Medals as short-term goals

 
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
Location: Munich

PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 10:58 am    Post subject: Medals as short-term goals Reply with quote

In my critique of Travian, I mentioned their medal/ribbon system. It's something I very much liked - they provide a nice short-term goal. People strive to earn them, and they look cool, but they doesn't have any impact on gameplay. Ideal for a PK environment, where you want incentives to encourage PK, but don't want to hand out rewards that unbalance the mud.

The medals are awarded on a weekly basis for each of the four categories: Highest Climber (biggest rank increase, with rank based on population), Raider (most resources stolen), Attacker (most troops killed during attacks) and Defender (most troops killed during defence).

1st, 2nd and 3rd place are represented by gold, silver and bronze medals, with a little ribbon underneath, while 4th-10th place are represented simply by ribbons. These ribbons have a little number for the place you came, indicate which week you earned them, and are colour-coded cyan, purple, red and green to represent the four different categories.

There are also additional medals if you are in the top 3 or top 10 a total of 3, 5 or 10 times throughout the server, or if you are in both the top 10 Attackers and Defenders the same week a total of 1, 2 or 3 times throughout the server.

To give an example: In week 27 I earned rank 1 Defender, then in week 52 I earned both rank 2 Attacker and rank 9 Defender - therefore on week 52 I also earned the bronze medal for being both a top 10 Attacker and top 10 Defender on the same week. If I had earned another Defender ribbon, I would have also gained the bronze Defence medal for being in the top 10 a total of 3 times throughout the server.

The problem is that as the game progresses, it's not uncommon to see very active and aggressive players with a profile packed full of dozens of medals and ribbons. It gets cluttered, and they start to lose their meaning - and that's despite the fact that servers only usually last about a year.

In a mud, where the game (almost never) resets, this would become an even bigger problem. The medals and ribbons would be great early on, but as people accumulated more and more of them they'd start to lose their meaning. Perhaps newcomers would enjoy the opportunity to earn their first ribbon, but when you've got oldtimers with hundreds of them, it would just end up as profile spam.

One option might be to remove the ribbons after a while. Perhaps the game continues, but the scoreboard resets - but if the medals aren't permanent, I fear they'd lose a lot of their value to the players. There's also the fact that many players would resent losing something they'd earned through their own skill and effort.

Another possibility might be to simply have fewer medals and ribbons, or hand them out less frequently. But that doesn't really solve the problem, it just minimises it - and it would also make it more difficult for newer players to earn recognition for their achievements.

Perhaps some of the awards could be intentionally temporarily, such as a symbol for the current reigning PK champion, which only lasts until somemone else takes his or her title. But such awards don't provide a running record of past achivements.

There could also be medals for non-repeatable things, such as the first 3 players to discover a certain area, or to complete a certain quest. These would be non-repeatable though - once the medals had been earned, nobody else could ever earn them (although I suppose they could wait for the next area/quest to come along).

Anyone have any thoughts on this, or any suggestions on how a compromise could be reached?

Ideally I'd like to have permanent awards (as a persistant record of your achivements), attainable by a wide range of players (not just the elite veterans) for a variety of different activities, but without the awards becoming so numerous that they clutter up a character's profile.
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Kernal



Joined: 01 Jul 2007
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2009 5:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The clutter aspect seems easy enough to mitigate:

I see no particular reason for stating the dates for all ribbons ever earned at all times. Perhaps it would be nice to state the dates or reasons for the most recent awards, but after that a list of "12 attacker gold, 19 attacker silver, and 42 attacker ribbons" should be sufficient. There would be basically a constant amount of clutter, while past achievements are recognized.

This doesn't deal with the concern that old players may eventually accumulate thousands of these awards.

One possibility is something I've seen recently in little FLASH games; awards are given out for progress-marking achievements as you acquire them. For example, there might be an award for 10 pkills, for 100 pkills, for 1000 pkills, etc. While each player can only gain each award once, *every* player can gain each award once. And, for many categories, it's easy enough to provide endless awards (with greater spacing) to continue to promote competition.

This allows for great flexibility in award-granting, since things needn't be combat-based either. There can be awards for exploration, crafting; any number of advances.

Cheers,
Kernal
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
Location: Munich

PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2009 8:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kernal wrote:
I see no particular reason for stating the dates for all ribbons ever earned at all times. Perhaps it would be nice to state the dates or reasons for the most recent awards, but after that a list of "12 attacker gold, 19 attacker silver, and 42 attacker ribbons" should be sufficient. There would be basically a constant amount of clutter, while past achievements are recognized.

The problem is I want to have an actual graphical representation of the medals, at least for each player's website profile. But perhaps your solution would work there as well - instead of separately displaying 5 gold attacker medals, there could just be a single gold attacker medal with the number '5' marked on it.

The drawback is that if I'd earned 2 gold medals, I'd really want both to be displayed on my profile, because it looks much cooler! I suppose they could be combined after you've obtained a certain number of them, but then your medal collection would visually seem to shrink when you reached that number.

Perhaps a compromise could be reached...you earn the medals separately, but once you've earned 3 of the same type they are replaced with a new image which shows a strip of 3 medals along with the number '3', and as you earn more that number increases instead of new images being added.

Kernal wrote:
One possibility is something I've seen recently in little FLASH games; awards are given out for progress-marking achievements as you acquire them. For example, there might be an award for 10 pkills, for 100 pkills, for 1000 pkills, etc. While each player can only gain each award once, *every* player can gain each award once.

An interesting idea, but my concern is that earning such awards is pretty much inevitable for every player who sticks it out - the medals would become almost a type of level indicator. I'd really prefer to hand them out for competitive events, so that when you earn a medal you're also preventing anyone else from earning it. If I earn the gold defender medal on week 27, that means nobody else can earn it that week.
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Deadsoul



Joined: 29 Dec 2007
Posts: 42
Location: Southern Hellinois

PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

people tend to like clutter when its organized right.

machines being able to handle more also sort of produces the idea that we must clutter.
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ide



Joined: 21 Feb 2006
Posts: 105
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2009 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A little late to this, but I agree with the thought that you just need to 'organize' the clutter. Instead of having individual medals, for example, you could have a graphic that's filled in as the player achieves more medals. Something like a mandala or coat-of-arms that gets more complex as the player achieves more recognition. New players would start with something very simple, older players would have something much more complex and interesting to look at.
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