Friday, 1 May 2015

The world boss bans: Bioware is doing it right

Back when the Ravagers exploit was reprimanded, a stream of ado was going through the blogging community. Most people thought the punishments were not nearly as severe as they should have been: many exploiters laughed them off. Back then, I took the unpopular stance that the light nature of the repercussions was appropriate, because Bioware had failed to deal with the situation for months, letting it get out of hand. In my opinion, they should have either took the servers down for a hotfix or be honest about the situation and punish exploiters right away.

Either way, the devs promised faster and more severe intervention for future exploits and it seemed inevitable that that statement would be put to the test at some point or another. It seems the moment was there earlier this week, when several groups of people exploited the Ziost world boss.

The nature of the Ziost world boss exploit

The new planet Ziost has an instanced world boss that cannot be reached before its release together with the Ziost daily area next Monday on May the 4th. Or at least, that was the intention. Apparently, it's possible to get to the world boss through a lot of terrain hopping. One route was discovered, reported and closed off during testing on the public test server (PTS), but several people found another route this week, killed the world boss and were banned for it. You can read the whole story here at SWTOR Network.

Who did what?

I know of at least two groups of people that exploited the world boss: one group did 16-man storymode, the other 8-man hardmode. Of course, there could be more we don't know of. What happened next is hilarious in my opinion. Someone posted screenshots on Reddit of their achievement and the mainhand that dropped. Then, other people linked to that on the SWTOR official forum. After that, the exploiters were - oh my, how could that possibly have happened?! - suddenly banned.

I mean, seriously, this should be rule number 1 for exploiters: like, don't publish discriminating evidence of your exploiting on the internet? I'd almost feel inclined to write a guide for them if I wasn't so damn light side V. It seems the call of internet fame ("oh look, I did this thing a few days before you will be able to do it, I'm so cool") was too strong. And I guess negative attention is attention, too.

The response

Needless to say, even if some names in screenshots were greyed out, it was easy enough for Bioware to trace down the offenders (either through achievements or through boss kill logs, is my guess). Eric Musco was eager to show the company's readiness to deal with these exploiters and reacted swiftly on the forum:
    "One of the things we tried to be clear about with the Ravagers is that we are serious about handling exploits. With that exploit, the Ravagers we were open about our process and the action we were taking. For this issue with Ziost, we are going to do the same.

    If a player is bypassing the environment to access an area they should not be able to, and then killing a boss to get loot they should also not have access to, we absolutely consider this an exploit. We are investigating this issue right now, and will be actioning any player who participates, or has participated, in this exploit."


I know some of the people who exploited the world boss personally and it looks like they were all punished equally: with a 72 hour ban; removal of loot, stronghold item and achievements and with a reduction of their elite and ultimate commendations. The latter can be interpreted as Bioware's equivalent to a fine, which made me chuckle. As I explained in the comments of this post, elite and ultimate commendations are worthless to people trying to optimize their gear. And as I think most exploiters are of the hardcore gamer type that strives to get such gear, I don't think they were troubled by losing those commendations they were probably already capped on for months. I know I wouldn't be.

I think it's good that the developers reacted swiftly and in a more stern manner to this newest exploit episode. Although, if they would really want to hit those affected they might want to go for "fines" of credits instead of commendations (or give us some good stuff to get for commendations, that would do the trick as well, pretty please?). And I, personally, would have banned exploiters until after the 4th of May so they'd see the new content later instead of earlier than everyone else.

And before you ask, no that's not me exploiting the world boss in the pictures! It's rather me fighting one of its distant siblings during the Ziost story arc by lack of a proper picture. As the world boss is a 'monolith' as well, it hopefully resembles it.

What would you like to see Bioware do against exploiters?


  1. I have a lot of trouble seeing that as an "exploit". Finding ways to cross supposedly impenetrable terrain in an MMORPG is what I have always considered "exploration" not exploitation.

    I spent almost three days in World of Warcraft trying to find a route to the gnomish airfield. I found it in the end. It remains probably my single fondest memory of the three months I spent playing WoW - certainly the one I talk about the most. It would never have occurred to me for a nanosecond that I was "exploiting" by trying every possible approach to find some pixel of mountainside that would give my Dwarven hunter some traction.

    Of course, there wasn't a World Boss at the end of it, nor was there a special "reveal" upcoming the following week that I anticipated by my hopping and scuttling, and I'm not suggesting the players concerned should have got to keep the loot or any of the rewards in this case, but to ban them for exploring seems just plain wrong to me. Exploring in MMOs should be commended by the developers not condemned.

