Thursday, June 19, 2008

Queuing Tells = Bad Idea

One of the dangers of trying out new designs in a MMO is that you might make yourself vulnerable to problems which have mostly been solved in other games. Take the /who and /tell command, which have been used by gold spammers for quite some time. Most modern games now have systems in place that allow you to ignore unwanted messages and quickly report them to a GM. The tell system in Funcom though actually stores messages even while a player is offline. As a result a lot of people are logging into Age of Conan and being greeted with a ton of gold spam.

Since most of the tells are being sent by disposable characters who are often deleted after a round of gold spamming, there is no point putting them on an ignore list. It's kind of funny seeing a game system abused right away and in such a severe manner. It makes you wonder what the developers were even thinking when they chose to store tell messages for offline players. Did no one even see the potential for gold spammers to make use of the system?

I think from now on every MMO studio needs to hire a group of people whose only job is to poke holes in their game design. I'm not even talking about beta testers though more of them would be nice also. No what I'm talking about is a group of guys who sit at the far end of the table who say repeatedly "That isn't a good idea, and here's why". Some systems like the honor ranking system in WoW, the crafting system in Tabula Rasa, and the chat UI in Age of Conan are just too horrible and and they should never had made it off the drawing board. Some of these issue need to start being caught before they are even coded and definitely not after they've been implemented.


Bill Gorman said...

Presumably those people are *already* hired and either thought these things were a good idea or let them slip through the cracks

Karl said...

Storing messages has been a feature for FC since Anarchy Online first came out. Since goldspaming was never really an issue in that game I doubt they thought to consider that it could happen.

I liked it back in AO being able to see who tried getting in touch with you was convenient.

Relmstein said...

I wonder if Funcom is surprised at all about how many people decided to try out Age of Conan. Seems like anything that quickly gets over 200k players attracts the spammers.

You have a good point though about them never thinking it would be an issue since it wasn't a problem in Anarchy Online.

Openedge1 said...

You read that chat window?



Anyways, I know people are bothered by gold spam, yet, it detracts from my gameplay fun in the amount of ZERO percent.

I have no need for the gold sites, but they also do not bother me like so many others.
I am glad it is not being dumped constantly in regional. I would rather get 100 tells than watch it in OOC or regional all day.

Anonymous said...

personally, i think they should offer some type of reward system for finding these huge flaws while the game is in beta (similiar to how some software companies reward people who find security holes).

maybe put all the found beta flaws in a pool, and the winner gets a free lifetime membership to WoW.