Monday, June 9, 2008

Player Bounties

Coldness's Comment to my last post started thoughts spinning in my head, and I'm reminded of something about the NGE of Star Wars Galaxies that I actually like: Player Bounties. How does this go back to Coldness's comment? Well, they operate within the quest system of SWG, with the exception that the target is a PC, not an NPC.

The idea is pretty simple. You're flagged for PVP or on a PVP server, and Joe McRogue comes by and stabs you in the heart, killing you. You decide that you want to put a 200g price on his head, and that the next person who kills him will get 200g. UberHunter1337 decides to take you up on your bounty, finds and kills Joe McRogue, and gets 200g for his trouble. Simple enough right?

Theory is always simple at first, but here's the difficulty: Preventing abuse and griefing using this system. So here are potential problems:

1. Use as Gold Transfer system

Any time currency can easily trade hands, there are problems with gold farmers using it to move gold en masse. The benefit is that this is a very risky system to use, as if Gold Farmer 1 and Gold Farmer 2 are trying t0 transfer gold, so Gold Farmer 3 kills Gold Farmer 1, Gold Farmer 1 puts a bounty on Gold Farmer 3 and Gold Farmer 2 kills and collect, succesfully transfering the gold. The difficulty? What happens when UberHunter1337 sees the bounty on Gold Farmer 3? He kills Gold Farmer 3 and the gold is his. Since Gold Farmer 1 placed the bounty, he can't complain that someone collected it. Also, bounty missions shouldn't be active during PVP events (like battlegrounds) and the player must have the mission (obtained by going to an inn or other frequently available "town" location)

2. Use as a griefing system

The idea of this system is to counter griefing, and give something for PVP players to do when not in PVP games. The problem arises after UberHunter1337 kills his target. The target then would want to turn around and put a bounty on UberHunter1337, which would cause him to put a bounty on whoever killed him, etc. I'm torn as to whether I like this or hate it, but the simple fact is, after testing it could be determined whether or not to allow targets of a Bounty Hunting mission to place bounties on the Bounty Hunter.

Additionally, to reduce griefing abuse, only Bounty Hunters and their target can attack or heal each other (like a WOW duel) and once the bounty has been collected, all bounty missions for that player are wiped. Also, only players killed by a player can post bounties on them.

3. Friends of Bounty Hunter targets killing them for the mission reward

So, lets say you get a Bounty Hunter on your tail because you killed Rich Noob 27. You talk to one of your friends, and he sees your Bounty Hunter mission, and takes it. You let him kill you, and you are in the clear, and he earned some gold. Right? Wrong! To prevent this abuse there must be some penalty to the Bounty Hunter target after he is killed. Many games use level and experience loss as the penalty, but I'm not sure how well that would work, or how well it would be received by players (although I am a fan of it). Faction loss seems to be to light of a penalty, and a debuff that lasted a number of days would be ignored while the player uses another character. I'm not sure there's a good solution that would keep people happy with this system.

There are other issues, but these are the important ones. Obviously, the player shouldn't be able to collect the bounty by killing himself, nor should it be clearable by the player's non-BH mission related death.

This brings up another idea though, player help quests. Let's say you are trying to kill NPC McBaddy, and you die during your mission. You can offer gold for help on the quest. Palimazing 123 decides he wants the gold, and helps you beat the crap out of NPC McBaddy, completing your quest. He gets the gold, you get your quest done.


  1. Hmm, I think the bounty system should work if it was posted like normal quests. But to prevent abuse, once a player takes the bounty no other one can take as long as Player A has the quest.
    But if Player A and Player B are working together, they could kill each other and have plenty of gold, or maybe with the help of Player C like you said.
    It can be worked out, it's not that big of a problem.

  2. The problem with one person having the mission is that what happens if player A's friend takes the mission, but never tries to complete it, so Player A never gets the BH death penalty and the poster of the Bounty never gets his money back.

    Again, in-game systems would be developed to handle such instances, such as the bounty mission only remaining in your inventory for 1 hour after logout or only for a max of 24 hours before it passes on back to the mission terminals.