Monday, June 22, 2009

The post where Larísa goes nuts

I’m not known to be the kind of blogger who explodes into angry rants about the state of the game. I tend to take things pretty calmly, focusing on cultivating my garden, to quote Voltaire.

I generally see WoW from a bright side – trying to understand and accept the motives Blizzard have for their decisions in how to develop the game and run the show. Sometimes I’ve been blamed for being a fan boy. So be it. I’m a happy player who loves Azeroth, the community and almost everything around it.

But the other day I read a blog post which really brought me out of balance. I went nuts. I suppose I’m not as enraged as Ixobelle can get from time to time, but it’s not far from it.

The post that made me so angry is very well written in itself, but it was published on a blog that doesn’t get much attention, so I thought I should give it some link love and make a contribution to bring it out to the light.

The Rage of Larísa
It’s Jormundgard at Yggdrasil, who in the post “Don’t be tactical, you might get banned” tells the story about some guys who found a way how to kill Flame Leviathan on just four people and got banned for doing it. According to Blizzard this is an exploit.

I suggest now that you go and read the original post, where you’ll also get links to the full story including screenshots of dialogues with Blizzard representatives.

Have you read it? Fine. Now listen to the rage of Larísa: This is freaking unbelievable and I agree entirely with Jormundgard (even though I don’t quite see the parallel to the Martin Fury incident, which is a different story imo).

These guys haven’t made any exploit. They haven’t cheated; they haven’t used non-allowed addons or done anything illegal as far as I can see. All they have done is using their brains, solving the boss encounter riddle in a different way than the developers expected them to.

Their crime was that they didn’t do like 99 percent of the players who are too lazy or dumb to try to find out a solution of their own, instead of mindlessly doing exactly the same thing as everyone else does. They turned their back to the Tankspot mantra. They did it their own way. And for this they should be punished? Hey, no! If anything they should be praised! Why not award them with an achievement:

“You’ve got brains!” - Defeat a raid boss without using a strategy suggested by Wowwiki, Tankspot or Bosskiller. And why not an "Einstein" title to go with it?

The alternative
But let’s say that Blizzard has right in one aspect. Let’s say that strategy makes the boss encounter too easy and it not be the experience Blizzard had intended it to be. I can understand that they don’t want FL to be 4-man-farmed in the future by people who didn’t come up with this strategy for themselves, but just picked up the idea as it was spread on the Internet. They have reasons to stop the followers.

Even so, this isn't how they should deal with the problem. I know Blizzard has every right in the world to do whatever they want (as stated in the terms that we accept every time they apply a new patch). It’s their game, they are the gods. But still: I think they’re lazy and doing it all wrong in this case.

They didn’t need to ban those players. They could have made adjustments in the encounter making it impossible to do it this way. No one could argue about that. They guys who did a cleaver thing would have had their fun and got screenshots and public recognition for being so smart. There would be no further easy-mode downing. No harm would be done. Everyone happy, possibly with the exception for some lazy developers at Blizzard who didn’t want to be bothered with putting in some extra work in that encounter.

Blizzard chose to ban the smart guys. They don’t want us to think. They want us to click on the buttons that DBM and Tankspot tell us we should click. They want us to spend hours and hours travelling to cities all over the world, over and over again, to eat candy, see elders or as now honour fires. They want us to collect tier 8.5 gear by doing 5-man instances that we outgeared months ago. What does this say about how they look on the players? How stupid do they want us to be? Are they in conspiracy with the Cable TV distributors, thinking we're spending too much of our attention on WoW when we could watch TV at the same time if the game just didn't requite any kind of brain activity?

This is “just a game” (sorry Elnia :)). But I’m afraid the story also tells us something about the world. Where are we heading?

I’m seriously concerned.

And mad.

My pink pigtails are glowing. Can you see it?


Eldadres said...

Wow, that was unbelievable, as you said, they should not have been banned, Blizz should have gotten off their asses and changed the encounter so it's only possible to do it the normal way and with the "correct" amount of people!

Klepsacovic said...

