TL;DR – No game will ever be immune to exploits. Exploits will always emerge and can only be managed correctly with human nature in mind.
I don’t condone exploits, but one must learn to include them in one’s equation to manage them better.
People buy games to have fun. People purchase opportunities to have fun often at the expense of others in form of PvP and exploits.
The difference between exploits and PvP is that one exploits human nature, and the other exploits mistakes. Morally, both are equally bankrupt.
One might argue that PvP is sportsmanship, whereas exploits is cheating. This is where the reality check starts.
Exploits are emergent. They are inevitable, and have become part of the modern PvP culture. Fight against it as much as you like, take the moral high horse as high as you can, whine as hard as you like, but the reality is that exploits are a force of nature, because it is a by-product of unforeseen mathematical contingencies that have been part of our reality beyond games. We do not possess a programming language capable of predicting undesired outcomes in real time.
Exploiting is fun, otherwise people wouldn’t keep doing it, despite repeated punishment. In a climate where games are treated as consumer products, to most consumers a punishment for exploits are simply a „consumed“ status for most consumers. When they are banned, they simply move on, having had „paid for their fun“. This will be an inevitable trend as more games move towards live service.
Are people really so naive to think that bans or negative enforcement will somehow „teach people a lesson“ ?
When companies follow the „Live and Let Live“ policy, it actually has quite a profound effect on the entire player-base.
„One misses not a luxury unknown“ is an effect we all experience without even knowing.
On ARK, there was an event that lead to old beta servers being marked as „Legacy“, because they recognized that these age old servers have been contaminated with so much duped items, so many glitched dinos that it was best to just wipe them, which would have gone back on their promise to never wipe the servers (otherwise nobody would bother beta testing). The best compromise they could think of was to segregate these servers to their own cluster network apart from the new official launch servers and re-purpose servers that had a consistent population of 0-1 players.
The official launch servers were then in turn also contaminated with exploits, but even worse; The new servers became dino-capped, which means the server couldn’t support anymore tamed dinos, and thus no new dinos could be claimed, unless the population was culled. This led to so much strife, that many have chosen to either quit or return to the legacy servers.
The legacy PvE servers have always enjoyed peace and stability ever since the great segregation and are now even preferred amongst long standing veterans, because suddenly legacy servers are the way ARK was meant to be played. A perfect balance of player populations.
Legacy people could trade in overpowered dinos with glitched genealogies, and over-powered items were auto-scaled to acceptable levels. All the duped metal and stuff decayed, because one couldn’t evacuate that stuff to other servers fast enough. It was too heavy.
You see… non of the legacy people remember anything of the sins of the past, but have instead adopted the fruits thereof as part of their lives.
Any new exploits simply added to a contamination that will normalize overtime.
You see, dear Funcom, if you make a mistake and let people have fun with it, that’s good value.
But if you start making people „feel your mistakes“ and on top of that punish them for having taken advantage of your mistakes…. Well, then it becomes personal.
You are not a school or behaviour adjustment facility to educate people on what is right or wrong. You are not a police institution there to keep order. This is clearly reflected in your server policies and we have come to accept it as a way of life.
Now all of a sudden you interfere with thralls that were part of this way of life for the longest time.
This is going to be a problem if these sort of intrusive alterations are a trend of things to come, due to the current amount of server exploit contamination.
First the Orbs, then Vathis. What’s next? All the metals too? The Crom Blades? The Grandfathered Lifeblood Spears, that all the PvP folk are fawning over?