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Role Playing (Games)

Should MMOG 'Play' Be Confined? 62

Posted by Zonk
from the wild-and-crazy-mmogs dept.
Arti writes "Eve Online is famous for hosting the world's first virtual IPO, and also for its Byzantine 'meta game', in which players create fake characters and accounts to infiltrate each other's organisations for intelligence, theft or sabotage. More recently the game has seen the rise of Kugutsumen an intel blog whose creator has been accused of using real-world hacks to obtain secret information from other player forums and private messages. Some players are up in arms at the use of such out-of-game tactics. On the other hand, Kugutsumen claims these techniques have uncovered evidence of corruption. Quite aside from the legal ramifications of attacking other people's web forums, should game companies tolerate forms of 'play' that involve out of game illegality? Should they attempt to monitor and punish these kinds of activity using sanctions in-game, where the company writes the rules? This ties right back in to the discussion of Real Money Transfer we've been having over the past week. Where does the line between 'play' and 'cheating' lie?"
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Should MMOG 'Play' Be Confined?

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  • This is nothing new. Such "investigation services" have existed in Eve and Second Life (and, I suspect, other online worlds) for years. For a fee they'll "investigate" other players (spying on them in-game and in forums). In Second Life you can also hire design thieves and the like, if you know where to look for them, to steal from other players. And in Eve, which has always been notoriously cut-throat [slashdot.org] you can even hire assassins in-game to "pod" other players (destroy their ships and "kill" them). So, this
    • by Thansal (999464)
      And that is why I am all for things like that in games like EVE, and why I would never play EVE (far to cut throat for my idea of fun). So long as you don't break any laws, go wild! Heck, a number of social engineering scams in EVE have involved contact outside of the game (down to actual phone calls), so why not use legal methods to find out about these conversations?

      Ofcourse, if you do break any laws, then, well you are breaking a law, nuff said.
  • There already laws on the real world?

    Just like looking to solve a specific problem, somebody else has solved it.. Same goes for crime.

    If you just thought of it, somebody else has already done it, and went to prison for it.

    This story as as pointless as anything else "E". E-Mail, E-Voting, E-Chair.
  • Don't treat them as such. Their influence begins and ends with the game. They can punish cheating in the game but not breaking into someone's computer outside the game.
    • by blueZhift (652272)
      Indeed, let the RL police do their job. While there are some laws concerning what kinds of lawbreaking must be reported by covered entities, beyond that, the game developers/publishers have no other responsibility. Some players might appreciate a more proactive publisher, but that can cut the other way too and chase potential customers away.
  • by popo (107611) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @03:45PM (#17831358) Homepage

    My Eve Corporation's greatest enemy is a player named "Achomemnon".

    Currently he's in the trunk of my car.

    What? Its all just part of the game people!

    • I think you mean it's all just part of the game [imdb.com]. I'll bet the game uses real bullets, too...
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      (Quickly hides the chains and the empty bags of cement)

      Yeah, I mean, everyone is doing it. How the hell do you think I got the ISK to buy that Nyx? When some corporations' members start disappearing all of a sudden after a special invite to my lake, word gets around, and they're quite willing to "lend" me anything I could ask for... Great game, this!

      Now I just have to "ask" BoB to "lend" me a few 0.0 systems. Gotta hit the hardware store first...brb!
  • by User 956 (568564) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @03:49PM (#17831402) Homepage
    Quite aside from the legal ramifications of attacking other people's web forums, should game companies tolerate forms of 'play' that involve out of game illegality?

    Is it not so simple as just saying that violation of state or federal law is also a violation of the TOS?
    • by Apache (14188)
      Correct, it is not so simple. Part of the problem is the company is not based in the US. The other part is much of the player base is also not based in the US. It would be like punishing the Boy Scouts of America for breaking French laws.
  • Of course (Score:2, Insightful)

    by haddieman (1033476)

    ...should game companies tolerate forms of 'play' that involve out of game illegality?

    Of course they should. The entire point of games is to have fun, not break the law. Games should, IMHO, allow you to do things that you can't do in real life, not reward you for doing them in real life. If someone can't seperate a game from reality they shouldn't be allowed to play it. To put it another way, if you are so involved in a game that you are willing to break the law to gain an advantage then you are not responsible enough to be allowed to play that game.

    • ...should game companies tolerate forms of 'play' that involve out of game illegality?

      Of course they should...

      Of couse they shouldn't I mean.

    • by nule.org (591224)
      If only the NHL, NBA, MLB and NFL (and others, I'm sure) would agree with you.
      • Agreed, but that's not to say that the leagues don't enforce any penalties at all for players that break the law. Of course fining someone who makes millions of dollars a year a couple grand can hardly be called a penalty
    • "The entire point of games is to have fun, not break the law"
      But breaking the law is so much fun!