It's not at all like Martin Fury. In that case, I thought the bans were handed out too widely, but at least temporary bans were justified. Here they did nothing but play well. It's not much different than going for Undying of Safety Dance and pulling out the people that die a lot.

There are many potential fixes. How about not allowing it to retarget the same enemy more than three times over a four target period? In other words if you have two tanks it would go A-B-A-A rather than endlessly and predictably bouncing A-B-A-B.

Maybe I should stop using the obvious exploit of 20 levels to farm old world instances.

Jormundgard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jormundgard said...

In my defense, I should have probably deleted paragraph 3.

The poorly argued point I was trying to make was that both incidents were the result of mistakes at Blizzard, and that punishing the player is a poor response.

As for the moral equivalence, I don't think they could be more different (although the book isn't closed in the Flame Leviathan case).

Jormundgard said...

Grr... make that paragraph 4...

Firespirit said...

I think that Jormundgard hit the nail on the head, as well as you Larisa - These players used innovation to solve the raid boss, and are being punished for it.

This is a shame, and I really hope that Blizz reverses the decision to ban that account.

Eaten by a Grue said...

There is an old saying that you should not attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence. And I think this may be the case here with Blizzard. I do not think they have this nefarious plot to stop players from thinking - I just think some people goofed here.

But this whole thing does not make sense. Aren't there achievements for undermanning dungeons, and isn't not getting hit a fundamental tactic that has been blessed from day 1 (e.g. hunters).

Eury said...

Wow. I'm completely floored. But then again, should we be surprised? Don't punish players who simply found another way to complete the task at hand.

Poor choice for how Blizz handles getting their feelings hurt for this example of poor (or less than stellar, take your pick) game design.

Boize said...

The only time this method would be useful is if you want to ONLY do Flame Leviathan, and want to take a long time doing it so you have a higher chance of getting loot.

It's not like doing it with 4 people is going to be a walkover. Far from it. Having only 2 demolishers and 2 motorcycles means that it will take a heck of a lot longer than doing it the usual way with 10/25 people.

Even in their conversations, the banned players told Blizzard they were using mathematical logic. And it's completely true. It makes me sad that the Blizzard representatives choose to only say: "No sorry, that's not how we intended it to be done, have a ban."

On a related note, does anyone know if Ensidia players were banned for "exploting" the spellstealing of Freya trash to kill Hodir quickly (for the hard mode) before it was hotfixed? If not, this shows complete inconstancy from Blizzard. Their actions and the actions of this FL encounter seem very similar. Using innovation in order to overcome an obstacle.

Elnia said...

Count me in as well, my long green ears are glowing.

Here's the sentence from the GM that totally floored me.

"making him run between point A and Point B and never getting near a player was seen as exploiting here."

Say what? Why here? It's done all the time. I've done it many times. On my server the name for it is "arrgo pong". Certainly you can't take a commonly known tactic then consider it a bannable offense in a very specific case without letting people know in advance. This is out of control on the part of Blizzard.

Elnia said...

I do want to make one further point. One incident does not destroy a game. I think Blizzard is wrong here but this is one incident among that thousands they deal with every day. So while I agree that what was done was unfair, I'm not so sure I see it in as the end of the game for smart people in WoW.

Anonymous said...

umm - whenever we do this fight, our raid leaders stresses that you cannot let him touch you. whoever is kiting the guy - is usually kiting him from enough distance that with burning oil, he doesn't touch you. you get a warning about target switch early enough that you can all move away in preparation. (I guess that also explains why more often then now he chaises demolishers, rather then sieges in my guild O_O)

on the bad clearing nights we've done this on 25 man with as low as 20 people

Add to that the fact that with towers up, you have people doing other things...

so the fact that they took a common strategy and modified it so that they don't need the other 6 people as long as they are not leaving the towers up - is no where near being the banable offense. they didn't exploit anything like with Martin fury incident - they just just used creative approach.

Larisa I'm pissed right along side with you.

Fitz said...

What these guys did is on par with regular CC tactics. I completely agree with the Ensidia comment as well, since they "exploited" mobs in a way that was not intended by the developers to clear content in Ulduar. Blizzard is quick with the ban hammer as usual.

