On Exploits: A Philosophical Musing

On Exploits: A Philosophical Musing

a chivalric engagement

There’s been much talk lately, on WoM and elsewhere, of in-game “exploits” and their proper punishment. Most recently, Exodus has been censured with a 72-hour suspension for taking using Yogg’s mechanics to their advantage. A while back, Karatechop of Vek’nilash received a permanent ban for using the god-mode Martin Fury shirt. Even further in distant memory, Ensidia publicly admitted to using a buff from Freya trash to complete a “mathematically impossible” hard-mode Hodir. In this post I am going to muse about what is right, what is fair, and what is permissible in the World of Warcraft. Let me make clear that I don’t condone cheating, but it does make me sad when players get punished for actions that they don’t realize are wrong, especially when there’s no clear rule or precedent.

On Play

In such ambiguous cases, I almost always sympathize with the so-called cheaters. To explain why, I’ll share a few thoughts on the philosophical bent of World of Warcraft. First of all, it presents itself as a game. In any ludic world (ludic being a fancy pants academic word to describe an environment in which play is permitted), the “rules” are relaxed. Don Quijote, for example, operates in a ludic world of his own creation. Thus, the self-styled knight is exempt from rules that apply to “normal” people. Don Quijote has created his own “rules” as he plays at being a knight–according to him, he no longer needs to eat or sleep, he doesn’t have to pay when he stays at an inn, his wounds will magically heal when he applies a mixture of rosemary, olive oil, and salt to them, and windmills and other giants of industry deserve a good beating.

The World of Warcraft is by definition ludic, and no one, least of all Blizzard, should be surprised when people do things that aren’t exactly normal. In fact, I’d say that gaming encourages players to test the limits. Is theorycrafting an exploit? I should say not. But when players of a game optimize, they tend to do so to the limit of their abilities. I would say Exodus’ kill of Yogg+0 was pretty darned clever, even though it’s been ruled illegal. I’m sure I wouldn’t do the same thing myself–because I’m both too dumb to figure it out and too fearful to follow through with it. Without a precedent to tell me them that the technique was wrong, how was Exodus supposed to know? What they did falls under the aegis of being creative on a boss kill. Sure, I’m much more likely to do things like Wowwiki says I should, but how do the pioneers draw the line between brilliance and exploit? After all, the word “exploit” is used just as often in a positive light, to mean a great deed, as it is to indicate taking unfair advantage.

On War

The idea of the “exploit” as a masterful feat brings me to my next point. We all play a game called World of WARcraft. Notice the war in Warcraft? While the old proverb claims that “all’s fair in love and war,” most educated readers probably realize that warfare does in fact have rules. It always has, from ancient times until now, and these rules are culturally determined. The rules of war work to preserve life, particularly among civilians and other innocents, but also among soldiers themselves. However, these rules of engagement are always changing. For example, the insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan is helping to establish new parameters for warfare–for better or for worse.

For me personally, I am a pacifist. No one is ever going to convince me that there is glory to be found in killing and maiming other human beings. However, I’m fascinated by battlefields. They bring out feelings of sadness, loss, and anger at the stupidity of humanity–and yes, I’m just the kind of person to wallow in such melancholy imaginings. I recently stopped at Gettysburg on my drive from NY to NC–there are few things that bring me to tears, but reflecting on human suffering on a mass scale does it every time. As a southerner and a passionate advocate of equal rights for all, any Civil War battlefield evokes in me a mixture of guilt and nostalgia that I can’t quite get anywhere else. Since my Gettysburg visit, I’ve been reading up on the different generals whose names I saw on the monuments. I can tell you based on even a little reading that in times of war, I’d rather serve under a general who pushes the boundaries than one who does not. If I have to be an ordinary Confederate soldier, I’m probably going to be killed or mutilated anyway, my amputated limbs stacked up like cordwood outside the makeshift camp hospital, but give me Longstreet over Lee any day as my commander. In the case of the Civil War, an ignominious, guerilla-style defense kept people alive where a gallant frontal attack would get them killed.

