Toldain Talks

Because reading me sure beats working!


Toldain started as an Everquest character. I've played him in EQ2, WoW, Vanguard, LOTRO, and Zork Online. And then EVE Online, where I'm 3 million years old, rather than my usual 3000. Currently I'm mostly playing DDO. But I still have fabulous red hair. In RL, I am a software developer who has worked on networked games, but not MMORPGS.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I, Platbot

Money is tight in Everquest 2. Typically you don't have enough to buy everything you want.

A few minutes searching on the internet will show that you can apply real-world money to the problem, and have someone hand over some plat to you in game. Please don't ever do that.

Why? Because it breaks the framework of the game, the assumption that players react to in-game situations based only on in-game incentives. Or, in simpler terms, because it encourages people to play the game with real-world profit in mind, and that means platbots.

If I, for instance, wanted to set myself up to generate EQ2 cash that I could sell for real coin, here's what I would do. I would get 6 computers, and 6 accounts. I would create a warrior, (probably a guardian) a priest, and 4 wizards, maybe warlocks.

I would then buy 6 wireless keyboards and set them up so that the one keyboard sends keystrokes to all 6 computers. I would then create hotbars rows in common for call, attack, yell. I would make rows which had specialty skills for the tank and were blank for the mages and priest. Likewise for the two other classes. So to order a nuke, I would use SHIFT-2, say, to shift to the wizard hotkey row, and then type 1 to order up a nice nuke in unison. On my main bar, pressing 1 might make the tank taunt, and 2 might make the cleric heal. Who knows, given time I might be able to sequence HO's just fine.

I'd then go to whatever place shows the best return for my time, dragging my crew around using auto-follow. I'd camp the high-value mobs. I'd ignore all messages from other players. I'd train mobs onto anyone competing with me for drops. I'd pass my good stuff off to a dedicated seller, who would sell during the day at inflated prices. He might buy cheap stuff at night too, for resale during prime time, though I personally don't find that to be terribly odious, in and of itself.

When it comes time to deliver the plat, it's done with an account that is dedicated to that purpose and into which very little time has been put. The toon is low level; should he get caught in a sting operation and the account banned, the losses are minimized. The real investment is in the six accounts that are out there doing the farming. And there's the rub.

Selling accounts, in game items, and in-game cash for real-world money is against the terms of service. It is grounds for suspension of the account involved. Running an account via third-party software that automates the character to the point where there isn't a human at the keyboard is also against the terms of service and grounds for suspension. None of this is illegal in the sense of the legal code of any state or country. Which is why certain companies which operate as brokers for MMORPGs exist. However, the 6-character setup that I described above is within theterms of service; multi-boxing is allowed by SOE, as long as there is a human at the keyboard.

More accounts mean more money in fees for Sony, and the two-box players aren't really breaking the frame of the game, they are just responding to the difficulties of grouping. I'm not one to trash Sony for wanting more money; if they don't make money, I won't get to keep playing the game, which I like. So I'd expect them to allow multiboxing in some farm.

The real problem is in the attitude of someone who is playing the game as a job, not for fun. And in the attendant inflation that results when there is too much money in game. Inflation tends to discourage new players, which puts a time limit on the profitability of the game. Which means a time limit on how long I can play it.

I've already decided that there are several parts of the game that will have to wait until next year. I want the game to run a long time, and be successful on those terms. So, as players, we have to be prepared to do what we can to discourage plat sellers. If you see a setup like I described, and they are behaving in an anti-social manner, use /petition to report them. Oh, and don't buy plat. If they can't make money at it, they will stop doing it.


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