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Mythic GM Talks Warhammer Launch, Banning Gold Sellers

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the ban-early-and-often dept.

Role Playing (Games) 251

Gamasutra has an interview with Mark Jacobs, GM and co-founder of Mythic, about the recent launch of Warhammer Online. He talks about handling the heavy demands on the servers, and how the launch is going better than the opening of Dark Age of Camelot (during which "somebody parked a truck on our internet"). Jacobs also blogged about the glee with which he and his team have been banning gold spammers: "We don't wait and let them stay in the game and ban them en-masse, my guys ban their useless, time-consuming butts right away. We have a strike team whose sole job it is to get these guys off our servers as quickly as possible. This weekend, we unveiled a new wrinkle in the fight against them, the public ban message. Players on our Phoenix Throne server have been treated to special messages when a gold seller/spammer is banned. I've given them a wide leash to come up with creative messages to tell the entire community who has been banned and we keep it within the Warhammer universe."

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thinking about it (1)

loafula (1080631) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112263)

I'm considering picking this up. Anyone play? What are your impressions?

Re:thinking about it (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112319)

I play, and I like it.

-Rick

Re:thinking about it (1)

Farmer Pete (1350093) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112383)

I've considered it a lot, but I don't think I'll end up picking the game up. I played DAoC for 3 years solid, and I just don't think I can ever trust Mythic to run a game again. Everything bad about DAoC was caused by a total failure of Mythic to employ simple balance between the realms. The more people yelled, the more they did stupid things that failed to address the basic problems. It got so bad that they eventually gave up.

Re:thinking about it (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 6 years ago | (#25113171)

Same boat here, I just can't trust Mythic to get it right. Too bad really, as the Warhammer universe is cool.

Re:thinking about it (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 6 years ago | (#25113847)

Yeah, they did screw that up royally. The concept of balancing a 3-team game is so phenomenally simple that it defies belief that they failed as spectacularly as they did.

Re:thinking about it (1)

Valtor (34080) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112391)

I'm considering picking this up. Anyone play? What are your impressions?

Great game IMHO. Having lots of fun. RvR is really well done.

Re:thinking about it (5, Informative)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112407)

I throw out the phrase "Better than WoW" after a long period of due consideration. It's not just hype - it's really that good.

The only problem I have with it is that there are a few glitches they haven't quite ironed out yet (animations getting stuck, occasionally a HUD window will vanish for no reason), so I would give it a month.

Re:thinking about it (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25112745)

WoW would have been better at launch if they did like WAR and just shipped Ironforge and Orgrimmar, and cut out all but warriors, rogues, and priests.

I am expecting the capital cities that were yanked in beta to be back in 3-6 months... as a $50 expansion.

Re:thinking about it (1)

muindaur (925372) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112941)

Or a free one if they continue with a free expamsion and then paid expansion path like they did with DAOC.

Re:thinking about it (1)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 6 years ago | (#25113867)

For your analogy to work, you'd only be cutting two classes from the 9 rather than 6, but I appreciate your point.

I would, however, very much doubt that the cities and classes will be out of the game for very long, and doubt further that they'll have to be paid for considering the way they were removed, but that's just me. I'm not feeling very cynical tonight, which makes a change.

Re:thinking about it (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 6 years ago | (#25113053)

Best sig I have seen this week:

"Being a dragon is all fun and games till some tincan bastard comes and shoves a sword in your throat."

Re:thinking about it (1)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 6 years ago | (#25115965)

Thank you!

Re:thinking about it (1)

Tsagadai (922574) | more than 6 years ago | (#25115999)

I'm not sure animation do get stuck. I recognise that players not being able to clip through objects or other players is a feature, not a bug.

Re:thinking about it (1)

n3v (412497) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112491)

So far so good. I've only played Guild Wars and Final Fantasy XI before as far as MMOs - this is definitely MUCH different.

Re:thinking about it (1)

Deadfyre_Deadsoul (1193759) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112537)

asking if War is good is like asking the same of /.. rhetorical. reciprocal.

Re:thinking about it (1)

mellestad (1301507) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112579)

I would, I've been having tons of fun, RvR is a blast. The nice thing is you don't have to grind to have fun like WoW, you get to have fun right off the bat.

Re:thinking about it (3, Interesting)

Pengo (28814) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112587)

I picked it up, along with a bunch of friends, and we're all LOVING it. :)

They really hit this one out of the park IMHO, I've no doubt that they will do really well with this game.

I can't see myself ever going back to WoW.

Re:thinking about it (3, Informative)

angahar (579961) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112589)

Excellent game, Realm vs Realm combat and public quests are nicely done. I've been enjoying this mmorpg much more than WoW - and it's nice to have scenery and characters that are not cartoonish but rather grim and gritty. The world feels huge and cities and zones are implemented full size rather than a few representative buildings like WoW.

Re:thinking about it (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25112755)

Sounds about like Mythic.

Tons of rooms with nothing in them. Then you get to travel ages to find something you need when it could have been condensed down a lot further.

