More unrelated nonsense…

THE TUSKER XP RUNAROUND

The presence of the Black Spawn Den is interesting, as it is essentially just a big dungeon full of tons of Tusker Guards and Slaves, breakfast of champion powerlevellers.  If you happen to have (a) magic skills to make yourself nigh-immune from their attacks or (b) sicko melee defense or, best of all, a combination of (a) and (b), this has become home of fast mad experience gain.  One would think that with dozens on dozens of tuskers on about a 60-second respawn timer, there would be plenty for everyone.  Naturally, some people want more, generally at the expense of their neighbors.

I was running around inside tonight when Sarcophagus (level 66, sorry for a lack of screenshots but I’m away from home and Shad has some sorta screwy setup on his computer and I can’t find any :P) ran up to the corner I was in and stood directly on me, waited for me to Fire Vuln a tusker before launching a Flame Bolt VI at it.  Typical… I’m used to this sort of crap on the plains, and so went directly to war VI, while she stood around wondering what to do.  "What to do" turned out to be something I thought of a while ago… drain all the enemies in the area about 4 times or so to ensure that you do a majority of damage to the critter in question, so that the other guy(s), while fighting for their lives, earn you experience as you dash around looking for more targets to drain to about 30-40%, maybe a little further to offset the effects of health regeneration.

Now, the reason this works so particularly well in the Black Spawn Den is because the targets are high health critters which appear in huge packs, usually found clustered around one or two hapless players who are trying to kill them as fast as possible to cut down their firepower so they don’t get horribly killed.  The tactic is this:  run around until you find some poor schlub who is fighting a large group of them, maybe stand directly on top of him as Sarcophagus did to me, then move from tusker to tusker, draining each one several times to ensure your damage dominance, then just sit back or move somewhere else and wait for the schlub to kill them for you.  Hopefully the fact that the guy you are victimizing is continuing to do damage to them will (a) keep their attention, as Tuskers attack as a group the person who most recently did damage to one of them, and (b) free you up to heal, regenerate your mana, whatever.  The tac is particularly insidious against life mages, since by cutting the targets’ health and stamina to about 1/4 to 1/3 of their norm, you are denying the schlub the very resources he needs to stay alive and charged.  Even I can appreciate the evil behind this, as not only is the victim working for your benefit, he is having a way harder time doing so.

Fortunately, I have recently learned the ancient and mystical secret that slapping some gauze on a wound can be good for you, and so as soon as this draining nonsense commenced, I exited combat mode and just started picking up the assortment of chainmail and other crappy armor around me (to fund my tragic scarab habit), healing as necessary with a kit, not taking any action against the tuskers.  The result of this was that they continued to attack Sarcophagus, who paused, bewildered, for a few seconds, tried to regain health by draining the tuskers she had already leeched of life, then ran away really fast, tuskers in tow.  Whether this running was out of a desire to go victimize some other player in another area, or out of fear of imminent death after having fallen into her own trap, is in doubt, but I can always dream.

Unfortunately, Sarcophagus came back a little later and repeated her stunt, and this time ran away after draining, avoiding the same trap laid for her the first time.  The result of this was that I just sat around for a couple of minutes, ignoring the few tuskers that remained with big "Kill Me For Sarcophagus’ Benefit" signs around their necks, picked up low-quality armor, and thought of how best to exploit this incident as a whiny update.

The first thing this made me think of (besides my normal axiom regarding all players sucking) was that players with a mind towards exploiting a system will always find a way around any countermeasures put into place.  This has been demonstrated innumerable times in UO, where (for instance) a newbie flag was introduced to keep PK’s from killing green players, resulting in a rash of naked people with deadly poisoned practice daggers killing everyone in sight.  In EQ, even very simple things like the guy who runs in to grab an item usable by his class off a decaying body killed by someone who can’t use the item and can’t give it away (don’t ask, the long version is even stupider than this sounds) keeps on rolling, its existence either denied by the parent company, or ignored in their confused and badly implemented "play nice" policy.  In Sarcophagus’ case (and others like her), the player has found away around several anti-exploitation countermeasures:

  • the "anti-vulture code" that gives a kill to the person who did the most damage to a monster, implemented with the intention of rewarding risk rather than good timing on the last hit;
  • the "anti-high-level-war-vulture code" which prevents, for instance, someone who shot a 100 hp monster for 200 hp after someone else beat it down to 5 hp from being seen as the person who did "the most damage"; and
  • the "reduced xp for losers who drain behind walls or shoot from a perch code", since the tusker does in fact attack the lowlife once or twice before she runs off, having secured her place as the primary damage-dealer, even though 90% of the tusker’s attacks are directed at the poor guy who, in theory, has to kill it for her benefit in order to keep his own hide intact.

