Kwill’s Quill: Punishing the Bad Really Punishes the Good

Written by Kwill on . Posted in Kwill's Quill, Live Events

One of the problems that the developers have been working on lately is to make sure that  non-participants or “slackers” don’t get rewarded in Public Quests.  In the original version of the Public Quests, which started out with an arbitrary threshold of acceptable spell casting or DPS, too many AFK players were getting chest drops, at least in the eyes of other players, who expressed their concerns to developers.

For Dev Gninja, this was an unacceptable situation that needed to be rectified.  He was mad about it.  So back to the drawing board he went, increasing the threshold yet again in the metric that records participation.  The result?  Storm Gorge PQs are not rewarding the people who are giving their fair share — probably not the outcome he expected.

A lot of development time was focused on being punitive to — most likely– a small minority of people who wanted something for nothing.

By punishing the wrongdoers, the game is broken for the honest majority that wants to participate and get rewarded in the PQs.

There are two problems with this, as I see it.  First, it is very difficult for a computer-generated metric to really measure participation in a group activity.   At first glance, it would seem an easy task to measure how much each person in the instance was casting spells, whether they be direct DPS or support.   Just write a little code that measures that, insert some kind of baseline, and only allow those people who show sufficient effort a reward.  But obviously it’s not that simple.  One reason for the difficulty in getting such detection code  to work is that these are humans playing, not computers. The variation in play styles and individual responses to the encounter make a simple measurement ineffective — a much more complex measurement is required.  The metric they designed clearly can’t take lag into account, making even the hardest-working player experiencing lag into a “slacker.”  Some spells don’t seem to carry the same weight as others.  All of these factors make for a very difficult set of data to analyze and react to.  Clearly, it’s not really working as intended at the moment.

The second issue, even assuming that the first can be solved, is that designing for the “cheaters”, if you will, should not be the focus of any design project.   It’s clear that the focus shifted from designing a fun encounter to trying to catch people taking advantage of a group activity.  The question to ask is: does it really matter if someone finds a way to cheat the system?  How does it really negatively impact the community?  Granted, if there are no mechanisms for insuring participation, with the result that everyone can stand around and be killed and then get a prize, of course that is unacceptable.  But by designing a minimum participation metric for individuals, and then leaving it alone, you ensure the majority of players stay honest and don’t break what you designed in the first place.  Yes, people will take advantage, but so what?  By making it the driving issue behind the design, it’s clear that the end result is unhappy players and a broken Storm Gorge public quest.

It is nice to think that a developer can write code that can measure to a true extent player participation in a group activity.  In practice, it seems that it is a lot harder than the development team expected.  By making cheating more of a non-issue,  development time could be better spent improving the game in positive ways that reward the majority of the active player base, rather than working on punishing the naughty few that don’t want to work for a reward.

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Comments (19)

  • Feldon

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    We have seen many parts of the game changed in a negative manner just to catch a few exploiters.

    We can draw a straight line to line-of-sight issues when trying to heal, rez, or send a pet into combat back to efforts to block exploiters. The same can be said of the annoying 2-3 seconds cast time when clicking on every widget in the entire game. This frustrating addition was introduced about 2 years ago to combat users who were disconnecing their internet, run through a room of agro mobs, and click on an item to collect/harvest it. It’s now impossible to drop group while in combat. This is a very recent addition, again to combat exploiters.

    At some point, you have to draw the line where the inconvenience for the rest of the players is not worth fixing the hole.

    Reply

  • AsherDusk

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    SG is not even worth doing any more. I can see the point of trying to weed out the cheaters, but honestly that whole encounter is broken IMO. I have not even finished it the last 4 times out because of the final mobs healing. I would almost swear people are doing it on purpose just to screw the encounter. The last few times out, I have sat out there for almost an entire hour just watching the mob go down 10-15% and healing back to 100% every time. I like the damage shield, but to put that kind of heal buff on a public raid is absolutely unacceptable to me. I have completed that PQ once since they implemented that and epically failed it 4. I refuse to run that one until they fix it.

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  • Malade

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    Honestly, autoattacking more than one mob should have been high enough for no-trade loot.

    Reply

  • Toughskin

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    I’ve stopped doing the public quests, because I’m fully involved to the point of getting killed 4-5 times in the process, then end up with nothing for my efforts.

    Reply

  • Anaogi

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    This isn’t even the worst problem with this expansion, either. But it does point directly at the real problem–devs that seem to have completely lost sight of how to make a fun game. Sad, sad, sad.

    Reply

  • zerigo

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    I could write a script that would sit there all day and get loot. I find it hard to believe people who participate are not getting loot. Once, I participated and didn’t get loot, but it was some other bug, the result of spam clicking the chest when it dropped.

    Reply

  • Striinger

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    I like the work you guys do here so I really hate to say I strongly disagree with the idea we should not try to stop exploiters. Part of the troubles mentioned by Feldon arose EXACTLY because the devs don’t typically focus on security and exploits early in the process.

