EverQuest II developer Daybreak Game Companyis experimenting with a unique and devious strategy for dealing with the massive multiplayer online (MMO) game's disruptive players. Rather than trying to punish and educate them so they're fit to mingle with normal players, Daybreak is forcing them to play with other disruptive players on a "prison server," indefinitely.
MMOs handle the load of thousands of players by dividing them into a number of servers that all host the same world. Like World of Warcraft, EverQuest II players can create a number of characters they use to explore a fantasy world and collect increasingly better gear, but they do this across several servers, which are kind of like parallel worlds. Yesterday, EverQuest II executive producer Holly Longdale announced that Daybreak is opening "Drunder," a new server that will exclusively host disruptive players.
Customer Service Game Masters, the people who monitor the game, keep the peace, and help with any number of in-game issues, will now have the power to take players who cheat, break the game's rules, or otherwise ruin the fun for the rest of the community, and transfer them to Drunder. Since that's the kind of player who'll be populating Drunder, it is essentially a server for assholes.
We'll get to see what type of virtual society will emerge out of a population of assholes.
"Ultimately, players who break the rules—or want to—will have a world of their own to do… whatever they will," Longdale said. "As I said, this is an experiment. We wanted to see what happens given it's not a very common option. Let's see where this takes us…"
Curious, masochistic players can also choose to join Drunder, though Longdale warns that this is a one-way ticket. When players join Drunder they're not just joining with one character to explore the prison colony and then return to the general population. It's an account level transfer, meaning every character the player owns will be permanently assigned to Drunder.
Cheaters and other disruptive players are always going to be a problem in online games, and while there are many good solutions, the Hunger Games-type strategies that turn bad players turn against each other are always the most amusing.
Electronic Arts' multiplayer shooter Titanfall had a similar solution, which matched cheaters exclusively with other cheaters, creating what it called a "Wimbledon of aimbot contests."
EverQuest II's solution is even more interesting because it exists inside a persistent world, meaning we'll get to see what type of virtual society will emerge out of a population of assholes. I'm sure it will be lovely.