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The term Player Killing, Player Killer, or PK refers to non-consensual PvP. The verb of killing players is usually called PKing, and someone killed is PKed. A Player Killer is usually just referred to as "a PK".

The issue of Player Killing is not a factor in Diablo III, as the "PK Switch" found in Diablo 1 and Diablo 2 is not part of the game. There is no nonconsensual PvP in Diablo III. What the game has instead is the Battle Arena, a fully-separate game mode that's devoted entirely to PvP combat. See the Arena article for full details.


Description[edit]

PKing is generally non-consensual, and often takes the form of sneak attacks, often performed with the aid of deception, cheats, or hacks.

PKs might also be duelers interested in PVP, but the term is more often used to describe players who force non-consensual combat; sneak attacks and ambushes and other behaviors that can be considered griefing. Diablo II allows PKing, though there are various limits placed on when, where, and how players can go "hostile" to each other, as well as damage penalties and other controls to level the playing field. Read more about those here.


Diablo III[edit]

There is no nonconsensual PvP in Diablo III, and there is no way to attack another player in a regular PvM game. (Griefing might still exist in the form of monster trapping waypoints or other portals.) All PvP in Diablo III takes place in the Battle Arena.


PKing or Not?[edit]

There is always heated debate about how much, if at all, RPGs should support PKing. Almost no one argues against dueling, but whether the PvP combat should ever be non consensual is the big question. Most early RPGs allowed it, most modern ones do not. Players must select PvP upon character creation, or by the realm they play on, or by the game type they join, but in almost all cases it's possible to avoid PvP entirely, if a player so desires. World of WarCraft does not, and Diablo III will not allow non-consensual PvP.


PvP in Diablo I[edit]

Diablo I was not a party-friendly game since friendly fire was always enabled and very dangerous. While there was a PK switch in the game which enabled players to target each other, even without clicking that switch any spell, arrow, or melee attack that passed through another character would deal damage. Playing in close proximity was possible, but only with a lot of care not to accidentally fire or swing in the direction of another character. Or to walk into the firing line of another character.

Friendly fire deaths were very common, as Sorcerers especially could instantly kill party members without even trying to, thanks to spells like Chain Lightning that targeted unseen monsters on the other side of walls. Rogues could be quite dangerous as well, with spells as well as their arrows traveling a great distance. Only Warriors or other characters in melee mode could comfortably play together, if they were cautious about where they swung their weapons.

PvP dueling was possible in Diablo I, and the game gave one concession in there was not "corpse popping" from PvP deaths (as there was from PvM deaths), but dueling was never a popular feature of the game for many players.


PvP in Diablo II[edit]

Diablo II carried over the PK switch from Diablo I, but removed Friendly Fire damage, which made playing in parties much more viable. The removal of FF was controversial at the time, but in retrospect it seems the only option to allow party play, as many huge AoE spells as there are in Diablo II.

The inclusion of the PK switch was a controversial inclusion, with many players advocating for some sort of Arena game, or at least the option to turn on/off the PK switch upon game creation. PKing worked well enough in Softcore, and many players enjoyed PvP games, but it was chiefly a headache in Hardcore, where it was regularly used for griefing, usually in conjunction with various hacks and cheats to allow instant attacks, or attacks in town or other safe places.

Blizzard North never bowed to the frequent complaints and arguments against nonconsensual PvP, since some of the game developers (chiefly Max Schaefer) felt that the possibility of instant in-game PvP added spice and an element of reality to the dangerous world of Sanctuary. Max debated that issue extensively, including a memorable exchange with hardcore Diablo 2 fanboy Sirian. See the section below for quotes from that classic conversation.

The PK debate aside, dueling was (and remains) popular in Diablo II, especially for expert players bored with the monster bashing. As a testament to Diablo II's PvP popularity, more than a decade after the game's release many players still enjoying dueling and creating new PvP builds. For example, the Diablo.IncGamers.com D2 PvP strategy forum is home to hundreds of active duelers and constant debate about PvP character builds.


Max Schaefer Defends PKing[edit]

Back in the days of Blizzard North's prime, the developers often communicated directly with fans, and pressed their arguments in the official forums and on various fansites as well. (This is no longer allowed, as Blizzard has become much more corporate and controlling and now funnels all official communication through official interviews or events such as Blizzcon, with only a few Community Managers like Bashiok ever directly speaking to fans online.)

In one famous exchange from about 2001, Max Schaefer engaged in a debate with a very hardcore Diablo II fanboy named Sirian. Sirian had long been posting on his site (no longer online) strong arguments against many of the features in Diablo II, and he was especially unhappy with the PK switch. Max Schaefer read his comments and engaged him in direct conversation, via email. Their replies are archived below, as Sirian's old site is long since offline.


Max's First Reply[edit]

Max's original mail, as quoted on Sirian's old site.

Hello Sirian,
I am Max Schaefer, and I am a senior designer of both Diablo II and the Lord of Destruction Expansion pack. I have never posted here before, but I have from time to time in our own forums.
I am the guy you all love to hate. I, along with the rest of the Blizzard North management, deliberately and with clear intent allowed limited PKing in the Diablo universe. However, this current argument has run a bit astray.
Roger Eberhart is a fine member of our QA staff, and does his job with professionalism and talent, but he is not an official spokesperson for what we do and do not encourage. I don't recall ever discussing the issue of PKing with him. Sure, the Assassin character has a novel method of killing both players and monsters (traps), but the intent of the character was never to be a PK. Traps simply struck us as a fun new way of doing combat, as opposed to traditional melee and ranged attacks. Though it's irrelevant, I have never heard of an Assassin killing another player with traps. I would guess that it would, in reality, be a fairly akward and inefficient way to PK.
To answer the original question: Do we "encourage" people to PK? Not really. We encourage people to party up, both for strategic and server-efficiency reasons. Other than that, it's pretty much up to you all to decide what to do. Obviously, we've set up and elaborate world of monsters, quests, items, and plot(...) but there is almost no effort given to "encourage" PKing, other than not preventing it.
Although I do not want to enter a prolonged debate about PKing (I've done so already for over five years), I will address just a few things.
1) The entire game is set up to kill your player. Every monster, boss, and trap has as it's only goal the death of your player. The addition of the occaisional anti-social player only adds to the feeling of tension and fear that makes the rewards of success that much better. Remember this: the world of Diablo II is not a safe, warm place. It is a place of great evil, and even greater good.
2) In Diablo 1, the cheating and hacking rendered PKing a disproportionately annoying addition to the game, for example the Town-Kill or the Auto-Kill. This is not the case in D2, where the avoidance of PKs is a relatively trivial matter. Other posters have listed all of the ways in which we have made PKing all the more difficult.
3) Even with a PK switch, there are abundant ways that anti-social people can ruin your game. Believe me, there are far worse things to do than declare hostile and try to attack another player. Without this option, the "jerks" will not go away.
4) A story about heroes and conquests needs villians. Hordes of identical monsters do not fulfill this requirement in my opinion. Part of what makes the Diablo II community great is the great variety of personalities and styles. The last thing we want is to force people into some idealized regimen of "proper" role-playing. Rather, we sought to make a game where people create their own fantasies and adventures.
and finally,
5) Diablo II and the expansion are the games that we at Blizzard want to play. That is our formula for success. Companies that design games based on focus groups, marketing opinions, and even fan input do not succeed. Although hearing the opinions of others are valuable to us, every design decision must pass the test of whether or not WE would want it in the game. In many cases, we've changed our minds after hearing compelling arguments. But we've decided that PKing is part of the Diablo universe. We are well aware that this does not please everyone. However, you are right: we are not apologetic about it. Not at all. Sure, we could implement a PK switch. It's a trivial coding task. But we wouldn't be being true to ourselves, and our goals as gamemakers.
We are proud of what we've made in the Diablo universe, and the overwhelming success and support of our customers vindicates our core decisions from a business standpoint as well. Sure we've made mistakes, after all, we're just gamers who are fortunate enough to have built a successful game company. We spend each day doing what we love to do: make and play fun computer games. The sales and success are nice, but they are secondary to our goal of making the games that we want to play.
Max Schaefer
Vice President and co-founder, Blizzard North


Sirian's First Reply[edit]

Though clearly thrilled to get a direct mail from Max, Sirian didn't back down on his opinions, and created an enormously long rebuttal, which Max read and replied to. Here's Sirian's reply; some parts that quote Max are in italics and indented.

Thanks for responding. Sincerely. I'm sorry that your first post here comes over a confrontational issue. I'd rather have been introduced to you under other circumstances, but I'll take this as it comes. My biggest complaint with your company in recent times has concerned several issues that add up, in my perception, to "not showing up" to take responsibility for various matters involving fan/customer discontent: from beta CDs not arriving at all to issues concerning bugs and game features, and undoubtedly many vaporware complaints arising from problems we create for ourselves, or misunderstandings that are not your fault.
You showed up today.
As a creative professional, and as someone who has organized multiple activities and groups involving games, I'm well aware that there are more "theorists" out there than you could shake a stick at -- people certain they can build a better mousetrap, who want everything run their way. I get accused of being one of those in these parts on a regular basis, but having been on the other side of it, I do appreciate your position. The only way to build something innovative and successful is to find your vision and stick to it, and that means staying the course even in the face of impassioned disagreement.
Having played with them, I agree with you that Assassin traps are not likely to be efficient player killers. For one thing, they all vanish if you return to town via waypoint or portal (unlike firewalls and hydras, which are now on timers and with shortened durations). Death Sentry could be QUITE lethal if used while the opponent is standing amidst a mass of monster bodies, as that trap will chain the explosions almost instantly, but that's not likely to happen in a "surprise" ambush, so it would be avoidable. The idea of Assassin ambushes may have set off this thread, but is tangential to everything I have had to say.


Do we "encourage" people to PK? ... there is almost no effort given to "encourage" PKing, other than not preventing it.
Almost no effort. Almost.
That's accurate, in my view. There are no banner ads on bnet touting that type of play. The box doesn't showcase the hostile option. No illustrations or artwork in the manual depicting "evil" characters and glorifying that activity. You did, as I often call it, "throw a few bones" to those who would rather opt out of all PvP play, in that most PK fights can be avoided if you pack up and quit. The days of instant-hostility-backstabbing, of God mode and a billion hit points and town kill, were left behind when you created the Realms and the current hostile system. The Realms have worked as well for the purposes of preventing cheating as could be expected.
Almost no effort. Almost.
But see, that's not the same as none, and even that little bit is destructive, and I find it offensive. I don't expect to persuade you -- as you say, you've been over this issue for years now, and you may have heard it all before or at least feel as if you have -- but here you are, so I'll make my case. I'll start by addressing your points.


