SWTOR Ilum Bans Were Real, Nuanced

By John Walker on January 2nd, 2012 at 10:08 pm.

For some reason this image amuses me greatly.

Well this is all jolly interesting. Remember the story about Star Wars: The Old Republic banning a player because he’d been to Ilum at too low a level, and been looting the containers? And remember how it looked pretty dodgy, and was probably a fake? Well here’s the thing: it wasn’t. It was real. But, as you might imagine, there were a few details missed out.

In a post to the SWTOR forums, Senior Online Community Manager, Stephen Reid, makes it clear that no one is going to get banned for visiting Ilum at a level under 40, and seeing what they can find in a container. Which is pretty much how the original story ran.

However, if a person is going to Ilum to repeatedly exploit the availability of such high level/value loot, to the point where the game’s economy becomes imbalanced, at that point BioWare say they’re going to issue a temporary ban.

Putting this in context, Reid begins by explaining that they’ve handed out plenty of permanent bans against those who are gold farming within the game, as you’d expect. But, he says, those who are threatening the economy of the game via an exploit were “warned or temporarily suspended”. He stresses those who received this notice were considerably fewer in number than those banned for “credit farming”. And he explains that this isn’t carried out lightly.

“It’s important to remember that our Terms of Service team is extremely careful and thorough in their investigation of any potential exploit or unusual activity in-game. Working closely with the development team and using extensive metrics based on player activity, they are able to determine what is normal player activity, what is unusual and what is exploiting. Our goal is always to ensure a fair game experience for all players while also protecting the rights of individuals, and if people are disrupting the play experience for others action will be taken.”

Clearly responding to the Reddit-led fuss that occurred last weekend, Reid insists that appeals are listened to, and says in some cases actions have been rescinded, but also stresses that those who are receiving bans may not tell the whole story.

“While we understand people’s concern about actions taken against accounts, please remember the Terms of Service team exists to help ensure a balanced and fair game experience for all. When you see reports of actions taken against someone’s account, remember they are choosing to tell their version of the story – and there are two sides to every story.”

Soooooo, where does that leave us? Well, no one has been permanently banned for exploiting Ilum’s boxes. That’s important to know. But whether the lesser actions are appropriate or not remains an interesting question. Were those players doing anything wrong? Or were they simply playing the game, in a way in which the game allowed itself to be played?

In my opinion (because the joy of owning a site is I’m entitled to give my opinions!) those players should not be punished, but rather the game should be fixed. If you create a universe, and then ask people to spend considerably amounts of money and time within that universe, then you have to expect people to be people. Gold farming is one thing – having the nous to get big loot and gain from that, that’s quite another. And hell, the game lets you play as a smuggler!

It makes me think of EVE, and the fragility and adaptability of that economy. I sometimes wonder if those creating MMOs aren’t really willing to accept the full responsibility for their creation. If the economy can be so easily exploited, either allow your game to be influenced by that, or fix your game. Punishing canny customers seems the wrong approach, but certainly the quick fix. Bad PR, functioning game. You can see why they made the decision.

What do you think?

Cheers to zack.

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303 Comments »

  1. rocketman71 says:

    Indeed. If the game is broken, FIX IT, don’t punish those who take advantage of it (unless it was at the expense of other players, in which case you’d return them items / experience / whatever).

    Yet another reason why EA/MMOs suck balls.

    • alostsoldier says:

      Exploiting has always been and will always be against any MMO’s ToS. I have never played a game where exploiters were left unpunished when reported/caught using these bugs/exploits.

    • D says:

      That is IMO a bullshit stance to take. Exploiting a flaw and thereby helping to imbalance the economy, is absolutely done at the expense of other players, both present and future. I think the very word exploit has a connotation of meaning harm to some other party. Game fixes are not instantaneous to make, therefore players should understand and accept that exploiting is wrong, and just refrain from doing it.

      This IMO is equivalent to following the “intent of the law” rather than the written word, and not exploit loopholes. Laws are complex and can be confusing in their intent, however the intent of the game-design is most often pretty obvious – for this specific example, players shouldn’t use an alt to perform faction-ownership flips of a zone (obviously contrary to the idea of “warzones”), in order to quickly respawn lootable containers (obviously imbalancing their equipment/money). So IMO the only reasonable argument for exploiting games (and laws) is selfishness.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      The thing is, they’ve made a wow clone – the fact that this format of mmo is so old now, they should have known every exploit under the sun and released a product with such a degree of polish and design that this should never have been allowed to happen if they don’t want it too.

      Its also worth mentioning that primarily due to D3′s real money auction house – online games are coming under very detailed scrutiny by gambling commissions around the world. If they ever decide that MMO’s require a gaming licence to operate, a distinct possibility as due to the random drops these games are technically gambling, things like this will need to be cleaned up properly.

    • Shuck says:

      As someone who has worked as a designer on MMOs, this really does seem to be the worst way to handle it. I understand why they were tempted to go that route, however – it was the quickest and easiest solution in the short-term. Hopefully the designers are working on a system-based fix, but they were obviously taken by surprise by how people have been exploiting this. That’s no excuse, though – punishing players for design faults is poor form. What really troubles me is, if I understand correctly, it’s not what he did so much as how much he did it that they have a problem with. This is the worst sort of problem to rely on banning to solve, as there ends up being an arbitrary and unknown line where it goes from “acceptable behavior” to “temporary suspension-worthy offense.”

    • Shivoa says:

      I would expect an exploit to be fixed and any credits/stuff taken well above and beyond the expected level (as in economy breakingly so) to be confiscated (however much you can apply that sanction without totally ruining the economy for everyone involved in the trickling down activities of those breaking the game (if you buy something on the AH for a reasonable price how do you deal with that if the item was one exploit farmed and should be a lot more rare than it was without disrupting everyone who purchased one at the artificially low AH price?)). The key is to catch exploits asap (once you announce you know about X and don’t do it between reading the message on the login screen and the time the hotfix is released to solve it then you’ve got more of a case to temp ban exploiters) but locking people out of the game for it seems a bit harsh. People will explore the boundaries of all games and you have to try and be balanced in dealing with any users interested in seeing which hills they can run up to get to places you don’t think they should be exploring yet (to give a fun example of the unintended joy of an MMO world that takes the exploration tilt ‘a bit too far’?).

    • Psychochild says:

      Here’s the problem: MMOs are multiplayer (it’s the second M). Which means that someone’s actions have a far-reaching effect for others. As a service provider, an MMO operator operating a game like SW:tOR needs to take action to make sure that things are fair for most players.

      Yes, the perfect solution is not to have such an exploit in the first place. Okay, once reality intrudes we accept that some problems, bugs, and exploits will ship. So, now you have to look at the effect that an exploit like this will have on the community as a whole. If the company allows the exploit, then it becomes like a prisoner’s dilemma; you either must exploit this cheat and game the system (likely breaking immersion for people playing the game for the story), or you will be disadvantaged.

      The next best solution is to patch to remove the exploit. But, making hasty patches to an MMO is not a smart thing. This leads to server crash bugs, where people can’t play. Players certainly don’t get cranky when they can’t play an MMO this close to launch or anything…

      So, the next acceptable solution is to stop people from abusing the exploit while taking the time to do a proper patch with testing to make sure the fix doesn’t break something else. That’s what they’re doing, I assume.

      Of course, anyone who gets caught with their hand in the cookie jar will pitch a fit and try to win points in the court of public opinion.

      TL;DR – This is the best possible solution that doesn’t screw over most of the players. Exploiters will exploit, then whine if caught.

    • lurkalisk says:

      @Psychochild
      Yes, they do need to take action, but punitive measures are not the proper action when it’s all Bioware’s fault to begin with. The proper action is to deal with the exploit itself, and correct whatever damage these players may have caused.

      I understand that patching a game successfully takes time, but simply banning players is just stupid. Bioware’s offering a product, it shouldn’t be conditional to such weird little things. If they can’t offer an environment where players can simply play as the game allows, if bioware can find a no more reasonable response than bans, then it should never have been released. The ball was clearly dropped with this title, in many ways.

    • Melf_Himself says:

      Banning the people doing this does absolutely nothing to stop the exploit. The popularization of this story will mean that there are many more people who are going to attempt this apparently highly profitable activity (i.e. bots). It would have been much smarter to have just left the people doing it and quietly patched the exploit out.

      I don’t understand the logic above regarding this being an exploit that harms other players, any more than any other attempt to “game” the system is an exploit. You know, things like min-maxing your character, which would totally put lesser players at a disadvantage and is therefore a bannable exploit?

    • Baines says:

      I’ll side with rocketman71, largely because from the sound of it, this exploit is the result of bad design. That, and the attitude being taken about it.

      What has been described doesn’t sound like a coding mistake, oversight, or other error. It sounds like designers designing a broken system, and then getting upset that people are exploiting their broken system. If a bad mechanic is so exploitable that it threatens the entire economy of the game…

      Then they fall back on the TOS.

    • Metonymy says:

      It’s interesting that these arguments always seem to be moral, when the question is never moral.

      >If something is possible, do it. The problem is fixed much faster than if you did nothing, everyone benefits immediately from your ‘selfish’ actions.
      >If someone bans you instead of fixing their own mistake, remember who they are.

      You see? Good and evil were invented by people who don’t know how to code.

    • 2late2die says:

      Banning someone for this type of exploit is the wrong way to go about it for once extremely simple reason – it DOES NOT fix the problem. It’s a band-aid solution at best, and at the price of punishing a player, and possibly alienating other players as well. In this instance, players abusing the system is the symptom not the problem, and you’re suppose to fix the problem.

      Think about it, you don’t think others won’t try this? Of course they will. They need to fix the game, simple as that. Yes it’s going to take some time, and it may very well be complex to an extent, but at the end of the day, if they don’t, all the bans in the world aren’t going to help.

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    • Grygus says:

      There is an argument because there is disagreement as to the nature of the problem.

      If the problem is that the exploit exists, then it is entirely BioWare’s fault and eliminating the exploit is the only solution.

      But that’s not really the problem; there are existing exploits that nobody knows about yet, and they aren’t causing any problems at all. The problem is that the exploit is being (ab)used. So the fault is with the players who want an unfair advantage, and there are two solutions: make these players see using the exploit as undesirable, and/or eliminate the exploit. BioWare is likely going to pursue both of these, and they are right to do so.

      I do not agree that because a radio is left in an unlocked car that the thief is only partially responsible. There are a lot of people who would disagree with that, and put some measure of blame on the car’s owner. I find that cowardly, to be honest. It is a craven surrender to inappropriate behavior.

    • Hindenburg says:

      That’s a terrible comparison and you know it perfectly well. Why did you use it?

    • Bigturk74 says:

      Wouldn’t the easiest temp fix for this problem be to simply move a couple high level elite mobs near the problem areas. That way the low level exploiters would simply be killed off, making them have to constantly have to repair their gear would surely make the cost benefit ratio no longer worthwhile.

    • Archonsod says:

      “Banning the people doing this does absolutely nothing to stop the exploit.”

      It’s not supposed to. That’ll be done in a patch. The banning is punishment for breaking that part of the ToS where you agreed not to use such exploits if you found them. The idea being that if you punish someone for doing it, they won’t do it again in future.

    • Wisq says:

      Usually, a warning that “you will get banned if you do that again” is just as effective as banning, and doesn’t generate nearly the same amount of animosity.

      The only reason to ban right away is for that player to serve as an example to the others. But that requires that you publicise the ban. And if you don’t publicise the ban, or worse, if someone else does publicise the ban and it makes you look like idiots / jerks, well … Congratulations, you’ve failed at customer relations management.

    • Baines says:

      Stealing a car is a bad analogy for this situation.

      Closer might be a Take-A-Penny dish. You can take a penny without complaint. You can three pennies if you need them. If there are only five pennies, you can take all the pennies. You might be allowed to take nine pennies, if there are a lot of pennies and a lot of people are keeping the system going. But when you hit some unspecified amount, and maybe after you’ve used those pennies, you get warned that if you take another penny, you will be banned from the store.

      Or, considering some of the details, maybe it is more like a Take-A-Penny dish that people sometimes drop nickels and dimes into, but you find the store owner only lets you take nickels and dimes if you have shopped there long enough.

    • Lobotomist says:

      Why do people still buy anything branded EA is beyond me.

      They banned mass of BF3 players for playing a map that appeared on server browser , free to enter without password. Even people that out curiosity entered for a second.

      Now they banning people for simply playing the game.

      Is it their fault that they see lootable container with valuable loot ? Should they now check every good drop, because it could be bug ?

      And dont forget, that EA ban , means you are locked out from all Origin games :O

      Way to go …

    • Kadayi says:

      @OP

      I’m fairly sure they will FIX IT, but as with anything code based it takes to time to establish the ‘why’ and address it, and test it to make sure that the fix doesn’t have unforeseen consequences. In the interim short of shutting all the servers down issuing temp bans seems the most sensible option from an operational perspective. It’s not like they’re banning people who aren’t in breach of the TOS after all.

      @Grygus

      Agreed. Just because you can do something (illegal/exploitative), doesn’t mean you necessarily should. I find this promotion by some that the exploiters are somehow the tragic victims rather than the perpetrators in this scenario faintly laughable tbh.

    • TidiusFF says:

      I don’t understand this debate guys.
      In every other multi games, when someone farms exploits, the cheaters get bans, a fix comes and no one cry for them.

      But this times, because it’s SWTOR, then it’s all Bioware fault for allowed an exploit to pass.

