If you haven’t been hiding out on an asteroid inhabited by a giant space slug, then you’ve heard about the current Ravagers Exploit. If you haven’t, the quick and simple is that by some flaw or bug in the lockout and loot systems, the last boss of Ravagers (the extremely buggy on launch) Cortanni is broken. She is this expansion’s loot piñata, and the fallout affects numerous aspects of the game. Not just those PvE try-hards.
I’ll come right out and say it, what was happening was definitely an exploit in my opinion. I’m not going to crawl through Bioware’s Terms of Service, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t take a lawyer to fit what’s been happened the past few weeks into those parameters. If you get loot but don’t kill the boss. Or can’t even kill the bosses up to that point, you shouldn’t have the gear. Coming in on all your alts and farming gear and rare crafting mats is exploiting squared. Paying someone to move the lockout from one server to another? Exploitception.
This exploit has been happening for weeks now. It’s spread to at least three other servers, after originally being harvested on the Harbinger, and has persisted through lockout resets due to no patch being implemented. Yea, that’s right. People did this multiple weeks in a row due to another flaw in non-patch resets. Today, Eric Musco posted a Dev Post on the forums acknowledging the exploit and stating that punishments would be handed out. This is great news. I personally think people who heavily used this, sold the lockout on fleet chat, or moved it to and from servers should get permanently banned. Making an example is needed to stop the idea that exploiting is ok. Players need to be afraid to participate in, or seek to discover, exploits like these. Otherwise, it simply hurts the game. I don’t know how they’re going to find the perpetrators. I’m sure numerous tickets were made over the fleet chat spammers, so let’s hope we see those in the coming weeks.
The big issue with this exploit is not just how far it spread, but the ripple of affects it has on the newly launched SoR. Initially, there is simply the gear aspect. Many players FULLY exploited this bug and farmed BiS mods and enhancements for their gear. This means that players will now be progressing while technically out-gearing the content. I suspect we see Tier 2 Progression guilds pushing past bosses due to stat increases. Many guilds will down bosses that would have taken them longer if they were geared in the nature intended when the Devs built the fights. Guilds getting through the Hard Modes faster means more bored players after they have cleared what there is to offer. It’s a long time until Nightmare Modes in May people.
This exploit also affects the economy on the servers affected. Along with the gear, Cortanni drops matter transubstantiators, the crafting mat needed for crafting 192 gear. This is a reasonably rare mat, and players who farmed the boss received as many of the mats as they had level 60 alts over the weeks. Thirty two in one player’s case. The markets were flooded with the mats and the gear that could be crafted. Prices plummeted on crafted 186 gear, which are newly craftable in SoR and the suggested gateway gear for Story Modes. It also hurt guilds who hoped to sell the mats, earned through legitimate means, to pay for guild perks like repairs and flagship costs.
What’s the Fix
Other than the bans, it’s hard to imagine any sort of “fix” for what’s happened the past 2 weeks. I don’t think we’ll see the gear taken back or anything like a rollback, it’s too late for that. And while I do understand that this all happened over Christmas Break, the fact that the exploit was so widespread and has caused problems is because a response was so slow in coming. While they were all off for the holidays, so was their player base. Many people used their time off to play, and used the exploit while they could. Sure, no one likes working over Christmas. But they KNEW about this over a week ago and didn’t say anything. The post that Musco made today could have been made as soon as they KNEW what was happening, dissuading numerous individuals to participate. At this point, it’s just damage control, and the affected players have to simply deal with it.
I’m not even really that affected. It’s just Hard Mode. I’ll get the gear before NiM drops so I’m ok. My guild didn’t exploit it, so I’m not that worried about my guildies getting banned. But, I hate that something like this happened. I honestly hate when things go wrong on SWTOR. I wish progression happened, no one cheated, and that the competition was there. I wish the economy players could do what they do without PvE casuals who couldn’t EARN the gear profit over them. But, Bioware spends more time band-aiding and shunting blame onto the community for spreading it around.
Do you detect bitterness? When I started this blog the other day, I was just mad and annoyed nothing had been done yet. We had talked about it on TOROcast over a week ago, with Road editing a hefty portion of me explaining the exploit out. I know, I know…when will Mae ever learn. Honestly, what I do and how I am comes from a good place. The podcast, this blog, and twitter, that’s how I interact with the Devs and other players. I’m not a forum-er. I’m not a ticket-er. Fuck, I don’t even know how to open a ticket. I mean, I could figure it out. But I’m pretty sure that bar isn’t even enabled on my UI.
What I’m trying to say is I don’t prescribe to the Dev doctrine of “if you don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist.” Gaming, and it’s community, have evolved and things don’t get brushed under the rug anymore. Don’t delete threads, make your presence known in them. The official forums are a way for your customers to let YOU know what is happening. Anyone who is intentionally hiding what they are doing isn’t going there to post. Forum posters are trying to help you with a problem. And if someone is stupid enough to advertise what they are doing, that’s a perfect way to publically punish someone for their actions. You are in charge, take control of your game. Take a look at other MMOs and see how they have responded to exploits. When Wildstar had a widely spread exploit, they requested players turn themselves in for lesser punishments. This made their lives easier, and also made the line on exploiting clear. This game of PR catch up and secrecy isn’t working, try something new. Social media is real, it’s also a quick and easy way to track the pulse of your game. With the current company line, you make it seem like you are unaware or uncaring.
If thousands of players are doing it, it’s being advertised in fleet, and has spread to different servers; I’m not doing MY job of talking about the game if I don’t talk about it. Fame hungry and a little reckless? Sure. But I’m not in good graces, so I don’t get the opportunities over fansites and community members get. And, I’m ok with that. I’ve always toed the line and don’t stay within the lines.
So, what do you think? Is it an exploit? Can it be “fixed”? Who is gonna get banned and do you think it will be enough to deter future exploiters?