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An Open Letter to Jeff Skalski

Discussion in 'UHall' started by Llewen, Dec 28, 2011.

  1. Llewen

    Llewen Grand Inquisitor
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    (For those of you who don't know, Jeff Skalski is our relatively new producer for Ultima Online, the replacement for Calvin Crowner.)

    Dear Sir,

    One of the issues that has plagued our beloved game since day one, and pvp specifically, have been the related issues of cheating, harassment and bullying. I mention pvp specifically because it is my main interest in UO and I am of the opinion that while other forms of cheating may have become less of a problem, cheating in pvp is as big a problem as it has ever been, and along with the cheating comes harassment and bullying. I link these two issues because very often the worst offenders when it comes to cheating are also the worst offenders when it comes to harassment and bullying.

    Quite simply the primary problem here is that no producer, or team of developers in the history of Ultima Online has, in my opinion, taken these issues seriously enough, or given them the attention they deserve. And throughout it's history our beloved game has had the unfortunate reputation of being a haven for cheaters and e-thugs, so much so that these things have become a part of the player fabric and culture of the game.

    So first off, in case it isn't obvious, I will state why this is a bad thing. Primarily it is a bad thing because it drives good people, and new and casual players away. Quite simply honest players, new players, and more casual players have little or no chance in pvp, which is in my opinion the most entertaining aspect of the game, because they either don't have access to, or refuse to use, the cheats that many of the most advanced pvp'rs in the game are using to gain the upper hand. Not only that, but the inevitable result of "failure" in pvp, is abuse and harassment.

    Throughout UO's history there have been periodic crack downs on various forms of cheating behaviour, and earlier this year pvp finally made it into that equation with the introduction of the infamous third party cheat/script detection. The problem is that, just as has always happened in the history of UO, a few people were banned, with great fanfare, a few people that very likely represented less than 1/10th of 1% of the actual cheating going on in the game, and in pvp specifically, and once that minor earthquake was over, it was back to business as usual.

    There are two primary problems with the current strategy with regard to cheating. First it appears that the job of policing the game has been abdicated entirely and the powers that be are only acting in response to direct player complaints. Secondly it also has become apparent that after that first wave of bans, multiple and egregious offenders are not being permanently banned - they are at the most receiving temporary suspensions that have, I expect, become more an object of comedy than any serious deterrent. In fact I know of a specific in game harassment case where the police actually became involved, and even with that, the primary offender has still not been permanently banned.

    (And if you are aware of the specifics of this case I would ask that you not discuss it here, this is simply brought up as an example and should absolutely not become a topic of this discussion. In fact I would deeply appreciate it if no specific cases were brought up in this thread other than in a very general and very abstract way, with no individuals singled out. Anything else would be a violation of the Stratics' ROC.)

    So what do I think needs to happen, and what is it that I am asking for in this letter? I am simply asking that the developer and publisher of this game do the job of enforcing their TOS, and enforcing it with sanctions that actually have some teeth to them. This can be boiled down to three simple requests.

    1. If the cheat detection actually works, and isn't a hoax perpetrated on us by the former producer, then it needs to be configured to flag accounts automatically for investigation. It shouldn't be the job of players to police other players. I know of no other online game developer that hasn't developed some form of automated cheat detection that involves flagging accounts automatically for further investigation.

    2. The general chat channels need to be moderated 24/7 by at least one paid employee whose job it is to act against players who engage in harassment and bullying behaviours.

    3. The consequences for violating the TOS need to be progressive, and ultimately permanent. If it starts with a warning, the second offence should result in a short suspension, the third a longer suspension, and the fourth should result in a permanent ban, perhaps with a statute of limitations on old infractions.

    Submitted with sincerity, Llewen
     
  2. Espilce

    Espilce Guest

    Dear Jeff,

    Please take the above letter seriously. Cheating and the general chat swearing is out of control and a big turn off. PVP is a big part of this game. I hope that the problems concerning it will be addressed so that more people can enjoy it.

    I like the recent publishes and I have a renewed hope for the future of Ultima Online.
     
  3. HD2300

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    LOL. Cheaters are p(l)ayers too.
     
  4. Tjalle

    Tjalle Grand Inquisitor
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    Very well said, Llewen!

