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Jan 19, 2006

Comments

101.

Mithra> Is RMT destructive in a game, hypothetically speaking, if say, 95% of that games' subscribership is indifferent to the practice?<

Errr, Yes. 95% of fishermen around where I live were indifferent to the damage they were doing to the ecological system, till the fish stocks collapsed. Most people ignore anything beyond first order effects of an action most of the time. They may be quite indifferent to RMT, while bitching loudly about second and third order effects of the practice. That’s not surprising, given that the more distant effects are not immediately obvious.

102.

Hellinar, your example clearly shows that the fishermans collective behavior to be advancing them toward some catastrophic end condition, the harbingers of which they collectively choose to ignore. In UO however, we see a sustainable example where that has not happened, actually almost nine running. The ill-effects of RMT in UO are manifest and acceptable within the culture of that game, and I can't see that they are building up to a catastrophe in waiting. In fact, I believe RMT drives and sustains that game. Whether RMT has "destroyed" UO is now a matter of opinion and has everything to do with opinion-givers particular ideal notion. The game becomes the system that presents itself, and your ecological example is an innapropriate universal metaphor for RMT, in my opinion, in that it makes assumptions about all game worlds, their inhabitants, and what their culture / meta-game "should" be.

103.

monkeysan: What about people who have terminal illnesses or debilitating diseases and have limited play hours

There are many wish granting organizations around the world. In our case, we decided that if we ever make it to beta, we would contact our local Make a Wish Foundation and some local pediatric cancer clinics to offer high end character accounts to children that might be interested in such.

104.

UO has been losing player numbers for years. Several people I know quit UO and their reasons (not counting the earlier ones with a one-word reason: Trammel) come down to either RMT, or the secondary effects of RMT. It is possible that RMT is tolerated in UO for the simple reason that most or all of the people who dislike what it has done to the game have quit UO, which would be one factor (and a strong one) in the drop in player count. I suspect that among the ones who remain, more of them are still there because they have some overriding reason to keep playing (most likely years of character history) despite the RMT than because they prefer a game where RMT takes place.

105.

If RMT is damaging an MMORPG, said MMORPG is poorly designed.

People still blame Raph Koster for engaging in the "social experiment" of allowing effectively unrestricted PvP in UO. Most point to how 5% of the players managed to ruin the game for 50% of the players as an example of UO being poorly designed.

When EQ tried the social experiment of having highly rivalous spawns in an extremely item-centric game, we saw the same end result. Except, oddly, no one is ever willing to assign blame where it is due - the people designing a game for 10,000 players per server without taking into account that RMT *will* happen. Instead, the fingers are now being pointed at the RMT folks. (Which is odd as the problems ascribed to the RMT folks predated them in both UO and EQ...)

The first games - UO and EQ - can be excused there shortsightedness. Later games can no longer ignore the lessons of RMT than they can ignore the lessons of rampant PKing.

RMT is a fact of human nature. Above a certain threshold normal social pressure won't maintain the magic circle and you'll have people engaged in RMT. The same thing occurs with PKing - unlimitted PvP can work in small enough games to be self-regulated, but doesn't work when it scales up.

I know many people will say: "But I want to design a game that is item-centric and has rivalous spawn points and ten thousand players, but doesn't have RMT!" Well, I want to design a game that allows unlimitted pvp, full looting, ten thousand players and doesn't have mindless PKing.

RMT is a natural outcome of certain design decisions. The effect of RMT on a game can likewise be predicted by the designers - there are plenty of prior examples now. To make a game that could be wrecked by RMT is as foolish as making a game that could be wrecked by griefing players.

My point is that these are choices the designers make. Adding a "No RMT" clause to the EULA is as useless as adding a "Please don't PK people too much" would be.

I'm not saying developers should encourage RMT, or even condone it. I'm saying they should *expect* it and design accordingly. Just like they should expect griefers, dupers, and role-players.

106.

Revisionist history at it's best.

See this post from awhile back for the real reasons UO is dying. http://terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova/2004/12/ultima_online_r.html

Most of the reasons just have to do with it being old. Guess what, Pac-Man is now less popular then it was 20 years ago. Go figure.

If RMT is really a game killer, I guess we should expect WoW to start dying pretty soon. I'm not holding my breath.

107.

Good points by Brask and Wanderer. Of course, since I agree with them, they are wise and intelligent. As soon as we disagree on some other topic, I will abandon them to the wolves ; )

I find monkeysan's critique of my idea of a "paid" guild membership unhelpful, as he/she doesn't explain *why*:

monkeysan>the notion of buying guild membership will always be seen as one of the lowest forms of pathos by any serious virtual world gaming community.

andy> How is it, monkeysan, that the purchase of access to a piece of code (a product) -- armor, weapon, spell, leveled character, etc. -- via RMT seems sacrosanct to you (to the point where you bring in examples of dying children), but the idea of paying for access to an actual service is pathetic? In real life, many organizations require dues. Most real life guilds, in fact, require dues. Most RPG guilds, in fact, require in-game monetary dues. Doesn't WoW require purchase of a fairly pricey (for a noob) guild garment? If, in RMT, gold = $USD in some equation, we've already seen that there is a real-money value placed on guild membership. And if time=money ("I thought that opium = money?") in terms of both in-game activities (farming) and real world activities (your day job, f'rinstance), then saying, "This guild deserves a few bucks in order to help maintain it," isn't pathetic, but a vote of confidence.

When I've been involved in guild creation, officer-ship, training, recruiting and maintenance, the workload was enormous. Back-of-the-envelope calculation puts it at about a 4-to-1 relationship of new recruits to members that ended up sticking around long enough to "benefit" the guild in terms of real play "fun." Some tried and left on their own steam, 'cause the guild wasn't for them. That's cool. But in the meantime, they benefited from our trade-stores, our grouping abilities, our friendship and ready help, and our RPing skills. Sometimes they turned out to be folks who we had to ask to leave, because they didn't fit the guild structure, either in spirit or letter of what was required. That's OK, too. Easy in, easy out.

But I'm still intensely curious -- why is it pathetic to support a guild you want to join by paying $USD to help fund it and the players who spend many hours making it grow? Your character will get many of the same benefits -- without cheating. And many more benefits that you don't get with straight-up RMT. But yet you don't feel it's pathetic to cheat and buy items you haven't earned through actual gameplay.

I think it's because the "paid guild dues" situation is in the open. It's legit. It fosters actual, in-game RP, which is much harder (and, IMO, ultimately more fun) to do than simply dumping some dough and faux-leveling your character.

Now... if I were running a paid-dues guild, and someone came to me and said, "Look. I'm doing research into guild structures for 'Wired' magazine... Can you bring me in without the dues, and help power me up to the Nth level so I can do my article in a month instead of a year?" Duh. Done deal. Or if somebody sent me an email and said, "My son is dying of lymphoma and saw your guild's website and wants, more than anything, to be a Dark Knight Officer of the Doomed Republic." Again, duh.

Any "game-centric" situation you can think of that involves breaking the 4th wall, I can make happen in-game. That's a good GM's job.

