A Shot Across the Bow

As TN reported a this week, Sony accounced the Sony Exchange. There has been an active discussion here and elsewhere.

It also hasn't taken long for other MMO publishers to give their opinion. Mark Jacobs, Mythic's President and CEO, cut loose in Game Daily Biz:

I'm disappointed with the decision from a leader in the MMO industry to go down a path which in the past, has been an anathema to them and remains so to just about every other MMORPG company in the industry. I think that not only supporting the sale of in-game characters, items and currency, but also taking a 'cut' of those sales, is not only a mistake but one of the worst decisions in the history of the MMORPG industry

The article goes on to cover Mark's views on how this will imapct IGE, possible legal issues, and more choice quotes:
We remain committed to keeping our games as games and not as opportunities to encourage behavior that runs counter to their spirit of creativity and entertainment.

SOE's President, John Smedley response is also included in the Game Daily Biz story.
In satisfying the broad player demand for a service such as Station Exchange, SOE is again innovating, and any innovation is bound to have its critics

Worst decision in the history of the MMORPG industry? Acceptance of the inevitable? Brilliant move? Talk amongst yourselves.


Comments on A Shot Across the Bow:

Grouchy Gnome says:

Rather than clutter this comment section with a 3+ page commentary on the subject, here's a link: http://www.nerfbat.com/?p=26

Posted Apr 24, 2005 9:15:02 PM | link

Michael Hartman says:

Marc Jacobs really should be ashamed of himself.

First, anyone who played DAoC at release knows that Mythic expressly permitted the sale of characters from one person to another. It was not until their law suit with Black Snow Interactive that they disallowed it (because they feared legal complications from allowing it). When they changed their policy they even expressly grandfathered in people whose accounts predated the change.

Second, this statement of his is just gross:

> We remain committed to keeping our
> games as games and not as
> opportunities to encourage behavior
> that runs counter to their spirit of
> creativity and entertainment.

Again, anyone who engaged in end game RvR in DAoC knows that the game was nigh unplayable without a buff bot. Any group of people who wanted to be competitive in RvR needed at least 1 or 2 buff bots parked in the PK (portal keep) to ensure that the entire party was fully buffed with full spec buff. Real live characters rarely, if ever, speced their characters for maximum buffs, but buff bots did. So to be competitive in RvR, since buffs had no nether distance or expiration, you had to have buff bots with the highest level buffs in the game to buff you and then idle in the furthest, safest keeps.

In fact, even the PvE aspect of DAoC virtually required buff bots by the time of the first expansion. Additionally, if you actually chose to play one of the classes that were used as buff bots, your desireability in groups was virtually zero. Who needed you when everyone just had a buff bot in tow.

Given these facts about DAoC, Marc Jacobs really should have just kept his mouth shut.

Furthermore, there is an enormous amount of gold, item, and character selling going on in DAoC so he's living in fantasy land if he thinks otherwise.

Posted Apr 24, 2005 10:03:48 PM | link

Michael Hartman says:

I failed to mention an important detail about buff bots:

A buff bot means you had to buy a 2nd account for the game.

So they allowed their game to evolve such that instead of it being $13 a month, it was really $26 a month.

So Marc Jacobs' apparently disdain that SOE is "getting a cut" is really misplaced.

Add to this the fact that they recently jacked up the price of DAoC for no legitimate reason and Marc Jacobs has absolutely no leg to ethical stand on.

Posted Apr 24, 2005 10:52:35 PM | link

Bob says:

That is a strange comment by Mr. Jacobs - considering DAOC is one of only 8 games with it's own ebay category:

http://video-games.listings.ebay.com/Internet-Games_W0QQfromZR4QQsacatZ1654QQsocmdZListingItemList

Posted Apr 25, 2005 12:52:11 AM | link

magicback says:

Not strange from my perspective.

One is an realistic understanding of how players and participants are taking advantage of your game, product, design, etc. And perhaps keeping the status quo given that it brings more money to the firm.

The other is an active step toward merchandizing (if this word fits) the game to more options to players and hopefully bring more money to the firm.

The risk for Mythic and developer of similar games is that they have to follow suit start a new round of competitive actions that clearly merchandize the genre, but unclear benefit to the industry overall.

Posted Apr 25, 2005 3:26:28 AM | link

Theo says:

I think this is the beginning of what's always been an inevitable trend. Bottom line is that virtual goods take time to cultivate, and there's a market for them. Is there any way to stop it? If it can't be stopped, maybe it can be regulated, or at least it can turn a profit. It's not like third-party venues such as eBay don't already exist for the sale of these virtual items. Will an official sanction of and outlet for the practice really increase it? It'll be interesting to see.

Sony deserves a lot of credit for one thing at least. They've never stopped looking at new business models for the MMORPG genre. They see a market and they figure out a way to use it. It sounds very noble to speak of the purity of the game's creative and entertainment value, but is it practical?

Posted Apr 25, 2005 8:30:42 AM | link

Tobold says:

SOE's decision was definitely a case of "if you can't beat them, join them". It is easy to criticize, but that criticism isn't really believable when you don't offer a better way of ending the trade of virtual items.

It would be very easy to make a game in which you cannot transfer money or items from one player to another. That would totally eliminate EBaying and IGE, and make the game completely "fair", with every character only owning what he earned. By insisting on the unfairness of allowing people to twink their alts / friends / guildmates the developers opened the door to the trade of virtual items. If you allow somebody to spend social capital to get 100 gold pieces from a friend, it is technically impossible to prevent him from spending $50 to get the same 100 gold pieces from a stranger.

Posted Apr 25, 2005 8:41:52 AM | link

Theo says:

I'm not sure what the harm is in allowing such trades to occur in the first place. Is it feared that virtual game worlds will be overrun with loot and XP farmers? Maybe the best approach isn't one that hampers the "commodification" (is that a word?) of virtual property, but one that minimizes its negative impact on the player base.

Eliminate the need to compete with other players for quest mobs by placing them inside of instanced mission zones. Alternatively, they could be made into all-level mobs that anyone can attack. CoH has "monster" mobs that con the same to all levels, and everyone's ability to hit and damage it is scaled to level the playing field. You need to take down Drago the Lich for your Sword of Ultimate Uberness? Join in the battle and score some hits on him and your quest advances. No complaints about kill stealing, no competing.

In EQ, many items are "lore", meaning you can only possess one of them at a time. You can farm one, but you'd have to wait until you sold or traded it to farm another. No stockpiling.

Posted Apr 25, 2005 9:22:17 AM | link

Paolo says:

If MMOs were actually about character development, story arcs, and entertainment then I could understand that SOEs latest move could be considered a negative, but they aren't.

Most people play MMOs to hang out, chat their friends, camp loot spawns, power level, buy items, farm others, etc. Besides, as I've said elsewhere, those that were going to buy and sell virtual things were going to do it regardless. Those that don't approve, won't.

MMOs ceased being about roleplaying and high-fantasy a loooong time ago. Now it's capitalism at it's best/worst.

Posted Apr 25, 2005 10:33:48 AM | link

Barry Kearns says:

If anything, I would think this move by SOE would be a net positive thing for those concerned with commodification cheapening their accomplishments.

Think about it.

SOE has structured this to make it attractive for the vast majority of the pro-commodification folks to switch over to the Exchange-enabled servers. Once they do that, they can't come back. It's a one-way trap door.

The advent of guaranteed delivery, guaranteed payment and zero fraud (guarantee that you get what you bid on, and not some sub-standard substitute) should make the people who want to buy flock there... why risk losing out when you can get a guarantee instead?

The sellers will tend to follow the buyers. The net effect on the non-Exchange-enabled servers is that a much higher fraction of people who are left... will be people who aren't commodifying. Achievements will mean more on these servers, not less.

It's a form of self-segregation. People who like to commodify can do so on servers where (hopefully) there will be far less stigma from their fellow players... after all, why else are they there if not to treat buying and selling as appropriate behavior?

People who don't like commodification will see a corresponding drop in the fraction of people doing it on their server. The beautiful thing is, no one will be looking at commodification being added to their server against their will, and the anti-commodification folks don't need to do ANYTHING. They'll simply see commodifiers leaving their servers en masse. Isn't that precisely what they have wanted all along?

Will it be perfect? Of course not. Is it likely to be far better than what we have today? I'm guessing that it's going to be a win-win for almost every camp... with the minor exception of the moral purists who loathe the idea of anyone ever doing something like this, anywhere.

But if they aren't being impacted by it, I hardly give much credence to their sermonizing. It's a "mind your own business" matter at that point, as far as I'm concerned.

Even though I'm generally pro-commodification, I'd support crack-down efforts against commodification on non-Exchange-enabled servers, so long as SOE keeps their word and allows free one-way transfers from non-Exchange realms to Exchange realms.

There's little excuse for failing to transfer before commodifying in that circumstance, unless you actually are trying to ruin the experience of others or trying to claim false achievement as some have alleged. And in that case, I have no sympathy for you, either.

Commodifying on a non-Exchange server when Exchange servers are available is little different than playing on a role-playing server and deliberately bringing in out-of-character stuff, when you had the option of playing on a non-role-playing server. You have an appropriate (and nearly identical) playground with like-minded folks that you can transfer to without impact, so you should play there.

Posted Apr 25, 2005 11:43:14 AM | link

Edward Castronova says:

Michael Hartman wrote Furthermore, there is an enormous amount of gold, item, and character selling going on in DAoC so he's living in fantasy land if he thinks otherwise.

Yeah. See, this is where I start out. I'm a RMT hater. I'm also an economist and public policy scholar. One thing I know about policy is that you should never assume that passing a law against something will end it. And you shouldn't have a policy 'just because'. You need to think about what the policy does.

I believe that the policy of EULA-banning RMT (real-money trade) encourages eBaying and has at least two nasty unintended effects:
1. It makes the soil rich for companies like IGE. (I respect their business acumen but wish they would deploy it somewhere else.)
2. It discredits the Terms of Service and the Rules of the Game in general terms.

