Game talkWhat is cheating?

 Posted by (Visited 22160 times)  Game talk
Dec 182007
 

I was struck by this paragraph in this Massively article about Live Gamer:

Raph’s idea seems to be that RMT is simply another ancillary service that can spring up and provide revenue around the MMO market (of which this very site you’re reading is one). But there is a serious difference between RMT, and services like the one this site provides (in the form of MMO news and guides). RMT is still, among most players, considered cheating. As most people trying to make money off of RMT have pointed out, it’s a cultural thing, much more ingrained among Westerners than anywhere else. But it’s still a perception that exists– it’s OK to look at a strategy guide to become a better player, but it’s not OK to pay real money for better gear.

The thing that’s funny is that yes, of course players regard RMT as cheating. But make no mistake, looking up the steps to a quest was once upon a time a bannable offense on many muds, and widely considered cheating. (Calling the sites out there today “strategy guides” is a bit of stretch — they’re more like complete walkthroughs). Powerlevelling someone was once upon a time a bannable offense on some muds. Going through a quest with someone and telling them the steps. Chatting the location of an item on a public channel. You get the idea. Yes, all of Allakhazam is the equivalent of something that would have gotten scorn and anger from among both the playerbase and the admins.

Frankly, the definition of cheating has grown a lot more lax over the years. The early mud culture was very big on avoiding spoilers, at least in the quest-oriented muds. (Many of the quests were, of course, much more complex and more like adventure game puzzles). People were granted the powers of game admins based on levelling to the top of the game — and it was presumed to be important that they had intimate knowledge of the game, so powerlevelling someone was looked down upon.

Over time, we got game design solutions to stuff like powerlevelling. To a point anyway — the practice continues, but it’s nowhere near as egregious as it was in the days before stuff like XP scaled by level. On some muds, you could group a newbie and a level 100, have the newbie stand out of the way, and level the newbie a pile of levels at once by having the level 100 kill a few high level mobs.

It may be that we get game design solutions to RMT as well — and they will probably work in the same partial way, to minimize but not cure. But I also think it’s just as likely that like “strategy” sites we reach a cultural accommodation.

Cheating is, in the end, violating the spirit of the rules. But the spirits of games evolve, for better or worse, and not always in ways we like (I reference again the tale of Monopoly, and how it changed from an anti-landlord game into a game celebrating greed). It isn’t the designers doing it, usually — rather, it’s designers conceding ground under the weight of player pressure and market pressure. You may call it pragmatism or you may call it caving. Either way, those of us left behind will always sit and bitch about what used to be a purer, nobler sort of game.

  64 Responses to “What is cheating?”

  1. monetary equivalent of $10 USD that they are the vast majority — an insignificant minority when compared to those who feel this sort of thing is an act of virtual heresy. Then again, maybe I’m completely in the dark. What say you readers?What is cheating?[Raph Koster’s Website] [IMG]

  2. I have 2 sons, 9 and 7, who are both playing Pokemon. One usually is ahead of the other the their games and recently they started arguing about when to help each other. They finally settled on the idea that they would help each other only if the other made a reasonable attempt to solve it themselves.

    Personally I tend to use wikis or guides if there aren’t many in-game clues about which items are more powerful or which people I really need to talk to. I don’t always have the time to figure an optimal use of resources or to talk to everyone to find the one person I need to talk to continue on. I don’t trust the designers to always have priced things so that more money means better object.

    I’ve recently had fun with Dwarf Fortress and rediscovered the fun of trying to figure out the best ways of doing things. The game is fun to lose (even if starting over can be a long process).

  3. It isn’t the designers doing it, usually — rather, it’s designers conceding ground under the weight of player pressure and market pressure. You may call it pragmatism or you may call it caving. Either way, those of us left behind will always sit and bitch about what used to be a purer, nobler sort of game.

    Sort of like UO adding Trammel…? :D

  4. IIRC, wasn’t multi-boxing “frowned upon” as well? People paying extra money so they could circumvent the traditional grouping mechanics of the game. Of course, since the money goes to the game company, its not considered “cheating”, but I do recall players having a great disdain for multi-boxers in the early days.

    The other thing to note, whether it be MUDs or traditional MMO’s, there’s an awful lot of material in the larger games today and the companies making the games don’t necessarily like writing and providing all that documentation. There’s the initial opening for fansites to pop up and fill in the documentation gaps, and the natural extension for helpful players to continue the documentation into more specific strategies.