1) The entire game is set up to kill your player.
No, it's not. If you wanted to, you could impose on the player a challenge that could not be overcome. You COULD kill the player at any time you see fit, simply by making it happen. You could make it happen with or without corresponding in-game rationale to "explain" it.
As far it goes, yes, the game elements are there to kill you. However, that description is oversimplified PAST the point of validity. It misses vital elements, and paints a false picture.
Closer to the truth is this: The entire game is set up to threaten your player. If the player fails to respond adequately, he will be killed. Some few circumstances may be put in there to pose extreme risks, with the express intent of daring players to see if they can find ANY way to survive. Even so, that a player should have options, even if feeble or inadequate, is essential to the game.
The hostility system fits that paradigm well enough. You've included options: town is a safe harbor. There are password games if you want to play privately. There's squelch to shut up the rude and the aggressive. So even the PK option the way you have designed it is intended only to threaten, not to kill outright. It's up to players to survive. At least, that's how I read your view of it: PKs are just another threat to be managed.
On one condition, though. I'll come back to that in a moment.


Every monster, boss, and trap has as it's only goal the death of your player. The addition of the occaisional anti-social player only adds to the feeling of tension and fear that makes the rewards of success that much better.
IF the player subscribes to the challenge, yes, tension and fear that can be entertaining, rewarding.
If that challenge is unwanted, on the other hand, no. It DOES NOT add even a shred of entertainment, only frustration, anger, resentment, and feelings even more hostile.
There is a difference between playing at hostility and true emotional hostility mano a mano. PKing crosses that line. I know it, you know it. In Diablo 1, without secure servers, this was completely out of your hands. You could NOT control the issue even if you tried. You shut down town kill and other tamperings with clients, but you had no control over the other side of cheating: the things happening on the opponent's computer. In that context, you were free of any direct responsibility for the activity. What "jerks" (as you called them) would do was out of your hands. The hostility button was next to irrelevent anyway, as there was friendly fire damage. Even players cooperating, trying not to kill each other, could hardly avoid doing so.
In Diablo II, you took control. The Realms. Secure servers. You could still not control everything, but you came very close (and nice job, well done). That puts the full burder of responsibility for the results squarely on your shoulders. You admit that, yet... no, you don't quite admit it.


Remember this: the world of Diablo II is not a safe, warm place. It is a place of great evil, and even greater good.
Riiiight.
You play on the Realms, so be honest. What percentage of players you've played with bother to role play in the SLIGHTEST? As many as two percent? I don't think so.
This is an arcade game for the home PC. There are a great many quintessential similarities to Gauntlet -- far more than, say, to Pen and Paper Role Playing Games (PPRPGs) like Dungeons and Dragons, Dark Consipiracy, Gurps, or even computer RPGs like Ultima. Sure, people can play Diablo like an RPG, but people can also pick up silverware and use them as puppets.
I'm not persuaded in the least by a role playing argument, since role play is at best tangential to the gameplay of your product.
So what about a mechanical argument? The gameplay? You say:


4) A story about heroes and conquests needs villians. Hordes of identical monsters do not fulfill this requirement in my opinion
A story? This isn't a story, it's a game. The cinematics are well scripted and beautifully done, and some of the NPC dialogue is well characterized. The story stops there. "What story?"
Diablo II is not a novel. It wouldn't even pass for a short story. If you got any sales at all, out of the millions of copies sold, on the basis of the "story", I would be shocked.
That is not to say that the atmosphere is irrelevant. The music, the artwork, the themes of the towns and various areas all enhance the game, but come on. Story? Do you honestly believe you are telling a story here? Is story even in the top ten priorities for the production? You've done a good job setting a mood. Good enough, certainly, for the masses of players who bought your game to play the game, including me.
So if story amounts only to dressing and backdrops against which to play the game, how can you trot out story as a justification for diminishing the game experience for a large number of your customers? Forgive me for being blunt here -- I'll remain polite. We're not that simple, Max. We're not that gullible. The game is the thing, and we both know it. A lot of players like to duel, some enjoy the thrill of facing human competitors -- yes, I admit, some like to be hunted by PKs -- but there are many who have no interest whatsoever in PvP.
You are stating flat out that you know what's best for your customers. Customers who enjoy battling "Hordes of identical monsters" are apparently defective in your view. Something must be wrong with them, or else they are unenlightened, not yet aware of the "joys" of the PK hunt. So force it on them, because they "need" a bunch of real life villains to spice up their gaming experience. You know what's best for them, better than they themselves know it? Is that it?
Whatever happened to "the customer is always right"? That does not seem to apply to Blizzard, as I understand you.
That's too much to swallow. I can't imagine you actually believe that. And if you don't... yes, I'm going to say it. Hypocrisy. If you are here spouting a PR line you yourself don't even believe, that's the very essense of hypocrisy, and you'd have done better to ignore me.
On the other hand, my imagination has failed me before. So I'll set aside my disbelief and presume you are sincere. Not just for the sake of argument, either. I'll presume you mean it, that you think you do know what's best, that somewhere inside you, YOUR imagination is failing YOU, in that you can't comprehend that a LARGE segment of your fans do in fact enjoy the hordes of monsters, without end, with no desire or use for intrusions by "real life" villains to interrupt that pastime.
But it's true, there are countless thousands of us out here, attracted to the "dull" part of your game, the monsters, and not the least bit interested in fighting off ambush players who have designed their characters specifically for player killing, with every possible advantage they can angle toward, to ensure that the fight (if you give them one) is as far from anything resembling fair as they can manage. If you wish, I can show you some of the email I got in response to the protest I mounted. I'll send it to you, flames and all, or flame free, whatever you want. A drop in the bucket by your company's standards, but then... every customer counts, right? Right? ...
Right?


The last thing we want is to force people into some idealized regimen of "proper" role-playing.
OK, now hold on just a minute here. Which is it, Max? Do you, or do you not, want to force people out of how they want to play, and into how you think they ought to play?
You lay out your view of "story", which you expressly state MUST include direct human conflict to be of any value (that being the corollary to the AI monsters as insufficient opposition), and now you want to step back and claim you have no interest in forcing a particular way of playing on the customer?
See, this doesn't have to be a zero sum game. Everyone can have what they want out of Diablo. There are people who want nonconsensual hostility and they will fill the Realms with hostile-enabled games. So there will always be targets for the PKs to hunt. There will be those who want to duel, and those who fight monsters, and those who do a little of everything. The PK switch would not break your game. It might have consequences, it might even have BAD consequences, but that's what you get when mix PvM and PvP in one game.
What is lost by enabling players to opt out of the PvP side of the game entirely? Story? LOL. Yeah. What else? Your ability to dictate to players that they MUST subject themselves to random harassment, unfair fights, and the interruption of their gaming sessions -- even the loss of their hardcore characters? Are you really that certain you know what's best for the customer? More to the point, are you THAT sure the customer has no clue what is best for him or herself?
This is not now, nor was it ever, about "forcing people into an idealized regimen" of role playing. It's about choice, about self-determination without having to surrender, in one form or another, to the intrusions of rude players.
Those who place a higher priority on the ability to hostile others who may annoy them, to "teach those guys a lesson" or chase them away... let them have that option.
Those who like to duel, let them.
Those who like to fight the sad AI monsters, let them have the choice of doing that without having someone else insist they NOT do that, and instead play PvP.
And those who want to chase PvM players, let them do so against willing targets.
Everyone will have more fun, except the few whose SOLE intent is to intrude upon, irritate, bully and swagger.


The "story" argument was BS. So is the "we don't want to force on people" when that's exactly what the current system does. The "we threw you some bones, be happy" argument, harkening back to Diablo 1 and how bad it was there, doesn't float either, because it doesn't negate the fact that you have deprived those who want to play strictly against monsters the option of doing so in public games -- because of your personal bias against that sort of gameplay. Three arguments you made, all three failed to persuade me.
What's left? Two more points.


3) Even with a PK switch, there are abundant ways that anti-social people can ruin your game. Believe me, there are far worse things to do than declare hostile and try to attack another player. Without this option, the "jerks" will not go away.
This is the flimsiest of your arguments, tantamount to the idea that police can't prevent crimes, so why bother having police? We have police because certain acts are NOT legitimate, because their presence deters some, and enforces the rules on others after the fact.
If the PK option were removed completely, then yes, I can well see those who thrive on such gaming to move to the next best alternative, be it trapping waypoints, grabbing all the loot, and a hundred other intrusive things I haven't begun to imagine.
I've never asked for the hostile system to be scuttled, though. I just want a choice for myself and others. Let each player choose what the greater annoyances and dangers are for them, instead of you choosing for them. Many here at the Lounge have passionately described why they would continue to choose to play in games with unilateral hostility, even though their primary concern is PvM. I can have a mutual-hostility or no-hostility game without depriving them of their unilateral hostility... IF you guys at Blizzard decided to code that in.
So why not do it?
1) The game is about killing your character. (No, it's not. It's about threatening your character and challenging you to survive.)
2) D2's hostility is better than D1. Shut up and be happy. (Close, but no cigar. The bottom line remains the same: if you don't want to partake in PvP gameplay, your ONLY choice is to run and hide in private games. It doesn't have to be that way).
3) It wouldn't solve anything. Jerks will be jerks. (That was never the issue. This is about choice.)
I'm not asking you to provide me a place of total safety, protect me from all harm and all intrusion, and coddle me like an infant. I'm just asking for the SAME consideration given to the PvP players: the option to play the game -I- want to play, without being forced to abandon it or to defend it in what is invariably an unfair fight. You see, in this regard, you're forcing one MORE thing on your customers: that they should build their characters sturdy enough to stand up to the rigors of PvP. Yeah, thanks. "Father knows best" once again. Sorry. I have next to zero interest in the mind-numbing tedium of leveling up a PvP build through a cakewalk series of games, just for the dubious privilege of being better prepared when someone wants to pick a fight. You put thirty skills in the game for each class, but a bare handful of those can stand up in (I'm going to say it) this woefully imbalanced PvP game. Sure, each class has a few options, but the players had to invent their own balances.
Instead, I enjoy the challenge of exploring all the skills, especially the weaker ones. If you've read about my character Ember, then you already know what I'm talking about. If not, then I cordially invite you to visit my site and see just how interesting and creative of a challenge can be made out of the "Hordes of identical monsters".
http://sirian.warpcore.org/diablo2/ember.html
With characters like this, I'm undertaking to create my own "higher difficulty" by adjusting my character's power downward, passing up the cakewalk options and even the easy options, to go for the moderately challenging options. Chars like that don't fit into the PvP game at all -- and therefore I DESERVE second class treatment because I sometimes play this way? It's "enhancing" my gameplay to be bullied around, or at least intruded upon and forced out of my own game? Is it your official position that Variant characters (and players?) are "weak" and thus fair game to be preyed upon?


