Banning users – multiple possibilities

So, I found out yesterday I was banned from Warframe when I didn’t play since last year, apparently because some cheating program automatically detected I cheated. Edit: Actually, someone tried to log into my account.
I also experienced how cheating really hurt a small MMO in alpha stage (Tree of Life).

It led me to a reflexion about how to treat cheaters, griefers and players using foul language.

There are a few questions to ask:
-Do you want to punish your players harshly or softly?
-What is your business model? Do you want to make money?

If you want to punish your players harshly, ban them.
If you want to punish them softly, shadowban them. Prevent them from interacting with legit players, by not letting them join the secured servers, by muting them, by making them invisible.

Regarding your business model:
-Monthly fee: player will keep playing if they are shadowbanned, they might just leave the game if they are banned, instead of restarting from 0, since they lost all the time they invested.
-Buy to play: If you want to make money, banning your players might lead to them rebuying the game to play again. But it means you have to make “ban waves” and not ban players straight away, which means your game is less secure for legit players.
-Free to play: If the cheating players are trying to bypass the need of buying from the game shop, banning them is the best, because they are stealing from you. Players’ frustration is very hard to manage on a F2P game, but this will be covered in another piece.

Inventory constraints

Inventory is a part of the gameplay, and limiting the player’s capability to transport items leads to making choices.
It’s commonly used in RPG, FPS and survival games

-Limitation by size
Diablo, Terraria, Resident evil (1, 2, 3)

-Different items sizes
Diablo

-Different items stacking sizes
Commonly, a stack of items is maxed at 250, for memory use reasons.

-Limitation by weight
Stalker, Eve online, XCom, Ultima online

-No limitation
Final fantasy

Player’s carrying capabilities increase with his progress:
-Bigger bags with more slots
-Higher strength allowing to carry more

Making an online game

Here’s an almost full list of what you should think of when doing an online game.

GAME DESIGN SIDE

Model: Theme park / Sandbox?

Mechanics

Goldsink
Timesink

Character

Skills & Classes
Experience, Learning & Grinding

Combat

PvE
PvP
Death

Economy

Money creation
Crafting
Market
Demand & Supply

Community

Interactions between players
Groups of players
Politics

World

Genre
Lore & history
Audio & Music style
Level design
Open world, Dungeons, Instances, Procedural vs Static

PLAYER EXPERIENCE

profiles source: http://www.nickyee.com/daedalus/
 
Profile

Social

Socializing: chatting, helping others, making friends, sharing media (streaming)
Relationships (RL): personal, self-disclosure, find and give support
Teamwork: Collaboration, groups, group achievements

Competitive

Advancement: progress, power, accumulation, status
Mechanics: numbers, optimizing, templating, analysis
Competition: challenging, provocation, domination

Immersion

Discovery: exploration, lore, hidden things
Role-playing: storyline, character history
Customization: appearance, accessories, styles, colors
Escapism: relax, avoid RL

Time available per play session

0h / 2h (25% of players on average)
2h / 4h (35% of players on average)
 
4h / 6h (20% of players on average)
 
6h / 8h (10% of players on average)
8h / 12h (5%)
12h+ (5%)

Teamplay

Solo
Group
Guild
Alliance
Nation
Server
 

TECHNIC SIDE

 

Render engine

Graphic pipeline
Maths: Transforms
Textures
http://2dgameartforprogrammers.blogspot.ca/
Shaders
http://simonschreibt.blogspot.de/2013/04/homeworld-2-engines.html
http://glsl.heroku.com/
Lights
Particles
Explosion http://howto.wired.com/wiki/Make_a_Particle_Explosion_Effect
Optimization (LOD, culling, batching)

Animation

Audio & Music

Physical engine

Physical engines benchmark http://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/22814023/report.pdf
Body types
Collision detection
Collision filtering

GUI

Player inputs & controls

Network

http://gafferongames.com/game-physics/networked-physics/
http://irrlicht.sourceforge.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=49062
Client
Server
Prediction, dead reckoning

Artificial intelligence

Scripting & modding

 

How hackers hack

DEFCON 19: Hacking MMORPGs for Fun and Mostly Profit
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hABj_mrP-no
Defcon 18 – Securing MMOs: A Security Professional’s View From the Inside
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fopEaJglzWE
DEFCON 20: Fuzzing Online Games
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVhSqWofeP8
 

BUSINESS

 

Business model

P2P

free trial
one time buy
monthly fee

F2P

cash shop
P2W
donations

Marketing

Public relations

Community management

Customer support

Legal

Terms of sales
End user licence agreement

MMO vs Decentralization

Ah, good old days of private UO servers with tweaked game mechanics, added items, added skills, added graphics…
More and more games tend to pop-up with a decentralized model where you can open your very own private server and customize it with mods, based on the “Minecraft” model. (CubeWorld, DayZ, Star citizen…)

Is the MMO/centralized server model dead?
What’s the advantage and drawbacks of both? Continue reading MMO vs Decentralization