Updated Mon, Jan 05, 2009 by Martuk
One of the biggest draws for me and a lot of other people to an MMOG is the community setting and things that inspire social interaction. Let’s face it; an MMOG is nothing more than a chat room with dragons and we like it like that. However, there is an ever growing problem with the social aspect of many MMOG’s. Our chat channels and venues of communication are being stripped away a piece at the time by gold spammers creating free trial accounts and spamming us to the point that our communication venues become useless.
One of the many things that can make a great community is a way for players to interact socially. In the early days of games like Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot, and Ultima Online, people communicated through open chat channels such as shout, tells, general chat, and in the rare case, Newbie Advice type channels. There was less spam during that time frame. More recent MMOG’s are having a serious problem providing players with this small social aspect for one main reason, GOLD SPAM!!! Yes, we are back to this age old topic that never gets old.
Lord of the Rings Online is a prime example of a game having a serious issue with these aggravating spam bots. Anyone who has set foot in Bree recently knows the first thing you have to do is disable Our of Character (OOC) chat, Advice chat, and Trade chat. Three channels that are a key element to player communication and social interaction are constantly bombarded with gold seller spam. What does the endless spam of these three particular channels mean for players trying to make their way through Middle-earth and maybe even meet a few new friends along the way? Let’s take a look.
This channel in previous games and even in Lord of the Rings Online for a while were a key area for players to chat, discuss the game, and if they wanted other things in a channel that at times could be a bit hostile, but for the most part was a good place to engage in some discussion. That channel in any main town for the most part is something most players will now choose to ignore.
Let’s face it; this channel use to be a very useful place to ask questions and get advice about the game, but now it too is spammed to no end. Try and ask a question and the only response you will likely get is Buy gold her, Power level 1-50 in 10 days.
This channel once served as a place for players to trade their goods and search for a specific item and maybe even find a crafter of a certain type for a given task. Trying to option that in now will often times be like trying to swim the Atlantic Ocean while breathing through a straw. Eventually you’ll drown.
Two minutes in Bree and the chat channels must go.
What can be done to fix this problem? That my friends; is a good question. Short of devoting a full time GM to traversing the zones and zapping those little spammers as they inevitably appear is one thing. I suppose they could rework the ticket system to have a GM ready to pounce the minute a report comes in, but again a requirement of resources most developers will not choose to invest in. I'm not sure what more you can do to the free trial accounts that won't make the players who actually want to try the game suffer, but it is apparent that those are the main venue of spam for these companies. Everquest made a newbie instance for trial accounts that allowed the characters to get a feel for the game and then transfer to live servers with a retail version. This really seems like the best option to put an end to the spam. The developers would have to take that task on and who can say if they are willing.
Lord of the Rings is not the only MMOG to see this particular problem. World of Warcraft, Everquest 2, and any number of others have similar problems even if not as severe. I have only what I have already suggested as a solution, but it is a problem that needs to be addressed for the overall health of the LOTRO gaming community. Not to mention we want our chat channels back. As it is now, the game is beginning to feel like a small world, restricted to ones own Kinship. Assuming you have one.
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