Exploit or creative use of game mechanics?

July 9, 2009 at 12:45 pm 9 comments

Tessy of Reflections From the Pond (a fantastic blog I don’t see in nearly enough blogrolls) published an original and thought-provoking post about exploits — both in-game and in real life.  What would happen if Blizzard ran the International Olypmic Committee? she muses.  Would athletes like Dick Fosbury be stripped of their medals and banned from the games for coming up with new and innovative ways of doing things? 

Personally, I think that anything that is possible (without altering the game’s code) should also be permissible.  The onus needs to be on Blizzard — not on individual players or guilds — to determine what is and is not an acceptable strategy for a particular bossfight or encounter.  More importantly, that distinction needs to be communicated not via retroactive sanctions, but via programming. 

In other words: if Blizzard doesn’t want the world-first Alone In The Darkness to be achieved by soulstoned paladin and a DI’d warlock pulling healing aggro from inside Yogg-Saron’s brain, then Blizzard’s programmers need to make it impossible to do so.

Does this mean I expect Blizzard to anticipate all possible “creative uses of game mechanics,” and code around them? 

No, of course not.  But I don’t feel that public remonstrance accompanied by a 72-hour ban is an appropriate response to the sitution, either.

A sheepish grin and hotfix?  Sure.  The proverbial banhammer?  No.

Anyway, it’s a great post from Tessy.  Definitely check it out.

Entry filed under: WoW.

ITT: Fel Fire goes to the dogs! (And promotes Brajana’s contest!) A waste of a raid night?

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Middea  |  July 9, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Very good read, thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • 2. Light  |  July 9, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Interesting read, but I think that not punishing exploits doesn’t work for a multiplayer game.

    If I can do things that make it so I can get boatloads of money, gear, or materials with no effort it unbalances gameplay for the millions of other players.

    The retroactive punishment is kind of like jailing people after a murder. Too late, the person is already dead, but it has to be done to deter others from doing the same thing.

    • 3. Elleiras  |  July 9, 2009 at 2:46 pm

      At the risk of sounding like a certain ex-President, it rather depends on how you define “exploit.” Did the players who four-manned Flame Leviathan a few weeks ago “exploit” the encounter? Or did they come up with an innovative strategy, using existing game mechanics in new and creative ways?

      What about Exodus? Was using a soul-stoned paladin and a DI’d warlock to pull healing aggro from inside the brain room (and evade-glitch the Guardians of Yogg-Saron) “cheating”? Or was it brilliant?

      Personally, I’m inclined to say the latter. Blizzard obviously doesn’t agree.

      The murder-jail analogy doesn’t quite hold up, because “free will” doesn’t exist in the World of Warcraft. If Blizzard doesn’t want us to commit murder, it can simply program the game in such a way that murder is impossible.

      • 4. Light  |  July 9, 2009 at 3:05 pm

        It is hard for people in a game to really know what an “exploit” is, but I think in the eyes of Blizzard the exploits that they punished are akin to hacking into a system and gaining root access.

        Perhaps they need to define what they mean by exploit… “Anything that trivializes the game encounter”?

        • 5. Elleiras  |  July 9, 2009 at 4:54 pm

          Like stacking shaman for bloodlust? Or druids for rebirth? 😀

          I understand what you’re saying, but I still think the onus is on Blizzard. If someone actually hacks the game, then they deserve to get banned — but if they use existing (and accepted!) game mechanics, then they haven’t broken any rules and shouldn’t be penalized as if they had.

          Here’s an ambiguous one. If you tank XT on the stairs, you’ll get adds from all four scrap piles. If you tank him on one side of the room or the other, you’ll only get adds from the two farthest piles.

          So is tanking XT on the side of the room an exploit? Or is it just smart?

          • 6. Orgauth  |  July 10, 2009 at 6:59 am

            If you use the absurdly-subjective “Anything that trivializes the game encounter” definition of an exploit: Tanking XT on the sides IS an exploit. It removes half the add spawn points, and minimizes the coverage area for add management.

            • 7. Light  |  July 10, 2009 at 8:42 am

              There’s a difference between using heroism and being overgeared and glitching a boss to the point where it just instantly dies.

        • 8. Orgauth  |  July 10, 2009 at 6:56 am

          That is exactly what EVERYguild is trying to do in EVERY raid instance – trivialize EVERY encounter just enough to beat it.

  • 9. Tigerfeet  |  July 15, 2009 at 10:23 am

    I was typing a comment to this, then it got out of hand. Your thoughts remind me of the story of the Panzerkin and of stifled creativity.

    I’ll blog about this soon 🙂


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