Brask makes the excellent point that it's the game designers' jobs to make a game that anticipates ALL the players activities -- those that will work within the game's rules, and those that won't. Designing a game that can be easily or readily griefed, duped or scammed is bad design, yes. But just because you can easily walk into my house and take my stereo doesn't mean it's OK to do it.

My point is that when we discuss these issues in terms of "gaming," we should look at whether the processes under discussion are good for the "art" and/or "state" of the game. Like Mithra and I have both stated, if the game is explicitly pro-RMT... 'nuff said. If it's not, though... I believe that, like anything that breaks the 4th Wall, RMT is bad for business.

108.

Wanderer>UO has been losing player numbers for years.

The market has been diversifying over the period also - bigger, better badder games have hit the scene, and have cannibalized UO's subscribership. If we suggest that UO's subscribership curve is solely a product of RMT, then we ignore other, probably more important factors, namely that players get bored and desire new experiences.

I offered in a previous post that many times players who lose interest in a game and are already on their way out, may not be able to articulate specific cause for their boredom, but will in fact aggregate to popular conceptual vehicles that they hear constantly recycled in the community, such as a "destroyed economy" so they can justify their exit from the game. People who spend more time on forums complaining than in-game playing should probably be encouraged by the company to go ahead and sever that attachment in an orderly way, move them on to other interests, if only to cease their reinforcement of negative perceptions in the community that isn't disinterested yet. The main reason OSI shut down their official forums is because they realized the majority who posted were the complainers out-of-game, and it was having a terrible anti-commercial influence on the product.

Wanderer>It is possible that RMT is tolerated in UO for the simple reason that most or all of the people who dislike what it has done to the game have quit UO

Oh yes, exactly. And EA seems to concede the point that they cannot please all the people all the time. UO remains a profit-making venture, and for better or worse, has an RMT culture. Whatever "ecological" damage RMT implies to UO has long come to pass, is accepted, transparent, and has become the game itself.

109.

In our case, we decided that if we ever make it to beta, we would contact our local Make a Wish Foundation and some local pediatric cancer clinics to offer high end character accounts to children that might be interested in such.

Drifting off the topic here ... At first glance, that seems like a wonderful and generous idea. Second thoughts, though, make me question it.

Perhaps I am biased because I play WoW at the moment, primarily on a high-pop PvP server, and the player community is harsh on those who do not meet their expectations. As a strongly K-oriented player, my previous MMORPG experience has included Dark Age of Camelot and Shadowbane, plus an obscure little game where the K nature is expressed in vicious and cutthroat politics. So, I may see a different segment of the MMORPG community than many of you. But, that said and using WoW as an example:

Let's say Blizzard issued some young cancer sufferer a fully-geared-up level 60 character on my server. He wouldn't have the skills and knowledge to match his level, so word would get out the first time he asked "What is STV?" or "Where is Kargath?" That word wouldn't be "Make-A-Wish kid" -- the word would be "Ebayer". He would be a pariah. Trying it on a mandatory RP server would be even worse, because failure to meet their standards is met not just by scorn and rejection but by GM appeals and punishment. I can't see a way that this idea would not end up with a child in tears.

Now, I don't know that much of the nature of the game you are hoping to some day have in beta. (do all of us who don't actually work for a game company have a big notebook of design documents for our dream game?) It could be that your design is such that someone with little or no experience could jump in at the high end and play successfully. I find it difficult to imagine such a game, however. There is always differentiation by player skill/experience, and the smaller the difference, the more important the nuances become. Even if they have experience in other games, or other classes in the same game, or even lower-level characters of that same class, a person dropped in with a high-level character won't have the skills. The only solution would be to tag them as "Make-A-Wish Kid" somehow -- and then, the only groups they'd get would be out of pity, even if they did develop the knowledge and skills they needed, because they'd be automatically assumed to be unable to play the character.

It's a generous thought, but I think the actual outcome would not be what you hope.

110.

Mithra> Hellinar, your example clearly shows that the fishermans collective behavior to be advancing them toward some catastrophic end condition, the harbingers of which they collectively choose to ignore. In UO however, we see a sustainable example where that has not happened, actually almost nine running. <

I think you missed my point. It wasn’t that ecological destruction is some universal metaphor for RMT. RMT is not universally bad. Its fine in games like Second Life that are designed around it.

My point was that polls showing the people are in favor or indifferent to some policy are not good predictors of how damaging that policy will be. At least when the policy has second and third order effects. If you poll them on the bad, more distant effects, they will likely vote against the policy.

Here is a recent example in the news. Several states in the US have recently introduced laws to strengthen the powers of the Mexican drug cartels, and increase the rate of burglary in their state. Of course, the law as not framed that way to the lawmakers. They were told they were making a law to restrict sales of cold remedies used in home labs to make meths. A noble first order effect. But with a fairly predictable second and third order effects. Removing the local supplier without changing the demand led to a replacement supply coming in at a higher price from a distant supplier. And the higher price mean addicts have to rob more houses to pay for their fix.

If you poll WoW players, and ask them “do you mind other players buying stuff with real money?”, you will get one set of numbers. Reframe the question to a second order effect. “Do you think items that you could previously purchase with money from adventuring should no longer be available by that method?” . Now you will get a different set of numbers. Second order effects are of course much more debatable than first order effects, which is why you rarely see the second poll.

111.

"Thus while that item that sold for 100k last month might get 105k this month on average, out of game that 100k is worth 50% less. Working at McDonalds becomes more profitable, and it becomes non sensical to sell platinum. "

Seriously, am I the only one here thinking - that's probably the overall idea? Am sorry if this was commented already, I didn't really have time to read all the feedback.

But come on... mysterious players appearing on the market with seemingly unlimited amounts of platinum, thus ruining the market for every "legitimate" platinum seller. Now WHO would benefit from that, I wonder...

112.

I understand what you mean Hellinar, and I agree it makes sense, ...but... short of having a specific second order effect to measure in a specific world I don't think we can learn anything from this that is specifically useful. I keep dragging out UO as an example, being probably the oldest VW of its category, and I struggle to put my finger on what the second order effect might have been. I've played that game since Oct of 1997 and I can't recall any outstanding negative event in that games' evolution. Even if we accept the effect to be insidious and slow, we can't technically argue that game wouldn't be healthier today without RMT ( it might be dead too ). The problem is there is no control case by which any of us can make that judgment. RMT, or any ruleset for that matter, is not necessarily going to produce success or failure, but it will certainly evolve the game toward some end. And thats probably what we're fighting over, who is in control, who has authority, who asserts authority, and which faction will win the cultural tug-of-war across any number of VW's where there is not yet a decisive winner.

113.

And thats probably what we're fighting over, who is in control, who has authority, who asserts authority, and which faction will win the cultural tug-of-war across any number of VW's where there is not yet a decisive winner.

Yes, that's exactly what we're fighting over: Who will decide the direction of the games -- the gamers who want to play them for fun, or the parasites who want to exploit them for greed? Who should be able to decide what a game is like -- the people who design and play it, or those who only want to loot it? Who has the right to control a game -- the designer and the players who love it, or the people who only see it as a way to make a quick buck?