    Just like developing any other software, security has to be part of core design. EQ2 feels more like the anticheat security was a bolt on. If the intent is to ensure that plat, gear and suck is not gained without effort, that’s a fundamental core component.

    The nerds imposed to stop cheaters are no more irritating than nerfs to suit PvP players. They are both driven by people who think they should be able to play the game the way they choose without regard for the people who bought the advertised game. While simply isolating PvP code from the PvE code could solve one problem, stopping cheaters is tougher and even more critical to stop.
    If cheating is seen to be accepted or even allowed, the result is detrimental to all.

    Finally, any play style that means you’re not doing anything to the mob encounter or directly Healing the heck out of people who are means your play style sucks and you don’t deserve decent gear anyway. Why would you care anyway if you’re not using it anyway. Maybe the solution is to be more transparent to the gimp or the slack or the lagged. No matter how god your intent, if you hit the mob twice in the fight due to lag…you didn’t help enough. If you hovered in he air over the fight or were rebuffing a mob that wasn’t in the encounter, still not enough. If all you did was follow people around only to show up as the mob was falling dead still not enough. Contribution means DOING. Something significant to defeating the encounter, not wishing the mob to death. Devs are likely checking what matters but people want credit for morale support.

    Reply

  • Lathaine

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    “We have seen many parts of the game changed in a negative manner just to catch a few exploiters.”

    +1

    i miss the fabled muting, dropped too often at start (100% drop from dif5 was too much)

    They always fix thing with atomic bomb… no much finess…

    @Striinger : exploiter are minority and you can do what you want they ll keep exploit the game, they have several account, and there is so many thing to exploit in EQ2. You cant prevent that. Dont let them ruine your fun, and dont ask soe to punish them, or it’s you who ll suffer the most from the “fix”

    Reply

  • Eschia

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    I think the whole public quest thing was a bad idea from the start. Why? SOE’s track record of how they implement things. If done right it would work, but first they need to give us a good random number generator for the loot tables before they focus on something like this. I participated in PQ’s 1 time. And never went back.

    Reply

  • Ondten

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    Fact is, people getting more than they deserve 10 times is better than a person not getting what they deserve once. Which has happened to me and even people grouped with me when I got full loot.

    To draw an analogy, if you see some people at a restaurant get something extra that they didn’t order, are you going to be annoyed that you didn’t get it? Yes, but not enough to make a big issue of it if you’re a reasonable person. If you don’t get something that you ordered and its still on the check? You’re going to be pissed off, rightfully so and demand that it be corrected. You aren’t going to pay for something you didn’t get.

    Point is, there is a correct way to err in situations like this and an incorrect one. In this case you are paying with time during the PQ. They have shifted things way over to the realm of situations arising that should never happen. Let alone in a system that is buggy, laggy, and generally not ideal.

    For example, I have to stare at the ground and use other people/mobs to target stuff during storm gorge. Entirely client side issue, I understand. But everywhere else in the game, my computer performs just fine. I regularly raid with zero issues. Does this mean I don’t deserve to be able to participate and be rewarded in the pq even if I’m only able to really contribute in phases one and 3 and aoes in phase 2, or even just an autoattack? Simply because the event is too popular?

    Its really ironic if you ask me. Kwill and Feldon are spot on, this is bad customer service by any standard.

    Reply

  • Lejoni

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    Im abit confused as to what classes have the problem of falsely beeing identified as slackers.
    I have played both PQs through these changes with, Tank Healer and Mage DPS.
    On all of them have I in some PQ Raids gotten extreamly bad lag so I have been forced to go 1st person and view the ground and just target through someone else, and try to use the minimap for positioning.

    Never so fare have I gotten a smaller box from the chest than it would indicate to give. Some fights I have just been dps-ing with my healer cus we where to many healers in the raid. And still I got what I should have been given.

    It seams to me if people get less loot than they should, it might be some other problem than some threshold on number of spells or dps/hps?
    Idk. Or is this problem unique to a class I have not yet done a PQ Raid with?

    Personaly I think it would be quite enough for the server to check if a player is inactive or active. And not HOW active a player is.

    Although if the case is that the players that don’t get loot is “utility” that believe there only job is to stand there with there until-canceled buffs and not cast any spells or even autoattack during the fight. I wont cry for them.

    Reply

  • zyk

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    It’s not a question of correct threasholds for hps/dps for how much certain classes should do given their gear/etc, the participation meter is just plain buggy, and it’s not just an issue with storm gorge. I’ve gone to ring war and done 80K+ out of the entire group of 30 or more people totaling only 500-600K dps, and been told “You’re not entitled to any loot from this chest” while similar circumstances nearly always award some kind of humming chest for the same character. I’ve two-boxed a troubadour and dirge, with slightly higher swing counts on the troub vs the dirge (which had the advantage of higher multi-attack, flurry, and dots) and had the dirge get exquisite humming while the troub with about the same DPS was told it wasn’t entitled to any loot period, when it clearly was the more active character of mine.