The point is that the rules of war are not fixed. What worked for Napoleon won’t work for Lee, and what seems most “honorable” is often most stupid. In our World of Warcraft, the designers should expect people to be constantly testing the limits. That’s why I don’t support banning people for exploits–essentially, you’re banning players for an excessively winning strategy. It’s hard to argue that Karatechop’s magic shirt technique was a failure, though it certainly was a cheat. However, killing a virtual robot without hardly trying does not seem like a “war” crime to me–no innocent bystanders, after all, were injured in the course of said illegal kill. In cases where malice is not present, what I would do is suspend rather than ban the player. Why would Blizzard want to ban people for using the best strategem available in their personal “war” against internet dragons?

On Honor

Along with play and warfare, I’d say the third principle that the World of Warcraft depends on is honor. We’re encouraged to seek out “honor” and “honor points” through PvP–which means the brutal killing of “enemy” players. Many quest texts also appeal to our sense of personal honor. “Honor” however, is not one singular concept but rather something that is both culturally and individually determined. Before commenters chime in that I have no idea what honor is, I’d like to say that in my day job as an academic, I study chivalry. This means, among other things, that King Arthur and his very honorable knights might as well be my best buddies. I think I have a good idea what honor is in the chivalric sense. It means a sort of personal integrity, an adherence to a code. However, for the Knights of the Round Table, this code is rather idiosyncratic. Certain parts are common to all. For example, an honorable knight aids the helpless, shows mercy when his opponent yields, keeps his bargains, and behaves himself when he is a guest in someone else’s home. However, for some knights, honor comes to include not only these secular virtues but also religious ones like purity and chastity (Percival or Galahad), while for others, “honor” is pretty close to the aphorism that might makes right (Yvain or Tristan). “Honor” also sometimes means defending oneself against real or perceived insults, often with bloody results. Honor is always idiosyncratic, and it has always caused social trouble–just ask Desdemona how she feels about the concept!

Now, since “honor” in World of Warcraft is tied to the PvP system, isn’t it closer to the “might makes right” model? How then, are we supposed to know how to be “honorable” when it comes to in-game bugs? I’d say there are some serious philosophical conflicts in WoW. The case that most stands out to me is the Martin Fury shirt, probably because the two players involved, Karatechop and Leroyspeltz, play on my old server Vek’nilash and are both acquaintances of mine. Leroy and I were in the same casual guild for about a year and were co-officers for part of that time. I can testify to Leroy’s lack of malice–he’s the kind of happy-go-lucky casual player that Blizzard is usually happy to support. In fact, my first response when I saw the story was not “Leroy, you cheater!” but “Leroy, how could you be so stupid!” My feeling is that Leroy, and probably Karatechop too, are innocent victims of their own failure to understand how Blizzard works.

On Fear

In a game where one earns “honor points” for randomly killing people whom they have no reason to fight as they’re trying to finish their Hodir dailies, how do I, as a player, know what I should and should not do? I do, in fact, wish to be as “honorable” as Galahad …but it’s hard to figure out what that means in WoW. I’d have to say that my code of personal honor in WoW has to do with how I treat other players (kindly, of course) rather than how I approach game mechanics. As for my philosophy on PvE, I turn to Machiavelli, who tells us that if one wants to be an effective leader, it is far better to be feared than loved. I fear, rather than love, the Blizzard developers. I have spent quite a lot of time building Syd and developing an in-game social network. I couldn’t bear to lose her. In the whole Martin Fury debacle, the only thing that bothers me from the players’ side is Karatechop’s cavalier attitude toward getting his guild and raid members suspended. I would be furious if I were a victim of such shenanigans. I would be grieved and regretful if I had inadvertedly deprived anyone of their character for any length of time.

Because I fear Blizzard, I take a pretty hard line on cheating and exploits for myself. I won’t buy gold or fight a boss in a doorway because it’s easier, even though neither of those actions seem “malicious” to me. Sure, on Prince Malchezzar my raid spent quite a lot of time figuring out the best “spot”–but I can also tell you that we never found the magic nook or cranny that made Prince beg for mercy and give us our helmets for free. If we had, I probably would have insisted that we take him back to the middle. I’m all for innovation, but I err on the side of caution–not because exploiting feels “wrong,” but because I fear the consequences. Heck, I even worry if I make a lot of money in the same day on the AH. Sometimes I get lucky to the tune of a couple thousand gold, and I find myself looking over my shoulder. I do the same thing whenever I see a police car on the highway, even though I never speed.