That is indeed what we're fighting over. I have little hope that my side will win, but perhaps somewhere you have some vestige of a conscience, and you might, at some future day, mourn just a tiny bit for what you have destroyed.

114.

On another note, I think it's pure poppycock to assume that RMT is driven by 'cheaters' who want the ability to cheat anonymously and exclusively.

Why, besides because you say so?

I sure hope not. Rather, I think it's poppycock because there's little evidence beyond a lot of fevered hand-waving that it's true. Correct me if I'm wrong.

It [the RMT 'experiment' in EQ2] says a lot about the actual popularity of RMT in MMORPGs.

Why, because you say so? ;p All you have is the situation you described, where servers where SOE manages RMTs seem to be less popular than those where RMT is still 'outlawed'. While your hypothesis about RMT and its motivations is certainly a live hypothesis, there are competing hypotheses that can't be eliminated from consideration without good evidence, and these are being summarily dismissed or ignored by fiat.

Here's just two possibilities:

1. People, even hardcore dedicated EQ2 players, are wary of any RMT system run by the same entity that has direct and absolute control on the generation and maintenance of ingame resources. When that entity is SOE many, many people are less than willing to extend the benefit of the doubt.

2. Many players may not find the presence of sanctioned RMT a compelling reason to play on a dedicated server. Some, but not all, of those players may be motivated as you describe. Others, who may not be motivated by 'cheating' (as explained above) may simply not participate in RMT servers because those servers are anticipated to be smaller or less suitable to RP than others, for example. It is also possible that some who are not motivated by a desire for exclusive, anonymous competitive edge will not want to play on a server where they anticipate the population will be overwhelmingly RMTers. They may feel this way not because they are motivated by a desire to obtain unfair advantage over others but simply because they don't think a server that is composed of overwhelmingly one class of player is as interesting.

The fact that most players on them do not engage in RMT is the primary difference between the two server types, and therefore that is what we need to look at to understand their reasons for choosing one type over the other.

Agreed in the case of EQ2 absolutely. And I'm not saying that once this motivation is elucidated it won't have application to the wider phenomenon. But again, I am saying that the reason being so confidently supplied by many--the desire for anonymous yet exclusive cheating--just hasn't been shown to be the case with any real strength.

Another way of looking at it: A certain percentage of people who play FPS games use cheats, such as aimbots. If there was, say, a CS server that not only permitted but encouraged such practices, do you think the people who use those cheats would prefer to play on that server? Or would they prefer to play on servers that prohibit such things, where their willingness and ability to cheat would give them an advantage?

Your analogy doesn't transfer. For one thing, on a CS server the entire game population is already at 'endgame'. In other words, the entire gameplay experience is available to players from the moment they log in for the first time.
This isn't the case in the MMOs that have been used as examples in this discussion, and it's a distinction that destroys the analogy. Also, direct competition with other players is almost the sole gameplay driver on CS servers, something that is not universally the case in the MMO sphere. As a result, there is far more room in the MMO sphere for nuances among player motivations for RMT. In fact, I tend to think that in the case of WoW, for example, the actual level of competition is far less than the 'theoretical' competition that is being assumed for it. Of course, I don't have data to back that up, but the conclcusion you want to draw by analogy to the CS case isn't supported by evidence either.

I think the number of researchers, long-distance relationships, loving mothers, and people with terminal illnesses who are engaging in RMT are a tiny fraction of the total.

I'm not claiming they are overwhelming. I just use them as counterexamples to your sweeping generalization about motivations you have no quantitative access to.

Come on, how many people do you know who fit one of those categories? (not counting the TN crowd, of course)

At least one in each and several in more than a few of the examples I cited.

And why shouldn't we be counting the TN crowd? As the size, impact, and cultural visibility of virtual worlds grows, the number of researchers, journalists, educators, advertisers and even government officials who want/need a first hand way to observe and participate in them is going to explode. I think it's naive to think that their impact will remain 'negligible'.

And how many do you know who didn't feel like spending the time earning their plat, so they bought some?

Very many. But the fact that they "didn't feel like spending the time earning their" virtual currency doesn't imply that their motivation for doing so was because they wanted to 'cheat' (in the sense of obtaining anonymous exclusive competitive advantage over other players). To make that leap is 'ludicrous' imo.

Saying we should let the lazy cheaters and greedy parasites ruin games because 1/10 of 1% might somehow deserve our pity is ludicrous.

You're saying that not me. I never said any such thing. What I did say, effectively, was that while you're splashing the 'cheater' motivation all over the place, based almost exclusively on your own supposition, there are other motivations that exist, are non-trivial, and worth thinking about. I'm not trying to justify one over the other.

Using my FPS example again: There are people who, for physical reasons, can't play FPS games very well. Someone with very poor eyesight, for instance, would have a terrible time. Should that person be allowed to use a targeting bot? Would you be happy if they were way above you in your favorite ladder? And because some cheaters might be people like that who "need" to cheat, should we just accept and permit everyone to cheat in our favorite FPS?

Well, to answer your question despite having already shown how your FPS analogy doesn't play...why not? I'd be thrilled if someone who was so poorly sighted that they needed some form of aiming handicap was able to play competitively. For one thing, of all the fundamental skills in the world of competitive FPS play, aiming is among the least important determinants of a successful team or player.

andy> How is it, monkeysan, that the purchase of access to a piece of code (a product) -- armor, weapon, spell, leveled character, etc. -- via RMT seems sacrosanct to you (to the point where you bring in examples of dying children), but the idea of paying for access to an actual service is pathetic?

RIF, andy. I didn't say any of the things you attribute to me: I didn't say that RMT is sacrosanct, nor did I even endorse it. Nor did I say that paying for access to a guild is pathetic. I did say, however, that such a guild would be seen as pathetic by most members of any community of serious virtual world game players. It's an observation of the current character of virtual world gamers, not a personal opinion.

As for the 'dying children,' why shouldn't they be brought up. They certainly exist and are found among the populations of virtual worlds in understandably high proportions relative to, say, their presence Little League teams. The only reason not to consider them in a discussion about motivations of RMTers is if their existence counters some of the strength of your own pet assumptions and generalizations about players' motivations.

Most RPG guilds, in fact, require in-game monetary dues.

Where do you get that stat? Of the many guilds/clans/PAs, etc. I've been in only 2 required ingame dues. In equally many cases, the transaction goes the other direction, guilds recruiting needed classes or particularly experienced players by offering items to them.

Doesn't WoW require purchase of a fairly pricey (for a noob) guild garment?

Actually, no, it doesn't.

But I'm still intensely curious -- why is it pathetic to support a guild you want to join by paying $USD to help fund it and the players who spend many hours making it grow?

Again I didn't say it was pathetic, but I'll explain why I think the vast majority of the WoW player population would think it was: When you buy items from a gold seller you are trading cash for virtual objects, straight up. When you pay cash to join a guild, you can no longer distinguish between paying for virtual benefit and paying for the company of others. Given the stigmas that still attach to 'gamers' they tend to be very touchy about the perception that they are 'paying for friends'.

115.

116.

argh, this time it was my fault.