The second thing I thought of was, What the fuck is a level 66 character resorting to this sort of craven bullshit for?  Is her design so awful that she cannot otherwise earn experience at level 66, in a dungeon where li’l ol’ Sashi in his 50′s can walk without fear of anything except a crash?  And what the hell is she earning experience towards?  By the time you hit around 55 or so, everything that’s even remotely useful starts costing so goddamn much that a tusker here or there, or even several, is really insignificant.  I once got really bored and dumped about a million or so into Jump because I couldn’t think of anything else that would make a difference.  Animal (now level 81 or so) has dumped countless millions into Loyalty, a skill he will never ever use, just because nothing else could be affected significantly.  What possible reason could a player of a really high level character have for acting in such an asinine… and experience-over-time-inefficient… manner?  I can only think of a few motives…

  • The player is a prick who likes to fuck with other players on principle;
  • The player is so unbelievably awful that he/she cannot control a character which should be a god and just kill the damn critters; or
  • The player thinks this is the best way to quickly level the character up in order to sell on eBay.

As other people have noted, the motive for #3 might be considered legitimate, and screwing other players out of their in-game rewards can thusly be viewed as an aggressive marketing strategy, improving the value of your product at the detriment of your competitors.  For those of you who have maybe never read the site before, I disagree with this, but more on this later.

It might be possible, using this behavioral model, to take it to an absurd extreme and send in a welfare mage, armed with components and a hooded faran robe and some cheap gloves, who proceeds to do nothing but Drain Health I 4-5 times on every tusker in the the place, stopping only when killed.  The welfare mage then watches the vitae go down and the experience go up as he buffs for the next pass, as other players unknowingly do his dirty work for him.  Is there a way to counter this sort of nonsensical behavior?  Difficult… the strategy already circumvents some fairly well-thought-out procedures, and every countermeasure that gets implemented tends to have a loophole someone discovers down the line.  Here are some ideas, and what can and will go wrong with them if implemented.

  • Players who are killed before their target is dropped receive a reduced portion of the experience reward in favor of the player who actually killed the target.  For example:  player A gets his ass kicked by monster X, after he does 75% of its hit points in damage.  Player B finishes monster X.  Experience reward is tilted in favor of player B, maybe on a 3/4 to 1/4 ratio, based on the share that someone who killed monster X solo would have gotten.  Cons:  Would only apply in limited situations, adding a possibly lengthy and processor-clock-intensive procedure which has limited usefulness.
  • Players who do a majority of damage to a creature but break off combat for a period of time thereafter get a reduced share/no share of the kill experience.  For example, player A runs up to monster X and drains health 4 times, bringing the monster to about 32% of its health, then runs away and disengages from the monster.  Player B comes along after about 30 seconds and is attacked by monster X, and player B kills it off.  Player B gains the lion’s share of the experience.  Cons:  Screws fighters who engage a monster and are forced to run to heal and regain stamina before killing it.  Opens a whole new world of exploitability in the twinking arena, where an archmage can go drain a bunch of critters, run away, and then send in the buffed newbie to kill everything.
  • Modified version of previous idea:  Monsters are given "combat counters", which calculate the number of attacks/defenses versus a given player.  If a player does a majority of the damage, but a certain number of "combat clocks" up until the monster’s death are chewed up by another player, the player who was last engaged with the monster gets the lion’s share.  Cons:  Really bulky code.  screws mages who use war VI in favor of fighters using a dagger, who will perform more attacks.  Also creates the possibility of leading away stupider monsters from their initial attacker to steal the experience.
  • Change the current xp code which awards a vast majority of the xp for killing a creature to the one who did 51% of the damage, and divide the experience on a straight percentage-of-damage-done basis.  Therefore, if player A does 51% of the damage to a monster and player B does 49%, they receive 51% and 49% of the experience respectively.  Cons:  Still heavily favors the guy who runs in to drain 3 times quickly and runs away over the poor guy who whacks at it with a hammer for 2 minutes, eating the brunt of the damage.  Adds even more bookeeping code.  Screws the guy who casts flame vuln VI with a wandmonkey who hits the WoBF button right when he sees the red shroud appear.
  • Use the above system, yet modify the effective percentage of damage done by drain downward, add shares of experience for players who nerf a creature, bonus damage done because of vulns credited to the mage who cast the vuln, and add shares for eating/defending against attacks.  Cons:  Even more code, making xp bookeeping a nightmare.  Hoses life mages working in a party whose job is to soften the target with drains.  Mages who do nothing but cast one vuln V or VI can conceivably get most of the experience.

