Legalize it (macroing that is)

What if Aventurine today announced that afk macroing was legal, but only by the rules they set, and that anyone breaking said rules would suffer consequences beyond the ones they have in place now? Instead of chasing every last person swimming or running up against a wall, adjust the rules to make sure risk-free activities are pointless, while also changing how other skills are meant to be increased.

Solving the problem of people swimming against a wall or other risk-free activities is rather easy; remove the benefit. If swimming did not provide slow but steady stat gains even after the skill was at 100, no one would do it. There is no reason to keep such gains as players can get their stats up through other, more legit means. If you must, simply increase the gains from activities like PvE to compensate.

The big change however would be with things like buff or utility spells. Rather than have a rather shady police about macroing but not afk-macroing, simply allow a player to be logging in (afk or otherwise) casting a spell over and over. Just set rules that this can’t be done within range of NPC guard towers to keep an element of risk in, and maybe change how those spells affect other things like magic intensity and intelligence gain.

The idea would be that if you want high buff or utility spells, you would need to cast them over and over, so macroing would be ok. Once ‘legalized’, player cities would be even more valuable PvP targets, as those afk players would be a nice easy kill for some reagents. Want to limit your risk? Only macro attended, or only bring out a small amount of regs. Don’t care about risk? Macro with enough regs to last you an entire night/day/whatever. Point is, leave it up to the players, and just make sure the rules support the possibilities.

If you want to limit what can be macroed, adjust the in-game rules rather than the policies the GMs enforce (that they themselves are not always totally clear on). Don’t want players skilling up their weapons on other afk players? Change the in-game rules to accommodate this. Make skill gain exponentially decay when hitting the same target, so that someone still has the option to macro all night/day, but their gains are not as efficient as someone who is out PvE’ing or just actively switching targets.

Regardless of how the rules are ultimately set, in a ‘use to skill up’ system like DarkFall, you have to go into it expecting people to macro or otherwise act in a manner not strictly intended. No player is ever going to hit 100 Launch skill by only using the spell every time they need to reach a higher point, and it’s silly to pretend anyone would. The system is designed to create a lengthy path of gradual player improvement, which is fine. Just make some changes so that the path is a bit smoother, rather than being one that caters to those who travel at night.

(DarkFall-related post disclaimer/reminder. If you click the image link near the top-right of this page and buy a DarkFall account, I get paid 20% of the client cost. If you believe this taints my views and reporting on DarkFall, your opinion is wrong.)

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Combat Systems, Darkfall Online, MMO design, Rant. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Legalize it (macroing that is)

  1. Tipa says:

    If they legalize macroing, why not just set the skills to max values from character creation? Or just automatically increase them with the age of the account?

    If you feel you have to macro something in order to play the game well, that’s a design flaw that should be corrected, not an opening for an even more dubious in-game practice.

    • SynCaine says:

      Because it costs gold and time to macro, so you can’t just EVE-it and be offline 29/30 days and progress. You would have to fund your macroing, and if balanced correctly, the more aggressive (faster) the macroing, the more expensive/riskier it would be.

      It would also mean players (targets) are still in-game, and areas that are better protected from attack (active cities/hamlets) are of higher value. Finally it means raiding an enemies is an effective way to not only gain wealth, but also disrupt their progression.

  2. Oxymustard says:

    @ Tipa.

    It doesn’t necessarily mean there is a flaw in the game design. Humans are lazy, always looking for shortcuts. Searching for that sideroad they’ll macro everything including their own mothers.

  3. sid67 says:

    The whole macroing idea is flawed and obviously not intended. Aventurine is just in the awkward position of the players having accepted it as the norm.

    It’s ludicrous to “legalize” something like AFK macroing. If you are going to take that step, why not just implement the EVE system where the skill up is trained while you log off?

    It’s a design ‘problem’ with on use skill-ups. I say problem rather than flaw because I think it could be mitigated with aggressive enforcement. Right now, Aventurine’s position is ambiguous at best and they likely lack the resources to eliminate it.