    1. I know Blizzard would disagree, having met a few people online who had been scolded by GMs for climbing up to the landing strip. I myself jumped my way to the top of a mountain in the middle of Dun Morogh with great views of both Iron Forge and Gnomeregan.

      FWIW, I don't think exploits of any kind should be bannable offenses. (This does not apply to hacks and other code-fiddling.) Take away people's ill-gotten toys if you want, then send them on their way. Exploits, by their nature, are about flaws in the game design. Fix the flaw, but don't punish those who basically made you aware of the flaw.

  2. Here is my take on it Rav,
    As Baghpuss stated, terrain hopping is just part of exploration, not an exploitation. Matter of fact I wish there was more terrain hopping available out there. As to the exploitation of the world me it was BioWare's fault for not thoroughly closing off the intended area. If this is a worry, then they should not have done a time release on the planet, but waited until a specific date to do the planetary zone release. They could have had everyone running around on storyline quests that led to Ziost and have a mechanism that unlocked the planet on launch date. This would have built up the story background and the tension of getting into the questline without giving the planet away untill final launch.

    All that being said, I chuckled as well to see the ban and removal of obtained goods. It served them right for being stupid enough to share their exploits. As smugglers always say, there are only two ways of keeping a secret: Tell NO ONE what you found; or kick the one you told right out the airlock mid get my drift. I personally find it humorous that for all their fame, the "exploiters" got their hand slapped in a meaningful way.

    I can't say I blame explorers for doing what explorers do I just laugh at their ultimate failure.
    To Bio Ware, good on you for fast response. But seriously, do a bit better on your back end planning lol. All in good fun my friends.

    1. I'll reply to you all at once, since it's about the same point: terrain hopping should be regarded as exploration, not exploitation. Which is something I don't disagree with, actually. I also like hopping around seeing where I end up every now and then (proof at number 5). I've never heard of anyone being punished for that. The worst that can happen, I imagine, is your character getting stuck somewhere.

      (To support this: when the Ziost content was still all on the public test server, people managed to find another route to get to the world boss and informed the developers. Naturally, they weren't banned for that, but thanked instead for making them aware of it. Which is something the people on the live servers weren't doing: they were just trying to get away with the loot.)

      That said, I wouldn't interpret the Ziost world boss exploit as normal terrain hopping for exploration. Those people went with organized groups with the sole intention of getting into an area that was announced off-limits until the May the 4th event to kill that world boss for being the first and getting the incredible loot it drops.

      I mean, it's not very likely that they were just "exploring" Ziost with a 8-16 man raid and just "happened" to spar and force push someone over the spot where they surprisingly found an instance with this really nasty-looking animal that they had to kill out of self defence. (As a matter of fact, I spoke to one of the exploiters today, and he confirmed they were just after killing the world boss.) So I would not interpret the banning as a reaction against exploration.

      Oh, and I had to chuckle at your smuggler's analogy there, Mhorgrim. Time to start a training school? ;)

  3. Rav, I've nominated you for a Creative Blogger Award. Would be great to see a post from you, but don't feel obliged if it's not your type of thing.

    1. Thanks! I'm so sorry I missed being liebstered by you. I'll make up for it with a creative Liebster crossover. It might take a while, because I have a lot of blog topics lined up, and there's the NBI and all that. But I'll get to it at some point. :)

  4. I was pretty surprised Bioware acted so quickly and issued a punishment more than a 1 day suspension. If simply being in the area was punished, I disagree with that. However, anyone who engaged with the boss probably should have, because I heard it was instanced...? If this was the case, then that sort of crosses the grey area for me.

    ...where are the orokeets? :P

    1. The world boss is indeed instanced, and the people killing it were actively seeking it out.

      PS You can add your own orokeet at the bottom of the post by publishing a comment. How cool is that!
      Fine, you can now call for more orokeets just as well as griffons (I fear it may have reset the votes, though). ;)

    2. Okay, then I definitely don't feel sorry for anyone who got a suspension. Curiosity is fine, wandering into the instance and scooting back out is natural, but forming groups and going after it in the instance isn't just an "oops" moment.


    3. LOL I never felt sorry for those actually killing the world boss, they got what they deserved hahaha. Oh Rav, excellent idea you gave me concerning a Smuggler's School. May have to write that one out in a post some time heheheheeh.


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