    :thumbup1:
     
  5. Kylie Kinslayer

    Kylie Kinslayer Grand Inquisitor
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    :hahaha:

    Yes, why should we be FORCED to use the available options that already exist. After all it requires effort on OUR parts to follow current TOS and actually remove ourselves from the area of the offending party, or from the chat, or to actually page a GM on someone who violates TOS. Not to mention the ubearable task of clicking SOO many times to ignore someone that liberals have labeled a "bullying person". WE should not have to exhaust any efffort at all.

    *end sarcasm*


    I think Jeff's talents would be better spent in other areas of the game instead of the supposed bullying. There are already ways that has been dealt with, people should utilize them. Just my .02 tho
     
  6. Llewen

    Llewen Grand Inquisitor
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    Yes, p(l)ayers that drive a lot of other p(l)ayers away...
     
  7. Llewen

    Llewen Grand Inquisitor
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    Online bullying is a real, serious issue, that has lead to consequences as serious as death. It is an issue that should be apolitical. The truth is there are those who are vulnerable to bullying of all sorts, and those are precisely the kinds of people who bullies target - whether they are those who lack social skills, have poor self esteem, suffer from mental illnesses, or have experienced tragedies or difficulties in life that leave them vulnerable to personal attacks.

    You are wrong, mental illness is real, not a creation of a left wing biased media. If you are poor or sick, or have experienced tragedy in your life, it isn't always your own fault. And "solutions" to bullying behaviours may not be as obvious to those who are vulnerable to them, as they appear to be to you...
     
  8. Kylie Kinslayer

    Kylie Kinslayer Grand Inquisitor
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    My apologies, did not want to get this into a philosophical discussion on bullying in general. That said, I retract my statement that eluded to that whole realm. I know this is not the forum to hash out that old debate. We both would have valid points, both probably have a rather large soap box we can climb on slap FULL of statistics, and drag everyone through drama galore and no sense in doing that. :) So, truce on the political, psychological aspect?

    When it comes to taunts or bullying in game, EA has already taken steps to prevent someone from having to suffer anything they do not want to allow. The ignore option works well. If someone feels they are a victim of any action(s) like that their best course of action is to simply ignore the offending parties. I don't think Jeff or anyone else should have to monitior any form of chat to "protect" people from the verbal assault of anyone else.
     
  9. Storm

    Storm UO Forum Moderator
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    If someone in chat or above there character is saying anything you dont like you can turn on the obscenity filter if thats not enough you put them on ignore! If they are still managing to bother you by some type of griefing you then can report them !

    As to any type of cheating I think it effects ALL players and I believe all channels of reporting and taking care of the problem should be used!
     
  10. Tazar

    Tazar Guest

    Honestly - I've often thought that players should never be banned from UO. Instead - give the standard warnings, infractions, etc... and when it reaches time for a perma-ban, do a forced shard transfer to a shard called "The Banished Lands" (or some-such) with only the clothes on your back/backpack/bank/stable. No GM Support - No Rules (Kill and be killed everywhere) - let them have at it the way they want to play - but keep the income for the growth of the game. Once banned - access to all other shards goes away.

    Just my .02
     
  11. Storm

    Storm UO Forum Moderator
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    I would 100% support this idea!
     
  12. Kylie Kinslayer

    Kylie Kinslayer Grand Inquisitor
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    /signed

    :beer:

    I really hope Jeff reads the above post and runs with it.
     
  13. Llewen

    Llewen Grand Inquisitor
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    Good, I really didn't want to get into that discussion either. What I can say though is that the ignore feature doesn't deal with the problem of other players that don't care if you read what they are saying about you, but are trying to destroy your reputation, or belittle you in front of others. I do think that general chat should be moderated. I don't think it should be moderated with a heavy hand, but it should be moderated.

    However of the three suggestions I made, I realize that it (2.) is the one that could be most problematic as it would likely require significant resources to provide 24/7 moderator coverage of general chat on every shard.
     
  14. MalagAste

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    Well despite those who say it is a "non" issue...

    I'll say this. I can give you a list of about 30 or so names of folk who quit UO due to these very reasons.

    They felt Bullied, Harassed, felt they could not "complete" with the cheats, they got sick and tired of being hacked, scammed or cheated... and the "power that be" treated them not as a victim of bad behavior..... but more like either a total loser or a whiner who only wanted EA/DEV's/GM's to give them stuff...

    Also a great majority of games now DO return things that have been lost or stolen... however EA treats their players like thieves and criminals... rather than Help their p(l)ayers.

    I can also give a list of about 3 or 4 dozen who came back only to quit again because the above problems have not been addressed and cheating is still rampant.
     
