I Can’t Answer This (Hunting People for Sport)

This might seems strange, but how would I go with a story that takes place in an abandoned industrial complex, where a person uses their cash earned ‘in game’ to defend against their killer, who has their eyes set on taking them out for a sizable reward? Sorry for the bad explanation, kind of a bounty hunt type of scenario spanning over a week

I don’t mean to sound overly harsh, but there’s no real question here. This is a scenario, it’s your scenario. While I can pick at the details, you’re not asking for clarification on a specific point. “How would I write that?” I’d start with a lit review. Look at other material in the hunting people for sport subgenre. For a subgenre, there’s a surprising amount of that out there, ranging from books, to movies, and even games. It’s a very open setup, with a lot of potential elements.

I realize I have a habit of saying, “do a lit review,” without explaining what that is, and I also realize I’m actually misusing the term very slightly. So, a lit review is when you take a subject, and then research the existing scholarly research on the topic. I continue using the term, because that’s my background. It is still relevant advice. So let’s examine the process.

If you want to write something, research the other stories that fit into that genre, and look at what they’ve done. Take notes. (Seriously.) If you see something that you like, make a note of it, if you see something that you don’t, make a note of that as well. This doesn’t mean you need to read everything in the subgenre, sometimes simply skimming a synopsis is enough, though there is a value to reading the material directly.

The more you read, the more you’ll notice patterns. Things popping up repeatedly, and sometimes, you’ll see a writer who inadvertently demonstrates why those elements are important by omitting them. Sometimes you’ll see a writer illustrate ways around those elements. Sometimes you’ll see a writer who points out just how ridiculous some of those conventions always were.

Read stuff you like. Read stuff you don’t. Take notes. Review as much of the relevant literature as you can.

I know we’ve said, in the past, that we can’t write your fight scene for you, and that remains true. I don’t often point at Patreon (outside of the thank you at the end of each post), but if you really want someone in the community to help you focus your work, then you’ll want to get into the Discord server to workshop there.

Beyond that, there’s a few things I’m going to point out:

First: Industrial areas are surprisingly lethal on their own. There’s a lot of heavy machinery that needs to be handled very carefully because it can critically injure or kill you with little warning. When I was younger and working in a facility that will go unnamed, the employees were repeatedly reminded that the conveyer belts which ran throughout the building could seriously injure or kill you with very little warning if they were not treated with respect, and there were several stories of managers or workers who had suffered injuries from moments of missed attention.

Abandoned industrial parks are a thing, but they’re far rarer than you’d expect. There’s a lot of expensive hardware in there rusting away, and it doesn’t make sense to abandon that without a very good reason. Now, it’s possible someone sufficiently wealthy bought everything, sealed the area up, and converted into their personal murder playground, but this is a fantasy. Most of the time, when the property value drops far enough, people will buy the area. That will happen if the equipment within is worth more than the price on the building. Even if it was just a developer buying the place, selling the equipment, and converting the buildings into something else (like an office park, storage, or residences.)

Second: Game reward systems are a complex subject. What’s important to understand is, if you designing a game reward systems (such as paying out currency to participants) can be used to influence player behavior. However, if you’re talking about hunting people down for sport, you don’t need that kind of a reward mechanism.

The hunters will hunt because killing people is their reward. The survivors are trying to survive, because not dying is their reward. In a free-for-all battle royale (even if it’s team based), you’ll have a mix of these two impulses, but, again, the game itself offers its own reward. If you want to see next week, you need to survive.

You do see games without internal reward mechanisms fairly frequently. Chess is a good example of this; there are no positive reinforcements for performing well during a match. You’re either playing for the game itself, or you’re playing for the victory.

If the purpose of the battle royale is to coerce the participants into killing each other, then adding an additional reward mechanism beyond, “you get to live,” confuses the messaging.

If your game features dedicated hunters, who are so disaffected that they simply want to hunt people for sport, you’re not going to entice them with money; they already have that. You’re also not going to entice them with an, “even playing field,” because why would they give up their toys to participate? So, they roll in with whatever hardware they want, and start picking off the prey. It’s distinctly possible they’re even paying for the privilege. There’s also no incentive to give the prey anything to defend themselves with, it endangers the hunters, and remember, the hunters are the paying customers.

The difference with games (video and board) is that you do need to incentivize behavior. In a PvP bout, if a player decides they’ve had enough and simply want out, death is a viable option. You can use currency payouts to discourage that, but you cannot kill the player. When they’re making their assessment, they know they’ll live, and can get into another match later.

The problem with paying players based on PvP success is a, “rich get richer,” scenario. If you’re good at PvP, and you get rewarded, you’ve demonstrated that you do not need the benefit of those resources to win, but now you’re getting resources which will help you perform even better.

Now, it does depend on what those resources offer you, and depending on the game it’s entirely possible that those resources will not offer anything that significantly affects your performance. But, that’s not the case here. You have a character buying mid-match equipment from winning like it’s Counterstrike.

Without a more focused question, that’s about the extent of what I can offer at present. Also, remember, if you are a Patron, you can link your Discord account, and get access to that server.

-Starke

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