Gary Gannon, one of the founders of GAX Online, posted a notice today on the front page that the community site he helped found saying that it will be closing down at the end of August.
It is with great sadness that I deliver this announcement. On August 31, 2009 GAX Online will be closing its virtual doors. My dreams of creating a user generated/self perpetuating video game social site has proven me wrong.
I had thought that once the site had a user base and was “established” that it would sort of run itself based on quality content/blogging from the community. Unfortunately I have learned that without proper leadership a community of this nature may be impossible. Over time the sites content has slowly degraded and has become less and less valuable to anyone.
As most of you know GAX was created at a time when Ryan and I did the podcast Massively Online Gamer, and even if it was not intended this was the central “core” running GAX. Even though MOG lived at GAX I always saw the two as separate entities. That is where I was wrong. I had hoped for a site that created extremely valuable content for gamers where all of the content was created by gamers. An independent collective community that could give the “big boys” a run for their money. Although many of you created great content since it’s inception, this obviously did not transpire.
As part of Shut Up We’re Talking episode #51, we had a quick side discussion about what is considered cheating versus what used to be back in the day of MUDs. Andrew, Frank, and I ended up in an email discussion about it a bit later, and if I got around to actually replying, it might keep going and blossom into something.
I want to define what I mean by each of the items in the poll, hopefully in a clear enough manner that you know what I am getting at for each item on the list. They are:
Maps from external source – The acquisition of maps and map data from a source outside of the game.
Quest info from external source – The acquisition of quest related information, locations, NPCs, objectives, from a source outside of the game.
Fight info from external source – The acquisition of detailed fight related information from sources outside of the game such as boss fight walk-through guides or videos.
Illicit RMT – The acquisition of in-game items or currency for real money through a method unsanctioned by the game.
Sanctioned RMT – The acquisition of in-game items or currency through a game sponsored or other condoned method, including via cash shops and microtransactions.
Purchase of Characters – Buying characters or accounts, usually to gain access to leveled and/or equipped characters. Some games make allowance for this.
Multi-play – The old MUD term for playing multiple accounts at once, often called multi-boxing.
Automation of simple tasks – Simple triggers or macros, generally manually activated.
Automation of complex tasks – Complex triggers or addons that automatically do things like rescue, heal, cure, for the player.
Automation of play – Automation intended to be used for unattended play. You set it and walk away.
Twinking – Equipping a low level character, usually an alt, with very good gear relative to the character level. Usually gear, enchants, and the like that a character of that level could not otherwise easily obtain.
Power leveling – Your friends, usually higher level, facilitating experience gain often by buffing, healing, or clearing mobs to allow quest completion.
Paid power leveling – Pay somebody else to level your character.
Exploiting game mechanics – Using a flaw in the system to achieve a goal, such as defeat a major boss. Something the game lets you do, but which was obviously unintended.
Hacking – The use of external applications to modify game play so you can run faster, hit harder, be invisible to NPCs.
Way too much free time – You can play all the time so you’re better at the game, have more stuff, and are generally uber.
Other – Add something I missed.
Now, not everything on that list violates the terms of services of any given game.
I have never seen a prohibition on free time for example.
Nor can I recall power leveling ever being a rules violation. It was very common in EverQuest. But it was quite clear that somebody at SOE did not like it because at launch EverQuest II had mechanisms in place to make power leveling very difficult. For example, most buffs could only be cast on members of your party. No passing out Spirit of the Wolf to all and sundry. (And no more surly demands for the buff either.) Some of that got relaxed as time went along, but there is still the locked encounter mechanism that keeps you from assisting in another players NPC fight in anyway.
But I am not so interested in what is allowed or not allowed by a given game.
What I want is your gut reaction to this list of items, independent of any statement in the terms of service of EULA of any given game. Which ones are you sure are cheating?
You may select multiple items.
Not an exhaustive list I am sure. Those are just some commonly discussed aspects that seem to relate to the concept of cheating. If I have missed something, or if you have a strong opinion about anything on my list, please feel free to leave a comment.