On Right and Wrong

Many things that I feel are “wrong,” like corpse camping a lowbie or shouting racial slurs in General chat, are never punished in game. Many actions that seem less dishonorable, like gold-buying or using an item one received in the mail, result in permanent bans. How am I to tell what is right and what is wrong? My internal standard for good and evil doesn’t seem to work when it comes to WoW. The Terms of Use itself is rather vague, and it cannot serve as my guide to virtue and prosperity. As a player, I try to do my best by others (you’ll never catch me ganking Horde) and err on the side of caution when it comes to the Terms of Use. After all, the TOU pretty much declares that whatever Blizzard decides is wrong, IS wrong. That sounds pretty Machiavellian to me.

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Comments

  1. Lychordia says:

    Well said. I enjoyed it emensly. I have had similar thoughts at one time or another.

  2. I was actually just discussing this same thing with a buddy of mine the other day. I think its quite ridiculous for Blizz to punish people for finding something that they themselves had built into the game, whether it was intentional or not. If people are smart/creative enough to find these exploits, well then good for them. Imo, take away achievements gained through exploitations and move on. I think its pretty unfair for Blizzard to punish someone else because they screwed up when they programmed the thing.
    .-= Thales´s last blog ..How to Quickly Level a Resto Druid =-.

  3. I’ve never liked Blizzard punishing people for stuff like this. Sure, hotfix it so that it doesn’t happen again, but punishing someone for utilizing in-game mechanics (even if they aren’t intended) has always rubbed me the wrong way.
    .-= Beej´s last blog ..Parallels in LOST and Stephen King’s "The Dark Tower" – Part 1 – Narrative =-.

  4. Some of these “exploits” irk me. I used to be involved in an organization at school that had a problem-solving component to many of the things we did. The criteria solutions were judged by, and the attitude I operate under to this day, is essentially “If it isn’t explicitly banned in the written rules, it’s allowed”.

    Now since World of Warcraft is a game, very little of what you can and can’t do is explicitly codified, so we have to infer most of it. Some things any reasonable player can assume is disallowed (walking into a raid instance, fighting something, and hitting the “Kill all monsters in sight” button, engaging in a sequence of actions at a particular spot to pass through an otherwise impenetrable barrier, etc.). Some things are just pure cleverness (kiting mobs from 1 boss to another boss to spellsteal a buff, or tricking the monsters to engage someone inside another mob who can’t be hit to me fall into this category, setting up a boss fight where aggro changes so that the pseudo-random behavior of the boss can be more predictable, etc.

    Some of these are bugs by Blizzard (in fact, they were patched shortly after the issue occurred), but are not clearly “breaking” the world. This is the WORLD of Warcraft, and like any world, it has physics and properties to explore and experiment with. Players are doing that, and achieving great success, and along the way coming up with ideas that Blizzard hasn’t considered. If the code behind WoW is designed properly, it can handle these unpredictable events in a way that Blizzard is happy with. Other times, Blizzard realizes that an assumption underlying the code was false and updates the code to address the issue. When that happens, it’s not the player’s fault for “exploiting” the game, the world worked after all. It’s Blizzard’s fault for designing the physics of the world to allow it. Blizzard should patch the code, and let players figure out how to deal with the changed world.

  5. I just dont understand the penalties they’re applying…

    Suspension for a whole guild exploiting an obvious bug and getting a World First Kill on the hardest achievement currently in the game – and advertising it all over the web as the greatest accomplishment ever.

    Permanent ban for using an item that was given by an actual Blizz GM, which led to a casual guild one shotting bosses for fun – because i really doubt they did that with any purpose to steal the loot or get achievements.

    And the gold sellers are roaming free, with no real strategy to bring them down.

    Maybe Blizzard should issue a Penalties Code that they’d follow when punishing players, just so we know what to expect.

    I’m afraid I’ll log on one day and realize my name or something like that was considered a violation and I was banned to Silithus without a mount, without the flight paths, without a hearthstone, even without ghost wolf and Astral Recall!
    .-= Wangari´s last blog ..Is that cheating? =-.