      Besides, its the internets, there is no "law". This is doubbley true of eve.

  • Impossible (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RichPowers (998637) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @04:02PM (#17831642)
    Devs will never, ever win against such spies. There's simply no way they can monitor all out-of-game communications.

    An MMO is left with three options: promote this sort of activity because it further "involves" players in the game's happenings (this option is probably best for hardcore MMOs); take a neutral stance on the issue; design the game in such a way that out-of-game spying and intel-sharing is ineffective at changing the course of the game. This last option is the most difficult, of course, but it's the only way I can see of combating spies and saboteurs. Examples might include instanced gameplay elements that are impossible to predict or, in the case of a military game, an emphasis on small battles so that spies could never uncover a single masterstroke battle plan and spoil the fun.

    One of the reasons that a warfare MMO/FPS/strategy game would be difficult to implement is because there's no way to secure all forms of communication. The game would not be fun if the enemy knew operational details because of a mole in command. This might very well be realistic, but try explaining that to all the players who just got owned upon launching their attack.

    In PlanetSide, players would IM commanders in the opposing Empires and give them a heads up before we launched a huge raid. Even so, we would still have an advantage because it takes several minutes - if not an hour - for the other team to trickle to the battle.
  • It is generally impossible to keep out-of-game (OOG) activities from affecting the in-game play. Instead of despairing, I would say that most of what happens OOG can be explained in terms of the VW, and thus work it into the game. Example: developers could try to code the ability to hack into other player's virtual, in-game web sites into the game, and it maybe work well, maybe not. Or, they could just let RL spying take care of that aspect, and it would obviously "be done right". The main drawback here
  • In related news... (Score:3, Informative)

    by PFI_Optix (936301) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @04:17PM (#17831954) Journal
    A player of the popular on-line game "EVE Online" was recently convicted of hacking several servers for information on his opponents. He was sentenced to 30 in jail and finded $50,000. Oh, and his EVE Online account was deleted, too.
    • by PFI_Optix (936301)
      Troll???

      Some people wouldn't know a joke if it killed them.

      Wenn ist das Nunstück git und Slotermeyer? Ja! ... Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput.
    • by Alsee (515537)
      sentenced to 30 in jail

      :(

      finded $50,000.

      :(

      Oh, and his EVE Online account was deleted, too.

      NOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

      -

  • Instead of confining MMOG play, we should probably focus on confining MMOG players. * Note: I play WoW.
    • Wow, I can just imagine the pain and suffering 5 months of home confinement [cnn.com] with an electronic ankle bracelet will cause to MMOG players. Oh the humanity!

      Instead of confining MMOG play, we should probably focus on confining MMOG players. * Note: I play WoW.
  • by brkello (642429) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @04:41PM (#17832328)
    Seriously, how does a game company monitor sites external to themsleves? They can't, they won't, they don't. If people are getting their sites hacked, then you bring in law enforcement. Ultimately, it is just a game (and it is a pretty boring one...I know, I play it). Should Blizzard take my Epics if I am caught shoplifting the expansion pack?

    The story may be interesting...but the questions being asked are not the right ones.
  • by Swift Kick (240510) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @05:25PM (#17833156)
    I've been a regular EvE player for over a year now, and I've been following these discussions in the EvE-Online forums with some interest.
    The character Kugutsumen is the head of an in-game intelligence-gathering organization that has been doing these types of things for some time now, involving multiple corporations and alliances, usually under contract from their enemies, other times for his own personal gain.
    His methods (which include bribing, forum infiltration, TS/Vent spying, etc) have been used in the past by some of the largest alliances, specifically the (arguably) most powerful one in game, named Band of Brothers (BoB), yet no one has made as big a deal out of these events in the past as now, because of one major issue: developer involvement to tip the scales in the favor of specific in-game alliances.
    To sum it up, Kugutsumen has posted a number of logs obtained from 'private' BoB forums which point to one or more developers being members of BoB, and providing intel regarding future game event locations, war target information, and most of all, giving Tech2 blueprints to corporations in BoB.

    This is a big problem, because normally Tech2 blueprints are used to build 'rare/epic'-type weapons/ships/equipment, and can be highly profitable and provide a distinct advantage not only to those that possess them, but also to those who use said items.

    These blueprints are handed out in a lottery fashion, where everyone can have a chance at owning one, but in this case, someone from CCP (the company that created EvE), possibly a developer or GM, has apparently given multiple blueprints to BoB, which is a enourmous slap in the face to the rest of the community which is constantly asking for the Tech2 blueprint distribution system to be balanced.