4) A story. A story? Well maybe. You said: Rather, we sought to make a game where people create their own fantasies and adventures. Ember would fall into that category. Thousands have read her adventure, and I have piles and piles of fan mail to show for it.
If someone wants to make an adventure out of PvP, go for it. I don't. I want to play MY adventures, my fantasies, and I want the option of both unilateral hostility (as it now stands) and mutual-consent or no-hostility, because there are times when I want to play with strangers, meet new people who enjoy the same things about the game as I do, and play in peace.
It's a GAME, not a lesson in sociology. And even if this were a lesson, it'd be a poor one: in real life, things are often unfair, but there are a whole lot more serious consequences to be incurred, that deter most of the type/degree of behavior seen from PKs, or else weed those people out as they get themselves beat on, killed, or jailed.
I'm no slouch at competition, when I care to compete. I've been ranked #1 in the world at Descent 1 and 2, at one point in my past. Sure, that was a much smaller playing community than for Blizzard games, but internet gaming STARTED with Descent, with Kali, and I'm sure you know at least a bit about that, as your own service, battlenet, bucked the trends and followed Kali's lead in the area of one-time-fee, then free for life (for Kali, twenty bucks, for you, buy a game) and it helped build your company to where you stand now. However, while I enjoy competing at Descent, I find Diablo PvP completely uninteresting. There's no fear, no thrill, just an element of your game I don't care for. Yet you know better than I do what I will find fun? That you need to set your game up to ensure that public games MUST mean PvP games at all times?
A story needs heroes and conquests need villains, but frankly you don't understand your own game if you think the players are at all role playing here. They're killing monsters, hunting up treasure, and passing time in an arcade game.


So... if your first four arguments all fall flat, that leaves your final argument:
5) Diablo II and the expansion are the games that we at Blizzard want to play. That is our formula for success.
Amen. Kudos. Applause. Very fine games, too, even if I find a few things about them quite annoying and/or frustrating.
So you guys like to PvM, and you also like to PvP, and you like mixing them. Fine. Do that. But where, exactly, is the part at which you must not allow PvM gaming to occur uninterrupted except in private games? Is that part really necessary?


The ONLY element to which that is necessary is the one that requires unwilling victims. So is that the game that Blizzard and its employees like to play the most? To lure in a bunch of prey with an attactive PvM game, all the while ensuring that PKs can attack these players, and will have huge advantages on hand when doing so?
PKing stops being a game. Remember how I started this reply. The game is NOT about killing the player, it's about threatening the player, forcing him or her to respond skillfully to survive. The PK, on the other hand, IS about killing the player. Killing the player by surprise ambush, "dirty tricks", by way of bugs and loopholes in the game. Remember the town portal bug? What about loading lag at waypoints, always fun stuff to be dead before your machine can load hoggy graphics and sounds. One-shot-kill weapons, skills, moves. Characters far higher in level than the target. Teams of PKs working to ambush one player. On and on and on the list goes, NONE of it sporting or meaningful. It's all about the cheap shot, and yes I'll say it again: it's slimy, top to bottom.
You say the avoidance of PKs is a relatively trivial matter -- sure, if you suck it up and surrender control of the game. Your quest, your progress, the people you may have been playing with, the mood of your gaming session, all STOLEN away by an aggressive PK who has the power to impose his will.
Yeah, trivial. Nice to know that you think the interests of PvM gamers are trivial.


You have a lot to be proud of with your games, Max. But where you find it unfathomable that somebody would get anything meaningful out of the endless hordes of rather inept monsters and traps you've laid out, I find in incomprehensible that you'd put so much care into making the PvM game entertaining, yet despise it as you seem to do, and feel it necessary to force all your customers to engage in the rather shoddy (by comparison) PvP side of the game -- or jump through hoops to avoid that.
When Bolty convinced me NOT to shut down my site permanently, but instead to take a more complex and weighted approach to my objections on this matter, he said something I won't soon forget. He said, and I'm paraphrasing because I don't have the exact quote: "There are countless people who buy this game because it's big, it's hyped, it's everywhere -- casual gamers who buy only bestsellers. They try it, log on, get suckered/ambushed/deceived/bullied by some rude PK, decide they don't need that sort of gaming experience, and log off, never to buy another Blizzard product or be heard from again. As much money as Blizzard makes off PKs, they lose even more. How they can NOT see that is beyond me."


Do we "encourage" people to PK? ... there is almost no effort given to "encourage" PKing, other than not preventing it.
Almost no effort?
I object. I disagree. I've made my case. My protest will continue for as long as I remain unsatisfied about this issue.
Cordially Yours,
- Sirian


Max's Second Reply[edit]

To everyone's surprise, Max actually got through all of that and came back with a second reply, taking point by point some of Sirian's remarks. Those are italicized with extra indenting below.