  6. I think your conclusion nailed my thoughts pretty well.

    As to the whole Hodir Hard Mode Spellsteal thing, that really is a textbook case of “Creative Use of Game Mechanics”.

    The FR buff from Blackrock Spire was expected to be used or the Aura of Celerity in Thorim’s encounter is an achievement. If you put something in the game that is Spellstealable or an NPC that can be Mind Controlled, the default assumption should be that it’s there for a reason.

    Obviously the adds from Freya for use in Hodir was unintended, and it was hotfixed, but “Creative Use of Game Mechanics” are usually fixed and laughed off (which this was).

    Forcing a part of the encounter to evade isn’t anywhere close to that, just like the bug/exploit/hack that allowed Hunters to be in the air in Dire Maul North.

    All of this stuff is usually a value judgement on the fair/unfair scale (since right/wrong is purely in Blizzard’s hands), but what Exodus did, along with the circumstances of an exploited kill being on the front page of Armory and every fansite sure makes it seem like they got off easy.
    .-= Caladein´s last blog ..How Virtua Fighter 4 ruined fighting games for me. =-.

  7. Thanks for a fair and open minded post about this! Totally agree with most of your points, and mused on others. ๐Ÿ™‚
    .-= Nessie´s last blog ..Current 3.2 Patch Notes =-.

  8. I have mixed opinions on this topic.

    First of all, I think blizzards actions have less to do with the infraction and more to do with copycats. As soon as someone comes up with an exploit its finds its way to the internet and the next thing you know hundreds of people are using it. This causes all sorts of maintenance for blizzard to fix acheivements, remove gear, and all the other neccessary things. By impossing stiff penalties they prevent some people from using them and thus reduce their own workload.

    Now lets take a quick look at your examples. What Exodus did was fairly clearly outside the rules. Causing a mob to bug out and attack an unattackable target is clearly outside of normal game operations. One could say that they are being treated harshly, but at the same time Exodus is smart enough to know better.

    In my opinion the Ensidia example is different, though Exodus would have you believe differently. When Ensidia killed Hodir for the first time they used the Flowerpower buff as it was designed, just not on the encounter they intended to use it. This isn’t a case of Ensida exploiting a bug, but of using a loop hole. Look at it from a different perspective. Dark Runes are usable on General Vezex. This is clearly a fight were they want mana regen to be minimal if at all and have blocked most consumables from providing any regen. So should I tink twice before I use a dark rune on General Vezex? While i don’t think what Ensidia did was right, I think it as within the rules of the game.

    Regarding the Martin Fury shirt example, I think this is where Blizzard messed up the most. I’m not saying that they shoudn’t punished because what they were doing was clearly wrong, but did it deserve a perma ban? I don’t thinks so. The situation is little like an employee of Fararrie handing you to the keys to one of their cars to take it out for the week end and then having it reported stolen. I think a 3 day ban would have been fair, but a perma ban is a little much for a Blizz employee screw up.

    Finally, the thing that I think is most wrong with blizzards ban policies didn’g come from one of your examples. If you take a moment to look at Gohlok’s blog Frostbolt.com you will see that he was banned right after 3.1 came out because some of his guild mates looted multiple Emblems due to a bug. He did not participate in the activity but was banned. So, blizzards general policy seems to be ban first ask questions later. That just seems wrong to me and fairly unamerican.
    .-= Graylo´s last blog ..What is Blizzard Smoking? =-.

  9. @ Graylo: What’s unAmerican about unfair treatment of customers by corporations? That seems–unfortunately–extremely American to me.

  10. smeedsc says:

    lets just hope that Aion doesn’t suck and we can move on from this worn out game.
    *after I deck out in tier ten and kill the Lich King to get my 40 bucks worth, of course. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. Good post, I was thinking about the same sorts of things. I also like the term ludic space ๐Ÿ™‚

    A ludic space with hard rules (like chess) isn’t one that’s going to be subject to exploits — there just is no room. Anything you want to do is either legal within the game or it isn’t and if you aren’t sure you can go look it up.

