewarded it and find out what ya did wrong!

Nygmus
Posts: 706
Joined: 24 Jan 2009, 01:18

Re: On Tiers

Post by Nygmus » 28 Sep 2010, 13:51

Kalmega wrote:We took a step in that direction. I don't mind sharing with you all that I pretty much made a department wide decision... my department being me!... to double minimum rewards from T0-2. Two reds is the minimum now to expedite the growth process without having to code anything new. If someone gets less then two reds while being under T3, talk to the Imm who rewarded it and find out what ya did wrong!
See, my problem is that because of the way the system grew, we've set up to where t3 is a "base point", and progression slows after that.

I never wanted to do that! But it was a reaction on my part, to try to slow the growth of the gap between the outliers and the rest of the pack.

Nygmus
Posts: 706
Joined: 24 Jan 2009, 01:18

Re: On Tiers

Post by Nygmus » 28 Sep 2010, 14:02

Lye wrote:So your method of controlling the game was to alienate and screw over one of the most avid RP'ers. Yep, that's bound to work wonders. How'd it work out for you? It must've been effective, I mean before Saeji got hired how many active RP'ers did you have compared to what we have now? Yeah, some of the new activity is because there are better incentives in game to RP. But a good chunk of it comes from people know they aren't going to be screwed over and told 'no' on everything anymore. Anyway, if you wanna improve the speed at which the playing field is level drop the Red requirements for lower tiers. When people started hitting T3 en-mass then the T1 Red requirement was dropped from 20 to 15. Now that there are people t4 and T5 I would suggest dropped the requirements for tiers 1-3. Make t1 10 red, Tier 2, 40 red, and T3 70 red. Yeah, it's only a difference of two or three well written combat logs, but when someone's starting at the very bottom and they see the guy on top is t5 with 220 Red RPP it might be a bit discouraging. The opportunities for reds aren't scarce by any means. Specially now, low tier'ed people look up and are like "Oh gods... I have to get 75 Reds before I even has a chance of being a 'real' threat to the highest. Seriously, A T5 could take on like 7-8 Tier 2's and not break a sweat whereas I imagine 7-8 T3's would assrape violently a T5. Reducing the red reqs is a fast way to get the newer RP'ers up to a Tier where they feel like they actually have a reason to go and RP with the big bad Evil T5 because a group of them aren't going to get completely assraped.
Flat out reducing red reqs isn't necessarily going to do it, by itself, though. Bear in mind that less red=less abilities, which means that unless someone minmaxes the hell out of their ability set and devotes all their points to just one or two, they're already not going to have abilities at their tier level.

If the red req for t2 got dropped to 30 or 35, for example, suddenly a fresh t2 has enough points to... upgrade one of his two skills, and that's it. He has two skills. Not a lot of variation, not a lot of options there. You've hit t2, but you haven't gotten a substantial power upgrade because you're still throwing the energy blast equivalent of spitballs.

ikenbon
Posts: 785
Joined: 23 Jan 2009, 00:21

Re: On Tiers

Post by ikenbon » 29 Sep 2010, 19:58

I'm going to be blunt right here, and try not to take this as a major insult but:

Nygmus, if roleplay was your "baby" then you're the kind of mother/father who drops it in the dumpster.

What I mean is: You gave up. You weren't there. You were absent constantly and put only a fraction of the work that other admins (including myself) were willing and able to do. But for some reason you think you should have been above Rizion? Or that you should have had the final say.

Now.

You made clear how you thought the Tier system should work. You wanted it to be a more even playing field for lower characters to face higher tiered characters and for abilites and "skill" to determine the final outcome.

This is where your whole argument falls apart.

How do you define skill? Who is to say who is more skillful? What is the point of a system if the boundaries of the system are defined by a variable not present in the system? You cannot put a number on skill.

The irony in all of this is that because you wanted to restrict Lye so badly, you ended up tearing roleplay down instead of building it up. More characters became "evil" in response to how he was being treated. The original Itzal/Atton was a good man, and the closest Lye has come to having a "good" aligned character. But when you blew up Kalmega and started hammering him, you made him your enemy, and then you made many of the people who roleplayed with him your enemy. Ultimately, you let it become an obession that ruined roleplay for you and made things worse instead of better.

Kalmega definately says this better than I have, but you became to focused on what people "shouldn't" do, instead of what they "could" do.

Now.

It's still early in the game. And Kalmega is still new, and this rush of roleplayers and RP'ing that we've had could just taper off next week for all I know, but this is the first time in a good while that we've gotten so much done and seen so many people interested and doing things. I attribute this to exactly what Kalmega says: The staff is active again. We're motivated. We're trying to get things done. And we're doing a damn good job. The players see this. They see how much effort we're putting in, and once again they feel that their own effort is being rewarded. Maybe its the new items. Maybe it's the new admins. Maybe it's just the fact that they don't have to wait two weeks to get a reply on their log. I don't know. All I know is that people roleplaying, and enjoying it, whereas they were not before. Frankly, that's all I care about.

I don't think there is a problem with the tier system. I think there was a problem with the admins. Whether just because they couldn't agree, or because they were to lazy. But that problem seems to have been smoothed out. For how long? I can't say. It changes all the time. It's unpredicatable. Kalmega could do or say something tomorrow and everyone might blow up and leave RP for good. It's happened before. But for now, I think we're seeing progress, and I'm honestly pretty pleased with the way things are going.

Dumastin
Posts: 374
Joined: 13 May 2010, 14:28

Re: On Tiers

Post by Dumastin » 29 Sep 2010, 23:43

yeah, well...

uhh...

YOUR MOM

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