Basically, passing laws and policies that everyone will ignore or avoid is a very bad idea. It discredits the notion of Law. It prevents the formation of community norms. It discourages voluntary adherence to the spirit of the rules. It reduces trust between rulers and ruled. Bad, bad, bad.

That's the world we've been living in, and Sony's announcement is the first step out of that world.

Absent a move like Sony's, here's a worst-case scenario, yet one that I see as still pretty likely: IGE versus Mark Jacobs to the death. IGE will win that fight. And that sucks.

So, everyone: calm down.

Let's go for the middle ground. There's a better way.

Designers: assume that you have an RMT exchange as part of your service, because if you don't, IGE will make one. There's no point in saying 'we will use our powers of enforcement to prevent RMT from happening.' No, you won't. Let's move on now, to a feasible policy.

I hope Sigil, Turbine, Wolfpack, Monolith et al. will start designing great games that are conscious of the existence of RMT, that minimize its influence on outcomes or shunt the pressures off to acceptable uses (such as a wealthy noble class).

Posted Apr 25, 2005 11:44:29 AM | link

Will Leverett says:

Is this really any different than offering worlds with PvP and non-PvP environments? Those who want a specific play style will be able to take advantage of it on this service.

Consumer demand shapes the market, often in completely unexpected ways. Clearly Sony feels that there is enough demand to warrant testing a new service on two of their worlds.

Posted Apr 25, 2005 11:57:26 AM | link

Scott says:

So really, vice either completely surrendering and building RMT (I am so stealing that acronym!) into the game, or spending untold amounts on customer service enforcing the TOS to DEATH, the *only* realistic solution is to design MMGs to survive offline RMT merchants.

There aren't any good models for this yet. City of Heroes is one model, but I don't particularly like the expansion that the only way for your ingame economy to survive is to not actually have an ingame economy.

My personal opinion is that if you make the process of character building in an MMG fun, roadblock-free ("roadblocks" being a +5 Kraang of Otyugh Slaying that only drops in one non-instanced location) and accessible to those with limited time available, you remove the worst problems.

The closest to this today is probably World of Warcraft, and they have RMT issues. So I'm probably all wet. I'm OK with this. I do know that if we DO commodify MMGs, it will alienate far more people who tire of the constant and inevitable "insert credit card to continue" come-ons than our current only-for-the-hardcore gameplay does.

Posted Apr 25, 2005 1:56:01 PM | link

John Riley says:

I also think it is similar to the PvP debate and that having different servers with different rules will help segregate the people who either like it or don't. Seems like a win-win situation as far as that is concerned and SOE will be able to start cracking down on enforcing the non-EE rules a lot easier now without banning a large portion of customers they would likely see as desirable.

That being said, I think there is a very legitimate concern that there is a conflict of interest here with SOE is taking a cut of the transactions. There are quite a few design decisions that could be made to increase the value and number of transactions that could be made. Will these design decisions now be influenced by the profit levels of the EE servers? Of course, SOE would never admit they are, but as long as we are being realistic about the existance of RMT, lets also be realistic about the nature of the business. If they can increase their profits, they will do so.

Posted Apr 25, 2005 2:06:19 PM | link

Scott says:

The problem with the comparisons to the PvP debate: If you play on a PvE server, someone can't pay a black marketeer money to flip your PvP dlag.

Posted Apr 25, 2005 2:42:26 PM | link

Scott says:

flag, not dlag. Although a PvP dlag may mean something!

Posted Apr 25, 2005 2:43:00 PM | link

qumefox says:

Actually, Sony creating the station exchange is in no way innovating at all. There is another MMORPG out there that has been giving real world value to virtual items for a good 3 years now. It can be found at http://www.project-entropia.com
The entire in game economy is based on real money. Money can be put into the system, as well as taken out.

Posted Apr 25, 2005 4:47:59 PM | link

Marsilio Ficino says:

Here is a possible view of the chronology.

Selling items in MMOs was bad and everyone knew that. BUT, none of the MMO's were "willing" to stop it (The major MMOs were all "able" to stop it. They have the money and some/many of the legal claims are very very strong such as trademark associated claims). Finally, the whole business becomes so profitable and the MMO's are such wimps at enforcement that you get a corporate form to the business (i.e. IGE). Now, SOE yields to the exchange system because market forces push to make it easier to join IGE than to beat IGE. Specifically, SOE could spend 3 million dollars on litigation and probably win, but this way they spend a fraction of that and they definitely "win." With this move they get a certain monetary return, player satisfaction, and get to strike a blow to IGE - guaranteed without any legal fees and the uncertainties of the justice system. As a side note, with all respect to Mark Jacobs, he and the whole community are/were such wimps at real enforcement that the Sony Exchange choice is actually morally preferable to "bending over and taking it" (metaphorically speaking). The "bending over" being the status quo until Sony Exchange. In short, that whole quote above was Mark telling SOE to bend back over and continue to take it . . . unless Mark has some super master plan that he has been saving up for years while his legal rights flutter away as infringement becomes more rampant. Sending out all those "cease and desist" letters without backing them up that Vivendi et al. did/are doing are just little reminder notes (evidence) that they all knew exactly what was going on and didn't actually do anything about it.

My whole point is that if I had NCSoft, Vivendi, or Mythic money in MMO's, I would spend some of it to burn IGE down. I would own Brock Pierce's underwear before this was done. There are no shortage of IP attorneys around that would love to help with that. By letting it continue to happen without litigation they are giving up their rights through equitable principles such as laches and perhaps even some statutes of limitations. The market at Sony Exchange is preferable to doing essentially nothing (or at least doing things that are not working - which was what the community was doing before).

Posted Apr 25, 2005 5:04:47 PM | link

Hellinar says:

Theo> I'm not sure what the harm is in allowing such trades to occur in the first place. Is it feared that virtual game worlds will be overrun with loot and XP farmers?<

While that is certainly one effect, there is another more subtle effect I fear. I’m a roleplayer of sorts, and get into the online worlds for story and Adventure. Real Money Trading reinforces the sense the these worlds are designed simply to replicate a popular game in this world, rather than provide one I can’t get in this life. To my thinking, by far the most popular game, at least in North America, is the Consumer Game. In this game, you level up at the office to get points ($) and items which give you greater powers or status. The basic Diku format. Of course, that game requires a fair amount of grinding to level up, so many people treat it like “work” and forget that, at heart, its only a game.

Its no surprise that this popular game format gets translated wholesale into VWs. But the online worlds also provide a venue for story based Adventure which is less easy to come by in this world. There are no dragons to slay in my neighbourhood. For my playstyle, more commodification increases the rat race I am looking to rest from for a while. I’d be the first to admit most people want to simply continue the level game they are familiar with in another venue. But what distresses me is that any of the major MMORG could provide the world I am looking for with a couple of extra lines of code. Just take a normal server, make it single character, and add some code to limit leveling rate, and I would be happy.

If you took a WoW server, it would be pretty trivial to add code to limit leveling to 20 levels in the first month, then say five thereafter. My theory is that would make leveling a background rather than foreground activity. People would then stop to talk to each other, instead of bunny hopping down the road in a mad dash to get to the next level. And with a casual leveling rate, fancy gear would no longer command the value it does now. I’m sure such a server would be a niche market. But given how little effort it would require, I do wish someone would test the theory.

Posted Apr 25, 2005 5:06:58 PM | link

Lee Delarm says:

I love all the above comments, great discussion :)

On the note of Marsilio Ficino however, there is a good reason that the major MMOs didn't go after IGE. And that's because they could lose. Not only does IGE have deep pockets as well, they also stand on the wall with a hammer. If the company filing suit loses (Mythic for example), they open a floodgate for everyone else as well (EQ, AO, etc). Basically what this means is, their case can be used as a precedent, something that most judges look for when making rulings and taking evidence into account.

For the most part, judges are not willing to introduce new law or rule in such a way that would counter a previous case. This means that even if IGE won a slice of the pie, they would have a damned good foothold to get the rest of it and they'd own a nearly indestructable bank vault to keep it in.

Posted Apr 26, 2005 6:27:38 AM | link

Jim Self says:

Edward Castranova wrote:

>>
Designers: assume that you have an RMT exchange as part of your service, because if you don't, IGE will make one. There's no point in saying 'we will use our powers of enforcement to prevent RMT from happening.' No, you won't. Let's move on now, to a feasible policy.
>>

I'm still not convinced that there aren't code solutions to finding and eliminating the vital points of RM trader accounts. It would seem a simple matter to record large transactions of gold or very imbalanced trades, put those people under observation, and discover whether they are violating the rules. If you paid a one person per server to do this full-time, they could probably catch a RM trader each day (at first). At that rate you'd eliminate such a big part of the traders in a year the rest might simply cut their losses. It would definitely make the business less lucrative for them.

Posted Apr 26, 2005 8:52:45 AM | link

Theo says:

Looking at it from a purely business perspective Jim, you're suggesting a company turn down an emerging market with potential for added revenue in favor of a profit reduction in the form of added overhead.

I think you'd find it difficult or even impossible to effectively police RTM activity. You can't be everywhere at once, you can't know everything, and at some point your efforts to curtail what you deem to be illicit activity will begin to infringe on the gameplay of your entire VW population. I think it's better to be flexible and place yourself in a position to regulate it. It might not be possible to dam up this river, but it just might be possible to divert it and still save the village.

Posted Apr 26, 2005 9:27:49 AM | link

Anonimouse says:

Theo wrote:
Looking at it from a purely business perspective Jim, you're suggesting a company turn down an emerging market with potential for added revenue in favor of a profit reduction in the form of added overhead.

>>>>

We're taking about a game right? Not a widget company? Just checking.

Posted Apr 26, 2005 9:54:19 AM | link

anon says:

No, we're not talking about a game. We're talking about business.