    But in an MMO, part of the challenge in working on a new raid enounter is that you have to figure out what the rules to that enounter are. That is the game of getting a first kill if there aren’t any written strategies. So there is no closed ruleset, only a sort of vaguely understood guidelines such as ‘don’t misuse bugs’, ‘if something evade bugs, it’s probably a bug,’ and ‘if you have trivialised a hard mode encounter, you probably found a bug.’

    So on the one hand they’re sending players out to poke at the new encounter and do whatever they can to figure it out. But with only vague guidelines as to where the line is crossed.

  12. Totemshock says:

    I would agree normally with your sentiment. Watch a video of them doing it though and tell me if you think this is legit.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFdY75sZ_LY

    Can anybody watch this and not see that they are knowingly breaking the encounter? I agree that there are ways you can use the game mechanics properly to make difficult encounters trivial (you should see how easily we have mimiron p3 down nowรขโ‚ฌยฆ clockwork) but that is different than what is going on here.

  13. Yeah, I tend to agree that punishments need to have precedent or forewarning if they’re going to be legit. Consider also the example of group that 4-maned FL just by kiting it back and forth along the longest possible path in the room. They were temp. banned for something that wasn’t even a misuse of other encounter buffs – they were just smart about positioning and timing.

    On a wholly unrelated and pretty insubstantial note, I’m a little timid about the characterizations in the Civil War section. I think Gettysburg stands as one of Lee’s biggest failures, whereas he was more often much more tactical (and successful) than Longstreet. Also, there is evidence to support a theory that the massacre that was Pickett’s Charge on the 3rd day was supposed to include a cavalry attack from the rear that never showed up, which may have turned what looks like a really big waste of life into another brilliant tactical victory for the outnumbered Southerners.

    Perhaps this reminds us that we, as players, never see the full side of these exploit stories. It is possible there is a lot more evidence that we don’t have access to, Blizzard doesn’t provide, and the accused don’t reveal (chat logs come to mind here).

  14. @Syd: Well, when you put it that way I see your point.
    .-= Graylo´s last blog ..What is Blizzard Smoking? =-.

  15. @Juzaba: I’m no expert on the Civil War. I’m a medieval/renaissance scholar, so I’m quite out of field in the 19th c. Longstreet happens to be my favorite of the personalities, and I’ve ordered a book on him :0) Though of course, as an academic I know that it takes many, many books to get anything like a balanced view of the past.

    From my limited reading, it seems that the debate over how good a tactician Longstreet was has a lot to do with his actions post-war. The fact that he turned scalawag pissed off the “Lost Cause” folks. I’m looking forward to doing a little bit more reading, but I will say that, based on my limited knowledge, Longstreet seems to have –at the very least– grasped the tactical implications of the weapons technology at the time. Lee, on the other hand, seems to have been placed–fairly or unfairly–in a sort of tragic aging King Arthur role, fighting against his better judgment and too honorable to modernize. I think that the museums anyway want a tragic figure to represent the south, and Lee’s been chosen to fill that role. But as for me personally, I feel sorry for Pickett. That guy had all the bad luck.

  16. So here…solve this math problem “what is the square root of 2675900” If you can solve this problem you will get a cookie. What? You used a calculator? No cookie for you. And because you use a calculator I am not going to let you have a chance to earn any more cookies. Even though I gave you a calculator in your shool supplies. I did not intend for you to use it. Had anyone of the the people or groups in the above examples altered WoW’s c programing in order to accomplish what they did I would say ban them for life. But every example of so called “exploits” I have seen all anyone has done is used the code as it was written by the developers. Perhaps it was an unintended use but to penalize someone for that is unfair. Even standing in a doorway where a boss can not hit you is not something that should be punished. If it worked but the developers do not want the fight to be done that way then change the code. I mean really, who is harmed by that groups actions? Did Blizz recieve less money as a result of the use of a given tactic? If you feel that the achivement was unwarrented then remove tha accolade. But as long as Blizz uses humans to write their code, there will be errors in the code and users will find a way to take advantage of said errors. Ban enough people for what seems like unfair reasoning and you will eventually make people want to find another way to spend their time.