    As you point out, you can make design changes that lower the reward or even get rid of the benefit of macroing, but unless you radically change the entire system — you are always going to have people trying to game it.

    What is funny about this post is that you are taking the position that it is in fact intended. I would argue that it’s not intended but an unfortunate consequence that they can’t easily reverse.

    It’s similar to how a ‘bug’ or ‘exploit’ become so commonly accepted that it morphs it’s way into becoming part of the game. In a way, it’s similar to “bunny hopping”.

    • SynCaine says:

      I think the difference between bunny hopping and how someone skills up Launch is that one is clearly unintended (hopping), while the other I’m not sure about. I mean AV must have know how often the average player would use Launch normally, and yet they set that amount 1000x higher to skill it up, even to say 50 to allow you to get over a city wall.

      I think the reason they have not fixed hopping is that it’s not causing any harm in-game. Everyone can do it, it takes a certain amount of skill to pull it off, and it does not ‘break’ anything. Mounts not healing also somewhat ‘curbed’ the appeal.

      I can’t apply the above to Launch though.

      • sid67 says:

        What’s there not to be sure about? Do you really think that Aventurine designed anything to be skilled-up through automation?

        That’s the ludicrous part. Thinking that they would intentionally build something into the game that they felt would only be achievable with third party programs or hardware.

        I think the more likely scenario is that they never really intended anyone but the most dedicated to have such skills at max level.

        Is it so unreasonable to think that they didn’t WANT everyone to be able to Launch over a city wall? That the trade off to being able to do such a thing would be a terribly boring grind of using the Spell?

        To me, the fact that Macroing is unintended behavior is painfully obvious. Perhaps I just have a clearer perspective on it being newer to the game.

        (BTW, off topic, but I’m glad Tobold is finally fighting back)

        • valkrysa says:

          I wouldn’t really call Tobold’s post “fighting back” any more than anything he normally does. Perhaps if he hadn’t done it on whiny post day so he’d have cover I’d be more inclined to believe it was something more than a joke.

        • valkrysa says:

          Adding in, I agree with sid67 here. The idea that seems most likely to me is that these were skills that you arn’t supposed to max. It’s possible to max them, but it isn’t intended, if you do it you get great rewards (such as launching over a city wall) that are meant to be unique.

        • Kilratha says:

          I agree, they never meant certain skills to be maxed out in a month of automated casting. Yeah they do nothing to stop it and as long as you have the talent of a monkey you to can be l33t darkfall skill gainer as well. But I do not think it was ever intend to be as such, and would be VERY disappointed if they ever truly legalized it. (outside of just doing nothing about it, which in and of itself is annoying enough.)

          P.S. what city are you having trouble getting in. My launch skill is 38 and I do not seem to have much of a problem getting into any city at this point. I just have to pick a good spot.

        • SynCaine says:

          You need launch at or around 50 to get over Alfar city walls like in MS. Dag you can easily get over the walls at a much lower level of launch because they have some sections that are much lower. Launch + tele also works well.

  4. Jomu says:

    i was thinking maybe for those skills such as swimming or launch, maybe it can be a skill that can be purchased for gold. The cost would be whatever it would be the time it normally takes to get the person to that skill and see what is the average amt of money a person can make in that time period of pure money making. Whether it be individual units of skill or batches (25, 50, 75, 100).

    So in a basic example:
    it takes 100 hours to get to 100 skill
    and you can make an average of 10gold an hour
    it should cost possibly 10,000 gold to get 100 skill in (say) swimming

    its not a realistic approach (a game that Darkfall seems to be), but just an idea to combat macroing

    • sid67 says:

      Ah.. so instead of AFK macro swimming, which only impacts the person swimming, your preference would be to have AFK macro miners/loggers/harvesters who are trying to grind out stuff to sell for gold instead.

      The issue is only partly the related to “on use” skills. The real problem is the acceptance and lack of enforcement.

  5. Ludo says:

    The concept of leveling up skills with use is great, I prefer it to a class based system.

    However, if you could level up skills through “normal use” at a reasonable rate then the “hardcore” will happily afk macro their skills overnight.