SOE, Sigil, Blizzard et al. would not have been there if it weren't for the money to be made. Same goes for IGE.

Posted Apr 26, 2005 10:30:57 AM | link

Scott says:

Actually, we're talking about games as a business.

If the proprietor enabling/taking a cut from RTM discourages some from playing (a point I hope we can all agree is at minimum debatable) then that becomes a bad business decision - trading short term growth for long term loss.

Posted Apr 26, 2005 10:41:17 AM | link

Lee Delarm says:

Jim>

Not only would the people who policed everything be added overhead, but it's been proven time and again that absolutely nothing has ever, or will ever, stop the trade. Blizzard banned a thousand accounts, SOE used to wipe eBay clean every other week and you know what? They didn't get jack squat in terms of footholds against the market. The price of gold flucuated for maybe a half an hour on IGE for WoW right after the "big ban". They have no power over IGE and other similar business except to attempt to take some of their profits from them.

They can (and will) do this in the form of offering secure, immediate, trade within the rules of the game. Most people I know will gladly go for a "given" or secure method of trading rather than hoping their eBay character doesn't get stolen back after paying $700 for it (I've seen this happen). The only problem now is that they've come in late and IGE has already made a trusted foothold.

I think the next thing we'll hear about is how someone bought stuff off IGE and then cancelled the payment, only to sell the stuff "legally" on the Station Exchange"...

Posted Apr 26, 2005 10:53:25 AM | link

Anon says:

> Edward Castronova wrote>
>
> Basically, passing laws and policies that
> everyone will ignore or avoid is a very
> bad idea. It discredits the notion of Law.
> It prevents the formation of community norms.
> It discourages voluntary adherence to the
> spirit of the rules. It reduces trust between
> rulers and ruled. Bad, bad, bad.

Well said. In our games, there have been some rules we actually felt added positive things to the game, but had to revise them when they became unenforceable. What you mention was one of the main reasons: unenforceable rules weaken adherence to ALL rules as the rules are then perceived as bogus.


> Absent a move like Sony's, here's a worst-case
> scenario, yet one that I see as still pretty
> likely: IGE versus Mark Jacobs to the death.
> IGE will win that fight. And that sucks.

I agree that it sucks, but if Marc Jacobs doesn't stow the BS hyper-moralistic e-peen waving, I could care less what happens to him. For the reasons already stated, he is totally full of crap with his "statement" and I hope he doesn't think he is doing his company (or his game) any favors with his holier-than-thou attitude.


> I hope Sigil, Turbine, Wolfpack, Monolith et
> al. will start designing great games that are
> conscious of the existence of RMT, that minimize
> its influence on outcomes or shunt the pressures
> off to acceptable uses (such as a wealthy noble class).

I think that is really the key: stop designing games that focus so heavily on the repetitive, painful grind or upon farming mindlessly for the next drop.

Posted Apr 26, 2005 11:26:18 AM | link

Richard Bartle says:

Will Leverett>Is this really any different than offering worlds with PvP and non-PvP environments?

Yes, it is. You physically can't do PvP on a non-PvP server, because the code to enable it isn't there. You can still do RMT on a non-RMT server because it isn't handled by the code.

Although it would be nice if all commodifiers were to switch to an RMT server, it's not going to happen. Many WILL switch, yes, because some people do have basically unharmful reasons for wanting to buy stuff (eg. "Now you've nerfed this class our party balance is all out of whack"). However, will we still be seeing IGE selling characters on non-RMT servers? You bet we will!

Richard

Posted Apr 26, 2005 11:55:02 AM | link

Edward Castronova says:

Rcihard> will we still be seeing IGE selling characters on non-RMT servers? You bet we will!

[crosses fingers] I agree that this will certainly happen. But I think RMT will be reduced from what it is now. And what I hope is that it will be reduced so much that RMT will not be evident at all on the non-RMT servers. What I dream is that those servers will then form a non-RMT culture. That's the kind of gameworld I really want to play in.

Posted Apr 26, 2005 12:17:16 PM | link

Anon says:

> That's the kind of gameworld I really want to play in.

The kind of game world I want to play in is one where the game is designed well enough that people are not driven to RMT:

* No more idiotic, excessive grinds.

* No more mindless mob camping for an Uber Drop.

* More variety in game play beyond the aforementioned "kill monster" button pressing for weeks or months on end.

* No more see-saw, excessive "nerfing" and over-buffing that jerks the entire game around every few months.

Posted Apr 26, 2005 12:32:47 PM | link

Raph says:

Why do people continue to think that if a game is fun, nobody will want to buy and sell items?

If a game is fun, do you stop trading items in game?

Posted Apr 26, 2005 12:59:34 PM | link

Anon says:

> Why do people continue to think that if
> a game is fun, nobody will want to buy
> and sell items?
>
> If a game is fun, do you stop trading items in game?

The RMT of items, characters, and gold happens (for many people) largely out of frustration with the way modern graphical MMOs require an absurd amount of mindless repetitive behavior to obtain comparatively infinitessimal rewards.

Trading items completely in game is part of the actual game. It does not involve the externality of Real Life Money. The two types of trading do not happen for the same reasons.

Someone might trade a Mace of 100 damage for a Sword of 100 damage simply because he needs a sword and the other person needs a mace. The trade is mutually beneficial. Or a crafter might sell a sword for X gold to someone because the trade is mutually beneficial. The crafter wants money and the customer wants a weapon. Everything is done within the game's reality according to the laws and rules of that game universe. Things done accoring to the game's actual design are not indicative of a flaw in the game's design. They are examples of things working as intended.

People engage in RMTs when the inherent, purely game related means of obtaining or trading for things has reached a breaking point. They no longer feel they can obtain things in an enjoyable fashion, and these things are a hurdle to being able to participate in additional content. RMT represents, in many ways, a failure of the game to properly balance time with reward.

Please read my above posts to note that I am not advocating bypassing all content and just giving all the rewards upfront. I am saying that I understand the desire of reasonable people to return their MMO experience to a reasonable time investment/reward ratio.

Basically, I feel that a lot of people engage in RMT to offset the over-stretching of content that the developers engaged in. This is an arms race started by the game developers. Instead of creating more meaningful content, they took the content they already had and multipied geometrically the amount of time it takes to accomplish it. What was fun for 10 hours, they stretched to 100 hours. So, in response, a lot of players sought an external means of getting that back down to 10 hours.

DAoC is actually a perfect example of this. With their Trials of Atlantis expansion, they introduced HUNDREDS of hours of required PvE grinding if you wanted to continue to be participate in RvR (their end game content that is actually very good, otherwise). If you do not complete all ten Master Levels, farm an entire inventory full of artifacts and three scrolls each to activate them, and then level up your artifacts, forget about stepping foot into RvR.

I won't bore you with the details, but each of these steps was an excrutiatingly painful process that often involved waiting around hours just for the right mob to spawn so you could kill it and HOPE it drops the right thing.

All of this needed to be done just to RETURN to the playability you enjoyed before the expansion.

As anyone who follows DAoC knows, the Trials of Atlantis expansion resulted in at least a 30% permanent loss of subscribers within 1-2 months. I have never witnessed a game expansion have such a dramatically negative effect on a game.

But for this expansion, my wife and I, and I suspect tens of thousands of other players would still be playing DAoC for its otherwise amazingly compelling RvR. While we were not willing to abandon our characters to buy ones that had the above mentioned crap completed, I can certainly understand why someone would. If I could have paid a couple hundred bucks to have all the MLs done and the artifacts leveled up, I would have been seriously tempted. DAoC's RvR is just that good. It is a shame they utterly ruined it with their gross PvE expansion.

The extreme growth and popularity of RMT is, in my opinion, an indictment of the entire MMO genre (or at least the hyper popular EQ-style graphical MMOs). It is proof that the "grind" model is wrong and should die. The only reason it has succeeded up to now is because there are so many other positive things MMOs offer that make it worth enduring the horrific pain of grinding and mob camping for items.


Posted Apr 26, 2005 1:36:26 PM | link

Aryoch says:

(I am quoting myself here, and switching to a handle that is a bit more distinctive than "Anon" but still allows me to avoid troublesome net-stalkers who have been running web searches for my name to find anything I write anywhere online... very frustrating):


> I wrote:
>
> The extreme growth and popularity of RMT is,
> in my opinion, an indictment of the entire
> MMO genre (or at least the hyper popular EQ-
> style graphical MMOs). It is proof that the
> "grind" model is wrong and should die. The
> only reason it has succeeded up to now is
> because there are so many other positive
> things MMOs offer that make it worth enduring
> the horrific pain of grinding and mob camping
> for items.

I think it is possible that companies like IGE (which I generally abhor as leeches) have actually contributed to extending the life span of the "grind style" MMO. RMTs have made otherwise unbearable aspects of these grind games bearable.

Posted Apr 26, 2005 1:48:57 PM | link

Xanthippe says:

However, what I find fun and what you find fun might well be very different.

There are people who enjoy the grind. There are people who enjoy killing mob after mob after mob. There are people who enjoy the artifacts and master levels of DAOC's ToA expansion - the 70% who did not quit (although I'm one of the 30% who did).

One of the most enjoyable aspects in WoW for me is gathering resources and crafting. Another is "farming" the AH so I can resell goods. I find the pvp in it to be retarded, just as I find repetitive monster killing retarded. But there are people who are the opposite of me in what they find fun.

Hence, there will always be RMTs unless somehow made impossible by the mechanics of the game itself. Time is money, after all, and when people have more of one than the other, they will hook up with their opposites to trade.

Posted Apr 26, 2005 2:25:09 PM | link

Richard Bartle says:

Anon/Aryoch>The kind of game world I want to play in is one where the game is designed well enough that people are not driven to RMT

But the compromises to design that may have to be made to prevent RMT could turn the game into one you don't like. The two could be mutually incompatible. You could be asking for something that you can never have.