      Seriously guys ? I think you’re just haters of SWTOR from the beginning…

    • Sheng-ji says:

      @TidiusFF – No-one is seriously complaining that exploiters are being banned from the game – people are complaining about 2 things really -

      1) That there has been no guidance released as to what is and is not exploiting on this issue – many players are confused as to whether looting a high level chest is an exploit, whether looting multiple high level chests is, whether chest camping is, whether working together with another player to force that chest to respawn is, selling your loot that you gained by any of the above… if they would just make it clear what the exploit actually is, we would all know what not to do!

      2) EA Bans are often cited as being temporary yet suddenly turn perminent, EA feel that by placing you under a ban condition, they can erode your consumer rights (not allowing you to cancel your subscription) EA bans affect other games (If you are caught and banned for using an exploit in SWTOR, is it right that you can be locked out of your single player games?)

      We’re not haters, we’re concerned that there is no consistency, clarity of information and that our consumer rights are flagrantly being abused. Does that seem reasonable grounds to have a debate on the issue?

    • DiamondDog says:

      No Sheng, I do actually see a lot of people complaining that you can get banned for using an exploit.

      I do understand that the line between what is and isn’t acceptable hasn’t been explained. But you have to think, how many people did this? If it was such an unclear thing, why didn’t more people get caught up in it? It’s because doing it was outside of the normal game design and those that took part knew that.

      Just because someone hasn’t told you not to, doesn’t mean you automatically should. We have control over our own actions.

    • tetracycloide says:

      @alostsoldier; D; Psychochild; Grygus (especially you…); Archonsod; Kadayi (especially you…); diamonddog et al hereafter referred to as “sanctimonious jackasses:”

      You’re absolutely 100% correct. Everyone that uses an exploit should be banned immediately. Now we just need to define exploit.

      Exploit:

      The use of an unintended game mechanic.

      Well that’s not all that clear now is it? What does ‘unintended’ mean? Well it means a mechanic the game designers did not intend to be used in that way. How would anyone that’s not a designer of this game know the difference between an intended mechanic and an unintended one? Well, they wouldn’t and in fact could not know. You can pretend they can all you want by using loaded language like ‘obviously unintended,’ ‘exploitative,’ or ‘abusive’ but when it comes right down to it the only way to know what is intended and what isnot to be told by the game designers.

      Could any of the sanctimonious jackasses have known that this Ilum based activity was not tested in QA explicitly? How do you know they didn’t take some low level characters to Ilum in QA, attempt to get the chests to spawn as rapidly as possible, measure the rate at which the loot produced by the chests could be spawned using that technique, and then judge that spawn rate to be ‘balanced’ enough to keep in the game?

      Answer: The same way everyone else knows. There was press event surrounding some bans that made the game designers intent clear and explicit. Now you want to take that knowledge we only recently gain and pretend it was ‘obvious’ after the fact? No, that’s the historian’s fallacy. Those that received bans before hearing that this was actually an exploit are the tragic victims. Even if they thought what they were doing was an exploit they’re still tragic victims because there was simply no way of knowing before hand and the only way to find out was to do it and see if it was noticed. Repeat offenders and those that are surely going to read stories like this one and use them to take advantage of the still unpatched exploit can be rightly decried as ‘perpetrators’ but that’s a different situation entirely.

      P.S. Grygus, a car analogy? Really? Shameful. And Kadayi encouraging such absurdity? Even more shameful. The only way to bring your silly ‘radio left unlocked in a car’ story in line with the events on Ilum would be to modify past the point where it made sense because it will always remain a silly analogy between completely physical goods and crime with the completely immaterial and terms of service violations. At a minimum the set-up would need to be changed to a bin of car radios sitting on the side of the road with a sign that says ‘Take one radio per winner every time someone near the box wins an argument nearby.’ Pretending the behavior in an MMO can be rightfully compared with fucking crime is true cowardace born of fear of any kind of rational or reasoned debate. It’s a base attempt to paint any opposition as morally inferior before they even speak and it’s despicable.

    • DiamondDog says:

      Hey, why don’t I get capital letters?

    • Sheng-ji says:

      @Diamond Dog – I actually agree with you, however all the people complaining about it are talking about scenarios in which they would never get banned. This is why I think the real debate here is about Bioware not being clear enough about what constitutes an exploit and what doesn’t. Those who haven’t bothered to look into the actual reason for the banning and are talking from a point of knee-jerking ignorance should simply be ignored.

      I do think that it is a valid to say that there should have been a warning and character deletion before a ban – I personally think Bioware or EA are being way too trigger happy with the bans, given how far reaching those bans can be on the whim of a moderator. I also understand that every day, a new player will discover a new exploit and they can’t be expected to squash them all – that being said, given the time and money they had at their disposal as well as basing this on such a well established model of MMO, they really shouldn’t have had an exploit which is potentially ruining the game for everyone on the server this early – that really was an error for which they need to take responsibility for and indeed patch it out ASAP – not for the sake of those who would abuse the exploit, but for the sake of everyone else whose game is getting ruined!

    • nearly says:

      I think the car analogy is spot on given that all players have to agree to the Terms of Use which says that exploiting the game isn’t allowed. Clearly, if it wasn’t an exploit and low level players were supposed to have that gear, it would be in a low level area, and it wouldn’t be obtained by the game not functioning the way it was intended to (the alleged flip exploit). Saying nobody knew it was an exploit is like saying you just didn’t realize the unlocked car wasn’t being given away for free.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      The car analogy is stupid because the consequence of having your car stolen are not analogous to having someone use an exploit in a computer game.

      Do you understand how analogies are supposed to work?

    • Metriculated says:

      Warned .. Then banned! Seems pretty fucking logical action to me tetra. They aren’t tragic victims, they’re pretty fucking stupid opportunists who didn’t think they’d actually get banned after the warning…ooops wrong douchebag, banhammer inc.

    • j3w3l says:

      i really don’t see this as exploiting, exploiting is using game mechanics that are not working as intended or using mechanics as they were not meant to be used to form some sort of unfair advantage or for personal gain.
      while the people being banned are definitely in it for personal gain i do not see how this all is either not working as intended or using game mechanics in a way that is unintended. they gave everyone the ability to visit different zones from the ship, or change looting privileges on these too maybe once per day per person. if it was becoming an issue they should have just locked planets for certain lvl’s.

      i also fail to see the impact on the economy, as the items being looted are probably readily available (or crafted equivalent) and will be even more prevalent as the majority of the playerbase reaches cap.

      banning someone for this would be the same as banning someone who maybe tags along with higher lvl guildies for the xp

    • PeterS says:

      Sadly Lucas Arts solved this problem in the 80′s with a game called Habitat. They should read their own post mortem on it, esp the sections entitled “A Warning” and “Keeping ‘Reality’ Consistent.

      The Lessons of Lucasfilm’s Habitat
      by Chip Morningstar and F. Randall Farmer

      http://www.fudco.com/chip/lessons.html

    • Chris D says:

      @Peter S

      Thanks for the link. I found this story very interesting and relevant to the issue at hand.

      “A further example of working within the system, this time in a social sense, is illustrated by the following experience.

      One of the more popular events in Habitat took place late in the test, the brainchild of one of the more active players who had recently become a QuantumLink employee. It was called the “Dungeon of Death”. For weeks, ads appeared in Habitat’s newspaper, The Rant, announcing that that Duo of Dread, DEATH and THE SHADOW, were challenging all comers to enter their lair. Soon, on the outskirts of town, the entrance to a dungeon appeared. Out front was a sign reading, “Danger! Enter at your own risk!” Two system operators were logged in as DEATH and THE SHADOW, armed with specially concocted guns that could kill in one shot, rather than the usual twelve. These two characters roamed the dungeon blasting away at anyone they encountered. They were also equipped with special magic wands that cured any damage done to them by other Avatars, so that they wouldn’t themselves be killed. To make things worse, the place was littered with cul-de-sacs, pathological connections between regions, and various other nasty and usually fatal features. It was clear that any explorer had better be prepared to “die” several times before mastering the dungeon. The rewards were pretty good: 1000 Tokens minimum and access to a special Vendroid that sold magic teleportation wands. Furthermore, given clear notice, players took the precaution of emptying their pockets before entering, so that the actual cost of getting “killed” was minimal.

      One evening, one of us was given the chance to play the role of DEATH. When we logged in, we found him in one of the dead ends with four other Avatars who were trapped there. We started shooting, as did they. However, the last operator to run DEATH had not bothered to use his special wand to heal any accumulated damage, so the character of DEATH was suddenly and unexpectedly “killed” in the encounter. As we mentioned earlier, when an Avatar is killed, any object in his hands is dropped on the ground. In this case, said object was the special kill-in-one- shot gun, which was immediately picked up by one of the regular players who then made off with it. This gun was not something that regular players were supposed to have. What should we do?

      It turned out that this was not the first time this had happened. During the previous night’s mayhem the special gun was similarly absconded with. In this case, the person playing DEATH was one of the regular system operators, who, accustomed to operating the regular Q-Link service, had simply ordered the player to give the gun back. The player considered that he had obtained the weapon as part of the normal course of the game and balked at this, whereupon the operator threatened to cancel the player’s account and kick him off the system if he did not comply. The player gave the gun back, but was quite upset about the whole affair, as were many of his friends and associates on the system. Their world model had been painfully violated.

      When it happened to us, we played the whole incident within the role of DEATH. We sent a message to the Avatar who had the gun, threatening to come and kill her if she didn’t give it back. She replied that all she had to do was stay in town and DEATH couldn’t touch her (which was true, if we stayed within the system). OK, we figured, she’s smart. We negotiated a deal whereby DEATH would ransom the gun for 10,000 Tokens. An elaborate arrangement was made to meet in the center of town to make the exchange, with a neutral third Avatar acting as an intermediary to ensure that neither party cheated. Of course, word got around and by the time of the exchange there were numerous spectators. We played the role of DEATH to the hilt, with lots of hokey melodramatic shtick. The event was a sensation. It was written up in the newspaper the next morning and was the talk of the town for days. The Avatar involved was left with a wonderful story about having cheated DEATH, we got the gun back, and everybody went away happy.

      These two very different responses to an ordinary operational problem illustrate our point. Operating within the participants’ world model produced a very satisfactory result. On the other hand, taking what seemed like the expedient course, which involved violating the world-model, provoked upset and dismay. Working within the system was clearly the preferred course in this case. “

    • kavika says:

      @ChrisD: Thanks for reposting that story. I wouldn’t have read it otherwise! Perfect.

      Also, QLink was awesome in its day. Heard of habitat but never ended up playing it. Maybe I had to have an amiga…? Or maybe because I used QLink around the 1990 timeframe…

    • Memph says:

      That was a brilliant read. Although in that tale, unlike this one, the players that aquired the goodies did so courtesy of freak occurrences (one an operational mistake, one unexplained). They apparently didn’t seem to know at any point that aquisition of the gun was even possible, until it happened. Let alone do it repeatedly for many guns.

    • Kadayi says:

      @tetracycloide

      Plain truth of matter is if they allow this unforeseen ingame behaviour/ exploit (whatever you want to call it) to continue unchecked, until they get a fix in place (which will likely take some time as they’ll need to test out that it works ok) then they run the risk of those players throwing out the games broader economy, which impacts everyone across the board. Temp bans for persistent offenders seems a relatively sensible measure Vs say shutting down the entire game until it’s fixed no? (which is the other alternative).

      Also in future, stick to debating the subject rather than disparaging those you disagree with. It serves no great purpose and ironically makes you look well kind of, …. desperate really

      @ChrisD

      Yeah cute story dude, but as Memph points out the intent was different.

    • jrodman says:

      Hey all. It’s not about whether exploiters should receive punitive action, it’s about whether this is an exploit at all.

      There certainly has *not* been any information presented that makes it clear that this action is exploitative. Simply going to a specific zone and opening a chest seems a totally legitimate game action, and not an exploit.

      However, perhaps there was zone flipping collusion involved (a little gray). Or maybe there were methods employed that allowed them to easily travel there via software defects. Or perhaps some other unstated aspect?

      Certainly that the community post has not clarified any of this is a number of points against EA/BioWare’s credibility at being able to do this whole “Community Management” thing. Is that because they’re giving people temp bans for entirely reasonable actions, or because they’ve failed to effectively communicate? Who can say, but one of the two is true.

    • Whitechip says:

      @Lobotomist

      I see you didn’t understand/read the story so good job.

  2. Delixe says:

    This reminds me of a known exploit in DC Universe Online. Once you reach level 30 you can participate in raids one of which is Khandaq however the teleporter is available to anyone. You can go in solo and on the rooftops far from any threat spawns a chest every three days which will cough up a highly valuable weapon or armor piece but it’s completely random what you get. The thing is the Spawn is unique for that player another player can do exactly the same thing and the player can do it again in a group so you aren’t cheating anyone out of that loot. I can only imagine Bioware are doing this because it’s a unique spawn and that’s really a flaw in their game design.

    • fionny says:

      Its not Instanced the only reason this worked im guessing is there was naff all people levelled far enough to be in Ilum for it to be dangerous to farm there.

      Simple solution: Level Lock Area to 40+

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      Better solution: An elite level 40 who sits next to the chest.

      Bam.

      Problem solved.

    • Phantoon says:

      Even betterest solution: make the chest only accessible by level 40s.