Sirian,
Thanks for your reply. As always, you've put a first-class effort into rebutting my points. Of course, I have re-rebuttals, which I will insert into your text. As a veteran of BBS "discussions", I know that this will not resolve the issue, but I love to argue about games (perhaps "debate intelligently" is a better word than "argue). I think we should probably start a new thread after this post if we want to continue, as this one is becoming ridiculously long and cumbersome.
I'm posting from home today, as I have to watch after my dog who is dying of cancer. It sucks bad, but that's part of the bargain. Life is a series of highs and lows, and today I'm getting a bit of both, with the high coming from the "official" release of LOD.
For the purposes of practicality, I'll snip some of your post and only keep what I'm responding to. In no way am I ignoring the rest of it, but, well, it's really long.
Thanks for responding. Sincerely. I'm sorry that your first post here comes over a confrontational issue. I'd rather have been introduced to you under other circumstances, but I'll take this as it comes.
Agreed. I would have been nice to "meet" under better circumstances, but a good game debate isn't the worst place to start. I must admit to having come in to this with mixed feelings about you. You have undeniably enhanced the Diablo community with your expertise, and obvious knowledge of the game. Your efforts in this regard are very much appreciated. At the same time, we react like any human when attacked. In the past, it is my opinion that you've crossed the line once or twice as a result of vehement disagreement with our decisions. I really don't like to read things like "F--- you Blizzard." Normally, I would ignore permanently anyone who says that, but this is a special case, and you've been extremely civil here. Everyone goes overboard once in a while, and I'm no exception. So, at this point, I consider it a non-issue.
Do we "encourage" people to PK? ... there is almost no effort given to "encourage" PKing, other than not preventing it. 1) The entire game is set up to kill your player.
No, it's not. If you wanted to, you could impose on the player a challenge that could not be overcome. You COULD kill the player at any time you see fit, simply by making it happen. You could make it happen with or without corresponding in-game rationale to "explain" it. As far it goes, yes, the game elements are there to kill you. However, that description is oversimplified PAST the point of validity. It misses vital elements, and paints a false picture.
Closer to the truth is this: The entire game is set up to threaten your player. If the player fails to respond adequately, he will be killed. Some few circumstances may be put in there to pose extreme risks, with the express intent of daring players to see if they can find ANY way to survive. Even so, that a player should have options, even if feeble or inadequate, is essential to the game. The hostility system fits that paradigm well enough. You've included options: town is a safe harbor. There are password games if you want to play privately. There's squelch to shut up the rude and the aggressive. So even the PK option the way you have designed it is intended only to threaten, not to kill outright. It's up to players to survive. At least, that's how I read your view of it: PKs are just another threat to be managed.
That is correct. It is just a threat to be managed, and I would venture to say it is quite manageable.
On one condition, though. I'll come back to that in a moment. Every monster, boss, and trap has as it's only goal the death of your player. The addition of the occaisional anti-social player only adds to the feeling of tension and fear that makes the rewards of success that much better.
IF the player subscribes to the challenge, yes, tension and fear that can be entertaining, rewarding. If that challenge is unwanted, on the other hand, no. It DOES NOT add even a shred of entertainment, only frustration, anger, resentment, and feelings even more hostile.
You could say the same thing about every game feature.
There is a difference between playing at hostility and true emotional hostility mano a mano. PKing crosses that line. I know it, you know it.
I disagree. Even the PKs in Diablo are engaging in a role-playing fantasy. I would hope that they aren't out killing people in real life.
Sure, some people will not welcome this aspect of the game, and would rather not have to deal with it. They can, with passworded games, single-player, and LAN games. I'll explain later why a PK switch would disallow real choices.
I'm fascinated by the sociological aspects of this game genre. In a sense, this is a less artificial environment than many real-life social constructs. People can really choose to be whoever they want to be in an on-line game. No matter how anti-social, no matter what "crimes" people commit, it's just a game, and when you're done, nothing is gained but memories, and nothing is lost but time.
In Diablo 1, without secure servers, this was completely out of your hands. In Diablo II, you took control. The Realms. Secure servers. You could still not control everything, but you came very close (and nice job, well done). That puts the full burder of responsibility for the results squarely on your shoulders. You admit that, yet... no, you don't quite admit it.
Absolutely I do. I take responsibility for the game-play results. The emotional reactions of the players are not my responsiblitly, however. People choose to play this game, and it is obviouly not necessary for survival. We have simply added the option of playing Diablo to people's lives. Nothing more.
Remember this: the world of Diablo II is not a safe, warm place. It is a place of great evil, and even greater good.
Riiiight. You play on the Realms, so be honest. What percentage of players you've played with bother to role play in the SLIGHTEST? As many as two percent? I don't think so.
I disagree. It depends on how you define role-playing. Like I mentioned above, our customers are not out killing people in real life. What they do in our game is role-playing, even if it doesn't involve peppering their speech with "thee's and thou's."
I used to play the D&D's and similar pen and paper games. One of the things I liked about them is the freedom to be whatever you want to be. The same is true in Diablo. We provide a construct, a history, and an environment, but we don't tell you who YOU are. That's up to you to determine.
This is an arcade game for the home PC. There are a great many quintessential similarities to Gauntlet -- far more than, say, to Pen and Paper Role Playing Games (PPRPGs) like Dungeons and Dragons, Dark Consipiracy, Gurps, or even computer RPGs like Ultima. Sure, people can play Diablo like an RPG, but people can also pick up silverware and use them as puppets.
It's an honor to be compared to those titles. Thanks! But again, there are different interpretations of true "role-playing." In too many computer RPGs, I'm forced to play a particular character who's traits are determined by the game developer. I am often given three choices of how to respond to (usuallly abysmally written) NPC speeches. When I feel the story is already written, and I'm just fulfilling the author's fantasy, I don't feel I'm role-playing. Rather, I'm just solving a simplistic puzzle while being led through a story. It can be entertaining, but it's not role-playing to me.
I'm not persuaded in the least by a role playing argument, since role play is at best tangential to the gameplay of your product. So what about a mechanical argument? The gameplay? You say:
4) A story about heroes and conquests needs villians. Hordes of identical monsters do not fulfill this requirement in my opinion
A story? This isn't a story, it's a game. The cinematics are well scripted and beautifully done, and some of the NPC dialogue is well characterized. The story stops there. "What story?"
Diablo II is not a novel. It wouldn't even pass for a short story. If you got any sales at all, out of the millions of copies sold, on the basis of the "story", I would be shocked. That is not to say that the atmosphere is irrelevant. The music, the artwork, the themes of the towns and various areas all enhance the game, but come on. Story? Do you honestly believe you are telling a story here? Is story even in the top ten priorities for the production?
No! And that's the point. YOU write the story, not me. That's what makes it compelling. There's a story in playing Diablo, but it's different for every player. In the end, you write the story; the dialogue is yours to create, and the events of the game determine the plot. We try to provide the tools: the location, the items, the vendors, the heroes and the villians.
The more we let the player do, the less it is like a TV show. Role-playing should not be a passive activity. We don't seek to spoon-feed anyone exactly what they should do next.
You've done a good job setting a mood. Good enough, certainly, for the masses of players who bought your game to play the game, including me. So if story amounts only to dressing and backdrops against which to play the game, how can you trot out story as a justification for diminishing the game experience for a large number of your customers? Forgive me for being blunt here -- I'll remain polite. We're not that simple, Max. We're not that gullible. The game is the thing, and we both know it. A lot of players like to duel, some enjoy the thrill of facing human competitors -- yes, I admit, some like to be hunted by PKs -- but there are many who have no interest whatsoever in PvP.
That's a bit of a straw-man. I am not trying to fool anyone, and I know you're not gullible. We provide a construct that in our opinion is the most conducive to interesting adventures. Not everyone will agree with our choices. It is not our intent to please everyone. No business works that way.
You are stating flat out that you know what's best for your customers. Customers who enjoy battling "Hordes of identical monsters" are apparently defective in your view. Something must be wrong with them, or else they are unenlightened, not yet aware of the "joys" of the PK hunt. So force it on them, because they "need" a bunch of real life villains to spice up their gaming experience. You know what's best for them, better than they themselves know it? Is that it?
Not at all. Obviously, we think fighting "hordes of identical monsters" is important. But not for the sake of role-playing. The kill-reward structure of monster combat is about two things: fun skills and spells, and finding cool items.
That's a huge part of Diablo, and among the main reasons I like to play. Defective? Hardly. We wouldn't have put so much effort into it if we thought that.
But yes, we do think we know what's best for our customers. We have to, we make games for a living! We're not putting out questionaires and making games based on the result. We're indulging in our own preferences and fantasies, and then making them public for those who choose to participate.
Whatever happened to "the customer is always right"? That does not seem to apply to Blizzard, as I understand you.
Correct, the customer is not always right. We have no animosity towards anyone, but we feel we do know better than our customers how to make games. Perhaps it's arrogant, but how could we confidently enter three-year+ development cycles if we didn't think this way? Not that I'm comparing us to the masters, but did Picasso consult the public before painting? Was he a failure if the public didn't like his work? Obviously, what we do isn't near as important or historically significant as Picasso, but this is our creative expression, and as such it's a little self-indulgent.
That's too much to swallow. I can't imagine you actually believe that. And if you don't... yes, I'm going to say it. Hypocrisy. If you are here spouting a PR line you yourself don't even believe, that's the very essense of hypocrisy, and you'd have done better to ignore me.
Obviously, I'm not spouting a PR line. If you knew me, you'd know I'm inherently hostile to the corporate culture. It would be easier to ignore you, and probably better from a PR perspective.
On the other hand, my imagination has failed me before. So I'll set aside my disbelief and presume you are sincere. Not just for the sake of argument, either. I'll presume you mean it, that you think you do know what's best, that somewhere inside you, YOUR imagination is failing YOU, in that you can't comprehend that a LARGE segment of your fans do in fact enjoy the hordes of monsters, without end, with no desire or use for intrusions by "real life" villains to interrupt that pastime.
I understand that. But it is my opinion that the intrusions you speak of are less significant than what the PK adds to the Diablo atmosphere. That's my opinion, I don't state it as fact. With the 2-million copies of LOD, there are about 8 million sales of Diablo games, and every week sets a new record for people on battle.net. Maybe it could have been more, and maybe you're right, but allowing the PK cannot be viewed as a deal-breaker, given the game's success.
But it's true, there are countless thousands of us out here, attracted to the "dull" part of your game, the monsters, and not the least bit interested in fighting off ambush players who have designed their characters specifically for player killing, with every possible advantage they can angle toward, to ensure that the fight (if you give them one) is as far from anything resembling fair as they can manage. If you wish, I can show you some of the email I got in response to the protest I mounted. I'll send it to you, flames and all, or flame free, whatever you want. A drop in the bucket by your company's standards, but then... every customer counts, right? Right?
Right?
Hehehe. Believe me, I've felt the flames. I'll tell you something: I'm attracted to the "dull" portion of the game. I've never PKed another individual. Ever. I've dueled consentually once or twice, but I'm not even very good at it.
But, and it's a big "but", I like the fact that the PK is out there. Even though I rarely ever encounter them, it's satisfying to me to know that the trust I have in other players is earned, not forced.
The last thing we want is to force people into some idealized regimen of "proper" role-playing.
OK, now hold on just a minute here. Which is it, Max? Do you, or do you not, want to force people out of how they want to play, and into how you think they ought to play?
You lay out your view of "story", which you expressly state MUST include direct human conflict to be of any value (that being the corollary to the AI monsters as insufficient opposition), and now you want to step back and claim you have no interest in forcing a particular way of playing on the customer?
I believe you've misunderstood my stance on "story", and refer you up a notch for clarification. My belief is that the POTENTIAL for human conflict is intriguing and compelling. It is a part of the construct we've created. I don't put the issue in absolute terms, however.
Those who like to duel, let them.
Those who like to fight the sad AI monsters, let them have the choice of doing that without having someone else insist they NOT do that,and instead play PvP. And those who want to chase PvM players, let them do so against willing targets. Everyone will have more fun, except the few whose SOLE intent is to intrude upon, irritate, bully and swagger.
Here's the short version of why I think this doesn't work: We implement a PK switch, and the message is sent that the games that don't have PK turned off are specifically for PvP, and the others are PvM. PKers will all only invade the no-PK-switch games, rasing the percentage precipitiously, and upsetting the natural balance. People will think that if they want to play normally (fight monsters), they must use the PK switch. And their games will be just a tad more flat as a result.
We have a theory in the office that if we added the option of a button that made your character invincible, nearly everyone would push that button. They'd rampage accross the lands, killing everything with nary a worry. Then they'd get bored and put the game on the shelf, never to play again.
The "story" argument was BS. So is the "we don't want to force on people" when that's exactly what the current system does. The "we threw you some bones, be happy" argument, harkening back to Diablo 1 and how bad it was there, doesn't float either, because it doesn't negate the fact that you have deprived those who want to play strictly against monsters the option of doing so in public games -- because of your personal bias against that sort of gameplay. Three arguments you made, all three failed to persuade me.
Sirian, I'm not trying to persuade you of anything. I'm just giving you a glimpse into our thought process. I have no expectation of resolving this issue for you, although I suppose there's always hope. I would prefer that you were persuaded.
I've never asked for the hostile system to be scuttled, though. I just want a choice for myself and others. Let each player choose what the greater annoyances and dangers are for them, instead of you choosing for them. Many here at the Lounge have passionately described why they would continue to choose to play in games with unilateral hostility, even though their primary concern is PvM. I can have a mutual-hostility or no-hostility game without depriving them of their unilateral hostility... IF you guys at Blizzard decided to code that in. So why not do it?
I believe it would dilute the experience. I believe that anyone, especially an intelligent person like yourself, can avoid the PK if you really want to. A PK switch would do more than give options to people. It would alter the whole dynamic, and, IN MY OPINION, render the experience just a bit less satisfying.
I'm not asking you to provide me a place of total safety, protect me from all harm and all intrusion, and coddle me like an infant. I'm just asking for the SAME consideration given to the PvP players: the option to play the game -I- want to play, without being forced to abandon it or to defend it in what is invariably an unfair fight. You see, in this regard, you're forcing one MORE thing on your customers: that they should }build their characters sturdy enough to stand up to the rigors of PvP. Yeah, thanks. "Father knows best" once again. Sorry. I have next to zero interest in the mind-numbing tedium of leveling up a PvP build through a cakewalk series of games, just for }the dubious privilege of being better prepared when someone wants to pick a fight. You put thirty skills in the game for each class, but a bare handful of those can stand up in (I'm going to say it) this woefully imbalanced PvP game. Sure, each class has a few options, but the players had to invent their own balances.
Instead, I enjoy the challenge of exploring all the skills, especially the weaker ones. If you've read about my character Ember, then you already know what I'm talking about. If not, then I cordially invite you to visit my site and see just how interesting and creative of a challenge can be made out of the "Hordes of identical monsters".
http://sirian.warpcore.org/diablo2/ember.html
With characters like this, I'm undertaking to create my own "higher difficulty" by adjusting my character's power downward, passing up the cakewalk options and even the easy options, to go for the moderately challenging options. Chars like that don't fit into the PvP game at all -- and therefore I DESERVE second class treatment because I sometimes play this way? It's "enhancing" my gameplay to be bullied around, or at least intruded upon and forced outof my own game? Is it your official position that Variant characters (and ers?) are "weak" and thus fair gameto be preyed upon?
First of all, you are a better Diablo player than I am. You are a more hardcore gamer than I am. But I'm the same as you to a lesser degree. I have no interest in building a perfect PvP character. I like to experiment with variants. I like to fight monsters and find cool items. I'm simple that way.
I also like unstructured human interaction. I get a little rush when I encounter a PK. Even if my responce is to go to town, and then get up and get a slice of pizza or make a phone call. (PK's ALWAYS leave if you go to town and remain silent a few minutes.) I don't fight, but I don't allow myself to be bullied either.
The structure we've set up makes the PKer the second-class citizen. They're damn near powerless. Everything in the Diablo universe is tailored to you and me, not the PK. But they add spice, a little danger, a volutary challenge, and they offer a fascinating glimpse into the darker recesses of the human psyche.
4) A story. A story? Wellmaybe. You said: "Rather, we sought to make a game where people create their ownfantasies and adventures." Ember wouldfall into that category. Thousands have read her adventure, and I have piles and piles of fan mail to show for it.
And Ember is the sort of character I'd like to party with!
I'm no slouch at competition, when I care to compete. I've been ranked #1 in the world at Descent 1 and 2, at one point in my past. Sure, that was a much smaller playing community than for Blizzard games, butinternet gaming STARTED with Descent, with Kali, and I'm sure you know at least a bit about that, as your own service, battlenet, bucked the trends and followed Kali's lead in the area of one-time-fee, then free for life (for Kali, twenty bucks, for you, buy a game) and it helped build your company to where you stand now. However, while I enjoy competing at Descent, I find Diablo PvP completely uninteresting. There's no fear, no thrill, just an element of your game I don't care for. Yet you know better than I do what I will find fun? Thatyou need to set your game up to ensure that public games MUST mean PvP games at all times?
Again, you are a hardcore gamer. I respect that, and admire it. I can confidently say you are even a better Diablo player than I am. But all I can do is make what I think is fun. Undoubtably, you would be a fine game designer. I wish you would do so, in fact. The game industry needs people with passion and a vision, and quality titles are few and far between these days.
But you would be your best as a game designer by making the games that you feel are the most fun. That's all we're doing. Maybe we could do it better, and maybe you could do it better than we do. I'd welcome that. But in the end, we have to assume that we know best for OUR games.
A story needs heroes and conquests need villains, but frankly you don't understand your own game if you think the players are at all role playing here. They're killing monsters, hunting up treasure, and passing time in an arcade game. So... if your first four arguments all fall flat, that leaves your final argument:
5) Diablo II and the expansion are the games that we at Blizzard want to play. That is our formula for success.
Amen. Kudos. Applause. Very fine games, too, even if I find a few things about them quite annoying and/or frustrating.
PKing stops being a game. Remember how I started this reply. The game is NOT about killing the player, it's about threatening the player, forcing him or her to respond skillfully to survive. The PK, on the other hand, IS about killing the player. Killing the player by surprise ambush, "dirty tricks", by way of bugs and loopholes in the game. Remember the town portal bug? What about loading lag at waypoints, always fun stuff to be dead before your machine can load hoggy graphics and sounds. One-shot-kill weapons, skills, moves. Characters far higher in level than the target. Teams of PKs working to ambush one player. On and on and on the list goes, NONE of it sporting or meaningful. It's all about the cheap shot, and yes I'll say it again: it's slimy, top to bottom.
The PK is a slimy sort. That's what makes them compelling to me. Obviously, we fix bugs and loopholes as we can, and endeavor to make it as fair as possible. But I honestly feel the experience is enhanced by real danger.
You say the avoidance of PKs is a relatively trivial matter -- sure, if you suck it up and surrender control of the game. Your quest, your progress, the people you may have been playing with, the mood of your gaming session, all STOLEN away by an aggressive PK who be the power to impose his will. Yeah, trivial. Nice to know that you think the interests of PvM gamers are trivial.
Now hold on. I never said that. I said avoiding PKs is trivial. Especially for a smart guy like you, it should be almost effortless. I've never had to quit a game because of a PK. Even if I do in the future, it's no big deal in the end.
You have a lot to be proud of with your games, Max. But where you find it unfathomable that somebody would get anything meaningful out of the endless hordes of rather inept monsters and traps you've laid out, I find in incomprehensible that you'd put so much care into making the PvM game entertaining, yet despise it as you seem to do, and feel it necessary to force all your customers to engage in the rather shoddy (by comparison) PvP side of the game -- or jump through hoops to avoid that.
You are mistaken. I find the PvM the best part of the game. It's what I engage in. I think the game would be almost as good with no PK at all. Almost.
When Bolty convinced me NOT to shut down my site permanently over this, but instead to take a more complex and weighted approach to my objections on this matter, he said something I won't soon forget. He said, and I'm paraphrasing because I don't have the exact quote: "There are countless people who buy this game because it's big, it's hyped, it's everywhere -- casual gamers who buy only bestsellers. They try it, log on, get suckered/ambushed/deceived/bullied by some rude PK, decide they don't need that sort of gaming experience, and log off, never to buy another Blizzard product or be heard from again. As much money as Blizzard makes off PKs, they lose even more. They are so big now, their games reach beyond genre }to the masses, yet they don't provide those new customers much incentive to stick around. How they can NOT see that is beyond me."
I have nothing to apologize for here. Of all the games that have come out in the past 10 years, we've done as much as anyone to bring the casual gamer into the fold. The RPG genre was dead before we started, and we were told over and over that there is no money in PC-based RPGs. I've even been told by makers of some of the other large RPGs that have come since D1 that their projects were saved from the corporate hatchet by the success of Diablo.
I'm glad you didn't take down your site. It is a welcome and appreciated addition to the Diablo community.
I object. I disagree. I've made my case. My protest will continue for as long as I remain unsatisfied about this issue.
I'd rather you felt otherwise, but I accept and appreciate your stance. If nothing else, I'd like to focus on where we agree (which is probably almost everything but PK) going forward.
Best Regards,
Max Schaefer
VP, Blizzard North
PS: If you want to continue, let's start a new thread!



