Moo Tang Clan: 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A telling assumption

By its very multiplayer nature, a MMORPG can not allow a player to really change the world, because other players need to have the opportunity to play through the same story.
~ Tobold, on story

Players need the opportunity to enjoy the game, that is all.

They can play through different stories, even make their own.

Monday, December 13, 2010

QOTD - Danc on building systems for stories

Don't build games in order to tell a single story. Build meaningful systems that create an explosion of culture, spread by the players who are absolutely thrilled to share what they've learned.
~ Danc, on story as evolutionary success or failure lessons

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Quote of the day

They simply forgot to balance their game around gameplay and hence jumped to the conclusion that it was the quest structure itself that was the issue and NOT the structure of the game. So instead they create quests that have nothing to do with the MMO or RPG aspects of the genre (a.k.a. meaningless mini-games that don’t involve ANYTHING you have done with your character AND don’t involve other people).
~ from a comment over at Keen & Graev's blog

Designing systems, vs designing levels

There's a fascinating post over at Lost Gardens, one which gets me thinking whether that approach could also be applied to MMOs. If it could, then it could well be the trick to overcoming the 900 lb gorilla in the room.

For contrast, there's this over at Hardcore Casual.

... what are your thoughts?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

World centric or player centric?

Via Syp over at BioBreak:

“How many times will a developer promise me that my decisions will impact the world before I actually see it?”
~ KvanCetre @ Massively

... when the world itself is designed to be the game, with player participation a secondary consideration.

What I mean by this is first design a world, populated with whatever is in that world, and design it such that those things are determined by the other things in the world. Make the world a dynamic model, even absent of players. Design and develop the world such that, even if no players ever logged in, the fates and fortunes of the world inhabitants will ebb and flow.

Now, add players. (Then fix all the bits that get broken by adding players).

Contrast this with what you've likely seen a few times now: design a world as a static landscape, add players, and then add mechanisms for players to affect that world. The design of such a world is entirely player centric - without players exploring their personal destinies (aka "consuming content") the world effectively ceases to exist.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kill 10 rats ... or kill 4 specific rats

Which type of quest would you prefer to do:

  • kill 10 rats, in a nearby farmyard with lots of rats
  • kill a red rat from the barn, kill a black rat in the forest, kill a white rat in the house, kill a brown rat in the yard
Certainly, the first quest could be more efficiently completed, but the latter has more potential for a varied experience.

Fine print: they both would take about 5 minutes to complete, both reward 55 silver and 1,250 xp (from mob kills and quest completion).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A lack of talents

Is it just me, or does anyone else feel that WoW's new talent system only facilitates defining your character in terms of which talents you don't take in a given tree, rather than the ones you do take?

Supporting explorers

Bartle defines explorers as players that seek out information about their world, and share it with others. Part of the reward for explorers is the private delight in discovery, but often an equally important reward is being able to pass on your knowledge to others, or even to share it together.

How to support explorers in an MMOG?

First, obviously, you need lots of content for them to explore. Start with adding quirks to your terrain, to reward the player for pushing through the bushes and exploring an otherwise unimportant gully. Simple things like setting up a picnic blanket and basket, but with skeletons scattered about and nothing more – an unusual sight with an unexplained story.

You could also add hidden mechanisms to your world, like ley lines that affect magical powers. Let the explorers figure out where they run, and what effects they have on the game.

Map making and documentation.

Another neat thing you could do is build into your game UI a means of taking and sharing photos of the world. That way you could not only boast about this tragic picnic in the wilds but show proof to others. I don't just mean allow the player to take a screen shot and upload it to a website, I mean collect and share photos in the game itself. They could share individual photos the same way items are shared in chat or trade, they could pay an NPC or a crafter to take their photo and mount it in their home or guild house, and they could publish collections of images with annotations in guide books.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Storm the beach, climb that mountain

One problem many pvp based games face is that experienced players with hard earned gear stick around and gank the new comers. Another problem that can arise is that the smartest battlefield strategy is to mindlessly zerg.

So acknowledge that, and make it work for your game, not against it.

The key issue with newb ganking is that there's a sense of betrayal of fairness, that on the battlefield all should have an equal chance and equal capability. Unfortunately, handing out gear improvements as rewards undermines that supposed fairness.