There are people who want to play in non-RMT worlds who are OK with the amount of grind involved. Where can they go to play these games, if other people who don't like the grind insist on turning up and imposing RMT on them?

You tell us what kind of game you want to play, but that isn't the kind of game you actually do play. The game you do play, you play in a way that some other players (whether you or I agree with them) feel spoils it for them. What should they do? Hang around until someone gives you the kind of game you want, so they can then play the kind of game they want? And do they have to lose out again if you don't find the alternatives satisfying and decide to come back and RMT them again?

I mean, what are people who want non-RMT versions of the virtual worlds we have at the moment supposed to do?

Richard

Posted Apr 27, 2005 6:13:06 AM | link

Tobold says:

Basically, passing laws and policies that everyone will ignore or avoid is a very bad idea. It discredits the notion of Law. It prevents the formation of community norms. It discourages voluntary adherence to the spirit of the rules. It reduces trust between rulers and ruled. Bad, bad, bad.

I think the mistake is one of trying to pass a law outside of your jurisdiction. In game the developers have supreme jurisdiction. They could (but don't) code their game in a way that items or money cannot be transfered from one player to another.

Instead they allow the transfer, and try to forbid money changing hands in the real world. But in the real world they have no way of controlling what happens. The real world money transfer is outside of their jurisdiction, it is technically impossible to enforce, and legally dubious. If I want to give a complete stranger $50, what right does Mark Jacobs have to stop me? He only has the right to stop the complete stranger from giving me 100 gold pieces, but he choses not to do that.

Posted Apr 27, 2005 7:11:50 AM | link

Hellinar says:

Tobold>If I want to give a complete stranger $50, what right does Mark Jacobs have to stop me? He only has the right to stop the complete stranger from giving me 100 gold pieces, but he choses not to do that.<

I think you are making a level error here. The bad effects of RMT occur at the game system level, not at the individual player level. You can’t reliably reason about a system by looking solely at the individual components. Connections matter. If they didn’t, I could prove your hand can’t pick up at cup. No matter how many individual cells I examine, none has the ability to pick up a cup. QED. Of course, such reasoning is on the wrong level. The ability to pick up a cup is the emergent property of a collection of organized cells, not any individual cell.

Sure, Mark Jacobs doesn’t have the right to prevent an individual giving $50 to someone for gold. But that is not the problem with RMT. Scale matters. Its when large number of people start to exchange real money for gold that the bad effects on the game system kick in. And I would contend that Mark Jacobs does have the right to contest this. Say, for example, by banning accounts with statistically unlikely patterns of gold transfer.

I get the impression reading these debates that people are often talking past each other on different levels. Those talking about the bad effects of RMT are usually focussed on the system level effects, while those talking about the good effects are focussed on individual level effects. Part of the problem I think is that at least in the USA, laws are oriented toward individual action. I am not a lawyer, but I haven’t heard of laws along the lines of “action A is legal if one or two people do it, but illegal if a large number of people do it”. Such a law wouldn’t be very practical, but it would convey the significant point. “Action A” is a problem at the collective system level, not the individual level. The bad effects of RMT, or what I consider bad effects, are more a “tragedy of the commons” thing than a matter of individual level effects.

Posted Apr 27, 2005 8:15:18 AM | link

Thabor says:

A few factors are being ignored in the immediate discussion. By Sony's own admission most players will engage in purchasing items from the secondary market on at least a casual basis. Casual buyers have significant disincentives towards moving. There will still be demand for goods on non-Exchange servers. Commodification will continue.

Sony will end up having to enable the Exchange Service on existing servers. It nice to say there will be increased enforcement, however policing is failed strategy for Sony. Policing is all cost, with any benefit from it difficult to measure. The Exchange Service offers them an opportunity to reduce costs (policing), and increase revenue.

Casual gamers actually seem to be less averse to RMT than the hardcore gamers. Hardcore gamers seems to still romanticize the "Pinball Wizard". Social ranking by "skill" is bound to be unappealing to people who don't have large amounts of time to spend becoming subject matter experts in a game. This is exacerbated in PvP environments where there is direct competition.

Personally, I don't expect to keep playing MMOGs beyond the next year or two. I dislike game external factors from being a determinate in rankings or capability. I've never seriously considered RMT for game goods. Given the current trend, I might consider working in the developing RMT industry to make money. I wouldn't consider continuing as a player.

Posted Apr 27, 2005 12:54:44 PM | link

Flatfingers says:

Hellinar> Those talking about the bad effects of RMT are usually focussed on the system level effects, while those talking about the good effects are focussed on individual level effects.

That's a superb point.

Someone whose decision-making starts and ends with "how does this affect me?" is not even going to comprehend Kant's categorical imperative (roughly, "if it's not OK for everyone to do it, it's not OK for anyone to do it"), much less entertain the possibility that ethical rules of any kind could possibly apply to their gameplay.

How much of the odd behavior we see in MMOGs are due to filling highly social environments with highly individualistic people? And how much of the heat in our discussions here about those environments -- what they're for, how they ought to work, etc. -- is due to this dissonance?

But maybe I shouldn't ask. Apparently raising any question of the ethics of a VW design choice will be dismissed as "moral sanctimony" so that the individualist viewpoint doesn't have to defend itself with actual logic and stuff.

"Because I want it" 4 teh win!

--Flatfingers

Posted Apr 27, 2005 1:26:53 PM | link

Raph says:

The RMT of items, characters, and gold happens (for many people) largely out of frustration with the way modern graphical MMOs require an absurd amount of mindless repetitive behavior to obtain comparatively infinitessimal rewards.

Sorry, but I call BS on this one.

So the reason why Magic: The Gathering works the way it does is because obtaining cards the regular way is too much of a grind?

The reason why racing teams spend money on developing cooler cars is because getting better at driving is too much of a grind?

The reason why golf players spend on better clubs and more aerodynamic balls is because of the grind?

It's worth pointing out that the most robust RMT market going right now is actually Korea and its micropayments for powerups in skill-based games with NO GRIND AT ALL, such as Pangya Golf and that kart racing one that I can never remember the title of (games that outdraw Lineage now, btw). It's now become standard, in other words, for people to be playing a skill-based arcade game online, and pay 15 cents to get a one-time powerup to beat down their opponent with. Where's the grind there, again?

I assert that the grind is a factor, but hardly the sole or even the major determinant in the presence of RMT.

Posted Apr 27, 2005 8:07:23 PM | link

magicback says:

Raph, while Grind is not the whole issue, it is pervasive in current crops of MMO RPGs.

Magic: The Gathering (MTG) and the Korea game models cited are designed to get players to happily spend incremental money for advantages. I think they designed for it relatively well as opposed to the current RMT in discussion which was ended up as a method to bypass unanticipated effects of lingering old design features (which all new MMO should anticipate now).

Racing team leagues also are designed for teams and viewers to spend money and if the racing team also own the racing circuit business then they can reap incremental income from the franchise multiplier effect. However, as occcured in US Football league, the league do impose caps when money becomes too big of a factor.

For golf, again restrictions have been placed to determine what balls and club can be used in events and even on certain country clubs.

Buying of power-ups is slightly different than RMT of virtual items or avatars as the advantage pruchased is generally not stockpiled or traded (e.g. mostly consumables).

Implementation: DAoC sells buff for RL$ as a "patch" for people having to level-up and maintain their buffbots. However if the buffs are viewed as way too unbalancing in RvR then players will feel it is an escalation of costs.

my 2 cents.

Frank

Posted Apr 28, 2005 5:52:42 AM | link

Xanthippe says:

This is a bit off-topic, but sort of related.

The latest hot rumor in WoW is that IGE owns Thottbot, which is a database of items, quests, npcs, and practically everything else in World of Warcraft. This thread in the Shattered Hand board forum goes into great detail regarding the whois information and so on:
http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.aspx?fn=wow-realm-shatteredhand&t=60720&p=1&tmp=1#post60720

Thottbot depends upon users of the Cosmos UI to upload information to it, and is probably the most complete compendium, or at least most widely-used.

The implications of this are interesting. IGE gathers information which it uses and gains benefit from but also disseminates to all players. I don't quite know what to make of it from an ethical point of view.

Posted Apr 28, 2005 9:33:13 AM | link

Aryoch says:

>>> I wrote:
>>> The RMT of items, characters, and gold happens
>>> (for many people) largely out of frustration
>>> with the way modern graphical MMOs require an
>>> absurd amount of mindless repetitive behavior
>>> to obtain comparatively infinitessimal rewards.
>
> Raph wrote:
>
> Sorry, but I call BS on this one.
>
> > very comparable at all to MMOs and magicback already
> explained why>


Raph, how much do you PLAY MMOs in addition to making them?

Have you experienced the horror of standing around doing NOTHING for hours because you are waiting for one stupid named mob to spawn and then hope the 1% drop rate kicks in for the item you want?


> I assert that the grind is a factor, but hardly
> the sole or even the major determinant in the presence of RMT.

I agree with you that it is not the only factor. It is, however, a very significant factor, and one that should not exist.

It also happens to be something that makes these games less fun and less desireable to the general populace. Contrary to what a few people have postulated, I do not know of a single person in any game I have played who enjoys standing around doing nothing for hours waiting for a named mob to spawn who then has a small % chance of dropping the item that is sought.

Developers of MMOs have gotten addicted to this canard they engage in that they THINK extends the playability of their games. They are oblivious to the tremendously negative long term effects it has on their game world and more importantly, their game community.

Posted Apr 28, 2005 12:19:52 PM | link

Aryoch says:

The software munged my post. The quoted portion was supposed to read:

> Raph wrote:
>
> Sorry, but I call BS on this one.
>
> (snip three examples that are not MMOs and are not
> very comparable at all to MMOs and magicback already
> explained why)

Posted Apr 28, 2005 12:20:45 PM | link

Flatfingers says:

Aryoch> I do not know of a single person in any game I have played who enjoys standing around doing nothing for hours waiting for a named mob to spawn who then has a small % chance of dropping the item that is sought.

