Greedy Goblin

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A new way of heavy griefing

Before the real post, let me show three more PvP bugs, a fix and a small goldmaking tip. You most probably heard of the bridge bug: if you run into the battle on the bridge, you'll get teleported out after 10 seconds. If your faction wins in this time, you get the bonus honor. So if you are dancing in the bridge, running in an out mindlessly, you have 50% chance to be inside when the battle is won. 900 honor on average for running.

You possibly know the "alliance base bug". You arrive to Tol Barad peninsula via a portal, among friendly NPCs. The horde NPCs oneshot any ally who go near the horde base. The ally NPCs do nothing, so if you want to do dailies, you spend the first 5 minutes cleaning up annoying lolkids before you can get the quests.

What you probably haven't heard is the extra 400 resilience bug. Do you want 400 extra resilience for sacrificing practically no other stats? Roll a priest, a resto or balance druid or a resto or elemental shaman. Then buy 3 pieces of PvP gear for your main spec (resto for me) and 2 for the other spec:

You can make gold with your inflated honor points: go wintergrasp and buy meta gems. Sell them on the AH for 10G. They are pretty bad metas but many people are poor or simply not yet 85 but has a helm with meta slot. A gem costs 24 honor, so if you sell it just for 8G, you made 600G for 10 mins attacking of TB. Of course it's not a sustainable business as you can flood the AH by yourself, but if no one else is doing it, it's better to spend the honor on this than let it just be capped.

Now let's see the nasty stuff. Let me introduce something that griefs other players more than anything I've ever done and it is profitable. Many games, including WoW, are more or less griefing-free, simply because any form of significant griefing is unprofitable so no one does it besides a few researchers like Twixt and mindless lolkids. The most obvious form of griefing is ganking, yet it is absent even in PvP servers. I sometimes bump into gankers, but they cause less annoyance than random DCs and server lags.

Blizzard wants it to stay that way. When I figured out that victory in Wintergrasp (a profitable goal) can be achieved by griefing players (kicking them from the raid), they hotfixed it. However - unintentionally - they opened a portal to a very-very dark and evil place where griefing is common and every piece of in-game currency is tainted by the cries of hundredths of noobs and casuals: EVE online.

Corporations in EVE are wealthy organizations. Many players get huge benefits from belonging to one. Benefits that are not technically their own and would lose in a second if they are banished from the corporation or it would disband. The largest EVE dramas are about such corporate takeovers.

In WoW a guild used to be just another chat channel. It only had social and organization value. Theoretically the same 10/25 raid could happen as a pug or a guild run with the same players without any in-game difference. Any value a guild had belonged to the players. Devoted officers, good raider core made a guild good. Without these people the guild was just an empty shell.

Not anymore! The guild perks and guild rewards come from the guild entity and not from the players. In other words: if everyone would gquit and form a new guild, it would be a weaker guild, despite having the same members. So the guild entity has value now. Value that can be taken or destroyed. To make it worse, guild XP (the source of guild rewards) and guild reputation (your access to them) depend only on time passed, just like in "EVE offline". No matter how good or dedicated your players are, it will take a month before you get access to the first raiding perk. So the players can't even just shrug and build the guild again. If it's lost, it's lost for months. Also, no matter how good or dedicated players you have, your guild will not catch up with another that started earlier, until that guild maxes out at 25, after 137 days. Again: destroying a guild destroys 137 real world days progression of lot of players.

Obviously I'm not talking about hacking a guild master and disband the guild, that's just annoying as the GMs will restore it. I'm talking about legitimately taking over a competing guild and destroying it from the inside. Doing so has the perspective of getting the most valuable resource for your own guild: players. Imagine that 2 HC guilds fight for server firsts, and out of the sudden, the guild leader of one of them start to bench the best players, bringing new recruits to progression or abruptly changes the loot system from well working DKP to master looter, where he practically ninjas. The members will quit of course, but unlike before Cata, they can't just re-form under a good officer. If they do so, they are back at guild level one. Good luck winning against a guild with 2x longer flasks and mass resurrection/fast corpserun!

Taking over a HM guild is probably impossible as it has a motivated leader who earned the trust of the players. Unless he quits WoW, taking guild leadership is impossible. But let's look at the casual guilds, the market where I'm fishing. The range is long from arthasdklol's xXdarkhordkillazXx to guilds that killed several raidbosses with 2x3 hours raid.

Most HC guilds are asocial in the sense that if you can't bring enough DPS or stand in the fire, you are out, no matter how nice you are. Maybe there is "social" rank for you, so you can chat, but you are definitely out of the "real" guild. However I don't know any asocial casual guilds besides The PuG and some clones of it. Casual guilds are open for many different players. While several of them filter immaturity they all welcome socializing and centered on "playing together".

