Editor's Note: Meant to be Broken?

Meant to be Broken?

This issue of The Escapist is all about "the line" in games: how it's crossed, by whom and why this is sometimes a good thing.

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wow, i try and imagine a scenario where i wouldn't have asked the person to turn of their mic or mute after 5 seconds, even if i played with my grandma or Chuck Norris i wouldn't hesitate to ask em to turn it off or mute.

but anyways, this weeks issue looks great.

/finger bazooka.

Hahaha wow. I would have done the exact same thing. What an asshole. At least excuse yourself and turn of the mic. Pause the game and eat properly. Dear oh dear...

blech...eating sounds are GROSS. I'd be quite annoyed at this person for their boorish behaviour.

Russ... You hate me?

How could you!? After all that we've been through!

I'm leaving you, and I'm taking the good china!

Ugh, that shit drives me insane!

I seriously can't stand it when people do that over voice chat.

At the risk of starting a flame war, this is one of the problems with XBOX Live's voice communication system.

PC games have had voice communication for years. Some of them support a voice-activated model, with some sort of a threshold level for turning on (so that breathing and eating don't activate it). Even then, you often transmit things you didn't intend, like coughs, sneezes, and burps. Almost every game has used the push-to-talk (PTT) model. It can be kind of annoying to have to press the button when you're panicking, but at least you are in control of what gets transmitted.

Though many games may be different, all of the XBOX games I have played use an always-on model, as in, every bloody noise is transmitted. And those headsets actually pick up on sound quite well, transmitting the hum of your computer, a TV or conversation in the background, and you slurping down a soda. Their "push-to-talk" option is a mute switch on the microphone itself, which is dangling down on the headphone cable. I don't consider this to be a PTT option as much as a privacy option: it's the best way to be sure that you aren't accidentally transmitting something you don't want on the air. But it sure isn't a good option for turning on and off while playing a game.

Given this, players should be a bit more considerate of the noises they make, but I wonder if they even realize. When I was playing, I never heard my own voice retransmitted back into my ears, so I had no idea what the other person could hear. Besides, the microphone is right up by my mouth, so it hears things that a person standing 3 feet away would never hear. Though headsets are meant to reproduce face-to-face communication, they work quite differently from what we are used to in such situations, so our usual auditory cues don't work.

Which is why I really like PTT. It leaves the player in control so they only transmit what and when they intend to. Yes, you still get people who think it's funny to burp in your ear, or playback their favorite song or movie quotes, but at least they are intentionally being rude as opposed to the untold masses who are being unintentionally rude.

Until then, please turn off your mic when you are doing ANYTHING else.

That made me kinda sick just reading, I hate Jambalaya... It is kinda impressive to eat and play though.. I HATE JAMBALAYA!
I didn't know there was any rules or lines in gaming though thought it was all, "do what you want that's why they're here."

touch stuff.. sometimes I do it just to annoy my friends though.. But then they do similar things, so it's expected.

As far as push to talk.. My controller hasa mute switch right there, which I use often to mute myself.

if you hate people, why did you become editor of a popular online gaming magazine? so we can all hate peopel together?

Uugh, disgusting.

Yea...if I do play online I prefer RTS games. Still some immature people out there but usually they tend to have better etiquette. Perhaps it's just the patience required in playing an RTS.

Yeah, the solution is PTT. Means this doesn't come up that much. Infact, most teamspeak servers I've been on actually disallow voice activation.

Which means those times when someone says "cover me, I'm eating pasta" in the middle of a firefight hilliarous rather than disgusting.

Man, there was this one time a few years ago when a friend of mine spent the night over at my house. It was probably around 2AM and we were both bored out of our skulls. We were trying to figure out what we should do to pass the time (because fuck sleep) when I remembered that the copy of Tetris Worlds that came with my Xbox had Live support. I suggested we check out the online play just for shits 'n giggles and my friend agreed because, well, there wasn't really a whole lot else going on. As I recall, there were exactly two other people online and looking for a match--just enough for a full game. So we joined up with them and played for a round, during which we got rocked. My friend, one of the random people and I all got our asses handed to us by the fourth guy. We were blown out of the fucking water. It was at this point, at the end of the game, that we heard someone yell over the previously silent voice channel, "I'M THE FUCKING WINNER, YEAH!" My friend and I spent the next couple of months quoting that guy any chance we got.

I would like to correct a simple misconception here: it is very possible for games to be policed, and viable to do so. The only reason it does not happen is because of a combination of laziness and outright greed since while the costs of doing so would not be prohibitive but they would be sizable and cut into profits.

Simply put, to police games what you need is a team of people who are always online on any server whose job it is to enforce the rules, and whom are able to take quick and decisive action. This differs from GMs as they exist now, because many GMs seem to take the attitude that they aren't there to be rules police so to speak, and they are generally operating with their hands more or less tied in taking any paticular action. It can take weeks or months to do something, and while they mention frequently that they will "investigate" something, mostly what they are talking about doing is waiting for someone to finally recode the game rather than deal with the actual problems going on within the game.