Why are some players monomaniacally focused on doing Just One Thing?

If standing around waiting for one spawn with a dinky chance of dropping an item you want bores you, have you considered doing something else? Most major MMOGs these days are complex games with lots of different and interesting things to do -- why does anyone allow himself to get locked into "I gotta do this one thing to be happy"?

In this thread and the original Sonybay thread, I've been struck by how many times I've seen words like "have to" and "must" and "necessary" thrown around without examination. As in, "I have to use RMT to be able to effectively group with my friends."

No, you don't. Players who say these things could spend the time to level up like everyone else; they just don't want to because they're impatient.

Impatient people think everything that takes more than three minutes is a "grind." They complain about grinding all the time, but if the grind was really that bad, they wouldn't do it at all. They'd find something else to do that was more fun, or try a different game.

Of course it's bad design to artificially force players to do some small stupid thing repetitively -- that's real "grinding," and nobody likes it. So why do people do it? Do they just enjoy hearing themselves complain?

If you believe it's important to fix such problems, how is indulging in RMT -- buying advancement from some external source -- going to fix it?

Answer: It's not. RMT is a crutch for the impatient. "The grind, man, the grind!" is just a flimsy rationalization for impatience.

Why should the impatient people dictate to everyone else how the game is to be played?

Ultimately, if there's something you don't enjoy doing, tell the developers about it.. and then go do something else!

Bah.

--Flatfingers

Posted Apr 28, 2005 2:06:15 PM | link

Jim Self says:

Theo wrote:

>>
Looking at it from a purely business perspective Jim, you're suggesting a company turn down an emerging market with potential for added revenue in favor of a profit reduction in the form of added overhead.
>>

I'm certainly *not* suggesting that. I'm suggesting that if the company desired it, it might yet be possible. Which path they choose to follow is not my place to say.

>>
I think you'd find it difficult or even impossible to effectively police RTM activity. You can't be everywhere at once, you can't know everything,
>>

I don't propose to be. I propose having multiple employees. If you meant "you" in the sense of the administration, it doesn't have to be everywhere all the time. RMT merchants have to advertise their services. If they advertise only offline, code measures can be used to identify suspicious persons.

>>
and at some point your efforts to curtail what you deem to be illicit activity will begin to infringe on the gameplay of your entire VW population.
>>

Only if the entire population has decided to participate in RMT.

>>
I think it's better to be flexible and place yourself in a position to regulate it.
>>

From a business perspective you have a higher chance to increase profits following this option, yes. If you make your decisions based on an ideology other than just increasing profits, there is room to disagree, which is my case.

>>
It might not be possible to dam up this river, but it just might be possible to divert it and still save the village.
>>

Using the dam analogy, an effective dam is one that is sufficient and well though-out. An effective counter-RMT policy is the same.

While speaking with a friend last night about the announcement, he told me of his FF11 experience "I can name a dozen or so players who beyond any doubt sell gil."

My optimism about enforcing a "no RMT" stance is that the rulebreakers are *known*, they just aren't known at the administrative level. Injecting observers into the playerbase essentially bestows the social awareness of the situation upon the administration.

Posted Apr 28, 2005 5:13:20 PM | link

Jim Self says:

Lee Delarm wrote:

>>
Jim>

Not only would the people who policed everything be added overhead, but it's been proven time and again that absolutely nothing has ever, or will ever, stop the trade. Blizzard banned a thousand accounts, SOE used to wipe eBay clean every other week and you know what? They didn't get jack squat in terms of footholds against the market. The price of gold flucuated for maybe a half an hour on IGE for WoW right after the "big ban". They have no power over IGE and other similar business except to attempt to take some of their profits from them.
>>

It's been proven? Well then, I'll just turn my brain off right now, since every single possibility has been exhausted. I'm sorry for the sarcasm, but the logic of "no answer has been found, therefore there is no answer" is faulty at best. Meanwhile I will continue to beleive that the possibility of a solution does in fact remain (however unlikely it is in various peoples' opinions).

The employees would be extra overhead, yes. If the measures were effective, balance that against SOE's 40% of their customer service being RMT-related.

As for game companies having "power" over IGE and the like, they have no direct powers yet. Until we have sufficient legislation on the matter this issue won't be solved. I hate to say it, but we're essentially waiting for the polititians to settle the matter. I'd really rather have that than have it settled in court, since current law has absolutely no handle on the current situation.

The rest of your post was based on the premise that RMT is inevitable, which as I said I do not accept. It might happen, but not necissarily because no one could stop it from happening. The game companies may choose to make it so.

Posted Apr 28, 2005 5:27:27 PM | link

Eurodog says:

Everyone seems to be missing the point about why item/character exchange should be taboo;

If I was going into combat in Iraq I would expect my squad mates to have the same training & experience as I do. Finding out that several of them had 'bought' their way into my squad and that they didn't know one end of a rifle from another would rightly anger me if it didn't lead to us all dying first. A melodramatic example I know but it illustrates my point;

In MMO's if I group with a high level, experienced character I expect the player using that character to also have experience. He should know from long hours of play what his character can & can't do, what his character should do in groups. A high level character bought by a new player can wreak unintended havoc online. Until now I could report a likely culprit and hope that the game company could shut his illegal account down. Now he could show me his SOE receipt....

Posted Apr 28, 2005 10:33:12 PM | link

Jim Self says:

Eurodog wrote:

>>
>A high level character bought by a new player can wreak
>unintended havoc online.
>>

It would certainly ruin your day, but it would be little compared to the effect that RMT was having on the acheiver community of your MMOG on the larger scale of things.

Posted Apr 29, 2005 12:16:58 AM | link

William Huber says:

Eurodog, nothing short of biometrics can keep multiple people from using the same character, and not even that can keep your party safe from the "havoc" of an experienced player get liquored up and playing like crap.

Unless you want to deal with the "little brother" syndrome ("I was going to quit, but I decided to give my high-level character account to my little brother",) I think this issue is a non-starter.

Posted Apr 29, 2005 12:43:12 AM | link

Xilren says:

Flatfingers wrote
>Answer: It's not. RMT is a crutch for the >impatient. "The grind, man, the grind!" is just >a flimsy rationalization for impatience.

>Why should the impatient people dictate to >everyone else how the game is to be played?

>Ultimately, if there's something you don't enjoy >doing, tell the developers about it.. and then >go do something else!

Let me ask the reverse: why should people who seem to have tons of disposable time have signifcant in game advantages due to the mechanics of things like "rare drops"?

There's a reason why the term "casual friendly" is being bandied about as a strong selling point for mmorpgs. The first several iterations seem to cater to people with lots of disposable time. All RMT does is allow people to exchange their disposable income for other's disposable time. And the prevlance of many time intensive part of these game has spurred the growth of RMT more than any other single factor (IMHO).

If player skill were more of a factor to success than time spent, RMT would be much less an issue. That why's it's considered a design issue by many, not just somehting as simple as "lots of people are too impatient; the game is working as intended". And no, that doesn't mean people want a pure player skill game like FantasyQuake.

Have players just said no and opted out? Sure, it;s pretty common. Sadly the "time is more important then all else" design is by far the most prevalent in mmorpg's today. Wow's small step in the direction of equalizing folks with time differentials (with things like the rest system) has brought some of them back.

While you will never eliminate all RMT through design, you could certainly obviate the most common reason for it. Or, you could do what Sony is doing :-) I wish them well in their first wave of suits over lost income...

Xilren

Posted Apr 29, 2005 4:42:38 PM | link

Flatfingers says:

Xilren> Let me ask the reverse: why should people who seem to have tons of disposable time have signifcant in game advantages due to the mechanics of things like "rare drops"?

Because the time invested inside a game world is more valuable than money earned outside the game world, and ought to be compensated at a higher level.

The person with lots of time in RL is not equivalent to the person with lots of money in RL, because the time-rich person is actually spending that time inside the game world. As long as we're talking about someone actually at the keyboard (rather than a bot of some kind), they're making an investment in the game world; they're actually adding something to it.

The person who buys an account or gear isn't. All they're doing is transferring someone else's effort to themselves -- they've contributed nothing within the game world.

The former player deserves compensation. The latter player doesn't.

Is all time spent in-game of equal value? No. IMO, the grinder contributes less than the socializer. I'd like to see more games that offer and reward productive play. That, more than anything else, would be the great time-equalizer.

But RMT does nothing to try to fix this problem. I could respect that, but RMT doesn't even pretend to care about the overall game as played by everyone -- it's about me, me, me and what I can get Right Now. It is nothing more than a quick way for the impatient to try to get around anything they decide to call a "grind."

And now we're going to make this even easier? Just watch: we're going to be amazed at the things that suddenly get described as being "grinding."

I reiterate: Bah.

(And just to have it said again, I'm not making this argument out of personal interest. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a powergamer; I get in an hour a night if I'm lucky. I make this argument on an ethical and practical basis: I think Western culture already encourages people too much to take the easy way, the "you can have it all right now" mentality, and I question whether SOE is setting a good example by legitimizing this kind of "I deserve it now!" impatience.)

--Flatfingers

(I should probably also add, given the directness with which I'm making this argument, that I'm not actually annoyed with anyone. I just figure that if we're going to debate this issue, we might as well take out the big sticks. *grin*)

Posted Apr 29, 2005 6:59:54 PM | link

Jim Self says:

Xilren wrote:

>>
Let me ask the reverse: why should people who seem to have tons of disposable time have signifcant in game advantages due to the mechanics of things like "rare drops"?
>>


Because that is how the game has been designed. That *is* the game, from a certain perspective. No one has the right to discredit anyone elses' style of play, but when a game is designed to support one over the other, that one style is naturally going to benefit.