    If MMO companies did a better job of documentation within the game worlds, there’s an outside shot you might see the strategy sites start to be called “spoiler” sites again. (eg. Why can’t my class trainer give me more information about my spells?)

    When you rely on third parties to fill in the gaps, you have to take the good with the bad.

  5. I’ll start by putting forth my argument that you have two different issues on the table. You have the RTM (Real Money Trade) issue and the RCE (Real Cash Economy) gaming issue. RMT being trade for real money against the rules of the developer and outside of the game system (WoW, LOTRO, Etc.) and RCE being a game designed with a real cash economy ingrained intentianally (ala, Second Life, Entropia, Etc.).

    Just my thought on splitting the two types of Real Economies.

    I’ll go back to lurcking now Raph :)

  6. Yes, the equivalent of multiboxing was frowned upon and a bannable offense on many muds. In fact, I am pretty sure it was illegal in the early days of the MMORPGs as well.

    If MMO companies did a better job of documentation within the game worlds, there’s an outside shot you might see the strategy sites start to be called “spoiler” sites again. (eg. Why can’t my class trainer give me more information about my spells?)

    I am unsure of that. For one, the docs fall out of date very quickly. Even early on when UO gave literally every single stat in the game to the strategy guide, you still got strategy sites and it wasn’t seen as a big deal. And UO even had skills to allow you to ascertain these stats from within the world.

  7. I think the problem here is that what the purists see as the game is not the same thing as what a large chunk of the player base sees as the game. For the powergamer, the game is all the content at level cap. All those thousands of hours spent on the content below the level cap? Wasted effort.

    So he wants the most optimal way to get through that stuff so he can start playing the actual game. If it’s questing, fine. If it’s grinding on green mobs, fine. So to facilitate those players, all these guides and sites get created. And of course other players use them, players will always go with the path of least resistance.

    The only way you’re ever going to avoid this is if you do something like this, assuming a level-based system. Play a character to level 10, or some level that can be reached in a few hours. Now, give them an optional method of then jumping to level 50, or in any case, something that’s a few levels below the cap. Of course, they’ll be in bad gear with no money, but for alts that’s not a big deal. Then there will be much less reason to put these guides together for all the non-endgame stuff.

    It looks like WoW is going to do something like this with hero characters in the next expansion. They’re going to start out at something like level 55.

  8. Raph,

    As one who lived in LegendMUD for several of my college years, I’m curious as to what was bannable offense back then.

    I remember the macros we had to get from one time/city to another and I remember being told certain things were a no-no but I can’t remember them know for the life of me. I’ve been playing MMO’s ever since those days and I’m just curious to see how it’s changed myself.

  9. It hasn’t changed all that much since the original Code of Conduct was posted. Any of the below could be bannable offenses given enough infractions.

    1. Multiplaying: Logging in more than one character at a time or using one of your characters to benefit another of your characters in any way is prohibited.
    Only one player may play a particular character.
    Giving away characters is not allowed.

    2. Harassing other players is prohibited.

    3. Sexually explicit language, cursing, and slurs are not permitted over public channels or in public forums.

    4. Characters who are not pkok or pk enabled are prohibited from interfering in pkill.

    5. Asking or getting immorts to reveal or change your stats is not permitted, nor is getting or asking them to load items or mobs for you or to confer any other unfair advantage.

    6. If you find a bug, you must report it by using the BUG command, mudmail to an immortal or email to imp@legendmud.org. Taking advantage of a bug or using it to crash the mud is not permitted.

    7. Intentionally placing a character over rent is not permitted.

    8. Experience may not be ‘given’ away by characters permitting others to pkill them repeatedly.

    9. In-game information (such as mob or item stats, quest solutions etc.) is not permitted over public channels or in public forums.

    10. Do not attempt to take on someone else’s identity without their permission. If you are involved with a roleplay plot, you should identify yourself to others if asked.

    11. Making false accusations under these rules is a punishable offense.

    12. Never lie to an immortal; always be fully co-operative with them. Do not assume they have all the information they need, and be as helpful as possible to them so that they can respond appropriately.
    If an immortal asks you to do something (such as moving a conversation on chat to a conference), you should follow their instructions. If you have a problem with what you have been asked to do or have questions about it, take it up with that immortal in private or the Head Admin at a later time.

    13. There are also several rules that we have cataloged under ‘etiquette.’ Repeated violations may call for one of the lesser penalties.

