Farming – Here Comes the Pain!

So I was online in CoH last night and as usual there was a lot of discussion surrounding mission architect and farming.   I commented that I’d noticed the one farming mission I knew had vanished, and someone else remarked that most of them were being cleared out and another person made a comment about something Positron had said about the farming.  

So, intrigued to see what he’d said, I checked out the official forums this morning, and basically it amounts to the crackdown I’d been waiting on, but they’re not pulling their punches either.

In a post here Positron takes a stand against the abuse of the Mission Architect and announces the various punishments that are being looked at (NOT decided) including:

  • Removal of benefits from characters who have abused the system (I’m assuming this would effectively amount to rolling them back to their state pre-I14 launch).
  • Complete removal of characters if its felt warranted.
  • Changes to the Architect badges (this one is definitely happening).
  • Suspensions or bans from the entire MA system for using exploits when creating a mission.
  • Banned missions will still use up one of three available publishing slots. Meaning if you get 3 missions banned due to them using exploits, you can’t publish any more content again.

Now, I should underline the fact that none of this is decided.  Positron’s clear that these are options that are just being considered.

I mentioned previously that it was only a matter of time before the devs would come down on this stuff like a tonne of bricks.  The amount of XP that could be made in these missions was excessive.   There’s now proof floating around of a character that was levelled from 1-50 in a matter of hours thanks to this.

However, the harshness of some of these punishments strikes me as a little uncalled for.   There’s a vagueness associated with them, as they’re obviously still deciding what to do, but I think there has to be a moderated response here.   I’m suspecting a few examples to be made, but my take based on these proposals would be:

Put a version of Positron’s post in game as a message of the day.   Consider it fair warning to all players that there’s going to be a zero-tolerance policy from now on.

In an ideal world I’d argue to just take things from that point forward.  Any characters (even excessively-PL’d ones) are left alone, and for any existing farming/exploit missions, delete them (as they’re currently doing), and maybe an email to the player warning them that if it happens again they’ll lose a publishing slot in line with the suggestions.

The danger with the kind of heavy-handed action being speculated on (even though it may never come to pass), is that it’ll just cause a backlash in the playerbase.   The idea of losing any character, or even a few levels is going to be hard for any players to take, and a lot of the playerbase have been doing farming missions since I14 was launched.

I think its more realistic that we’ll see examples made of the extreme cases (such as the level 50s that got there in a couple of hours or days), and for the rest they’ll be left alone.    A lot of the players won’t read the forums or anything like that, so there’s a good chance that they won’t know about Positron’s post, or what constitutes farming vs an exploit (apparently Rikti Comms Officers constitute some form of exploit, although I’m not clear on how yet, and I only read about it this morning, which kind’ve proves my point).

I’m also not keen on the way Positron’s post says this is all based around feedback received during the Anniversary event.  Now, I don’t for a second believe this is actually the case.  It’ll be based on the dev’s intentions, the forums and various other sources.  However I think just saying that its from the Anniversary event is a bit of a misstep in what is undoubtedly going to be a controversial post.    That event would have only been attended by the minority of the player base.   Heck, I was interested in attending, but I only got the in-game notice that it was happening when I saw a global “See you in Pocket D” message.   “Cool” I thought, but then found out it was Pocket D on the Test Server.   Since I didn’t have a test server installation setup, I skipped it.  Does this mean that the people who already had it setup get to dictate the game experience I should be having?   As I say, its almost certainly not the case, but those sentences lept out at me as a problem in what he was saying.

At the end of the day, we all knew it wouldn’t last.   I am surprised that the system went live with such clear capabilities to make farming/exploit missions that would result in this backlash, however now that the devs want to crack down on it, I say fine.  But the tone of the post strikes me as overly heavy-handed.    At the end of the day, its just a game, and is deleting someone’s characters or rolling them back worth the loss of their subscription?

My hope is that its just meant to scare everyone away from abusing the MA until they plug the holes, and in my case its certainly worked.   Any pickup groups I join that are running MA missions of any kind I’ll quit.  I’ll only run MA missions if I’m testing my own, or I’m in a group with people I know aren’t going to start running farming/exploit missions.

And that’s the shame of this situation.  The MA is an excellent system and allows players to produce some great content.    But now I’m worried to touch it lest my characters are smited.

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