Saturday, December 15, 2007

Admiral-Level Gameplay in a Star Trek MMORPG +

Originally Posted by Captain Crowl:
Beta testers becoming the first admirals:
To another degree, I am against this idea. Only so many people and certain types of people will be a beta tester, and thus you are already discriminating.
No strong disagreement to this or anything else, but it's worth noting that the designers of Star Trek Online can't not discriminate when it comes to who gets to be an admiral.

By designing the gameplay that controls promotion, the developers set the rules for reaching the rank of Admiral. One set of rules for promotion will favor this kind of gamer; another set of rules will encourage other gamers to gain that reward. The rules are always going to favor one kind of gamer over another -- in that sense, there simply is no way to avoid discriminating against some players over others.

So defining the rules for selecting the first admirals as picking the most productive beta testers first is just choosing to discriminate against late adopters of the game in favor of people who contributed sooner. That might be a good call or a bad call, but it's not bad just because it benefits some players over other players. All rules of play do that.

Which is one reason why it's important (and hard) to pick really good rules for a complex game. Anybody can make up rules of play that are fun for one person -- making up rules of play that make a game fun for lots of different kinds of people is an art.

Regarding the idea of letting the most productive beta testers be the first admirals, note that I define "most productive" not as who creates the most bug reports, but who reports the most bugs that get fixed. Cranking out zillions of trouble tickets isn't as valuable as opening tickets on things that really need to get fixed.