Game Exploits: Where Do You Draw The Line?

Playing Phantasy Star Universe as much as I do, I’ve come to know exploits. I’ve also come across a wide spectrum of reactions to them. As a user and rejector of these hacks, I had to ask myself, “Why some and not others? What’s the line you’re drawing?” And I came up with this answer:

Using exploits are OK as long as it’s not to the detriment of others.

To help explain my stance, here are three glitches in the game that should be fixed by the time you read this. In order from benign to fuck-you-asshole:

The PSU Machine Gun Glitch. This glitch allows you to fire your machine gun constantly, and if you have enough Photon Points on the gun, at double or triple speed. It will allow you to take on missions that would otherwise be impossible for you, allowing you to gain Experience and Mission Points at a faster rate. You’re not hacking the system, so you’re still only going get the Experience and Mission Points you would get if you could take on the mission otherwise. You still have to worry about dying, and this is only amplified when you’re a Lv60 taking on Lv90+ monsters by yourself.

How does this affect others? Level caps (current being Lv120 character and Lv15 for class) mute any achievement in leveling — a cap is designed to help others catch up to you. And the later someone joins the game, the easier it’s going to be for them to catch up because there’s higher-ranked missions out there than when you started playing the game. Just because someone using the glitch is firing at up to triple speed doesn’t mean someone else can’t get the last hit off, so the glitcher’s not denying anyone Experience Points1. And you don’t even have to kill one thing to receive the Mission Points at the end of the mission. The only thing the glitcher can deny you is the opportunity to level the Photon Arts on your weapons during that mission. However, people that want to specifically level their Photon Arts usually do it while soloing, spamming the crap out of it with a full arsenal of Photon Charges.

How it didn’t affect others: I have to say this because of so much crap that I’ve read. This glitch had no effect on the economy. As I stated earlier, you only got what the mission rewarded you with. It just made it easier for a single person to obtain. Without the glitch, you’d be forced to team up with others, but it’s still the same rewards with the added possibility that someone else would get the rare drops. As for the savings on photon charges: That’s negligible — It’s only about 1000 Meseta to recharge a pallet full of mostly-used-up weapons, which is nothing in an economy where 10 million Meseta is an attainable (yet still lofty) goal. As for driving down the price of rares, see everything I’ve said about this glitch so far and factor in that we’ve had two events in four months where rare drops have been exponentially increased.

The Grinder Duplication Glitch. The glitch allows you to accumulate grinders that are used to make weapons more powerful. Grinders come in various ranks (C, B, A, S, and presumably S2) and can be used on the corresponding ranked weapons. Grinders also come with a luck rating (1-10) that determine your chances of a successful grind. As you can guess, the exploit was used to dupe the best ranked and lucked grinder – Grinder S+10. You could use this exploit to give you the best chance of getting your weapons successfully grinded. You could also use this glitch to sell the grinders back to the NPC shops for Meseta — the in-game currency.

How does this affect others? Well, using the grinders yourself wouldn’t be so bad. Your chances are still slim that you’ll max out the grinds you’re allowed on a weapon (10) with an Grinder S+10. But you can easily guess that selling these things creates a huge problem — it allows players to max out their cash. With an infinite cash supply, the player can buy any weapon they want right now. (Instant gratification, unlike the Machine Gun Glitch.) Also, when there’s too much cash in the economy, prices will inflate across the board.

Sonic Team has been on a war path with this one, banning at least 56 accounts so far.

The Photon Gotcha Glitch. Sonic Team really pooched this one. The Photon Gotcha is a room decoration that allowed room visitors to gamble a set amount of Meseta for the chance to win a prize. The box that popped up was supposed to give details, including the amount of Meseta required to play. However, the text got cut short in the translation. Basically, it was up to you to trust the person who owned the Gotcha to tell the truth about the price, and you know how well THAT went, right?

How does this affect other? C’mon, people were scammed out of millions of Meseta, if not their entire savings.

1 – The PSU EXP system goes like this: Max EXP is given if you kill an enemy and you’re the only one to inflict damage on it. 75% EXP is given if you kill an enemy and you weren’t the only one to inflict damage on it. 50% EXP is given if you inflicted damage on an enemy but did not strike the final blow. Bosses that you have to teleport to give the same amount of EXP to everyone that inflicted damage on it.