So recently I started playing Left 4 Dead 2 again. It’s a fun game, I can hop in and out depending on my schedule, and it’s got zombies. What’s not to love?
Well for starters the boatload of assholes that sign on for no other purpose than to try and ruin everyone else’s day.
In any sort of online game you get a certain percentage of folks who just want to screw with everyone else, and nearly every one of these games has a mechanism for discouraging that sort of behavior. One of the most frequently seen of these mechanisms is the vote kick. And like many other online games L4D has the ability for players to vote an annoying team member out of the game.
The problem is that unlike a lot of these other games, the amount of players is very low. Only four per team, in fact. So if you have two assholes who like jerking everybody else around your only choice is to leave the game yourself. And while I am fine with the theory of “if you don’t like the players you are with, then find some others” this does not address the long term problem. Namely: There are no long term consequences for being a d-bag and making the entire game less attractive to customers.
The flip side is any system designed to punish players will probably be abused by the same players that we are worried about.
I think I have a relatively simple and elegant solution to this problem.
Introduce a new mechanic, called blocking. You can already pull up a list of every player you have gamed with in your recent past through the Steam interface. All we have to do is add a new command called “Block Player”.
Once a player is blocked, the two of you become invisible to each other. You can’t chat, pm, or receive voice from each other. When looking for a game, any server containing a blocked player will not be considered. If a blocked player is looking for a game, he can’t see your server.
As an option in the multiplayer menu add two check boxes “Use Friend Block” and “Set Auto-Block threshold”.
Friend Block will automatically add the blocked list of everyone on your friends list to your own. Because I assume if my friends think “Tap-Dat-donkey349” is a smack-tard, chances are I will too.
Auto-Block is a setting where the game checks out the ratio of players you interact with versus the number that block you. Players determine what percentage is acceptable for their own games. For instance, I would probably set mine to 50%, meaning that if half the people that have played with a particular guy never want to see him again, chances are I don’t want to meet him.
The potential snag for auto-blocking is what could happen to a new player who just sucks because, well they don’t know what they are doing yet. If everybody Blocks them after their first game, they would have a 100% Block ratio. This could be mitigated by introducing a “training wheels” period. For your first 25-50 games, I’m not sure what would constitute the optimal number here, you are immune from Auto-Blocking.
All of this adds up to making it easier for players to play the game on their own terms, without having to wade through piles of jack-asses. It’s hard to abuse, because if one player starting Block will have very little effect on the target by itself.
Oh and fun bonus: The creators of the game could use the stats on Blocking to identify and track problem players, which could allow them to tailor more ingenious ways of thwarting them. Or just kicking them off of the service entirely.
Now quickly somebody show this to an executive at Valve so they can pay me lots of money to solve all of their other problems.