Re:thinking about it (1)

Grant_Watson (312705) | more than 6 years ago | (#25114151)

Except that the zones feel pretty dense, at least at the low levels. I've noticed myself doing a ton less running than I did in WoW at comparable levels.

Re:thinking about it (1)

daninspokane (1198749) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112783)

The game is quite well done. I have finally found a WoW alternative.. no joke WoW addicts.. this is it... The raw game mechanics are nothing new, but the game is just so frikien fun. Public quests are just an amazing way to get to know people and have fun smashing things with fellow adventurers... no more waiting for that one mob to pop. The RvR system is very reminiscent of good ole DAoC (which I played for quite sometime) with keep seiges and huge open world RvR. Bored? Feel like killing? Hop into a RvR scenario Queue from ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. It's really just a very well done game. There are the cons of some of the animations sticking and a few other non-essential things but overall I think anyone whose looking for the next WoW needs to pick this up.

Re:thinking about it (3, Interesting)

entropiccanuck (854472) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112719)

I played the beta for a while, and will be picking up the retail when it's not so detrimental to work/school schedule.
Things I liked:
  • Hugely detailed world (Warhammer has lots of back story)
  • Diverse classes (each of the 6 races has 3 or 4 classes, each class is somewhat unique)
  • Public Quests (fun quests you can join casually with others on, very well done.)
  • Quirky humor (some races more than others, Greenskins especially amusing)

The biggest reason for me quitting WoW was the time commitment in the end game raids. Warhammer doesn't seem to require the same solid block of time that WoW did, which for me, as someone with a family, is huge.

Re:thinking about it (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 6 years ago | (#25113227)

WoW had no big time committment until you've played for quite some time to get to the endgame. Is War just the same, or can you really be sure the endgame won't be all multi-hour raids?

Re:thinking about it (3, Informative)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112723)

It's fun. A lot like WoW, but does a lot of things better/more fun, like how mana regenerates and how Public Quests work.

The GM is right though. Gold spam is starting already.

Re:thinking about it (1)

acon1modm (1009947) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112753)

Its bad... currently. It NEEDS a LOT of polish. I decided not to pick up my preorder, but I will check it out again in a few months.

Re:thinking about it (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25113109)

You didn't pick up your pre-order?! People like you are why it's impossible to find a store that will hold a game for you.

Re:thinking about it (3, Interesting)

MarcoAtWork (28889) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112841)

I like it, I played wow for a few years but got tired of the arena-or-raid focus (I like BGs, but it is pointless after a while because of people afking to get honor to buy gear to do arena) and decided to give war a try and I am glad I did.

It does seem very casual friendly for now at least, you can queue up for bgs from anywhere (yay) and it will port you back wherever you were afterwards (not at the battlemaster, yay). PQs are nice, and in general it seems to be the type of game that does not have intentional timesinks thrown in for no good reason (like wow, all the reputations etc.). Gear seems also much much much less the focus than wow, which works well. I also like how quests give you 'hints' on the map about where to go, and the whole tome of knowledge is nice.

If they can manage to keep a critical mass of subscribers for a few months they definitely have a good chance, the real test will be when wotlk or 3.0.2 come out, will people stick with WAR or not? I am sure blizz is going to release 3.0.2 ASAP just to get people back to play with all the new talents.

In terms of annoyances I can list not being able to activate AA (some jaggies, even at 1920), having to sit through the cinematic logos every time, having to accept the TOC every time, having to give UAC permission every time, but that's about it.

I am also pleasantly surprised by how 'well sorted' the UI feels, considering how I had 100+ add-ons in WOW and haven't felt the need of most of them in WAR (save for Grid and for being able to customize the chat window a bit more)

Re:thinking about it (3, Interesting)

Irish_Samurai (224931) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112905)

I played EQ, WoW, and beta tested SWG.

I have to say, I am most pleased with this game.

I fucking HATE gear grinds for end game content. I am notorious for soloing and not joining guilds because games shouldn't be scheduled work. I quit EQ early on because of it, I never saw endgame in WoW because of it, and well SWG just sucked. That having been said, I really enjoy the public quests, Scenario, and open RvR elements of WAR.

I always shied away from PvP because it was always seemed a gear and lvl based system trying to placate people who wanted large scale combat. I have to say that so far in WAR even a casual player can enjoy RvR.

The scenarios level balance when you enter them. Now, you don't get new abilities that you don't have - but you can at least compete. The higher levels of a tier do seem to have an easier time of it, but crappy tactics can't be made up for with l33t g34r.

The public quests sometimes suck when there aren't enough people to overcome the second and third stages, but they reset after a short time (read minutes) and you can play the low events over and over again for the point rewards.

The open RvR areas are really boss. Just running out to an area and fighting others is an awesome visceral experience. There is no corpse runs, so getting back into the game is simple. There is a brief "death debuff", but that is easily dealt with by paying a healer to remove when you respawn. BTW, you respawn right next to a healer.

Re:thinking about it (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#25113489)

More of the same. I haven't played anything other than WoW, so maybe they are all the same, but this really isn't anything much different...different terminology for basically the same things. It's almost as if they wanted to be safe and keep it as close to WoW conventions as possible...