Thus: design the pvp game around scenarios which have entrenched veterans defending a beachhead, and the newbs being cannon fodder. Make it 40 vs 10 even - a game of asymmetric warfare. It might even be possible to have the numbers on each side being determined by a gear budget, that way if a massively over-geared player queues for an early tier they just might find themselves defending the whole beach by them selves.

Once those players attain sufficient gear they get swapped to the defense team, or can go offense on the next tier of attack. First the beachhead, then the village, then the hill, the castle, and onwards. It's probably important to have that sense of progression in the scenarios too - don't just bump the players up a numeric tier and throw them against the same beachhead (only now facing tougher and more well equipped defenders).

So .. two points: asymmetric warfare, and narrative progression.

Think that might work?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Steam-punk factory

If you were to build your own steam-punk factory, what would you have in it?

I'd have furnaces and steam engines, massive flywheels, steam pipes, steam pressure regulators, conveyor belts, trolly carts on rails, big water tanks, grabby things on crane arms grabbing crates and barrels of incoming supplies, big axes on levers chopping up the crates & barrels and feeding them into those furnaces driving the steam engines filling those pipes.

Lots of odds and ends all joined together into a one convoluted mechanism, taking in raw materials on one side and spitting out manufactured product on the other.

What are the components you'd have?

Monday, August 16, 2010

The wolf is represented by the bassoon?

There's this thing called a Leitmotif. At its simplest, it is an audio cue.

So here's an idea - represent different classes or roles with different instruments, and have various actions or activity levels give rise to longish chords of music. This is more than just a 3 note audio cue which is played every time the priest casts Smite - instead, there would be a multi-bar track of music which is associated with a priest casting lots of offensive spells, with a different multi-bar track for healing spells.

For the tank, as the danger level increases the dramatic tones of his leitmotif could increase. The more adds he's tanking could be represented by a more frantic pace. If the tank's health starts to dip, the music could take on an ominous score. And if the tank dies?

All this is a mile ahead of simple background music on a loop and sound effects tied directly to specific abilities ... so I wouldn't expect to see it in any game anytime soon. Which is a pity.

And no, the wolf is represented by French Horns. It is the grandfather who is represented by the Bassoon.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Grrr .. a rant on bad design

This afternoon we formed a pug with scrubs from /2 and headed into Ulduar to try Freya hard-mode.

It's a big indoor garden room, with lots of packs of trash between the boss and the entrance. We clear all that.

The boss fight goes something like this:

  • Phase 1 has six waves of adds which must be eliminated before the boss can be harmed. There are three types of waves, each with their own abilities. Some do a massive AoE explosion on death, some do knock-backs, one wave is just a big tree elemental and some mushrooms the raid need to hide under.
  • Phase 2 is less hectic, it's mostly a tank and spank but with the boss throwing seed bombs periodically.
So here's the rant: nowhere before the boss fight do we get a preview of any of the mechanics of all those adds. Not at all. Remember all that trash before the boss ... they don't do anything remotely similar. They even have some mechanics unique to themselves.

The only possible way to learn how to handle the adds in the boss fight is to do the boss fight. And probably wipe, multiple times. And all that trash before? A pointless waste of time.

It would have been better if players would be exposed to each of the mechanics in separate trash packs, where they can learn the signs and the effects and teach any newbs in the raid what the heck happens. Then the boss fight packs them all together in one big encounter in combination.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Designing for exploration - how not to do it

It's the Midsummer Festival, and the moo is back in The Slave Pens.

On a whim, once Ahune has been readily dispatched, I decide to explore the place a little bit more. Turns out that there's a hidden underwater tunnel!

Unfortunately, to get to it you have to get past two trash packs of hard mobs. And not regular sized trash packs either, these are trash packs of six mobs each.

Compare this to the more obvious and direct route where while there are three packs of trash, they are only four mobs in each, and furthermore they are placed in such a manner that it is actually possible to skirt around them completely.

Way to go Blizzard, make the obvious and direct route the simplest, and punish the explorer for going off the beaten path.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Quote of the day

It’s this difference between individuals playing as a team, and a team playing as individuals that I think is interesting, and I wonder whether it’s time to think about creating classes that are entirely self sufficient but which become greater when played as part of a group.

The conflict between autonomy and security - Melmoth

Queued & offline crafting?