117.
Thabor>You spread dishonesty like a disease, and then come here and arrogantly tell us that the only reason we're honest is because we're too stupid to be dishonest.

That one belongs to Wanderer, not to me.


You don't seem care what kind of nasty, immoral, lewd behavior is emulated in-game through npcs and other content, why then do you single out for moral distinction RMT trading alone... unless it has everything to do with the money. That must be the case, since you haven't mentioned the evils of guild twinking. Its not the exchange of value perse, its the medium and the motivation. Your moral high-groundedness is... disingenuous.

Once again, the quote doesn't belong to me. But even if it did you are mistaken in a variety of ways.

Certainly claiming some sinister fascination with money just because someone stays on topic is... disingenuous...

Regardless I have metioned that even highly efficient players can have a detrimental effect on the game. Guilds and twinking are certainly one example of that. So called "gameplay" at high levels tends to be so regimented, formalized, and ritualized that it has no fun left in it. Being a cog in the epic set assembly line has no interest to me.


Here's the kicker : you've already valued the virtual item in RMT terms when you implied there was no difference in counterfeiting a $5 bill and $5 in virtual currency.

Valuing it for the sake of arguement, and endorsing it in fact are two very different things. You are attempting to argue that you have no real effect on anyone in spite of the fact that you take real money from real people for your service.


You're essentially envious that Coca-Cola has a popular vending machine outside the movie theatre when you should be sitting back enjoying your movie. Should anyone be concerned that you are obsessed and angry with some outside business mechanic, which many customers view as an asset?

Way to go with the ad hominem attack.. Its not a Coke Machine outside the theater, its a Coke Machine cutting of part of the picture from the projector.


Hypothetical. Never had it happen in practice. Not in UO or L2 either one. Game admins only deleted my stuff. Even when downtime or a server crash reversed the transaction, we re-delivered. Everyone received value. If it ever happened, then they get a refund. Problem solved. How else would I would I get 99% positive feedback? This is a false dilemma.

I personally only have anecdotal evidence of it, but just because you haven't personally experienced this doesn't mean it never happens with RMT transactions. It nice to claim that you'll always be able to give a refund, but I wonder how long that will last after you start running into customer fraud by other pepole who believe there is no moral significance to transactions in online worlds.


Richard, I have a suggestion on how we can fix 90% of the "problem".

Mithra, thats a very intriguing suggestion. I'd definately be interested in seeing it tried.

My main concern with it would be the general game populace would not be accepting of it. Regardless of how bad I percieve RMT to be, as you mentioned most players desire for themselves to have access to advantages. And beyond them are even some who just wish to do it to mimize content repitition (IE: Levelling a new toon). I imagine the equilibrium will stay pretty close to where it is now..

118.

Wanderer>Yes, that's exactly what we're fighting over: Who will decide the direction of the games -- the gamers who want to play them for fun, or the parasites who want to exploit them for greed? Who should be able to decide what a game is like -- the people who design and play it, or those who only want to loot it?

Everything that you are fighting for exists within a system driven and motivated by "greed". Blizzard, Sony, and EA employees don't exactly work on a volunteer basis. I'm sure the "greed" thing will go over well with their stockholders. Why dont you take issue with those wizards behind the curtain too, or is their greed passable since they are serving you up entertainment?

Wanderer>you might, at some future day, mourn just a tiny bit for what you have destroyed.

If I destroy something, sure. Until then I'll respond to what 30 to 40% of the population demands.

Thabor,

I apologized for misattributing your quotes in another post. I also consider name-calling ad-hominem ( like being called parasite ) but I don't think trying to understand someone's motivations, or observing that they are frustrated is ad-hominem.

Thabor>I wonder how long that will last after you start running into customer fraud by other pepole who believe there is no moral significance to transactions in online worlds.

Not sure what you are saying. How long will we treat the customer fairly? Indefinately, until they screw us, then they're blacklisted. Virtual sellers run into fraud every day, these stresses are not hypothetical and they've been with us from the beginning. Running an online business is no different from a brick-and-mortar store - you have to expect x % of your inventory to be stolen through credit card fraud and other schemes. You are correct, there are people who tell lies, steal identities, steal money, steal game time... but there are 1000 times more on the consumer end of RMT than on the selling end. The trick to success is to adopt procedural safeguards to reduce the fraud, and when it happens, accept it, write it off and move on. Otherwise you won't stay in business for long. Chargebacks are going to happen and they aren't worth stressing over. And you can't abuse your customer or you're crapping in your own nest. Take a look at Bob">http://cgi.ebay.com/CRIMSON-CINCTURE-Sonoma-UO-Ultima-Online-RARE_W0QQitemZ8231325153QQcategoryZ33888QQcmdZViewItem">Bob from UO Treasures ( no this is not me ). Nobody gets 11,700 positive feedbacks for screwing people.

119.

*sigh* sorry about the italics.

120.
I don't think trying to understand someone's motivations, or observing that they are frustrated is ad-hominem.

Pardon I took your tone when you said obsessed and angry to be name calling. Apparently you took when I meant to be an analysis of realationship to be the same. I certainly don't view your relationship to the game as a symbiotic one.


Not sure what you are saying

Mainly I'm saying you position doesn't allow you much positive knowledge of who is ripping you off, and who has a legitmate claim customerwise. And that as time goes on you are quite likely to have situations where you've denied a legitmate reimbursment due to that lack of knowledge. That almost certainly despite you reprensentation that all your customers are all satisfied there chances are that someone wasn't.

Also, your own scruples non-withstanding there are plenty of other people in RMT that don't do the same. It seems noteworthy that you go to some effort to ensure a fair trade in spite of representing that there is no moral weight behind what you are doing.


Take a look at Bob from UO Treasures ( no this is not me ). Nobody gets 11,700 positive feedbacks for screwing people.

Please see the much older thread on the selling of an EBay account. People are RMT-ing and power gaming reputation on ebay as well. Why should any number of positive feedbacks mean anything to me?

121.

Annoying italics fixed (I hope) :)

122.

Maybe fixed now.

Oh, well.

123.

I am thoroughly impressed with the quality of arguments being made regardless of personal belief.

124.

Brask Mumei>If RMT is damaging an MMORPG, said MMORPG is poorly designed.

I disagree. The design can be fine, but the implementation flawed. The design isn't just the software, it's the associated rule set, too. If a design calls for no RMT but people do it anyway, then the problem is one of enforcement, not of design.

What you're ultimately saying is that any design where it's possible to cheat in any way is poor. The trouble is, it's possible to cheat in pretty well any multi-player game - the hoops you have to jump through to remove the possibility of cheating have deliterious effects on gameplay. Example: if I played online poker while in verbal contact with another player with whom I was colluding, we'd both do better than if we played solo. Is it a flaw with poker that its rules don't prevent that? Well no, because its rules DO prevent that, and if you're reported for it you'll be banned. You may even be reported for fraud for all I know.

There are many ways to reduce the incidence of RMT in virtual worlds that have minimal effect on gameplay, and a wise designer will implement such measures. Some of these are codeable: things such as looking at credit card names and addresses before doing account transfers, things such as limiting the amount of objects/currency a character can send or receive in a given time period, things such as limiting the time that an account can be logged in on in a single month. Even giving currency actual weight, so you can only carry so much of it around, would have an effect on RMT. There are lots of ways to limit it.