Sirian's Second Reply[edit]

Churchill defined a fanatic as "one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject." Considering that, it's no surprise that a self-proclaimed Diablo fanatic like Sirian replied to Max a third time, in even greater length.


Thanks for your reply. As always, you've put a first-class effort into rebutting my points.
I tell it the way I see it.
There are some of your fans who rush to start petitions when they disagree with something, apparently on the principle that joining many voices together, increasing the volume, will enhance the likelihood that they will be heard. Some have urged me to join petitions, or start my own, but I don't.
One voice, one individual, is the focus of power. Petitions add voices arithematically. The individuals therein are lost, blended into the group, until there is nothing left but a group voice. That's not a path to power, not an enabling of ability to act or influence.
I have always known my voice is strongest on its own. There is a way to reach a stronger position, but it comes only when strong individuals combine to form a synnergystic group, where the individuals are not blended, where individuality remains intact, where the math is not one plus one plus another one, but one times one times one, with exponential results.
One day this whole world will be like that, but we've got a long long way to go to get there.


I'm posting from home today, as I have to watch after my dog who is dying of cancer.
That's a sad event. You have my best wishes.
It would have been nice to "meet" under better circumstances, but a good game debate isn't the worst place to start.
Don't be too sure. :)
j/k


I must admit to having come in to this with mixed feelings about you. You have undeniably enhanced the Diablo community with your expertise, and obvious knowledge of the game. Your efforts in this regard are very much appreciated. At the same time, we react like any human when attacked. In the past, it is my opinion that you've crossed the line once or twice as a result of vehement disagreement with our decisions.
Depends on where the line is drawn. Yeah, I've crossed the line at times in my own opinion, too, but perhaps not in the same places and ways where you took exception.
I'm happy to know that my activities have been noticed and that the positive side of them are appreciated. Obviously, I have mixed feelings as well. There are countless things about your games that I enjoy, and some of your activity outside the game design I appreciate (like your presence here). There are other things I find frustrating, and in some cases even senseless.


I really don't like to read things like "F--- you Blizzard." Normally, I would ignore permanently anyone who says that, but this is a special case, and you've been extremely civil here.
I don't feel one iota less passionate or less outraged about this today than I did at the time. Emotion is at the heart of this issue. Emotion is the element that renders the hostility system as you've designed it objectionable.
I have apologized for the profanity, and I presume you've accepted that apology, at least personally, because you're here.
I won't apologize for the emotion, however, nor for its intensity. I hold your company responsible for the actions of PKs TO THE DEGREE that you go out of your way to enable and foster the inappropriate side of their aggressions.
Your willingness to debate is gutsy, and "win, lose or draw" I hope you come out better off for choosing to show up. So... here we go with round three.