If it's truly a glitch, hotfix it and move on. No need to re-enact the Martin Fury incident.

Hopefully we are not moving to a world of warcraft where you have one button to spam repeatedly. It's why I like to heal, every encounter is different and you have so many different spells as a Holy or Disc priest to figure out how to effectively handle the job. when healing becomes a one-button game, I'll quit. Even if that button is Circle of Healing :-)

Anonymous said...

As enraged as you are, you'll still continue playing, no?

Hatch said...

So...if something is "too hard", they nerf it. But if it's so poorly designed that the right strategy makes it "too easy", they ban people?

And this doesn't jive AT ALL with the recent response to the 1-minute Freya hard mode kill where they just zerged her down and ignored the adds. In that case, they just hotfixed more healing onto her. I don't think they banned those people. So why couldn't they just hotfix FL to make this strat impossible?

So yeah, I think some poor customer service rep just screwed up here. Those people should not have been banned.

And side note: I too am really tired of everyone needing to do every encounter exactly as the tankspot video describes. We have done many of them in different ways and done just fine, thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

Poor tankspot, what did they ever do to earn such ire? (Plus all the girls in my guild love listening to the voiceovers :) You have to admit he has a nice voice.)

Philip said...

might want to read this....

We apologize for any confusion this issue may have caused you, Taerius, and I will be happy to try and clarify the situation. Remember that any feedback regarding the Game Master service can be sent to:

Now, an important point:

Action was never taken against Flame Leviathan killing accounts based solely on the number of players present during the fight.

There was a (now hotfixed) exploit that made it possible to trivialize the encounter and subsequently beat it with far fewer players than would be legitimately possible with the gear currently available in-game. This exploit was deemed to be contrary to the essence of the World of Warcraft, and action was therefore taken against those who were found to be abusing it. If you fought Flame Leviathan legitimately, simply with less than the maximum number of players present, you would not be included in the above group.

I hope that clarifies the situation. I won't be able to go into detail regarding the exploit itself, hotfix or not, but please ask if you have any further concerns.

Larísa said...

@Eldadres, Firespirit, Eury, Leah: /agree.

@Klepsacovic: yeah and it's so hard to understand what is an exploit and what isn't. It seems kind of random.

@Jormundgard: Well, I'm not totally with you about Martin Fury. Even though I can't be bothered to be upset about what they did I can see that there are better reasons for Blizzard to take action than in this case. Elnia had some valid points about it his rant.

@Eaten by a grue: No, I don't think they have an evil plot against the world. But they have a strange way to handle things.

@Boize: I don't know about Ensidia, but I reckon not. They probably think twice before banning the iconic stars...

@Elnia: nah, it isn't the end of the game. But it becomes a better rant if you add a little bit of passion into it, don't you think? :)

@Fitz: oh horror.... One button is allowed, using more is exploit, the rest of the abilities are just for decoration,... No I guess it's not going to happen, but sometimes I like to pull an idea a little bit further and see where it ends.

@Anonymous: of course... it's not the end of the game as I said. I'll keep cultivating my garden after this little outburst. You just have to clear the air sometimes.

@Hatch and Spinksville: I'm sorry if I seem to criticize tankspot videos. They're very well done and give a lot of valuable information, especially for a quite newbie player like me who need more guidance than I wish I needed. A few of them lack my ranged perspective of the fight, but most are just excellent. It's just that I think it's gone a little bit too far when people start to think that there's only one way to do fights. EVERY guild has to think a bit for themselves. Take ideas from tankspot that seem fine, but also have the courage to experiment and work out what's best for your guild. Even the best guides may need a bit of ajustment to the situation and specific raid setup etc. And if you get bored with a fight after doing it the same way too many times, why not try another way to do it, just for a change?

@Philip: ok, doing it on four wasn't the only reason for the ban. But the answer is very vague and it doesn't give me any better understanding for the actions taken by Blizzard. Those guys found a good strategy. On what grounds is this one to "trivialize" the encounter while tankspot guides isn't? I don't get it. Change the mechanics if you need, but don't ban players randomly.
I'm still mad.

Anonymous said...

Be warned...

