gaile gray

Guild Wars 2 used client-side spyware to aid its latest purge of potential cheaters

ArenaNet’s just gone on a purge of potential cheaters in Guild Wars 2.

“Yesterday we suspended 1,583 accounts for a period of 6 months,” Gaile Gray wrote on the forums. “1516 accounts were suspended because we detected that the accounts were running Guild Wars 2 at the same time as one or more of the following programs over a significant number of hours during a multi-week period earlier this year. We targeted programs that allow players to cheat and gain unfair gameplay advantages, even if those programs have other, more benign uses.” Those programs included CheatEngine, Nabster, GW2MHRexe, UNF, and MMOMINION.

The upset in the community, of course, is that the banned players didn’t necessarily use the programs in conjunction with the game. So not only does ArenaNet acknowledge that the programs it banned for have innocent uses, but it also admits that it doesn’t actually know whether the banned players used them in GW2.

Of course, to know what it does know, ArenaNet apparently stealth-installed de facto spyware as part of its early March update. A Redditor named fwosar, who happens to be a skilled at software reverse engineering, dug into the files to figure out how ArenaNet did it.

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MMO Mechanics: Material storage and the Guild Wars 2 economy

Guild Wars 2 launched its second expansion, Path of Fire, a few days ago, and as you might expect, a new expansion means some immediate priority shifts will deeply affect the game’s economy. New materials are added, which are required by the newest recipes and are thus highly sought after, and other materials will fluctuate in value depending on their usefulness within the new content’s scope. Players typically react to this short period of market turbulence by keeping the materials that they farm until they are absolutely sure of their uses and worth: There’s nothing worse than selling a big pile of a rare material you thought you didn’t need only to realise your error later.

However, ArenaNet decided to temporarily keep a “handful of items” off the list for the game’s material storage system in an attempt to force players’ hands: The company is attempting to combat the shockingly high prices seen for expansion materials back at Heart of Thorns’ launch by discouraging player warehousing of valuable yet abundant materials. The news has caused quite a splash in the game community and it’s exceptionally interesting mechanically speaking, so I just had to dedicate an edition of MMO Mechanics to the topic.

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Guild Wars 2 hopes to enable elite specs during tomorrow’s Path of Fire open stress test

Didn’t get your fill of tinkering with Path of Fire during Guild Wars 2’s recent preview weekends? You can have another go at it during a stress test tomorrowday beginning at 5 p.m. EDT and running “a couple of hours.”

“We will be conducting a brief stress test for Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire on Thursday, August 31st, beginning at 2:00 PM Pacific time (-7 GMT). Anyone with a Guild Wars 2 account is welcome to participate. To join the stress test, please log in to your Guild Wars 2 game account, create a new ‘Demo’ character on the character selection screen, and head into the Crystal Oasis. Play as you normally would play, but because this is a stress test, be prepared for possible in-game performance issues as the testing takes place.”

There are no additional goodies for participation, ArenaNet’s Gaile Gray notes, nor will progress made on the demo characters count. “They hope to enable the elite specs,” she writes, and if she’s right, it’ll be the first time we’ve been able to play the new specs outside of PvP.


PSA: Guild Wars 2’s mounts may be causing motion sickness issues

Longtime readers will know that we take motion sickness from games pretty darn seriously around here, given that we have a writer who’s been severely affected by some of the VR demos we’ve sent him to. So don’t read any judgment into this PSA: Multiple Guild Wars 2 testers participating in the Path of Fire preview weekend are reporting that they’re experiencing motion sickness, sometimes severe, while dealing with the game’s brand-new mount system, specifically because of the camera.

ArenaNet has apologized and said that the mounts team recommends lowering visual blur in the short-term as “they feel it may help with this problem.” Another user prone to motion sickness suggested a whole range of settings that are making mounts (or at least the demo raptor mount) usable for him.

“We’d love to hear from you if this adjustment is effective,” ANet’s Gaile Gray wrote. “Team members who have worked/are working on the mounts will be tracking this feedback!”

Source: Official forums. With thanks to CapnLan!


Guild Wars 2 addresses outage bugs, NCsoft deals with DDOS attacks

When you’re running an online game, there are certain words that are pretty much always a harbinger of problems. Words like “outage,” and “missing,” and “unexpected.” Combining them into a group means that things are going even worse. Case in point: the number of players who logged in after Guild Wars 2‘s unexpected outage to find a bunch of their stuff missing. Does that sound good? No, it does not.

Fortunately, this story should have a happy ending, as communications manager Gaile Gray took to the forums to inform everyone that it should be something that clears up on its own. Players who keep playing for an hour after the outage should find any and all missing currency/items showing up again; if there are still missing things after that hour, customer service representatives are on hand to help solve the issue. Which is a positive response, but it’s still not probably a fun problem to deal with.

In other NCsoft news, multiple games across the company’s network, including Guild Wars 2, WildStar, and Blade & Soul, suffered additional outages and login problems overnight as the apparent result of DDOS attacks.

Source: Official Site. Thanks, Qarran!


