Is that cheating?

Since I began gaming on my Atari in the 80’s, there has always been cheats and tricks on all sorts of games and consoles. I remember buying some magazines that had fun little codes that gave the character a level-up or unending health, or infinite resources, or just a special move on a fight game. And players always loved showing their friends what kind of tricks they knew.

At the current state of online communication, there are now several resources on the web dedicated to discussing the games and, of course, several new ways of getting a hold of these tricks. World of Warcraft is certainly no different.

But Wow players usually have a different perspective on what cheating in this game really is. For example, discussing a strategy to beat an encounter is definitely not cheating. Sharing experiences is expected in a MMO, right?

But what if there’s a bug in an encounter, which can be exploited into turning it a lot easier than it should be. Would that be cheating?

The immediate response would be YES, because it goes against the Terms of Service and can lead to a suspension or ban. Even my use of the words “bug” or “exploit” kinda leads you into thinking this way, because it’s embedded with a negative connotation to a fair gamer.

However, I don’t think it’s so simple like that. And I’ll try to exemplify it with some actual cases.

EXAMPLE 01:

Last week, I posted on my guild forums a small suggestion for the XT-002 Deconstructor fight.

I had just done it differently than what we normally do, and thought I’d share. It was just a weekend 10 man with some friends and pugs, but you never know when you’re gonna learn something useful.

Anyway, what we have always been doing (successfully) for the past weeks is tanking XT by the stairs and handling the adds that come from the rubble piles on the four corners of the room with the usual mix of tanking the pummelers, dpsing the bombs and AOEing the little scrap bots.

We had everyone spread out and our ranged dps team was split into taking care of either the right or left side of the room.

This is the standard strat you can find in Bosskillers, StratFu, Wow-Raid, etc… of course with some small differences among them.

This alternative strategy instead required tanking XT by the left or right wall, about midway – so he is kind of evenly near both piles on that side. He should have his back to the room, where the melee would bunch up right behind him, and the ranged and healers in a cluster further back.

For some reason, the adds do not spawn from the piles too close to XT, so it happens the adds now only come from the opposite side of the room, which is a bit distance, giving the group a lot more time to dps the boss (which is great for hard-mode), as well as downing the repair bots before reaching him. Also, the ranged dps wasn’t divided up in right or left sides anymore, because they could all reach the incoming adds, easily taking care of them.

This made the fight a lot easier, no doubt about it. We would still need to care about the Light and Gravity Bombs of course, but the adds would be under control a lot better. It worked wonders on the 10 man I did, and after a bit of online research, as well as talking to other friends who play the game, I learned that a lot of guilds have been doing it that way since the release of Ulduar.

So I posted the strat on the guild forum, so we could think about it together and decide if it was worth trying on our 25 man. But the decision of course is up to the Raid Leader, the GMs and the officers, so I was looking forward to their opinions. That’s when our RL Ms. Tigerfeet posted her short remark about this strat:

“And if we do it this way, and get used to doing it the ‘easy’ way, what happens if this is a glitch and Blizzard fixes it? Do we find ourselves suddenly unable to be competitive on this fight?”

There couldn’t be a more appropriate question to come from a Raid Leader and I actually loved her initial refusal. In other words, she was asking “But… isn’t that cheating?”

_ Well, is it?

First of all, why assume the right way of doing this fight is with him in the middle. Because those raid guides state so?

Boss fights don’t come with an official instruction manual from Blizz, so no one can know exactly what the developers were trying to achieve. It’s up to the players to find the most effective (“easy”) way to go through the encounters and that’s how the guides and strats show up.

So, unless Blizz says it’s a glitch and that it’s not how the fight is intended to work, I certainly won’t consider it an exploit. Maybe it was always supposed to be that way. Maybe it’s how it was meant to be done. We can never know for sure, unless we have some official confirmation or action from Blizz.

For example, right after a raid managed to blitzkrieg hard-mode Freya, just ignoring adds and zerging her with the full healing buff standing, Blizzard hotfixed the encounter in a heartbeat, just to prevent that! That’s a final statement determining it was definitely not the original design, right?

But that hasn’t happened yet to the non-spawning piles close to XT, so I can still consider it part of the encounter design and not a glitch.

My argumentation actually convinced her and everyone else and we’ve been doing it like that the past couple of times.

EXAMPLE 02:

But let’s bring another example into the mix… this one from a very well known blogger, Matticus. In this recent post, he talks about a way to skip the trash on the way to Mimiron, saving some precious raid time.

I actually knew this one, because my brother has been doing that with his guild, so it was interesting to see it on one of my favorite blogs.

Now, just like it came up on the comments to that article, wouldn’t that certainly be considered cheating?

Trash is there for a reason, and not supposed to be skipped, but we all certainly skip a few packs of mobs if we can avoid (on Hodir trash, for example – not to mention BC raids). However, skipping a whole lot of trash seems to be going over the edge… or not?

If a GM indeed was asked about it and the response was that it is a cheat, then it’s up to you to decide if you’re still gonna use this tip or not, since it can lead to suspensions.

But you may ask “why don’t they fix it if it’s a bug?”. Maybe they still don’t know how, which can happen with the complexity of this game.

But what if there’s no official positioning on the matter?

Is it wrong to take advantage of a bug, glitch or error in design or programming?

That is definitely a personal choice. A tough one sometimes.

Don’t you remember the guy who one-shotted Ulduar? Wouldn’t you also be tempted to use an I WIN item if it fell on your hands? At least for fun… to see if it worked?

I definitely don’t think this is as simple as it may sound on theory.

What do you guys think?

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~ by Wangari on June 24, 2009.

One Response to “Is that cheating?”

  1. It’s tough to decide. Personally, I think there are some things that are very obviously exploiting a bug, and doing that should be discouraged – like the guy who used that special GM item to one-shot Ulduar. I’m not saying I wouldn’t use an item like that if I got it in the mail, but I’d probably go run some old dungeon or kill a bunch of creatures.

    Things like pulling trash from a different room into a boss fight to give you a new advantage, or having mobs bug out and reset, those are obvious. I’d just ask myself, “could Blizzard have intended the fight to work like this?” If the answer is clearly no, then I wouldn’t risk doing it.

    BTW, I totally did not realize you had a blog Wang! Adding you to my Unemployed Bloggers links 🙂

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