Friday, November 12, 2004


Speaking of droppers, I'm surprised that this still happens in online gaming. This strikes me as a totally solvable problem. People drop because the benefits outweigh the costs: the benefit is that they don't get a loss counted on their record for the rankings, and the cost is that everyone gets pissed at them. Given that they're playing with strangers, they probably don't care very much about that cost, so they go ahead and do it.

I don't understand why game developers don't build in ways to counteract this. You need to balance the small number of times when someone drops because their connection actually broke or they crashed (the former happened to me the other night), and the much more frequent "I'm losing" drop. One thing you could do is count every drop after, say, 5 minutes as a loss. You could even allow one or two unpenalized drops per month. Alternatively, you could set a "drop to game ratio" and if someone has dropped more than X% of their games, they are stigmatized with a "dropper" icon. I'm much more in favor of the former than the latter; the latter makes it hard for someone to get back into the game's good graces, because they won't be able to play games to work away the ratio.

Another thing that would help, I suspect, is having a way to "resign" a game, so that the other players can get a win on their record, without having to wait for their units to pound all your buildings into dust. I think some people drop when they're losing because it's boring to sit there helpless while your base is destroyed (it takes a couple of minutes), and they don't realize that by dropping they're depriving the other team of a win.

Yahoo Games (like Go and Reversi) have systems just for this.
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