    Some of the other logs also seem to point to high-ranking members of BoB giving access to special areas of their space to Ebay currency sellers in exchange for a cut of the profits, character accounts being traded or sold between members, and other things which are strictly forbidden by EvE's EULA.

    This is why there is such a large reaction on the forums. BoB is trying very hard to throw off the focus of the discussion to the methods in which this information was obtained, because their very existence as an alliance is being put in jeopardy by the allegations that CCP's development or GM team members have engaged in actions that benefited them. This is not the first time that CCP staff have abused their status; last summer, a 'rookie' GM spawned a rare ship completely fitted with high-end rare items, which was blown up by 'accident' by a BoB-allied corporation member and some of its items looted. The GM was fired for this, but the story was never completely explained to the general community (CCP reserves the right to control how much information is disclosed about investigations such as these).

    So there you have it. The most powerful alliance in EvE is accused of cheating with the help of CCP employees, and now the rest of the player-base wants to know what is going on. Only because Kugutsumen and a number of the SomethingAwful Goons made a number of posts in the EvE-Online forums did this become such a huge issue, forcing CCP to address it publicly (http://myeve.eve-online.com/ingameboard.asp?a=top ic&threadID=468189) and now we're hoping that something will be done.
    • I don't have mod points, but I think your post was very interesting. It's amazing how there's this type of "mafia" behavior in these MMOGs. Especially because when you think about it, this powerful organization BoB and others like it are probably full of zit-faced nerds with little else going on in their lives, as opposed to the recreational player in it for fun. See that South Park episode on WoW? That was hilarious... It's crazy to think that people can go on power trips in a virtual world in a manne
      • by Agripa (139780)
        My Everquest days are well into the past but my view from the bottom to middle level of the raiding guilds showed routine behavior that would normally only be associated with the worst that one could expect of humanity. To be fair, the server I was on was particularly bad but were I to personally suffer from the behaviors I saw in game in the real world, I would face the serious temptation to retaliate in ways best left to the imagination. I suspected and later verified that each server developed a unique
        • The advantage in EVE is that it's wide-open PVP. (I've played both EQ, EQ2 and Eve.) So, if someone ticks you off, you can go hunting for them, or wardec their corporation, or hire mercenaries to hunt them down or make life difficult for them. There are ways to retaliate against griefers and idiots.

          The other half of it is that Tech 2 isn't "all that". On average, I'd say tech 2 items are maybe 20% more powerful then Tech 1. It's not an "I Win" level of difference. So flying them isn't a super advant
          • by Agripa (139780)
            The advantage in EVE is that it's wide-open PVP. (I've played both EQ, EQ2 and Eve.) So, if someone ticks you off, you can go hunting for them, or wardec their corporation, or hire mercenaries to hunt them down or make life difficult for them. There are ways to retaliate against griefers and idiots.

            I did not post about it but as you have identified one of SOE's problems in EQ was that their "Play Nice" policies were enforced in such a way that they really only applied to those who followed them and became d
            • I did not post about it but as you have identified one of SOE's problems in EQ was that their "Play Nice" policies were enforced in such a way that they really only applied to those who followed them and became disadvantaged as a result.

              That's one of the reasons I stopped playing the original EQ.

              Back in the day, if you wanted to travel long distances, you had 3 or 4 options:

              1) Hoof it - Basically you spend time on travel.

              2) Pay for a port - Spend plat/gold to reduce the time needed.

              3) Befriend a
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Copy/pasted from http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?th readid=2280238&perpage=40&pagenumber=11#post322155 112 [somethingawful.com] because it was deleted from the Eve-O forums when someone reposted it there,

      ____

      I no longer play Eve Online but I think some of you may find this interesting. In response to the BoB+Dev drama on the forums: I have been telling people there are high-up Polaris members, probably GMs, and possible Devs in the leadership of BoB for several years.
      "Well yeah," you say, "so have tons o
      • by AugstWest (79042)
        Ah, thank you for posting this here, it *really* pisses me off that CCP is censoring this shit. I was hoping some of the censored threads would turn up here.

        The potential for abuse is staggering, as are the allegations. But what pisses me off most is that we'll see nothing from CCP about it. There will be no punishment except perhaps a firing or two, and the in-game damage will never be repaired.

        Like when RA was farming an exploit in which complex bosses were spawning every 50 seconds instead of every 500 s
    • I don't play Eve, but I read through the little expose. At one point Kugutsumen said he got the information from SQL logs and implied that they were given not hacked.
    • The virtual items this current issue revolves about were worth at least $10,000 USD at the time when the GM awarded them to his guild. They've since dropped in value because of game balance changes but are still easily worth $5,000. On top of that is the interest gained from their possession which in Eve Online can reach several percent _a month_.

