One of the more controversial topics in the old-school MMORPG community is boxing. On the one hand, anyone paying a subscription fee should be able to play however they want. If someone wants to pay for more than one account, they should have the right to do so.
But on the flip side, boxing can have its downsides in that it can be anti-community, and can lead to situations such as what can be seen on the recent Ragefire progression server for EverQuest: players who six-box an entire group, and multiple players filling up raid groups with boxed parties,, and then perma-camp content, thus blocking other players from experiencing the same content.
Then there’s gold sellers and RMT, which can directly affect the game world and how players consume content.
What’s the balance? Where to draw the line?
Here’s what we can say about boxing for now. Understand that we might change our opinion in the future, based on what actually happens in the game world versus what we anticipate.
First and foremost, we are a game built on community, and we want players to be able to experience the content of our world without dealing with griefing or anti-social players who want to hoard the content for themselves.
That being said, we also have to be realists. As a small, independent game company, every subscription matters to us. And not all boxers are bad. I myself have boxed, both in EQ1 and EQ2. But I never did so to the detriment of other players. I usually had an account or two extra, and would box them when I was waiting for guild mates or more players to log on when I was playing off-peak hours. But the moment a real person needed the slot and was available, the boxed accounts were dropped in favor of a real person.
With class-based game such as EverQuest, where all of your abilities are readily available and you can blast your way through combat with a simple series of spell casting and abilities through tank-and-spank content, boxing is fairly easy. Which is why it is so prevalent in that particular game.
We think (and we can’t be sure because our game isn’t live yet; much of this will be determined through testing in the alpha and beta stages) that our game will be complex enough with the combination of around 500 skills to choose from, and the fact that it’s a skill-based game with very complex combat and mechanics that require active concentration and coordination, and not a simple tank-and-spank platform, that players will find it next to impossible to box, at least if they want to realistically accomplish content.
We’re sure that players will find creative ways to go around our mechanics. We aren’t so arrogant as to think we’ll create the “perfect game” that players won’t be able to find their way around things. Creative players and hackers will always find a way around road blocks. And we’re pretty sure that the overland content meant for the 3-4 person teams will end up being boxable. Which means players who want to box around the overland while waiting for their group mates or others to log in so they can head down into the depths of a dungeon, will likely be able to do so.
But we plan on making the dungeons and raids challenging enough that it shouldn’t be possible to box your way through the content. Instead, you’ll need a full party of individual players ready and present who can be playing at full potential in order to overcome the encounters.
Now, again, we can’t anticipate every action that players will take. And we’re sure that at some point boxers will find a way. But until we know that it’s affecting our game in a negative way, we’re going to let players box at their own discretion, with one caveat: if we find that boxing disrupts the essence of our community-based game, we’ll implement changes to counter that effect, in a way that can be balanced with the reality that we still need to remain profitable to keep the game servers going and our staff employed.
What we do NOT want to see is full groups of boxers perma-camping content and blocking other, real players from completing said content. And we’ll have mechanics in place to help keep limit this from happening, not simply related to the challenge of the encounters/content. More on this to come in a later blog post.
But we’re totally fine with a player who two or three boxes in their downtime while he or she is waiting for more people to log in so they can head into the dungeon,, like someone who plays odd hours and thus has a harder time finding people LFG to do content. The only thing we don’t want is that player choosing to box rather than group with other players, because it’s “easier” and they can hoard the loot to themselves.
Which means it’s on our shoulders to create content that is challenging enough that players NEED other, real people to complete the content, as opposed to being able to hop on a boxed account and breeze through it with zero challenge.
That’s anti-community, and not what we want. So it’s a fine line to walk, and we’re aware of that, and we’ll be doing what we can to counter the reality of allowing players to spend their money as they see fit, while also keeping the spirit of our game alive. It’s all about balance.
As far as RMT goes, we are completely against it. One of the things we’re doing to combat this is limiting access to the game to those who have purchased a digital copy, which at this point is priced at 40 dollars. While we will have a free-to-play, downloadable trial version of the game (the pre-alpha zone + dungeon we are using now for testing will eventually become the downloadable trial), it won’t have access to the actual game. It’s a stand alone trial meant to last players 20 – 30 hours and whet their appetite for more.
Once players get through the trial and decide they want to take that character and port it into the actual game world, they’ll need to pony up and pay a 40 dollar purchase price. They’ll get a free month of access along with the purchase, but after that it’s the monthly fee to play.
To some extent, this will limit gold sellers, because only the dedicated companies will want to pony up 40 bucks to get access to our game. And from there, we can tell you that we’ll be banning those accounts as quickly as we find them, using internal tactics as well as reports from players themselves.
And as long as the gold sellers want to keep giving us 40 bucks to get into the game and get their accounts banned, we’re fine with that. We’ll gladly take their money and use it to pay someone on our staff to promptly find them and ban them from our game.
While we may have a real-money shop in the game, it will never, ever, be for game content or pay-to-win advantages. The only thing it will contain (and that’s assuming we even put it in; it is undecided at this point) will be appearance armor, housing items, and things that players can use to personalize their experience without affecting gameplay itself. So no exp pots, no run speed potions, no mounts, nothing of that nature. Purely vanity items for players who want to add additional fluff to their characters.
That’s it for this episode on things we’re working on to ensure a healthy player base focused on community and interaction with other players. Stay tuned for more!