In Fallen Earth you can queue up crafting activities, and this all goes on while you're off doing whatever it is you do in Fallen Earth. Admiring sunsets and running from hermit crabs, apparently.

In EvE, character skills are also learned in a similar way. You queue up skills to learn, time passes, and you get the skills.

In WoW, crafting and learning are done first person. You have to be there, you can't queue anything (without mods), you can't go off and do something else during that time, and you certainly can't log off and expect any progress.

The discombobulating thing with Fallen Earth's crafting is just how the heck does your character manage to craft their thingy while they're busy admiring sunsets and running away from hermit crabs. Similarly with EvE, just how are you managing to do all that homework while dodging missiles from rats and concentrating on that oh so tricky mining operation (ahem).

So, here's a different take on queued crafting: your character doesn't do it, you instead hire NPCs to do it. You install them in your player or guild housing, you buy them equipment, you pay them a weekly wage, you send them materials. They stay back at base doing the boring crafting while you galavant about the countryside slaying dragons and wooing princesses.

They could also be designed to sell their spare stock to others, at prices you choose. And purchase the materials he needs as well. With not too much effort you could even set them up to take build orders from others, if you so wish.

Now you also have a resource management mini-game - if you don't queue up enough tasks, and don't queue up enough crafting materials, your expensive crafting NPC just sits there building nothing.

If these crafting NPCs are geographically dispersed, you've also got support in the game for players to act as traders, seeking out goods at competitive prices and taking them to the local market/auction house.

The NPC wage would also act as a gold sink for the economy.

Hmm ... what happens though if you don't pay the wage?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

WoW's AH online app - benefits for the rest of us?

Since it's a web-service based online app, it would be interesting to know if there are any major limits on simply querys of the auction house.

I know there are limits on how many auctions you can post, but are there limits on how many queries you can make?

If there isn't, and if Blizzard don't get touchy at other websites using the web-services API (like they currently don't frown at Armoury scanning websites), then this would mean someone else could set up a website which does frequent and complete periodic scans of all AHs on all servers, and make that information available to anyone, even if they don't have the AH app at all.

Sure would save me logging in at all hours of the night just to run an AH scan.

I'm referring to sites like here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The illusion of "doing it better"

Imagine there's a game publisher with a design doc for some truly innovative advances to the MMO field. They've done their homework, they know how to build it right, they've done the numbers, they know how much it will cost. This stuff will knock your socks off. We'll refer to these people Game A.

Now, imagine there's some game publisher with a Triple A game which dominates the market. Game B.

The Game A people have done the math, they figure it will take about $M to implement this innovation to the full extent they have in mind. This means they need to attract some N thousands of players to their game to satisfy this budget expense.

Game B, seeing all the attention and interest that Game A is garnering from their early press releases and dev interviews and such, and seeing that some number of players are considering defecting to Game A for this feature, decide to also implement something similar.

Does Game B need to spend the same $M on this feature to remain competitive? (Assume that every $M that Game B spends produces the same value as what Game A has, assume no special advantage or brilliance).

Surprisingly, the answer is No.

See, if they spend (say) 0.6 x $M, then they will retain some portion of potential defectors. Those defectors are not available as new subscribers to Game A, and thus impact the revenues available to spend by Game A. Without Game B in the picture they figure they would have sufficient revenue to afford to spend $M, but with Game B making similar promises (remember, neither have working code to demo at this point) they no longer have $M available, they only have 0.4 $M available.

Game B doesn't need to develop 100% of the original idea at all. They can do a half-assed job, split the market, and forcing Game A to compromise on their design doc vision.

Now, if Game B was an equal player in the market and not a monopolistic behometh, the innovation would be still be pretty good. We, the players, would get at least 50% of the original concept to play with.

However, since Game B is a massive presence in the industry (leveraging network effects, market inertia etc), they know they don't even need to implement 50% of the innovation to split the market and retain potential defectors. Game B only need to implement (say) 10% of the idea, and Game A would be left in the position of only affording to implement about 9% of their original idea.

If Game A doesn't get sufficient traction, then they shut down and we never see the other 90% of the original innovation.

Things are now looking bad for us, the players, and the industry in general.

The galling thing is that commentators will be saying "Game B took the idea, polished it, and did it better than Game A". Sorry, but although 10% is “better” than 9%, that 10% is still much less than the original 100%.