>>
All RMT does is allow people to exchange their disposable income for other's disposable time.
>>


I don't think you meant for this to be taken literally. If you did, check the other threads here that go into more depth.


>>
If player skill were more of a factor to success than time spent, RMT would be much less an issue. That why's it's considered a design issue by many, not just somehting as simple as "lots of people are too impatient; the game is working as intended".
>>


Agreed that it is a design issue and the designer's choice. Whether or not someone plays is their choice. Neither has the right to force a decision on the other. Both sides take the decisions of the other side into account when making future decisions.


>>
While you will never eliminate all RMT through design,
>>


I'll accept this as an opinion but not as a fact. I'll even concede that as an opinion it is likely accurate.

Flatfingers wrote:


>>
And now we're going to make this even easier? Just watch: we're going to be amazed at the things that suddenly get described as being "grinding."
>>


Remember when the 56k modems came out? They were amazing. Now they're intolerable. Regardless of whether RMT is "inevitable" as many say, grind simply must be removed for the reason you gave above. And that's good! Introducing RMT is not likely to lead to this solution, sadly.

Posted Apr 30, 2005 12:00:02 AM | link

Aryoch says:

> Flatfingers wrote:
>
> Why are some players monomaniacally focused on doing Just One Thing?

Maybe because in most MMOs, there comes a time where that is basically all there is to do.

Take DAoC. The only way to advance was to do the MLs. Many of them had multiple steps that involved standing around waiting hours for a spawn.

There were no other options. There was no other type of advancement. If you didn't do the MLs, you couldn't RvR any longer.

This is not a unique phenomenon.


> Most major MMOGs these days are complex games
> with lots of different and interesting things to do

No they aren't. Most major MMOs these days are incredibly simplistic games with very little to do.

You kill. You level up. You collect loot. End of game. Honestly, that's it for most major MMOs these days.


> Players who say these things could spend
> the time to level up like everyone else;
> they just don't want to because they're impatient.

Sometimes yes. But even more often, they are frustrated to the point of agony by excessively over-stretched content.

> Impatient people think everything that
> takes more than three minutes is a "grind."

You can't be serious. Do you play modern big budget MMOs at all? If the issue were things that took three minutes, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

> If you believe it's important to fix such
> problems, how is indulging in RMT -- buying
> advancement from some external source -- going to fix it?

Since when is it the player/customer's responsibility to fix it?

It fixes it for THEM, and that's really all that matters to them.

> Answer: It's not. RMT is a crutch for the impatient.

Too bad that answer doesn't follow from the question.

> Why should the impatient people dictate to
> everyone else how the game is to be played?

You are asking a question based on a flawed premise.

Avoiding the excessively over-extended content of a lazy developer != impatience. It is mercy.

Honestly, you demonstrated in this post that you DON'T play modern MMOs.

You seem to think they are complex. They aren't.

You seem to think they offer variety in game play. They don't.

You seem to think they make people wait around "3 minutes" to accomplish goals. Try 3 hours or 3 days or 3 weeks or worse.

Please play some of these games.

Posted Apr 30, 2005 10:57:26 PM | link

Flatfingers says:

>> Why are some players monomaniacally focused on doing Just One Thing?
> Maybe because in most MMOs, there comes a time where that is basically all there is to do.
> There were no other options. There was no other type of advancement. If you didn't do the MLs, you couldn't RvR any longer.

And where is it written that RvR is the only thing worth doing in DAoC? For that matter, who says that DAoC is the only MMOG worth playing?

My question was obviously rhetorical; the answer is that there is nothing whatsoever forcing anyone to get locked into doing Just One Thing. If someone does get so intent on doing Just One Thing in a MMOG that any impediment (real or imagined) seems like a insult, then that's a personal problem of theirs, and NOT something that needs to be "fixed" by altering the meta-rules of the game to allow quickie advancement past the supposed impediment.

> You kill. You level up. You collect loot. End of game. Honestly, that's it for most major MMOs these days.

Crafting. Mining. Socializing. Exploring. PvP. Missions. Cargo trading. PA/guild expansion. Roleplaying. Equipment tweaking. Entertaining. Spying. Healing. Stealing. Wheeling and dealing.

That list took about two minutes to compose. I could probably think of more examples if more were required to disprove your claim, but it's not.

> ... even more often, they are frustrated to the point of agony by excessively over-stretched content.

Or they're just impatient, and consider any amount of exertion that is required to accomplish a goal to be content that has been "over-stretched."

>> how is indulging in RMT -- buying advancement from some external source -- going to fix it?
> It fixes it for THEM, and that's really all that matters to them.

I think you're making my point for me here....

> Do you play modern big budget MMOs at all?
> Honestly, you demonstrated in this post that you DON'T play modern MMOs.
> Please play some of these games.

I've noticed in your responses to me and others that you have a tendency to assume things about them that you can't possibly know. These ad hominem statements are weakening your arguments because they don't shed any light on the subject. (They're also rather rude.)

I have an opinion. You have an opinion. We're both free to express our opinions -- why is that a problem for you that you need to question the competence of others to speak?

How about this: We let people make their case, and let everyone decide what they think based on the merits of each argument presented. No personal assumptions are necessary.

Your call, of course.

--Flatfingers

Posted May 1, 2005 12:57:01 AM | link

Aryoch says:

> Flatfingers wrote:
>
> And where is it written that RvR is the only thing worth doing in DAoC?

You didn't play DAoC, did you?

> For that matter, who says that DAoC is the only MMOG worth playing?

It was just one example. When you have to pick this kind of nit, the desperation in your argument becomes pretty glaring.

As I said in the last post, modern big budget MMORPGs are *NOT* complex, do *NOT* have varied gameplay, and generally have only *ONE* thing to do: kill, loot, repeat.


> Crafting. Mining. Socializing. Exploring. PvP.
> Missions. Cargo trading. PA/guild expansion.
> Roleplaying. Equipment tweaking. Entertaining.
> Spying. Healing. Stealing. Wheeling and dealing.

Roleplaying? In modern big budget MMORPGS? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Missions? That's just kill monster, collect loot.

PA/guild expansion? Huh?

Equipment tweaking? Sorry, that's just loot.

Entertaining? Huh?

Spying? Huh? ROFL! Bzzt. Wrong again.

Healing? How desperate are you if you have to list this separately. Why not list "swing sword", "swing axe", and "swing hamemr" a swell!

My friend, with every post you make it more clear you do *NOT* play these games.

The miniscule nods to the above are woefully insignificant. These games are about one thing: kill mob, collect loot, repeat.

You had to stretch so far with the above list you might as well have included walking, running, turning your head, emoting, and any other irrelevancies.


> That list took about two minutes to compose.
> I could probably think of more examples if more
> were required to disprove your claim, but it's not.

And that list included nothing of substance and disproved nothing.

I guess it is true that you forgot "wear armor" and "wear helmet" as "features." Give me a break. Your list was laughable.


> These ad hominem statements are weakening your
> arguments because they don't shed any light on
> the subject. (They're also rather rude.)

And it isn't rude the way you are labelling all these people with a pejorative that is totally inapplicable?

Furthermore, saying it is clear you do not play these games is *NOT* an ad hominem attack.


> I have an opinion. You have an opinion. We're both
> free to express our opinions -- why is that a problem
> for you that you need to question the competence of
> others to speak?

But when I express my opinion, it is an ad hominem attack? I see how it works.

Furthermore, when you post the things you do, that so clearly demonstrate a woeful lack of actual experience with the types of games being discussed, one MUST point that out.

I mean you actually listed ROLEPLAYING as an aspect of big budget MMOs. You actually said they are complex. Come on man, play these games.


> Or they're just impatient, and consider any amount
> of exertion that is required to accomplish a goal to
> be content that has been "over-stretched."

Your insulting tone is really aggravating since it is PAINFULLY obvious you don't play these games.

It is not impatience to expect something more than STANDING IN PLACE DOING NOTHING for hours waiting for a mob to spawn just because you want to complete a quest.

Saying "you can do something else" is freaking asinine.

Stop saying something so incredibly ridiculous. If a certain quest is a major part of the game, people who want to accomplish it should not have to engage in such outrageous drudgery just to complete it.

What if every time you went to see a movie, you sat down in the seat, and the movie didn't start for 3-4 hours. Would you call someone impatient because they expected the movie to start in a reasonable amount of time?

Would you tell them "go do something else?" Sure, there are lots of things to do in real life, but if someone wants to see a movie, and pays to see a movie, they should get to ACTUALLY SEE A MOVIE.

What a concept, eh?

Posted May 1, 2005 11:43:01 AM | link

Flatfingers says:

> As I said in the last post, modern big budget MMORPGs are *NOT* complex, do *NOT* have varied gameplay, and generally have only *ONE* thing to do: kill, loot, repeat.

Yes, I heard you; and you can continue to make your assertion that there's nothing else to do, but until you offer some supporting evidence more substantial than "because I said so," there's no reason why anyone should believe you.

> The miniscule nods to the above are woefully insignificant. These games are about one thing: kill mob, collect loot, repeat.

Again, merely your assertion.

I offered numerous examples of gameplay systems implemented in current MMOGs. Your counter-argument so far consists not of evidence to back up your position, but of "nuh-uh!"

Given the emphasis you seem to place on direct experience of MMOGs, I'm surprised you haven't offered any better evidence for your position than attempted ridicule of anyone who disagrees with you. That generally indicates a weak argument.

But perhaps you have actual facts and reasoning that for some reason you haven't shared with us yet. If so, I'd be interested in hearing them -- if they're strong enough, I have no problem with changing my mind and admitting error. But to merit that, you're going to have to do better than appealing to authority.

> You had to stretch so far with the above list you might as well have included walking, running, turning your head, emoting, and any other irrelevancies.