  3. Ith says:

    Most of the bans that you hear about tend to be missing key points however think of the poor person that got banned for a week, decided to unsub from the game then found out that when your account is banned you cannot unsubscribe: http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=95431

    There was also quite a fun post on Nerd Age about the ToS for SWTOR and while it’s likely most games have very similar ToS:http://www.nerd-age.com/star-wars-the-old-republics-strange-tos/

    ” Section B6 of the terms of service state that “You may not engage in any conduct or practice that results in an Account containing items, objects, currency, character attributes, rank, or status that are inappropriate for the level or rank of the character contained in the Account, i.e., “item loading,”.” “

    • Milky1985 says:

      Wonder what would happen if the 7 day ban took you over the first month (into the time you had to pay), would they debit your account/card/paypal even tho your banned with no chance to cancel? Would assume not but then again some of the systems do seem to be a bit odd with the way they work atm :P

    • edrick says:

      If I was banned and unable to unsubscribe, I would contact my bank and tell them about the BS EA is pulling and get my money back.

    • SiHy_ says:

      I admit I know nothing of MMOs or their subscription policies but if it’s a regular payment from an account that you hold then surely you could just cancel payment, like cancelling a standing order or direct debit?
      It’s still bad form for a service to force payment though.

    • Dave Mongoose says:

      I’m pretty sure they won’t / can’t (legally) charge you for time while your account is banned – as far as I know it just gets put on hold, although obviously a permanent ban means you forfeit any remaining time.

    • Phantoon says:

      Since when has legality had anything to do with TOS agreements?

    • jrodman says:

      Dave: There isn’t a great deal of legal difference between continuing to charge you during a temporary ban vs refusing to refund unused pre-paid time for a permanent ban. They’re not identical, but in both cases you’re paying for services you aren’t receiving.

      That said, upstanding MMO operators typically refund unused *months* for account closures.

  4. UnravThreads says:

    Huh, that image almost made me think about buying it for a moment.

    Ahem. I would say that the more problematic bans for me are the ones relating to the private chat. I find that to be much more concerning – as someone who may possibly one day be interested enough to buy it – than them banning someone who bent the rules.

  5. JonasKyratzes says:

    It does seem very peculiar to punish players (i.e. paying customers) for what is essentially a design flaw in the product.

    • LionsPhil says:

      It does seem to be a serious game design gap that you can walk into a high-level area, take stuff, and walk out without any high-level threats. If valuable resources are easily obtainable, people are going to go for them, in singleplayer, multiplayer, MMOs, or real life!

      So really it sounds like they need to put some ‘orrible things around those boxes that punch low-level players right in the hitpoints.

    • skalpadda says:

      It’s certainly a bit peculiar that you’d single out Bioware for this. Blizzard have temp banned entire raid groups for using perfectly normal tactics involving positioning or engineering items that let them bypass boss fight mechanics.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      I have to agree with skalpadda here. MMO bans for cases much less obvious have been known to occur. Which is why I’m a little puzzled why theres all this EA/Bioware animosity over this particular issue.

      Could they have resolved this better? Most likely. But I don’t think they ought to be blamed for the possibility of exploits. Because that leads to a paranoid way of thinking. “TRUST NOONE! Especially not the customer. They can’t be allowed any freedom, because you can see where it leads to!”

      The question is whether they could have foreseen and easily fixed the possibility for exploits in this case without harming the gameplay of other players. As it is it’s a bit of a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation, although as I said, they didn’t choose the best solution.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Probably because there is an awful lot of bad feelings over EA bans. This is a natural consequence of the PR screwup that EA/Origin have perpetrated.

    • Phantoon says:

      You said it yourself, Blizzard has done X, and X is what people expect in a game that’s a lot like warcraft. Being the first massively accessible MMO means you set the new normal, and they have. And that’s not to say people didn’t complain about those in the beginning.

      But generally now it’s accepted you can game the auction house, because that’s the whole point of having a capitalist system in your game. EVE is an extreme example, but as it is, so is its lack of restrictions.

      If you’re going to make a wow killer that’s like wow, it has to be better, and better is rarely “more restrictive”. If they didn’t want people to game the auction house, they should’ve made it so you couldn’t resell something you bought, or just take out the auction part entirely and have set rates.

      I mean, the entire design aspect of the game screams “want an MMO’s recurring payments, don’t want to make an MMO”

  6. roBurky says:

    This sounds like exactly the lunacy it first appeared to be. When you make a game all about getting rewards, and some things give better rewards than others, then those looking for challenge within your game will find it in trying to get the best rewards faster / earlier / more efficiently. That is practically the core game when you go down the road of the typical MMORPG.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      Agree. Like in many MMO’s – sometimes a monster’s drop table may be favorable to higher value items, so those creatures are always getting hunted more then others. Looting chests or mining high value crafting nodes is no different. If a developer doesn’t intend for them to be camped, then impose limitations based on whatever criteria suits the situation. Long respawn timers and random locations is an easy fix, or even just level restrictions based on the map’s intended player range..

    • Lacero says:

      This is well put. Optimising the path through the game IS the game.

    • Beardface says:

      Seriously, are people so eager to hate on TOR and EA that suddenly banning people for using is exploits in an MMO is seen as a new and weird thing to do? What the fuck is wrong with you guys?

    • CrookedLittleVein says:

      @Beardface

      Y u no use rational human thought?

    • dsi1 says:

      They weren’t hacking into the game or anything, they were just min-maxing their time. Bioware should fix the issue and (if there were major economical repercussions from their failure in design) revert the proceeds from the largest users.

    • Wisq says:

      It sounded like the problem was that they were unbalancing the economy, i.e. selling the items they received for a quick buck that a low level isn’t supposed to be able to make.

      That also happens to be a gold farmer’s dream exploit, BTW. Get banned? No problem, start a new account and get doing it again very fast with minimal levelling needed.

    • piratmonkey says:

      “First, action was taken against a number of accounts for what’s commonly known as ‘gold farming’ – or in our case, credit farming. Our Terms of Service team took action against these accounts and removed them permanently from the game…Second, a smaller number of accounts were warned or temporarily suspended for exploiting loot containers on Ilum…None of these accounts were banned for their actions and no accounts have been banned for travelling to Ilum while still relatively low level.”
      People who are banned are not “playing the game.” They are doing something explicitly against ToS. People who are exploiting were warned, not banned.
      READ the ToR post.

    • jrodman says:

      piratmonkey,
      reading the post is not sufficient because it seems to suggest that merely looting chests often is exploitative, which is ludicrous. The most plausible situation is that there is more to it, but this post does not do much to reduce confusion, but rather increases it.

      A typical blizzard (the experienced folks) post would say something like.

      “A number of users were warned or temporarily suspended for taking exploitative actions regarding the looting of chests in Ilum. Because we do not discuss banning actions in detail, that is not the full scenario, but that 1 – the actions taken were definitely in excess of “frequent looting” and were communicated to be a non-allowed action as a warning before any temporary bans were issued; 2 – we will be removing the possibility to exploit the game in the way these users did in a future patch.”

      Then everyone would be on the right page. Looting chests is not an exploit, other things are, and if those other, unnamed actions are, EA/BioWare will be an effective communicator to you, the player, in such a situation.

      Of course, they didn’t do that, so we’re guessing.

    • piratmonkey says:

      It is the fact that the users were flipping zone control with alts or other faction members, repeatedly in a short time frame in order to exploit the mechanics of respawning chests.
      They stated that it will be fixed as well.

  7. Lazaruso says:

    The way you’ve worded everything so that this Bioware employee and his company appear to be the good guys:
    “makes it clear”
    “explains”
    “stresses that those who are receiving bans”

    where an unbiased party would have said
    “lies through his teeth”
    “punches a baby”
    “stresses that Bioware is evil and the world is doomed”

    makes it clear that Bagpuss was right all along. RPS has sold out to the evil corporations!

  8. Raiyan 1.0 says:

    Bagpuss incoming with claims of John’s bias for quoting Bioware devs in 3… 2… 1…

    • Lazaruso says:

      Are you saying you can’t see the bias inherent in John only quoting the Bioware employee and leaving out any mention of the people that have been tortured, injured and killed by this despicable *shudder* – Video Game Publisher? What about their story?!

  9. jellydonut says:

    I agree entirely with you, but I think we expect too much from these devs after dealing with EVE. Gamers want walled gardens where the devs take care of them, they don’t want a cutthroat world where they are free to innovate and do whatever they want. If they did, EVE would have similar competitors. It has none, aside from a tiny Hungarian robot game that has cloned EVE’s mechanics ca. 2003 and is only played by EVE vets.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Yes, I suspect that EVE is cool to read about, but most people might get peeved if their hours of work was undone within half an hour by an act of subterfuge and backstabbing somewhere up the chain of command. I can find losing everything fun, but only if I don’t invest too much time or mental energy in creating it.

    • Memph says:

      But that’s the thrill no? I’m sure noone goes icefall climbing without thinking ‘i might die’. Though i am indeed the same. I’d be thinking ahead at it all going wrong and want it played safe, hence in Terraria when it offered my character would be dead forever in hardcore mode, I promptly clicked softcore and exclaimed that particular noise could be fucked.

    • WHS says:

      I think the point is that hardly anyone goes icefall climbing, period.

    • kyrieee says:

      It’s not like EVE is a mid 90′s MMO where people line up outside town to gank newbies. You won’t get killed without a reason and you won’t get scammed if you stay aware.

    • jrodman says:

      @kyrieee: Regarding eve: “You won’t get killed without a reason.” While this may be true, the reason is fairly like to be “the other player can.”

  10. DiamondDog says:

    Not exactly the same but it reminds me of the early days of WoW when people would just wander all over the map seeing how far they could push the edges, finding gaps through the worlds. It’s always going to happen.

    They should fix the game if someone has found an exploit, but at the same time just because you’ve found an exploit that is to your gain, you don’t have to use it. You are choosing to do something that you know is outside the design of the game. It’s going to have risks.

    • Wisq says:

      This statement works perfectly fine when it’s obvious that you’ve found an exploit.

      But where do you draw the line when it comes to exploit versus smart gameplay? Going into an area under-levelled isn’t exploiting on its own. In fact, if you’re a really skilled player, or you’ve min-maxed perfectly and can handle the creatures in the area as long as you deal with them carefully, then you’re just playing really well rather than exploiting.

      Going into an area and looting chests and stuff is not too far different from that. The risk is that you’ll get too close to a creature and get jumped and die. The reward is that if you can pull it off, you’ll get some high level loot. Given that games (and life) are very often about trading risk for reward, this starts to seem like a very legit part of the game. Particularly in a game that features things like smugglers, a classic “risk versus reward” archetype, known for doing unscrupulous things to make money.

      Then, suddenly, the company comes in and say “oh, sorry, that was an oversight, not an intentional part of the game. And by the way, the ones of you that were playing this little unintentional minigame? Bans for the lot of you.”

    • jrodman says:

      I’d say it’s somewhat comparable.

      Wow: walking up a hill.

      SWTOR: opening a chest.

      Both seem defensibly normal.
      The WOW case is a bit more boundary-pushing, of course. You can end up in places which are clearly not developed, and you can end up in vantages where you can attack people and they can’t fight back (a much more clear cut exploit).

  11. AMonkey says:

    So basically Bioware left in a game breaking exploit (or at least they think so or wouldn’t ban people for being creative) and are banning people instead of fixing it. Ok.

    • Kadayi says:

      No, by the sounds of it they’ve become aware of an exploit, politely told people to avoid using it (as in the TOS) until it is addressed (as invariably these things are) and temp banning those who refuse to comply. I’m not really seeing the problem tbh.

    • Wisq says:

      The problem with these sorts of cases is, you can’t publicly request people not to exploit it, because that will increase the exploit rate (particularly amongst those with for-profit throwaway accounts like gold farmers), not reduce it. But that also means you can’t warn everyone at once.

      The proper and responsible thing to do at this point is to warn people and watch them very closely to make sure they comply. Perhaps even just lock them out of the game area in question. The asshat thing is to tempban them long enough that it’s fixed before they can rejoin. Choose wisely, for ye shall be judged accordingly.

      The stupid thing is, banning people these days means they’re going to go to their nearest games journo site and talk about the exploit, which is in turn going to publicise the exploit pretty darn quickly. So you get bad PR for banning people, and the same effect as if you’d just asked people not to exploit it in the first place — which is what you were presumably trying to avoid by banning them rather than publicly warning everyone in the first place. Good job.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Wisq

      They’ve knowingly breached the TOS. There’s nothing asshat about it at all. Just because the speed cameras out doesn’t mean it’s somehow ok to break the limit until it’s been fixed.

  12. His Dudeness says:

    So next time a car maker botched their design and/or production, rather than to recall the cars and fix the problem they’ll just go and repossess the ‘offending’ cars at the owners loss and ban the owners from ever owning a car of their marquee ever again, right? Way to go!

    m(

    • D says:

      This analogy is so far out, it doesn’t make any sense. Let’s try and fix that. So lets say, the motor company made a car that could friggin FLY. People were buying this car, and finding out that hey, they can get to work twice as fast if they just push the correct button sequence. In this thought experiment, yes, THEN the government forces would probably go in and take the cars away, and leave the owners with legal battles against the motor company, to reclaim their costs. But the point of the whole analogy is then, that people SHOULD HAVE KNOWN NOT TO FLY in the first place, without the proper licenses for the vehicle.

    • gnodab says:

      @D you Sir win the internet!

      I think everybody should call their characters K and play Der Prozess of the Old Republic

  13. One Million Monkeys says:

    As Mr Walker writes: And hell, the game lets you play as a smuggler!