    14. Healing bots, or bots that may interfere with pkill are not allowed.

    15. ‘Spamming,’ is not allowed.

    16. If you can’t be decent, you may not be welcome.
    back to top

    =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
    RULES: Harassment
    =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

    * Derogatory comments directed at the player operating a character are outside the bounds of LegendMUD and therefore have no place here. Real life threats are not only unwelcome on LegendMUD, they are illegal in real life.

    * A pattern of extreme rudeness toward a specific character or player that is judged to exist outside the framework of the game and roleplay will not be tolerated.

    * Likewise, a pattern of aggressiveness that has the above characteristics will not be tolerated, particularly if the aggressor carries it across multiple characters. OOC harassment masquerading as IC roleplaying is not permitted.

    * Using unwanted and intimate socials on another character may be harassment. If he or she asks you to stop, then stop.

    * ‘Spamming,’ or the practice of sending repeated strings of text, is not allowed and will be considered as harassment.

    * Racist or sexual slurs or slurs against any group are not any more permissible than the personal attacks forbidden above.

    * Sexual harassment, including unwanted advances, is also not tolerated, including in names, titles, on public channels, in illusions, etc.

    * Asking players repeatedly for help–spellword locations, equipment stats, skill advice, etc.–may be considered harassment in certain cases.

    * In general, if a player asks you to leave him or her alone, you would be advised to comply. Use your good judgement and remember that there is a person behind the character in the game.

  10. We always called quest walkthroughs “qinfo”.

    I remember the cultures surrounding qinfo on several muds. They were like secret societies with handshakes and rules to prevent the game administration from discovering that you cheated. There were rules on how often people could cheat their way through a quest, particular things they were supposed to do wrong in order to make it look to a snooping wiz that they were solving it on their own, etc…

  11. ‘Cheating’ is bypassing challenge.
    So the form and severity of any given ‘cheat’ is a function of game design.

    The general attitude toward powerleveling, twinking and hint guides has softened – but only because newer systems have limited their impact. Level requirements, bind flags and relatively brisk gear turn-over have lead to a softened position on twinking. Not social change.

    Community reaction to cheating does get weighted based on the players’ personal levels of investment. But I don’t see it influencing what they do and do or do not see as cheating.
    Casual players just don’t care as much as more invested players. (go go tautology)

  12. In most MUDs, you’d also be banned if you named your avatar Self. ;)

  13. There was a time when Tintin was looked upon as an exploit :) But eventually people got used to it, I guess.

    The MUD I used to write for went to great lengths to find and ban multiplayers for a long time. I don’t think they do now though.

    The problem with “in the spirit of the rules” is that there are an awful lot of people who don’t see anything wrong with doing something, if the game lets them do it. The lesson to be learned, I guess, is that if you don’t want someone to be able to do something, then you need to design a hard block against it. For something like powerleveling that’s not extremely difficult to do, but “underground” RMT, or multi-playing, or spoiler sites – not really possible. So all you can do is just try to design such that you minimize the impact.

    Personally I think it’s pretty sad that so many people feel they need to work around the game systems or bypass challenges in games. Yeah, some of it can be attributed to design decisions, but a lot of it is also laziness on the part of players I think. We have a culture of instant gratification, and people are unused to having to really work at something in order to “win”.

    Meh. /soapbox off.

  14. ‘Cheating’ is bypassing challenge

    Cheating is simply a violation or disregard for the rules of the game. Bypassing challenge is just a common directive driving the intent or decision to cheat. It is a cause and effect of the act of cheating, not the definition of the act.

    There are games where bypassing challenges (usually through a window of opportunity) is perfectly acceptable within the rules of the game, or even encouraged, or the whole point of the game itself.

    Is using the Warp Pipes in Super Mario Brothers cheating?

    The problem with “in the spirit of the rules” is that there are an awful lot of people who don’t see anything wrong with doing something, if the game lets them do it.

    One result of the digital medium is that users have a high expectation that the game will “physically” prevent them from bending or violating the rules that form the structure of the game. In the case of MMORPGs and the like there is also a high degree of player anonymity and a difficulty on the part of the game moderators to identify and expel rule breakers. These factors and more have contributed to the decline of the “spirit of the rules” so to speak.

    For example in traditional game mediums such as the physical chess board the medium is not preventing you from cheating; but doing so defeats the purpose of the game, destroys the integrity of the game, and will get you kicked out of official tournaments. In digital games of chess however the medium itself usually does indeed prevent you from making an illegal move at all.