So one can send in well paid agents who behave maturely. One is always helpful, the others are inciting social drama. It's easy: start gossips, he-said-she-said nonsense. They don't even have to lie, just tell what Bob said about Alice to Alice. Soon the guild master will be overwhelmed with drama. He plays for fun too, he wants a relaxed friendly guild and now he have to handle Alice calling Bob a jerk on the guild chat and ragequitting. Soon the guild master will have enough. Along came the helpful agent who is liked by everyone and offers his help. Remember, while other agents spur drama, this one does nothing but helping and helping. Soon he'll become an officer and acts very actively to help the guild get better. The agents also make "little mistakes" on raids, to make sure that there is nothing but frustration. It's only matter of time that the guild leader steps down. Remember, he is not a power-hungry person, he just want the best for his guild. He is tired and burn-out by the drama and sees that an officer is so great and tireless handling the problems. Every guild leader wants to be a simple member with no responsibilities, just playing sometimes. And he sees a perfect replacement, a very nice and helpful officer...

How do you get the agents? Many players like griefing. They just need a little gold to be focused on griefing your competitors instead of random lowbies in the Barrens. They even feel awesome about themselves having such a large impact.

I'm not saying I'm doing this. Paying agents costs lot of gold and I find buying guild achievements an easier way to attract players than operating a secret agency. But the possibility is definitely there.

Another, nastier, simpler, cheaper - granted longer - profitable grief: you start a casual guild, play casually yourself, let the guildmembers level up the guild and upon lvl25 you kick everyone and sell the guild. And the worse thing: there is nothing in the world one can do to prove that he is not planning this. Or maybe there is: I donate another 50K repair money to the guild bank. It's a very long term loan (it will take a year before the 10% cuts from loot let me take it back), so it gives a safety to members. Or, it just proves that a guild can be sold for much-much more and worth this money...


Squishalot said...

The latter grief is an interesting one. The former is less useful.

The latter is good as a profiting project if only because it's zero effort, once you get a critical mass of members participating in the guild.

The former, with agents infiltrating casual guilds, is suspect, if only because your aim (recruiting good members for your guild) isn't aligned with your targets (casual guilds containing arthasdklol).

Gevlon said...

@Squishalot: not every players are M&S in casual guilds. There are those who boost the M&S too (otherwise the M&S would still be lvl 17, spamming plz som1 boost me in WC). I want these players

Anonymous said...

Ah, EVE Online corporate espionage and sabotage. Good times.

A friend and I joined a guild on alts several months before Cataclysm with a similar intent. Almost there!

Squishalot said...

Every player in a casual guild is a casual player, however, else they would seek better rewards at a less casual guild.

Presumably, they either have attachments (relationships, family, etc) to the guild, or they're comfortable in a relaxed environment without the rules that surround more serious guilds (and notably, the PuG).

I just don't think your return on investment is going to be particularly high. You'd be better off bribing people to join the guild directly.

Azuriel said...

The double-2pc bonus is not a "bug" - it existed all throughout Wrath and was the only intelligent way to gear for some (caster) specs, e.g. Resto shaman. People doing the double-2pc thing is the reason Blizzard eventually buffed the 4pc bonuses to the extent that they did in late Wrath.

It's just sad that the item designers are making the exact same mistake again, but that is par for the course with PvP this expansion.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, they hot-fixed the victory honor (it's now only 360 honor for successfully attacking), at least in the US. Not sure if it's live on EU realms already, but even if not it won't be too long.
Oh, well, it was good while it lasted.

Pheqbeast said...

the "400 resilience bug" isn't a bug,

it's a common knowledge, and it's been used since season1.

i.e 2/3 piece destro warlock set + 2/3 pieces fel set (doesn't exist anymore tho),

3 piece disc + 2 disc shadow and so on.

Riptor said...

@Azuriel: This Double 2p Bonus was already being used in BC..

BT: Do you really think this will work? I guess from your post the ultimate Goal is undermining every other Casual Guild on your Server, drain the good Players and enjoy the Fact the M&S are Guildless or have to form their own Guilds…
But why would Mr. Casual want to join the PUG? It stands for everything non Casual. No Voice, no semi-exploitable Loot System, no Chit-Chat. It even denies the basic Social “fame” and it does not want the whole “Group of Friends” because it actually distinguishes between Players with a certain Potential and worthless filth.
Don’t get me wrong but I think the PUG is a very special Hybrid? It applies in many cases harsher rules than hc Guilds but on the other hand does not request half as much from its members. You sort of get an hc Guild without the Progress.
So why on a grand scale undermine Casual Guilds when the provided alternative does not provide any improvement for the die hard Casual? The only reasons I can think of are very un-goblinish as they thrive on motivations other than making a Profit…

Beffe said...