Re:thinking about it (3, Interesting)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 6 years ago | (#25115573)

Just so you kno, a lot of those "WoW conventions" were pretty much invented by other games. World of Warcraft is simply the latest (and most successful to date) in a line of MMO titles that have evolved from common ancestry. Everquest used to be the game of choice. In Asian markets, Lineage had WoW-like numbers far before Blizzard had an MMO offering. And the first large-scale commercial MMO of significance here in the US was Ultima Online. And of course, all these games borrowed liberally from online text-only MUDs.

In a somewhat humorous twist, Blizzard is somewhat notorious for.. shall we say.. liberally borrowing concepts from the Warhammer universe. Not slamming Blizzard, they make awesome stuff, but please be aware the genre did not start with WoW.

Penny Arcade summed it up best, of course: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/04/10/ [penny-arcade.com]

Re:thinking about it (1)

Simmeh (1320813) | more than 6 years ago | (#25114185)

As an old WFRP'er, its nothing compared to what Climax were supposed to make.
As someone who's been in the beta since Morrsleib was blue, its an interesting MMO which should be well liked by anyone who enjoys WoW, as I once did.
I won't be buying it tho, rather prepare for QuakeLive....

There was ONE hitch... (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112311)

I'm unaware of whether any other servers faced this problem, but Azazel, at the very least, did not have scenarios (battlegrounds are the WoW equivalent) running on launch day (though that was fixed the next day) due to a bug or something as they worked during the head start or open beta.

Re:There was ONE hitch... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25112507)

Bechafen seemed to have this issue, but we discovered/suspect it is because the Head Start Order players were all leveling until they were at the top of the tier for RvR then RvRing until they leveled past it. This way they could dominate everyone.

Now that the game has gone live, scenario queues are faster and more often. As I let people catch up (could of been level 40 but spent WAY too much time exploring for Tome Unlocks so I'm nearing the 30's only) I find I can pvp more and more.

Oh and BTW money is easy to come by in this game. There is literally _no_ reason to buy gold. You'll have more than enough to spare by the time you need your mount, your first real purchase. And thats if you bought stuff for crafting and so on along the way!

GOLD = BAD (1)

mappemonde (1052784) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112333)

Nice! About time someone took a proactive stance to gold farmers. They just present a way for the lazy player to get ahead.

Re:GOLD = BAD (1)

Farmer Pete (1350093) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112473)

Or...you could regulate it like some games have (EvE comes to mind). In EvE you can sell gold for game time cards.

Re:GOLD = BAD (1, Insightful)

GigaHurtsMyRobot (1143329) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112607)

As someone who has played just about every MMO that has come out, most casually except for 4 years of EQ, I still cannot understand why it's so bad or wrong for people to sell or buy game currency. In my naive opinion, it is mostly harmless if the economy is just a little more sophisticated than EQ, and benefits just about everyone. Tell me why this isn't true.

Re:GOLD = BAD (1)

mappemonde (1052784) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112643)

So you been working all those lovely quests and doing raids and selling all the junk loot you have collected. You rock. Now you can buy sword that has 200+ everything and 1 minute of extra life on it. Awesome. Here comes your guilie and he has the same sword and hasn't done a quest one. He bought the gold. Boo...now what you thought was awesome is now common place. Not so good.

Re:GOLD = BAD (0, Flamebait)

GigaHurtsMyRobot (1143329) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112699)

How about I don't give a shit? I don't play the game to be special. Why do I care how he got it? Fail reason.

Re:GOLD = BAD (1)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 6 years ago | (#25113439)

So you skip the bulk of the game just so you can pour money into feeling good about yourself for beating people who actually enjoy the game? I normally say "to each his own", but buying game currency to get ahead is really no better than playing Diablo II with an edited character against people who actually put some effort in.

In a more general sense, it's people like you (but by your logic probably far better, since they're richer) that ruin democracies by buying the legislation they want and keeping the poor oppressed.

Re:GOLD = BAD (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#25113563)

Same reason people use cheat codes...

Re:GOLD = BAD (1)

GigaHurtsMyRobot (1143329) | more than 6 years ago | (#25114371)

I never said I did, or do. I am posing the question... I've been playing MMOs since UO, and have never understood the battle. The game companies get more subscriptions, the game is more friendly to rich casual players, and really I can't see a downside at all. The economy of the game can be affected, but pretty much every new game since EQ has implemented strategies that minimize or outright eliminate any effect it has.

Re:GOLD = BAD (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 6 years ago | (#25113319)

You mistake is measuring your self-worth by in-game status symbols. Play the game because it's fun to play, not to show off your "accomplishments" (as if seat-time were something to be proud of), and stop playing if you spend your time doing something that's not fun.

Re:GOLD = BAD (2, Insightful)

crossmr (957846) | more than 6 years ago | (#25113323)

Wow.. you're right. Someone call the president we have to get a law in place to regulate....

.
.
isn't this a video game?

Someone traded time for money... guess what you do it every day when you go to work, assuming you work.

