A Fine Line Between Cheating and Taking Advantage

One of the biggest driving forces for players in MMO games is to do better than everyone else or at least most people. Whether this means being the best PvP player, getting the best gear, crafting or just making more money than others, there’s always a constant pressure to do better. This tends to lead to players taking advantage of the game through “cheap” or unfair tactics and can eventually lead to cheating through the use of exploits, bots or other means. However there is a huge difference between cheating and taking advantage, although it often blurs the line.

I recently came across an area in SWTOR that provides a player with thousands of credits for little to no effort, so I decided to take advantage of this and farm the location manually for a few hundred thousand credits. (I want to make it clear that no bot or macro was used) Is this cheating or just taking advantage? I’ll give you a hint, I don’t think it’s cheating.

Another example came out today, again in SWTOR, showing a method where by using the /getdown dance move, players can make themselves un-targetable in combat. This of course is an exploit as the developers never intended for a social dance move to become an invincible skill in combat.

So why do I state that my credit farming in the first example is only taking advantage while the combat dance move is an exploit? I don’t think anyone would argue that a social dance move was never meant to have any impact on combat, so of course it’s an exploit. However the credits I received were meant to be a reward for the activity that was accomplished, so they do not fall in the same category. The problem is that reward is either too large or the cooldown timer needs to be much longer.

While there is no mention of “farming” in the EULA or Rules of Conduct, BioWare does meantion something vague about this in their Rules of Conduct.

You may not engage in any conduct or practice that results in an Account containing items, objects, currency, character attributes, rank, or status that are inappropriate for the level or rank of the character contained in the Account, i.e., “item loading,”

So yes, the area in question is meant for level 40 characters, so if your level 10, I guess that could be considered cheating by BioWare’s definition, although it still wouldn’t in my book. Where do you draw the line then? Is a level 30 or 39 player cheating?

Farming, as long as it is not done with bots or marcos since they are both against the EULA, in my eyes cannot be considered cheating. The rewards system is run and controlled by BioWare, so if they create a reward that they themselves consider unfair if farmed, they can simply change it. Yes, I’m taking advantage of BioWare’s mistake of creating too good of a reward, but that’s not the same a cheating.

Think of it this way. If you were running a raid to get some epic item and one day you find a shortcut that takes you straight to the end boss and it’s not an exploit, wouldn’t you use it?  Of course, who wouldn’t. So if you find a mob or box that has 100k credits in it and respawns every min, aren’t you going to sit there and farm it? I like the meet the person who wouldn’t.

7 Comments on A Fine Line Between Cheating and Taking Advantage

  1. “one day you find a shortcut that takes you straight to the end boss and it’s not an exploit, wouldn’t you use it?”

    And if you knew that the devs had banned people in the past for doing that exact thing, would you still use it? (I remember Blizzard banning people in vanilla WoW for using a shortcut to C’thun, for example.)

  2. Well was the C’thun shortcut an exploit or some hidden path over an unclimable wall that really wasn’t supposed to be there?

    Im my made up scenario the path is not a mistake or glitch, but a legit path, much like the effort/reward issue I listed in my first example. Those rewards are not a mistake or some sort of bug/glitch. They’re they intentionally.

  3. In practice, I err on the side of caution and consider many things to be an exploit that probably are not. But, it bothers me that I have to make those judgment calls.

    In theory, I don’t think hardly anything should be considered an exploit. I mean, the point of MMO encounters is to learn how to game the given mechanics in order to achieve a difficult victory in order to receive a reward of some kind. Many times, it’s difficult to tell if you are gaming the mechanics as intended or if your actions have veered into exploit territory.
    There have been many publicized cases of guilds being punished in WoW, for example, for gaming mechanics that could easily be mistaken as legitimate solutions when, in fact, they were not actually doing what the developers had intended.

    I don’t think the responsibility for deciding what is and what is not an exploit should be foisted onto the players. An MMO is not the real world where you *could* do anything and laws are necessary to keep you from infringing on the rights of other people. In an MMO, you can only do what the developers allow you to do, so the responsibility for maintaining social order should fall completely onto the developers.

    If the developers made a programming error, that error is the responsibility of the developers who made the error. The player base, who are simply trying to maximise enjoyment in a limited environment, should never have to worry about taking responsibility for someone else’s mistake. I have no problem with the developers coming back in and fixing mistakes in a later patch, or even going so far as taking back the items they feel were not acquired legitimately, but they should *never* ban or suspend their players for taking advantage of a mistake they, the developers, made.

    MMO players are trained from day one to take advantage of the mechanics of these games. That is *how* the game is played. Nobody releases documents with each patch saying exactly how an encounter is to be defeated or how resources are to be gathered. That is left to players to figure out and it assumed that anything you *can* do was intended. Because if this, it is unfair when a mechanic that seemed intentional turns out to be a mistake on the developers part, and it only adds insult to injury when a person’s account is subject to suspension or even a ban for doing something they were allowed to do in a closed, controlled environment.

  4. I would agree with Joey on this. If the developers have put it in the game, intentional or not, then it’s part of the game until it is removed.

    *But* I can see that it can become an issue if you’re using something in the game that affects other players negatively. Like some kind of bug in a PvP area that allows you to kill players without being hit or something to that effect.

    It’s a really hard thing to find the right balance on and I think that BioWare is coming down on the side of being too harsh with their interpretations of what is an exploit.

  5. I’d say the credits and the dance move are the same.

    It depends on whether the developers suck it up when they make a mistake, or whether they always blame the players for their own screw ups.

    No, one isn’t legit while the other ‘clearly’ an exploit.

    The devs could take responsibility for both, saying they left that available to the players, so it’s not the players fault for taking them up.

    If the high credits and the dance move are both screw ups, they are both just screw ups. One isn’t more legitimate than the other.

    “Oh, but see, since one is KINDA intended, I know one is legit and one isn’t”

    No, you don’t. You don’t know what dev mistakes the devs will take responsibility for. You don’t know what they’ll be childish about and try and blame players.

  6. @callan I don’t agree that they’re the same. One is a coding error that was never intended to be and one is not. You can argue that it was a design flaw creating an area that gives such high rewards for little effort, but using that logic I would have to start second guessing everything in the game.

    “That boss was way too easy, maybe I shouldn’t have killed him because I’m sure the Devs didn’t intend for that.”

    At some point it’s the developers fault and you cannot punish the player.

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