    On the issue of RMT as we know it in traditional MMORPGs, it is an important element of the game that the players are not restricted from trading items and virtual currency. However, since the medium itself is not restricting the act of trading there is nothing restricting RMT other than the rules as laid out by the EULA and the tenacity of the game’s moderators to identify and remove offenders.

    So if you want to enable in-game trading of virtual goods:

    Do you ignore RMT?

    Do you dedicate game moderator resources to prevent it?

    Do you try to cash in on it by facilitating secure RMT transactions knowing it’s going to happen anyways?

    Is there even a “right” answer?

    And a side comment:

    Yeah, some of it can be attributed to design decisions, but a lot of it is also laziness on the part of players I think. We have a culture of instant gratification, and people are unused to having to really work at something in order to “win”.

    I think what you’re observing and attributing to laziness is actually a result of the growing gaming audience incorporating people who play video games for reasons other than fiero. These people are not looking for a challenge, they’re looking for things like an interactive narrative, or something to “play with” not “play against”.

  15. […] does a drink-cure-pot macro stop being a simple macro and begin being a cheat?Interesting stuff.http://www.raphkoster.com/2007/12/18/what-is-cheating/ _________________________ Keep Angel Island strong.Donate any amount Donate $5 per month Donate […]

  16. […] 2007 @ 5:30PMFiled under: Economy, Game mechanics, Leveling, Making money, OpinionRaph Koster was nice enough to come by and read our post about Live Gamer and their attempts to make RMT legit, and responds that while I […]

  17. Well, this really boils down to player expectations of what the rules are, so that everyone’s playing the same game.

    Many (perhaps even most) people figure that games are about how good (or perseverent) you are at actually playing, rather than how good you are at paying for RMT. (These are the people who cheer when the Yankees lose. I’m one of them).

    EQ2 has the right idea, really. They have servers specifically dedicated to secure RMT, so people go in with the idea that RMT is allowed. Expectations for both gaming purists and success-purchasers are supported, and so hopefully don’t wreck each other’s playing experiences.

  18. >looking up the steps to a quest was once upon a time a bannable offense on many muds, and widely considered cheating.

    It still is on some MUDs (or, indeed, worse: if you publish a strategy guide for MUD2 and don’t take it down when asked, you don’t get banned, your characters get obliterated). This only really works for small-scale virtual worlds, though, because the people who know the steps to quests also appreciate how much fun it was figuring it out, so don’t reveal what they know in walkthroughs.

    >Cheating is, in the end, violating the spirit of the rules. But the spirits of games evolve

    What irks me about this is that the evolutionary pressure is very one-sided. Let’s say a game world starts with no RMT, and everyone has fun, then along come some RMTers and they spoil the game, so people leave. This is “evolution” of the spirit of the game, yes – the RMTers are driving out the anti-RMTers, leaving only RMTers, don’t-carers and pretend-it’s-not-happeningers. However, where can the anti-RMTers go to get a virtual world which doesn’t have RMT? They want such a place, but as soon as they find one the RMTers follow them there and “evolve” that one’s spirit, too.

    Richard

  19. I think what you’re observing and attributing to laziness is actually a result of the growing gaming audience incorporating people who play video games for reasons other than fiero. These people are not looking for a challenge, they’re looking for things like an interactive narrative, or something to “play with” not “play against”.

    That’s an interesting point. I’d blame narrative-driven games. A lot of times, I get sick of the gameplay and become interested only in the story of a game. If it were novelized, I’d actually prefer that. If it means flipping on god mode so I can wipe a level and get to the next cutscene, I don’t mind at all.

  20. […] THE BLOGOSPHERE Cheating is, in the end, violating the spirit of the rules. But the spirits of games evolve, for… Raph Koster on the evolution of both play and […]

  21. >Cheating is simply a violation or disregard for the rules of the game

    I would argue that point. Without any sort of advantage or benefit earned by breaking the rules, players just don’t care.

    > There are games where bypassing challenges is perfectly acceptable within the rules of the game

    I think you misunderstood me. I was referring to challenge bypassed -outside- normal gameplay. Clearly, what the game explicitly allows is all well and good.

    I just draw a line between ‘breaking the rules’ and ‘breaking the rules to gain an advantage’, because players don’t recognize them as being equivalent, even if they are in a technical sense.