Doubly galling because Game B only needs to spend 10% of the original budget to achieve this, yet retain 100% of their profits. Which suits them just fine.

The duration of dynamic events?

GW2's Dynamic Events Content is starting to sound pretty cool.

There's something I've not seen explicitly stated yet though, and that is how long these dynamic events take to play out. Reading between the lines it sounds like there are two activities affecting timescales involved:

  1. active participation resulting in a state change (success or fail mechanics)
  2. nothing happening until the conditions are just right, resulting in a state change (trigger mechanics)
The former is equivalent to what we know questing activity being today. Kill ten rats, collect 100 ogre ears, that sort of thing. Timescale: minutes to tens of minutes.

The latter would depend on either other events cascading, or players performing some specific action like activating a McGuffin device. Timescale: days, weeks, months, possibly more.

Personally, I'd like to see some long-scale events added to the mix too. Huge community based events that stretch over hours, days, or weeks of activity by dozens or hundreds of players to finally tip the balance and effect a state change. Consider the resource gathering efforts to open the AQ gates, or the unlocking of the Isle of Quel'Danas as extreme examples.

The point being, it would be good to log on over multiple days, and see measurable progress on change being effected in the world. This, vs. not knowing what state the world will be in when you log in, just to do the equivalent of some random daily quests and log out again.

My theory is that this form of longitudinal game play would have an effect on the social dynamics of the players, strengthening and shaping the community for the better.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Would you pay more?

Say there's a mass market MMORPG which appeals to the casual player and they charge $15.00 per month.

Say you're looking for a niche game which appeals to the smarter more committed player types ... would you pay $25.00 per month, just to get away from the idiotic masses?

Saturday, May 22, 2010


I has a twitter thing now.

Although I use it mostly to follow other bloggers who tweet, feel free to follow me ... it's just another way for me to find more people to listen in on.

Actor Dynamic vs Event Dynamic

Syncaine writes:

When I think of dynamic events I think of a developer setting up some random variables and letting them loose on a virtual world. Let’s say the event in question is an undead horde rising up to attack an empire. ...
He then goes on to describe that undead horde conquering vast swathes on the world, obeying their primitive programming, and how this can turn out to have unintended consequences (eg. the undead horde sacking and infesting the major cities). This reminds me of the Ultima Online resource system, and how that worked.

I think a distinction can be made here between actor-based dynamism and event-based dynamism. With the former the actors involved, being zombies, skeletons, cultists, etc are each programmed to behave in particular ways and set loose on the world, and thus it’s possible that they could expand and expand and expand.

In an event-based dynamic system the various zombies et al are pawns to the programmed events, and if the devs haven’t coded an event where the undead swarm march on the city then they never will, no matter how much they dominate surrounding areas.

An actor-based dynamism can have interesting emergent properties (eg. killer bunnies in UO) but it would lack the carefully crafted and constructed drama of an event-based system.

With event-based dynamism, you can tell stories. It requires effort to set them up, but they are then there for the taking. With actor-based dynamism we have to interpret the opaque motives of the npcs, assigning whatever story makes sense or is interesting. Like watching dogs in the park from a distance and voicing aloud what you think they are saying to each other, constructing a free flow improv.

It sounds like GW2 is going the event-based dynamic content route.

Friday, May 14, 2010

<Orgrimmar Pony Club> now recruiting

Horde wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.
So ... I've started a new guild. I've wanted to do this for quite a while.

OPC has been set up for regular mount runs in the various places (Zul'Gurub, Karazhan, Sethekk Halls, Magister's Terrace, Stratholme, etc), and also for working on the achievements that reward mounts, like Glory of the Hero and Glory of the Ulduar Raider and more.

We even run a weekly Northrend Fishing Competition, where the first person in the guild/raid that fishes up the Riding Turtle gets a bonus 1,000 gold from the guild bank.

By the way, we call the MgT run a "chook raffle" in trade chat which usually elicits a few curious whispers.

Plenty to keep us busy there, and by not being progression raid focused we avoid burnout. We do run raids of course, as there are mounts in there. Hey, we've even got an excuse to run ICC, right?

If you're on Dath'Remar-H, look us up.

Is healing boring because of interface design?

Playing DPS is generally more fun that playing a healer - that's the accepted wisdom.

This is often explained due to hurting being more fun that helping, and also due to hurting being essential to accomplishing the game goals (and that you can't "heal a mob to death").

