“Designer” Dragon (you may have heard of him, he works at some hi-tech company in Austin and hangs out with “Dr.” Twister on Dollar Draft nights at Hooters) writes:

If everyone stops macroing, then the advancement rates of skills will rise. Less macroing actually will mean less NEED to macro. Because of how the advancement table works, the reason certain skills advance so slowly is precisely BECAUSE they have been macroed.

Just more fuel for the fire. 🙂

Well, DUH.

As I think I’ve made clear over and again, this relates to PvP mostly because that’s mostly how I play. My wife is almost exclusively PvM (and actually lately more PvFish) and she macros almost as much as I do, though. And she is a HARDCORE roleplayer. So although this isn’t a PK or an anti-roleplayer thing, the following comes from my experiences tearing up my fellow man.

PvP is a test of skill. Given everything else being equal, the guild with more skillful PLAYERS will defeat their opposition. This is as it should be.

However, if that guild ties both hands behind their back and hobbles into battle armed only with a butcher knife and wearing a jester’s cap for armor, they will likely lose no matter how bad-assed their players may be. The stats of the player’s characters do come into play.

So, why would ANY reasonably adept PvP combatant choose to handicap themselves against their opponents?

There already are ethical choices in PvP. I don’t use UOE. I think UOE users are slime-infested pusbags and I take great joy in watching my deadly poison cause the screen to fill up with autocasted failed Kal Ort Pors. But UOE gives its users an advantage. UOA users have to hit their Disarm macro button, slam Alt-H to fire off a Greater Heal, and hit Home to target self. Non-enhanced users have to manually drag their weapons off of their paperdoll into their backpack, slam Alt-H to fire off a greater heal, and mouse over to their onscreen representation and click on it. UOE users have to hit Heal Self. Guess who’s going to heal first.

So it’s a fine line that you walk. Personally, my stance is that UOA is not a “cheat utility” like UOE is, but an improvement to UO (which the dev team has stated will eventually be worked into the actual client). And just because OSI decided to waffle about whether or not to grant UOA “legit” status for six months before finally giving it the thumbs down is irrelevant to me. It’s like Microsoft telling me I can’t use Borland Delphi to program Windows apps, but I have to use Microsoft Visual Basic. I suppose legally they could because Microsoft owns the rights to Windows, but that doesn’t mean I will use an inferior tool because Microsoft tells me to. (And all you C geeks just shut your damn mouth. I like pretty guis.)

But, you might say, what’s the difference between hitting one key in UOE and three keys in UOA? It’s still an advantage other players don’t have.

Sure. But let’s look at the facts. People who do pvp either use UOE, UOA, or are so skilled with the client from repetitive practice they find neither necessary. I’m not. I’m a klutz. I drop things on a regular basis. If you expect me to fumble with my mouse for five minutes every time I have to heal myself, I’m going to take a lot of dirt naps.

So do I want to handicap myself? No. Is it unethical not to handicap myself? In my view, my line is drawn in the correct spot. Your line may differ.

So what does all this have to do about macroing? It’s the same drawing of the lines. Where does your ethics draw your line. For me, I’m not going to unilaterally disarm. Why would any sane person involved in pvp NOT macro? “Well, if I can get my anatomy up to 100, I get a 10% bonus on my damage dealt. Everyone I fight, pretty much, in hand to hand is going to have that same bonus. But I don’t want to macro unattended, because it would be wrong, it’s an exploit, and OSI said not to do it. And raising Anatomy by hand will take six months and drive me completely insane in the process. So I guess I’ll just do less damage.” Do YOU know anyone who would say that? I don’t.

Then there’s the bandwidth issue. I know all about bandwidth, I used to work for an ISP back before I grew a clue. You’ve got thousands of people wasting 2K of bandwidth a pop connected to the OSI servers and they’re not even really there.

Well, “Designer” Dragon, that is YOUR fault, bud. You designed the game that way.

You implemented a skill tree with logarithmic progression that cripples itself as more people use each skill. Was the goal to just make less Grandmasters? Um, welcome to human nature. Everyone wants to be a Grandmaster. Everyone wants to win. Especially pvp’ers, who are actually playing to win as opposed to roleplayers who generally are in a “play” environment as opposed to a “contest” environment. (Not knocking roleplayers, mind you, I’ve been intimately involved with several such groups. Both styles of play are equally valid.)

And, from your own rules of online game design,

“Macroing, botting, and automation — no matter what you do, someone is going to automate the process of playing your world”.

So what do you do about it, smack everyone upside the head who dares to follow the dictate of human nature? Depend on your fallible and underpaid GMs and even more fallible and UNpaid counselors to police them? Another of your rules states;

“The in-game admin faces a bizarre problem. He is exercising power that the ordinary virtual citizen cannot. And he is looked to in many ways to provide a certain atmosphere and level of civility in the environment. Yet the fact remains that no matter how scrupulously honest he is, no matter how just he shows himself to be, no matter how committed to the welfare of the virtual space he may prove himself, people will hate his guts. They will mistrust him precisely because he has power, and they can never know him. There will be false accusations galore, many insinuations of nefarious motives, and former friends will turn against him. It may be that the old saying about power and absolute power is just too ingrained in the psyche of most people; whatever the reasons, there has never been an online game whose admins could say with a straight face that all their players really trusted them.”

I’d add a new rule. Call it “Lum’s Laws of Human Frailty”;

Given enough motive, any game admin can be corrupted.
Once corrupt administration is discovered, any online game will be swiftly deserted.

We all know, all have personal experience with GM favoritism and selective enforcement of ingame rules of conduct. I won’t even bother to recite the whole sad litany. I only wonder when we’ll pop open CNet, Gamespot, or CNN and read about the GM who was slipped $5,000 under the table to create an Ubercharacter that would be sold by a third party on eBay. $5,000 to a kid just out of/still in college is a lot of money. And I just see the current “Well, we’ll ban you for macroing, but only if we feel like it” as just another incredible enabler for ingame administrative corruption.

What do I think should be done? Find some way to autoboot anyone using UOE/UOA/UOWazoo. Wipe the shards. Start clean. If you want to reset the skill curve, that’s great. But don’t punish those who follow simply because they showed up too late to get away with it.