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How the Player-Run Criminal Justice System Works (PvP)

September 7, 2015

Currently, players are not allowed to break laws, the server will prevent laws from being broken by stopping the player’s action before it occurs. With this 200k stretch goal (if we reach it during Kickstarter or post-Kickstarter), we will add a new option to servers: Players will be allowed to break laws, but doing so will flag them as a criminal and make them open to being arrested and punished.

Flagging criminals

In this system, each time a law is proposed it must include a list of punishments for violating it, and a ‘statute of limitations’ for how long players will be susceptible to arrest from it. If a player violates a law, they will be flagged as a criminal for that length of time, but that flag will be only visible to witnesses.

A player witnesses a crime if they are in visible range when it occurs. They can also detect a crime using a new forensic skill that allows players to examine a crime site (a tree chopped down against the rules, a player house broken into, an elk killed in violation). If their skill is high enough (depending on the recentness of the crime), they will be added as a witness. Players can share their witness status with any other player they encounter, and anyone who is marked as a witness to a crime will be allowed to arrest the player.


To arrest a player, they must be caught by the other player, and weapons can be used by witnesses against criminals to subdue them. Players will not generally be able to attack other players, with only witnesses being allowed to attack criminals to subdue them. Players can be arrested while offline if they can be found(their avatar will stay in the world), and features will be added to track the whereabouts of criminals.


Once arrested, the punishment for breaking a law will be applied, which can include:

  • Monetary fine – Automatically removing items/currency from the player’s inventory/home and putting them in public ownership.
  • Jail time – If a jail is built in the world, they can be constrained to a cell for a given amount of real time.
  • Death penalty – The character is deleted from the server and the user banned from logging in to that server in the future.

If we achieve this stretch goal, we’ll be continuing to evolve the design and implementation of this feature, so expect changes, removals, and additions of what’s described here, but the basic premise will remain: players will need to manage the enforcement of laws in their world, and some may decide to devote their time in Eco to either violating the laws for self-gain, or bringing justice to those that have violated the laws.

I expect this to be one of the most interesting aspects of Eco, watching how societies determine what’s allowed in the world and what punishments should be met upon those that violate that, and the effect it has on the success or failure of the world as a whole. This feature adds an extra layer of difficulty and replayability to the game, and playing on a large server in which laws can be broken will be very difficult to succeed on, with only the best-run governments, economies, and criminal-justice systems finding a way to succeed. We’re excited to see the user stories that would come out of this feature.

The Eco Team is a collection of introverted and sometimes genius programmers/designers based in Seattle and Australia. We all grew up and thrive in the video game culture, so of course making them is our dream job. We look forward to continuing to put out quality games for the community of players.

19 thoughts

  • rob anderson

    could you make it so you can raid players bases if allowed so by servers. like robbery and stuff and then you can get punished if caught etc. even pvp like say you can attack people but there is consequences. also death penalty too harsh. if you get death penalty you get perm banned from your favorite server?

  • Anthony

    I created a server but when I go to run for office or propose a new law, it redirects me to a web page and then says that it unable to connect. How am I able to get passed this?

    • Wiloxe

      You have to make sure it’s not the firewall that blocks it by disabling it then attempt to open the web menu.
      Also, you have to make sure your port forward these ports to allow network access outside of your local network and those ports are 3000 and 3001 by default.

  • LavaBomb

    I like the idea of this. This can allow you make a world with friends where one player is the “Destroyer”. This person has to do everything in his power to destroy the world. Everyone else needs to prevent this.

  • Wyatt

    I think PVP should be permanently left on so players can exact justice anyway they want to, so like you could have bounty hunters on your server. or you would have to create a player made court system before some one can be punished and let the players govern there own law enforcement with out this only the witness can act stuff.

  • John

    I think the crime and punishment system as described sounds excellent. Those who enjoy spending their time ganking other players for no good reason have plenty of other games to do it in 🙂

  • Herman

    Would be really awesome to see that you could have terretories and different regions with different players, with different rules and even different ways of running the world.

    Like one region could decide that they wanted a dictator, or a board with a few, and some suggestions is up for voting and other things is decided by for exempel the board… Have more flexibility around this, then this region leaders could make decisions them togheter, maybe boicot someone etc, etc. This has alot of potential and would be great if there could be such a thing in the game. Maybe a criminal flees to another region and he is safe there. Maybe there is reason for two regions to go to war etc. as said, alot of potential…

    (haven’t bought this game yet, really thinking of doing so)

    • Will

      Awesome ideas Herman, thank you for the suggestions!

    • souvlas vegas

      Allowing someone to be the leader , or dictator etc of a given region would not be the best idea, as it violates the equality of players, which is one of the basic characteristics of the game. However , the idea of different regions with different laws (and maybe some global ones) , seems fantastic. It enables new possibilities to the game, like player “alliances” .

      It seems like the best game idea i have heard recently. Wish you guys good luck..

    • Dudderbutt

      Yeah! Having different territories would add a whole new hardness to the game and give so much more decision and creativity on what you could do. You could have nations working against or with each other. Or trade through several countries, one may wish for the extinction or pollution of something and the other may not. War would allow for the use of weapons to whole new levels! Country v Country, Nation v Nation, groups of people fighting (inside a game) to rain victorious over each other, or to find peace instead. Maybe it could end on a simple agreement such as you stop this and i’ll give you this. All of this would be incredible in a game, I mean imagine you and your friends fighting against each other trying to be the one who “saves the world!”

  • Felipe

    Guys, this is not a game this is a simulator, the reason why they aren’t going to let us make war is because they don’t want this to be turned into a minecraft factions server. If you want war in a world map you can join monorisu

  • John Vathakos

    So is this all the pvp there is? so people cant just attack players normally?

    • John K. Post author

      Correct, its not a free for all type game. Crime takes place in a way that can be punished by society.

  • Ryan Blake

    I would love to see the ability to go to wars or cause mass destruction/terrorism with bombs/weapons to peoples cities and territories, sort of a hard-core PVP I suppose? This is just a shell of what would be possible, but I feel like it would really add to the game to be able to cause unfixable destruction to someone who wronged you, or if someone is feeling a bit anarchistic. Technologies to prevent this from happening would need implementation but I feel it would add a certain tension to those servers and make leaders of territories have to think much harder in order to prevent things such as this from happening.

    • John K. Post author

      Yeah if/when we get to scaled up massive servers, I’d love to have wars and things like that.

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