It is funny how synchronicity in life works. Often, when you are facing indecision over which way to go, events come along and make the decision for you. No…seriously…it is REALLY funny.
It’s time to deal with this issue once and for all…
There are so many convoluted issues revolving around TSTO donut cheaters and the uncomfortable reality of working in an environment that is “owned” (as much as a TSTO community can be owned outside of the readers and contributors) by one of the most notorious donut cheat exploiters in TSTO history…is…well…an understated ambiguity of the highest order.
I am not going to give any real attention here to those who have offered, sold, or promoted cheating in the game. The facts are pretty clear, and it is equally obvious by recent game dialogue that EA is FINALLY doing something about it. How this all turns out remains to be seen…but at the very least, it appears that at least some of the software exploits have been patched.
No…what I want to talk about is the way in which cheaters in TSTO, and for that matter in real life, diminish the value and quality of the game, as well as our existential existence, by their actions.
The dilemma of playing TSTO the right way is much the same as the dilemma of being an honest citizen in the United States tax system. While MOST people pay their taxes, under the convoluted and ever-changing rule set of the US tax code, there is a large contingent of people who “make money” at the game of cheating on their taxes. In fact, most major corporations have huge legal accounting departments set up for the express purpose of finding corporate loopholes that allow multi-million/billion dollar companies to pay less Federal tax in some cases than the average combined-income household. They do it because they can. The system is broken, and without throwing out the entire tax code, and going to a flat tax (not likely to happen, because the same huge companies also have loads of lobbyists), those who play the game correctly will always pay more than those who find ways to cheat.
Oh…wait…we were talking about TSTO. Actually- this is the perfect analogy. Because just like the game of life, the game of TSTO has all sorts of “loopholes” built into it (bugs and vulnerabilities in programming parlance), that blatantly allowed people to cheat the game, as well as cheating EA out of revenue. How blatant? Gosh…let’s ask Homer and Lisa!
Now onto the PRAGMATIC part of the new position EA is very visibly stating…as well as a POSSIBLE warning shot being fired across the bow of hackers and users alike.
I am the owner of an Internet services and applications company for broadcasters. I state this, because I am vastly familiar with what it takes to build, launch and administer an app, or content management system that isn’t loaded with bugs…especially one that uses an associated Database like the Origin servers that EA employs. The downside, is that the programming for multiple devices (and their idiosyncratic needs) is a nightmare…there is no solid standard. This creates bugs and problems for each device. Major bugs, especially in the base code (the code on which the entire game is written), can be difficult to repair, especially after the game has several updates. BUT…EA left a HUGE hole in the code with the backdating ability, and hack/server code nesting, that allowed not only loads of people to “crack/hack” the game for free donuts (and violate the game’s user agreement), as well as others to turn the exploit into a side business of SELLING the hacked result as a “Discounted Donuts” Scam. And it was a scam. They were (are?) selling donuts, and outdated items, by hacking the game, backdating devices, and then SELLING them (by having you give them your game username and password) so they could pose as you…and you can get the items. Kinda…mostly.
There are countless pending and unresolved PayPal tickets open over this. Many people lost money, to these guys…and even those who “Did it for FREE” just to “help” others play the game more easily, are of the same ilk as the sludgeballs who SOLD the same information.
There are loads of real world examples to make my point…but let’s cut to the chase, and call the hacker/cheaters what they are…creeps. They are NOT “helping” the TSTO game community any more than the lobbyists and lawyers who help major corporations cheat the tax system are helping the average middle-class taxpayer who pays more than their fair share.
The fact is…EA is LIKELY charging more for Premium Items, and making it more difficult to earn donuts through legitimate means, BECAUSE these assclowns (sorry…but it fits) who simply refuse to work within society, choose to mess the game up for everyone else.
I am not a super-fan of EA (as my writing reveals). But, they have a rule-set laid out within which to play the game. Their programming is buggy…and annoying at times…but they are a FOR PROFIT company that exists by offering OPTIONAL premium items for sale…and it is up to YOU to decide if there is value in what they offer.
VOTE WITH YOUR WALLET… if you don’t like something, or think it is overpriced… then don’t buy it. If enough people DON’T buy it…EA will get the idea and lower the prices. Or at least they should. After all, we are talking about FAKE digital real estate and items…and the ones that come with characters (requiring more programming and investment of staff/pay) should be more than just a casual decoration. But again…it’s your FREE WILL that makes the call.
When you choose to cheat…you are cheating everyone. Not just EA, but everyone. And…please don’t forget that you are handing over your login information to an admitted cheater/criminal. You might as well be handing your bank account information to one of those Nigerian email phishers who are trying to get you to “help them move money to a safe bank account, and will reward you with a large percentage of the money moved!” Come on. You KNOW better. Don’t do it.
The fact is…business spends loads of resources on thwarting those who hack. We spend tens of thousands a year, keeping hackers, phishers, and malware Trojans from our broadcast clients. Hackers are the lowest form of sludge in my book. Most of them are social misfits who have no other means of self-gratification than playing the “Look what I can do!” game, in an effort to try to impress others. Bah… you aren’t special. If you are REALLY the hotshot programmers you say you are…BUILD YOUR OWN GAME and take it to market…and then let people decide how good you really are.
In short…there are a handful of people that I truly hope get burned when/if EA actually fixes their exploitable code holes.
Here are just a few.
ONE FINAL WORD OF WARNING…
If EA can patch the bug for backdating your device, or stealing donuts (AND IT IS STEALING…the same way downloading other copyrighted material is stealing), they can also run a DB query that matches the number of donuts in an account…to the number of donuts earned/bought…and NUKE the accounts of those who cheated. SO…AGAIN…is it worth it?
When you “buy discounted donuts” or use a game cheat to get free donuts, you are willingly making the choice to do the wrong thing. It is no different than looting a store during a natural disaster or riot. There is no “nice/legal” way to paint stealing as anything but the crime it is.
IT’S YOUR CALL… you have the option to play the game of life the right way…harming no others, and playing with a sense of Compassion, Communication and Cooperation… OR…can be just like the sludge-buckets who make cheating others just “part of the game,” no matter who they hurt.
And it’s all because most of these lowlifes couldn’t get a date if they paid for one…with ill-gotten donut earnings. Frustration and the need for validation is a dangerous thing in the hands of the lazy and amoral.
In the end, the way I play the game is the way I try to play my role in life. I try to live as an example to others who seek my opinion, as well as the person who got me into the game in the first place. I don’t want to have to tell my nine-year-old grandson, “Sure…it’s OK to steal donuts!” Because stealing, is stealing, is stealing…and I want him to respect me.
Free Will. It’s the greatest gift of this life. The right to CHOOSE to do the right thing…even when it is easier to take a shortcut, should be an easy choice every time.
Keep on tappin’
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