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EVE Evolved: How much toxic, antisocial behaviour should MMOs tolerate?

The EVE Online community is aflame this week after alliance leader gigX was permanently banned for making threats of real-life violence against another player following possibly the biggest betrayal in EVE history. Some players don’t want to accept that gigX crossed a serious line and deserves his ban, and others have been asking why The Mittani’s similar actions in 2012 resulted in only a temporary ban. CCP’s official stance is that its policies have become stricter since 2012, but it’s still not entirely clear exactly where the line is drawn.

Another side to the debate is that the internet itself has evolved over EVE‘s 14-year lifespan, and a lot of toxic behaviour that was accepted or commonly overlooked on the early internet is now considered totally unacceptable. Many of us have grown from a bunch of anonymous actors playing roles in fantasy game worlds to real people sharing our lives and an online hobby with each other, and antisocial behaviour is an issue that all online games now need to take seriously. The lawless wild west of EVE‘s early years is gone, and I don’t think it’s ever coming back.

So what’s the deal? Does EVE Online tolerate less toxic behaviour today, has the internet started to outgrow its lawless roots, and what does it mean for the future of sandboxes?

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EVE Online political betrayal results in record-breaking theft

The EVE Online twitterverse exploded late last night with the news of a political twist so enormous that it’s become the largest recorded theft of in-game assets in the game’s history. In the middle of the night and without warning, major EVE military alliance Circle of Two (or CO2 for short) was betrayed by its diplomatic officer, a player with the ominous name of The Judge. In addition to cleaning out the alliance war funds and assets to the tune of over a trillion ISK, The Judge also transferred ownership of CO2’s 300 billion ISK keepstar citadel in its capital star system of 68FT-6 to a holding corporation, effectively stealing the alliance’s home space station.

News of The Judge’s betrayal trickled out of EVE all through the night, and it wasn’t long before the full extent of the incident was known. The 68FT-6 keepstar was sold to enemy alliance Goonswarm Federation, while CO2’s smaller citadels throughout Impass are now in the hands of TEST Alliance. The theft combined with the value of the citadels is estimated at over 1.5 trillion ISK, easily beating the 2011 trillion ISK Phaser Inc scam to become the highest-value theft in EVE‘s history. The actual damage done is even more extensive, injecting a huge dose of chaos into CO2 alliance and throwing fuel on the fire of the southern war.

Read on for a detailed breakdown of last night’s record-breaking theft, the reasons behind the betrayal, and the political situation that led us here.

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Notorious EVE Online player banned for threatening to cut off someone’s hands in real life

Yes, you’ve read that headline correctly. It’s been an insane day for EVE Online, as players awoke to the news that powerful military alliance Circle of Two had been betrayed by one of its top people. A player named The Judge stole over a trillion ISK worth of assets from the alliance and gave away all of its space stations to its enemies in one of the biggest political betrayals the game has ever seen. We’ll have a full report on the record-breaking theft and the current political situation in EVE later tonight, but this story has already taken an unusual turn.

Circle of Two’s leader, a notorious player named gigX, was so furious to learn of The Judge’s betrayal that he went into full meltdown mode in the alliance chat channel. Not content to keep his rivalry in-game, gigX asked his alliance to give him The Judge’s real name and home address. He followed up the request by writing “The Judge feel free to use your hands by typing here” before adding “while you can” to make a pretty serious threat.

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Club Penguin players make a game out of getting speed banned

If your MMO’s overlords suddenly announced that they were going to shut down your game in a month’s time, how would you spend those remaining days? For some of the players of Club Penguin, the answer to that is “try to get banned as quickly and memorably as possible.”

Apparently there’s this whole crazy fad going on right now in Club Penguin where new and existing players are making a game out of getting banned faster than anyone else. The goal is to make a brand-new account and time yourself while violating the game’s rules and triggering an automatic ban. The current record to beat? One player used a few special tools to go from nothing to full-on ban in just 29 seconds.

The speedbanning community even has its own subreddit, bannedfromclubpenguin, in which players share their stories and techniques. Just so that you know, Club Penguin gives everyone a single free bad word before lowering the banhammer. You learn something new every day!

Source: Polygon

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EVE Online GMs removed at least 25 trillion ISK worth $400,000 from the game

If you’ve been reading the gaming news this week, you may have heard about the enormous amount of wealth that was recently removed from EVE Online‘s economy when the players behind EVE gambling website IWantISK were banned for real money trading. The figure was initially rumoured to be around 40 trillion ISK, but the only sources for this information at the time were one of the banned players himself and a third party using guesswork. With the release of CCP’s latest monthly economic report, we now have a verified primary source to work from.

Digging into the CSV records attached to CCP Quant’s October economic report, we were able to see that on the day of the ban (October 12th), total ISK supply dropped by 24.85 trillion ISK overnight. Accounting for the average upward movement of ISK over the previous month gives us a figure of around 25.77 trillion ISK that was likely part of the ban wave. This amount of ISK could currently buy you around 20,295 PLEX game time codes on the in-game market, which have a real world value of between $303,000 and $405,000 US depending on the price paid per unit.