  17. The grey areas I see are tanking XT to the side, or burning S3 down by overgearing it. To me it’s entirely obvious why they did not punish players for those or for using a spellstolen buff but instead later hotfixed it, and did punish players for using an Evade bug or moving through walls.

    Most stuff seems to be using the game world as designed, just not in the way a developer intended.
    However use of evade to stop a mob from attacking seems to be not using the “game world”, but taking advantage of a meta game mechanic.

    I guess by game world I’m refering to the ludic space mentioned. To many people, Evade lies outside this space, since it seems more of a bandaid to a problem of players becoming unattackable due to bugs in geography. It is “outside” the game rules in a way, because it’s obvious intent is to stop players from killing a mob when you are unattackable, but its side effect is to allow players to ignore mobs that are part of encounters.

    This also applies to going through walls, which is also beyond that ludic space, since it is a bug, not just an unintended consequence.

  18. Yeah, I totally buy that Lee’s myth has been seriously, er, mythicized. And you’re right – as a personality in the war, Longstreet is incredibly interesting. Part of the issue, too, is that we only ever get to see any subordinate in the context of their superior – Longstreet’s tactics often didn’t seem to fit hand in glove with Lee’s style (which was very aggressive and, in the end, very lucky).

    But at the same time, the South’s disadvantages almost required a certain amount of risk, because any “safe” strategy was just going to end in the North winning through attrition. As it turns out, this is the endgame anyways, but Lee’s robust nature at least gave Northern generals the opportunity to make mistakes, which they did continuously through the first part of the war.

    To bring it back to Wow, if we’re looking at a “mathematically impossible” Hodir fight, I think it’s easier to compare Ensidia to a Lee/Jackson pro-risk strategy than to anything else. Dragging Flower Power in from another encounter may be a bannable offense, but there isn’t any other way to win, and we’re pretty sure no one will get perma-banned, so it is the option most likely to result in the best-case scenario. Wheeee!

    Whoa. Sorry for taking the train way off the tracks. Er… I heart WoM? *nodnod*

  19. theholyevil says:

    That was very interesting, and if I may add my 2c to it.

    Most WOW rules are not here for Personal protection. But instead here for MMO balance.

    Example: Let’s say selling WOW gold became legal. What would happen? the WOW economy would crash, dailies would become a thing of the pass. Doom and despair.

    So when you come to something like martins fury or exodus evade bugging. Do they harm anyone? Probably not. But if everyone used a martins fury or evade bugged and instance WOW would become a joke. Blizz made a true example out of martins fury and basically said “Don’t do this or we come after your family”. With exodus and the 3 day ban you could almost tell, ” look it was creative but wrong don’t do it”.

    WOW is a great game like that, just like you can’t legalize stealing, because then society would fail. The same goes for exploiting. If everyone did it there would be no WOW.

  20. nineironn says:

    What bothers me is the latest cheating in wintergrasp. At least on the Terenas server I have seen the horde moving siege tank demolishers as fast as a DK epic mount. I dont mind when im out played because of good tactics but obvious speed hacks get my goat. I cant wait till this hack exploit is squished.

  21. In a thread on the offical forums on this very topic (sadly deleted when it turned…well, about how you’d expect), I brought up the subject of Counting Cards and Vegas.

    Now….”cheating”…a word with a very similar meaning and connotation as has been used for “exploiting”. In Vegas, use of the ability to “count cards” is called cheating.

    Now, why is it considered cheating? A card counter doesn’t have access to information the other players do not. The get dealt cards in the same fashion, they don’t sneak in extra cards. The only difference between the card-counter and the non-card-counter is that the card counter’s brain processes the information available to them in a different fashion. This different way of processing the information allows card counters to excel at games such as blackjack and certain kinds of poker.

    Now, faced with a game where players of a certain skill could essentially beat the system and win far more often than they lose, I’m sure a lot of Vegas casino owners would have liked to have done away with say, Blackjack, altogether. But gambling on card games is too entrenched into the mind of the average Vegas casino-goer as an essential part of the Vegas experience. And so they did the only other thing that came to mind.

    They decided that being too good at card games was “cheating”.

    There is really no traditional reason why it would be considered cheating. But Vegas began a campaign of thought that said that it was. Why is counting cards cheating? Because Vegas says it is.