At least, that's how }I read your view of }it: PKs are just another }threat to be managed.
That is correct. It is just a threat to be managed, and I would venture to say it is quite manageable.
No, it's not just a threat to be managed. That's your view of it, but this conflict surpasses the definition of "game threat".
That's why I object. PKs and the experience of being intruded on by PKs surpass the context of the game.
The movie industry is quite similar to your business: creative, high budget, aimed at a mass market, for entertainment. Movies tell a story. The audience watches/listens, absorbs, experiences. Games tell a story, too, but the audience is engaged actively, writing their own story as you have put it, although that story is shaped to a great degree by the settings the game makers provide.
Movie content varies tremendously. For the express purpose of protecting children from intense content they may not be capable of safely handling, or which may impact them negatively, the movie industry has a simplistic ratings system with a few broad categories. However, that ratings system also offers adults a general idea about the content of the films for their OWN uses.
Now let's relate Diablo II to the movies. Suppose a movie theater came along and offered something innovative (better seats, better food, better screen, whatever) that large numbers of customers found appealing to the point of switching over their moviegoing to the new theater. Suppose that the theater at first showed only R-rated movies, specifically violent ones. They got a certain segment of the market and developed a loyal clientele. People came back over and over, and the theater got a good reputation going among its customers.
I could carry this analogy into all kinds of ground, including the theater slacking off in some areas, or expanding to new services that aren't quite as polished, or technical problems with the projectors as they get older, and so on. I'm tempted to do just that, as there are a lot of things I very much WANT to say while I have your attention. But I won't. I'll stick to the PK issue, because it really is urgent, far more so than all the rest of the issues combined. Why? Because it transcends the game.
Suppose the theater expanded to add more screens, but they added in a new gimmick as well. For a fee, people could get access to the projector room, where they do anything they liked, from making rabbit ears with their fingers in front of the projector, to switching films and forcing everyone in that room to watch a whole different movie. Some customers would find it funny, and might even enjoy it more than the movie itself. Others would find it stupid, boring, or intrusive.
Now suppose that there was no guarantee of such interference and intrusion. Suppose the theater owner privately rolled a pair of dice at the start of each showing, for each screen, and if he rolled a seven, he'd let someone up in the booth to screw around, but if he rolled anything else, no, that screen would show the advertised film without any interference.
Customers would then KNOW they had a one-in-six chance (those are the odds of rolling a seven on 2d6) of having their film watching experience intruded upon, and a five-in-six chance that they'd get to watch the movie they wanted without interference.
What then? Don't you think some of the customers who WANT to enjoy the luxuries and enhanced features of the "better" theater would roll the dice and hope they get lucky? And don't you think that those who chose to do so would be upset anyway, if and when they got unlucky and had their evening wasted?
Is the theater owner REALLY making so much money off letting those people up into the booth to screw around with the projector and piss off the rest of the audience, that it's worth it to him and to the reputation of his business to practice his business that way?
That sounds pretty crazy to me, yet that's what your company does with its game: lure in customers with a better mousetrap, yet offer no guarantee that they will get to play the game they came to play. No, instead, at any time, somebody can switch the film on them, for their amusement.
"Don't like it? Go to another theater."
Yeah, sure, only... the other theaters don't have these nice luxuries.
It's lose-lose for that customer. That customer feels like he or she doesn't matter, they're just pawns in a larger game designed to play people one against another for some third party's profit.
I come to you and say, "I want the option to come to your nice theater here and watch the movie -I- want to watch," all you can say is, "Hey, take it or leave it. I run my business the way I think is the most profitable, and I provide the type of movie going I personally enjoy. I know what's best, and that doesn't include offering you the options you are asking for." And I just stare at you in complete incredulity. I'm trying to fathom how you can find any value at all in this arrangement and I'm coming up blank. I don't understand, and I'm not a happy customer.
I say you're responsible for setting me up. Bait and switch: promise a PvM game, then deliver an enforced PvP game, on the strange condition that you put my gaming fate for the evening in the hands of chance. Will some PK pick my game to pull his crap in? Will I roll that seven and get to "enjoy" some dork sticking his fingers in front of the projector, or switching films? I say you're responsible because you DON'T have to allow those people up in the booth, but you wash your hands of it all and say it's not your fault what those people decide to do up there.
BS. Of course it's your fault. You designed this theater, you set the rules, the options, you created this bizarre arrangement where your movie-going customers are at the whims of chance and fate, to have their activities interrupted, intruded on, or changed, against their will. You point to the sign on the wall that says, "Customers beware, Enter at Own Risk," and I say OK, sure, but which part of the theater do I go to to avoid that possibility, and you point to a crappy little private room with A TELEVISION in it and one chair, instead of a large screen where I can watch with other people, and say, "Yeah, sure, you can do that if you want. Just watch in private, and no one will bother you." And again... I just stare in incredulity.
Your policy is inane, and your reasons for imposing these odd conditions are illogical.
More to come on the movie analogy, but first a few more of your points.
If that challenge is unwanted, on the other hand, no. It DOES NOT add even a shred of entertainment, only frustration, anger, resentment, and feelings even more hostile.
You could say the same thing about every game feature.
I'm staring in incredulity now. That was a dodge. That you managed to make a true statement and still dodge is... perhaps artful, perhaps very adroit. There's an essential difference, though, and I'm not going to let you out from under it that easily.
Monster challenges are set. A player can become familiar with them, and once he knows what they are, he can choose whether or not to keep playing. The PK challenge comes at random, and may not come at all. It's at the whims not of the game design, but some other person and just how rude they are determined to be.
Like the movie theater where someone gets random access to the projector room, the PK challenge is an artificial one, a slapped on feature that is NOT otherwise supported or logical. If some customers want to be subjected to that, sure, let em. However, it makes NO sense to force all your customers to pay that price just to get access to the big screen in the public showroom, instead of the little bitty television in the closet.
Did you see Pete'e reply to your first post? Pete's got you pegged on this one, Max. There is no support in the game, no story elements, no characterization to provide a LOGICAL backdrop for the PK.
Pete said to me, in private: I wonder just what Max Schaefer's idea of "role playing" is. Clearly, it has little to do with the game in which the role is being played. "I think I'll go irritate a bunch of people" seems to be an acceptable "role" in his mind.
Would you say that's accurate? If not, why not?


There is a difference between playing at hostility and true emotional hostility mano a mano. PKing crosses that line. I know it, you know it.
I disagree. Even the PKs in Diablo are engaging in a role-playing fantasy. I would hope that they aren't out killing people in real life.
Engaging in a role playing fantasy? "I think I'll go irritate a bunch of people" -- that's a role playing fantasy? This is where I see you slipping into hypocrisy, or else into blatant self-delusion. I can't imagine that you would be unaware that the motives of the PK have nothing to do with role playing, and everything to do with the cheap power hit of being able to ruin someone else's fun with no consequences.

Why is rape a crime, max? What's WRONG with rape? It's a violation that takes places against someone's will. It's a forcing. It's vicious. PKing is less of an intrusion, but the emotions are similar. The fact remains, when the PK is intruding on someone who does NOT want to participate, it's a violation, and it's wrong. And you go beyond failing to act. You set it up. You WANT to see it there as a possibility... and for what? You think it adds to the experience. Well for some it does, for others it clearly does NOT.

Sure, some people will not welcome this aspect of the game, and would rather not have to deal with it. They can, with passworded games, single-player, and LAN games.
Yeah sure. "Go watch in the little bitty TV in the mop closet." There are luxuries to large public games, things that set them apart from private games and single player. Like the theater, there are attractions to draw players there that CAN'T be found with the VCR and the TV in the mop closet. I find your "option" insulting.


I'm fascinated by the sociological aspects of this game genre. In a sense, this is a less artificial environment than many real-life social constructs. People can really choose to be whoever they want to be in an on-line game. No matter how anti-social, no matter what "crimes" people commit, it's just a game, and when you're done, nothing is gained but memories, and nothing is lost but time.
I'm staring in incredulity. Just a game? I knew that line would HAVE to cross your keyboard before this debate ended. That's your last, truly your ONLY, defense for the dispicable situation you've fostered in the game.
"It doesn't matter, it's just a game."
Emotions are emotions. They don't distinguish "games" from "reality". If someone feels anger, they are angry. Doesn't matter what provokes the emotion. The emotion is no less valid, no less real, and no less SERIOUS, just because it originates from a game.
I KNOW you are aware of this. I know because you said so: "At the same time, we react like any human when attacked." So you know how people react when attacked.
That was said in response to my initial, very heated protest. I had a PK come and interfere with a game I was playing in the beta. I was playing a weak variant character, testing skills (and yes, I did find something important with that char: your druid vine graphics are too weighty, and they get worse with higher levels -- I mean BAD, ripping my 600mhz processor to a complete halt kind of bad). He did not come close to killing me, but that was beside the point. He wasted a bunch of time, and quite the contrary to what you claim in your reply, PKs do NOT always leave when you go to town and sit for a while. This one had other players to pursue in the same game, in different acts, and since not everyone went to town and waited, he didn't run out of prey, he didn't have to wait us out. He took his level 40 char and killed some level 11 druid a few times. I stepped away from my desk and got a snack, came back he was still there, still checking up on me to see if I was going to leave, fight, or what.
And just the idea that I was VOLUNTEERING my time, at GF's invitation, to playtest your game and try to be of use to making it better, and here was some PK inserting his emotional trash into my day, forcing me to halt the testing I was doing, lose track of the observations I was making... it struck me as very ungrateful, very callous. Your company could not have cared less what I was doing, nope. Much higher priority was the PK, even the beta test. PKs have control of the game, and that's how you want it.
And that pissed me off to no end. I made the connection right then just how responsible you are for the PKs. I "woke up" and realized what a sucker I am, and just how slimy the whole arrangement really is.
Yeah, you can say "just go play in a private game", but I could not test how viable these skills were, or find out what I thought about their performance in a large game, by running to a private game. And that too struck me, and I realized what an insult that really is to the PvM customers.
"Just go play in the closet." I struck back, and at the time, I did so with the express intent of inflicting on you (and your company, and all the folks there responsible for D2's hostility system) the emotions that you have arranged for your customers to inflict on one another.
At the same time, we react like any human when attacked.
For the UNWILLING participant, the aggressive PK is an attack that supercedes the limits of the game. There's no format for the PK, no PK-specific character classes, no consequences in town or otherwise to the PK, and no significant rewards in the game for it either. The PK feature of Diablo makes no sense at all in story terms. It's just... there. Slapped on. So you can make a few extra bucks by letting some people into the projector room to do whatever they like, including ruining the fun of everyone else in that theater showroom at that time, if they so choose.
And make no mistake, the PK wins AUTOMATICALLY. It's completely beside the point whether or not he can kill your character. He takes control of the game, forces you to play PvP on his terms, to account for him. If you were having fun with PvM, that's interrupted, and for what? SOLELY for the entertainment of someone else without the manners to leave unwilling players alone.
This is not role-playing a crime. It IS a crime. Legally, no, it is not against any law, but morally it's completely bankrupt with NO redeeming qualities whatsoever. And yes it does harm. I can and will PROVE that it does by the end of this post.


