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Regional FlagWhat exactly is an exploit?Source
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Ari Kagura.9182
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#1 -

For the first time in my pugging career, I have bumped into a lone individual who appeared to be overtly zealous about not utilizing “exploits” and certain kinds of cheats. Normally, I’d get that from guild groups who don’t like exploiting (which I greatly respect by the way— don’t see too many them around these days), but I don’t blame the guy— personally, I’d rather do the content in a fair manner and learn to actually complete it proper instead of relying on an exploit to complete it only to find out it gets patched in a later build. I won’t mention names but if you’re lurking around, here’s a toast to a legit Cliffside Fractal completion. I was in your Fractals group as “Fleeting Flash”.

Now, this thread isn’t about naming and shaming exploiters, and the anti-exploiters complaining about others who do these exploits. Instead, it’s a thread that hopefully clears the blurry line between a “genuine exploit” and a “tactical advantage.” I know I’ve been doing my part in reporting anything that looks like an exploit to [email protected] by providing some screenshots of how to reproduce them (meaning that I would do or have someone demonstrate the action one time to see if it’s actually an exploit), but even I, myself, do question if certain actions that my pugs are doing falls under Exploiting or just “Utilizing Dem Elite Skillz Yo”.

But it got me thinking: what surely defines an exploit?

I know the more obvious ones, like glitches in terrain (eg. the “Mountain Shortcut” in Caudecus’ Manor, which is mostly patched) and “bugging” certain encounters so that bosses do unexpected behaviors (eg. stacking in one of the “safe spots” in the Snow Fractal so that the Legendary Svanir shaman cannot hit you, which has been patched) could be considered exploiting … but I’m sure there might be parts of dungeons that could be wrongly labeled as exploiting, like skipping certain mobs and/or bosses; or everyone bunching up in ranged to avoid a hard-hitting melee attack, or bunching up in melee to avoid a hard-hitting ranged attack.

Skipping bosses is one thing that bugged me— we all know that skipping Kohler in AC is not an exploit and perfectly acceptable in a technical sense. You can sneak past by him without aggroing him and you should be fine. On the other hand, skipping Korga in the Arah Jotun path got me scratching my head because you still aggro that ugly undead ape, but does running very far away to break aggro in an attempt to skip Korga acceptable? Note the key element between the two encounters: Aggro. The former does not aggro with a successful skip while the latter does aggro regardless if the skip was successful or not.

“Cheesing” encounters is another thing that sort of bothers me, but if the boss can still kill me just because I’m careless, then I think it’s not exploiting. Stacking in melee range for Subject Alpha in CoE is an example of what I think is a valid tactic because Alpha can still kill me if I don’t dodge and/or heal myself if things get hairy. On the other hand, having everyone stacking in a “safe spot” because a boss or any adds it spawns can never hit you would be exploiting, for example the tree in front of The Mossman’s house (which has been patched in the 28 Jan 2013 build).

Maybe I’m wrong on some accounts of reporting since I never hear anything back when I email my reports, but back to the original subject: it would be nice to know what distinguishes between a genuine exploit or just doing legitimate tactics to make the encounter more easier.


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ArenaNet Poster
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#16 -

However, there are some “grey area” glitches that makes me wonder if something really is an exploit or just a very strange bug.

When in doubt, send us an email anyways, or post on the forums. We’ll inspect it and judge it, and then decide to do something about it.

But generally when it comes to exploits, use your best judgement. One of the things my momma taught me, is that “If you wouldn’t say it around your Grandma, you shouldn’t say it in general.” which I suppose can be translated into “If you wouldn’t do it with a developer in your party, then it’s probably an exploit and you shouldn’t do it.”


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ArenaNet Poster
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#22 -

While I understand your meaning, I’d actually be more inclined to do it with a developer for the ensuing comedy. xD

Yeah, and upon retrospect, whenever I throw on my dev tag for a dungeon, people tend to show me exploits and point them out >.<
However I have been thoroughly amused at times. I tend to hide my dev tags when finding a PUG, and then halfway through the dungeon I will tag up, and watch everyone leave the instance within minutes.


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ArenaNet Poster
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#49 -

Any exploit that’s a “Jumping Puzzle” and doesn’t specifically bug out is legit in my books. As such I consider the mountain jump in CM legit. Skipping the fire in AC is legit. Standing on top of the ruin so Howling King in AC doesn’t hit you is an exploit.