However you got to have the fun of building the character, they traded their hard earned money to get a character they may not have had the time to invest in. Would you deny someone the experience of the endgame because they don't have 5 hours a day for 2 months to sit around grinding to get there?

Let me tell you a little secret. There is NOTHING special or unique in an mmorpg. They are built to be static and repetitive. There are hundreds of thousands upon millions of people collecting the same loot and doing the same quests as you. Just because one guy bought a sword because he couldn't be arsed to spend the requisite 47 hours camping out a raid location to get it, doesn't make yours any less special. Its the other 20,000 people who just did the question yesterday that makes it less special.

Re:GOLD = BAD (1)

The Mighty Buzzard (878441) | more than 6 years ago | (#25114093)

Would you deny someone the experience of the endgame because they don't have 5 hours a day for 2 months to sit around grinding to get there?

Yep.

Re:GOLD = BAD (1)

GigaHurtsMyRobot (1143329) | more than 6 years ago | (#25113411)

Flamebait, really?... I thought it was worded pretty nicely.

Re:GOLD = BAD (1)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 6 years ago | (#25113435)

The trade itself isn't so inherently bad. It cheapens the experience and skews the economy, but both are more "meh" than "argh". Personally, I think Everquest was on to a good idea by having a "gold trade enabled" server where it was officially an option, for everyone who wanted to do it, without messing with the majority of the game.

The real issue comes from the spam, the account theft, the gold farmers, and basically all the side-effects of the trade.

How is it hard to prevent. (2, Insightful)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112381)

I never understood how it was difficult to rid these guys.

Just send in some employee to buy some gold that is advertised...Then when you are given the gold, trace it back and ban that account along with the credit card info that was used to purchase the subscription. (As well as the product key)

Seriously it doesn't seem that hard.

Re:How is it hard to prevent. (5, Funny)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112427)

I never understood how it was difficult to rid these guys.

You never understood how it could be difficult to ban people from making money by breaking the rules?

Man, you've never bought weed, have you?

Re:How is it hard to prevent. (1)

GXTi (635121) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112531)

But you could completely automate it with bots! Gold sellers are probably dumb enough to fail a Turing test.

Re:How is it hard to prevent. (1)

PhearoX (1187921) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112433)

...Then when they hand the employee the gold, hit "cancel", ban the account/credit card/product key, and call the credit card company to dispute the charges citing "product/service not received".

Truthful, legal, and best of all.... free.

How hard is it to stop spam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25112497)

I mean, by blacklisting, rather than filtering and heuristics?

It's just as impossible as it is to get rid of gold sellers. For every one you ban (block), a hundred more spring up overnight. Not even Blizzard has the resources to spend on making purchases to discover the IDs of these companies.

Re:How is it hard to prevent. (1)

TitusC3v5 (608284) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112613)

The only way to really kill gold selling is counterproductive to business. The only true way to kill a parasite is to kill its host - in other words, you need to ban not just the sellers, but also the BUYERS as well. And you need to heavily, heavily advertise the fact. Once enough players get it through their skulls that buying gold will get their ass banned, the purchases should slow enough that it should cease being profitable to the gold sellers, forcing them to move to another game.

Re:How is it hard to prevent. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25113093)

How do you prove that a buyer actually paid for the gold and didn't just receive it as a gift?

You don't.

That is why you go after the sellers.

Re:How is it hard to prevent. (5, Funny)

the-amazing-blob (917722) | more than 6 years ago | (#25114343)

The only true way to kill a parasite is to kill its host

I truly hope you are not a doctor.

Re:How is it hard to prevent. (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112747)

I never understood how it was difficult to rid these guys.

Then you haven't thought about it.

Just send in some employee to buy some gold that is advertised...Then when you are given the gold, trace it back and ban that account along with the credit card info that was used to purchase the subscription. (As well as the product key)

Well duh!

1) The account that was used to transfer you the gold isn't the one that was used to farm it. Ideally, the accounts that actually do the transactions are "free" throwaway buddy or trial accounts. (Which is why some of the more modern games have limits on those free trial accounts to limit how much gold they can actually have, to prevent them from transfering items at all, or from sending mail, or talking in certain chat channels, etc...) Not much use in banning the free throw-away account now is there?

2) Even if they can't use free throwaway accounts, then they use paid throwaway accounts. The accounts generally cost Seriously it doesn't seem that hard.

Its FAR harder than it sounds.

Re:How is it hard to prevent. (1)

vilgefortz (1225810) | more than 6 years ago | (#25113829)

1) The account that was used to transfer you the gold isn't the one that was used to farm it. Ideally, the accounts that actually do the transactions are "free" throwaway buddy or trial accounts.

Yeah, but it all happens on Blizzard's servers. Couldn't they, say, log all player-to-player gold transfers? Then, after locking on the "free" account, they could trace it back to actual gold farming accounts easily. Every paid accounts is, well, paid for, so if this technique was applied consistently, that should soon put gold farmers out of business.

Re:How is it hard to prevent. (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#25114281)

Yeah, but it all happens on Blizzard's servers. Couldn't they, say, log all player-to-player gold transfers? Then, after locking on the "free" account, they could trace it back to actual gold farming accounts easily. Every paid accounts is, well, paid for, so if this technique was applied consistently, that should soon put gold farmers out of business.

