Friday, 13 January 2017

Thoughts on the Fractured exploit

Now killing gold star mobs for fast command experience is nerfed, doing solo ranked PvP and the uprising Fractured is the newest trend among CXP farmers. If you're on the fleet you'll constantly see people advertising for the latter. However, tread carefully if you're planning on taking advantage of the Fractured uprising's length: some pugs are using an exploit to speed it up even more.

My co-host Mox of Corellian Run Radio ran into pugs that scolded him for not wanting to participate in exploiting. It's been a long time since I last encountered this in my MMO career and I'm sad that this behaviour has made it to SWTOR now as well. I really hope this gets fixed soon, so people are spared this experience.

I will not go into specifics of the exploit (and will remove any comments that do, for as long as it's live) because I don't want to promote its use, but I will say this: this particular one is easy to miss because it happens fast and it is easy to trigger accidentally. In fact, I ran Fractured with my guildies to take pictures for this blog post and, despite our good intentions, due to not knowing the specifics of this exploit we accidentally did it. The irony! Now I've actually seen it I have a good guess how to prevent it in the future; I'd tell you how, but then I'd be giving away clues. Sigh. I hate the hush hush aspect of these things. One thing I can say is that it has nothing to do with skipping trash: that's totally fine and somewhat of a SWTOR tradition by now.

Meanwhile, we're getting into a situation where people accidentally exploit that may not even be aware of it, and others that are aware of it taking advantage of it. And I have no clue how the developers are planning to distinguish between the two. I do hope they will do something soon before this gets out of hand! I also hope they realize that people have run into this by accident (which is very easy) and that they will only punish people that have exploited repeatedly. The best thing would be to take it out of the group finder for now until there is a fix.

What, they won't punish people at all, you say? Well, although that is possible, it seems unlikely. My co-hosts of Corellian Run Radio talked to Eric Musco and acquired the following official statement regarding this specific exploit:
First, thank you (and everyone else) who reported the bug taking place in the Fractured Uprising. We are aware of it and are investigating the issue and its impact. As for action that could be taken we will reiterate our stance on exploits: Any bug which a player can use to gain an advantage can be viewed as an exploit and could lead to action being taken against their account.
They also asked for tips on how to prevent accidentally participating in it, and to that the reply was to let your group mates know at the start of the uprising that you are not participating in exploits and want to go through with it as intended. Bioware asks to report any offenders.

If you want to know more, listen to Musco's full statement and our discussion of it in episode 176 of Corellian Run Radio (or read it in the show notes). The fragment starts at 27:35.

Edit: the CRR episode seems to have stirred up things on Reddit. The thread is full of the by now traditional statements claiming it should not be considered an exploit and that offenders shouldn't be punished. Pretty much what happens every time around.

Myself? I will refrain from doing Fractured with pugs; I don't feel like getting into arguments. I will just keep doing uprisings with guildies from now on and make sure not to exploit. And if you think you're immune to the ban hammer? Well, that's your prerogative, but don't bully others into exploiting. That's not cool. Rav out.

Edit (13 January, 11 pm CET): A post by Eric Musco was just published on the official SWTOR forum. It reads that the bug will be fixed on the 24th and no actions will be taken against offenders, even though it is possible to see the difference between accidental events and constant abuse. I'm quite baffled by this, because this is basically a free ticket for people to exploit until its fixed. I don't understand how Bioware thinks people are going to take exploits seriously in the future.


  1. It will most certainly be interesting to see what happens. Hopefully they step in sooner than later (quite honestly I'm disappointed that just like the Ravagers exploit they haven't acted quicker), and send out more than a few punishments. Certainly, one person I know farmed it to the extent that four of his characters have hit Command Rank 70, which amounts to roughly 725,000 CXP, or just shy of Rank 200 on one character.

    I'm also interested in the Nar Shaddaa planetary missions bug. This one has far less precedent to be considered a serious exploit given that it can only be completed once per day rather than whenever you feel like it, but still; at this point people could have gotten at least 19,350 CXP per character from this glitch, with at least another 4,950 being possibly gleaned until it's fixed. This is the equivalent of quite a lot of Command Ranks for low-Rank characters...!

    1. Update since fixed:

      My reaction to the whole "we're not going to punish people" stance is just one of confusion. To me, the issue that this is an exploit which people are actively seeking groups for and encouraging publically in General Chat makes it so much worse than being a 'mere' exploit.

      It's... *sigh*... I don't even know anymore. They firstly left it so long without talking about it and now they've opened up the floodgates, pretty much. That's really not okay.

    2. Thank you for illustrating this with numbers, that makes it way more tangible! The Fractured exploit is relatively harmless from the perspective that it only saves a few minutes and that boss isn't particularly hard, but when you get to the bigger picture of people actually farming it over and over, then those minutes do add up. Command rank 70 on four characters just by doing Fractured, that's crazy! With that kind of rush attitude, it's not surprising incidents like I described above happen.

      I didn't know about the planetary mission bug, so I asked around and now I'm up to date (thanks). Very different type of bug, obviously. I don't feel as strongly about it as the Fractured one; I guess that's because it's not affecting people negatively directly. Pugging should be fun, not a stressful event! Now the exploiters 'won' I'm definitely not pugging uprisings.

      As for the not punishing people for this one declaration, we're on the same page. Bioware already had a questionable reputation when it came to handling exploits, now it feels hard to take exploiting seriously at all, if the developers don't do it. Pretty much a slap in the face of people that try to abide by the rules by not participating (and sometimes having to endure drama as a result).

  2. I had to skip the bonus night on Uprisings to avoid "dirtying" my character. Still, the Nar Shaddaa thing has happened to me multiple times. I've reported it twice, but weeks later it's still there.

    That's why they can't pull the ban hammer out. If it's important enough to kill off loyal customers, it's important enough to take the servers down right now and fix. Don't let it slide for two more weeks, then get mad at us. Anytime they want to threaten us with "actions", I want to see "action" on their part too.

    1. I see what you mean. I think cases like this show that it's difficult for Bioware to assess how influential a bug is - and how to handle them is tricky. CRR asked for feedback because we were concerned, and Eric was nice to come back to us with a reply within one day (in the weekend!). After that, though, people started to be vocal about it on Reddit and the forum. It is hard to say for sure afterwards, but the statement on CRR may have worked as a catalyst. Honestly, I'd hate to be in their shoes.

      I agree that something should change, though, especially after now exploiters basically are getting a wildcard until 5.1: Bioware's inconsistent approach to exploits makes it unclear where the boundaries lay for players.

  3. When people go out of the way to glitch a boss, it IS an exploit. However, I do understand that some people may just be victims of a PUG doing this glitch and not realizing what is going on. I almost had him bug out once, but the fight just reset.

    I am surprised that those that abused this exploit aren't getting ToS violations tied to their accounts. I feel a ban is too much to ask here. If the Eternal Grind (love your term) wasn't so badly designed, people wouldn't have to resort to this method. In fact, if other activities gave as much CXP in as short of a time, then it would be a moot point to glitch a boss like that.

    1. I certainly feel that the general dislike of the CXP system will have influenced the decision to not take action against exploiters in this case. I would have preferred *some* form of action, though (even if not severe), because the way Bioware handles exploits seems ambiguous. This just feeds confusion about what to do the next time players encounter an exploit.


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