    Actually, you should be banned if you play as a smuggler and don’t exploit this kind of opportunity.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Instead of a ban, EA should just send the troopers after him. If he can fly off (having first shot and killed a bounty hunter), dodge laser fire from the guards who bust into his hangar seconds too late, evade a star destroyer and lose them by hiding in their cast-off wreckage, he can keep his account.

    • Buttless Boy says:

      How about: if you can make the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs, you can keep the loot.

    • One Million Monkeys says:

      Question is: Will he be banned if EA found out, he shot first!?

    • Hoaxfish says:

      It seems a pity that both smuggler and bounty hunter are just class names tied to the specific factions, rather than meaningful game-mechanics involving criminal activity… especially given that their respective representations in the films and other fiction are probably the most characterful, even when compared against Jedi/Sith.

  14. Memph says:

    As much as it pains me to say, i’m with EA on this’un. If he’s just able to get there, get some stuff and be on his way fair enough. But if he’s stood there for hours on end, or all-day, everyday as some of these people seem to manage somehow, doing nothing but looting that chest, preventing anyone else from access and well beyond the point of having everything he could possibly get for that character from it, then let the banhammer fall. That’s from someone who once camped Time-Lost Protodrake spawn too. Any other MMO would have rolled the same result.

    Like it or not these exploits get found, and to be fair they’re not always obvious in games this massive until some clever/lucky bugger comes along. Would noone think it’s the user’s responsibility for a social game (emphasis on social) that they take part in to have reported this exploit, or that he’s really ok to just go ahead and start lining his pockets to the detriment of others?

    Being honest now; one time Guild Wars borked and the vendors just happened to be selling certain items for a damn sight cheaper than they were buying them. I happened upon this by sheer chance, advised a friend and set about making around 300 plat on the spot (could have been 999+ if i’d had the inclination or the want to really take the piss). I did not report it knowing a friend of mine had, but if i’d have been banned (not even temp banned) i’d have known exactly why and would have been a total non-issue. I knew the risk when i did it.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      If it’s the particular guild wars market-borking I’m thinking of, they performed a roll-back and fixed it within a few days/a week. Though I think GW’s design was much less troubled by such shenanigans with its low level cap and base-line equipment.

  15. Wizardry says:

    Isn’t this supposed to be an RPG? Surely you should be allowed to do anything the game lets you do.

    • Berzee says:

      Nope, rather than program it so that certain chests can only be looted by certain level characters (the obvious solution if you can’t balance the economy), from the official explanation it sounds like these chests are now essentially a trap laid out for people who are just too clever or efficient.

      “Nuanced”, pffaw. (Though since the article here says that it was silly to punish the players, I will not complain about the headline anymore =)

      Reminds me of the story I heard about Everquest, where standing on top of a particular hut and shooting monsters would get you banned for “perching”…instead of making it so that you cannot stand on the hut. o_O

      Turbine had the right idea with Asheron’s Call. If something went wrong in that game they would fix it and perhaps offer an apologetic bonus to people who were harmed by the bug or exploit. If it was something like duping, they’d remove the duped items and fix the bug. If it was something less dishonest than duping (like simply finding a place where the loot was accidentally better than intended) they would commend your crafty ways and then fix the problem. If something DISASTROUS happened, they would do something like roll back the server to before the bug had ruined everything, and then give everyone bonus XP gains or something like that along with a letter of sincere apology and explanation.

      That level of responsibility-taking was awesome, as opposed to “Dear consumer, if you surprise us, we will hurt you.”

      The Turbine team might have a different approach nowadays, I’m not sure. But back when MMORPGs were new and fresh and full of noble excitement and experimentation, they were quite willing to admit to their mistakes and leave everyone but the obvious cheaters (i.e. running third-party lag machines and suchlike) alone.

    • Wizardry says:

      So they are banning people from a supposed RPG for exploiting the exploitable? They are punishing their customers for their own mistakes? Players are being punished for BioWare’s poor RPG mechanics? Try looting a high level chest with a low level character in a decent RPG and you’ll get a face full of death as you set off a trap.

      How can you play the role of a daring thief who likes to sneak past powerful enemies to find mountains of treasure if you get banned for it? This is why those people who claim that the only true CRPGs are MMORPGs are wrong.

    • Memph says:

      Never been to Stratholme eh Wiz?

    • D says:

      Again, in this thread, a complete lack of understanding what the exploit is actually about.

    • Berzee says:

      “This is why those people who claim that the only true CRPGs are MMORPGs are wrong.”

      Wait, are there actually people who claim that? That would be a very…odd sort of claim.

    • Wizardry says:

      @D: Explain to me and perhaps then I can show you how wrong you are.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      Didn’t it require collusion between 2 players on different “sides” and was a purely mechanical exploit, i.e. something that they didn’t even try to explain away as in character?

      Let ‘em have it in that case.

    • Berzee says:

      That would add a pretty interesting element to the situation. Does it say anything about that in this article or the official explanation, that I missed? Or would I just have had to be playing, to know? =)

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      @Berzee: that was hinted at in one of the previous articles, but not mentioned here. Don’t know if that is the case… supposition on my part. Apologies.

    • Wizardry says:

      Am I missing something? What’s wrong with collusion in an RPG?

    • Berzee says:

      Wizardry — working together is only a bad thing in *multiplayer* rpg’s.

      If it really was players on different sides, though — well, the game is (from what I can tell) designed as though the opposite sides were never supposed to interact in any way except killing each other. So I suppose it would take some outside-the-game-system cooperation.

      Of course no one will actually explain exactly what needed to be done in order to get the loot, and I’m too lazy to go look it up, so maybe we will never know. =P

    • Wizardry says:

      Yeah. Looks that way.

      I think this is all just incredibly stupid. MMORPGs should be multi-player game worlds running on a set of rules. Players should be free to do whatever they want inside them. If they find weaknesses in some of the rules and discover exploits then fair enough. Let them. It’s only when exploiting becomes so common that the designers’ vision of the game is not being adhered to that action should be taken. When a significant chunk of the player base is bunny hopping around a believable fantasy world then there’s a problem. The actions taken should be in fixing the game world and rules. Patches.

    • Berzee says:

      Or in some cases, if the exploits turn out to add depth and hilarity to the combat, you just add patches to make them work better. ;) Oh, Asheron’s Call, your slidecasting will never be equaled.

    • Wizardry says:

      Sure, but that’s usually up to the designers to bicker over. The young guns may have to convince the stubborn old overlords that their game is more fun to play with unbelievable mechanics.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      I think it was mentioned that flipping control of a sector/planet etc. makes the chests respawn – so an exploit would be characters on oposing sides flipping control and looting the chests as that happened.

    • apollyonbob says:

      Metagaming is, by definition, not preventable from within the game. There is nothing that prevents you, in game, from going outside the game to break the game.

      I mean, I’m not certain how you would actually expect an MMO designer to make it so that metagaming isn’t physically possible.

      And yes, colluding with the opposing team is metagaming. There is no “Talk to Republic soldier about letting him flip the planet to his side, then back to our side, so that all the chests respawn” button. That button does not exist. To do that you must go outside the game. How is it that this should be allowed?

    • jrodman says:

      AS A CLASS: Preventing this kind of metagaming is not possible.

      ON AN INSTANCE BY INSTANCE BASIS: Preventing these kinds of problems is very much possible.

      IN THIS SPECIFIC CASE: Add a minimum timer for the zone flipping to occur, or to matter. Duh?

      If you can’t see what a zone flip benefit to players is going to give you in terms of player actions, then you haven’t played MMOs before.

    • jrodman says:

      Note that the problems presented here are *very* similar to computer and software security.

      How can you make a system perfectly secure? You can’t.

      How can you make a system secure definitely secure against attacks you don’t yet know about? You can’t.

      So we can’t make secure software! Youre useless.

      No, we can make software much much more secure by many methods. We can make components validate the data they are given. We can remove trust relationships between parties. We can catalogue and enumerate classes of attacks and analyse our system to see if those attacks could work against our system. We can identify specific ways these types of attacks could work. We can then deploy good mitigation systems that make these attacks relatively non-problematic.

      It’s not rocket science. It’s a fairly well understood corner of systems design. It’s hard to do a really good job, but if you are selling software to be used in the real world then it’s something you need to take seriously.

      Similarly, if you are selling an MMO to be played by people in the real world, you need to take your systems design criticism seriously. If there’s an obvious easily-achievable result you don’t want, you need to design it out. A flip mechanic is a red flag. It should not be a surprise now.

  16. amagrude says:

    This is absolutely 100% the right thing to do.

    Those that are critical of this have never actually run an MMO before and are just flat-out ignorant or just hating.

    These two facts are true:

    1) There are always bugs in software.
    2) Players who “cheat” or otherwise create a negative play experience drive away at least 5x their number. (/points at Ultima Online as the prototypical example of this.)

    So given that these players are creating a bad play experience for others – by *knowingly* exploiting the game (and NOT by actually game play) – it’s absolutely the right thing to do these bans. Those players know *exactly* what they’re doing is wrong. I have absolutely no sympathy for them. This is standard practice for all online games (that actually care about their customers.)

    • Drake Sigar says:

      Whenever a new video game hits the market emphasising freedom, we are compelled to test the limits, to try to break it, to do the exact opposite of what it wants us to do.

    • rayne117 says:

      “This is absolutely 100% the right thing to do.”

      Wrong. So wrong.

      The correct thing to do is to put a command onto the chests that say “Under level 40/You cannot open.”

      BUT THAT’S TOO HARD

    • Berzee says:

      Here is a high level zone.
      “Can I go there now?”

      Yes! By all means, it is dangerous, but you can explore.
      “Yay! Can I look for treasure chests?”

      Certainly, feel free.
      “Woo, can I open them?”

      But of course. Go ahead, take a look.
      “Oo! Good items, can I take one?”

      Naturally, items can be taken. Enjoy!
      “Sweeet. Can I take all the items?”

      Yes you can, and enjoy the beautiful artifacts you have discovered.
      “Awesome…oh look, another chest. I wonder what’s in
      BANNED
      for doing what you KNOW is wrong

      Man, if I played that game, I would be afraid to be frugal with my in-game currency, for fear I would unwittingly accumulate too much and be…reformed.

    • D says:

      @Berzee Strawman due to not understanding the exploit.

    • Berzee says:

      I understand the exploit — spend a few days looting a bunch of stuff you shouldn’t be able to get, sell it, completely ruin the in-game economy balance. Right? I had to work it out for myself because you didn’t give me more than the barest hint (leading to my searching for your other comments here and piecing them together, a fun detective exercise all round) but I think that’s the gist of it. Is there something more at stake that I missed?

      Be that as it may, the essence of the ruling is that doing a clever thing once is clever, and doing it too much is evil. If they are going to enforce this rule, at least they should give a clear indication of precisely how many chests you can loot before it becomes bannable. They’ve already said one chest is fine, so howzabout two? Three? If they put a limit at three chests, at least people would have a clear rule to follow. Even putting a limit of zero chests would be better. =P

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      Berzee: I think the ruling is basically “don’t be a dick about it” – obviously the type of person who repeats the exploit to find exactly where that limit is is, well, being a dick about it…

    • D says:

      I think the point it becomes unacceptable is when you create an ALT CHARACTER to help you perform the exploit. Clearly outside the bounds of the “warzone rewards” mechanics. But thanks for being courteous in your reply.

    • Berzee says:

      Yeah, that’s a bit fishy there…
      So why is it okay to do it once or twice? Is it something that you can do once with a single character but need an alt in order to reset it and do it multiple times?

      You’ll notice that my imaginary dialogue betwixt player and game all centers around the fact that they’re told it’s okay to loot SOME chests, just not vaguely “too many”.

      Is it just that there’s a per-character timer on the chests or something? Or is it a more complicated system beyond my hasty assumptions? =p

      Also: if the alt character is what makes it unacceptable…they probably should say that in the new rules and it would clear up a fair bit. =)

    • Memph says:

      I got banned for rolling a nazi gnome and recruiting for scientology in Ironforge whilst dealing in the finest in french retro porn site passwords. Some RPG, WHERE IS MY FREEDOM?
      Come on there has to be limits. And in a social game there has to be fairness.

      Think sports; you play with others. If you cheat, knowingly pack an unfair advantage and/or play outside the rules you can rightfully get the boot. You CAN hand-to-ball in foot-to-ball, if you’re caught though you’re arse-to-bench.

      Being overly pedantic over what numbers are right or wrong, if 6 is a ban and 5 isn’t, seems pointless and unrealistic. Exploiters don’t arse around, if they can keep on looting that chest, they will. If they can keep winning with minimal effort, they will.
      Thing is, the folks who run these games know what you’ve looted and when. They know how much money you’ve gained, how and when. The sub-issue of picking out who’s really taking the piss and who isn’t by decimals isn’t going be worthy of long debate.

    • D says:

      Of course it’s complicated. If it was as simple as looting a chest once or twice, there wouldn’t be people on here talking about how it’s the right move to ban the players. It’s completely obviously an exploit for the people doing it, as (I’d argue) ALL exploits are. Trying to give an informed opinion without any of the information mostly just contributes to the noise-to-signal ratio (and No, explaining the exploit would not benefit anyone, I think), and furthermore it ends up being support for the players who are _knowingly_ exploiting, harming other people in the economy, and helping them validate their actions in their own minds. Instead of that happening, these people should be unanimously told to stop being fuckwits, so they don’t have that justification.

      TL;DR: You’re all nice people (except the few), but don’t jump to conclusions.

    • Berzee says:

      Well, since explaining the exploit is a Bad Idea, I’ll just go on making strawmen. ;) Here’s one:

      SOLUTION: NPC guards in battlegrounds that have to be defeated before Epic Victory can be declared. They’ve had them since DAoC at least.