As you say, though, it's difficult to stop entirely because it's human nature. That said, it can be stamped on hard enough that its long-term effects are minimal.

The presence of RMT in a non-RMT game doesn't mean that a virtual world's design is poor, any more than the presence of performance-enhancing drugs in athletics means that the design of track and field events is poor. What it means is that some of the players/atheletes are cheats. Detecting and dealing with those cheats is problematic, but that doesn't mean the design itself is poor.

Richard

125.

I do not say that presence of RMT in a non RMT game is a sign of design failure. I say that RMT hurting the game is a sign of design failure.

Game design for MMORPGs must take into account human natue. You can't blame the cheaters because your design didn't include sufficient disincentives or a sufficiently RMT neutral system. You knew they'd exist. You knew how much manpower you were willing to devote to policing. The design must include methods to deal with these "cheaters" in ways that don't threaten your game. The cheapest way is to ensure that they don't interfere with other players excessively - make a game that is RMT neutral. More expensive ways involve enforcement - it is doable, but I don't see any MMORPGs willing to invest the resources necessary.

I repeat my analogy with PKs, as I think it is important to understand my viewpoint. Ultima Online's design could be said to be flawless. Unlimitted PK worked quite well among groups of friends and acquaintances who could accept a certain level of meta-rules about their behaviour. However, the design (which, presumeably, includes the level and type of desired GM policing) did not scale well. We can always conclude that the design was perfect, but people were broken. That seems disingenous to me, however. People are one of the design constraints. To fail to take them into account is a failure of design as much as an assumption of zero latency would be a failure of design on the current internet. The difference being, I guess, that some day we may fix the latter problem.

126.

Thabor>It seems noteworthy that you go to some effort to ensure a fair trade in spite of representing that there is no moral weight behind what you are doing.

Absolutely. I believe there is no moral weight to exploiting. I do believe there is a definative ethical shortfall the moment you start accepting a real cash payment from someone and not deliver on their expectation. When I deliver gold, I make one individual happy in a very direct, conscious, cause-and-effect way. When I exploit, I might make any number of people unhappy in a very indirect, subjective and abstract way, depending on their unique knowledge, if they have it, and particular perception of the event. Needless to say I do not go about informing the public that x event occurred to spread doom and fear.

Thabor>Mainly I'm saying you position doesn't allow you much positive knowledge of who is ripping you off, and who has a legitmate claim customerwise. And that as time goes on you are quite likely to have situations where you've denied a legitmate reimbursment due to that lack of knowledge.

Getting ripped off as a seller does not characterize by far the majority of transactions an eBayer processes, although - very interestingly - there is something to be said for each game culture where some games tend to attract scammers more than others. Some sellers also attract scammers more than others, for any reason ranging from weak security procedures ( did you call the buyer on the phone? ) and public profile ( let's scam IGE, they're the biggest ). Most transactions conclude without problems exactly like any other retail niche.

What I'm saying to you, is that our ( and I include my resellers when I say our ) particular customer service policy is to give the player a benefit of the doubt. If that player got banned for RMT ( and UO does not do this), then most likely so did the seller, and you issue a refund. If the shard reverted and didn't save, our stock level will reflect that too, and you re-deliver. History and practice has shown there aren't too many eventualities that might result in a player getting screwed that we can't corroborate also, and needless to say its usually a better business strategy to just deliver twice or issue a refund than risk losing a real customer over an error. If the same person comes back a second time and does the same thing, then at that point they'll probably get blacklisted among the sellers. Players getting screwed by established eBayers is not the problem you might think it is. eBay feedback is a pretty good indicator of a sellers performance over time.

127.

Thabor> How much difference do you believe there is between counterfiting a $5 bill and counterfitting $5 worth of virtual currency?

Mithra> Exactly the difference between someone killing you and someone killing your avatar. *smiles* Its a problem of context. Whats really at risk here? Your entertainment? Counterfeiting and inflation causes true suffering in the real world.

I'm not sure I agree with the logic here, But to be clear, let me ask you, when you counterfeit virtual money for sale for real money, you think there is no impact in the real world?

128.

To anonymous, I discern a difference between the two.

Counterfeiting in the real world, wholesale and unmolested, creates inflation - which is essentially a theft of value from both the collective work and stored wealth of everyone in society. The results of which can be extreme ... poverty, starvation, lack of clothing, lack of shelter, civil strife, warfare. For this reason counterfeiting is a crime and serious ethical shortfall and should never be tolerated. I would not do this, even if the opportunity presented itself, because despite what some of you might think you know about me, I personally have a strong civic sense of responsibility toward society and I consider myself a moral, urpright person. In real life I engage in no vices, I work hard, usually 12 hours days, I take care of my wife, pay my bills and pay all my taxes. I don't steal, scam, or participate in any type of online fraud, I don't hack into servers, I don't figure out ways to steal gametime codes. There are those who do all that, but it isn't me, and in my own defense I don't belong in any type of category of real life criminal. The only thing I do, is cheat at video games and take payment for virtual coin, which is at worst a grey area in the realm of civil suits, and certainly not criminal law.

Counterfeiting in a virtual world - a game world, I argue, is patently different, in that the second order effects culminate in, and are limited to, PERHAPS, loss of entertainment value - a condition predicated upon an abstract, non-specific, highly subjective, highly interpretive perception of the state of play. This lack of enjoyment can produce itself in VACUUM on the basis of a rumor of an exploit, and likewise, may be absent entirely all the while a major exploit is occurring in the background. This I argue, makes the whole bit even more immaterial and less ethically tangible than anything else which occurs within the context of the game, PK'ing, kill-stealing, griefing included.

I do not - and should not - attach the same level of moral gravity to both activities, despite the fact they are labelled similiarly, or that they share words in common, because truly they are not moral equivalents. It is the same difference between murders and PK's. Just because something resembles a kitten does not make it a kitten.

This point aside, a number of things are in fact occurring in the real world, aside from me receiving money and individual players receiving entertainment value, and that might be that I'm making it more challenging PERHAPS for a particular company to keep everyone happy. I'm interfering PERHAPS with an idealized execution of their business plan, but no more significantly ( or wrongfully ) than the way any business interferes with any other business. No doubt there are those who would just as soon lynch me from the nearest tree for the perception of having affected their game. I don't believe I'm ever going to win any friends with that crowd, but I hope they can at least understand my position.

129.

Mithra,

But you'd be wrong in the impact assessment you've delineated. Game companies can and have destroyed these virtual artifacts even when control has been transfered, which results in the lost of real money after your transactions have occurred.

Ethically, unless you've disclosed to the buyer that they've been illicitly gained (within the game's EULA), I would opine that at the very least you are being fraudulent in that transaction.

Because your activity transcends beyond the magic circle and involves real income and real transactions, your activity has the same moral gravity as any other illicit transaction done without the property owner's consent in the real world.

I'm not implying a direct comparison between real life activities and virtual activities.