What about asking guild members for "rent" after it's levelled up, 100g/week or some thing like that. Ofc only works if your the only lvl 25 casual/open-to-all guild around.

Ðesolate said...

The extra 400 resi is not a Bug. It is a free descicion to take 800 resi instead of the 4 set bonus. (blizzard stated that in several blueposts)

I have already started building up a self-regulating casual guild to lvl up to 25. I don´t know if I will sell it but I will look at that when it´s done. Since now I have 12 accounts an open-for-all 4 slot guildbank (emty of course) 25k guildgold for repairs. Since it´s a leveling Guild I assume that every member will leave when hitting lvl 85. I will invite more casuals to make shure the daily xp-cap is served.

A hostile takeover of another lvl 25 guild would be hard but doable. But that would be an ultimate griefing attack.

Getting your hands on other players by spreading drama to prove social guilds are flawed is a bit hard. But could be realistic. The interesting thing is that this would never be banable.

Anonymous said...

The first 40 man raid guild I joined used a similar tactic. They didn't infiltrate social guilds, but ran some very social raids, made the better players from the social guilds feel welcome. And then dropped the bombshell that raid invites would be preferentially given to members of their own guild.

This actually split up a few social guilds as people (reluctantly, it's true) flocked to join.

Nielas said...


My vanilla WoW guild did the same thing without even intending to. We simply had a solid raid leader and officer with good organization skills. When we started raiding we did not have enough people so people from other guilds joined us for the raids. As the guild size grew, we were filling in the raid slots with guildies so the people outside the guild needed to join us to guarantee a raid slot.

The 'hostile-takeover-from-inside' strategy for taking over a guild is possible but likely too much effort for what you get. The agent would have to be really sneaky to not be kicked for the drama he/she is causing.

I am sure that some guilds would fall for it but many others are going to see through the troublemaker or simply be laid back enough that it won't faze them. The most likely candidates for success are guilds that are already drama ladden and driving the guild leader nuts.

Jim said...

FYI, if a guild master gets hacked and members kicked from the guild, those members lose all guild reputation and any specific guild activity attributed to them.

My guild master got hacked, everyone was booted from the guild, and the guild disbanded. He was able to get his characters and the guild itself restored (with full guild exp and achievements) but had to re-invite each other memberwhich means they restarted at zero guild rep and zero guild activity. Blizzard indicated that they would have to do a character restore on each individual menber in order to restore their individual guild rep and guild activity which was something they were unwilling to do.

Anonymous said...

"Alliance base bug" has been fixed:
- Baradin Guards now correctly attack Horde players which enter their aggro radius or attack them.

Anonymous said...

I think that the simpler form of griefing, where a malicious GM invites people to his guild, they get the guild to level 25, and then the GM kicks most or all of them, will absolutely take place.

Other forms of griefing:

* A malicious GM composes the raid in a manner that profits him (say, takes noone of his own class, or uses his undergeared alt, or takes his undergeared friends). Others obey on the fear of being kicked.

* A malicious GM institutes a guild tax (easy to do, just say "hey, we are a professional guild, let's do as professional guilds do and pay 500 to the bank every week"). Others obey on the fear of being kicked.

* A malicious GM forces people to do achievements he is interested in, eg, PVP ones. Again, there is a heavy pressure to obey.

I hope it is clear that a malicious GM is only limited by his fantasy and the fantasy of people he is listening to (eg, a playing girlfriend or boyfriend). The only thing that can ease the pressure to obey to the wishes of the GM for ordinary guild members is if they are good enough to be accepted to another guild of the same general level. This will happen, but, of course, not nearly often enough to get rid of the problem.

Blizzard in a catch-22. If they make it so that guild levels mean something, we have the unhealthy situation above. If they make it so that guild levels mean little, they wasted time implementing guild levels as a feature. My guess is that they will reluctantly have to make guild levels mean little (option 2), but that will take time.

Anonymous said...

I dont want to dissapoint you Gevlon...but these *agents* have been always there...they are called twinks from really good raiders and there fun is to fuck up casual no one can take their server firsts in a plain simple content like you prooved it with your blue equipment raids. If a casual raids starts being good soon there are your *agents* and raids getting worse. It happend in classic and it happens nowadays.

Spectral said...

I think it's easy to imagine scenario where that sort of griefing is essentially impossible. The guild I'm presently running with consists of players that are either real friends or I've played with in some capacity for years. We know each other pretty well, and we enjoy playing casually together. Nonetheless, a couple of us are also very, very good players that participated in world top 100 kills when we raided more hardcore. No matter how attractive that would make us as a target of sabotage, it simply wouldn't work - anyone coming in and causing trouble would be kicked in no time flat.