      /armchairMMORPGdesigner

      Edit: All that said, if the action breaks game code (as in, the programmer goes “WHOA I never programmed THAT!”) then I can accept it as an exploit. If it simply breaks the designer’s imagination (as in “WHOA I never realized that would be possible in my bug-free system but turns out it IS!”) then I would prefer it not to be a bannable offense even if someone doing it makes my own character seem destitute by comparison.

      If the rules specifically forbid cooperation between realms, and it requires cooperation between realms for this to be accomplished, then I call it fishy. If one or both of those things isn’t true, then it doesn’t sound fishy to me. =) Speaking of course from an uninformed position, because this is the internet and I make do with what I can get.

    • Consumatopia says:

      I don’t want to see the bug report for the exploit, but I would like some hint that there is something more substantial than Berzee’s scenario. I’d like to see the word “bug” “design flaw” “game imbalance to be rectified soon”. Since D seems to think they have a good idea exactly what the exploit was, and even blames the rest of us for continuing to have doubts (while also ironically blaming us for “jumping to conclusions”), then I can’t see why they can’t admit that there is, actually, a bug or flaw. If there is one.

      “systematically and repeatedly looting containers in very high numbers resulting in the game economy becoming unbalanced” could be anything. It makes it sound like it’s merely a problem of imbalanced level design.

      “If it was as simple as looting a chest once or twice, there wouldn’t be people on here talking about how it’s the right move to ban the players.

      I have never, ever seen any action taken by any public or private authority that didn’t have somebody willing to defend it. Some folks are pissed at exploiters and that’s going to color their view of any “exploit” related controversy.

      It’s completely obviously an exploit for the people doing it, as (I’d argue) ALL exploits are.

      Case in point. “Exploit” is a subjective term, and I have no reason to trust any third party to perform that subjective interpretation both fairly and secretly. I won’t buy “I know it when I see it”, unless I can see it too.

      Trying to give an informed opinion without any of the information mostly just contributes to the noise-to-signal ratio

      Right, but Bioware is trying to hide that information. Whatever reason Bioware has for hiding that information, you cannot blame the public for having doubts about Bioware because of incomplete information.

      (and No, explaining the exploit would not benefit anyone, I think),

      Either the players have a good idea what kind of thing the exploit is, in which case there’s no harm to slightly more detail, or they don’t, in which case we can’t be blamed for our suspicions.

      and furthermore it ends up being support for the players who are _knowingly_ exploiting, harming other people in the economy, and helping them validate their actions in their own minds. Instead of that happening, these people should be unanimously told to stop being fuckwits, so they don’t have that justification.

      I think it is totally reasonable to suspend players for “flipping” control of areas to gain loot until you patch the bug, if that is indeed the exploit. However, I don’t think there’s any categorical morality about this. It’s like counting cards in Vegas–I understand why it pisses the house off, but I don’t really care. I don’t blame the house for kicking them out, but I also don’t blame the counter for trying.

    • D says:

      Good points and I won’t even berate you for doing the old-forum style sentence by sentence breakdown. I liked your comments and am willing to give you most of your points, but a few
      - Yes, I do assume to know what the banning was for. This could be completely incorrect, but I choose to take EA’s word that what was happening, was a massive influx of items/credits – not just someone camping a container for a while – and I read about the known exploit that does this. I try not to jump to conclusions, but it fits too well here.
      - The reason Bioware hides this information is clear, and completely normal procedure. However many people already know about an exploit, it’s never advisable to let more in on it until it’s fixed. Therefore we, the public, should be smart enough not to panic at their press release “bans for looting containers”.
      - This isn’t just cheating Bioware (the house) out of a few months of grinding subscription. It helps flood the economy for everyone, leading to a broken part of an mmo that can’t be fixed without a clean-slate wipe. It’s anti-social to see this kind of “advantage” and think “I can make a quick buck here” rather than be concerned with the implications for everyone else.

  17. Was Neurotic says:

    Since when did the word ‘cheaters’ become synonymous with ‘canny customers’? This is a rather pathetic attempt at playing ‘Kick The Evil Mega-Corp’. :P

    • Hammurabi says:

      Oh yeah, the cash register lock is a little off and easy to jimmy open. The new Supersafe(tm) register won’t be hear for a few more days. Therefore it is acceptable and expected for customers to steal as much as they can fit in their pockets. Go ahead, because without that lock there would be no way you could tell it was wrong.

    • Stupoider says:

      Quick, think of an analogy! Maybe that’ll justify what they’re doing!

    • Hammurabi says:

      Look! Big distracting thing!
      Hey! Where’d the topic go?

      Analogies are meant to aid in understanding. And, I stand by the comparison that failure to lock something down is not tacit permission to exploit it.

    • Bhazor says:

      Internet arguments can go one of two ways.

      Degrees of Hitler
      or
      My analogy is better than your analogy.

      On RPS we stick with the latter. For every single gosh darned topic.

      I recommend using it as a drinking game. Go to a piracy thread and take a shot whenever they use an analogy. At least that way you’ll be too drunk to reach the end of the thread.

    • Lacero says:

      Taking a shot every time everyone uses an analogy is like fascism.

    • Berzee says:

      BETTER ANALOGY (i win yesss)

      You know those “Have a penny give a penny, need a penny take a penny” trays by the cash register? This is kind of like filling one of those with twenties and then being surprised when someone tries to take more than one, and arresting them for shoplifting.

      Edit: As my mother says, “Hey don’t knock my analogies. They are few and far between…..like the seasons.”

      Edit2: I realize my analogy doesn’t actually describe the real problem, now that the real problem with the respawning-epic-battleground-loot has been partly explained to me. But I maintain it is a vastly, NAY, embarrassingly superior analogy than any other analogy that could or ever will be made, as regards the simple loot problem we all imagine to the in question here, even if it doesn’t describe the complicated actual problem. =D

    • Hammurabi says:

      I think Degrees of Hitler is very similar to analogy anyway. Its more simile than metaphor, but I would argue that they are close kin.

    • Hammurabi says:

      (This is fun)

      You know those “Have a penny give a penny, need a penny take a penny” trays by the cash register? This is kind of like filling one of those with twenties and then being surprised when someone tries to take more than one, and arresting them for shoplifting.

      If instead of “arrest” you meant that the merchant that runs the store tells you that he doesn’t like that you took all that, and asks you to leave, but you can come back later after you’ve had some time to think about what you’ve done.

      Edit: You win. Your caveat that you acknowledge the inability of your analogy to encompass the problem while simultaneously being superior to all possible other analogies trumps anything I have to offer. Except for this –> mine’s better X infinity.

    • Berzee says:

      Well ACTUALLY I was thinking about it from the character’s perspective. Yeah, I totally was doing that I realize now retroactively. The character is not only arrested but also placed into a coma for the duration.

      Edit: “mine’s better X infinity.” — curses! I’ll get you next time, you cheeky commenter

    • jrodman says:

      Is Degrees of Hitler like the Kevin Bacon game? Or is it more like a naughty version?
      Also, who goes first?

  18. Drake Sigar says:

    EA’s solution is to ban players instead of fixing the problem? That doesn’t sound like them.

    • Lazaruso says:

      That doesn’t even make sense. Banning players *is* fixing the problem. You might want to make sure your brain is connected to your fingers before you post again, it’ll help you avoid spewing more unintelligible, false, and libellous garbage about EA.

    • D says:

      So you’ll be surprised when a patch comes along that fixes this exploit? I mean it’s EITHER/OR, they can’t both ban offending players AND fix the problem, right? Sounds like you’re expecting them to fix bugs before they even know about them. Damn them EA, for never investing in a timemachine.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I believe their solution is:

      a. try and fix it.
      b. ban everyone using it in the meantime.

      Frankly though “the meantime” is going to be quite a long while from the looks of how they’re handling the game in general.

    • Fiatil says:

      There are about a dozen ways that you can fix this in game instead of just banning people. It seems like something really obvious that they should have caught during their very lengthy beta. Here’s this chest with extremely nice loot that anyone can loot regardless of level or merit! No way will your average min-maxing MMO player exploit the hell out of that huh? If a GM warns you first and then you get banned, sure fine, but the phrasing of the press release makes it sound like your “warning” is the temporary ban.

      If there’s a bug in a patch that suddenly makes Force Lightning do 5x damage, do you ban everyone for using it because it’s not what the devs intended? I guess I’m crazy for thinking that fixing the problem makes a lot more sense.

    • D says:

      “Fixing the problem instantaneously” may make a lot of sense for a person who doesn’t work on large scale programming projects. “Don’t understand how they didn’t see this in beta” is exactly the same. Stop and consider how many other exploits AREN’T in the game, because they caught them in time.

    • Drake Sigar says:

      The problem needs to be addressed at its source. Banning people won’t stop them exploiting the game, it’ll just train them to get around it. I am very doubtful their somewhat vague system is up to coping with human ingenuity.

    • Fiatil says:

      It’s an extremely dumb system. This isn’t some sort of weird glitch where you fall through the world into an epic monster’s cave and can all of a sudden loot all of his stuff; it’s a design decision that is very very stupid. I’m not calling for them to magically instantly fix something, but it amazes me that the devs, after being able to look at WoW and every other MMO that’s ever been released decided “Let’s do it! Let’s put epic loot into a chest with no lock or level requirement!” I understand that bugs happen, but this isn’t even a bug. It’s a terrible design decision that they’re covering up by banning people.

      There are MMOs with stuff like this where players loot certain areas for the entirety of the game’s existence and it’s completely encouraged by the staff working on it. It’s a terrible design decision then, but it’s even worse when it exists and the devs say “No! You’re looting that chest full of good loot and getting money! Banned!” If a dev studio wants to prevent a low level player from getting high level loot, they implement the limitation within the game! It’s really not hard.

    • D says:

      Good arguments but I don’t think you understand the idea – Bioware obviously wants low-level players to be able to loot the containers. That’s why there is no “< level 40" check. But they also want the containers to respawn after an epic battle between the two factions, as a reward for the winning side. So the problem comes from having a warzone that is devoid of players, and a fast respawning mechanic for high-level containers, that can be farmed and flood the markets. I'll be surprised if their fix in the end is just a level-lock on the containers.

    • Berzee says:

      Ohhhh, so it’s not really related to the player level very much at all then. A level 40 character doing this would still have nearly the same effect.

    • Fiatil says:

      Ahh, yeah then that’s sort of a different problem from what I gathered from following the posts here. It still seems sort of silly, but I guess I would need more hands on experience to know exactly what’s going on. Your explanation sort of makes sense, but not completely. These containers respawn after a faction battle, and there aren’t enough high level people to be doing the battles on the norm; sure that makes sense. But apparently they’re still respawning on some timer? Or two guys fighting each other is enough to trigger the “epic battle” and make the containers spawn unnecessarily fast because there aren’t enough for longer battles? It still sounds to me like that was something that could be easily predicted, but again I could definitely go for a more clear explanation. For once it actually sounds like I agree with Wizardy, so I’ll keep watch on your replies to him as well; it sounds like we all need clarification on what’s actually going on.

    • Consumatopia says:

      But they also want the containers to respawn after an epic battle between the two factions, as a reward for the winning side

      This is a design flaw. There shouldn’t be that asymmetry in which the rewards for taking territory are greater than the cost of losing it.

    • D says:

      Yeah there are design flaws, but the point is that they are not usually obvious, if they end up getting overlooked. All of this is hindsight, and really easy.

    • Kadayi says:

      EA are the publishers. Bioware are the developers.

  19. HostFat says:

    I don’t know if someone is interested, but I also got banned from Steam ( I mean, the account completely, all games ) because I bought games in a different currency.

    • Memph says:

      That, albeit unfortunate and wrong sounding, is in no way related to this. This isn’t regarding purchasing, but if how you play the game can affect or even nullify that purchase.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      I think you’ll find you got banned because by doing this, they are unable to tell if you were money laundering or not.

    • Bhazor says:

      Oh I can guarantee it would get its own post if Origin did it.

    • Lacero says:

      How can buying games in different currencies be money laundering?

      Seem sad to me. I try not to buy too much on steam (holiday sales excepted), and I semi believe one day through bad luck I’ll lose them all and give up on it completely.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Simply because you can’t easily check where the funds have come from.

      http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/MLR/your-role/assess-risk.htm

      When you use your bank account to buy a game from steam, steam checks the address provided and sends it with your purchase information to your bank as part of your banks checks that you are the owner of the bank account.

      The OP must have applied for a way of paying which circumvents the address check – such cards exist and are easy to get. They simply approve the transaction no matter what address is sent to them. The OP has filled out his address in steam with a foreign address and then used that address to verify a transaction. The bank, the police and any financial regulators if they attempted to trace that money would lead back to the false address provided.

      (If he owns a foreign property and has a legitimate bank account linked to that address, simply providing proof of that to steam would have reversed the action)

      You’d be amazed at what money launderers do to hide stolen money!

    • Lacero says:

      Thanks, I see. They’re worried valve are laundering money.

      (or the people selling the game, and given the size of the indie scene now I can see that working quite well.)

  20. MattMk1 says:

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I agree with what they did, at least in principle.

    If you’re doing something that’s obviously wrong according to the spirit of the rules (and the letter of the rules, if anyone had the time to read the damn things), then don’t whine if you get caught.

    You might be paying Bioware $15 a month, but lots of other people are also paying for being able to play a game without (hopefully) other people messing it up for them by going out of their way to screw things up.

