Answer this question right now, which is worse – gold farmers or cheaters? They might belong to the same coin of the disease that hurts our favorite MMOs, but they attack it from wholly different sides. The answer, for me, is not self-evident. Sure, if I were the Ultra Decision Maker with infinite resources I would press my magic button and both problems would be dealt with by my happy MIT graduate programmers. But, developers don’t live in that world. They live in a world where the target is always moving, always trying to outsmart, and there is never enough time to line up the scope for a perfect kill. So which is worse when you have the development time for one bullet?
The easy answer is gold farmers. There are literal wars going on against the bastards. They lie, cheat, steal, and exploit the system for one purpose. To flip the digital drugs to a player looking for a fun time. Then while that player enjoys the product, they try to lie, cheat, steal, and exploit the player. Yet, they lack true power. Yes, they might cause gold inflation. Yes, they might cause a developer to create un-fun mechanics to curb the gold farmers.
Still, in my usual play sessions gold farmers really don’t affect me. They can’t join and grief my 6-man dungeon run. They don’t have time to play in advanced PvP scenarios. I can ignore their annoying blather. And, I can make their whole existence meaningless by choosing not to buy gold. I wish I could force all other players to never buy gold too, but the fact that I have the choice sends gold farmers further down the food chain. And, for players that do give them power by giving them account information, credit card information, or merely buying their digital product I hope that those high up on the food chain take care of them too. Gold farmers do not exist in my community. They are outsiders, aliens, that scrabble for purchase in hopes of being a lowly interloper. At most what I have for them is pity that this is their chosen way to exist.
Cheaters, on the other hand, do affect me. They are part of the community. They do exist in pick-up-groups and random scenarios. And, I am powerless to let their actions touch me until I become disheartened enough to just pull the plug. Unlike gold farmers, cheaters don’t try and ruin lives and credit reports, but they do ruin fun. I am much more likely to leave a game due to a cheater’s actions than a gold farmers.
This causes a disconnect between the MMO developers and me. They have their publicized crusade against gold farmers. Mythic even had a gold farmer-banning counter to proclaim loudly to the world that this simply will not stand, man. But, players that packet-hack, .dll hack, or simply use exploits for achievements seem on the safer side. They might get banned, and those with company-approved voices will, when pushed, proclaim that this evil will also not stand, but it is clear to me where the gunsights are set.
Turbine’s Mines of Moria had a ton of instance “exploits.” One of my kinship’s most contentious was The Forges exploit where by running past the first boss until he reset the hard mode timer would never start to countdown. Then the group of players could take their leisurely time through hard mode to get their bound token. Then at the bottom, the battle with the end boss was supposed to be a moving battle where the players had to stay ahead of the wall of fire. Instead, players could hole up on one specific spot at the exit cave and ignore the silly fire-running mechanic. These exploits took months to fix. Months! On top of that, I cannot recall a stamp down on the use of these exploits. Recently, there was an exploit in a skirmish where one could gain untold amounts of skirmish tokens, which of course amounted to gold. This exploit, by comparison, came with an immediate “if you use it you will be banned”-statement and was fixed very quickly.
Guild Wars is currently having issues with hackers going through a .dll to gain loads of information not readily available on screen. The cheaters that use the hack allegedly can get a readout of the enemy team’s health in PvP matches and the “bot” can watch and interrupt the entire team’s skills with robot precision. There is another alleged bot that runs Rollerbeetle Racing with near perfection. It seems there was one hotfix ArenaNet used to combat the .dll hack, which the hackers easily hotfixed around. But, ArenaNet has been silent on the use of any of these specific items. When pressed they will claim that 3rd party programs affecting Guild Wars is against the license agreement. These exploits are even worse than a PvE dungeon cheat because people choosing to play in PvP or Rollerbeetle Racing cannot choose not to be affected. I want to hear “you ain’t got no problem, Ravious. We on the motherf—-r. Go back there, chill them ninjas out and wait for the Wolf who should be coming directly.” Sadly, nothing from ArenaNet has even come close, and I am leery about entering in to any PvP match because I don’t want to play with or against cheaters.
Cynically, I have my ideas, and at the most distilled level it comes down to this: who is the customer? A gold farmer is not a customer. A gold farmer is a leech. A vampire. A thief. A cheater is a customer, and if nothing else the customer is playing and seemingly enjoying the game more by cheating. Which one helps the bottom line? I am probably being unfair. I know I am marginalizing the gold farmer problem, but I feel developers are marginalizing the cheating problem. This is what I see. You want to show me something else, then tell me the Wolf will be here in ten minutes.
recycling bins or bullet casings