I don't think anything I'm saying there conflicts with your point, just tossing out that it's fairly frequent that the agent provocateur would be nothing but a waste of time and gold. It's hard for me to imagine that it would work frequently enough on non-M&S casuals to be worth the effort.

Anonymous said...

I think loosing the guild reputation depends on how long you were outside of the guild. In my guild a member was kicked and readmitted the same day after clarifications with the GM and he did not lose reputation.

Not sure how long this "tolerace" works but I guess it would make sense for Blizzard to make so in case of unwanted disbands it is always applied.

Still, Blizzard can be sloppy.

Zanthor said...

Perhaps my guild is an anomoly, but we are a raiding guild (not progression, but we saw 5/12 hardmode ICC and have completed nearly all content in previous expansions when it was relevant) with a social core... no one gets Officer Rank that I haven't known for several years... no one ever gets guild leader tag except me/my alts... if I quit, the guild goes away...

Many of the precepts you talk about here are very boolean, with no shades of gray in the middle... an organization such as mine has social aspects that make it an enjoyable place for those who want it, and goblin aspects for those who want that...

In the end, it's a better guild for it.

Tonus said...

@Nielas "The agent would have to be really sneaky to not be kicked for the drama he/she is causing."

The agent will need to do some research first, in order to find an ideal situation. How many guilds have been ripped apart because of some ridiculously obvious attention whore who started idiotic drama all the time? Find a guild with a guild leader and an officer or two who will do anything for a piece of e-tail and you can get away with some outrageous behavior.

And with guild members much less likely to head elsewhere due to guild rep/perks, a drama whore might be able to do much more damage than before. On the other hand, the chances that she'll be handed the guild leadership will be almost zero, although if someone could manage that it would be pretty epic.

Overall, I agree that it may be more trouble than it is worth, if the goal is to eventually gain control of the guild so as to "legally" disband it and destroy its progress. There will probably be a number of failed attempts before you hit the jackpot. You may ruin a few guilds, but you are not likely to be handed the reins of any of them.

chewy said...

Good is a relative term and difficult to quantify. You and your members obviously enjoy the way your guild is run and I might enjoy that as well, but it is only different from other guilds.

Gevlon seems to be on a mission driven by an obsession with M&S his guild is good if you like that sort of thing.

On the more broader point the idea of infiltrating guilds to cause disruption; it is probably achievable, to some extent, although I'm not convinced that the benefits outweigh the effort. But then I guess griefing isn't about effort and reward unless your reward is watching others suffer.

Malthan said...

Do you have any data about how many good players the investment in achievements has brought to your guild? It would be interesting to see how it's working out.

blachawk said...

I believe one of the 'leveling' guilds I have an alt in was created for just this purpose. The GM rarely does anything of any real value besides spam invites to the guild. He's still at 82 which leads me to believe he is himself an alt.

Ðesolate said...

@Zanthor: That´s what I´d call a social Guild. The statement, that only people you know for several years get officer rank, is social based. In most pure progress guilds officer status is based on perfomance and tasks. An raidleader / classleader would naturally get officer in many progress guilds. Theese guilds often have a relatively high fluctuation on their player base, meaning guildmember could be gone by weeks.

And a goblinish question: How would you react if I refuse to craft guildinternal without fee?

My exguild during BC I would also call social. Even if we had a progress based raidcore. We succesfully did sunwell including brutallus prenerf, what is still mentioned by my exguildmaster in every dialoge about wow.

Taemojitsu said...

Exploits of trust are possible even with the system allows totally fluid interactions with no cost for switching allegiance.

A recent scam which I . . . randomly came across around the time it happened, involved convincing the shareholders of a corporation to vote for a change which caused majority director voting power to go from not being controlled by a single person, to being controlled by a single person. This enabled that person to steal the corporation's assets valued in excess of 850 billion ISK, which were not tied to the corporation itself and given the in-game authority to do so, could have happened any time immediately after the creation of the corporation without further development of assets.

The motivations of that player were explained in a forum post:

> How will my workmates and customers feel about the fact that I've hurt other players in a competitive PvP focused computer game in which I play a pirate? At the moment they are trying their best to stop rolling around with laughter. Maybe in time they will decide that I am evil and must be hunted down and made an example of... I doubt it somehow.

The lack of liquidity of value associated with progression under a single guild name is a separate issue from the vulnerability to stealing of pooled assets. Oh and according to annual polls to elect representatives to talk to the CPP, only 4% of Eve Online players are female and they are 30% less likely compared to male players to participate in the elections for the council representing the views of players.