NCsoft appears to be blocking former Soviet states from WildStar

Reports this morning that players in various former Soviet countries, among others, had been unceremoniously barred from accessing NCsoft MMORPGs WildStar and Guild Wars 2 appear to have been confirmed by an NCsoft community rep, though Guild Wars 2’s block seems to have been in error.

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Guild Wars 2 allows one more week of Halloween fun

As Guild Wars 2 players have been enjoying the Shadow of the Mad King festivities, they have also been wondering when, exactly, the game’s Halloween would end. After dragging its feet on the answer, ArenaNet finally announced yesterday that the event will conclude on Tuesday, November 8th.

Communications Manager Gaile Gray explained the reason for the delay on date specifics: “There are a lot of working parts in a game, and things can interweave. Festivals are only part of what we’re offering, what we’re working on, what we’re releasing. So sometimes, giving an end date is not possible, when looking at the Big Picture(tm). As a player, I certainly understand the desire for a finite period. But as a member of the dev team, I can see where that’s not always possible. I’m happy we were able to give the week’s notice, and that we didn’t do — as some players seem to have expected — an unannounced closure at midnight this morning.”


Guild Wars 2 changes course on its economy and PvP

Guild Wars 2’s resident economist John Smith made an announcement on the official forums yesterday, and no, it wasn’t about butter, but it was almost as weird: In a roundabout way, it was about flax.

“For the most part the continuous monitoring and balancing has led to an incredibly stable economy with sustainable growth and reasonable inflation levels,” he writes. “However, we’ve noticed a disturbing side-effect of that continuous balancing: For many markets we’ve accidently set the idea of a price, rather than the market setting the idea of a price. Flax is a great example of a market where the prices weren’t really reflective of input or demand, but rather the idea of a value. Eventually players recognized that there was an abundance of flax and the price began to trend in a positive direction. We’ve noticed that a large number of markets are exhibiting this behavior in both directions—resulting in their being underpriced or overpriced—and their prices no longer reflect the average wealth or income of players.”

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Guild Wars 2’s Mike O’Brien on the Gaile Gray hack

Earlier today, Redditors began circulating a forum thread filled with pictures of a character named Gaile Gray running around classic Guild Wars spouting nonsense (and worse). The claim that followed was that Gray, a prominent member of ArenaNet’s community staff, had been hacked. That led to accusations that ArenaNet’s account security is lax, as still other players boasted about having tested the Guild Wars 2 account recovery process to hack other users via social engineering on Anet staff.

We reached out to ArenaNet on the topic; the company has confirmed the hack and issued a statement as follows:

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Raiding might be a component in Guild Wars 2’s living story season three

If you were hoping that raiding will quietly disappear in Guild Wars 2 the way so many other features have over the years, you might reconsider. An ArenaNet forum specialist has written that he believes raids will possibly be a component of the upcoming third season of the living story, due to kick off later this summer.

“I don’t have exact figures, but internally to ANet the raid team is lauded and praised for being a massive success,” writes Rising Dusk, ArenaNet’s forum specialist for dungeons, fractals, and raids. “I am under the impression that there will absolutely be more raids, potentially even very soon as a component of LS3 (they said this was a possibility, so no guarantees).” What “success” means in this context is unclear.

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Popular Guild Wars 2 YouTuber team banned for cheating

Protip: Don’t cheat in video games, especially always-online MMORPGs where the devs are actively seeking out cheaters and have a reputation for humiliating them publicly.

Popular Guild Wars 2 YouTuber duo Suck at Love could’ve used that tip. They logged into the game to find their accounts banned by ArenaNet for hacking, so what did they do? Post a video insisting on their innocence. (The video’s since been deleted, but it’s been uploaded to a mirror by Redditors.)

In response to fans’ inquiries about the case, ArenaNet’s Gaile Gray addressed the banning on the forums, writing that at least one of the accounts was banned for map hacking:

Customer Support has carefully reviewed the data that resulted in the termination of the game account in question. They verified that this account accessed 29 map points in under 60 seconds. It is not possible to accomplish this without the use of a third-party program, the kind of program that is expressly forbidden by our User Agreement and our Rules of Conduct.
Because of these facts, the account termination will not be reversed.

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Guild Wars 2 plans post-Heart of Thorns balance changes

On the Guild Wars 2 official forums today, ArenaNet’s Gaile Gray has outlined a number of balance changes heading to the game, once again shifting the meta and generating salt from the usual suspects.

[O]ur strategy for adjusting the meta-game in Guild Wars 2 after the release of Heart of Thorns focuses on releasing balance updates on a set cycle – each and every quarter. We began this cadence with the release of HoT in October which undoubtedly changed the way that the game is played across all game modes. In the weeks following the launch of HoT we made a number of tweaks to elite specializations as we began to notice trends that did not align with our design goals. Today we stand about a month and a half since Heart of Thorns was released, and once again we feel it is necessary to make some adjustments for the overall health of the game. This week we will be making a few changes to address some emergent gameplay that has cropped up across multiple game modes.

In particular, expect tweaks (read: nerfs) to Runes of Durability, Mesmers’ Echo of Memory, Meditation interaction in Temple of the Silent Storm, and Revenant skills including Demonic Defiance, Radiant Revival, and Coalescence of Ruin.

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