      The accusation now thrown around is of course that the GM created those items with his administrative powers.
    • by ad0gg (594412)
      Where in the post stuff posted on the hacker's forum did it say that the dev rigged the t2 lottery. Oh noes he has 8 t2 blueprints. 6 of them are ammo which are 1 billion to 4 billion. For people who don't play eve, a 6 months old mining alt can mine 1 billion isk in a weekend. There's one guy who's calls his himself the king of tech 2 bpos, he has 10+ ship bpos, 20+ module bpos. I guess he hacks.

      Btw, all the devs play eve. I wonder how many are in LV, D2 or ISS. There were a couple in ascn.

  • I play Eve-online (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jaylen (59655) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @05:37PM (#17833410)
    ...and I've been following the thread on the Eve-online forum avidly.

    I've played Eve-online for over a year now, and as stated it is indeed the most brutal, darwinistic multi player game on the net that I know of; utterly unforgiving of mistakes and weakness ... which is why I like it; only the strong survive, and the 'weaker' (ie less dedicated/less interested or no interest in unconsentual PvP combat) are quickly winnowed out, or forced to remain within 'Empire space' bascially a sandbox which while a little safer is by no means 100% safe.

    In a way, I'm glad the accusations have come to light - firstly, it took repeated forum spamming by 'Goon fleet' (an alliance/guild within the Eve universe) before the Devs within CCP (owners of Eve-online) finally made a statement regarding the issues; I gather the impression that had they had not repeatedly spammed the forums, the current investigation that is being carried out would not have been initiated.

    Secondly, there have indeed been several instances as of late where certain players have known of information that could only have come from CCP employees.

    The biggest issue at the end of the day is that CCP employees are also allowed to actually play the game itself, and as players are expected to give their loyalty to their corp/alliance, while simultaneously remaining true to CCP's doctrine and not give out any internal information that would aid player alliances/corps.

    And that in a nutshell is what started this current uproar. The players are stating that each and every time a CCP employee logs on as a player, he or she has a clear conflict of loyalties, and they are asking for clarification from CCP regarding this.

    In my opinion, the vast majority of CCP employees who play the Eve online game are honest and genuine. However, it only takes on single misguided Dev to leak information, and much is ruined, which seems to be the case here.

    Having read Kugutsumen's blog, I cannot of course say that it is genuine. I can however say it is believable.

    Hopefully in the future CCP Developers will no longer be allowed to maintain positions within PvP alliances, and the clear conflict of interest will be avoided; as to if that will actually happen however, remains to be seen.
  • Huh, it looks like CCP is interested in having one of the people who plays the game 15 hours a day working as a GM. Crazy idea, having people who enjoy playing your game working for your company.

    I'm sure almost everyone at CCP plays the game. They have put the same or more hours into their characters than any of the other players. Sure, there are CCP alts in all of the big alliances. If you've been playing Eve for years and years there's really nothing else challenging or interesting besides alliance politi
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cowscows (103644)
      Dev cheating can take forms that cannot be tracked by the game, and can mostly take place outside of the game itself. Having advanced knowledge of upcoming changes (new ship abilities, upcoming nerf of an expensive item, change in significant play mechanic) can allow one group to prepare ahead of time, and purposely benefit from these changes in a way that no one else could outside of luck.

      In the EVE universe, there's a whole lot of alliance politics, it's as much a part of the game as blowing up spaceships
  • I'm suprised no one else has mentioned this. WORLD OF WARCRAFT~@~#$%

    Blizzard has routinely banned accounts due to "real-money for in-game gold transfers" and many other things. There are articles that put the number in the tens of thousands of accounts banned for activity out of game such as this.
    Do I agree with what they do... well I no longer care, I recently freed myself from the game... for a second time, this time is for good I swear, I even uninstalled :-) .
    I finally realized that MMOs will always
    • I've played EVE for about two years now and while it's true that such things invariably happen, it's also great as a game.

      Anything in-game goes. If you can find a way to do it in-game, the devs take a pretty blind eye to it. Selling ISK(EVE currency) for real money, hacking computers, and so on are of course, all wrong and illegal, and CCP rigorously tries to stop it as much as they can. But, in-game, if you can scam someone, such is life. There are good factions who hunt down pirates, pirates, and eve
  • (inasmuch as anything can be TRULY unbiased, anyway)

    I read the EVE forum thread about the matter. It was very interesting, and what was said takes on dramatically different meanings if you have a particular bias one way or the other on the matter. I'm a once and future EVE player. That is to say, I played EVE, I enjoyed it, and I'll probably play again in the not-too-distant future, but I'm not currently playing, and haven't for several months.

    I'm not a member of BoB or Goonfleet, and have never been.

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