    On another note… People like to throw EVE around like it’s some shining example of MMOs done right, but EVE is still absolutely awful at modeling anything real, because it fails to accurately model the risks of being a predator. EVE is a lazy dev’s dream – a game for people who are willing to pay a monthly fee to get kicked in the teeth… Thanks but no thanks, I’ll spend my money on games where the people in charge at least pretend they’re trying to cater to me.

  21. Noc says:

    I think what bothers me about this isn’t the banning of players for abusing an exploit — if the devs find an exploit, it seems fair to say “Ok, we’re probably going to close this loophole in the next patch, but until that rolls out could you not do this? Thanks,” and subsequently level sanctions against players who persist in violating this warning.

    What bothers me is that the press release contains repeated assurances that “Don’t worry about it, our people are SUPER CAREFUL and only ban people who are actually playing exploitively! If you’re not you should be fine because we are totally meticulous and everything.” But what doesn’t seem to be forthcoming is a clear and accurate clarification of just what the boundary between “normal” and “abnormal” play actually is. Visiting a high level area and looting a container once is okay, but doing it habitually apparently isn’t; at some point a line is being crossed, but Bioware is being extremely vague on where exactly this line lies, which can’t help but be worrying for anyone with a mind for exploration of experimentation.

    This press release doesn’t offer a lot of clarification, it just kind of says “No, it’s ok, they were totally breaking the game and we’re being very meticulous about this process, trust us!” A clearer delineation of some rules or what is and isn’t considered an exploit would probably go a long way towards making this less worrying, and give players a better idea of where exactly they stand relative to the looming banhammer.

    • Berzee says:

      That’s exactly it. Even if they decide that something their game directly allows without any trickery on the player’s part, is exploitative…they need to set better guidelines for it. How many chests is it okay to loot, and can a level 1 player loot so many while a level 30 player is allowed to loot more? What if you’re level 39, is that still totes cheetinz?

      Just pick a number at random and set a rule there until the patch comes out, and it would be better than trying to explain in great detail the nuances between exploitative play and smart looting.

    • NathanH says:

      To me it makes sense not to set any limit publicly or even mention exactly what’s going on. There will be plenty of people who don’t know what the scam is, so telling these people about it is obviously a bad idea. And if you set a limit, then lots of people, including those that didn’t even know about the scam to start with, will start hitting that limit deliberately, and then stopping. Plausibly having lots of people doing the scam a little bit will cause more damage.

      It seems more sensible to not say anything publicly, monitor people and then send them a private message saying “we know what you’re doing, stop it now” if necessary, and if they continue then you can give them a little ban.

      Having said that it is a bit annoying that this sort of thing has to happen since gamers are conditioned to seek out exploits wherever they may lurk, because that’s one of the fun things about video games. I guess you have to be a bit better behaved in an MMO.

  22. Mr3 says:

    I think there is a key difference between exploiting an opportunity in a game and hacking. The level of punishment needs to differ.

    Secondly, it is a game with dynamics outside of the real word and the punishment of banning which results in a real world financial cost should be evaluated and judged by an independent party. I would expect that banning players from a game like this and removing the ability to unsubscribe is the real crime against an artificial circumstance and I would hypothesize that Bioware is opening themselves up to real world legal action.

    I better (and safer) way to deal with this is to perhaps ban and refund money to the glitchers or hackers immediately and allow the case to evaluated in their own time. A brief look through forums online suggests that the process is taking weeks and not hours.

    • Memph says:

      “I think there is a key difference between exploiting an opportunity in a game and hacking. The level of punishment needs to differ.”

      More often than not i think you’ll find it does.
      Exploiting – temp ban. Hacking/altering gamecode – account banned for good.

    • Mr3 says:

      Thanks Memph – the fact remains that a ban is one thing but the associated financial cost need to be refunded unless approved by an independent and legal body.

      After all, thats why we have a legal system in the real world – What Bioware is doing is implementing real world dynamics to an artificial world. When that happens, they need to implement real world systems. i.e due process. This due process should be transparent, independent and every effort should be made not to punish the individual prior to judgement. This judgement can initially be done internally but should really be reviewed by a legal body – probably the one in whichever country and state Bioware is registered in.

      Hence my proposition of a refund prior to ban. I understand the costs are huge but that is the price for fairness and until the glitcher/hacker is found guilty, there is no excuse for heavy handed tactics by big corporates.

      After all, this whole banning business is an exercise in fairness – no good going half way on the exercise. To me both sides are acting the same way – very opportunistic.

  23. Jaedar says:

    I wonder if this http://i40.tinypic.com/2regpok.jpg is also real then. Buy low and sell high? YOU ARE EXPLOITING THE ECONOMY!

    • Berzee says:

      Well, from what I’ve been able to glean, if they made an alt character to help with the trading THEN it becomes evil ;)

    • Lacero says:

      Wow. I would like to know what they were doing.

      Were they really just trading (ie. buy low sell high)? Were they undercutting?
      Were they manipulating the market by selling at low prices until others copied them and they could buy everything cheap?

      Whatever, as an eve (and even Lotro) player this is all madness. I’m beyond asking if the game is good enough to play now, it just doesn’t seem worth the hassle.

  24. Shadowcat says:

    > What do you think?

    I think: Slow news week.

  25. noobnob says:

    Shouldn’t every MMORPG have some sort of contingency plan ready for these type of situations? It’s pretty much suicidal to not have one when most of us have experienced situations where all hell breaks loose in MMORPGs.

    They took the easy way out to solve this issue, and I wonder what’ll happen with TOR when something more serious happens.

  26. Greg Wild says:

    Absurd. If they want to control the economy of the game in such a way, they should simply put a block on people too low a level from going in that area. Suspending them from the game is just not cricket, especially for such an expensive game.

  27. Shooop says:

    This is exactly why I stopped playing Vindictus.

    Instead of fixing the game for anyone other than Korean grind-fest fanatics they decided they’d just throw out bans at everyone. Naturally rule-breakers just made more accounts and kept going.

    I expected no more of EA.

  28. hosndosn says:

    Grinding alone is a depressing game mechanic.

    “You’re grinding wrong!” is even more depressing. I wished all MMOs would suddenly die in some kind of epic MMO bubble. People have to realize they’re being played at one point. No way the service and server maintenance is worth that much per month. Not in 2011. The whole model is ridiculous.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      I can’t understand it myself – although the people I know who play seem normal, I think its more a social thing for them.

    • MD says:

      Grinding [...] is a depressing game mechanic.

      “You’re grinding wrong!” is even more depressing.

      Yep, I think you put that pretty well. I was considering getting my thoughts in order for some sort of lengthy rant-post, but those two lines are a succinct way of summing up roughly how this whole story has made me feel.

  29. SirPenguin says:

    “In a post to the SWTOR forums, Senior Online Community Manager, Stephen Reid, makes it clear that no one is going to get banned for visiting Ilum at a level under 40, and seeing what they can find in a container. Which is pretty much how the original story ran.

    However, if a person is going to Ilum to repeatedly exploit the availability of such high level/value loot, to the point where the game’s economy becomes imbalanced, at that point BioWare say they’re going to issue a temporary ban.”

    Am I crazy, or did this literally just go, “No, you won’t be banned for looting containers, but you will be banned for looting containers”. How are those 2 things different? I guess the ban comes from doing the looting multiple times?

    In the end of the day this is completely nuts. If players find an exploit, you should patch it out. The “exploit” here seems to be absolutely non-existent, anyway.

    Also, hate to be ‘that guy’, but I love how in the previous article on this RPS was bashing it for its bad grammar and other mistakes, which meant it clearly had to be fake. Reminds of when Deathly Hollows leaked and all the Harry Potter fans claimed it was fake because the writing was so bad.

  30. D3xter says:

    Well, in my opinion this is completely retarded. Bans for hacking (as in using third-party tools or in any way trying to modify the base program or using bots or the likes) or harassing people or similar are completely understandable and should take place, but an “exploit” is essentially failed game design, as a paying customer if I want to put my character in a corner staring or walking against a wall all day it should be my prerogative, same with standing at a spot and looting something all day. If it fucks up your economy then boo-hoo, work towards fixing it or do a better job next time, there will be an increasing inflation happening anyway…

    I understand that MMOs work somewhat differently and there are other issues to consider as in it having an influence over other people (for instance we found an item in the LOTRO Beta, that when equipped would instantly crash anyone within sight range with their graphics settings set to higher than “Medium” and after figuring it out and testing to see what caused it we reported it) but in the competitive FPS genre on the other hand, things that some would call “exploits” like strafing, wall-gliding and the likes became skill-based main game mechanics and as such weren’t patched out, there’s a number of Quake/Unreal/Source-Engine games that were made a lot more interesting and fun *because* of said “exploits”.
    If it’s an undesired effect in game mechanics be quiet about it and patch it away or even apply a quickfix/rollback if it is an especially bad issue but this is the worst possible stance they could take for covering up their own mistakes…

  31. Dapper Dan says:

    From what I understand, it’s more than just about a low-level player looting high level chests. The chest in question respawns whenever control of the zone switches from republic to empire.
    This fellow and another chap of the other faction were working together to keep switching control of the zone back and forth between factions, and looting the chest each time.
    Very obviously an exploit (not just “exploration”) and imo it’s fair enough for them to receive some sort of ban.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means a Bioware/EA apologist, but to me this seems like a fair ban if that’s what was happening.

  32. Aatch says:

    Ok, so I don’t fully know what the actual exploit was, but all those people shouting “THEY SHOULD FIX IT INSTEAD OF BANS!” are, to be honest, talking out of their collective arses.

    Game development is hard, very very very very very very very very hard. And that’s just for a single player game, an MMO is at least 25*very hard. I imagine that this game took 2-3 years to build (I vaguely recall hearing about it ages ago), with a team of probably 150-200 people, a significant portion of which were developers. This isn’t just a “simple fix” that you can patch in two minutes, so much of a game like this has intertwining mechanics, such that a fix somewhere can break something else, somewhere else. Also, there are quite a few different ways to fix this, rather than just “Hurr Durr, level’d chests”, which would break game immersion. You can increase the monster-counts, monster toughness, add in a section that requires you to “prove yourself” before being able to get to the area proper, etc. But all of these require extensive testing and analysis to make sure that the game doesn’t get unbalanced.

    Games are far more subtle and, well nuanced, than you guys seem to think, which is worrying for a gaming community. Though has to go into every little decision: “why put the chest there”, “because it’s at the end of a difficult run and you can see it from early on, giving you incentive to play through the section”. If they do the easy fix, which is to level-restrict the chests, then you are punishing the players that have used skill to be in that area, and withholding appropriate reward, thus making the game more linear and boring. Other fixes are harder and may require enhancements to the AI, adjustments to the area placements, additional areas (and the significant design work that goes into that) the list goes on.

    So, coming from a programmer, remember: programming is hard, especially when its easy.

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      “which would break game immersion.”

      Immersion. LOL! It’s an MMO. What immersion?

    • Aatch says:

      There is immersion, even if its not very deep. You can explain why you can’t use a certain piece of equipment in an in game sense, i.e. You don’t have the skill to use that equipment for . It might not always be that satisfying, but you accept it fairly readily. However an in-game chest is different, you don’t have any chest-based skilled, and its very hard to imagine that you cannot open a chest because you don’t have the skill to open a chest? (“What? I can’t open the chest because I’m not a high-enough level, thats f***ing stupid…”)

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      As far as I’m concerned if they don’t want people below level 50 going to Illium they can find an non-immersion breaking way to do it, like build it into the fiction. Sure it may be a bit late for that now, as I imagine that’s not an easy thing to just patch in.

      However that still doesn’t let them off the hook. From my understanding some players worked out that if they kept flipping control of a sector that is designed to be up for contention, all the nice, high level loot re-spawned. Well then make it not re-spawn. Make it so you have to hold the sector for an amount of time, like half an hour or an hour, or even increase the value of the loot dependant on how long somebody can keep control of the sector.

      Basically what Bioware have done here is gone, “Oh, look at that, we didn’t think of that when we designed this area. What an interesting exploit of our mechanics. You’ve caught us off guard somewhat you clever players. We could respond by finding a way to patch up our sloppy design mistake so this is no longest possible, or even make this exploit part of the game but change some variables on loot drops so people can’t benefit from such a high extent from it. But no, you’ve been very clever and you can have a ban for your troubles, as can anybody else who tries their luck, even though we’re going to leave the temptation wide open”.

      It’s lazy and despicable, one of the main reasons I tend to steer clear of MMO’s, and is indicative of the lack of creativity that is present in MMO design and I fear perhaps even Bioware itself now. It should not and in my opinion cannot be justified, and if we want evolution in the MMO genre (this game is in no way, shape or form an evolution), people have to demand better than for players to be punished because a massive AAA developer can’t even design around a silly exploit in their mechanics, and would rather just ban anybody who tries to take advantage of it.

    • Fiatil says:

      You know what’s more immersion breaking than a chest arbitrarily telling you you’re not cool enough to loot it? Getting banned for looting it when the game allows you to.

  33. JohnnyMaverik says:

    Bah. So sick of reading about multiplayer developers punishing their players for exploiting their own bad design mistakes. Make your games better.

    Wish it surprised me this was coming from Bioware. Three or four years ago maybe it would, but now, not so much.