  22. […] What is cheating? [Raph Koster’s Website] reddit_url=’http://blog.wired.com/games/2007/12/raph-koster-che.html'; reddit_title=’Ultima Online Designer: Cheating Is A Matter Of Perspective'; reddit_css=’http://blog.wired.com/css/redditsocial.css’ digg_url = ‘http://blog.wired.com/games/2007/12/raph-koster-che.html'; digg_title = ‘Ultima Online Designer: Cheating Is A Matter Of Perspective'; digg_bgcolor = ‘transparent'; digg_skin = ‘compact'; digg_window = ‘new'; ord=Math.random()*10000000000000000; document.write(”); hostName = ‘.wired.com'; […]

  23. Back in the “day”, there were hint sites for games like Myst where you could select the amount of help you wanted. From obscure “listen to the old man’s cough” to fully detailed walkthroughs. I often found that the lightest hints were often all I needed to keep myself from chasing up the wrong tree.

  24. That’s an interesting point. I’d blame narrative-driven games. A lot of times, I get sick of the gameplay and become interested only in the story of a game. If it were novelized, I’d actually prefer that. If it means flipping on god mode so I can wipe a level and get to the next cutscene, I don’t mind at all.

    Here, here!

  25. The reason why “strategy” sites have become accepted even with “hardcore” players is that the current crop of mmorpgs is built around the concept of grind. World of Warcraft, and probably other subscription-based games, are designed to maximize the time it takes to get anywhere, on the (mostly correct) assumption that it makes players subscribe for “another month”. Taking three extra minutes each to complete 1000 quests add up. World of Warcraft’s true design success is to maximize this grind while keeping it just low enough that people will complain about it, but not usually leave the game for it.

    So the strategy guides are seen as a necessary evil, at worst. Nobody likes grind. People do it because they have to, to get to the fun parts of the game. The World-of-Warcraft-killer will be the game that eliminates or manages to make this grinding part fun, while still maximizing subscription times.

    As for item purchases, you will never, ever eliminate it, as long as items can actually be transferred from one character to another. Splitting up the game in trade and non-trade shards may just shift the issue, but won’t solve it. In fact it could be argued that prices for items on non-trade servers should increase because they are black market goods and that’ll make trade there more profitable. It is my belief that it is a problem that has no real solution, just like prohibition didn’t work out.

  26. does anyone have specific comments on the radical measures that are being applied to kill RMT in Runescape?

  27. The reason why “strategy” sites have become accepted even with “hardcore” players is that the current crop of mmorpgs is built around the concept of grind.

    RMT is also a grind-mitigator. That doesn’t, by itself, explain why strategy sites are acceptable and RMT is not.

  28. […] um interessante e polmico post no seu site, comentado at pelo pelo famoso Wired, Raph Koster, autor de livros sobre Game Design e Lead Design […]

  29. The sad thing is, I recall that one of the big attractions of World of Warcraft at launch was how it had dramatically REDUCED the grind, at least insofar as levelling was concerned – here was a game you could get to level cap just by doing quests. For someone who had come from Dark Age of Camelot, where the bulk of levelling was done by settling in with a good group at a camp spot and indulging in a few hours of repetitive slaughter, it was a revelation.

    Grind is a substitute for content – it’s something to keep players occupied because developers cannot hand-craft new quests and dungeons as fast as players can consume them. But it also becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy – the devs add enough ‘grind’ content to occupy the typical player. The players want the rewards, so they put in more hours to grind out the rewards. The devs then have to add MORE grind to fill the hours being racked up. In the end, something has to give – either the player accepts that he can’t have the best of everything, or else sleep/job/social life/studies go out of the window. Or, of course, the player resorts to cheats of some sort to circumvent the grind. RMT or powerlevelling services appeal to “cash rich/time poor” players faced with a game that demands grind. That’s not condoning the behaviour, but it may explain it. I’d expect to see a lot less ‘cheating’ in a game that was genuinely fun to play all the time and didn’t feel like a job at times.

  30. An aside, this article on game security is interesting. Has anyone read the book yet?

    http://www.securityfocus.com/columnists/461/1

    There are some strong statements about the gamer culture in there indicating that getting this culture interested in security will be hard. Given that, the standards will have to come from the business community adopting virtual worlds for serious games.

  31. Randall Holmes said on December 20th, 2007 at 7:31 pm:
    does anyone have specific comments on the radical measures that are being applied to kill RMT in Runescape?

    I’m interested in how it pans out for them.

    For those reading this who don’t know; Runescape is implementing a system where the item values/gold amounts of a trade must be close to equal in order for the trade to be executed. Thus eliminating the trading of high value items or large sums of gold for a lesser or no return.