Keep in mind that these figures account for only the liquid ISK in the banned players’ accounts. The value of any assets frozen on those accounts could bring the total even higher, but the frozen assets can’t be verified at this point. The bans came after intensive investigation of the accused players for real money trading offences, and happened on the same day that CCP announced that all third-party EVE gambling websites would have to shut down.

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Endemic cheating in CS:GO prompts record number of bans

In every competitive online game, there will always be people who are willing to cheat to get an advantage over other players and companies willing to develop those cheats for a profit. Developer Valve has waged a constant war against cheaters in its first person shooters since the days of Half-Life 1, using its regularly updated VAC (Valve Anti Cheat) system to detect hacks and ban those using them. A constant arms race has developed between the companies developing undetectable hacks and the efforts of Valve to detect them, and it seems that this war is seriously heating up right now in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

Players are reporting that they’ve been running into cheaters at an alarming rate in recent months. Website VAC-Bans.com has reported a sharp rise in VAC bans over the period, with just over 9,000 players getting banned in December and almost 12,000 accounts already banned in January. As this number includes only cheaters who were detected by VAC and later banned and the website only tracks about 5% of players, the real number of people cheating in-game is likely much higher. The rise in cheating has been widely attributed to sales of the game during the Steam Winter Sale and to players attempting to gain back the ranks they lost when developers recently reduced player ranks across the board.

Players who are reported for hacking but aren’t detected by VAC can also be banned through the Overwatch system, which asks players to watch a replay of the suspect match and decide if they think he’s cheating or not. Other attempts to limit cheating in CS:GO have included blocking new accounts from being used in competitive games until they reach level 3, which helped temporarily but was quickly circumvented by the creation of a black market for pre-levelled accounts.

Source: VAC-Bans.com

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Banned Cabal II gold buyers called out by GM

So here’s your cautionary tale for today: If you’re going to protest your innocence after being banned from an MMO, then it helps if you actually are innocent.

Several Cabal II players took to the official forums to complain about ESTSoft unfairly banning them from the title. Cabal II Lead GM Lorkan shot back with a detailed transcript of instances of the players purchasing alz (in-game currency) from a third-party site. “You were not blocked for no apparent reason,” the GM wrote. “Violating our policy comes with consequences. With this information. I can guarantee you that you were blocked specifically for alz buying.”

To another player who complained that the GM called them out on the forums, the GM replied, “You’ve chosen to make your issue public. I am addressing them publicly as you have decided.”

There was no word whether or not ESTSoft shipped a bottle of aloe to the former players for those burns.

Source: Official forums. Thanks to Khalith for the tip!

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John Smedley talks smack to nearly 25,000 banned H1Z1 players

Do you like people who cheat in online games? Daybreak president John Smedley does not. After 24,837 H1Z1 accounts were banned for cheating (7,000 of them esp hackers banned just in the in the last few days), Smedley took to Twitter to discuss exactly what he thinks about cheaters. In his own words: “You think we don’t know these cockroaches? We do. We are going to be relentless and public. Screw not provoking them.”

Smedley went on an extended rant about cheaters and the sites that cater to cheating programs last night and this morning, declaring that cheaters who truly want to apologize should make a public apology video and send it to him. “If we ban 30k and unban 20 for making videos that are seen by a lot of people, and they apologize, I’ll take it,” he wrote. But you’d better really mean it! “Please address your apology to fellow players, not us,” he stated. “Although you hurt our business this is about them not us.” He also announced a wipe coming on Thursday in order to “get rid of the banned people’s stuff” and “purge their existence.”

Smed’s retweeting the apology videos; we’ve embedded the first few below.

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Steam empowers studios to permaban players

Forget modgate — the next controversial decision by Valve might already be here. The company announced that it will be allowing game studios to identify disruptive or cheating players and target them for permanent bans from that particular game on Steam.

Valve explained its reasoning behind the so-called game ban: “In order to ensure the best possible online multiplayer experience, Valve allows developers to implement their own systems that detect and permanently ban any disruptive players, such as those using cheats. Game developers inform Valve when a disruptive player has been detected in their game, and Valve applies the game ban to the account.”

Affected players will need to contact the developer rather than Valve to appeal such bans.

[Source: Steam via Eurogamer]

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Path of Exile has plans for ‘years’ of expansions

A rather extensive (and we do mean extensive) Path of Exile developer Q&A revealed that the game and studio is growing nicely. “There are many years of Path of Exile expansions lined up,” the team posted. “We’ve expanded up to 57 staff at our office and are hopefully moving to a larger office location in the next couple of months!”

There are many questions regarding the spring expansion for the game, which is currently referred to as Act 4. In addition to more content and improvements, Grinding Gear will be adding localizations for German, French and Brazilian Portuguese (as well as a South American data center).

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