  34. Apolloin says:

    1. Games of this size are so complex that mistakes like this are ALWAYS made.
    2. When first discovered this becomes an example of ‘Emergent Gameplay’.
    3.MMORPGs are defined as ‘community’ games, where a player is expected to follow a defined code of conduct so that the environment is made friendly for the majority of the community.
    4. Any example of Emergent Gameplay that demonstrably hurts the community and is flagged as doing so ceases to become a nifty feature and becomes an exploit.
    5. The Terms of Service explicitly cover the expectations on the player regarding non-abuse of Exploits. This is to patch the hole, so to speak, whilst the Developers work out a way to fix the problem, execute that fix and then test the fix before it is released live.

    I’m not sure at which period Bioware released completely bug free games. I suspect ‘never’ is the answer to that question. Bioware’s usual games are single player – if a player wants to abuse an exploit in a single player game, then he takes the risk it will break the game and is hurting nobody. In a community game he is adversely affecting the experience of every other subscriber. This cannot be tolerated.

    • Wulf says:

      Okay, last post here.

      Look, the point is is that this is banning people for playing the game. This was an amateur mistake to make, and one that not even Cryptic made, and they’re notorious for buggy games. This was a really, really stupid design oversight. Games like this condition people into going after ‘phat loots,’ they have you sit around waiting for raids, or boss mobs, or spawns just so you can get the ‘phat loot.’

      So sitting around in front of a chest is obeying the game’s behavioural rules as they’re laid out in front of you. By opening that chest, you’re playing the game. If you’re not supposed to open that chest, then that’s an amateur design oversight on Bioware’s part. And to respond to that immediately with a temp ban is beyond ludicrous. It’s lazy and disrespectful. And that’s what the fans need to understand.

      People are getting banned for playing the game in ways that the game is telling them to play it.

    • Kadayi says:

      “Look, the point is is that this is banning people for playing the game.”

      WTF? They’re exploiting.

      ‘An amateur mistake’

      Because clearly with your long history of MMO game development you’d never make a mistake right?

    • piratmonkey says:

      “First, action was taken against a number of accounts for what’s commonly known as ‘gold farming’ – or in our case, credit farming. Our Terms of Service team took action against these accounts and removed them permanently from the game…Second, a smaller number of accounts were warned or temporarily suspended for exploiting loot containers on Ilum…None of these accounts were banned for their actions and no accounts have been banned for travelling to Ilum while still relatively low level.”
      People who are banned are not “playing the game.” They are doing something explicitly against ToS. People who are exploiting were warned, not banned. Get your facts straight.

  35. alundra says:

    Well, well, well, where are the ones that were accusing Mr. Walker of lying? That on it’s own made it clear why EA devoured Bioware: to integrate a legion of mindless and passionate fanboys to defend them.

    You guys should be thankful of sites like this one we are in, that put this kind of behavior on the constant spotlight, if they didn’t, this temporary ban could as well mean a permanent ban from the origin service altogether.

    Now that the smoke has cleared, my usual two questions arise, why do people still get surprised at this kind of stuff coming from EA, and, why people are still supporting this kind of company??

    • Memph says:

      Mine’s ‘what are you on about?’
      But it’s purely rhetorical. Any other MMO made by any other dev/publisher combo would hand out a temp-ban for blatant exploiting.
      Hating EA may be in this season, but this is nothing new whatsoever to any other player in the MMO market.

    • Wulf says:

      “Any other MMO made by any other dev/publisher combo would hand out a temp-ban for blatant exploiting.”

      Bull. Gotta call you on that, because that’s bull and you know it’s bull.

      Please, really, pick your dignity up off the floor and listen to me here: Any action that affects another player detrimentally in a direct way should have GM involvement, and warnings, with temp bans as the last resort.

      Something like this, which is in the game’s mechanics and doesn’t actually harm anyone? No. This is no different than the boss mob camping that WoW clones such as this one encourage people to do. They program people to wait in spots for things to happen, and then they temp ban them because of the classical conditioning that they’ve imposed themselves? No.

      See, if something happens in one of Cryptic’s games, or Turbine’s games, and it wasn’t something that affected another player directly, but was an exploit, then instead of making a big deal about banning, they’d make a big deal about fixing it as soon as they could. That’s more expensive, yes, but it’s also the right thing to do. But this isn’t something that directly harms another player, in fact it’s something that fits the behavioural patterns of the game, and their primary reaction to this seems to be ban, ban, ban. No.

      You realise that this is bull, and this is something that only developers who don’t have a shred of respect for their players pull. Instead, have some respect for yourself. It could have been you banned for doing something that the game encouraged you to do, but Bioware just decided one sunny day was exploiting. It could happen to anyone. FIX the problem, don’t band-aid with bans, that’s lazy, and it’s cheap, and it’s disrespectful.

      Seriously. I’ve had a drunk and stupid person or two grief me before, and a warning was all it took to get them off my back. Usually that’s enough of a scare. But this isn’t even going for players like that, it’s going for people who’re just playing the game. You’re getting banned for playing the game.

    • Nick says:

      I’ve played quite a lot of sub based MMOs since EQs launch and I have never seen a ban handed out for that sort of exploit as its just using the game mechanics, NOT a bug or glitch, if the economy is genuinely trashed then in extreme cases they may rollback everything and fix the issue, but unless its some sort of actual bug or duping issue then no. Its a design flaw and a stupid one.

  36. PoulWrist says:

    It’s a total copypaste game, how could you think that they’d have done anything to make sure that the economy means something?

  37. The Magic says:

    My idea is the best idea.

    It wont happen, but it’s the best.

    It’s an in-game exploit, right? Well then apply in-game punishment.
    A boring way would be to take away all the player’s stuff every day for the duration the ban would have been.
    The fun way would be to constantly hound them Serious Sam Scorpion style wherever they go. And the great thing would be that you could apply this to any offense. Obviously some coding would have to be done, programming the ai to only attack the criminal, and also they would have to be invincible so other players wouldn’t be able to profit from it.

    That said, it would require preperation and coding that would take time and probably should have been done before the game was released.

    It would have been cool though.

    • Wulf says:

      Again, that’s obnoxious. Not being nasty because it’s a fun idea, but it’s still Bioware picking up a megaphone and screaming loudly through it at a player to distract away from their horrible design flaws. If they were making a big deal about fixing this ASAP, then my tune would be different, but they’re not.

      It’s cheaper to punish the player for your own mistakes, so that’s what they do.

  38. SirDimos says:

    I think it’s funny you should mention Eve. Banning for something as simple as economic exploitation is unheard of.

    Hell, hulkageddon is a massive player-driven greifing session with massive INTENTIONAL economic consequences and CCP have always just kinda shrugged their shoulders at it and said “well, if that’s what they want to do…, then that’s what they’re gonna do”

    Silly Bioware.

    • UnravThreads says:

      But that’s kind of the point with EVE. It’s the Super Meat Boy to Nintendo’s Mario or whatever, it’s not meant to be friendly to the players and give them everything. If you want to be a dick in EVE, the game lets you and perhaps even rewards you for it, just as it rewards you for being clever and careful, but punishes you for being reckless and too trusting.

  39. cavalier says:

    MY whole issue with this is that, if they were banned for using an exploit, say what the exploit is, don’t hide behind some vague wording. Right now it reads as though they have set some arbitrary limit on how much a lower level can farm i a high level zone, but we aren’t going to tell you what that limit is, but ou can still totally do it.

    I imagine this has more to do with the exploit of camping low level alts to quickly changes faction control back and forth, which spawns new chests to be looted. That IS an exploit very much should be a bannable offense, but they need to come out and say it.

    Now it just sounds like the chances of getting banned are completely reliant on the GMs mood that day, and that is unacceptable.

    • Memph says:

      “MY whole issue with this is that, if they were banned for using an exploit, say what the exploit is”

      Think about that for a minute. MMOs are HUGE and like any game made up of oodles and oodles of complicated codery, one small fix on something can drop the proverbial spanner into something else. Patches take time and need testing, they also need to take the game offline, again, which itself will upset all of those actually playing the game. They’re hardly going to tell everyone how to do it in the meantime are they?

      This exploit wasn’t a problem until this guy started exploiting it. He could have reported it and continued playing, he chose greed. This wasn’t some accidental finding of phat loot he stumbled upon, or a chest that borked and coughed up the shiniest of shinies instead of patchwork trousers. This was (apparently) repeatedly targeting a single game function for what was meant to be played for and earned rewards.
      Similar, arguably, to the Humble Bundle abusing on Steam’s Xmas sale for coal. Some folks found a way to get the rewards without doing anything that other ‘players’ had to. How anyone can be arguing that this is fair play, is beyond me.

    • Wulf says:

      They should never be banned for it, because banning a player is obnoxiously, obviously, and loudly (through a megaphone) blaming a player for the fundamental design flaws of the development team. If it exists within the game mechanics, and no third party utilities or client hacking is required to do it, then it is not an exploit.

      This is all about them wanting to hold off on paying for it to be fixed for as long as they can, and throwing banhammers around in place of that. This reeks of a disgusting lack of respect for their players, and basic human decency. If they really need to do something then put a time limit on the chest, or a level restriction. And contrary to common belief, as someone who’s worked with emulated servers, this isn’t something that would take months to do. This is something that would take a couple of hours of someone’s time, from finding the issue, getting the proper restriction in place, and then rolling it out in a hotfix.

      If they think that they have more important things to be doing than hotfixing this issue, then they shouldn’t be banning players for it, plain and simple. Let’s have some degree of dignity and self-respect, here. It’s almost like people want to make these excuses just because a game is fun to play. Really, your dignity should be tarred by this. Now where is your dignity?

    • Kadayi says:

      @Wulf

      I’m sorry but you’re blaming the developers (Bioware) for not being aware that there was an exploit? Do you remotely have any idea from a coding perspective exactly how monumentally complex the systems are in place on the average MMO these days? I’ll honest I can’t think of one MMO which went to launch that didn’t have hitherto unknown exploits come to the fore down the road.

      When GW2 is released I look forward to you leaping to ArenaNets defense when they do something similar tbh.

  40. canonfodder says:

    From what I read they are not banning players from Experimenting, they are banning players for exploiting said limits. Its fine to explore as a low level, but to find a glitch and then sit there and take money for hours (which is what I got from reading the articles*) is not pushing the limits its economy breaking and the dev has to stop that from happening where possible.

    *prove otherwise and I will retract and say that bioware and EA have banned unfairly, until then it sounds like someone has been exploiting a low population server.

  41. QSpec says:

    Wait, people are getting items by using the system in place? And this is an exploit? Could you imagine having your account banned because you as a hunter could solo elite mobs when no one else could?

    Further, any vertical growth (ie levels) mmo is going to have economic exploitation. Ask any new player what the cost of “wool” is on their server. Is EA going to ban for that too?

    It is an average mmo kept alive by an excellent IP and an engrossing story. Without major changes, come end game people will be back to WoW or trying out TSW and GW2.

    • Wulf says:

      The funny thing about GW2 is that in interviews they already made it clear that they’d dealt with fundamental design flaws like this early on in their design plans, which leaves me amazed that Bioware made such an incredibly amateur mistake. But I suppose that that might prove that they’re just not cut out for this whole MMO thing?

      In GW2, you can sidekick to any level and get rewards relevant to your level. So you can go to a high-level area with a friend and get stuff from it. Rewards are instanced to the player, so whenever a player loots something, be it the reward at the end of a dynamic event, or a tradeskill resource node, it’s instanced to the players. And do you know what this means? No exploitation and everyone is happy to see other players.

      I may sound like an old fart, here, but I loved resource gathering in Ultima Online. It was fun. You’d find a cave and start gathering away, and you’d just have a friendly chat with whomever else was in there. You’d either talk about RL things or you’d just roleplay your character, and it was a damned pleasant experience. And this was ignored! Ignored in favour of…

      Well, the first game to start off the horrible looting trend we see today was Final Fantasy XI. When a resource node popped up, it’d be like 60 people trying to hit it.

      OMGRESOURCENODEMINEITISMINEANDEFFYOUGETOFFITISAWITFIRSTARRGHHH!!!

      It was literally like that. It was so annoying.

      WoW lessened the extreme nature of that, but it was still annoying. You’ve just found a chest out in the world, or a resource node that you’ve been looking for, hooray! You start heading towards it and you see that some other guy is heading your way, too. Is he going to pass by or is he going to try to get what you’ve been spending all this time seeking out? You speed jealously over to your prize and make angry, paranoid faces at the person as they pass by, completely unaware. Or, instead, they do try to steal it and then it’s a matter of who clicked first, which just substantiates that paranoia.

      Then you have Ultima Online, where each person doing stuff was rewarded and everyone was bloody happy. What was so wrong with that, I ask you?

      But this is what Guild Wars 2 is doing right. It doesn’t matter what players are where or what they’re doing, because it’s never going to negatively affect you in any way. There’s no mob stealing, no chest stealing, no resource node stealing, no low level person coming into a high-level area and harvesting everything for exactly this reason! Basically, each reward node type has a table on it, like Bethesda games, and it rewards each player individually based upon what they should be getting.

      In an MMORPG, this makes a hell of a lot of sense!

      What I see of GW2 is that the crafting, at least, is going to be tremendously popular. It’s going to be UO again. It’s going to be: “Hello friendly face. It doesn’t matter that you’re 10 levels too low for this area or looting the same resource node as me. Because the game is designed to let me get everything I was supposed to anyway. So the company is delightful. Shall we chat about things?”

      This is where you do break WoW’s approaches for the better, Bioware.

    • Berzee says:

      “There’s no mob stealing, no chest stealing, no resource node stealing, no low level person coming into a high-level area and harvesting everything for exactly this reason”

      I don’t know exactly what is the system you’re describing, but you make it sound like, essentially, a multiplayer game with single player loot. Which sounds terribly boring.