You can say, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me." Oh yeah? Then explain discrimination laws. Explain how racial prejudice, sexual harassment, or ethnic intimidation are "just a game"? No one is hurt physically -- all that's lost is time, money, or a little dignity. Right?
You know what happens to employers who encourage employees to harass one another? They get sued, in this day and age. As an employer, you'd better take steps to DIScourage harassment at your workplace or it could cost you, and cost you big. Yet, because you can slap it inside a "game", all bets are off. It's all OK now, it's "just a game". That would be true if not for the unwelcome mixing of PvP and PvM. Those who want to play both, fine. Those who want to play either, without the other, should have that right, in my view. You say otherwise. You say players should NOT have the right to play PvM without the threat of PvP -- and those who insist on PvM only can "go watch the TV in the closet."
As long as we are clear about how you're treating your PvM customers, there's nothing more to say. You have the right to run your theater any way you please, as long as you don't break the laws of the land. But I have the right to stand outside with a picket and protest your policies.


I take responsibility for the game-play results. The emotional reactions of the players are not my responsiblitly, however.
"What those people do up in the projector room, that's not my responsibility."
Yeah. Right.
People choose to play this game, and it is obviouly not necessary for survival. We have simply added the option of playing Diablo to people's lives. Nothing more.
"People CHOOSE to watch movies in my theater. Their lives aren't at stake, so what's the harm? If they want to come to my theater, they will do it on my terms or not at all. Take it or leave it. Put up with the people in the projector room, go watch the movie in the mop closet, or go home."
It depends on how you define role-playing. Like I mentioned above, our customers are not out killing people in real life. What they do in our game is role-playing, even if it doesn't involve peppering their speech with "thee's and thou's."
Yeah. PKs play the role of bully. Build a character designed to be effective at fighting other characters, then seek out those who are not so designed, and bully them around. Kill them, sure, if they will line up to be slaughtered. If not, doesn't matter, just the ability to f*** with them is good enough to give the PK a power trip and stroke his ego.
That's what it comes down to. With this hostility system you aren't in the business of role playing, you're in the business of stroking the competitor's ego. Only... you have set up a bogus competition. Where's the fair in the fight? See, that's another problem.
I'm not claiming ignorance of the PK system. Before I bought D2, I paid attention to the PK debates raging back then. One of the points I remember either you or one of your representatives touting on the forums was the waypoint system. "Tons of waypoints in the game. You have a PK chasing you, just hop a waypoint and he won't have any idea where you went." Hmm, that sounded logical. Still sucked that I had to run or fight, and could not just play what I wanted, but I BELIEVED THAT LIE, that I could just hop to another waypoint and continue playing.
What makes that a lie? The experience penalty. A character really only has one act to play in, two at most. The rest are too high or too low in experience, thus pointless, and the idea of just moving somewhere else in the game turned out to be a red herring. I have not forgotten that lie. My memory is long, and I thought about that one many times when some PK was trashing a game I had been playing.
Much of what you have to say here is fishy. Red herrings by the basketful. "It's just a game". "It's part of the story." "Go play in the closet." "PKs are role playing."
I think you have confused two words: "game" and "role". Would you describe chess players as "role playing"? After all, they are playing the roles of king, commanding armies on a field of battle. Would you describe bridge players as "role playing"? What about golfers? Baseball players? Pinball players?
PKs are not playing the "role" of evil. Oh, a FEW out of thousands, maybe, but this is a conceit of yours it's time to relinquish. Just because it's a game does not convey "roleplay" status onto it.
Don't give me a line about "thee's and thou's". Roleplay means getting into character. It means acting out a personna. I have not seen ONE PK ever role play at all, not to any degree. They don't assume a character. They are out to intrude on PvM players and that's all.


One of the things I liked about them is the freedom to be whatever you want to be.
Unless you want to be a PvM player in a public game. Public games are always PvP. By your design. If you want to "role play" the PvM "role", your only option is to go play in the closet. You've said so yourself.
In too many computer RPGs, I'm forced to play a particular character who's traits are determined by the game developer.
In Diablo II, you are forced to play a particular character whose traits are determined by the game developer. All the amazons have the same hair, all the barbarians have the same voice, all the necromancers have the same skill options, etc. There are five characters in D2, two more in the expansion. There is no dialogue in-game between the "good" and the "evil", nor any recognition at all that such even exist.
I understand that you want to set yourself and your game apart from other games, and that the range of freedom in how to play Diablo is one of its assets. BUT... roleplay is ENTIRELY incidental to Diablo and Diablo II. You can play these games without roleplaying a single lick. They are a dungeon crawl, nothing more. The quests are canned, simplistic (in D2 you don't even credit players with the need to listen to the NPC's, like you did in Diablo 1. You spoonfeed all the instructions in the quest log, SPECIFICALLY to allow them to work around even the barest SHRED of role playing!)
I don't think that's a bad thing. I like the essence of Diablo, that it's an action/arcade game with some atmosphere. I've role played in this game, but mostly not. Mostly there is NO sense of character or personna, just me pushing a fancy icon around and engaging in active "combat".


When I feel the story is already written, and I'm just fulfilling the author's fantasy, I don't feel I'm role-playing. Rather, I'm just solving a simplistic puzzle while being led through a story. It can be entertaining, but it's not role-playing to me.
Only because you don't find the role engaging, or find the limits too constricting. ALL computer games have dreadfully close limits. None can match the imagination of PPRPG's, it's just not in the cards. Either the roles are too tight, like the games you describe above, or the roles are optional, tangential, even irrelevent, like they are in Diablo.
There's a story in playing Diablo, but it's different for every player. In the end, you write the story; the dialogue is yours to create, and the events of the game determine the plot. We try to provide the tools: the location, the items, the vendors, the heroes and the villians. It's just as canned as any other computer game. You've provided the villains, yes, but you've controlled the settings of those encounters right down to the last iota. There's no "catching" Diablo in Lut Gholein, no matter what the player does. I understand your passion for this "idea" of role playing in your game, but the reality doesn't bear you out. This is how you WANT to view the game, perhaps, but it does not describe your game.
Diablo is not a roleplay game, it's an arcade game. The GAMEPLAY bears this out. What does the player do in the game? He fights endless hordes of monsters, or he fights other players. Sure you can impose roleplay onto that backdrop, but you can also pick up silverware and use them as puppets, and "roleplay with your dishes".
Pete's right: you seem to have tried to re-invent the word role play, to fit your game -- that ANY kind of game playing means "role playing". Sorry, that argument may fly in the halls at Blizzard North, but I don't think anybody out here is convinced. In fact, I remember some years back, reading an interview you had in a magazine somewhere (I think it was you) where you were talking about why you believed Diablo qualified as a role play game.
I stared at the magazine in incredulity.


The more we let the player do, the less it is like a TV show. Role-playing should not be a passive activity. We don't seek to spoon-feed anyone exactly what they should do next.
I understand that's your intent, but you are constrained by the limits of your format. You must provide something for players to DO, and you've come up FAR short of avoiding spoonfeeding. There is wall to wall spoonfeeding in your game, Max. You let players control where they go and what they do, up to a point. It's fun stuff, for the most part. Isn't that good enough? Or do you feel compelled, deep down inside, to see something nobler in your game than is inherently there?


Obviously, we think fighting "hordes of identical monsters" is important. But not for the sake of role-playing.
You lost me there, Max. Are you saying you don't think the monster combat suffices to qualify as "role playing"? I would agree, but... if that's not what you think is role playing, WHERE IS THE ROLE PLAYING? Your game only has two elements: fight monsters, fight other players. That's it. If the monster fights aren't important for the sake of role playing, then what is? Seems like you're saying that the PK element is the only IMPORTANT role playing element in your game.


The kill-reward structure of monster combat is about two things: fun skills and spells, and finding cool items.
Likewise, the PK structure is about two things: fighting willing opponents (called dueling) and fighting unwilling opponents (called PKing). The only difference being, one is a true competition, and the other is blatant harassment, granted free license by your express approval of that harassment.


In response to my charge that you view PvM players who DO NOT WANT to participate in PvP as defective players, you said:
Defective? Hardly. We wouldn't have put so much effort into it if we thought that.
But yes, we do think we know what's best for our customers. We have to, we make games for a living! We're not putting out questionaires and making games based on the result. We're indulging in our own preferences and fantasies, and then making them public for those who choose to participate.
OK. Got you on record there, admitting that yes, you think you know what's best, that you do not value or validate those who want to play PvM without the PvP element. Anyone who wants that is not a customer you care to serve.
NOTE TO BLIZZARD CUSTOMERS: if you have no interest in PvP, you can watch the movie on the TV in the mop closet, put up with the jerks who have free reign in the projector room, or take your business elsewhere.
Correct, the customer is not always right. We have no animosity towards anyone, but we feel we do know better than our customers how to make games.
That's a straw man. There's a significant difference between "making a game" and choosing whether or not you care to play vs human competition in a distinctly UNfair fight. Let's hear you address that one. You know that upwards of 99% of PK fights are completely unfair: PK characters built for PvP in an unbalanced gaming environment, ripe with loopholes that can be exploited to gain even further unfair advantage.
What was EVER sporting about stepping through a waypoint and, while your machine is loading graphics and sounds, having a PK who was lying in wait (and already has the graphics loaded) step back to town, hostile you, return and kill you in an instant, all before your machine can do a thing? You "wake up dead" so to speak.
"Avoiding PKs is trivial" you said. Yeah, IN THEORY.
If wishes were horses, we'd all ride. Your design intent is one thing. The actual game is something else entirely. If you play on dialup, you lag more to the server than someone on a fast connect. Everyone on dialup is SCREWED in a fight where nanoseconds count. Same deal for those with your so-called "minimum requirements" -- or even those with faster machines that still take performance hits.
Even so, all that's beside the point. Even if there were limits in the game that ENSURED a fair fight, truly fair, it would still be an intrusion. Bottom line here is, you're telling me I'm WRONG to want to play PvM only. I can do it... in the mop closet. Otherwise, I have to play PvP, like it or not. That's the price of admission to the public games: be prepared to fight, wait, or changes games at any time, if a PK forces the issue.