    I don’t understand why anyone would get their panties all wadded up over AFK folk getting free terrible PQ loot anyways. The bigger issue was probably people like me who would beast through one ring war, loot a humming chest, and then quickly zone over to another great divide and double-dip into the end of another one, possibly even a third – but with the new participation guidelines, it’s not really as feasible to get two or three humming chests doing that anymore.

    Reply

  • Feldon

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    I have to agree with others above who are saying Public Quests, especially Storm Gorge, have become a waste of time.

    What’s the best you can get out of doing PQs all day?

    * AA tokens worth 8-12% AA
    * Legendary transmutables for a few powders or maybe an infusion
    * 2 faction tokens per day (cloudy velium shard)
    * Starter armor for running instances/raids

    I can get almost all of that by solo questing or grinding mobs.

    Reply

  • Striinger

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    I agree that PQ loot isn’t going to keep people coming back, but it can’t be much better as easy as it is to get. Maybe for faction for a bit? Perhaps the chests shoul drop a shard above a certain level?

    As for the cutoff, I’ve run 6 different classes with Australian lag during US prime time and always gotten full loot if I was there from the start. Some of the toons aren’t geared well and are AA short. So, what gives?! I’m starting to think the no loot issue is an urban myth. Are they still wearing harvesting and crafting gear?

    Seriously, I’m not that good a player…and I still get the loot. *confused*

    Reply

  • Murfalad

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    I’m still doing and enjoying the public quests and on Splitpaw at least they are very popular still despite it being over a month since launch.

    Whether its as part of a raid that formed early, or just turning up at the last minute to get a small group version (these are refreshingly new feeling too, with so few people they can be tricky too whereas a well organised raid tends to win).

    I’ve heard of nightmare stories on the SG with dumb players not understanding the scripts, but in experience I’ve never actually seen in. The few players I have see who have carried on dpsing stopped when others talked to them.

    As for the cheating, I’m baffled. I can understand that someone afk should not get a reward, but by just casting 10 or so heals+hitting the mob and I think its safe to say the person was at least there?

    If someone registered nothing for 2 of the 3 phases then sure they get worse loot, but is anyone really losing sleep over what other people get out of the game on a timed event?

    Reply

  • Etruscus

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    @ Feldon

    We always knew it was going to go this way. For all the whiners on the official forums complaining that PQs were going to kill heroic dungeons, well that hasn’t come to pass. If anything, they’ve strengthened heroic instance running by getting more involved in the community. I see people looking for groups and groups looking for players in 80-89 almost all the time.

    It was immediately clear that they would only be good for faction grinding, and it still a very good option to raise your various factions to 40k without doing daily grind quests. Especially for the Ry’gorr and Thurgadin.

    Most of the time people get screwed because everyone wants to be in GD1. I was at a ring war on sunday where they were forming a fourth raid! Seriously, four raids for an event that you could probably three group in a reasonable amount of time?

    Reply

  • Takanna

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    I’m so disappointed that EQ2 decided to listen to the complainers and clamp down on the PQ fun. You really stole the joy from those of us who like to play just for the heck of it. Part of playing any game is the fun of getting as much out of it as you can and even maybe sometimes feeling like you’re smarter than the average bear…..even if you’re not. So what if someone gets a shot at some extra AA or a couple of jewels or some extra crappy armor to sell. Was anyone really hurt by this? And now you can get a drop for the life of you. Loads of fun. My healer has given up on EVER getting her Fabled weapon…..

    I wish you could understand – this is JUST A GAME. Don’t take it so seriously. Let us have our fun. It’s what we PAY for. Take the extra fun out of it and we’ll all end up trying something else. Not good advertising. The best sale is to a bird in the hand….

    Reply

  • Lathain

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    Too bad faction are useless with new crafted recipe; and the increase of stats from instance gear so 40k faction fabled gear (jewel, shield, misc) are quickly remplaced.

    And raise faction, buy one item 15 plat from marchant (resell price of most of them is one plat…), while you can just run a group and loot better in 20 min ^^

    Reply

  • James

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    my opinion is the real underlying problem with the PQ’s and AFK’ers is that the AFK’ers lag down the people that are giving their all and makes the entire encounter less fun not because someone is standing there getting loot for nuttin but because I have to work twice as hard to play around the lag to earn loot for both me and the AFKer. The real problem here is the engine needs to be completely revamped to make the game lag free using an average computer on a balanced graphics setup. that way the people with below average setups can still be lag free using lower graphics settings and those with high end systems can still be lag free using high graphics.

    I have a high end system and for PQ’s I still set my graphics to minimum just to get an average of 15-20 FPS, so my opinion is that rather than fuss about the afk’ers and try to smack them around why not work instead on rebuilding the engine so that everyone can play the PQ’s without lagging out to the point of unplayable, maybe then some (not all but some)of those afk’ers would enjoy it more and be more of a partisipant. Just my 2c

    Reply

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