    The primary issue I see with this system, without actually seeing it in action, is that the prices players value particular high demand items at are usually different (often much higher or lower) than what the game systems value the item at.

    I’m interested in seeing what work arounds the gold sellers try to come up with to get around the system.

  32. For those reading this who don’t know; Runescape is implementing a system where the item values/gold amounts of a trade must be close to equal in order for the trade to be executed. Thus eliminating the trading of high value items or large sums of gold for a lesser or no return.

    In other words, Runescape is implementing a bartering system. You can exchange items of equal or lesser value, or exchange items of greater value for several lesser items. Or several lesser items for an item of greater value. This is not a radical measure, as described by Randall Holmes. This is standard fare in many games.

    The problem with this system that you actually see, Dan, is with the pricing index. A true bartering system should not be supported by an index of prices; otherwise, players pursue the acquisition of wealth over the exchange of goods for common benefit.

  33. That’s my point, it’s a bartering system where the parties (the players) involved in the barter can’t determine if it’s a fair or desireable transaction. The system is determining that for them.

    It’s a system that eliminates the laws of supply and demand and focuses solely on predetermined values.

  34. […] even Tobold stops to make room in this word, to allow for a practice that ironically, used to be a bannable offense in many games: Sending it to your own twinks could be enabled, for example with a shared bank […]

  35. […] form of cheating by many players and is thus unpalatable. Of course, Raph will be happy to explain how cheating is all subjective (and he’s right), but many players have chosen to draw a line in the sand and say, […]

  36. […] has posed a question on his blog regarding cheating…or more to the point, “What is […]

  37. I think that it is the developer’s themselves that have created the atmosphere of RMT, cheating, etc. MMO’s today are less about experiencing any sort of an adventure and more about inventory management and item chasing. Games like Everquest, World of Warcraft etc are, at least to me, about spending an ever increasing amount of time doing mundane tasks in an effort to distract you from the fact that there is little to no actual content.

    The content that does exist in these games is all seen before the player reaches their 10th level in the game. You have escort quests, fed ex quests, and kill x quests. Then to change things up they will sometimes as you to escort a person, killing x amount of y, and bring back z. Every quest in these games also tells people exactly where to go and what to do however, the dialog is so boring that people will typically skip over the whole story part and just scan for the objectives. Or even worse, not even scan it and just wait for the quest to be added automatically into their journal with a list of what needs to be done.

    The reason why so many developers and publishers are against the RMT is twofold. First, it’s revenue that they themselves are missing out on. Secondly once people get into the whole RMT and buy themselves that special weapon they find that they no longer have a need to play the game. Instead of spending a month acquiring what was needed, raiding, what-have-you, they jump to the end and see that there is nothing there worthwhile and subsequently cancel their subs.

  38. I agree with this ~ the games these days require you to grind non-stop to achieve end game gear/experience content. Anyone can play, but to achieve end game/in game materials you need to play with a large guild ~ and to do end game content means getting a raiding spot in a good end game guild. This usually requires non-stop end game instance farming at level cap. There is no ability to achieve these things without constantly grinding or being part of a hardcore guild (and being part of a hardcore guild means constantly playing). If paying someone to help you progress is necessary because spending 8 hours a day in the game is not enough then something is wrong with the game (or the player who just will not quit… you decide).

    World of Warcraft had implemented a PvP system that was designed as a pyramid. The more someone played, the more they were rewarded and only those who played the most could be rewarded those items. They tell people it’s not OK to pay for help, but the only way to get to the top is to play 24 hours a day (and sometimes that is not enough).

    I think another thing that may have changed is simply the attitude of gamers in general. It is not as much about enjoying the game as it is about competition. The e-peen thing has gotten out of control ~ maybe it has a lot to do with the types of people playing the games these days. I do not feel MMOs can continue moving in the direction they are ~ people will sooner or later simply realize (through evolution or self destruction) the current designs are flawed. Developers will need to build the games enabling people to experience and enjoy the full game without needing to spend real money/absurds amount of time to do it. MUDs have been around, but the MMO community as it exists today is fairly new… Anyone who has not seriously considered paying someone to help with grinding/buying money is either extremely broke (and by broke I mean making less then 10 cents an hour) or simply has no interest in experiencing everything the game has had to offer. The purists do exist… in their mothers basements… shitting in waste baskets as south park so elequantly depicted. That is todays MMO.