If only it were that simple.

First, even if Blizzard were to try and do this the famers would resort to 'money laundering' within the game. Buying and selling expensive rares in the AH, funnelling funds through multiple accounts, including the hacked accounts of innocents, etc, etc.

Second, it would be a very labour intensive process to trace where funds came from, especially if the system wasn't designed with tools to facilitate this, tools that themselves would need to constantly updated to keep pace with laundering methods.

Third, if Blizzard is using sting ops, you can expect the gold-sellers to start to proactively "screen customers" - screening for credit cards, and paypal accounts, and ip addresses, and other information to help them avoid dealing with blizz staff. Again driving up the cost for blizzard to continually run stings.

Re:How is it hard to prevent. (5, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112829)

Doh. bloody filter choked on 'less than symbol' $30 and clipped off most my post...

I never understood how it was difficult to rid these guys.

Then you haven't thought about it.

Just send in some employee to buy some gold that is advertised...Then when you are given the gold, trace it back and ban that account along with the credit card info that was used to purchase the subscription. (As well as the product key)

Well duh!

1) The account that was used to transfer you the gold isn't the one that was used to farm it. Ideally, the accounts that actually do the transactions are "free" throwaway buddy or trial accounts. (Which is why some of the more modern games have limits on those free trial accounts to limit how much gold they can actually have, to prevent them from transfering items at all, or from sending mail, or talking in certain chat channels, etc...) Not much use in banning the free throw-away account now is there?

2) Even if they can't use free throwaway accounts, then they use paid throwaway accounts. The accounts generally cost less than $30 bucks and gets them a free month. If they make at least 100% markup (and they do) than all they need is to sell $60 worth of gold before getting banned to break even. That's exceedingly easy to do. Hell, even if they get 'stung' by an employee, as long as they set it up so that they log in and fulfill all their orders at once, by the time the employee identifies the account, a couple hundred bucks worth of gold will have been moved and the farmer is ahead of the game.

3) Even banning a credit card isn't effective. These guys all pay by prepaid game card at best, or have prepaid visa debit cards etc, which can be obtained en masse trivially, never mind the potential for using stolen card numbers.

4) What mythic is doing by banning the spammer accounts is just stopping in-game advertising, not gold farming, or gold-sales. To do THAT is much harder, and there is little they can do to stop THAT, without very careful game design with that as a goal.

5) The gold farmers also are known to use hacked accounts. (where they've guessed or stolen user names and passwords of a legitimate customer, and use those accounts to move gold between farmer accounts and seller accounts, part of an in-game 'laundering' scheme). The 'victim' never even knows he's been hacked, because they just login for a few seconds to move THEIR gold around and don't otherwise interfere with the account at all.

This makes it difficult for the game-devs to act, because when they ban people suspected of being part of the gold-trade, they have to deal with the 'collateral damage'.

6) Of course, gold sellers also use hacked accounts for spamming sales.

Seriously it doesn't seem that hard.

Its FAR harder than it sounds.

Re:How is it hard to prevent. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25114349)

IMO, it's more the account/IP profiles that are meaningful than the credit info. That can be monitored automatically on Blizzard's end, and the behavior of a gold farming account implicates a whole bunch of other accounts too. It'll be blatantly obvious by comparing gameplay profiles which accounts are farming and which are hacked fences.

To pick an only slightly contrived example, an account playing from out-of-region for 36 solid hours starting at its activation is damn well a gold farmer. Oh, and there are other excessively long playtimes coming out of that same building, and the accounts travel the same paths and trade with each other? That's even MORE out of the range of legitimate normal players. There are a bunch of other damning statistics that would jump right out of the data too, I'm just naming a few for ease of conversation.

What I'm getting at, though, is Blizzard can set the ban threshold loose enough to never catch a normal player yet still catch all the most efficient goldfarming operations, likely before those groups even get to sell any gold. Would it catch all the farming? Hell no. But it doesn't have to catch everyone to be successful. It just has to slow the transfer of money enough that it no longer fucks with the in-game economy.

Re:How is it hard to prevent. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25114911)

So whenever a piece of gold is created (e.g. a monster dies and there is gold on the corpse), give it a unique ID. Then log transfers of that piece of gold from player to player. When someone offers a piece of gold for sale, employees of the MMORPG can buy it, look up the unique ID, and find all of the player accounts it's passed through since its creation. If some player accounts frequently show up farming the gold, ban them.

Re:How is it hard to prevent. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#25115095)

I never understood how it was difficult to rid these guys.

Then you haven't thought about it.

Yep. The grandparent forgets that the gold sellers are generally professional - you can bet they've thought about it.
 
There's lots of ways to move money around in an MMO to disguise where it's coming from and who it's going to. At the end of the day, after you've banned the mules, the bosses are still there.

Re:How is it hard to prevent. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25116193)

Or they could block gold transfers between avatars who have never talked previously, never played in the same area for at least 5 minutes, and gold transfers that don't have any in-game reciprocation?

