Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"At this point is it fair to say that the GMs only reversed this guy's ban because he was a streamer"

I've left Black Desert Online due to lack of interest, not because of rigging. My how to get rich page is still up. But it seems I have to reconsider, due to a recent scandal.

To fully understand what happened, you should be aware of the worker system that I described in detail. Now I just give a short version: you have a limited resource called contribution points that you can use to connect nodes, connect subnodes and rent lodging for workers. Some nodes are better than others and you can send only one worker per node. Now, exploiting players figured out how to send more workers per node. Not only it allows them to have multiples of the most lucrative nodes, but it greatly increased their contribution point effectiveness, as the extra worker needed just extra logding, while properly utilizing another node would also need node and subnode activation.

OK, exploiting happens, cheaters are banned in every game, what's the rigging? On May 25, a "famous" twitch streamer was banned for this exploit and later found innocent and unbanned. Except, he was so guilty that he kept exploiting! Too bad for him that he unwittingly streamed evidence against himself, making Reddit explode (as far as r/blackdesertonline can explode):

He of course since claims innocent mistake, but I can expert witness that he is guilty as hell. All the other workers are orange on his screenshot as they should be. The worker quality goes up from white, green, blue, yellow and orange. I never used blue workers for more than a day or two until I had the energy (renewing limited resource) to reroll them to at least yellow. That one blue worker has 48924 cycles left from the maximum of 50000, so already completed 1076 cycles. He has 2h 15m 41s left of its current cycle while the filled bar is 45 pixels, the total is 142. From that, a cycle is 199 minutes long, so that worker wasn't touched for 149 days (actually more, as it was slower when it was low level). He didn't touch him, because he knew that if he removes the worker, he can't put it back. If he was innocent, he would have unwittingly remove it to replace it with a higher level and just notice that he can't put it back. So the dude was purposefully exploiting for about 5 months.

Yet, he was unbanned in May and now he only got 72 hours of suspension, despite serious exploiting. Repeat: he is still not removed from the game, just got a suspension. Why? The title of the post comes from a reddit comment. This is I Want ISK unban in Black Desert. It seems that the community management is corrupted here too. I considered BDO safe from corruption due to being developed and managed by different companies, so any exploiting would need collusion between corrupted employees continents apart. I forgot the option that the devs in Korea make a honest mistake allowing exploiting (happens with every game) and the community team just let the exploiting go rampart and unpunished.

Anyway, I amend my BDO page with a warning about the community team being corrupted. It's probably not a coincidence that it's always the community team that gets compromised: it's their job to engage with players, they get friendly with them and they soon learn that the cheating streamer or the RMTing botter makes 10x more with his shady business than the honest salary of the devs. From there it's only a few beers for business to be made: a little money (still more than salary) from the game-monetizer in turn of a blind eye or even in-game support from the dev.


Smokeman said...

This is one of the major problems with having an 'economy' where it's possible to amass billions of game currency, and have that hoard be desired by people willing to trade real money for it.

Since it's not actually illegal, the worst thing that could possibly happen to you is being banned. That's not enough of a deterrent for the potential real money gain. If you tried ANY of this shit in the real world? You'd be committing felonies.

You just guarantee that your game will be abused without mercy and there is essentially nothing you can do about it. You can perm ban people all day, but if they can just go get another account, they're right back in.

And we haven't even gotten to the "Your CS team could also be the problem." Sure, let's have low paid, low skill people responsible for talking to exploiters making money in RMT schemes. What could go wrong?

Unfortunately, the big greed always steps in there and sets this up. Even Blizzard, with it's supposed professionalism and attention to detail has fallen for the cash shop milking routine and RMTing gold directly to people.

The only way to stop this is to have in game currency be worthless or close to worthless. Or, you can just not care because monetizing this is your cash cow and you'll just act like you're doing anything about it. Like how BDO is handling it.

As to the title, it appears that there were 3 perm bans and 40 suspensions, with this streamer being one of the 40. What the hell did the 3 do? This guy in the 40 group was guilty as all sin and he himself put the evidence out to prove it beyond even the most microscopic shadow of a doubt.

Gevlon said...

@Smokeman: there are multiple things a company can do to stop RMT
- segment economy (you can only trade to guildies)
- ban gold BUYERS. Goldseller accounts are expendable, but goldbuyers bought gold exactly to improve their account
- make accounts more personal. Demand credit card number for every account with a minimal monthly payment ($1-2) to make sure it's real. If you ban, ban the credit card. Ban the computer ID too. Was his brother used the same computer and was paid with the same credit card? Too bad, at least he'll have a talk with his cheating little shit brother.
- publicly shame exploiters. Just put it in your ToS that banned people will be listed with their account name and credit card number among the "exploiter" list. Also, hang their characters in the main city in-game for everyone to see.
- most importantly: ban goldseller ACTIVITY. What does goldsellers do? Gather lots of gold and give it away to strangers for no benefit to their character. Ban anyone who does that. Will you ban a handful of idiots who were drunk and gave away their money to a sexy elf girl (who is a fat boy in a basement IRL)? Sure, but who cares.
- ban botters: character doing repetitive farming 50+ hours a week? Ban as a bot. Will you ban a handful of obscessive-compulsive idiots? Sure, but who cares?!

