Why did this happen? Was it fair play or foul play? I think many people reading and commenting on Ethicâ€™s post are missing something critical and important.
If something happens solely inside of a game, within the context and limitations of the gameâ€™s rules, mechanics, and community expectations for what is fair, then fine. But if something in-game is affected by actions out of game, then it is an entirely different situation.
If you create another character to join an enemy guild, corporation, clan, whatever, and use it to gather intelligence, sabotage their efforts, seed discord, steal their items, and let their enemies in the backdoor, then I would say that you are a cheater of the worst kind. You have no honor, no spine, and you are not as sneaky or clever as you think you are. Anything you do should be undone, and all of your accounts should be deleted, and you should be banned permanently.
1) Limit accounts to ONE character.
I am sure some of you are going to get pissy with me over this one, but you should only have one character per account in an MMORPG. This would solve a lot of problems.
Why do people need or want multiple character slots?
Most MMORPGs are so static and linear, that you need extras to try different approaches for developing your character. How many times have you heard someone complain about â€œgimpingâ€ their characters and feeling frustrated at the amount of time they now feel was totally wasted.
Another reason for creating a new low level character is so you can play with a friend that just joined the game. This problem is because of the huge disparities between two characters of different levels. Sounds like linear gameplay and more ladders to me.
Mule anyone? Limited inventory can be a real pain in the assâ€¦even more so in a game that doesnâ€™t have a balanced economy. If I have to create another character simply to hold some of my loot, the game has a problem.
Exactly what problems does one character per account solve?
Well for starters, you make it more difficult for some spineless immature Machiavellian wannabe to cheat. If they want to, they have to make another account, and pay more fees. Sure, this approach wonâ€™t stop them from doing it, but it makes it a little harder, and that might be enough to limit how often it occurs.
MMORPGs are meant to be immersive and centered around the character. One of the key signs to look for as a measure of how well a game is immersive is whether or not the player identifies with their character. When they talk about the game, do they say â€œOh man, I got into a fight with this huge creature the other day and I got my butt kicked!â€ or do they say â€œOh man, my character got into a fight with this huge creature the other day and it got its butt kicked!â€
See the difference? Multiple characters on an account makes it easy to thwart the immersion. Less value is placed on the characters, social relationships, items, and so forth.
2) Link Forum and Game accounts to characters.
The first problem here is that publishers and developers act like the Forums ARE the community. In reality, only a very small percentage of actual players even read the forums, much less post there. Even so, the forums are visible to everyone and certainly an influencing factor to the silent majority.
Would you be surprised that the most vocal troublemakers on a gameâ€™s forums most likely arenâ€™t even playing the game?
I think that forum IDs, game accounts, and characters should all be linked. If you click on someoneâ€™s profile, you should be able to see ALL of their characters (even if they have multiple accounts). This will add a measure of accountability and transparency, not to mention that people will be a LOT more careful about what they say. Anonymity makes it too easy for people to lie, slander, troll, and flame. If you are going to open your fat mouth and harass someone on the forums, you better be ready to back it up in-game with your character.
3) The Family Tree
Ok fine, you want multiple characters, and you want to be able to use them to infiltrate your enemies. Well then do it the right way, which is in the context of the game. All of your characters need to be related or have some other common bondâ€¦otherwise, how can you possibly justify how they know each other, or why they would share information and betray their brethren? After all, spying is risky business and you canâ€™t trust anyoneâ€¦
Fine, they are distant cousins and blood loyalty runs deep in your family. Ok. But if you want to go that route, other player characters need to be able to know that you have these ties and are a possible security risk. Publish the family tree! Your character profile should list all of your â€œrelativesâ€.
Anyway, I donâ€™t buy the argument that â€œthis is just a game, get over itâ€ because cheating is cheating. If a character wants to leave whatever organization they belong to, and join another one as a spy and feed back information to their friends, fine. I get it. The game is supposed to be played like that. But creating alts, gaining access to private forums, joining voicechat servers, and every other out of game method (particularly creating secondary characters!!!) is just wrong.
Posted by â€œAchillesâ€ (as quoted by Ethic in his post):
1. Only join alliances that were heavy users of forums. Get at least one members into an admin capacity asap. Once there, give members access to leadership and restricted section of the forum. Once inside, members were to obtain as much vital information as possible
2. Get members into admin roles on whatever voice server said alliance used. Admit members of opposing alliances into the voice server under non-threatening names. Once there, the enemy would have a distinct advantage in any battle.
3. Place alts in every corp in the alliance to further funnel Intel.
4. Place alts in leadership positions in the alliance and in the individual corps. If possible, attempt to funnel money and assets away from the corps. Use fake logs and screens to blame other players in said corps, further causing a rift between members.
5. Seed discontent where possible. This was done mainly by raising issues and causing internal strife, while attempting to make it look like we were the victims.
6. Make contacts in enemy alliances with alts and funnel all Intel to their leadership. Sit back and watch as every battle is lost and the alliance falls apart.
7. Rinse and repeat.
Everything listed here is totally against the spirit of mmorpgs, and none if this was intended by designers as a valid means to play the game or succeed in it. Regardless of whether or not this stuff occurred in the particular history of Ars Caelestis, it does happen frequently in Eve and many other games. It needs to stop. Either the players need to start acting like adults and learn what honor means, or the developers are going to start putting more restrictions on games to keep this type of cheating from happening again.
Grow up kiddies. No one likes a smarmy cheater. Particularly not Nicodemus.
Anyway, thats my two cents and a quick rant on the subject.