Even the rules for IRAs say that you can't contribute more than you claim to have earned for the year. How is that a hard concept to implement in a MMO? How about I'm not allowed to transfer any sum that's greater than the total of what I've actually earned in-game?

Ta-da! I fixed it. Even if I'm a little off, since when has "it's hard" been a valid excuse in engineering?

Or maybe the companies enjoy making $30 on each of those accounts they close that are only active for an hour? And they want to appeal to the subset of gamers who will only play if they can buy gold? And discussions of gold farming just contribute to the number of impressions that people reading the articles have of the game's title, and lend credence to the game (if people care that there are gold farming issues, the game must be good, right? Otherwise they'd just play something else).

Re:How is it hard to prevent. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25112909)

It's even simpler, if you give someone a load of gold or there's a rigged transaction for a load of gold, these can stick out like sore thumbs and gold sellers make a load of them. Moreover you can trace gold to it's source in several ways.

Re:How is it hard to prevent. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25113241)

Seriously it doesn't seem that hard.

So what you're saying is, that if I offer to sell you gold for MORE than it costs me to setup an account and farm the gold... you propose that the game operators then BUY it from me just to cancel the account?

That sounds great- let me know if you find a company dumb enough to do that so I can make a pile of cash off of them. Seriously.

Oh... you wanted to get the gold before you paid the real money? hahahahahaha

And then I'll just create a new account, with a new credit card, new name, new address, etc.

Heck, if I could hire 50 Chinese kids to actually do the grunt work for me, and set them up in a couple of sweatshops, I could make quite a bit of profit.
And I wouldn't even need the game operators to buy the gold, I could sell it to regular players. That way instead of getting an account cancelled EVERY time I sell the gold, I only get it cancelled once in a while.

Oh wait, that's what they already do....
Damn, so much for my get rich scheme.

Re:How is it hard to prevent. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25113381)

Just send in some employee to buy some gold that is advertised...

Enough third party development exists in WoW that it's difficult establishing trust among pieces of software you're installing. I've known people to receive urgent phonecalls from guildies saying their character is unexpectedly online. Later they find that all of their inventory has been vended and a new character named Asxjkfjdhs has been created on their account.

These people take the hit for the farmers now, while (apparently) the gold is pooled and 'laundered' through another character, and character-transferred to another realm.

If Blizzard keeps complete enough logs, you could track it all automatically. It's still the equivalent of policing a large city of millions of people, and real life shows how effective digital laundering is still.

Re:How is it hard to prevent. (1)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 6 years ago | (#25113509)

They don't even have to be that thorough, EULA and all that, they can ban you, your credit card, and your IP all in one go just for spamming, if they want. Heck, without double checking I'd be the EULA lets them ban you just because they feel like it (most EULAs do, because no-one reads them and it helps stop arguments over "fair" later).

The issue is that a lot of this can be automated. Traffic can be routed through compromised systems (good grief, it's not like their spam-bots are lag critical), accounts can be paid for by time cards. It ends up a bit like whack-a-mole; get rid of one gold seller, and up pops another. Also, keep in mind these guys can happily operate 24 hours a day. Should Mythic be assigning (at least) 3 staff on rotation to just handling gold sellers? Could 3 staff even manage to cover all locations on all servers?

There's rumours of Mythic banning gold buyers in the future, and that should both be much more effective as the gold-seller's audience will quickly be either banned, or develop a lot more caution.

Re:How is it hard to prevent. (1)

maglor_83 (856254) | more than 6 years ago | (#25114631)

No its not hard at all. Don't implement trade, and there won't be any gold sellers. Of course, this has other gameplay implications.

Embrace them or Ban them (3, Insightful)

TibbonZero (571809) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112401)

In making an MMORPG you've either got to decide to have an economy that can work with a worldwide populace and economy openly (Eve and Secondlife), or you really need to do something about it and close it up.
When you think about it though, Goldfarming is simply someone forcing outsourcing of your leisure time for you. You don't want it to happen, they undercut you (as their time is nearly worthless) and they screw up the economy.
Best of luck to them on this. Blizzard has completely failed in this aspect and their economy and absurd quests at times show it.

Re:Embrace them or Ban them (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 6 years ago | (#25113157)

By contrast, games like Wurm [wurmonline.com] actively encourage users to simply purchase their in-game gold from their online store. Some players also sell in-game gold through forums at slightly lower rates.

Re:Embrace them or Ban them (1)

Anonymous Custard (587661) | more than 6 years ago | (#25113501)

Blizzard hasn't failed. Gold only gets you so far in WoW. At some point you have to go into dungeons and get the untradeable drops yourself.

Farmers (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25112425)

So basically they banned China...

Sound Theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25112439)

If you wait 2 weeks to ban an account that's been spamming /tells and local channels, a $50 box is just a marketing expense. If you do it immediately, then it becomes unprofitable.

Re:Sound Theory (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112639)

That's probably why Blizzard does that, too. More boxes bought = more money for them.

Inside job? (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112657)

Should be easy to ban. I don't go more than five minutes without a tell from a different person advertising gold.

