Aneiro asks a real interesting question which might well be prescient to the entire "Flamage" series: When we witness illegal behavior under the ToS, are we, as a result of the Salvage-dupe bannings, now obligated under the same ToS to report it, facing bannage ourselves if we fail to do so?
I'd almost wish that answer to be "yes". I can understand the argument another in the round-table makes that that should not be the case, but, frankly, I'm at the point that, if you don't at least have some minimal idea of what is going on, you have no business being there -- whether it be Salvage or simply partying in the Dunes.
The next person basically mocks that a person in a BC who witnesses duping should warp out and call a GM and admonish the situation... What else do you expect them to do? And, say, it comes back later that that BC was part of a larger investigation... How can you, later, claim innocence if you don't?
So I would have to say that if you witness any degree of illegal activity, you are obligated, under penalty of bannage, to report it -- else you leave yourself at the mercy of Square-Enix if they have to go back and look at everything. Besides, blowing the whistle now might prevent it (something else my roommate and I talked about -- my roommate is a very smart person and thinks of things I don't think of all the time) from becoming a situation where the number of players banned increases by 1-2 orders of magnitude.
The person who questions is correct: It does create the suspicion in each other -- and it has to. (Which see the earlier comment that no high-level player can now be seen as honest and legitimate anymore -- including me...) I very nearly blew the whistle on my Salvage LS a couple weeks ago, just after the Salvage-dupe bans. We ran Bastok, and must've gotten somewhere between six and eight Wootz Ores. By the time it got to about #5 and #6, I was suspicious, and openly stated as such. The only reason I didn't GM the mess is that I am not sure, end of the day, whether it is within statistical parameters for that number of ores to drop. Otherwise, you bet your bottom dollar someone was going to get called.
I certainly wouldn't put it past a disgruntled-with-my-blog member of the LS to try to get me banned like that.
And then the possibility existing that different members of the STF might use different criteria for banning -- that's not acceptable. It's one of the reasons I'm not sure there should've been different graduations of this situation, especially once the level of abuse became evident. But any such breakdown of criteria should've been consistent.
But something then came up which was interesting: I do believe, now, that there is no confidence from the players to Square-Enix. (And probably very little from Square-Enix to the players.) I'll give you one example from a comment to this blog I read today... There are people who believe (at least, it's the only way their comment can be interpreted) that Square-Enix screws with the drop-rate (or at least can screw with the drop rate) for any player, any time, for any or no reason, at their own whim or for their own entertainment.
Who wants to play a game like that? Who wants to believe such a game exists?? And, moreover, if that's the way the players view FFXI, why is Square-Enix even bothering?
It got, quickly, to another point: If there was something which needed to be stopped, why doesn't Square-Enix come more up front?
Frankly, because the players don't give a fuck what Square-Enix thinks until they can no longer log in the game because they got LM-17'd or LM-11'd. Sorry, them's facts.
Especially with the opinions which I have heard (on a number of different areas, including BluGartr, other blogs, comments to this blog, e-mails, etc.), I have to take serious issue with Aneiro on the next thing he said: I do think that many players who took part in this illegal activity did it to openly spit on the game balance, because they thought the drop-rates sucked, because they didn't like what Square-Enix was doing, or for any other or no reason. I do believe that many players have no qualms about dishonoring Square-Enix or the other players and spit at anyone who basically calls them on their shit. I do firmly believe that there are many players who have no qualms of getting their 1337 gear and not caring one shit about legitimacy.
Then, it got to the question of Square-Enix connecting with the community came up, to which I have one question for the field:
Does Square-Enix trust the player base enough to communicate with the player base, or has it gotten so bad that it's just taking our $12.95/month without further regard to the player base?
I don't think they should trust the player base to that extent, but I wonder if that's why they don't get involved in more of the forums and the like.
I really do have to wonder (and will ask in the letter, coming soon...): What do they really think of us? Do they actually hold us in as much contempt as I believe our actions as a player base do merit? It would appear that is possible.
I do begin to wonder if the lines of communication are not as much as they could be because they do not regard us well. We certainly, as a player base, don't deserve to be regarded well by Square-Enix, given our conduct.
Frankly, and this extends to several minutes of discussion as to relations between Community and Premiere Sites with Square-Enix, I don't think they regard the fans well, and see our out-of-control nature as part of the reason FFXI is getting waxed by WoW.
I mean, there's a rumor out there that the Sandworm BC is still dupe-able, but people are scared to talk about it, lest they get banned. Fact is, Square-Enix doesn't and shouldn't trust you -- they don't trust BluGartr or many of the other sites. Do it in channels, or see the first comment to this part...
I mean, yes, as one of them said, the best advertising is that the company sees what you do and works with you. But then someone (I think it was Sonomaa, off of a heated discussion on his LS...) may just have come up with the trillion-gil question:
With the same team essentially working on their new MMO, Rapture -- with maintaining FFXI, could Square-Enix deliberately be killing FFXI so that they can shed the limitations (which see the PS2 and the XLax CrashBox 360) of the present game?
I mean, consider: The game's not going to the PS3. With FFXIII not til 2010, one has to wonder if there's going to be a PS3 in 2010, as badly as the PS3 is going. The only thing PS3 has going for it, and the only reason it's made it this long, is because of the fact that it's an inexpensive Blu-Ray situation. Other than that, it has nothing to offer.
The PS2, if not already obsolete, is about to go there. Sections of the game are abjectly unplayable on the XLax... I mean, think about it... Could they just be throwing up their hands and saying that they'll keep FFXI going as long as the players are willing to put up with this, but, having their druthers, they'd rather be working on Rapture full-time? It's a fascinating question and might explain a lot of the silence and duplicity...
Take a look at reality: Square-Enix is doing as badly as they've done in five years. They've probably chosen the wrong platforms, clearly have an unworkable player base for their MMO... What's to say they aren't thinking of hitting "Eject" once things get beyond economic feasibility? FFXI is no longer the top dog at Square-Enix. Let's get that down right now.
It also gets to the question of economics vs. ethics. I would like to ask one question of the field in that regard: There is no way at present that I could recommend FFXI to a new MMO player. None at all. If you do not have an ethical game, what "new blood" is going to come into an unethical game like FFXI, especially at end-game??
My position is clear: If they don't care, then end it. If it's no longer economically viable to continue, then end it. And if they don't take steps to demand the players play within the rules (yes, dictatorship), then those players need to be gone and then the first two sentences still apply. I'd be disappointed if FFXI were terminated on February 28th, but, given the choice between an unethical sham game (which FFXI either has been or is being exposed as, little by little) and losing FFXI completely, I'd rather lose it all than wonder continually why I am even bothering playing by the rules.
OK, I'll cut part III here at about the 90-minute mark. Some very interesting points here...