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An Interview with Funcom About Recent Player Bans

Posted Fri, May 30, 2008 by B. de la Durantaye

Questions by Benjamin J. de la Durantaye, Age of Conan Lead CM, Ten Ton Hammer
Answers by Mathis, Senior Customer Service & QA Manager

Recently there have been player bans in Age of Conan. The community has been asking for details as to what has happened and what players can do if they feel they have been wrongly banned. Today we were able to get the following details from Funcom Senior Customer Service & QA Manager, Mathis.


Ten Ton Hammer: Recently several accounts have been banned due to suspicious activity. Can you elaborate on this as to why these accounts were banned?

Mathis: We can’t go into details on exactly what was done by the offenders but as we have said in public, some members of the community found a weakness in the game; an exploit that they decided to abuse to gain extra money in the game. It wasn’t directly a money exploit, but by using the exploit itself they got access to more money. Our experience tells us that we need to be pro-active and react when serious issues like this arise. Most people don’t like that there are possibilities for cheating in any game, and therefore we have zero tolerance for exploits. We don’t want to sit on the fence and watch a small group of players ruin the game experience for the rest of the community.

The downside with it all is that sometimes other people get dragged into it. If we see some suspicious behavior we might have to close accounts temporarily for investigation. It’s a way to do damage control to make sure things don’t get out of hand until we have control over the situation.

This is a somewhat touchy topic as we can’t reveal too many details about how we do this - that would give away our procedures and help people get away with it next time they find an exploit. No matter how much we work to cover everything, sooner or later there will be new exploits born in Hyboria. That’s just the way MMOs work. However, our goal is to minimize the damage, and obviously do our best to ensure that it won’t happen again.

Ten Ton Hammer: What if the accounts banned were legitimate accounts? For instance many guilds have given a guild character much gold to act as a guild bank until the in-game bank was brought back up. What can players do to get these accounts reactivated, assuming the gold was legitimate?

Mathis: Sometimes accounts suspended were legitimate accounts but we do our best to avoid this. Suspicious behavior might cause a temporary suspension until we have verified that it was a false alarm. We have our own team going through data to analyze whether it was legitimate or not. Every case is analyzed and accounts will be re-opened if we happen to verify that actions were legitimate. On this specific incident, players should do as instructed in the mail we sent out to those who got affected. They should e-mail [email protected] and our staff will process their case. We have no intention of keeping players from playing the game. So it is in our best interest to make sure that people get back in the game if everything was legitimate.

Ten Ton Hammer: Some accounts have had gold removed but the account wasn't banned. Is there anything these players can do to rectify the situation if the gold was legitimate?


Ten Ton Hammer: Will players be notified if their accounts will NOT be reactivated?

Mathis: Yes, everyone sending an e-mail regarding this specific issue will be notified no matter what the outcome would be. It is important to mention that people will not get a response by using this address if the issues are for something else. This address is only to handle the exploit incidents. For any other issues players should check the FAQ located here:

http://support.ageofconan.com/

Ten Ton Hammer: Do you feel the alarms for this thing may be too sensitive as they stand? What kind of plans are in place to avoid this same problem in the future, given the amount of money it requires to build a complete city?

Mathis: We don’t feel that the alarms are too sensitive. Looking at our numbers of those being affected, it wasn’t many at all. I should point out that some people that got suspended never did anything wrong. Those are being contacted and informed that accounts are being re-opened. Some are already back in Hyboria enjoying their time. What’s important is that we are efficient and make sure that those players getting temporary suspensions get back in the game in a timely manner, and don’t need to wait too long before they hear back from us.

We understand that it can be frustrating being affected by this if everything you do as a player is legit, and I can assure every customer that we’ll do our best to cover every area to minimize the impact. After all, we obviously want people to enjoy the game and what it has to offer. Together we can ensure that those cheating stay away, as we don’t support that sort of behavior and we encourage everyone to report exploits if you come across one by using [email protected].

I hope that gave you some answers to your questions!



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