I've always wondered if gold sellers have someone working for them on the inside. Diablo 2, for example, had item sellers selling all of the best top tier items and runes approximately 3 hours after the ladder reset and everyone had to start fresh on the lader.

Re:Inside job? (2, Informative)

chrome (3506) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112707)

i think you'll find thats because Diablo 2 was pretty easy to hack.

Somebody parked a big truck on my series of tubes! (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112687)

"somebody parked a truck on our internet"

That would put a big crimp in the tubes.

What is the problem? (2, Insightful)

Krater76 (810350) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112695)

While I don't condone the buying of gold I don't really understand what the problem is. There are many reasons for purchasing gold that are completely reasonable while very few reasons otherwise.

Let's use WoW and it's epic flying price of 5000g for example. I ground 5k gold twice, the first time on a character I never play anymore due to a server and faction change, the second time on the differently factioned replacement. The grind is boring! And it's equally boring to have to do it a second time or more. Does someone paying $200 for 5k gold to pay for their epic flyer negatively affect the me or the game? Nope.

Also, what about people just starting in the game after others have been in for years? They have a lot of trouble catching up to their friends. Purchasing gold can help them get there faster so they can be more interested in the game. I bet mature MMOs have probably lost a lot of opportunities to get players because coming into the game now is just too late. The same argument goes for leveling services.

Frankly, there are no downsides to gold farming unless the farmers are preventing other players from doing something, like camping mob spawns. From my experience, they have very little affect on the economy as long as gold isn't the only way to advance your character.

Wait, the random tells are annoying. But other than that what is there? The real problem is that someone is making money 'at the expense' (used very loosely) of the game designer and that wasn't intended. But that's called capitalism. Obviously it's a service people want, so why not give it to them? I would only ban gold sellers who advertise in game or in official forums and let people play the game as they like.

Re:What is the problem? (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112957)

Simple principle: you shouldn't cheat in online games. Buying gold is cheating, so you shouldn't be buying gold.

Re:What is the problem? (0)

crossmr (957846) | more than 6 years ago | (#25113447)

Wow... your logic is astounding...very solid..oh wait..
where did you prove its cheating?

Last I checked in WoW and many other MMORPGs I can trade anything for anything. I can trade a sword for gold, I can trade some armor for gold, I can trade nothing for gold.
So why is it suddenly cheating to trade real money for gold? Because its not 'in-game'?
Did you ever look up the stats of a weapon on a fan site, or some other information about how to build a character, do a quest, find something, etc?
Following your logic that is cheating as well.

Re:What is the problem? (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#25115553)

Any time you use external resources to give yourself an advantage in the game, that is cheating by definition, dude. I shouldn't have to explain this. If the game's rules don't provide for it, it isn't allowed. This isn't rocket surgery!

Re:What is the problem? (0)

crossmr (957846) | more than 6 years ago | (#25115881)

So then you consider guides on character builds, maps, etc all cheating?

Re:What is the problem? (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#25113641)

Who says it's cheating? If your friend gives you items or gold that's cheating too by your point of view. The only difference is that there is real money involved.

Re:What is the problem? (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#25115571)

Uh, no, it isn't. That's entirely within the scope of the game, and is provided for by the rules of the game. Cheating is when you start bringing outside resources into play.

Inflation (1)

PrimalChrome (186162) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112997)

While I do agree with you, having bought gold/characters/items in at least three MMOs that I've played, gold sellers do create an issue for both players and the parent company. Inflation. That 5k gold you ground for your Minotaur Axe would have only cost about 2k gold if it were not so readily accessible on a website.

Re:What is the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25113113)

"Also, what about people just starting in the game after others have been in for years? They have a lot of trouble catching up to their friends."

Gold isn't enough to do that.

Re:What is the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25113403)

While I don't condone the buying of gold I don't really understand what the problem is.

It is easy to understand, once you realize that your next sentence is entirely incorrect.

There are many reasons for purchasing gold that are completely reasonable while very few reasons otherwise.

There are no valid reasons - not a single one - for purchasing gold (or any other MMO currency). We who follow the rules should not have to compete against those who do not.

Re:What is the problem? (1, Informative)

Akaihiryuu (786040) | more than 6 years ago | (#25113653)

This is the main problem that people fail to understand. The gold that is "sold" by these guys is not earned through farming, or even legitimately. In fact, the sellers don't earn it at all. It is stolen from hacked accounts. The more people buy gold, the more incentive to produce keyloggers to get people's usernames/passwords, so that they can strip their toons naked, sell everything sellable, and send all the gold off to be "sold". This harms the game, regardless of which game it is.

Getting rid of the Gold-Sellers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25112795)

... C'mon, where's the 'Good luck with that' tag?

Seriously people, as long as one guy can setup an account and make enough money to pay for the signup fee & a little time by selling gold, etc. they will keep doing it, no matter how hard you ban. You have to catch and kick them

Or you can actually address the root problems
1. Your game is so stupidly simple that a crap-tastic script can effectively 'farm' the gold to start with.