I've previously written about making more quests for non-killing activities, particularly healing, but could it also be due to the interface design? With DPS, you are given continual appraisal and reinforcement of your progress towards your goal: the enemy target's health bar is diminished, gradually or in leaps, until it's all gone. Healers on the other hand see a full health bar when they start, and if they are doing their job properly they see .. a full health bar. Where's the encouraging feedback in that interface design? (The same goes with dispelling debuffs by the way.)

We're so used to seeing progress bars in our games, steady measurable visible progress. Enemy health bars go down, XP bars go up, reputation bars go up, cast bars fill up, channeling bars go down, item crafting feedback bars slide across the screen, etc.

There are no progress bars for healing though.

So, is healing boring because of interface design?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Measuring progress thru the story

If asked "how far are you into the story and lore of [some expansion]", most players wouldn't be capable of giving a concise and succinct answer. Apart from not knowing how much more there might yet to be encountered (fair enough), they'd also not have a strong grasp on just what they have accomplished.

If asked "how far are you into getting to the level cap", most players would be able to give an exacting answer. Some would even be able to tell you their XP/hour rates and projected play times. All the numbers are there.

When I look at a few of the top MMOs, the reason why is pretty plain: the latter is measured in game, while the former is presented only ephemerally. Once you've completed various quests, they are wiped from your in-game quest log UI. There is no built in mechanism for remembering whether you've met various NPCs or not. A cursory exploration of a zone unlocks and reveals all of a map, and deeper and more thorough exploration is not rewarded beyond that.

There's an untapped opportunity to take a future game design in a new direction.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Quick, while he's distracted!

Fun boss fight mechanic I've not seen yet .. every time a player dies, have the boss start some elaborate process (eg. a ritual of raising a ghoul, dragging the body to some ejection chute or hungry pet, or simply teabagging the corpse,) ... during which time he's not doing damage or is even more vulnerable.

Ah, those noobs in your pug raid are useful after all.

Permadeath vs twinking

If you had a friendly guild that could fully twink out any new character you roll, even helping out with power-leveling and such, would that soften the blow of permadeath?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Warp travel & navigation - another take

Reading Down with Star Trek: Sector Space over at Bio Break and the bulk of solutions to the un-fun Sector Space navigation mechanic in STO is to simply present a list of destinations and then you'd warp there. The further away the longer it will take. And apparently without risk of plotting a warp through the centre of a star.

So, while the clumsy non-fun mechanics of Sector Space have been removed, nothing fun is suggested instead. It simply becomes a time-sink.

Here's my idea:

OK, start by selecting a destination from a list (squinting at a map to find a particular destination is one of Syp's complaints), and then asking your navigation officer to lay in a course. He will then select a heading, a speed, and a duration. You can adjust those settings if you want.

If your warp gets too close to any gravity well (stars, planets, massive comets, black holes, mysterious anomalies) you either fall out of warp or your heading gets a bit messed up (which could either deliver you well off course at the end of the warp or put you at greater risk of running too close to a subsequent gravity well).

The game now is to shoot the gaps, to adroitly navigate.

There is scope for RPG advancement too:

  • Your starter ship doesn't have a compass and gymbal which are accurate to 27 decimal places, so until you upgrade your equipment you'll have a greater chance of not heading exactly where you wanted (and risking warp drops or unwanted slingshots).
  • Your starter crew are not the greatest navigators, so of course they mess up too: if you ask them to auto-plot a multi-jump route they either don't find the most efficient route (like taking one small jump in the opposite direction to set up a long straight jump, vs many small hops dodging the mess directly ahead), or misjudge the safe radius for systems and risk a warp drop, or are overly conservative and keep a wide berth around gravity wells (and thus less efficient routings).
  • Your early maps would of course have all the major star systems plotted, and sufficient info on their planets to avoid their general orbits - but better maps would include precise orbital timings so you'd be able to skirt close to one side of a system because you know all the planets are on the other side.
  • The early maps might also be missing some black space gravity wells - rogue planets or comets or black holes, floating in the inky interstellar voids. Not all bad news of course - stumbling across stuff like that is all part of exploration.
All these provide scope for upgrades and advancement, and if the personality of your chief navigation officer is randomly selected everyone's experience could be different too (which impacts the usual gaming strategy of look up the optimal grinding pattern to upgrade and then whine endlessly about the boredom of grinding).

