Methinks thou dost protest too much, Bioware

There’s been a couple of pretty big exploits lately in Bioware’s new game Star Wars: The Old Republic.  So big that Bioware has gone on record to say that there will be quite the reckoning for players who are taking advantage of these situations.  I say: why?  Because people are playing your game a lot?

See, to me the problem doesn’t lie with the player, the problem lies with the reward system surrounding the exploit.

The problem with punishing players for your own misgivings is that you give with one hand and take away with the other.  Reward systems in today’s games are huge.  You take a game like Call of Duty, experience points are given for pretty much every little thing in the game from shooting someone in the head to falling 20 feet.  Is it a wonder why people begin to exploit some bug that turns you into a walking nuclear warhead?

A reward system is something that gives some sort of compensation for a thing you do, whether good or bad.  You are rewarded the same way for paying for a candy bar as you are for stealing it: you still just get a candy bar.  I would argue how every part of human society is driven by some type of reward system, but I really don’t want to get into all of that, I just want to get into how The Old Republic may soon find itself in ban-hammer land when they should really just be fixing their damn code.

In the business we call this a clusterfuck

You get a game like The Old Republic, your rank and place in the game is hugely based off of the amount of time sunk into playing it.  You can grind away at monsters or just grind away at the hundreds of missions required to progress.  Either way you’re grinding in some way, shape, or form and eventually you’ll find through all this grinding that there are better ways to gain experience and loot than others.  There’s an unintended reward system in place here: you will want to do whatever activity it is you discovered that you deem best for getting all that experience and loot.  In the form of Old Republic, that may be a certain repeatable quest, some area of a world that’s ripe with monsters who drop valuable items or perhaps its some exploit you found due to a glitch in the game.

Now, I personally can’t stand much for griefers and those who exploit games, especially in the ones I play often.  However, I do understand their reasoning behind said griefing, its because they want all the loot and experience as mentioned above.  In this day and age it only takes one quick youtube video before an exploit spreads like wildfire.  Most other players in these games want just as much loot as you, if there’s an easy reward system for getting it then they will probably exploit it all day long.

So getting back to my point here, Bioware wants to punish people for using these reward systems that they have put into place.  This is what really worries me:

I just wanted to be clear and let you all know that we’re definitely aware of individuals who took extreme advantage of this situation and we will be carefully evaluating and taking action as necessary.

That was from Joveth Gonzalez, the Associate Community Manager for SWTOR.

I don’t mind developers banning people for just being overall dips, but when you start banning people for basically discovering your game’s flaws and showing just how hugely flawed they are, then you should probably just swallow your pride, gather up your developers and come up with some ways to quickly solve the problem.

Ilum: Land of Exploits

Bioware and EA are currently in a troubling place, they’ve sunk just a ton of money into The Old Republic and the idea that end-game content like Ilum may be broken and is probably turning players away is likely worrying these guys a lot.  They want to see this game succeed and at the very least make all their money back, I get that, but don’t take your stress out on the players.  This is a community you’re fostering and if it turns into just a lot of distrust in the game between the players then things will go awry pretty fast.

My advice to Bioware and EA is to take these issues in stride.  Let us know you are taking them seriously, thank the players for finding the issues in the first place and start debugging like crazy.  Its only been about a month since release, I just paid for my first month of subscription after the free period, so I think we all expect a few problems here or there, but just don’t take it out on players who obviously want to play your game a lot.

Oh and for the record, being a level 38 republic player, I have not even gotten the chance to try these exploits, nor would I even try them to begin with since its not really my style.  This article is for those who are probably taking advantage of a situation, but not because they are bad people, because a game rewards them for playing this way.  As SWTOR grows I don’t doubt a lot of these systems will be fixed, but banning people for uncovering problems is kind of like shooting the messenger.

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About Ryan Saul

Hailing from Portland, OR I work by day and blog by night. I like to consider myself a video game connoisseur, playing as many new things as I can get my hands on. Its hard to hold me down to one game for very long before I move on to the next big thing. Luckily, that works pretty well in terms of video game blogging.

5 responses to “Methinks thou dost protest too much, Bioware”

  1. giantsbane says :

    I like that you didn’t explicitly state what the problem on Illium is.

    The parties involved obviously have no morales. I don’t think dropping the ban hammer is too extreme of a response from Bioware either. It’s one thing for a player to utilize a cheap tactic to bolster perform in a multiplayer setting (for example using a noobtube in MW). It’s quite a disparate thing to undermine fundamental tenants of gaming. Bioware took it forgranted that everyone would actively try to win in PvP (you don’t intentionally roll over for the opposing side). I’m actually pretty surprised to see this happening (can you imagine the entire enemy team in MW allowing you to go on a ridiculous kiling streak so that you could have a high score and then you reciprocating the favor?)

    I think Bioware needs to only allow one side the republic or empire gets credit for the daily or weekly PvP challenges, on Illium, based on who is winning.

    • Ryan Saul says :

      Yea I mean the crux of the issue is the reward systems involved. People wouldn’t do this if all it provided was a slight uptick to your stats. I can already see they’re fixing that somewhat by only boosting your stats when you kill unique players.

      But the thing is if the rewards weren’t so numerous people just wouldn’t do them in the first place. I don’t think everyone doing this is a total asshat, even if I call them that in the context of the game. You reward people for doing bad things though and people will do them – that’s probably my main motivation toward writing this.

      People who wanna grief for no good reason can pretty much burn in hell for all I care.

    • Ryan Saul says :

      I should note also that one team allowing another to beat them in MW happened all the time, just usually not in team deathmatch. If you ever played Search and Destroy there was sort of an unwritten rule to not actually play for the objective, just to rack up ridiculous amounts of points.

      • giantsbane says :

        Somehow that doesn’t surprise me, with all the tools that game attracts. Now what I think would be really funny is if Bioware implemented a mutually exclusive bracket in PvP warzones for anyone that uses this exploit. That way the griefers wouldn’t gain any net advantage.

  2. giantsbane says :

    Oh well, my understanding is that this is strictly an exploit for obtaining PvP gear. Although I’ve had some fun with PvP, I’m primarily looking to do late game PvE so it doesn’t bother me that so many people are exploiting Illum.

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