2. You end up with some guy who has 5 maxxed characters, and quits playing, and decides to try and recoup at least a little of the time/money spent playing, so he sells off his uber accounts.

The economy of MMORPG's become much more ruined simply through poorly balanced character advancement: a top level character can make hundreds of times more in gold per hour than a low-level one. Once you hit a point in the game where there are a lot of high level players, the economy is going to go into the shitter anyhow, especially once everybody at the end-game already HAS everything, and don't mind passing over loot or just giving the gold away.

The launch was great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25112871)

Except for in Australia and NZ where there was a DVD duplication error. That was slightly frustrating but after that, it was worth waiting for the patch

No business for WAR Gold (1)

Token_Internet_Girl (1131287) | more than 6 years ago | (#25112891)

While I'm glad the spammers are being banned immediately, in all honesty they don't really have a market in Warhammer at the moment. The only mount is gained at level 20, it costs 20 gold, and its very easy to come across that amount of money before level 20. After that, you could spend gold on professions and purples, but there again mats for professions and purples are also fairly common right now. There's just no need for a large gold purchase.

overly public bans (1)

Danny Rathjens (8471) | more than 6 years ago | (#25113085)

Based on the blog posts they don't even have a way for people to easily report gold spammers yet. That is pretty lame. It should be quite easy to add a right-click menu option for reporting/ignoring them as many other games have. That - and the in game messages spamming people to announce every time they ban a goldseller - makes it seem like a bit of a PR stunt.

What I think would be cool is to implement a reporting system like the above and the offenders will be silenced from sending global messages after a certain number of people report them. That way you don't have to wait the several hours for the GMs allegedly dedicated to banning these folks to take action.

Re:overly public bans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25113429)

Ideally there goal should not be a half arsed implementation like blizzards right click and report. The goal should be that the players don't need to report gold sellers as the GM's are banning them as quickly as they appear.

It is pretty sad world when people have been brainwashed into thinking it is lame that the company is not putting the responsibility onto the players.

Re:overly public bans (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#25113891)

because whole guilds wouldn't exploit that now would they...

Re:overly public bans (2, Insightful)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 6 years ago | (#25113989)

"What I think would be cool is to implement a reporting system like the above and the offenders will be silenced from sending global messages after a certain number of people report them."

Bad idea. Large groups of people will grief regular players by mass reporting them.

What would be better is to design the game in such a way that people don't want to buy gold, they'd rather play.

Personally, I think a game like WoW would be MUCH better off if they simply allowed gold to be irrelevant - make it so all the stuff people really, really want to get (better equipment, faster mounts) is obtainable only through play. Instead of a fast flying mount costing 5k gold, make it require an incredibly challenging quest line. Instead of making skills/spells cost money, give them to the character when they hit the appropriate level and then make it so they have to use them to become fully effective (kind of like the way WoW's weapon skills work now, except a bit quicker). Gold should *purely* be seen as a way of getting stuff from NPC's like food, or paying rent on housing (housing that is initially earned through quests) and so on.

If I want to worry about money, I'll just deal with real life. I play MMO's to escape from that kind of thing and enjoy myself.

Liability is the problem. (1)

Cyno01 (573917) | more than 6 years ago | (#25113917)

The problem with a company allowing RW gold sales is that suddently theyve suddently attached a real monetary value to a virtual item and opened themselves up to countless liabilities.

Say they alow gold selling, sudently all the items in your inventory are worth possibly thousands of dollars. Then what happens if your account gets hacked, or theres a server crash or something. What are you going to do? Sue the company for the value of your virtual items.

It is much easier for the companies to say, gold selling is not allowed, gold and items have no official RW value and you will be banned for buying or selling, than to deal with the headache of being responsible for possibly millions of dollars worth of virtual items on their servers.

Re:Liability is the problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25114717)

The problem with a person being able to post without checking their spelling is that they come off sounding like a dumbass.

For example;

The polbem with a prson being able to past without cecking there speling is that the come off souning like a dumass.

Re:Liability is the problem. (1)

shermo (1284310) | more than 6 years ago | (#25115435)

WoW trading cards are blurring this line already. You spend real money to buy the trading cards, then sell a code from the trading cards to someone in game for gold.

I had a rather lengthy discussion with a GM about this topic, after I reported someone for the 500th time for selling a code.

I'm still unconvinced, and I still waste GM time reporting people for it.

The real problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25114601)

... with in game currency and real money transactions is that the farmer doesn't obtain gold from other players, but rather triggering money-making actions forcing the server to generate more money. When you have a market for that you'll have thousands of characters exclusively dedicated to generate more money. It causes inflation.

Re:The real problem... (1)

Ravenscall (12240) | more than 6 years ago | (#25115203)

but rather triggering money-making actions forcing the server to generate more money. When you have a market for that you'll have thousands of characters exclusively dedicated to generate more money. It causes inflation.

So kind of like what Wall Street has been doing lately. Gold Farmer economics?

Nice work if I can get it. (1)

mbstone (457308) | more than 6 years ago | (#25116295)

I need a gig. Can I be on your strike team? How much does it pay? I don't have to move to Ohio, do I?

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