Of course, with this navigation system a player could instead forgo all the upgrades and do all the steering themselves - like I said, it's a game of shooting the gaps. Start the game with most players having better skills at navigating than the Navigation Officer to kick start this learning curve. Some players won't like doing the navigating and will spend their resources on upgrading their officers, ships, and maps; others won't mind and maybe even find it fun, and would prefer to spend hard earned credits on weapons systems instead.

To make it more fun, to make it more of a game, it would be necessary to provide feedback and scoring to players: have the game system report their best travel times across maps, and the shortest routes, even have it score the time it takes a player to lay in a course before hitting the warp button, and keep a leader-board for players to compete against (will anyone beat Han Solo's Kessel run record of 12 parsecs? [yes, different game, different universe, bite me])

Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Sandbox" or "Dynamic"?

In writing that last post I almost tagged it with "dynamic" .. but instead decided to tag it "sandbox". (A new tag on this blog - I now have to trawl my archives and do some re-tagging).

Is there a difference? In my mind: yes. A sandbox world is one which players can shape and change in whatever direction they want, while a dynamic world changes in response to player actions according to it's own rules.

The roll out of the Isle of Quel'danas content progression in response to player actions is dynamic, albeit simplistic. As is the flipping of Halaa in Nagrand. The freedom of construction of structures in A Tale in the Desert and in Second Life makes them sandboxes.

You don't however see the Second Life world develop a global warming problem or rampant wild weather in response to all the rampant development going on. When a Second Lifer plants a thousand trees on an island you don't see a change in the wildlife. Thus, SL isn't dynamic.

There is of course potential for a huge overlap, and a world which is bother dynamic and a sandbox would be a very interesting place to live and play.

What do you think? Do these distinctions between the terms make sense to you?

That's a Terrible Idea: Sandbox MMO Design Problems

Evizaer writes about Sandbox MMO Design Problems.

In addition to the Logging-out problem he mentions I would add the subtle corollary of the Logging-in problem - if the world is a sandbox you can change then the safe haven you logged out in could well become a most unfortunate place to log into some time later. Ouch.

I agree the Player-is-a-Peon Problem is tedious. I'd like to play a sandbox world where there was an interactive and dynamic NPC population which players would vie to control and dominate. Think SimCity rather than The Sims. This might also go some way to addressing the Excessive vertical advancement problem too since advancement could be measured in resources at your beck and call, not your avatar's personal capabilities.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Glyph on Dynamic Worlds

Glyph the Architect has written some thoughts on designing for a dynamic world. Go read it and add a comment - this is a topic I'd love to see more bloggers explore.

Self referential MMORPG concept

With so many wannabe MMORPG designers in the blogosphere, would it be possible to build an MMORPG whose concept is not hack-n-slash dragons+wizards, not space opera, not sekrit squirrel spies ... but instead an MMORPG design environment.

Classes would include Graphic Designer, Model Maker, Quest Writer, and so on.

Hmmm ... and bosses would be, of course, bosses.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Shaping community behaviour via NPC interactions

There have been multiple games where a quest-giving NPC is interacted with via a dialog tree. It would be a safe bet that virtually all of them presented fully immersive RP dialog options. If only the devs put in a dialog option for what the player is really thinking ("Yo! Quest .. gimme now! And skip the life story twaddle!") ... of course many players would choose it, especially if it did skip an interaction step or two.

Let them do that a few times, and then have the NPC offer only measly rewards to quests, or give false information, or send you on a quest which is much more dangerous than apparent .. that is, have the NPC learn from these interactions and treat these jerks as, well, jerks.

If the player wants better quests and better rewards they'd soon enough learn that the jerk-option is non-optimal. When you come down to it, the actual dialog in the options is as irrelevant to the NPC as it is to the player - the player is simply choosing option J over option A, B, or C.

Now ... what might be the knock-on effect in the rest of the game, especially with the player's interactions with other players? Will they take out their frustrated meanness and jerkwadness by being jerks to other players, or will the "be nice = optimum route to loot" lesson be unconsciously ingrained and applied onto other players? Will players, when confronted with jerk behaviour, model their response on how the game treats such behaviour (ie. disdainfully unforgiving) - if NPCs punish players for being jerks, is this not permission for players to punish jerks too?