When trying to think of a solution for problems like this and seeing that almost all of them lead to the implementation of bulky, expensive, and possibly game-slowing code to the mix, you can see the price that must be paid by the developer/administrator in order to counter the whims of a few pricks who like to "break" their code.  It’s very, very hard to get a modern piece of software to automate "prick behavior regulation" and actually have it work, let alone publish it to the clients’ satisfaction, outside of the incessant whiners who jump onto CoD anytime a change is announced that might conceivably affect their character detrimentally in some totally unlikely situation.  Development of a piece of massively multiuser software which is typically used by retards is a never-ending, largely unrewarding process.

EBAY IS THE DEVIL

I don’t care how much eBay opens up new vistas for the home entrepeneur who is looking for a way to sell his homemade books on how to be a home entrepeneur to anonymous, gullible customers… the fact that virtual property and characters are assigned a real monentary value is totally fucking crazy.  Remember the recent rash of character hacking that went on on Frostfell?  People’s accounts were accessed illegally and looted of items which have significant value on eBay.  No one can possibly explain that somehow the fact that imaginary shit in a video game can be sold to the mentally handicapped is NOT a contributing factor to account hacking.  Unless you are simply malicious and like to destroy people’s accounts, maybe because they are total morons (*coughSuperbrandoncough*), the reason you would go through the trouble and legal risk to access someone else’s Zone account is to make money.

COMPUTER GAMES ARE NOT ABOUT MAKING FUCKING MONEY.  Files and data streams are too unreliable, too easy for anyone to get their hands on.  When you log off, your character and his possessions are not locked in a safe hidden behind a painting of dogs playing poker in your house, they are stored on a server.  A server which will stupidly let anyone who has your zone name and password have access to that account.  Game companies are not insured by the FDIC.  A freak accident or natural disaster has a far greater chance of obliterating everything stored on those servers than gold you have stored in a safety deposit box.  Game companies do not have the backup and safety capabilities that your stockbroker’s firm has.  This is because games are supposed to be a fun pastime, and exercise in enjoyment, NOT SOME WAY FOR SOME STUPID FUCK TO GET CASH VIA AN ONLINE AUCTION.

Unfortunately, eBay is so totally unregulated (as is most of the internet) that you can’t really stop people from selling shit on it, even shit as stupid as some 1′s and 0′s on a hard drive the seller doesn’t even own.  Think about that.  Your precious little imaginary you that you’re thinking about hocking does not even technically belong to you.  You have some client software and a license to use a service that is owned by someone else, make changes to the data stored for that service (by character development, getting loot, etc.), and that’s really all.  If you cancel your account, they don’t ship your ugly-as-sin Olthoi helm to your house in a box.  You don’t own it.  IT’S NOT EVEN REAL.

The consequences of the eBay market for imaginary stuff now has a direct effect on potentially all players, even those who are (intelligently) completely uninterested in eBay.  People will go to incredible lengths to get your imaginary stuff which, while intrinsically worthless, is part of your playing experience and should not be subjected to such threats because of real-world greed.  But how to stop it?  I can only think of 3 ways in which this can happen:

  • Everyone, or at least the vast majority of people, recognize that this is a dangerous trend and refuse to participate in it.  The subsumes that people have intrinsic intelligence, and so we might as well forget about this.
  • The items and characters are made worthless and undesirable on eBay.  This might mean making the game so incredibly even that anyone can get any of the high-dollar items, which hrts the game.  Not good.
  • The controlling company declares that eBay trading is against the TOS agreeement, and immediately bans people engaging in this behavior.  This has the negative side-effects of (1) people shouting all sorts of words they don’t understand like "Totalitarianism", (2) the company deciding that draconian measures are a good thing, giving legitimacy to these people’s shouting, and (3) the problem of catching people.  Still, this seems to be the only feasable solution.

On the other hand, I would have to say that if someone walked up to me and said, "I would sure like to buy your AC account" and actually put $10,000 in my sweaty little hands, I would probably be giving the guy my password while I hot-footed it to the bank.  And that would be it.  I wouldn’t get another account, because then AC would be different, not a game I play anymore, just a tragic footnote in gaming history, where some guy would give me money in exchange for the right to play using some imaginary characters and imaginary shit I accumulated over several months of playing.  Months of playing, which would seem to me not an investment, but rather time I blew doing something I thought was a quasi-intellectual amusement, which turned out to be something different altogether.  Something worse.  Something like a horrible scam.