Anonymous said...

@Gevlon: Such random permanent bans for "idiots" with "who cares" just do more harm than good, because one day it will hit some famous blogger etc., which will lead to very bad PR. And it looks that MMO companies know that (although, in my opinion, that particular BDO guy should've been banned).

It's like banning any sites with "sex" in its name, which will also affect "Sussex University" and such.

Gevlon said...

@Anon: what is worse? Bad PR from some "famous blogger" (who is probably monetizing the game some way, even if not by RMT), or players mass quiting because of botters.

Also, be bold and open: when the "famous blogger" makes his noise, release his logs (remember, there is no privacy law for game characters). Show the playerbase that "famous blogger" farmed 60 hours at once in one boring place and then gave the rare mount to a "friend". Everyone will agree that he was doing something wrong, even if not formally RMT.

Anonymous said...

Again, show your evidence that specific devs in specific games are accepting money from players, because that is your claim at the end of your piece.

And, re: bloggers/privacy - There is if the blogger has not released his char name publicly. Most games have things about RL info. I farmed 8 hours yesterday evening in one spot in a game, and then bought my friend an ingame house with the I botting? am I RMTing?

Gevlon said...

@Anon: I can't have and don't need evidence that devs are actually taking money. While it's pretty obvious, it's also irrelevant. What's relevant is that the exploiter is tolerated, so he and others keep exploiting. Ergo, anyone who doesn't exploit is at disadvantage, so has no real reason to keep playing.

Yes, you are RMTing: you gave in-game wealth for some real world value (even if that's not cash but some favor that your friend will return). Yes, I would negwallet your friend (take the house away) and suspend you for some time (assuming it was the first case).

vv said...

From my experience in cases like this benefits from having a popular streamer is greater than harm from closing eyes on exploit. If you ban him then he will stream another MMO and that means less free expose for your game. Decision like this are usually supported by hard objective data.

Smokeman said...


All of those "solutions" are handled by making in game assets of potentially considerable value non-fungible. Of course, that term needs to be defined, and the logical definition is "Any easily portable item with sufficient rarity to alter the balance of the game if hoarded or traded."

If you want something in game, you PLAY THE GAME AND EARN IT.

I would think, that as a 'rational', you would be on board with that simple concept. But... then there wouldn't be a reason for you to earn piles of pixel money. In fact, if some of those "points" you put up were implemented by CCP, you would have been banned long ago for abusing the economy, well before you could have "influenced the meta game" at all.

The core flaw with exploit management is that for every dev hour there is to spend fixing it, there are many thousands of exploiter hours looking for new ones. No complex system can be so perfect as to stop the exploiting with one exception: remove the incentive to exploit in the first place. Sure, there will still be advancement exploits, but those are focused and non profit based. The really damaging exploits are the ones that allow economic advantage. And by corollary, if you're advancing in order to exploit the economy, then even advancement exploits lose their luster.

So what if the economy exploiters who grind hour after hour, day after day are removed by that?

Of course, this exposes a fundamental flaw. Without an exploitable economy, any "free to play" monetization scheme is negated, decimating dev revenues. Combine the core flaw (thousands to one ratio of exploiter hours to dev hours.) with the unstoppable force (play for free monetization schemes.) and you have a death spiral for AAA MMORPG games.

It's only a matter of time at this point.

Gevlon said...

@vv: having a popular streamer/blogger/youtuber openly exploit is an advertisement that the game is an exploit-fest and fair players have no chance. I understand if some obscure whale is left alone exploiting for his own e-peen. But someone visible must be made example of or what happens is exactly what happened: community outrage and my 100K+ hits BDO guides amended with an exploit warning.

@Smokeman: soulbounding is one way to handle it, but you are mixing "giving away" with "trading". A guy who farms ISK 50 hours a week and trade it for a titan is not an RMT-er, he got stuff for himself. The RMT-er just gives the ISK away. I do admit that my ISK donations to MoA should have raised flags and I did expect a GM investigating (as "killing goons" isn't an in-game value that simple systems can check for. It never happened, proving how lax the CCP rules are.

I have no doubt that there will be exploits and I explicitly wrote in the post that I don't blame devs for it. I blame them for not banning an open exploiter.

And no, there is a way out of the death-spiral: guild only trading. This way the whale can still gain in-game wealth for $ but only by teaming up with the farmer. Economy exploits will be limited to a guild, they can't infest the whole game.