  15. Llewen

    Llewen Grand Inquisitor
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    I actually would support this idea with the caveat that it only be accessible to those who have been banished to it. And absolutely no rules, you can script, hack, cheat, scam, do anything you want to there, with no consequences...
     
  16. Espilce

    Espilce Guest

    I like this idea! It's practically a reward for cheating. I wonder how many people would misbehave just to get banned?
     
  17. Tazar

    Tazar Guest

    I think it should be available to some as a choice... there are some that know up front that's how they want to play so let them have at it - but once the choice is made - it is irreversible and they'll only have access to the banished land.

    As to the rules - that's exactly the intent.
     
  18. MalagAste

    MalagAste Belaern d'Zhaunil
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    I'd go a step further and add that the choice made applies to all accounts registered to that P(l)ayer....
     
  19. Tazar

    Tazar Guest

    Agreed - so long as there is a way to separate family members... I'd hate to be banished over my son.
     
  20. Erigo

    Erigo Adventurer

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    I like Tazar's suggestion of "The Banished Lands" instead of banning and also the non-reversible choice aspect.

    I dislike the all accounts suggestion for the reason that all our families accounts are linked and (as Tazar posted) would hate to be limited to that by other family members)
     
  21. Theo_GL

    Theo_GL Grand Poobah
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    True pvp'ers play Siege. Wanna be punks play Yew gate. There are arenas and plenty of ways to enjoy pvp with worthy opponents. Problem is if you hang around the dump (yew gate) expect to find the trash.

    Turn off gen chat if you have thin skin. I just ignore all mental midgets fawning about how great they are in a dumb video game. Problem solved for me.
     
  22. Uriah Heep

    Uriah Heep Crazed Zealot
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    I'm not too sure how much attention we are gonna end up getting from Jeff, in the long run. He isn't the Producer, that replaces Cal. He is the producer of all things Ultima. I take that to mean the standalone games, the ones they are talking about re-releasing, the FB version of Ultima that are coming, etc etc
    We are a drop in the bucket I would think. All things Ultima by meaning would include oversight over the ones the Chinese are working on, the whole shebang.
     
  23. AesSedai

    AesSedai Guest

    - Aye, as has been said before and will be said again, I agree with the sentiments here; as has been suggested before and will be suggested again, I agree with these proposals (Llewen and Tazar's).

    To quote Llewen, more in-line with my thoughts:

    "Yes, [abusive] p(l)ayers [do] drive a lot of [productive, rule-adhering] p(l)ayers away..."

    - I agree.
     
  24. Tanivar

    Tanivar Crazed Zealot
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    /signed
     
  25. Fridgster

    Fridgster Lore Master
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    Game I use to play called dragonrealms actually used that formula to make a good chunk of money. Their normal "shard" rules were common to most mmorpg rules. They had a pretty large issue with unattended macroing. They fought it for years but it was constantly a problem. So they created a second shard where it was completely legal to UAM. Now on their original shard you couldn't attack someone unless it was agreed to. In the new shard no such agreement was needed. They had a large chunk of their player base transfer over to the new shard. Most that I talked to kept their original shards' monthly charge reoccurring as well (that was only 14.95/month). They charge amost TRIPLE the per monthly cost at 49.95/month to join the second shard. That worked so well for them they created a third shard that was like the original except the rules were enforced to an extreme, including staff members patrolling common scripting areas 24/7. The monthly charge is 49.95/month for that one as well. Not bad for a text based game.
     
  26. Tanivar

    Tanivar Crazed Zealot
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    Dragonrealms is at www. play.net. Click on the banner to go to it's information pages.

    I played the Gemstone game from '88 to 2002 via an online service then the internet. Very heavy RP which I loved. They offered a version of the game as it was on GEnie for the higher price that was popular.

    Excellent games if you don't mind having little in the way of graphics and can handle all the typing. Got to be a bear after arthritis set in.
     
  27. Fridgster

    Fridgster Lore Master
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    I used to play the plat edition which was the one where rules were heavily enforced and I loved it. Played about 3 years on that one. The GM's there had so much power though as far as mob creation. There were times when they would test players to see if they were macroing by sending some out of place creature to begin attacking you. You know, just to make sure you were there. Oh and no insurance this game. Your corpse decays and everything in it is gone for good. Sorry if I'm rambling and certainly did not intend to take off topic but that was my first mmorpg that I ever played. Call me sentimental. rolleyes:
     
  28. Mirt

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    Now this is a great idea!
     