TOAD-O LINE

"Gandalf the Sorceror", vassal of Toadie of Frostfell with the weakest scam attempt I have ever witnessed.

That is posted on your main page.  First he was never a vassal of mine.  As if you were intelligent enough you would of seen monarch Toadie, and known that a monarch has many followers and cannot control all members under his command.  Please either remove or fix the statement you made about me.   My name is important and you have slandered it.  Second, if I would of gotten a @tell ingame, I’ve would of gotten down to the matter and found if it was true.  All I could of done is insist that he be kicked from the alleg.  Further note, That he has been removed and no longer under me.  Thank you for reading this message.

Toadie, also Toad Of FrostFell

Did you look at the image of his "e" screen?  He was clearly somewhere in your allegiance tree.  And yes, it is difficult to keep control of a large allegiance, and I would think you would be happy for the notice of a scammer, and as he was removed, the post seems to have had a positive effect.  You are correct that he was not a direct vassal, but at that time, as the screenshot shows, you could not see a person’s direct patron, as this was a little before the patch allowing this; if I could see the information, I would have added his direct patron’s name, so as to either excite more people than just you into action.  I don’t think the distinction of direct/indirect is relevant, as I have known many monarchs who, having heard of someone far down the tree acting unethically, have taken direct action, regardless of how far removed the person was from the monarch, indicating that a good monarch feels at least partly responsible for EVEYONE operating under his name.  I added Toadie to my friends list for many days, and never caught you online.  There is no "slander" involved here, as there was no untruth published, mainly direct screenshots of the chat, and besides, the word you are looking for is "libel".  I will, however, be glad to print your response when I get back home and have access to my ftp, thereby assuring that anyone who sees it realizes that you do not endorse this sort of absurdity.  Besides, Gandalf’s statement was too amusingly retarded to pass up.  Enjoy.

Mu

Well, Thank you for your quick response.  The reason why you never gotten Toadie online, is well, because I’ve moved him to *Mule Status-Leadership credit wasted and he runs the alleg so not to get @ms at a time.*.  I’ve started another character and when he gets high enough going to swear the alleg back to him, AKA Toad not Toadie.   Please feel free to remove Toadie and add Toad to friends list, If you have any more trouble with my alleg. contact Toad not Toadie as for the reason stated above.  I would also like, when you update your page, if you keep the scam attempt message there please add that the monarch Toadie has removed GTS from his alleg.  Thanks Again for reading.

Toadie AKA Toad

Somehow the thing which really bugs me about this whole thing is the fact that people keep accusing me of "slander", when really they think I’m guilty of "libel".  If everyone would please just accuse me of libeling them, I could spend less time thinking about grammar and language and more time watching Fight Club several hundred times.

THE 10/10/100/10/100/100 SOLO CHARACTER

In the last rant, there was a long piece on the creation of characters who are totally dependent on having a twinker along in order for them to accomplish anything at all until level 30.  The 10/10/100/10/100/100 mage/archer template is the biggest loser I have seen of these. but it has come to my attention that Allerion (FF ubermage and the posessor of truly epic character control skillz) started one on Solclaim, and within several days managed to solo it to level 20.  With only 400+ deaths!  That last rant did not apply to Allerion’s player, as to my knowledge he has never snivelled for assistance when playing a handicapped character like this bedridden leprous clubfooted Rhodes scholar acrobat template.  Mad props.

FIGHT CLUB RULES

Assuming the following:

  • We consider "time" to be objectified for the sake of convenience, even though there can be no definition of "time" which is not recursive/self-determining,
  • "Time" is defined as the direction in which entropy increases, i.e. the past-future flow of "time" is determined by an observable increase in entropy,
  • Our concept and observational ability of the "passage of time" is locked to this increase in entropy by the act of creating new memories (requiring an increase in entropy via biological heat release) as well as our observations of entropic increase,

and given the following situation:

  • A cloud of stellar gases (primarily hydrogen) is drawing into itself via gravity, forming new stars, causing a theoretic decrease in entropy at least until the stars start radiating,

Is time moving backwards in the locality of the contracting gas cloud?

This assumes that the area is free from external entropic influences.  For example, no one has sent a cesium clock into the cloud to try and measure time in the locality, which would be ineffective since the clock would only be measuring the decay of the cesium atoms in itself and not time in the surrounding hydrogen cloud, but it would add to the entropy of the region.

This is just some drunken crap Shad and I were arguing about one night while watching Fight Club.  Please post your responses to the forum.  :P

 

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