I might have, but I didn't because those things -- unlike the things I listed -- aren't major gameplay systems; they're minor enabling actions.

You're welcome to believe that important MMOG systems like crafting and exploring (which I notice you didn't attempt to deny) and the other systems I listed aren't viable alternatives to doing just one thing (killing mobs) over and over again. But to merely state that claim isn't persuasive; you'd be more likely to convert unbelievers if you offered evidence that "kill mob" is in fact the only thing a player is able to do in current MMOGs.

Good luck.

>> These ad hominem statements are weakening your arguments because they don't shed any light on the subject. (They're also rather rude.)
> And it isn't rude the way you are labelling all these people with a pejorative that is totally inapplicable?

Thank you for pointing this out to me. My intention was to characterize a behavior I think is unhelpful, but in an attempt to be direct I phrased my statement as though I was talking about specific people rather than about a specific behavior. That was a mistake on my part, and I appreciate your helping me realize it.

I'll recast my argument in a less personal way:

A) Many people demonstrate impatient behavior when playing MMOGs. (A statement I hope even you can agree is true.)

B) Expressing impatience isn't always wrong; sometimes systems really are unnecessarily inefficient.

C) But a given system is not necessarily inefficient just because someone believes it is.

D) To habitually regard systems as inefficient, and to insist on bypassing them for personal gain, is usually counterproductive behavior, and as such it should not be rewarded (in RL or in MMOGs through game design). (Nothing rude about saying this, I think.)

E) RMT allows impatient behavior to be rewarded. (Again, you can disagree, but there's nothing personally rude here.)

F) Therefore, RMT should not be allowed.

Of course I don't expect you to agree with this formulation, either. But at least it's not personally rude.

On the other hand, the kind of ad hominem remarks you've been making on this subject most certainly are rude. Ad hominem statements, as attacks against the speaker instead of against the speaker's argument, are handwaving meant to distract listeners from realizing that one's rebuttal isn't being supported with actual facts and logic. Instead of persuading through reason, the goal is to "win" by generating an emotional response through pretending to knowledge the speaker doesn't have.

Let me be direct: You are utterly ignorant of what games I have or haven't played. To state that I must not have played Game X is to make an assumption about me that you have no way of knowing to be true. Not only is that unhelpful in discussing a subject (because it sheds no light on the subject), deliberately personalizing what can and should be a friendly discussion in this way is simply rude.

It doesn't particularly offend me, since your opinions about me are uninformed and therefore worthless. Mostly it's just not an effective debate mechanism, and since if there's any value in your argument I'd benefit from hearing it stated in its strongest form, I thought I'd bring your attention to that. It's up to you to decide what to do with this suggestion.

> What if every time you went to see a movie, you sat down in the seat, and the movie didn't start for 3-4 hours. Would you call someone impatient because they expected the movie to start in a reasonable amount of time?

Assuming that passive waiting was a good analogy to active (if boring) gameplay, I would say it was impatient behavior to expect to be able to get a quick private screening by offering the projectionist an extra wad of cash.

Getting special treatment doesn't solve the problem for everyone over the long term -- it solves it for one person over the short term, and generates all the undesirable effects we associate with systems that allow preferential treatment.

I think RMT falls neatly into that pattern, and oppose it on that basis.

And yes -- if movie waits were always 3-4 hours long, I'd either wait patiently or find something else to do. Complaining and expecting to be allowed to jump past other people don't strike me as worthwhile alternatives, and I see no reason why they should be encouraged.

--Flatfingers

Posted May 1, 2005 4:28:31 PM | link

Petrus says:

>I mean, what are people who want non-RMT versions of
>the virtual worlds we have at the moment supposed to
>do?

Don't know about other games, but I could make a few recommendations with regards to killing RMT in UO. (although admittedly I haven't played SE yet)

1. Dump housing. This is probably the major point, as I'm assuming that a virtual real estate market would drive RMT more than any other single element. Except for vendors, housing serves no real purpose in UO anywayz, as a person's bank box can for the most part hold all the crap a person needs. The "hardcore/geeks without {l,w}ives" crowd would no doubt scream in protest, as displaying collections of non-functional decorative items often resulting from glitches in the game's design, (including, believe it or not, horse crap) was how such people sought to compensate for their complete lack of anything remotely resembling a meaningful existence outside of the game...but the rest of us wouldn't be affected by the loss in the slightest. ;)

2. MAJORLY nerf player-run vendors. I'm not advocating necessarily getting rid of them entirely, but make it so that they can't sell stuff from champion mob drops, among other things. (such as runic items in particular, which tend to go for ridiculous amounts of gold) There should be a list of stuff which player-run vendors can and can't sell. Low to medium level crafted stuff and magic consumables are fine...Champ drops, BODs, bags/powder of teleportation/sending, and lame "geeks without {l,w}ives" stuff such as decorative rares aren't.

3. GET RID of the Dungeon Doom artifacts COMPLETELY. I'll never forget one utterly ridiculous poser I saw standing outside Brit Bank once, calling himself Peter North, who completely epitomised why Doom was an unspeakably bad idea. He had on a "Mask of Radiance," I think it was called from Doom, as well as a Staff of RMT-Bought Uber-Pretentious Status Seeking. (That of course wasn't the staff's real title...I can't remember exactly what it was...but the above title described its real purpose well enough.)

The inclusion of Doom and its associated artifacts however was the single worst thing that has ever been done to the gameplay of UO, IMHO. It mortally wounded crafting, sent RMT through the roof for obvious reasons, and reduced gameplay to a sufficiently single-minded scavenger hunt that it was scarcely worth playing thereafter. The artifacts were nothing but gold sinks...In gameplay terms, they were primarily status enhancing McGuffins, although some of them did have sufficiently absurd stat bonuses as to render the game even more unplayable for those who happened to have them. They were also what introduced the "Diablo 2 clone" vibe. Whoever it was at EA/OSI who came up with the idea for Doom IMHO deserves a hearty collective Three Stooges Slap for their efforts in that regard. ;)

That actually brings me to another question. Is the hardcore, basement-dwelling mutant demographic actually terribly important to an MMORPG's success these days? In the early days of course I understand that an MMORPG's entire population consisted of such types...but how long ago did we cross the tipping point of the majority being more "normal" users? ;) (Or have we not crossed it at all yet?)

Posted May 2, 2005 11:46:41 AM | link

Richard Bartle says:

Me>I mean, what are people who want non-RMT versions of the virtual worlds we have at the moment supposed to do?

Petrus>Don't know about other games, but I could make a few recommendations with regards to killing RMT in UO.

No, that wasn't what I was getting at.

What I was sating is that there are people who like virtual worlds just as they are, except that other people come along and spoil everything through (among other things) RMT. Now sure, there are ways to change the design to reduce this effect, but that's now what they want. They're happy with the design, it's just they don't want these spoilsports coming in.

Given that Aryoch was saying RMTers would camp these games until they got the rules changed, where does that leave the people who like the rules as they are? What are they supposed to do?

Richard

Posted May 2, 2005 12:58:27 PM | link

Barry Kearns says:

Petrus wrote:

In the early days of course I understand that an MMORPG's entire population consisted of such types...but how long ago did we cross the tipping point of the majority being more "normal" users? ;) (Or have we not crossed it at all yet?)

I'm sure it varies a lot from genre to genre and even from title to title. Since we're not going to know in advance, nor will we know when the shifts happen, I think it might make the most sense from a business perspective to key into main take-away concept that the Station Exchange starts leaning towards:

Don't try to out-guess your customers. Give them choices and let the choose the playground that fits them best today. If they change their mind tomorrow, the presence of a different playground allows you to retain a revenue stream.

Heck, if you charge a nominal fee for character transfers, you can even marginally boost your cash-flow from player indecision. So long as people play in an environment where the other players are like-minded, I would expect customer service hassles to reduce.

From that perspective, Station Exchange is a step in the right direction. There will still be some RMT on the non-SE servers, but it might at least reduce it, and the pro-RMT players can commodify if they like without having to "hide it", and can benefit greatly from the security of guaranteed delivery and lack of bait-and-switch fraud.

One-size-fits-all is probably a bad idea these days. Giving players a choice (and keeping them as customers) is good. Enforcing the server divisions with code... even better.

I think we'll get there over the next 3-5 years or so.

Posted May 2, 2005 1:10:09 PM | link

Barry Kearns says:

Richard wrote:

there are people who like virtual worlds just as they are, except that other people come along and spoil everything through (among other things) RMT. Now sure, there are ways to change the design to reduce this effect, but that's now what they want. They're happy with the design, it's just they don't want these spoilsports coming in.

Given that Aryoch was saying RMTers would camp these games until they got the rules changed, where does that leave the people who like the rules as they are? What are they supposed to do?

One of the natural consequences of giving people freedom is that they might use it in ways you don't like. For outwardly visible (and easily recognizable) character behaviors, it's certainly possible (for small enough games) to curb a great deal of that via Code of Conduct documents and extremely strict enforcement. Virtual worlds give us the comparative advantage of being able to monitor character actions in a "no sparrow falls" manner if we deem it necessary. At a minimum, this can prevent recidivism if not each initial individual incident. You can always hope for a deterrent effect, but that's all it really is... hope.

Where it gets sticky, is when people are really objecting to the out-of-game motivators, beliefs or behaviors of the actual players rather than the characters. We don't have perfect monitoring of the daily lives, moods and thoughts of our customers (nor should we... shudder).

That means if we're talking about people who are having their characters performing actions that are driven by a noble and positive reason, they might also perform those same character actions for reprehensible reasons. If players want to stop other players from doing things for bad reasons, but allow them to do the same thing for good reasons, you're going to have an enforcement nightmare on your hands.

Players can call the bad-reasons folks spoilsports all they like, but what allows them to be spoilsports is the physics of the world in which they play (combined with the basic inability of a game operator to extend their God-like powers outside the edge of their virtual world). In the end, it comes down to a case of designing a game that people enjoy, which also implements the explicit ability to be an ass... and then complaining that people are being an ass in that game by using your ass-enabled feature.

