Tuesday, September 2, 2014 | 12In the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous. In Britannia, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the City Guards. These are their stories.
I mean, not really, but you get the idea.
Justice systems in MMORPG's range from draconian to non-existent, the latter allowing for rampant psychopathy, while the former counter-intuitively increasing the excitement of criminal events while also reducing the rate at which 'crimes' (mostly murders) are committed. Strong justice systems can make or break a game, so it's important to understand what you're looking at before you dive into a new MMORPG. Here are a few examples of justice systems:
Ultima Online (pre-shit)The simplest method for crime reduction is to place punishment in the hands of the angry mob. In UO, players who comitted murders on the reg were flagged for a number of hours based on their transgressions. This served as both a warning and a bulls-eye to law abiding citizens who wanted to kill with impunity. UO also implemented permanent stat/skill loss for players who died after running amok, effectively ruining their day and ensuring that they couldn't take their revenge (on the same character). Stat loss was harsh but necessary because the loss of personal assets was rarely significant.
Crime was also varied beyond just murder. Players could steal from others (given their stealing skill was high enough), but non-murder didn't result in stat-loss. Players were somewhat safe within the confines of guarded areas, but the requirement that a player would have to type "Guards" to get state-funded assistance kept the afk and macroing in check.
Ultimately, people found ways around the loosely defined system, and Ultima Online devolved into a state of perpetual mayhem. The powers that be decided to then split all servers into two separate but equal worlds, ensuring that all PvP would be voluntary (and boring). Sad days.
EvE OnlineEven boring games, like EvE Online, have functional criminal justice systems. Pirates receive a security rating penalty, forcing them to stay in more dangerous regions of space, and carebears are (nearly) free to carebear around in reasonably safe area. The giant(boring) universe is split into 3 security levels:
High SecTo PvP enthusiasts, this is basically a newbie zone. High Sec is a guarded region where, despite an occasional suicide bomber, you can operate free from criminal acts. Players who... enjoy... the gameplay... of EvE are free to endlessly circle NPC enemies, asteroids, or each other without any unintended risk.
Low SecNow we're talkin'. Low Sec is FFA, but crimes and criminals near stations would get fired on. This is closer to UO-style guard zones. Faction warfare also happens in Low Sec, but you can carry out faction-style justice in all Security zones.
Null SecExactly how it sounds, Null Sec is a completely player-driven justice system. Nobody is going to help you, so you had better ally with someone who will. This type of non-system wouldn't work without its counterparts because new players wouldn't last more than a few minutes out of the gate.
The reason why EvE's system works without stat-loss is because the loss you incur in material goods and ship repairs is more than a minor inconvenience in the interim and late game stages. There is also a bounty-system in place, but I wouldn't call that a justice system because players can put a bounty on others for reasons that exist outside of the realm of justice.
ArcheAgeThe criminal justice system in ArcheAge is almost comedic in its execution. People who know me will understand that I value comedy above everything, so this is in no way a bad thing. To understand the justice in ArcheAge, you must first understand how variable crimes can be.
A crime in ArcheAge can range from cutting down someone else's tree to mass-murder. Non-violent crimes leave behind footprints and murders leave behind blood stains. Each of these can be reported by witnesses and raise your crime points. Once you've reached 50 or more crime points and are killed by another player, you have the option of either going to trial or facing a mandatory minimum sentence. Here's where it gets interesting.
Players over level 30 with a sense of humor can sign up for jury duty, and each trial selects from this group of 'peers' to either release or detain the defendant. The criminal's innocance isn't exactly a point of negotiation because the crimes have been infallibly reported and certainly did happen, but that doesn't stop what is typically a hilarious exchange/plea between the jurors and defendant. The length of the prison sentence is determined by the same jurors, and while you can escape from prison, you'll carry a debuff for the entire duration that essentially declaws you. While I'd recommend just bypassing the trial, you can play other characters after a hilarious trial... so fuck it.
Players also carry an infamy score along with their crime points, and once that reaches a threshold they are expelled from their faction, becoming pirates. this isn't recommended until you can hold your own because a pirate's life is hard and fraught with peril... but pirates are also sweet, so there's that.
Themepark JusticeTraditionally, themepark style games don't bother with a justice system. That is to say, they (on PvP servers) seem to both revel in and encourage one-sided ganking. In World of Warcraft, for instance, a max-leveled character gets the same benefit from killing 10 players in 1 spell than they do from killing 1 equally leveled player. This, I can only imagine, was invented solely for the purpose of giving PvP a bad name. Any look at popular MMO blogs will provide evidence that it's working.
Thanks to @aInsaneMembrane for the suggestion for this article. I'm way too lazy to come up with my own topics anymore.