@Rilla and I were talking in the slack channel recently, and an interesting point came up that I would like to pose to the community: how should a troll be defined?
The reason this question needs to be asked is that there can be blurry lines between the comparison of a character genuinely being evil, or a player who personally only seeks to harm the community.
In example, a character may suddenly come after someone they have known for years and try to kill them. Are they doing this because of a vendetta they have had against the victim for a long time, or are they just a player who is angry about some other issue that’s quitting and just wants to cause as much damage as possible before they go? The same question can be asked about brand new characters, although anger probably wouldn’t be the cause so much as trying to entertain themselves through impacting the game just to see the community’s negative reaction.
My answer to this, similar to the other topic being discussed about out-of-character motivated events, is that roleplay is the key determination.
My definition of a troll is this:
A player which has no interest in genuine participation of the core elements of gameplay who instead seeks destruction within the community or the game iteself purely to either 1. entertain themselves on the negative reactions of said community, or, 2. vent out frustrations on an account/character they know will soon be obsolete (either through in-game events with risk of death, quitting, or both consequently from the above actions as a disgruntled player).
I think it covers the most common spectrum of purely destructive behavior that trolls exibit - feel free to challenge/expand on that.
Assuming we use this definition though, we can safely assume the following:
- Trolls can be first-time players or long-term players.
- Trolls have no interest in playing the game seriously.
a. Trolls expect to lose their accounts/access at any point after initially trolling.
b. Trolls want to inflict as much damage as possible as quickly as they can because of point a.
c. Trolls have no interest in authentic thought-out roleplay because of point a.
With evil characters, we can define them as being played by players who play the game not for the sake of being malicious as a player, but they want to play a character who is interested in selfish/maniacal pursuits. Evil characters have negative effects on the community yes, but they’re serious players and you can tell them apart from your average troll.
Knowing this, the best way to identify a troll is their presence/quality of roleplay. This is a roleplaying game first, everything else second, and as such I think it should be able to be safely expected from serious players of the game. It isn’t a game that was made with the intention of supporting non-roleplayers. I am not going to say that roleplaying is mandatory, because that’s not something I can police, and besides which there are plenty of exceptions. However, I will say this. There is a stark difference between these examples.
Example 1: The door creaks open. Initially, only darkness can be seen past the crack of the door being ajar, but slowly a form materializes. Then - a glint of light briefly flickers off a metal surface, causing a distraction. It quickly becomes apparent the object is a knife, but there shouldn’t be enough time to fully realize this before a swift movement forces the blade into the victim’s side!
Example 2: Stabs you, laughing maniacally, and runs out, or alternatively, no roleplay at all - you just get attacked.
My point here is that because trolls are trying to act quickly, they 1. can’t really take the time to fully flesh out emotes and reactions of their character because they simply don’t know how long their destruction will go on for and 2. they don’t care to, they aren’t interested in making it seem realistic, because they expect to be banned anyway. Could there be an exception? Sure. But it would be a rare occurrance, and the whole point of trolling is that it’s exciting - you get ahead of yourself, you get sloppy, there’s no way that this “serious” troll would last long; it simply isn’t fun for them.
And, as far as determining quality of roleplay, well - we only have to define that enough to confidently acknowledge the difference between the two examples. If little to no effort has been put into the events during the period of time the trolling is happening, then it makes it very clear to admins/mods that this person should be suspended from that game to mitigate the damage. If it’s not a clear case, then it could be a topic for discussion with the community at large about how to react to troll-like behavior in a case-by-case basis.
These are my thoughts on the issue. What are some of yours?
Keep in mind that my combat system is being designed in a way that can’t be used for quick sweeping attacks to murder a bunch of people at once. Please make that assumption when replying - if you have questions about what exactly about the system will make that claim true, we can have another topic to discuss that.