Legit in your books isn’t legit in ours. The mountain jumping is an exploit since we don’t intend for you to be able to go up there, and it allows you to skip through the natural progression of content we made.
The drakeheads in AC were intentionally made with a cute little workaround, if that’s the other you are implying is okay. I hope that is the issue you are talking about at least, since there isn’t a whole lot of fire in AC.


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ArenaNet Poster
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#59 -

An example of this would be the Snowflake fiasco back during the Holiday event. While I did not participate in this, if I had discovered this by accident while the market was in favor for it, I would have probably been banned as well not knowing that I wasn’t allowed to craft and salvage something in game for items or money.

I’m not psychic. I don’t know what is intended to be in the game and and what isn’t. I’m really trying not to be rude, but that’s the developer’s job. When I utilize everything presented to me in the game I have purchased, which has passed ANet’s QA/QC department and into the live environment, I find it disheartening that I feel like I have to question everything that I consider a clever tactic or a decent money-maker in fear of being banned for exploiting.

We’re very aware of the issue you are saying. It’s hard for us to define that a specific thing is an exploit until we know that it exists. And the moment we know that it exists, people have been abusing it. It puts us in the situation of deciding how to punish while we rapidly attempt to close off the exploit and keep it from being further exploited. My job in the equation is to close the exploit, but someone has to decide how to punish.
In the case of the snowflake exploit, we only banned people we knew did it to extreme degrees, and by extreme I mean multiple thousands. A threshold was decided on, and we acted based on hard evidence, not speculation. That’s generally how we handle every exploit we find – seal it up, figure out punishment thresholds (if any), and move forward from there.
The vast majority may only exploit things a few time as they figure it out, or accidentally exploit because they don’t know any better. Our goal is not to punish those people. But in the case of the snowflake fiasco, we had clear evidence of people exploiting it well over 15,000 (fifteen thousand) times before we managed to seal it up. Those are the people we go after – the ones who deliberately exploit with massive potential economic impact.
Some things sneak by us and our QA. We make so much content that there’s bound to be something that gets by. We try to handle it as best we can though, and I can personally vouch that nobody here has the attitude of “ban them all” – we want to make the smallest impact with our punishment while sending the most clear message that certain behavior is not tolerated.

When in doubt, post on the forums. It will draw our attention, and we’ll let you know. Or PM us / email our exploit alias.


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ArenaNet Poster
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#68 -

Is switching to an alt at the end of a dungeon an exploit?

currently no – it’s just rude if you don’t tell your party first and act as dead weight in the final fight. People do it to level up their lower characters, because it’s a big burst of exp for dungeon completion.

This has happened to me a few times when playing, and usually from someone who doesn’t tell the party, and swap characters at like 25% boss HP. They bring in some level 20 character and stand off to the side while the 4 of us fight a boss. I typically respond by not fighting and just standing around them doing emotes and jumping, or trying to kite the boss into them if they are close enough to the encounter


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ArenaNet Poster
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#75 -

Why can’t you just let the matter be, fight the boss with 4 people, most likely defeat him and carry on.
Or, even better, kick him, and invite somebody else to join you

I don’t much appreciate being used in such a way, and find the behavior rude to just shuffle the responsibility off on someone else while sitting on the sideline making other people carry the load. Especially when you’re fighting a boss who has an enrage mechanic at lower health, increasing his difficulty.
Typically we do end up kicking the person and restarting the final boss, and completing it. I’ve been kicked as well for not participating when people do those things, and that’s fine – that’s their choice, and they got the votes. It could have been a premade group with the intention of doing that, and I was just the fifth man who wasn’t informed. Just dust myself off and move on.

Point being, if you don’t like the behavior, don’t support it. I don’t foresee us being able to stop the behavior from a developer perspective, but I’m a designer and not a coder.

EDIT

They’re not going to be able to catch everything. It’s the nature of software testing, even my software testing professor has taught me that. The content was probably a lot more bugged before its current state. It can only get better with more iterations, when people spot something that was not caught before.

I think it’s also important to note that we learn from our mistakes and try to pay extra attention to things that have been exploited when we build new content. Our testing pass and development of salvageable crafted items will certainly get a bit more attention for all our new content being built as a result.
Mistakes happen, but I’ve always held the ideal that you only truly fail at something if you keep making the same mistake over and over.