The alternatives seem obvious to me when someone doesn't like that outcome:

1. Realize that this is a natural consequence of your game design, and live with it.
2. Change the game to disable the assiness feature.
3. Go on a Spanish Inquisition against your customers to ensure their motives are pure.
4. Wave a real-life magic wand and make real-life people inherently better.
5. Kvetch about the injustice of not liking any of the above alternatives.

Or, to quote from Primitive Radio Gods: "That's right, hold your breath if you like, but don't cry when your skin turns blue..."

Posted May 2, 2005 2:32:22 PM | link

Xanthippe says:

What about instituting a player-run justice system into a game to prevent assiness?

Please forgive me if this has been done before. But could such a system be crafted so that players themselves reward or grief assiness?

Posted May 3, 2005 1:35:06 PM | link

Jim Self says:

Petrus wrote:

>>
That actually brings me to another question. Is the hardcore, basement-dwelling mutant demographic actually terribly important to an MMORPG's success these days?
>>


Petrus, I've responded to this kind of comment before, and I hope you read my words this time. Stop making derogatory remarks about people who are of a different belief than you. Just because someone is a "hardcore gamer" does not imply any of the other insulting terms you attach to them (as above).

From viewing other posts of yours, you use this kind of labeling on those who disagree with you on the RMT issue. Your opinion is *not* superior to the opinions of the "hardcore gamer". It is equal. Your desired style of play is *not* superior either.

If you have a valid point to make, then do so, but throwing around stereotyping, assumptuous, and arrogant slander doesn't accomplish anything but being insulting. It doesn't do you any good either, because making the other side of the issue out to be regressive, malformed, inferior thought prevents you from seeing the points they make and understanding them. I'm beginning to think that in your case you just don't care what anyone else thinks, but I hope you can prove me wrong.


Aryoch:

Using the DAoC example, if you were a "maxed" character when the new requirements for RvR came, you might argue that you could only do one thing at a time. This is clearly a terrible design, and shouldn't be projected onto the entire genre.

At the same time, *most* MMOG's do allow for a huge variety of options. If you decide that "I must kill DarkDude till I get the Super Ultimate Sword", then you are locking yourself into what Flatfingers was talking about.

Roleplaying? Yes, some modern MMOG's do have shards dedicated to RP play.


Flatfingers:

The idea of impatience/impatient behavior (which I agree with) is founded on two things: people want high end content, and people can't/won't spend the time to get it themselves in-game. Now, everyone wants high-end content. With the exception of RP playing, a player's goal is typically to make it to the end. So, what changes from person to person? It's the "can't/won't spend the time".

Those who can't spend the time understand that they will likely never see the high end content through their efforts alone. Thus, their RMT actions can't really be labeled as impatient.

Those who won't spend the time know that they could, but choose not to do so (obviously). Why?

1. Although they could spend the time, the time needs to be spent elsewhere. Family, work, social concerns might come first. They might be able to make a choice between the game and something else, but for them the choice basically isn't a choice. For these people RMT results because they are unwilling to sacrifice something else.

2. They could spend the time, but they dislike the "work" required. They spend the money to avoid working to have fun in a game. Their RMT action is because "It's a game!"

3. They could spend the time, but they get extremely bored doing it. They spend money to skip the tedius grinding sections of the game. Their RMT action is to "get to the fun part".

4. They could spend the time, but they want the gratification of the higher-end content immediately. This is what you might think of as impatient. This person is similar to the friend that comes to your house, looks up cheat codes on the internet, and then completes your games in an hour. This person's RMT action is so that they don't have to put in the time.

Only one of those four perspectives can really be called impatient! However, this says nothing of what the proportions of each are among people that use RMT. And, btw, this is assuming that the game in question is not designed for the input of real money (nod to Matt).

If you look at #1-4 above, what ideas seem to be in common? First, low- and mid-end content is boring or inferior. Second, the cost of getting to high-end content is higher than the RMT cost. Third, if you require time input for access to high-end content, there will be those that can't/won't spend the time regardless of how fun the game is. Last, some people are just impatient and will drop cash to make their character high-end.

The main issue is time input. If the time input becomes like work, is boring, or is too long people will seek to skip it to get to what they want. You can alter the design to require less of this time, or you can alter the design so that the immediate play is more desirable.

Thoughts?

Posted May 3, 2005 7:10:32 PM | link

Richard Bartle says:

Barry Kearns>3. Go on a Spanish Inquisition against your customers to ensure their motives are pure.

This one works just fine. Even better, you tell us what to say to those people who are spoiling the game for the purists:
>"That's right, hold your breath if you like, but don't cry when your skin turns blue..."

Richard

Posted May 4, 2005 2:27:32 AM | link

Barry Kearns says:

Barry Kearns> 3. Go on a Spanish Inquisition against your customers to ensure their motives are pure.

Richard Bartle> This one works just fine.

Yeah... that's been working out great so far, eh? Those draconian EULAs and mass bannings have really stopped RMT dead in its tracks.

Ok, well... it's certainly mortally wounded RMT.. won't be long now before it's finally dead!

I'm sure we've at least winged 'em... they must certainly be losing blood. Any minute now it'll be over.

Oh wait. IGE is taking out full-page back-cover ads in mainstream computer gaming magazines now? Verily, this is a sign that they are broke and set to collapse at any moment...

What? Sony is legitimizing the practice in order to take a cut of the eBay market, and keep their customers happier?

Time to cue the Iraqi Information Minister.

"There are no RMT infidels in the game. Never!"
"My feelings - as usual - we will slaughter them all"
"Our initial assessment is that they will all die"
"No I am not scared, and neither should you be!"
"Be assured. The game is safe, protected by our EULA"
"I can say, and I am responsible for what I am saying, that they have started to commit suicide under the walls of our EULA. We will encourage them to commit more suicides quickly."

I have said before, and I will say again: we as developers will not escape the natural consequences of our design choices. If we want a game to be free of RMT, we should design it to take away the mechanics which make it possible. If we do not, we will see players making rational choices on their own part to use those features to their own personal advantage.

If you want to keep members of two largely divergent philosophical camps happy, you're probably well advised to create separate environments where each camp can pursue their own agendas while minimizing the cross-cultural impact.

No one is forcing you to do so, of course. But if you're doing this as a business, I think it's rational to expect that you're going to lose customers to competitors who are more focused on making their customers happy... instead of trying to impose the game-maker's morality and philosophy onto their customers whether they like it or not.

Posted May 4, 2005 11:16:03 AM | link

Ranii says:

You all make intelligent posts. There are some interesting theories and a lot of rationalizations as to why the exchange is either a good thing or long overdue. I am just a simple gamer and so I'm not going to argue with any of that. All I can tell you is how I feel as a gamer and as someone who played EQ1 for four years and EQ2 since beta.
It feels wrong.
I don't expect the police to totally stamp out crime, I don't expect companies to totally stamp out the secondary market. All I want to know is that they believe the way I do and that they try to stop it.
If they participate or facilitate I won't be playing their game.
That's just how I feel.

Posted May 4, 2005 2:10:54 PM | link

Barry Kearns says:

Ranii wrote:

I don't expect the police to totally stamp out crime, I don't expect companies to totally stamp out the secondary market. All I want to know is that they believe the way I do and that they try to stop it. If they participate or facilitate I won't be playing their game. That's just how I feel.

I can definitely understand that feeling. I think the interesting question then becomes the split between a moral imposition and one of separatist tolerance.

So let me put the question this way: If a game company made two versions of a game available, where one version/ruleset had concrete design enforcement to stop the secondary trade from happening, and a different version/ruleset where the trading was allowed and even facilitated (a la Station Exchange)... would you avoid playing that title entirely as a moral objection to the existence of the second version, or would you play the game under the first ruleset and allow those with differing viewpoints to play on their own separate servers?

In other words, is the decision by a company to allow ANYONE to do this enough to keep you away entirely, even if it can't affect your play on your own server?

Posted May 4, 2005 2:41:08 PM | link

Flatfingers says:

Jim, thanks for taking the time to offer your insights on this subject. Good stuff.

My initial response is to quibble slightly with your examples 2 and 3. First, I think they're basically the same thing -- someone perceives the actions necessary to achieve higher levels of ability to be "work" or "grinding," neither of which is desirable in a game. And second, I find it difficult to distinguish this attitude from that described in your example 4.

My experience is that many players of MMOGs are aesthetes -- in other words, they're sensation-seekers, or novelty-seekers. "Deepness" isn't what counts; what matter are the quantity and variety (and, to a lesser degree, the intensity) of sensory experiences.

But in a MMOG setting, this means you have players who are likely to become bored very quickly with any amount of repetitive activity. For these people -- who, again, I think make up most of the population of MMOGs (why this is so is another thread) -- *everything* done more than once is boring/grinding! Their lower tolerance for repetition means they're going to perceive most things as boring/grinding even if another player might find the repetition comforting (from the security of knowing how to do something well).

So the question is, which type of player do we want to to advantage through our game's rules or meta-rules: the one who's OK with some moderate level of repetitive activity, or the one who's naturally inclined to perceive any amount of repetition whatsoever as "grinding"?

Allowing RMT, it seems to me, sends the message that if you can define some activity as boring or a grind, then you're entitled to skip it (whether by RMT or cheat codes or anything else). Well, how can that do anything but lead people to define more and more things as "grinding," regardless of the reality (or of other players' perceptions)?

How does RMT *not* wind up validating impatience?

I'm not suggesting that RMT has no redeeming features. What I'm suggesting is that the negative effects outweigh the few appropriate uses.

Just my perception, of course. ;-)

--Flatfingers

Posted May 5, 2005 1:15:25 PM | link

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Posted Jan 27, 2006 10:25:59 AM | link