    Now, how does this relate to WoW. Well, in WoW, there are two ways to define cheating.

    1. Things which the software does not allow you to do. Ways to “cheat” in this fashion would be hacks, people altering the software, or the information sent out by the software, to fool the game into allowing them to do things that normally it would not.

    2. Things which the client allows you to do, but Blizzard says are cheating.

    Now…if Blizzard, the makers of the software, say a certain behavior is cheating, why does the software allow you to do it? Well, a MMO such as WoW is a giant mountain of code, made by many many people, some still with Blizzard and some not. Blizzard attempts to squash all unintended behaviors in the beta and PTR phases, but the fact is…there is no way to make sure your testers do all the things and introduce all of the variables that 11 million players will. You just can’t stand up to that kind of applied scrutiny. Blizzard cannot possibly have content that is completely, 100% bug free in all circumstances. They cannot predict everything that a player might do. And so they ask players simply, not to do things in the game that the programmers didn’t intend.

    Cheating of the 2nd type, like card counting, is cheating simply because Blizzard says so. Those who work within the confines of what the software allows receive no advantage that every last one of the millions of other players do not.

    Now, I understand why Blizzard attempts to use the ToS as a last line of defense against unintended trivialization of content. The problem is that their history in defining exactly what an exploit is, and enforcing their decisions, has been spotty at best.

    Was the old hunter kiting method of defeating General Drakkisath in UBRS an exploit? Was running your BWL raid into BRS and having your priests MC the mobs and cast the FR buff on your raid members before going to face certain bosses an exploit? The problem here is that this sort of “cheating” is entirely in how Blizzard defines it. If they’re interested in creating a fair environment, they need to well…suck it up and set clear definitions. Right now players are sort of dragooned into service, and told they must decide for themselves what the devs did and did not intend lest they face suspensions or bans.

  22. Two comments to an otherwise great post:

    – You see no problem in buying gold? The gold mostly comes from hacked accounts. You have 1000x more chance to lose your character to a goldfarmer than to a Blizzard ban.

    – There is NO lucid space where you are not alone. If there are just 1 more person present, the social competition always present, destroying all means to play.

  23. Martin Fury thing was simple, when you receive godmode stuff in your mail, it’s just silly to think that this is how it’s supposed to work.

    That’s like receiving a million back in tax money, spending it, and when they come to collect say, hey I thought it was a gift…yah, right.

    Exodus…dunno, I would never have done it their way, because simply said I would think it would’ve been an unfair way to beat the content, and I would never want the achievement like that, and definitely not brag about it going about it like this. (I got Hadronox Denied without bugging him for example, even though I knew about the bug, I simply refused to do it that way because the achievement would feel less of an accomplishment).

    They used a bug, they knew they were not supposed to do it (yes, all players should know you’re not supposed to abuse bugs) did Blizzard act correctly? I think so.

    They didn’t permaban them, they slapped them on the wrist, saying no we do not like this. Fair enough. It already wasn’t a fair way to do it.

    Ensidia…ya know, this was not obviously wrong. It was obviously unconventional, and obviously not the way Blizzard had meant for players to do it. But the flowers followed, and the buff could be spell stolen, etc.

    Find that last one a lot harder. I would have taken the achievement away, and said, sorry, well found, but this is not how we meant it to happen, here try again with a fixed version.
    .-= Shyraia´s last blog ..Spectral Tiger in Las Vegas, pst =-.

  24. You talk about ludic world with relaxed rules and you bring up the Don Quijote example and try to compare it with what Exodus did. You forget though, that the warcraft ludic world was made by Blizzard, thus the rules were made up by Blizzard. So, like the “giants” in Don Quijote’ s world played with his rules, so is Exodus (and every one else) forced to do. If Blizzard says that something is exploit, then it is, like it or not.The only thing i can say on that is that Blizzard hasn’t stated from the begining a definition fo “Exploit”.

    About the Martin Fury shirt example now, if by mistake i send you a credit card with the credit card number instead of sending it to my wife, will you use it? And if you use it? Wouldn’t you think that this is illegal and will put you in trouble? Same goes to those two, who by the way, at least one said he knew that this was bannable and he was ready to quit.

