Desert Oasis: Rethinking the Black Desert grindspot debate

    
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Almost a year ago, I penned a column on grindspot etiquette in MMORPGs. Specifically, I wrote about the commonly accepted etiquette when it comes to grinding in Black Desert. It was mainly based on a common consensus between players rather than the law of the land. I’ve been thinking a lot about that consensus lately as I’ve been working on building up a free account on a Maehwa. I’ve been spending all of my time on the Valencia server, and every time I log in, it always seems as if someone is talking about the “right” way to handle other folks in a grindspot.

So for this edition of Desert Oasis, I want to revisit this topic. But instead of working through just my opinions on the matter, I’m going to list out the myriad arguments and ways my friends on the Valencia server have been dealing with situations when that Striker’s barreling through their grindspots and taking their loot. I’m not going to take a side, but I will explore the various sides people take as well as explore the reasoning behind the arguments.

It’s probably best to start from the beginning. The problem usually starts when players…

Tell the server someone’s in their grindspot

I’m only mentioning this one because it’s my cue to start heating up my Hawaiian-style popcorn. Pretty much anyone who does this will get ostracized and it usually starts the very civil discussion of how grindspots work. This isn’t always the best thing to do, and while the occasional players might be willing to help out (especially if the offender is their personal enemy), not much will really come from it. It’s probably more productive to tell your guild; they’ll be more willing to help. But that’s too late now: Now everyone on the server is jumping into the verbal fray.

“Just outfarm them”

Ever since I rolled a Maehwa, this has been my preferred form of dealing with other players. Between level 58 and 60, I spent all of that on the far northern edge of the naga grindspot. Players know how plentiful the enemies are up there, and it’s a very popular spot for folks who need to level up. It’s best to expect other people doing the same thing you are, and this is why it’s important to practice the mob rotations and figuring out the fastest ways to dispatch the groups because being able to kill steal mobs from that Guardian will force him to move simply because otherwise it’s just wasting time. It’s also satisfying to know that you can slay the mobs while simultaneously outrunning the people.

I could see that this honestly is one of the less time consuming ways to reclaim and defend a grindspot. Players with fast characters and strong gear often benefit most from this perspective.

I don’t care whose grindspot it is – if the Shai has a gun, I’m getting as far away as possible.

“It’s not your spot – it’s nobody’s spot”

This one’s a fun argument because of how oddly philosophical it is. We live in a post-modern time (a post-post-modern era?) and players are essentially fighting over a place that technically doesn’t exist. The folks who argue this really do have a point, that unless a player can put her name on it and get direct control of who comes and goes in that spot, then the spot doesn’t belong to her. The only real owner of the spot is Pearl Abyss. But if we factor in the question of “does the art still belong to the artist once it’s put out into the world?” then even that notion is questionable.

The point these players are trying to make is that it’s unfair for people to expect others to abide by their arbitrary set of rules about who owns a grindspot.

“Just keep coming back – karma bombing isn’t griefing”

Oh man. This one is my favorite. It challenges the very notion of acceptable behavior in a video game and focuses on the subjective nature of the argument.

Karma bombing is the act of being killed over and over by the same player to lower the player’s karma score. Killing players, horses, friendly NPCs, and various protected wildlife are all actions that can drop that score. When it goes negative, guards will attack low-karma players on sight when in town. As added punishment, being killed with negative karma will downgrade equipped weapon and armor. Considering how expensive that is, I’m betting the wallet is certainly a potent weakspot for many players. It discourages players from going on a killing spree outside the desert. (It’s different in the desert because dying with negative karma won’t downgrade gear and there’s a special town for the outlaws.)

So why wouldn’t some players consider it griefing? It goes back to intention and the notion that players don’t actually own any of the grindspots in the game. And we can’t ignore that there really aren’ any formal rules when it comes to defending a grindspot. If a Lahn bullies a Tamer out of a grindspot, then unless both parties acknowledge “OK the spot is yours” the spot is still contested until one of them leaves.

If a player chooses to return with the intention of getting killed over and over again to make that grindspot undesirable, then the onus falls on the player who took the spot in the first place. He can keep killing the other player, or he can move. It’s a consequence of taking that player’s spot. This argument acknowledges the subjective nature of grindspot ownership and the many ways to defend a grindspot. To my knowledge, PA has never banned anyone over this kind of stuff, so at least to the mods’ eyes, it’s something players can handle themselves. (If I’m wrong about this, I’d love to hear the story in the comments section.)

“Karma bombing is griefing”

The other side of this argument says that karma bombing is definitely griefing. I get it; getting a spot back by exploiting a mechanic that won’t get a player banned can fall in the chaotic good category. And it’s certainly rude. If the argument is analyzed from the perspective of what traditional griefing is, then it seems logical. Getting yourself killed for the sole purpose of annoying the heck out of another player and disrupting her grind – that is griefing. But the intent has to be there. If the person’s intention is to get killed, be a pest, and create animosity between players, then that is griefing. The line blurs when the player just wants the spot back and this is the only way to do so.

This is not an end-all-be-all list of grindspot arguments. But these are the main schools of thought. I encourage readers to share their insight on this topic, even if you don’t play Black Desert, since many of these social etiquette issues crop up even in online games without PvP. What’s your take – which argument best resonates with you?

The Great Valencian Black Desert is a dangerous place, but thankfully there’s always a chance for respite. Join Massively OP’s Carlo Lacsina every other week for just that in Desert Oasis, our Black Desert column! And don’t worry; he promises he won’t PK you. Got questions or comments? Please don’t hesitate to send a message!