I will say that it appears you're using the virtual world as an ethical fourth wall to preserve your sense of integrity about your activity.

Each time you log in and do not abide by the EULA you had to click through, you're choosing, ethically, to participate in something that you've not agreed to the conditions of.

This is cheating. Why? Because the EULA is representative of an agreement not only between you and the game company, but the game company and all of the other players, which *should* create a common trust that all players, when dealing with ethical people, could count on being the rules of the game.

When you sit down to a game of monopoly, you agree to follow certain rules of play (typically the ones printed in the rule book or box cover), any variations to those rules are agreed upon by all participants engaging in the game. These rules are not abstract, just as the EULA is not.

You're playing how you want to play in a multiplayer game without respecting the same ruleset that most have actually agreed to and are following.

Ethical? No, not at all.

Illegal? I couldn't say, but I still feel like you are committing fraud on the other players. Real life fraud, involving real life money.

130.

Anonymous>But you'd be wrong in the impact assessment you've delineated. Game companies can and have destroyed these virtual artifacts even when control has been transfered, which results in the lost of real money after your transactions have occurred.

That has never happened in my own experience. If a player ever lost value for whatever reason, they can expect a refund from me. I would do whatever is both reasonable and ethical, but its difficult for me to counter a hypothetical dilemma without other specific details. I can't speak for other vendors, so yes, you are correct in this sense - proceed with caution, and moreso in games where the company cracks down on buyers as well. I'm not trying to take this to the level of "its safe and OK to buy eBay'd gold". For what its worth, all the UO gold I generated I also digitally laundered it to remove it x levels from the original event, dispersed it to a variety of unlinked accounts and took nearly a year to sell it. I felt pretty safe about it. I had a sufficient understanding of the internals of that game that I felt reasonably certain nothing was going to happen, and certainly nothing beyond my control that would result in the player left holding the bag.

Anonymous>I will say that it appears you're using the virtual world as an ethical fourth wall to preserve your sense of integrity about your activity.

Hmm, I'll have to think about that. Time for self-reflection. Let there be no misunderstanding - I am without a doubt a "cheater". I'm not so arrogant as to debate that point. :D I invoke a fourth wall consciously, but only to channel and isolate expression of my Jungian shadow archetype - the griefer inside me - because I believe in the advertised function of many VWs as a role playing vehicles. I tend to link duping to an in-game expression of anarchism, but at that same time I see the point brought out that because I accept money that the behavior has essentially left the box and acquires real world ethical significance. Its true that money is the primary motivator, and without it the in-game expression probably wouldn't manifest. But at the same time I still can't pin any ethical significance on it beyond the social stigma of being a game "cheater". I'm going to think about this for a bit.

Anonymous>When you sit down to a game of monopoly, you agree to follow certain rules of play (typically the ones printed in the rule book or box cover), any variations to those rules are agreed upon by all participants engaging in the game. These rules are not abstract, just as the EULA is not.

I agree, and I think its a very good comparison also. My wife told me that when she was 12 years old she used to cheat at Monopoly by stealing monopoly money out of the bank. It probably wouldn't have been fun for the other players involved, had they known, but I'm not prepared to sanction her out of proportion to the seriousness of her actions either. I'm really not concerned that I might die and go to Hell over duping UO gold.

131.

Explain to me again where it was a good idea to have a coin-based economy in a medieval-esque world?

That will be the innovative game, when it comes out.

132.

This has got to be one of the longest discussions on Terra Nova in a long time, and Im really glad to see civility and the Philosopher's Benefits applied in the debate.

I believe Mithra, that the section of players most likely to lynch you may be comprised partially of other "cheaters", "businesses", what-have-you. I imagine somewhere in their business model there is a note about how to deal with competition, and with reference to the original article, those methods seem pretty brutal (in isolation).
Those who hold "The Game" sacrosanct do not really hold the game itself nor the princples of the game in reverence. Instead, they see something right or worthy (in an ethical sense) about Equality, and this discussion is about how equal the playing field should be, and how much it actually is.

Does this directly lead to two fundamentally different paradigms for VW's and RMT? I would say it does.
Does this discussion validate one over the other? Not universally, but many posters here do have the ability (and/or desire) to level the playing field, and their efforts to do so will in part define the next wave of VW culture.

133.

SOE is selling the plat....

134.

Andy Havens wrote (regarding a "for pay" guild):

A good guild will look out for great players whose participation, regardless of payment, will improve their status. And -- like Mithra says -- if a goony young bird with no social skills can't make friends any other way, but has a few bucks to kick into the guild coffers... well, OK. We'll take him on as a low-level and give him a shot.

I'm not saying that the guild then "power levels" the kid up without his participation or gives him crap he doesn't deserve, etc. etc. That would just be using a guild as an RMT mechanism.

Let me relate part of my experience in Earth and Beyond... it was because of that experience that I got involved in RMT in MMOs, as a direct response to this.

On the server where I played, there was a particularly nasty guild made up (initially) of a large collection of real-life associates who wandered from game to game. These folks engaged in almost every game-distorting practice imaginable, but without ever involving RMT.

They twinked all of the member's low-level characters massively and without restraint. They power-leveled accounts like mad, and you had members who couldn't play worth beans but had enough equipment to overcome their skill deficiencies (and then some).

They monopolized content on a nearly constant basis... there was a particular launcher that was available only through a timed encounter. It gave a higher rate of DPS than any other weapon. The encounter only spawned once per 24 hours. Once they had enough for a full group of their members to be armed with these, they refused to allow anyone else to access the encounter until every single member of their guild, no matter how weak or pathetic, was fully outfitted with those weapons.

Using that edge, the outfitted members proceeded to also dominate any other high-level encounter, kill-stealing at will (since they could always generate at least 51% of the damage compared to anyone else).

They griefed, they trained aggro, they farmed and dominated the best spawn points. They did it because they could. And they did it without RMT.

Their stated and public goal was the utter domination of the play experience on that server. They became the content gatekeepers. They even wanted to set up a system where you would have to go get their permission to take on a high-level encounter.

These miscreants were taking advantage of (IMO) fundamental design flaws in the game that allowed their warped desires for social domination to ruin the game-play experience of much of the rest of the server. The game was farmable, had player-gateable content, easy transfer of power, ease of powerleveling and a loot assignment system which virtually guaranteed that once you had dominance in DPS, you could not be unseated.

It was a recipe for disaster because of design flaws and griefing players, not because of the presence of RMT.

But in a game where RMT is specifically forbidden, and where it, essentially, provides unfair and out-of-game advantages to characters... I still say it's a violation of the whole idea of gaming at its best.

My encounter should hopefully show you that it's the system which can provide unfair out-of-game advantages to characters... and that system stopped being a game not because of cash, but because of the massive-twink-friendly nature of the game and the ill will of some of its participants.

Had the game not been so readily twinkable, and the content not so gate-able by players, then the game could have proceeded without being ruined. IMO, the real "violation of the whole idea of gaming at its best" was allowing the unrestrained twinking.

The ban on RMT didn't stop this from happening, and it happened without RMT as a motivation.

But fixing the design would have made the RMT ban unnecessary, and would have preserved the game from these kinds of predations.