    About Ensidia and their some times “shady” tactics. Their big difference with Exodus is that if they find a bug and use it, they inform Blizzard and afterwards the community and dont claim “extreme luck” and hope that nobody will notice what they did. Simple as that.

    In general, Blizzard sets the rules and we go by them cause it is their “Ludic World” so their rules. They might be slow as snails, but they tend to admit their mistakes and bugs, and if you dont try to play it smart or hide what you did, they tend to forgive.

  25. If I remember correctly from my previous lifetime, Machiavelli said that actually it was better to be loved, but if you couldn’t be loved, then yes, at that point, being feared was your best option.

  26. I understand your argument, however I disagree with your premise. Your entire argument rests on the fact that the guilds on question were using game mechanics in order to beat encounters (which is correct) and that they had no intent or knowledge of those methods being exploits.

    Ulduar is not the first raid encounter that guilds have exploited on, and subsequently gotten punished for. The TOS is very clear and explicit. It has been referenced several times in punishing players who violate the rules. For instance: do you remember the Warlock who soloed Hydross because of pathing and los issues? It’s just one example of many.

    As stated in previous comments: Ensidia has come out to state that they knew they were cheesing the Freya3 encounter. They went in with the INTENT to do it, and did it.

    There’s a well defined line between using an new and creative idea to beat an encounter and using broken game mechanics in a way that trivializes the encounter by bugging out a mob (as in the Yogg encounter.) Which is my argument here: you don’t seem to see this line. And that’s where I disagree with you.

    The punishment is just and expected. You can call an apple a banana all you want, but at the end of the day it’s still an apple. Exploits are against ToS – it should not be a surprise to anyone.

  27. Machiavelli said ‘It is better to be loved than feared, but it is better to be feared than nothing at all’. A bit of pedantry, but you’re making the guy out to be more ruthless than he was – which is somewhat impressive, really.

  28. I see this as very similar to insurance fraud.

    You can’t get paided for any more that what your entitled to or else it is insurance fraud.

    When the insurance company does not pay for something it’s called watching out for the investors.

    So this explot is utilizing a bug in the encounter but I hate to say it but blizz programmed in the mechanics, unintended as it may be it is 100% caused by blizzard. Deadly boss mods is more of an exploit an external to blizz program that makes stuff easier.

    And oddly we won’t see blizz saying yea you totaly had yoggy till that bug wiped your raid here is the achievement and some loot.

    And those of us who judge lets make sure that we did not stand in the water during the early day of wrath and the spark boss of VH or a new one I saw last night. during heigen phase 1 where you tank extreme front right and range is as far back and left as possible, out of the aura and the splash.

    Sorry but lax testing is not justification for a ban.

    Other than our interaction with other players, there is no morality in the game. Like tonight I will plow the ring of blood with my 80 hunter for a toon on my other account, it is a complete and utter exploit and not even a bug, so is that bannable.

    World first in a virtual world are completly bogas, the bans make is seem similar to steroid and sports which is just so silly.

  29. A very interesting book re: civil war generals and whatnot is The Class of 1846. Most of the major civil war generals went to westpoint together and graduated in the same class, Jackson and McClellan being two of the most famous. Very interesting read.

  30. Being a bit of a War buff I will take fault with

    Longstreet being a better General than Lee

    Longstreet may have been one of the worst generals in the Confederate army and he may have betrayed Lee as well. It may be the reason he was sent out west.

    Longstreet may have been a great brigade commander but as Strategist and Tactician he was not near as good as someone like Lee or the Union Generals Grant,Jackson or Sherman.

  31. Deadpan says:

    How interesting that at this moment I have a ticket out to Blizz about a bot. I despise going to an area to grind and find that someone has been running in circles. Or try to buy an item that is limited availability and the same person has been sitting at the vendor’s feet for hours mindlessly clicking on the NPC.

    Botting mocks the honest efforts of players to achieve gold, rep or honor. It’s the same sneering attitude that you hear when people defend gold buying. “Why should I gather herbs when I can just slap down a credit card?” Because just like in real life, cheating cheapens the reward and it’s against the rules.

    Play the game the way it was meant to be played, and proudly equip the spoils of your efforts.

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