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Jordan Purkis

Bro just go to your friends list and pick some obscure name your buddies are probably in same channel as you that’s why obscure random player in your friends list visit their camp and wait maybe 5 sec just until the screen finishes loading and back out and you’ll get a new instance you’re welcome

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moonlightsylv

I think my definition of karma bombing isn’t just coming back several times and dying to the player, while I personally think that’s rude and annoying. I’ve always thought of karma bombing as when someone purposefully takes their gear off, dies to you to lower karma faster, then re-equips it and kills you while you’re negative, resulting in crystal and EXP loss. GMs have restored crystals due to this before but not banned players over it.

LITF
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LITF

Honestly I think there is no karma bombing, only karmacitlde. Nobody can make you kill someone. It’s your decision alone, especially if they don’t even pose threat to you. Karma is enabled on pve servers by the developers and is a system designed with purpose. Karma serves to prevent strong players from bullying beginners or lower geared players from their spots. If your gear is good enough that this poor noob can’t fight back you should go grind a higher end spot. If this noobs gear is bad enough to not be able to efficiently grind this area – outgrind them, they will realise that they are too week to even grind there and leave. They don’t pose a threat to your efficiency. If you are not happy with karma: Arsha is always open for any challengers and there is no karma. Arsha is a pvp server, unlike the rest. People in BDO seem to treat every server as PvP (especially ones who cry about karma the loudest). Sure, karma is not ideal, but it does more good than bad.

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Kanbe

In the categories listed above, I would fall squarely into karma bombing and have often been accused of it. However, I really don’t get that. I don’t believe anyone has anymore right to be somewhere in the game than anyone else. I’m more than happy to group if we end up both trying to grind in the same spot or I’ll work around you. I don’t care about optimal speed clearing so I’m happy to do the polite thing and share the game world. If you want to kill me though that’s on you, not me.

I don’t believe for a second that just because someone kills me that means I’m obligated to leave. I don’t really see that as being any different than bullying. I’m stronger so therefore I get what I want and you can shove off. I have no interest in PvP though so don’t expect a fight. I’ll stand there and let someone kill me because I just want it to be over so I can keep on playing how I want to play, which is killing monsters.

I’m always amazed that someone who’s killing me for no other reason than I had the balls to occupy a virtual space that they arbitrarily dubbed “theirs” starts flipping out on me for greifing them.

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Arktouros

“Karma bombing” basically only covers a single scenario and that’s abusing the karma system to push out an existing player from a spot. So the scenario Player1 is at a spot grinding, and Player2 comes into the spot and starts grinding over the rotation hoping Player1 will leave. They ignore any discussion. They have no interest in grouping. They will just come back and keep feeding negative karma if killed and in fact this is the preferred scenario as players will often choose to leave rather than keep losing karma since the penalties for dying with negative karma are immense.

Any other scenario is not karma bombing. If you want to kill someone and try to “muscle” them out of the spot then the cost is karma. It doesn’t mean this is the Queensbury Rules and just because you killed them once they’re obliged to leave. If you’re too much of a coward to live with the consequences of the might makes right life style then you shouldn’t be employing it. Take a responsibility for your own decisions.

However there’s no rules. At all. There’s some commonly accepted practices but there’s no universal guideline on grind spot etiquette. You behave how you want to behave and people will react accordingly. Pearl Abyss has been extremely clear in the past when discussing their karma system (back in 2016 on original forums) that they recognize there’s lots of people who play Black Desert for different reasons and they have no intention in favoring PvP play styles. Every change they’ve made in the systems heavily supports this from harsher karma losses to PvP removal on Olvia channels and much more.

ForsetiGod
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ForsetiGod

I’m not even sure why this is a “debate” everyone has options, if you choose to engage pvp you’ve chosen karma loss or death.

If someone comes back and you continue to press alt-c to kill them, well you knew full well what would happen regardless of the other person’s intent and you can keep crying about it tbh.

Competition for grind spots is 100% intentional here and it’s not going away, crying about “grind spot etiquette” because your opponent has found a way to get you to repeatedly shoot yourself in the foot cause you can’t control your anger and feelings of entitlement to a virtual area is absolutely stupid.
Ultimately no one can force you to flag up and attack them, if you choose to do so, then deal with the consequences and get over it. No one is obligated to play by some made up code of conduct, as long as they are operating within the normal confines of the game, they can do whatever the hell they like.

Sixuality
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Sixuality

Karma bombing does sound like a mechanic being used in ways not intended by the devs (shocker…) but having not played BDO I’m curious – is there no penalty for being killed, or is it that there is but it’s too minor to dissuade this tactic?

I’d go with “it’s nobody’s spot” in this one. On the rare occasions I’ve ventured into PVP zones – usually in search of mats rather than mobs – I do so with the expectation that I might have to fight for them. After all isn’t that kind of the point?

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Robert Mann

I’d love to simply be able to say “There’s room for everyone.”

Instead, I agree that intent is the biggest point here. The problem is that the game design intent was for PvP over these things. Since that’s the design, there’s a shortage of places. So people will always want their slice of the pie, even if it’s crowded.

My response was to simply move to other games. I’m not big on grinding mobs over and over again anyway, and the rest of BDO just wasn’t as exceptional in all the non-combat factors as people claimed for years.

That said, I would fall into a mix of “It’s not yours” because sharing between all players would be best, followed by “If they stole it, Karma bombing is griefing… but it’s griefing somebody who griefed you, so whatever. There’s no moral high ground involved. People can’t play nice, have fun being jerks to each other. I’m outta your circle, kthxbye!”