I look back at MUDs and how even some of the most PVP centric ones kept order. This was typically done by having a bunch of people online at any given time whose job it was to run around and enforce the rules such as it was. These guys would hide using dev invisibility specifically waiting for people to break rules, monitor private chats of suspected private players and "guilds" (such as they were), and similar things. Then when they caught people there were punishments meted out ranging from the removal of items, to the editing of statistics, to the suspension or banning of players from the game in general.

Among other things I feel one of the problems is that MMORPGs in paticular limit their own options in policing the community by pretty much only working with suspension and bans. Not only does this prevent middle ground punishments and "slaps on the wrist" (so to speak) but also means that in many cases your either forced to ban someone for an exploit (as happened with some guilds even in WoW) or deal with a suspension and eventual return of characters to play who still have the benefits (loot, gold, stats) accrued through whatever was done.

My own experience as a game enforcer on a MUD probably won't work as much of an example since I was in an "enforced RP" game where everyone was supposed to be In Character all the time. I had a character who could disguise themself, turn invisible, and do all kinds of things who had "admin" type powers and was assigned to do a combination of IC and OOC policing through killing characters, removing items, and doing a variety of differant tasks. Both as a result of my own investigation, and being assigned to deal with problem situations by other admins who were concerned, but spent their time coding and/or building the MUD and didn't want to have to worry about whether some of the PvP violence was being justified by RP, if someone found an exploit, or if we just had players being bullies.

However I have long felt that if you had say 10-20 people running around on each server who seemed just like normal characters, but were admins, and did nothing but look for people breaking rules, spied on conversations, and did other things before taking action, you would see some massive improvement despite the complaints. Not to mention the fact that when I look at some of the abuses in PVP over a period of time and the benefits that were able to accure due to things like the "Tauren Mount Exploit" back in the day, I long felt that being able to strip someone of honor, BG tokens, or whatever would have been more appropriate than say a 48 hour suspension which in the end doesn't remove the rewards they accrued. Ditto for situations where people exploited ways of making money or exps that were known. Docking someone 10 levels and force-unequipping all their gear would have been just annoying enough to discourage the behavior. Got a corpse camping problem (in whatever game?) have a GM that looks like a newbie wander by, get killed, wait for them to camp, and then insta-kill/suspend the group. It discourages bullying if there is a chance that guy your about to corpse camp is really a game cop.

Of course as I said, this would involve paying a bunch of extra people doing admin duties. It would also involve some initial risk of people actually leaving the game (albiet people that were harming the community, and which might encourage more players indirectly) but in the end I feel that is a non-factor both based on MUD experience, and the simple fact that MMORPG players whine about everything but rarely does anyone leave. All it will do is cut down on exploits and such by increasing the risks.

The concept DOES need some work of course, but the bottom line is that the whole issue of "exploits" exists in part because there is nobody to police them and few tools to o it with that matter. This is also the issue with general bad behavior in the game. I mean nowadays you contact a GM in any game, and if your lucky they will get a hold of you in "only" a couple of hours. By that time whatever you complained about is over and done with.

By the same token in non-MMORPG games, such as ones with people "boosting" achievements with benefits, all you need is some undercover dudes who operate a bit like "The Pro" whose job it is to deal with such things. Right now companies like Microsoft are willing to totally lock out someone's X-box, but for whatever reason are squeamish about having a GM edit accounts. All you really need to do is pay some guys to sit around on game forums looking for "achievement boosters" setting up meets, crash them, and then say wipe the
achievements of those players for that game. Heck they could also just sit around in the gaming community waiting to see people talk about it/admit it/ whatever, or even set up "honey traps" where they offer to get it going. Again, no need to ban and lock out someone's $300 console, just load up someone's profile on a computer with the right access and start removing achievements. This kind of thing DOES get touchy, but I could even see it going so far as basically wiping ALL multiplayer achievements from someone as a step before you actually cost them real money by locking their system out.

All rambling aside, the big obstacle to this kind of thing is of course companies not being willing to cut into their profits to hire people to do this kind of thing.

Besides which, when I look at the whole situation between "ItzLupo" and "The Pro" I can't help but wonder if the same affect could have been achieved if say Itzlupo had half of his quarter of a million gamer score erased (with random achievements being nuked after the multiplayer ones), which would have been a blow to his pride (since I'm guessing he takes it seriously) but wouldn't have actually cost him or his parents a few hundred dollars in hardware. Ask yourself seriously that if you were achievement hunting if you would not be on your best behavior if someone (who might not even be a player listed in your game) could do something like this to your account punitively if you were acting like a twit? How many more people would go to these services if you suddenly saw the "foul mouthed 12 year old" stereotype greatly reduced due to actual policing. Of couse ion a servie of that size I imagine it would take even more people than WoW.


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