  39. […] ancien lead designer d’Ultima Online et ancien directeur créatif de Star Wars Galaxies, s’interroge sur son blog : "Qu’est-ce que la triche dans les MMO ?". Pour lui, c’est une notion en constante […]

  40. […] something I had to put up here. Darren called out Raph on something tangential to that discussion. Raph’s observation on what cheating is or is not was spawned by a post over on Massively. Look, we all know what cheating is when it comes to a […]

  41. Hi Mr Koster,

    I always enjoy reading your blog. A good writing, and its refreshing to see some open minded thinker in the buisiness. Good thoughts.

    I can expect the game dinosaurs attack you. I would not mind. Most are narrow minded, and cling to the status quo. Times change, habits change, but conservatives will always bemoam any change just because it is change.

  42. Heh Raph, that rules list brings back quite a few memories of Legend. Although I remember when it was a bit shorter.

  43. Including RMT into gamedesign is a sure way to turn storybased quests and adventures into chores.
    Gaming companies are commercial companies. So they will make their RMT service as attractive as possible. It is only a logical next step to move mandatory ingame items to the ingame RMT shops. As alternative you get the most boring repetitive chore that you can imagine to get the same item without paying real money.

    This will turn MMO’s even more into shallow consumer products that have nothing to do anymore with immersive adventures that you experience with your friends.

  44. Simply, cheating is getting an advantage by breaking the game’s rules.

    All games by definition have rules. It is what makes it a game, whether it be a computer game or a real life sport. All games have different rules, but you agree to follow the rules of the game you choose to play, otherwise you are a cheater. You can’t outright say one thing in particular is cheating. Soccer fans would say picking up the ball is plainly cheating. What would American football fans say about that in *their* game?

  45. […] While perusing my daily run of blogs I came across a little ditty at Raph’s site regarding cheating. […]

  46. Are you really trying to justify cheating? I can go along with an exchange server even though I prefer not to join it, but by your definition here it almost sounds like you approve of cheating in the literal sense. Should we now allow hacks and exploits to be used regularly?

    RMT is going to be liked by some and despised by others. The only real solution is an exchange server, unless of cours, you suggest forced RMT be now solidified as a basis for all games, but the thing that gets me in this is how you seem to legitify actual cheating. What kind of game would we have if we actually allowed real cheating within the world.

    As for RMT being the same as a strategy guide, I don’t see that connection. I’m not going to jab at those that choose to use it, but it, and strategy guides are 2 very different things. A strategy guide can train and ready a person for the challenges ahead. RMT on the other hand, removes the mechanic entirely from the players hands and takes care of it for them.

  47. […] you go:http://www.raphkoster.com/2007/12/18/what-is-cheating/ ——————– Xavier Xizid – TRLevel 16 Male CommandoMy loony bun is fine Benny […]

  48. […] there’s an interesting side note to the post I made a while back on cheating, and the discussion surrounding RMT. A whole lot of people seem to think that the sort of info in […]

  49. It is only a logical next step to move mandatory ingame items to the ingame RMT shops.

    Can you give some examples of mandatory items that can only be bought at the Cash Stop, or in the Radix Archipelago?

  50. […] (and my now-unhealthy obsession with Rock Band), but Raph Koster began an interesting thread on cheating over at his blog. This prompted a surprisingly intense response from Common Sense Gamer, and then […]

  51. […] Hier kommt ihr zum kompletten Beitrag von Raph Koster auf seiner Seite. Kommentare (0) […]

  52. […] не спортивно и вообще читинг (посмотрите сайт того же Рафа Костера ). И, к слову сказать, если вы сейчас почитаете любой […]

  53. […] Raph KosterȤСñ˥ǥʡȤ̾ϤƤǤʤȳΤůŪʬǤMMOȤΤˤĤƥȤ뵡ƤޤKoster᤬Ȥǡ֥ȤȤϲפȤ˶̣ƤԤɼԤ͡MMOץ쥤䡼䤤ԤäƤޤ顣߷ƤRMTסͤϤȤȸƤ֤άȤΤ褦¸ߤƤ졢¿οͤ˻ȤƤ롣ΡάˡΤȤȤBanͤȿ԰٤äȤ¸ġġʤɤʤɡͤǤ¿äƤǡɤǤߤƤ򤫤äΤǥʸǺܤƤޤΤǡ碌Ƥɤ _________________________ -Bucco […]