      Very few things in MMOs really make me feel un-immersed, but knowing that two people can be looking in the same box and seeing different stuff in the box, is one of those things…regardless of how much better it’s balanced that way.

      I think instanced loot is even more boring that waiting in line in games. A very subjective subject no doubt, but I suspect it’s been instrumental in my losing interest in a game, at least several times.

  42. Stevostin says:

    The funny thing is that they fight abuse in MMO, but meanwhile there are constant abuse in real world. High Frequency Trading with “skynet” algorithm able to pass tens of thousands of buying order then cancel it in a second to raise a price and then make a small, constant profit are legits and actually the biggest part of market volume those days. You also have dark pools, compensation chamber, speculation bubble – a sort of Ponzi scheme actually. Oh, and you have a world where the poor has to pay fee and credits – so he/she gets poorer because he’s poor – while the rich accumulates profit no matter what he/she does because of the concept of interest. Oh yes, those are concept that seems blasphemous to contest, but think about it : nearly none of this makes it to games.

    Why ? Because game needs to be fair and balanced to sell. Apparently, real world doesn’t. Maybe it’s what makes those games so attractive. And maybe, rather than fighting against “addictive” MMOs, we should rather fix what’s wrong in comparison in how we organize ourselves… Good idea, but now whith me : I’ve got some Skyrim to play !

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      That’s not how HFT works – the cancelled orders are used to gauge market depth. The thing you should really be worried about are the machines front-running your own orders…

    • Stevostin says:

      Not if done via the dark pools. That’s where HFT impact the prices even if cancelled. That’s what how some explain the 2011/6/6 sudden krach. It’s quite typical of the kind of hole that should be instantly “fixed” in any video game but can last long in the real world.

      Anyway here’s an exemple of gold farmer being caught :
      http://wallstreetpit.com/44545-high-frequency-trading-firm-fined-1m-for-market-manipulation

      ERRATUM : my bad. It’s not made with huge amount of simultaneous canceled transactions, it’s made with huge amount of consecutive real transactions on small volume. It’s not what’s at work on may 6th. Still the point remains : HFT allows market manipulation – although it’s via technique that you have to find from very specialised source.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      No problem. Fun thought – the automated poling could be cut off at source by charging transaction fees for cancelled trades.

      Pop quiz: who owns most of the “alternate” exchanges, Turquiose, Chi-X etc…

  43. Jetsetlemming says:

    EA’s customer interaction policies as of late have been pretty dark and forboding. They’ve apparently decided it’s far cheaper to ban people from their service and shit on their customers than prevent abuse or rebalance things on their end.
    They’re kind of reminding me of Shadowrun megacorps, and frankly it’s making me pretty glad that the cyberpunk future present never happened. Otherwise Origin would be a chip you’d get implanted in your brain, with TOR software streamed onto it, and if some 13 year old with poor parenting says the N word ingame the chip takes over, his body ownership rendered void by the ToS, and his flesh marched off to the nearest EA rendering plant to be recycled into EA Brand Gamer Fuel ™.

    • Wulf says:

      Blizzard was the same early on, too. So was SOE. It wasn’t until people actually grew a spine, a sense of dignity, put their feet down and told them that that shit just wasn’t on that they actually stopped. And that took a while. I mean, I remember hearing stories of things like a tradeskill being broken in WoW for eight months and stuff, just because Blizzard didn’t want to have to pay to fix it (since apparently it was a big fix and not a small deal).

      So instead of actually paying at this point, since they’re worried that their game won’t be a success, and because they believe they can get away with it, they’re just banning instead of spending money. It’s hardly uncommon of the developers that I don’t much like, really. They don’t really treat their players like people.

  44. thegooseking says:

    So a lot of the misunderstanding in these comments seems to come from the fact that the question is in two parts.

    a) Should exploiters be banned? (Yes. Full stop.)
    b) Is this an exploit? (Far less clear. The statement seems to say it’s ok if you do it a little, but an exploit if you do it a lot. That’s totally meaningless. My take on it is that if there’s an explicit limit on how many times you can do it, or how often, then finding some way to circumvent that limit is an exploit. But if the game freely allows you to do it as much as you like, then doing it as much as you like is not an exploit.)

    Exploiters should be banned, but people who do this should only be banned if it makes them exploiters, which from what I can see, isn’t very convincing.

    Edit: What I’ve been able to discern is that they were using an exploit to force the chests to spawn more often because the chests respawn when another side takes the area. If that’s the case (which it might not be, but it’s possible), the ban really is deserved. That kind of fits with the vague “doing it a little is ok but doing it a lot is not” wording.

  45. InternetBatman says:

    It’s not great that this practice exists, but it doesn’t seem terribly unusual to me. I could be wrong, but I seem to remember WoW banning people for breaking into the Battleground early and getting a decent advantage over the other team or other such exploits. On the one hand it stifles emergent play, on the other hand an inflated auction house sucks a lot of the fun out of the game. Why do you think Blizzard fought against goldfarmers for so long?

    • Wulf says:

      Depends on the company. In the history of my time playing Cryptic’s games, I’ve never known them to actually ban someone for something like this. Instead, they’ll either fix the problem, or they’ll find a way to make the ‘problem’ a part of the game if it’s a ‘problem’ that people like. (In which case it’s an unexpected feature and should be treated as such!)

      I’ve heard good things about Turbine in this regard, too. As have Mythic. But if your only experience is with the really big players, like SOE, and Blizzrad, then yeah, the banning is going to seem common. But really, it’s not as common as you may think. It’s just that they can afford to ban players because they know that their customers don’t have enough self-respect to make a stand. Someone bans your friend under dubious circumstances? You don’t quit, you just say “Them’s the breaks, man.” and you keep playing. I’ve heard so many stories like that.

      But regardless of what some developers could get away with, some simply don’t do it. And they are the ones I respect the most.

    • piratmonkey says:

      They banned people who credit farmed. People who “systematically looted” high level chests were warned that their behavior was “unbalancing the economy” i.e. dangerously inflating the economy. Please stop deriding people who enjoy ToR/WoW, it is quite aggravating.

  46. Wulf says:

    I completely agree, John.

    The best developers of all time (including MMO developers) have held the opinion that ‘if you’re using only the game’s own mechanics to do something, then it’s not a cheat, it’s just intrinsic cleverness.’ And that’s that. Banning people for being clever isn’t cool, even if it’s a temporary ban.

    They should just fix the chests in two important ways: If they’re worried about high level loot getting into the mitts of the virtual have-nots, then it’s high-time that they put some restrictions on it. And it probably wouldn’t hurt to instance the chests per player, too, so that when one player loots the chest it doesn’t screw up the experience for anyone else.

    Really, it just sounds like they have some fundamental design issues that they’re blaming on particularly shrewd players who’re just using this to their advantage. This probably came up in beta too, no doubt, but it seems like every MMO developer out there doesn’t listen to their non-paid beta testers, and SWTOR is no exception. I know that’s common, but really, they’ve probably known about this for a long, long time. Wishing won’t make it go away. Spending money to get some lovely coders to do a bit of work on the game’s server code will.

    To me, it just seems like that they want money to be a one-way street, putting out as little as possible and expecting subscriptions in return. But what are people paying these subscriptions for? They are paying for bans, apparently! This really isn’t on, and if any of the developers I championed ever did this then I’d come down on them like a tonne of bricks, but guess wot? They don’t. Might have something to do with why I champion them.

    A little respect goes a long way, BiowarEA, and I’m not sure that you’re doing a lot to convince people that you see them as anything other than walking, talking wallets right now.

    • Asurmen says:

      “This probably came up in beta too, no doubt, but it seems like every MMO developer out there doesn’t listen to their non-paid beta testers, and SWTOR is no exception. I know that’s common, but really, they’ve probably known about this for a long, long time.” Argument from ignorance. Irrelevant. You do not know what information Bioware gathered from beta.

      “To me, it just seems like that they want money to be a one-way street, putting out as little as possible and expecting subscriptions in return. But what are people paying these subscriptions for? They are paying for bans, apparently! This really isn’t on, and if any of the developers I championed ever did this then I’d come down on them like a tonne of bricks, but guess wot? They don’t. Might have something to do with why I champion them.” And you get this from what? The fact that they’ve enforced their ToS? So someone exploited a design flaw. It doesn’t make it right to continue exploiting said flaw, and sorry, but no developer is perfect. Things slip through. Last but not least, these sorts of things cannot be fixed straght away. Any fix can and possibly will affect other areas of the game. It needs to be tested internally. Chances are that they’ve already written a fix and it’s waiting to be deployed but as the issue isn’t totally game breaking it can wait for maintence or rolled into a larger patch. You seem to expect Bioware to take down the servers and patch a minor thing.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Asurmen

      Wulf has occasional moments of lucidity, but when it comes to MMOs all others are merely false prophets Vs the Majesty of the approaching GW2 and they must be condemned without thought.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Yeah, this is completely unacceptable. It reminds me of the time I played Sunday league football. Remember, this is a game whose systems actively encourage repeatedly kicking things, but when I tried repeatedly kicking our goalkeeper in the elbows, they gave me a six match ban! I was like WTF!

      If you ask me, Footballcorp don’t even care about their players. I mean, if they’d just spent some of their mountains of gold on fixing the ‘repeatedly kick goalkeeper in the elbows’ exploit, then I wouldn’t have had to go to my stupid road speed awareness course instead of starting in the Allied Carpets Cup semifinals in Maidstone. I mean, I know it’s covered in Football’s terms of service and everything, but who reads them? They’re really long!

      Where is your dignity??

    • Berzee says:

      @LennyLeonardo — worst. comparison. ever. congratulations here is your trophy it is made of sadness

    • Max.I.Candy says:

      @Wulf

      are you actually a real person?
      honestly mate, ALL your posts on the subject of EA/Bioware and MMO’s make you look a bit of a twat.

      P.S
      “‘if you’re using only the game’s own mechanics to do something, then it’s not a cheat, it’s just intrinsic cleverness.’ And that’s that.”

      Really?Well,Gold farmers are using the games mechanics and they can fuck off, and anyone whos deliberately trying to fuck up the economy can also do the same IMO.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      @Berzee:

      Heh, thanks, that’s what I was going for. I was getting annoyed by all the hyperbole (aka Wulf) in here, but as usual I had nothing valuable to add to the discussion, hence silliness.

  47. namad says:

    The guy prolly made millions of undeserved credits sufficient to unbalance the game

  48. TheWhippetLord says:

    The part of this story that concerns me the most is the implication that the shocking English of that original email may actually have been a genuine communication from EA/Bioware. Murder my character if you must, but don’t torture my language.

    I guess there’s always the hope that the image was faked up to give a slanted view of the story, but the idea that companies so huge could send out unprofessional emails like that is scarier than the old hoary ‘what’s an exploit’ debate to me. Surely for something like a player ban you’d have a lawyer-approved standard form letter to send out? I guess I may be wandering a bit OT though, sorry. :)

    To get back on track, the impression I’ve always got from Blizzard in WoW is that stumbling across a bug or a flaw in the game and profiting from it just the once is treated massively different from then deciding to farm that flaw repeatedly. Thsi case sems a classic example of someone organising a cross-faction exploitation, involving win-trading of a pvp area (which is itself bannable for obvious reasons.) I think they’re being a bit soft if the players involved get suspensions rather that bans tbh. This kind of thing can ruin PvP for people as well as the economic effects.

    My flawed and dubious analogy is that this is the difference between eating a roadkill sheep that you find and driving a steamroller through a farmer’s flock so you can hold a mutton banquet.

  49. aircool says:

    Ok, so someone takes advantage of what is known as an exploit. They were warned against it, ignored that warning and suffer the consequences. It’s happened a zillion times before in other games, and is usually part of a gold farming outfit. Most mmo players welcome this sort of policing.

    Inevitably, because of EA’s previous bad press for banning people for unknown reasons, anyone having any grief with EA, deserving or not, can now run to RPS and cry foul.

    Hopefully, the issue with EA’s banhammer will continue to concentrate on the legitimate concerns, rather than people who are actually breaking the rules.

    • Trithne says:

      I think people need to realise the difference between the common definition of exploit, and EA-Bioware’s definition. This isn’t a duping bug, or a third-party program. This is using a system that was put in the game in an unintended fashion. They’re not breaking game mechanics in any way, they’re just leveraging them to their advantage. Any player could easily disrupt the flip mechanic they’re abusing to get the infinite loot. This is not something you say ‘Don’t do this or we’ll ban you’, this is where you go ‘Whoops, better fix that, sorry.”

    • piratmonkey says:

      “First, action was taken against a number of accounts for what’s commonly known as ‘gold farming’ – or in our case, credit farming. Our Terms of Service team took action against these accounts and removed them permanently from the game…Second, a smaller number of accounts were warned or temporarily suspended for exploiting loot containers on Ilum…None of these accounts were banned for their actions and no accounts have been banned for travelling to Ilum while still relatively low level.”
      People who are banned are not “playing the game.” They are doing something explicitly against ToS. People who are exploiting were warned, not banned.

  50. Hindenburg says:

    Maybe i’m just talking crazy, but…wouldn’t exploiting the crap outta this…pretty much be exactly what a sith is expected to do?

    I mean, if your lore sets up half your factions as a bunch of selfish raging cunts who don’t give a crap about anyone but themselves in their quest for MAX POWA, everything else be damned, isn’t it a liiiittle bit odd to bitch about it when people roleplay properly?

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