Not that I'm comparing us to the masters, but did Picasso consult the public before painting? Was he a failure if the public didn't like his work?
Bad analogy. Games are "creative", but they are NOT art for art's own sake. They are products intended for consumers. So are movies, but movies are stories. They are art for it's own sake, to be appreciated as-is. Here's a more applicable analogy: Games may contain art, but at their core, they are less akin to movies than to take out. People go to a fast food chain or a local restaurant, they see items on the menu and order the flavors/foods they want to eat. They can only choose from items on the menu.
Now the fast food chains, their food is all canned, and it's passable but not top quality. A restaurant can be more creative, have their own chefs, their own recipes. It's perfectly logical for them to decide how food should be prepared, and their success, perhaps even their very survival as a business, demands they maintain their own standards, follow their own ideals, and not simply try to "gauge the market" and change their foods to fit with what seems popular. They chart their own course.
Even so, when a customer orders a steak, they DO NOT tell that customer he must eat it rare. If he wants it burnt, they burn it. Burn my steak, Max. I don't care how much you eat raw meat, how much you like rare steak, I DON'T LIKE MINE THAT WAY. I saw steak on the menu, I ordered it. The waiter brought me a slab of raw meat, I sent it back. Now you, the manager, are coming out to talk me into eating raw steak. No thanks. Please just burn mine, OK? Seriously.
What would it cost you to give the large number of customers who DO NOT want any truck with your PvP game, the chance to opt out without having to go play in the closet? I'm convinced it would be a wise business decision for you. You say everyone would move to nonhostile games. I doubt it. WAY too many people here at the lounge say otherwise, and I believe them. However... even if that happened, so what? If THAT MANY of your customers want PvM without PvP, let them have it.
With the 2-million copies of LOD, there are about 8 million sales of Diablo games, and every week sets a new record for people on battle.net. Maybe it could have been more, and maybe you're right, but allowing the PK cannot be viewed as a deal-breaker, given the game's success.
Yeah. Your enhanced theater is SO attractive, that even customers who just want to watch movies in peace will roll the dice and play craps with the chance to have their evening ruined by a rude person interfering with the projector or changing the film to something else. Congratulations! Your product is SO good, you can treat some of your customers like **** and not lose all of them immediately.
You've lost some, though. No idea how many, and maybe it does not matter. As long as you have enough left to turn a profit, right? Beyond that, who cares.
Well, I do. I care.
I care because emotion and thought MATTER. They are, in my view, more essential than the body. The body's a vehicle for the soul, its thoughts, its feelings. I won't go into the soul aspect, as that's a can of worms best left closed for this debate, but there is still the heart and the mind -- and I trust you won't dispute the existance of those, or their importance.
Emotion and thought are intertwined. Thought is like a maze, with many twists and turns, blind alleys, dead ends, but it is always intricate in its potential. Emotion is like a pool of water. All the harsh emotions float on the surface: anger, hatred, rage, grief, pain, anxiety, doubt, worry, fear. None of those have depth, but emotion itself is always deep in potential. Further down in the waters of the pool, you can find affection, joy, gratitude, happiness, interest, humor, and at the bottom of the pool in the deepest waters, pure love.


My belief is that the POTENTIAL for human conflict is intriguing and compelling. It is a part of the construct we've created.
Conflict encompasses only shallow misemotion. The PK experience leads to outrage, resentment, anger, a thirst to strike back, to punish, to dominate the one who seeks to dominate you.
Aside from the emotional ugliness of it all is the SHALLOWNESS of it. Those who wallow continually in destructive emotion, who set down roots and live their lives out of these emotions, are condemned to an equally shallow field of thought. You CAN'T reach the complex thoughts without depth of feeling. And you can't reach the deeper feelings without clarity of thought.
I don't enjoy "hanging out" in the shallow water. I don't want to be dragged up to the surface. I prefer the deeper water, and just the fact that I don't yet have it together enough to stay down there all the time is enough challenge for me. I don't want to add to it by deliberately setting myself up with rude confrontations and with meaninglessly unbalanced game combat, and wallowing in anger or worse. There are enough things to get angry about without deliberately adding more. Yet... I would very much like the opportunity to meet new people from around the world, to influence them and let them impact on me, in positive ways, through your game. Is that so much to ask? I'm wrong to want that? It's better for me to have to slog through piles of emotional feces, says you. Yeah... right.


We implement a PK switch... PKers will all only invade the no-PK-switch games, rasing the percentage precipitiously, and upsetting the natural balance. People will think that if they want to play normally (fight monsters), they must use the PK switch. And their games will be just a tad more flat as a result.
You've got it backwards. Cooperative play opens the door to constructive, deeper emotions: a sense of helping others, of forming something cohesive and mutually rewarding, if only briefly and in a game. The PK confrontation is what flattens things, drawing everything back to the surface, cheapening the mood, dampening out anything positive that was going on, and tempting otherwise peaceful players to anger. Whole games break up and scatter to the winds over PK intrusion. As many as seven different players are impacted by one PK, too, multiplying the damage and spreading around the misery.
Now see, that's OK if players are willing. In fact, if they are willing, there's no violation, no harassment factor. What consenting adults do is nobody else's business. However, you have intentionally designed it to create situations where large numbers of players get dragged into PK confrontations against their will.


I believe it would dilute the experience. I believe that anyone, especially an intelligent person like yourself, can avoid the PK if you really want to. A PK switch would do more than give options to people. It would alter the whole dynamic, and, IN MY OPINION, render the experience just a bit less satisfying.
Fear, anger, rage, worry, resentment... satisfying?
I find all of those emotions unsatisfying. I don't "fear" them or "hate" them or "worry" about them or "resent" them -- for self-evident reasons. However, I don't choose to place myself into that shallow range of feeling FOR ENTERTAINMENT. That makes no better sense than getting high on drugs. If you have to numb yourself out, shut down your thoughts and close out your feelings to have fun, you've got a serious spiritual void on your hands, and you're out of touch with life itself. In that case, your life is not likely to be very smooth or rewarding, because all the treasures at the bottom of the emotional pool will lie beyond your reach.
You CAN'T get down there to find them while you are glue to the surface. Misemotion "floats" so to speak. You can't drag it down there, so if you cling to it, you're stuck up top. Your thought process, your very intelligence suffers as well. Yes, misemotion makes you stupid. That's a fact. Just look around, there is unending evidence of this everywhere you might turn.


I also like unstructured human interaction. I get a little rush when I encounter a PK.
A rush of emotion, sure. In fact, if you are used to walking around in a complete state of numbness, even misemotion, even harshly raw destructive emotion, will bring you "alive" because it makes you FEEL SOMETHING. So yes, if you're dead from the neck up, even this ugly kind of emotion is a step in the right direction. In fact, I'd venture to say that's half the "fun" for PKs. If they feel nothing at all normally, it's quite a thrill to feel fear, anger, or contempt.
However, for those who have ever swam deeper into the water, and especially for those who make an effort to live down there, there is no "thrill" for them. In fact, it's a flat spot in their day, a loss of time, space, energy. A waste. It's beyond distasteful: it's a step backward. It's a dumbing down, a flattening out. It's greasy, even. You feel like you've stepped in a pile of something. Bad enough to see the PK spilling his misemotion, but it's even worse if you allow yourself to be pulled into it yourself.


The structure we've set up makes the PKer the second-class citizen. They're damn near powerless.
I'm staring in incredulity again. You CAN'T believe that. Can you? Seriously. Well, all right, maybe you do. To you, it's the character within the game that matters. PKs ARE damn near helpless to actually kill the character.
The character is LESS THAN irrelevant to me. The emotion is what matters. The entertainment of the game is the interactive puzzle factor: pitting my coordination and tactics against the tests of the game. As with minesweeper or pinball, I am competing against myself more than anything else, but there is a certain mental exercise going on, and some emotion tied to my success or my failure. The thinking I have to do (albeit not weighty, still a matter of evaluating the situation moment by moment) and the feelings I can get -- from the puzzle or from other people who are playing with me -- those are the ONLY things of value in the game for me.
You look and see "it's hard for the PK to kill anybody else's character" and think you've done a good job, that the PK is relegated to the backburner. Quite the contrary.
The PK has emotional control over the game. He can IMPOSE his shallowness upon PvM players, forcing a response from them, even if it's to suspend their game and wait in town, or move to a new game. Since the PK cannot be ignored (unless his hostility is a lazy variety, where he has no intent to track you down), he is NOT the second class customer. He is, in fact, the darling of the game design. His whole purpose is to bring others to his emotional level, to bring them down, "make them suffer", grind them under his heel to whatever extent he can manage. There is NOT thought put to role play, or gaming. It's a personal contest with dignity on the line.
And this... this is what you support and foster. It's callous, it's socially irresponsible, and it quite nearly wipes out all the good your products otherwise creates or enables. Inviting people to wallow in fear, anger, hatred, resentment... and you DARE to compare your art to Picasso? To mention his name in the same breath? I don't think so.


"Saving Private Ryan" is an example of the only legitimate use of misemotion: to reach for, to touch, to speak to the conscience, to awaken a distaste for the devaluation of human life and spirit. War is the greatest tragedy, but it has always been a breeding ground for the greatest heroics.
Your PK policy is no Saving Private Ryan. Instead, it's a Friday the 13th, a Natural Born Killers: a putrid venture into dark emotion for no better reason than titillation. There's no lesson, no redemption. There is only misery and misemotion.
You appeal to the worst in people with this one game element, Max. You do so knowingly and by design. Pretty it up all you like, tell yourself whatever you have to to soothe your own conscience. You KNOW this is a destructive thing. Even if you don't admit it consciously, some part of you has to know.
If you change the game around to allow players to opt out of the PvP side of the game IF they so desire, it's all made better. Not that the misemotion will be erased, but YOUR responsibility for it will end. The set up will be removed, and your fostering of harassment will cease. The harassment won't cease, but YOUR role in spreading it will end, and that's good enough. Everyone in the game will have options as to how they want to play, and no one need EVER roll the dice on having misemotional feces inserted into their day, just as the price of admission to the big theater. There might be in-game consequences, and you'd be sure to get some hate mail over it, but it's the right thing to do, Max. Isn't that reason enough to reconsider?
- Sirian


Perhaps unsurprisingly, Max did not return with a third reply. Sirian wrote extensively about the issue afterwards, and his words can be seen here, via Archive.org.