That's why I try to keep pointing out that it's the ability to twink beyond all reasonable bounds that sets the stage for the game to be wrecked... not whether or not there's a EULA policy against it.

I'm not opposed (and never have been) to either mild levels of twinking or mild amounts of RMT. Where the nightmares start is when there is a highly-farmable structure, and the ability to twink massive unearned advantages to other characters.

It sets the stage for the E&B nightmare I mention above, and it simultaneously sets the stage for RMT to grow out of hand until it also distorts the gaming landscape (often beyond recognition).

I contend that it is largely preventable. Set limits on the amount of power a player can buy or transfer, and implement adaptive structures that impede the pursuit of excessive no-skill farming.

I believe it was Hellinar that mentioned soft XP / loot caps. I've proposed earlier (and have incorporated into my own design) that mobs adapt to the prolonged presence of a character repeatedly pounding on them... where XP and loot yield drop over time, and simultaneously the player-specific difficulty of killing them rises.

Doing so helps prevent botting/farming that monopolizes a particular spawn point, because of the double-whammy of diminishing returns and rising danger. Eventually, a persistent unattended bot (no matter how powerful) will be getting one-hit killed, gain no XP and no loot.

To get meaningful loot/xp/skillups, you'll need to actually play and move around to different areas... ones where the danger level is appropriate. Since the vast majority of the power that a character has in my implementation is not item-centric, but is instead skill-centric, there's also only marginal benefit to cross-character twinking, and if people do it, it doesn't meaningfully distort the game.

I'd be more than willing to competely forego RMT in a game, so long as gangs of thugs like these don't get to impose their own distortions on the gaming landscape without involving cash.

Until that is stopped (by design) I don't see why their method of ruining the competitive landscape via unrestrained social twinking is somehow more morally just than my bringing it back to parity with a credit card... or enabling others to do so by paying me.

135.

To monkeysan> Housekeeping, micro-petty BS first, since I hate being called wrong when I ain't; the garment in WoW to which I was referring was the guild tabard. To form a guild in WoW, your guild master must design and purchase a tabard which costs 10 gold. So... there is *some* monetary association with guildsmanship (is that a word?) attached directly to the mechanics of the game. Of course, you could choose to form a virtual guild without using the game mechanics version, but what a huge pain that would be. So, to an extent, anyone who wants to use the benefits of the game-system guilding structures, must bow to the requirement of forking over, as a group, 10 gold.

Or you could tough it out and form a non-Blizzard-guild. Bring it on, manly men! Do it! Don't let the machine dictate your guild structure and make you wear some sissy piece a' rag! Have a guild without a wee, wussy tabard! C'mon! I dare ya! If ya were a true Scottish son-o'-th'-walk ya'd do it! Ya know yer na man enough to try tho, are ye? Ya want yer prissy Guild chat channel and yer wee map locators and yer other game enhanced benefits. Bunch a pewlin', led-by-yer-nose, girly players. Tha's what yeh are.

Ahem.

My point being this -- it is, obviously, ridiculous to forgoe game benefits that are provided by the system. If there are system requirements (10 gold to start a guild), you pony up. Same for levels or the prices of items. That's what a game (hopefully a good game) does in terms of all kinds of balancing issues. Puts various "price tags" on all kinds of actions vs. consequences and rewards.

The better a game is, the more "right" (fun, interesting, cool, exciting, engaging, whatever) the consequence feels when we execute an action. If we spend an hour going through a quest with a boss at the end, and the boss only takes 5 seconds to kill... that feel wrong. There's a "bad" play balance there. From the standpoint of content creation, the designers have boofed it.

In a multi-player game, though, players have a responsibility to each other, as well. Richard makes the excellent point above that the design of a multi-player game may be very good, but cheating will be possible if people go outside the game. That's very true. Even given the examples here of what many would "allow" for in terms of potentially acceptable ways to power-level characters, I could always pretend to be a sick kid in order to get a donation of a 60th level character. Ha-ha! I just cheated not only the game, but all the nice people at Make a Wish! What a virtual scum-bag I am, and I'd have so much fun not only role-playing my in-game character, but also "Poor Broken Timmy."

So... while designers and publishers will need to try to design a game that takes into consideration ways in which their game might be "gamed," I think the community (like folks on this site) needs to look for ways in which we can convince/educate gamers in general about the *whys* of appropriate real-world trade; when it makes sense, and when it is clearly cheating.

Mithra> I am without a doubt a "cheater". I'm not so arrogant as to debate that point. :D I invoke a fourth wall consciously, but only to channel and isolate expression of my Jungian shadow archetype - the griefer inside me - because I believe in the advertised function of many VWs as a role playing vehicles. I tend to link duping to an in-game expression of anarchism, but at that same time I see the point brought out that because I accept money that the behavior has essentially left the box and acquires real world ethical significance. Its true that money is the primary motivator, and without it the in-game expression probably wouldn't manifest. But at the same time I still can't pin any ethical significance on it beyond the social stigma of being a game "cheater". I'm going to think about this for a bit.

Andy to Mithra> I'd be real careful, brother. I mean this will all defference, respect and sincerity, because you come across like an intelligent, experienced gamer. But many people take their games at least as seriously as their money. Some much more so. You see that here, clearly, in the attitudes and posts of people who want to keep games clean of RMT. The statement:

But at the same time I still can't pin any ethical significance on it beyond the social stigma of being a game "cheater".

To some folks, the "social stigma" of cheating is etically significant. It amounts to saying, "Screw you!" on a pretty high scale. It's like bullying behavior or flipping me the bird or talking during a movie. You're basically saying that your right to have a good time trumps my right to do so, even at my expense. That your enjoyment of the game, and your positive feelings are so important, that you can thumb your nose (or bite your thumb) at the rules themselves, rather than let me have an equal or fair shot at similar enjoyment.

Cheating behavior is, at its heart, a display of pure hypocricy and egotism. And since group games require a witholding of ego and a truthfullness -- inasmuch as the game is a shared experience -- hypocricy and egotism errode the very basis for gameplay. In short, where there is cheating, there is no real way to play.

Why would I want to play a game with a cheater? You don't really *want* to play with me? You just want to win. Or to "do your own thing." To, somehow, beat the system or show off or grief or earn money or do... whatever. Get enough cheaters in a system -- enough to affect the design or play balance significantly -- and you've screwed the pooch for everybody. It happens in sports, it can happen to VWs.

So, like I said... watch out. Saying "it's just a game" won't keep you from getting your fingers broke in Vegas.

136.

Does playing "The Game" in an MMORPG mean playing the whole level/skill progression from 1 to N? Why can't a player legitimately jump in at 20 or 40 or N? I don't see how this breaks anything -- including the 4th wall.

In pen and paper RPGs, players often generate higher level characters. For example, just last week my group rolled up 32 point characters with 38,000 gp for a short one-off run between campaigns. This is a lot of fun. Why does it break the game?

If it doesn't break a PnP RPG why would it break an on-line RPG?

