Our good friends at Portalarium have issued a “small series of bans … for players knowingly exploiting the game.” This ban comes the day after persistence and it speaks volumes. First, by issuing bans for exploits a day after the game went into persistence, it shows that the developers of Shroud of the Avatar aren’t going to sit idly while the players exploit the game. Second, it shows a degree of mercy, because instead of issuing permanent bans, the developers issued 72 hour bans and rolled back the gains that the players “gained” using the exploit. Third, they announced it publicly and again this shows the devs not being idle or waiting for people to report the exploit to them. Some of those that were banned may have attempted to use the excuse that they were going to report the exploit, yet the Tech Lord, Chris, points out that “[t]his was a ‘Wee, I found a bug that lets me get a bunch of exps… so now I’m going to do it 200 times and not report it!!’ thing” and they did share the exploit with to others – it just happened to be their friends and not those at Portalarium. Chris also points out that the issue was fixed with a server side patch so it would not give out rewards.
Our friends in the community issued several suggestions for what our friends over at Portalarium can do to incentivize the hunting down and reporting of exploits as well as what to do with the exploiters. Tinman_n8 wants a locked thread in the forums that lists the names and guild affiliations of those that were caught exploiting – while I agree with this on some level – a few others note the possible legal implications of a public shaming. I personally have no problems with this for people that have been permanently banned from the game as long as it also lists the type of violation, ala AFK botting, RL harassment, multiple short term bans, etc. As far as legal implications, I do not see it as a problem if they are listing the game name and not the player’s real name, of course, I haven’t looked at the EULA in awhile to see how that would violate the TOS as per Brickbat.
PK U suggested an account wipe to go along with the temporary ban – I like this idea, but some people would off load the gains onto another player expecting a wipe. Port would also need to reach into those other players who received the illicit goods and remove the gains. This could end up with a lot of support tickets sayin, “Hey, my item is gone from my inventory,” yet I know the guys at Port would send a message on screen and then also on the log on screen (I hope both and not just one).
Others suggest public rewards for the discovery and reporting of bugs. Kvow Triumvir wants to see an in-game title of “Bug Hunter” and I think this should be given to everyone that has reported a /bug on the forums. Lord Green wants Port to go even further with a well documented bug-bounty program with solid rewards. His idea of also issuing permanent bans if failing to file a report on it within “X hours of using it Y times (24 hours / 3 times is good — you’re looking for a 100% defensible ban)” is a solid idea. Yet, I feel obligated to clarify this – essentially as part of our early access to the game, we are already obligated to function as Port’s QA department. It is one of the things that we are supposed to be doing to help the game development already. Now once, Portalarium decides that “Launch” is official instead of the soft opening that we have, then it would be a good idea for Port to go ahead and launch this type of program. Right now the incentive is that we get early access to a game – as it is being developed.
Now, if only they would change how the different game modes operate – and I’m referring to the online modes. I still think that Friends only and Single Player Online mode should have 1/5-1/8th the resources of multiplayer online mode and the re-spawn times need to be greatly increased for FO and SPO modes. My reasoning for this is that each scene is supposed to be designed to support at least 8 players – I have yet to find this as the actual case – I’ve had a hell of a time collecting my five zombies in Solace Bridge in MPO – that scene seems to support a max of 2-3 characters. This is where the hybrid nature of this game will cause lots of consternation – the game is not fully an MMO and it isn’t quite a single player game. It is a hybrid between the two and it isn’t fully functioning yet – hopefully by December.
As a reminder to our friends out there, if you find an exploit, please report it immediately to support@portalarium(.com) email address [hopefuly, you know to remove the () for the email address].