    If it takes an insane/impractical amount of time to level up skills via normal use, then players will naturally optimize (read: macro) their advancement.

    I always thought a work-around would be to award skill advancement through normal play with diminishing returns after a certain point, like a fatigue value that is removed every 24 hours.

    “Normal players” will advance passively through normal play and “hardcore” players will have a slight advantage (as they should) but still run into a soft cap for the day for any specific skill they have been heavily using – neither player having any incentive to afk macro.

  6. Ivoldir says:

    I don’t think allowing Macro’ing is the way to go. Legalizing it will just allow people to stay in their holding all day and grind their stats while a few groups raid cities to cities, killing AFKs.

    As for AFK Casting Buff/Utilities spells, why not just greatly reduce the grind on these specific spells? Or simply allow us to buy the Ranks. For exemple: Launch. Why should I cast 20000 times Launch to level it to 100. It’s just stupid. So why not just pay say….250-500-1000-2000 gold to get the Launch skill from rank 1 to 25,50,75 and 100. You CAN’T raise these skills during PvP fights as you pointed out in a previous blog. So why not just allowing players to “buy there way in” with gold for specific utility/buff spells?

    I agree on removing stats gain for AFK swimming. But I just don’t want Aventurine to allow AFK Run/Swim/Casting Macro’ing, it’s an extremely bad idea in my opinion and AV ought to enforce stronger rules.

  7. Carson63000 says:

    “in a ‘use to skill up’ system like DarkFall, you have to go into it expecting people to macro or otherwise act in a manner not strictly intended”

    Exactly. It’s a shame, because “use to skill up” is an intuitive and logical game design for character advancement. But I’m just not sure that it’s truly workable in its “pure” form.

    Ludo’s suggestion of diminishing returns is interesting. It reminds me of LOTRO’s skill use deeds which have a daily cap on them (for those who haven’t played, there are achievements like “use [certain skill] 500 times” which unlock a new ability, but there’s a cap that you can only get credit for say 50 uses per day).

    Then there’s always a conflict between skilling up things that you do all the time (like running in Darkfall, or combat with your primary weapon), things that you don’t, but could do if you wanted (e.g. combat with a different type of weapon), and things that you simply don’t have any reason to do frequently other than skilling up (like your Launch spell, or long duration buff spells). You can’t even fix it by tuning the unusual activities to require less uses to skill up because that runs right into the problem of people feeling encouraged to just mindlessly repeat the act in order to max it out.

    Maybe a workable hybrid can be found between “use to skill up” and level-based?

    I’m stretching my memory here, because I played it something like seven years ago, but how did Morrowind’s stat system work? I seem to recall it had levels, and when you levelled up you got some stat increases, but which stats increased was determined by which skills you had used most in the process of earning that level. Perhaps a system could be designed where rate of skill advancement was determined by “achievement” (what that is would be determined by the game style: killing mobs, completing quests, PvP victories, etc.), but what skills are advanced was determined by which skills you used during the course of that achievement.

    It wouldn’t need to actually have levels. Perhaps an experience bubble fills up as you do “stuff”, when it hits the top, it picks a skill (randomly? weighted by frequency of usage? weighted by current skill level?) out of everything you’ve done while filling that bubble, and adds a point to it. Then the bubble empties.

  8. Stormwaltz says:

    In a game like Darkfall, I can’t see any reason not to let the community police the issue according to their own standards. Player sees macro bot, player kills macro bot… or doesn’t. Why involve GMs at all?

    This may be breathtaking naivete on my part, but I thought player “justice” and consequences were part of the appeal of DF.

  9. tariqone says:

    I can’t believe you’re writing a bot “to have the fun for you.”

  10. Zensun says:

    Macroing should be an immediate bannable offence, pure and simple. No ‘time off’ slap on the wrist. People should fear repercussion from macroing. If that happened, you’d pretty quickly see an end to afk swimmers.

    And differentiating between areas where it’s acceptable, or that saying that doing it afk isn’t ok but that attended is ok simply sends out mixed messages and makes it more difficult to explain to those that want to pretend they don’t understand they’re breaking the rules.

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