  29. Salivern_Diago

    Salivern_Diago Lore Master
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    Posting it here is all well and good, however if you want Jeff to read it then I suggest you either tweet him the link to the thread or email him. As far as I'm aware he dosnt watch stratics that much but will take a look if its pointed out to him via Twitter.

    However alot of what you are suggesting is out of Jeff's hands. He has no control over the CSR's and in game staffing. Thats all down to EA (I dont think Bioware/Mythic have much say in it either if I'm honest). With that the moderating the general chat's.. Thats a lot of work for a possible situation. Its also not really cost effective for EA to do that, it would also be one hell of a boring job. The ignore feature is something I would highlight as the best option here. As for the cheating, yeah I see that alot as I travel the shards (Most often script miners and boxes at front of of houses with millions of stones weight that goes up though invisible means). But that again isnt down to Jeff, thats the CSR department. I've reported the same person every week for the last two years for script mining and he's still doing it. the CSR's are just not interested.
     
  30. Orgional Farimir

    Orgional Farimir Lore Keeper
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    I would start a 2nd account just to get it banned and be able to go there, but be able to play the main shards on my main account!!
     
  31. Picus at the office

    Picus at the office Certifiable
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    This thread again? While I'd love for the team to do something about the speeding issues that I seem to face the other cheating program that makes stuff easier to do is so ingrained in the game play that it is almost allowed by default.

    Does anyone really think that it is truelly a good idea to have one person dedicated to watching the chat channels for every shard or is this for only the one that the OP plays? Or does this one person go insane trying to track everything? What about the player made channels,EM or the help? Get real.

    Does anyone believe that the majority of players are free from sin? I'm sorry if you can only see through rose colored glasses but 90% of the player base does something and to target them is the end of the game, why else has nothing been done over these years? Foolish thoughts, stop teasing yourself with these ideas.
     
  32. Lady Michelle

    Lady Michelle Sprite Full SP
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    This being a teen rated game the open chat should have mods in every chat channel. I don't think players should be banned or have marks put on there accounts for acting up in chat.A mod should kick a player out of chat, and that player will not be able to get back in to chat til the next day server up time. Maybe a bot would also work in the chat channels. The bot could be programmed to kick out players, and not allow the player back in til the next day server up time.
     
  33. old gypsy

    old gypsy Grand Poobah
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    *cleans glasses... fails to remove rosey tint*

    I don't believe that 90% of UO players cheat. I still believe most of us play honestly.
     
  34. Picus at the office

    Picus at the office Certifiable
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    Ok 90% might be high but I'd bet is a safe guess that 51% or greater would fall in the questionable grouping.
     
  35. old gypsy

    old gypsy Grand Poobah
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    Of course there are some people who use illegal programs to gain an advantage. However, the percentages given by various posters just sound like so much guesswork to me. I like the idea presented -- of banning repeat offenders to a separate shard to play as they wish, with no right of return.
     
  36. flappy6

    flappy6 Sage
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    Id be happy with pet dyes(so all pets dont look the same)
    and new castle and keep designs(so all the castles dont look the same)
    let peeps place castles in all the lands ,why not?housing was one of the things that made this game so kool why not expand on it?

    as far as the cheaters i dont think they can stop it or they would have by now so i just deal with it,let those guys say they are "winner" and fight someone else
     
  37. longshanks

    longshanks Guest

    a valiant effort my friend but i dont think you will ever see them deal with this issue, mainly the speed and client mods that provide avoidance benefits.

    a guild we were fighting the other nite got mad that we prefer to fight in grinders as opposed to open field. in my mind theres only one reason for this.

    frankly i dont get how people insist on playing this way. people dont want to fight even up in this game, they just want to win, despite what they say. otherwise you would see much more activity at the arenas than you do.

    i dont care about whats said in gen chat. maybe they should make the chat bound by the land mass your in. say your in fel you automatically move to the fel channel. but in the end its like watching a tv show. if you dont like the content turn it off or change the channel. i dont think anyone would be happy having a big brother approach to this.
     
  38. Rupert Avery

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    Do you think this is one reason why they made the Arenas so that they can check peoples UO to see if they are using 3rd party programmes. and pin point them more easily.
     
  39. I think they should get in trouble.

    But do you all really care if someone calls you a name?

    Or looks like an idiot saying stuff over and over.... how hard is it to ignor them?

    If you curse or harass, go to jail.

    But come on... bullying? Never everyone and their mother is going to have an opinion over bullying.