I'm a WoW player, but not that serious about hitting 60. My son and I have been playing for a year and my highest level character is 45 -- I have 5 different characters on a PvP server. The only thing I really worry about is that my friends level faster than me and then we drift apart because we can't play the same content. I'd really like the ability to roll any level character even if that came at great cost like zero XP gain, no BoP loot, or perma-death.

137.

AHA! Yes... I have found it ... there is actually a word that describes perfectly my position vis-a-vis virtual chicanery. All we needed was a label. :D

138.

Players A, B, and C are playing monopoly with Player A as Banker. Player B owns Boardwalk and Park Place which are house-less but unfortunately B has no cash just as C is poised to come by on his next roll. Cleverly B tenders to A $5 in US money for $5,000 monopoly and with that plops down hotels on previously said undeveloped properties. No harm done; after all C hasn't even rolled yet...

Yet for some reason, (petulance?) C quits and indignantly asks "Why'd you do that B? You just ruined the game for everyone!"

"Not for me" says B. "Me either" smiles A. Parent-of-All just grins and turns away; after all it was only a game...yes?

Mithra, please tell me you're not bringing up your kids this way...

BTW, never played an RPG but this discussion has been fascinating!

Rik

139.

Rik,

Would the game have been any less ruined if B gave the $5,000 in Monopoly money to A as a personal favor, or as a flirtatious act, rather than for $5 cash?

I think it's equally ruined in both cases. Yet when compared to typical MMOs, you'd be looking at a situation where it's perfectly fine for the Banker to hand out any amount of money to their friends without sanction... but game-ruining if real-life cash ever changed hands as well.

Distorting the game's progress (and the competitive landscape) through abusive transfers is generally game-wrecking. It doesn't matter what the out of game reason is.

But if it's sauce for the goose, it should be sauce for the gander, too. My prescription is to fix the underlying game-wrecking abuse instead of finding a whipping-boy segment of the population to act as the designated target of ire.

140.

the only way to prevent RMT from destroying a VW economy might be to valuate said economy's monies and base it off of real world monies...

when death means real money... when drops mean real money...

if it's not play money, don't you think the world becomes more immersive...? and compelling?

seriously, why isn't someone doing this... and hell, if people are willing to throw away money on fraudulent offshore texas holdem sites, i bet more people would be willing to make a buck swinging bastard swords at an orc or two...

141.

Someone is already doing this, hikaru. Check out Project Entropia.

142.

I've long since stopped following this thread, but I wonder if anyone here has read Cory Doctorow's speculative short story about responses to gold farming in-game? It's available online at Anda's game.

143.

When I first heard about what Project Entropia was doing, I was both fearful and apprehensive and consequently never looked at the game. When real money is involved by design and the company takes a cut, MMOG's become more like casinos than anything else. Players want to know up front what their commitment is going to be and what they get in return. Monthly fees toward some content which is ideally accessible through a normal commitment of time and play seems alot more appealing than PE's model. I think alot of RMT'ers also understand inherently that any such game will be about as locked down and inflexible as say, banking software, and are immediately suspicious ( and rightfully so ) that the rules of play will, on average, benefit the "house". Sony's Station Exchange, while not exactly the same thing as PE, also creates a lack of player confidence in the company to present a fair and balanced game. As soon as the company even looks like they may plausibly have their finger in the pie, the PR campaign is lost.

144.

Regarding Project Entropia:

Profit activities which take place in this game do fall under US designations covering "internet poker". It's just not being enforced currently, but could be in the future.

Also, from their own statement which have a fixed exchange rate to the US Dollar (10 PED equals 1 USD). This means that (along with some assumptions about in-game institutions), given enough liquidity, one could launch a hedge attack against the Entropian Central Bank and break their peg. Of course once you succeeded at doing this, they'd just freeze your in-game assets and confiscate your capital. I guess that's the dangerous edge you walk pretending that economic abstractions are synonymous to real economies.

145.

Mithria...

You said:

"The math of it is fairly complicated, but suffice to say it generated 1.047 million gold every 18 minutes per character. I shared my discovery with one other ( who later claimed credit for this exploit to my great annoyance ), and all said and done, I setup 21 PC's, wrote and tested a bot and was ready to go on Day One when they sent Publish 21 to the production shards. And it went off without a hitch. Until.. we were discovered in-game by Lee Caldwell. As it turns out, we chose the most remote bank in the game to run this script, and it happened to be occupied by another exploiter running a different exploit. "

I would like you to consider, just for a second, that you are not the only smart person in the world. For the record, I NEVER claimed credit for the fact that the UO Dev team completely missed the mark in trying to fix the Raw Bird exploit. You and I are both very smart people, and we both figured out what to do about the dynamic pricing with in a few hours of that patch hitting the test server. Cheffe would have figured it out too if he had bothered to test it. It was never rocket science. When I do tell that story, I always include you and treat it as a co-discovery. And I think we handled everything about it quite well, including our dealing with Lee.


Oh, and for the record...it was 2.7 million gold every 15 minutes, depending on lag.

Oh, and one other thing, there are a few journalists, including Julian that have ALL my ICQ logs from everyone I ever delt with while farming, including you.

146.

Richard>You and I are both very smart people, and we both figured out what to do about the dynamic pricing with in a few hours of that patch hitting the test server. Cheffe would have figured it out too if he had bothered to test it. It was never rocket science. When I do tell that story, I always include you and treat it as a co-discovery. And I think we handled everything about it quite well, including our dealing with Lee.

I agree that we handled Lee very well. As far as figuring out the exploit... I distinctly recall buying 4K bacon off the Britain butcher at 4:00 AM that morning, ecstatic when I realized the price had locked, waking my wife up and telling her all about it, then telling you about it the next day. I even remember the little prayer I said going into the session, despairing over the pending fixes, and the sense of irony that for once a prayer had been answered. You've certainly made contributions as a friend and a peer in any number of exploits running up to this, and you helped tweak the methodology and otherwise corroborate execution of this one. It was a collaborative effort but it wasn't a collaborative discovery. No one implied you weren't smart, or that I am - I certainly do respect your abilities, but you weren't ready when the thing went live because you were still trying to graft the packet forger onto Cheffe's scripting software. You ended up making gold faster than I did, thats true, but in the end you made around 13 billion less because you were late getting your technology working. Go through your ICQ logs and see who figured out we could send a buy request with redundant shop ID's in the first place. It certainly wasn't Cheffe because he learned that from me.

Just to clarify, what I was annoyed about when I said you "took credit" referred to the post you made on AC that spilled the beans perse. I had to learn about that from a third party. We've already discussed that and you explained that you didn't know if I wanted to be named ( but didn't ask either ). I'm not annoyed now, but I was truthfully annoyed then, and thats a factual element in my account. Probably it was a detail I could have omitted in the interest of keeping the peace.

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It's always good to publicly air dirty laundry now and then :) And in any case Mith and I have learned to always use bleach :)

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Rich - you and I both should be the very last ones upset about anything pertaining to Publish 21. :)

150.

I am well aware that you are discussing in game exploits here but I would like to enquire about the next logical step: the actual selling of the virtual items. What legal leverage can the Trademark owner use against a player selling their "intellectual property" on his own website? Is there anything that actually has gone to court in this context?

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