At some point Gnome height disadvantage (LoS etc...) will be considered to be an exploit and there will be mass bans ;-)

Ixobelle said...

stupid, stupid, and stupid.

hotfix it, and thank the guy who point out that the encounter is broken. That, or warn them not to do it again, THEN fix it.

clumsy, stupid, lame.

Jormundgard said...

Larísa, check this post for more details on the exploit:

I think there's no doubt that it's an exploit.

Anonymous said...

@ Jormundgard - I'm not sure that the guild that kited Leviathan back and forth was doing the hard mode or exploiting anything.

pulling him out of range of adds - exploit. using the normal kiting strategy where he switches targets and is kited WITHIN his room - how is that an exploit? I hope that the guys in the thread you linked get their accounts reinstated..

maybe we're talking of 2 different cases here, but it doesn't sound to me like they were skipping anything, dying in to get closer to where they need to be or using an actual bug.

it reminds me of a 4 man Sarth that another blogger did. (it took them a lot longer, but they did it)

Jormundgard said...

My interpretation is that they didn't do what they claimed. I'm guessing it's more of an elaborate BS story. They probably used the exploit described in the previous link.

The bigger issue is that we'll never know, because Blizzard doesn't really feel the need to elaborate and won't be releasing their logs anytime soon.

Larísa said...

@Jormundgard: it's obvious you haven't been working as a journalist... Never check a good story! :)

I'm not entirely sure about the story. And the treshold between what is an exploit and what isn't is to me unclear and sort of random. And I STILL think the right way to act in cases like this is to make hotfixes and fix whatever needs to be fixed, NOT to ban players. So I won't change a word of what I've written.

And the Blizzard policy of secrecy is silly and counterproductive. Open communication wins in the long run (said the PR officer... :))

Couldn't they hire some more open guys than GC. Is he the only one?

Carra said...

Well, I immediately had to think about the Karatechop incident before you mentioned it.

In both cases the developers ban someone for no valid reason. Well, in both cases the reason is "Blizzard screwed up". In one case they were dumb enough to give a super item to a player. In the other case they were dumb enough to not properly tune the encounter. And in both cases the Blizzard crew does not get punished but the players are. The correct action would of course be to fix the issues and send your excuses to the community for messing up.

Oh well, once again it just shows that Blizzard can do whatever they want with your account. And we all agreed with that the second we signed the EULA. Which I'm sure everyone of us read to the last letter...

Then again, I can't tell for sure that they didn't use exploits. But the idea stays the same even if they did use exploits. They should fix the exploits and give a hug to the players who found them.

Anonymous said...

I remember in Guild Wars when someone invented the "Invulnerable Monk" who could solo any instance with out taking a single hit and kill everything inside. Developers simply just said wow, didn’t see that coming. Rather than just nerf it all and punish people they just added the occasional interrupt enemy in top instances. I think they were more impressed and so should Blizzard be.

I’d like to know what section of the terms does this apparent exploit come under as a violation.

Begin the campaign? :D

Dw-redux said...

If they had found a clever way to beat the boss other than the intended way, they would have been applauded by Blizzard. Again and again they have suggested that there are more than one way to do an encounter, and people should try finding the one that suits them the best.

They didnt find a clever way to do it, they found a way to cheat the encounter.

If an athlete finds a new enhancement drug that makes them run faster, and jump higher, wouldnt you call em cheaters too?? even if that drug isnt illigal yet.

Anonymous said...

@ Dw-redux

Regardless of the legal state of the specific drug in question, the fact that it is a "Performance Enhancing" drug makes it against the rules of the competition. It’s a general rule to cover all types of drugs.

If they cheated because they didn’t do the instance the way it was 'intended', then me going back to an old instance as 80 and soloing it is, doing it as not intended. This is a general rule because blizzard doesn’t say in the rules; the particular boss must be done as intended.

In addition, another point, nowhere does it say in their terms that an instance for 10 people can only contain a minimum of whatever number, nor does it say how they would like you to do this boss. It's like being told off for walking on the grass, if there is no sign saying you can’t walk on the grass.

They are just trying to cover up their own miss judgment on the intellect level of their customers.