Shalcker said...

I think you're overestimating actual impact of exploits.

They get attention, sometimes lots of it, but they do not "spell doom" by themselves. Permaban or "slap-on-the-wrist" doesn't make any difference.

For example, i have one "dedicated" cheater in my managed game. Been cheating for years. Gets banned (usually in order of 20-30 of accounts), loses interests for a while, then comes back to cheat again. No monetary incentive at all.

...and i know because at some point he talked to me and i talked to him. So he keeps doing that (talking and cheating), and i can keep checking how my anti-cheater system does or doesn't get him.

Then we have another cheater that actually produces cheats for which you have to pay to get temporary activation keys. Does many games at once. They are actually less sophisticated then this "volunteer" guy, and worst part of his cheat gets banned automatically. But most people just run "highlight stuff that shouldn't be visible" which runs as external overlay to game, and that so far requires actual manpower to check which we don't have (many still do get caught, but not each and every of them).

All the while people complain about cheats and hacks and unfair advantages that are just glitches in game engine; 99.9% don't actually run any cheats.

And even with this perception of unfairness they keep playing.

Shalcker said...

People don't necessarily seek just "fairness" in games they play, even if many complain if they don't see it.

Anonymous said...

I considered BDO safe from corruption due to being developed and managed by different companies, so any exploiting would need collusion between corrupted employees continents apart

One dev. several publishers. not the same. never will be. entirely different things. publishers do not manage anything game wise.

devs mange the game. and only them. sure how they run their comp and outsource is an entirely different question!
publishers manage servers and users and fiddle around with translation and some config files, but their purpose is to handle users and keep the service under contract running some 99.9% shit to cover outage and responsibility. also they give businesses important stats to devs. guess what that doesn't include "jack92s awesome new idea to prevent cheating". usually publishers per market segment. like for most asian mmos china, kr, jp, tw, na, eu. mostly in that order too.

should be obvious, right?

Smokeman said...

"soulbounding is one way to handle it, but you are mixing "giving away" with "trading". A guy who farms ISK 50 hours a week and trade it for a titan is not an RMT-er,"

The item the guy wanted is the important side of that equasion. A guy, playing normally, farmed enough Isk to buy what he wanted.

He could have JUST AS EASILY, and with NO DIFFERENCE to himself, farmed the soulbound components of the item and had it constructed at an NPC base.

By allowing a fungible asset (Isk) to act as the intermediary, CCP guaranteed their economy would be manipulated and abused.

Your argument, that "This guy isn't an RMTer", while technically accurate, is tantamount to using him as a human shield to protect the RMTers themselves.

Smokeman said...

"And no, there is a way out of the death-spiral: guild only trading. This way the whale can still gain in-game wealth for $ but only by teaming up with the farmer. Economy exploits will be limited to a guild, they can't infest the whole game."

How will having exploits limited only to the guild help? If ANYTHING, it will multiply the incentive as otherwise rule abiding players will descend into exploiting to "Help their Guild." After all, it's impossible to make it illegal, it helps their friends, and their friends will help them once they get a new account. You will be hard pressed to find a company that both designs a game that can be exploited (Because whales need something to spend on.) and is also willing to obliterate entire guilds.

Gevlon said...

@Shalcker: if players don't mind unfairness, than the company is crazy to allow exploiters instead of "exploiting" itself by selling power for money

@Anon: rigging needs 2 things:
- unbalanced, exploitative way of playing (dev side)
- not banning the exploiter (GM side)
I assumed that the two can't cooperate if one is in a different company. I simply forgot that exploits get in as honest mistakes

@Smokeman: not really. If the guy like shooting rats, he'll never have a titan on his own, as he'll have lots of ISK and deadspace modules. He needs a miner to get a titan. Trading allows specialization and helping each other.

RMT-er is different from a trader by losing assets at large for no in-game reason. He just "gifts" away currency, minerals, crafted items. That behavior is obviously RMT outside of a guild.

In-guild RMT isn't a PROBLEM, because it affect only a guild and other players can defeat them as a guild. Also, it's indistinguishable from the already existing in-guild helping. Guy giving 10B ISK to a stranger: that's RMT. Guy gives 10B to a friend happens. My point is that you can ignore in-guild RMT without damaging your game at large. Your only loss is loss of income (you could sell the same items to the buyer), but you lose that anyway.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you shouldn´t say that the team is corrupted.

Blade is one of the biggest Streamers / Promoters of BDO so it´s likely that it was an simple business decision that it´s better for the Revenue if he is still there.

Furthermore, it seems that ALL of the banned Ones were unbanned.
Maybe they are whales and brought a lot money or what ever.

But again, I believe it was an decision of KAKOA itself.

Gevlon said...

@Anon: so you say it's not individual devs, but Kakao itself is corrupt. I feel much better now about playing their game.