  54. […] koster asks: What is cheating? http://www.raphkoster.com/2007/12/18/what-is-cheating/ Ralph said: I was struck by this paragraph in this Massively article about Live Gamer: Raphs […]

  55. […] Many, many, many and even more people will obviously have their own opinion/view on what cheating is or is not.  I also obviously do as well or I would not be writing this.  Anyhow, this all started as a RMT blog post that Raph put a little while back.  The question of is RMT cheating has spawned quite a few rounds of debate and has gone from just RMT on to things like Prima strategy guides, to game information websites like Allakhazam or Game Pressure. […]

  56. @Anticorium
    Some examples :
    Make a game with default inventory space that is way to small. Sell inventory expansions in the gameshop. Sell speedbuffs (game has default slow travelling speed).
    Let a player with normal lvling through quests end up with about 20silver at lvl10. At lvl10 they can purchase a horse for 200silver. They can either chose to grind the money or of course buy it in the shop.
    XP buffs, same idea. As long as you make an interesting feature that is only available to high lvl players you can build in real chores to get there. So you can sell items in the gameshop to make those chores more bearable.

  57. For someone who seems determined to know that the inevitable result of sanctioned RMT will be mandatory cash layouts, you don’t seem to have any real-world examples from the two real-world games I mentioned.

    One of them has a few million subscribers, by the way.

  58. […] So, there’s an interesting side note to the post I made a while back on cheating, and the discussion surrounding RMT. A whole lot of people seem to think that the sort of info in […]

  59. And how come you dont define RMT?
    How am I supposed to know what that means? Thats just ridicilous.
    When you write something you write it without any un-official acronyms you see fit.
    Cheers

  60. […] evolve MMORPG discussion. The blog of Raph Koster. Quote (M[o)nkey[115] […]

  61. […] of the gaming experience. Raph Koster had some blog entries on a similar topic a while ago discussing what was considered cheating. Part of what was discussed as cheating was the usage of various strategy guides and walkthroughs – […]

  62. I don’t mind RMT. I don’t mind spoiler sites. I think that every player should be allowed to play in the manner and style that they prefer and have fun with. I do not think that a player’s fun should be limited or crippled. Personally, I enjoy walking through quests using spoilers. Lazyness has little to do with it, its just fun for me to “reverse engineer” a quest. I don’t like puzzles or riddles. Now for people that do, they have the choice to not read spoilers and enjoy the sense of “discovery”. If they advance slower, then that is their choice that they chose in order to enjoy their style of gaming. Any pressure that they may feel to advance quickly is a product of their own perception. However, the disparity is felt a lot stronger in MMOGs that require 3+ players to progress, rather than on MMOGs where the solo player can advance at his own pace without pressure to “keep up” with friends.

    After all, we have a much larger base of players today, than we did back in the days of MUDdom, (to which I believe that 75% of current MMOG players think MUD is something you get mixing dirt with water) and you have to expect that each player has their own idea of “fun” and different methods of getting enjoyment out of a game. I have to agree that the lines of “cheating” is becoming more and more blurred with each new generation of MMO gaming. But I do feel that a company has to be set in what regulations and rules of conduct they wish to set forth to their players, and firmly enforce them.

    Now something that I find unacceptable, is the advertisement of RMT inside of these games, via Chat channel or /tell spamming. How long will it be before we see non-gaming sites, like say a direct reseller site like Buy.com, Amazon.com, or even porno sites, advertising their URLs in chat spam. There is a serious market available in the large MMOGs.

    If there are legal regulations against non-RMT companies advertising in an MMOG , then the same expectation of rules and consequence should be applied to RMT sites. If not, then its the responsibility of these MMOG hosting companies to work together to set some international standards, maybe even laws. Something as simple as pressuring the server host/ISP provider to shut down the offending RMT sites would be a great start.

    So to sum up my point: These are multi-player games. As the multiple player base grows with each new year, the perception of expected, and accepted, social morality needs to flex and accept that everyone is different in what they consider “enjoyment” of their games. I strongly agree that all “cheating” is, is just a violation of the spirit of the rules. Rules and laws are not set in stone, as a matter of fact, the foundation of democracy allows for flexiblity, challenge and re-examination of laws by anyone in the society. That goes for what is expected of “acceptable social behavior”. Change is inevitable, and what we once considered taboo, is now considered acceptable, often normal.

  63. […] Raph Koster has defined cheating for us. He has a beard, so really, who are we to argue. Cheating is, in the end, violating the spirit of the rules. […]

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