    Blah. The game aint real. The people saying stuff are knuckle heads and bear no weight on truth or reality.... Right.

    So if someone says you suck... its not true.
     
  40. Goldberg-Chessy

    Goldberg-Chessy Crazed Zealot
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    I am sorry but the poor, sick, or mentally ill that you want me to believe are playing UO are not the companies reponsibility. That is a ridiculous notion.

    If their own friends,family,co-workers,etc.. are unable to help them why the hell would it fall upon the employees of an online game to do so? Give me a break.

    Bullying sucks but it happens EVERYWHERE to all types of people. IMO the game has more then enough in place to help combat it. I am pretty sure that they are as legally compliant as the next company and that is good enough for me.

    You apparently have huge issues with bullying. Thats cool and I like knowing that maybe you are always trying to take steps to combat it. But I gotta tell you that just by pvping in general you are putting yourself in postition to experience whatever bullying may be going on so I hope you are personally working hard to stop it.
     
  41. TBH

    TBH Adventurer
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    This is precisely how cheaters should be handled on all levels from resource farmers to pvp cheats to afk macroers. I don't think UO can afford to ban everyone that uses a non authorized 3rd party app to assist them in playing the game. Considering many of these players have multiple accounts, banning them is also costing the game valuable dollars that could have been spent on development. You can't have it both ways, it takes alot of new players to replace a vet with 5 accounts that has been playing religiously for 10 years.

    On the other hand hackers that are trying to break the game by manipulating the actual code and data should be banned.

    Bullying - waaaaahhhh...seriously player vs. player is all about bullying and proving you can be the top bully on the screen. This isn't checkers and you arent forced to PvP either.

    There are several ways to deal with bullying in UO already built in, but I guess its easier to whine about it. To name a few: IGNORE IT, stay in trammel, play on another shard and maybe learn how to be a better pvper, join a better guild and exact revenge, play a template that negates the bully's template. Whining about bullying is just another cop out, poor me...
     
  42. AesSedai

    AesSedai Guest

    - Aye, what a great place that would be to focus on necessary bug fixes, for all of UO...
     
  43. ahardy

    ahardy Guest

    I really don't know why the don't put all "macro" programs on auth list, all use, no one get banned for use, so why be hypocrite "isn't allowed" if all use and no one get punished, why dont free it for all us use.
     
  44. TBH

    TBH Adventurer
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    Same reason why pot is illegal in the US, small minds. Look how WOW embraced add-ons and that part of the game flourished, 4700 addons and counting...the UO policy makers chose to shun them despite the fact that some vastly enhance the game play experience and usually lead to people paying for more accounts.
     
  45. Storm

    Storm UO Forum Moderator
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    Uo has addons! Thats what pincos is
     
  46. TBH

    TBH Adventurer
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    1 addon for a game 14 years old vs 4700 for a game that is 7...I guess that's progress. Also Pinco's only works for the 3d client that many of us prefer not to use.
     
  47. Picus of Napa

    Picus of Napa Slightly Crazed
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    LoL, what a amazing feat this was.
     
  48. Assia Penryn

    Assia Penryn The Sleeping Dragon
    Stratics Veteran Alumni

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    I love this idea. It has my support. EA could send out an email to all currently banned accounts with the invite to come back to the banished lands and possibly get some activations from it.
     
  49. GalenKnighthawke

    GalenKnighthawke Grand Poobah
    Stratics Veteran

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    We need to face the fact that UO will never deal with cheating, harassment, or bullying in any kind of big picture, systemic manner.

    Too many people say "just ignore it," the people who engage in it are too favored by the devs and by the rest of us players, too many people use threads like this as a means to call for yet another shard with another set of rules.

    Etc.

    I could probably go on for pages and pages and never repeat myself once with distinct reasons why nothing major will ever happen on this stuff.

    *shrugs*

    -Galen's player
     
  50. Llewen

    Llewen Grand Inquisitor
    Professional Stratics Veteran Stratics Legend Campaign Supporter

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    I posted above that there should be absolutely no rules and gm support, however, that was probably a bit naive. I think legally they would be obligated to monitor for complaints, and respond to complaints, with regard to potential criminal activities, such as threats of violence, and dissemination of hate propaganda. So while they could let a lot more go than they do on other shards, it would still require an investment in terms of monitoring.

    But specifically with regard to cheating they could let anything short of damaging the server software go, and it might actually prove to be a valuable source of intelligence for them, with regard to enforcing the TOS on the regular shards.