I remember riding back to the Stables at Arathi Basin and finding an Undead Mage on top of the roof, running around and slaughtering the Alliance troops underneath him. It was a mad run to try to DoT him up before he could kill me with massive amounts of fire or dive to the other side of the roof to heal. The stalemate was only broken when a Night Elf Death Knight also climbed up on the roof and killed the Mage.
It took me a while, but eventually I learned how to get up on that roof myself. I’ve seen dozens of people do it, but it always seemed a tough climb for me, much like getting to the top of the Blacksmith in Goldshire. I could never do it reliably, but if I’ve got nothing else to do while guarding the Stables I would give it a try. When I could do it, defending became much easier.
Blizzard considers climbing onto the Stables roof to be an exploit. It doesn’t matter if you climb up via the outhouse, jump the side building, or float down via parachute cloak from the Lumber Mill — if you engage in combat from that roof, they consider it an exploit.
Yet… it’s something that is possible within the confines of rules of the game. There’s no software being hacked, no mods being used to change any code — just some creative jumping and use of terrain to let you target opponents without them easily able to engage you in return. Not that it’s impossible — just difficult.
I play a battleground to win. I might play it for other reasons, but almost always, my goal is to win. It is my duty to use every bit of my grey matter to outplan, outthink, and outfight my opponents to reach that goal. I use potions and flasks to expand my abilities. I use Frostweave Nets like nobody’s business. And you better believe I will climb up on that roof to defend the Stables if need be. Every advantage will be pursued.
Does this attitude surprise you? It shouldn’t, and I suspect you share it.
Within the confines of Warcraft there are strict, specific limits on the things I can do and cannot do. I cannot blow up the tunnel in WSG, even though I have charges that can blow apart a wall in the Strand of the Ancients. I cannot use grappling hooks or ziplines to get from the Lumber Mill to Blacksmith to Mine quickly. I am completely limited to those things that the developers allow my character to do.
How is jumping on to the Stables roof — something any character can do, though perhaps not easily — an exploit, if I’m able to do it in the game? If hundreds of players can do it? Through jumping?
Let’s take another battleground example: getting on top of a wall or pillar in Wintergrasp Keep by flying into position before the game starts. Trivially easy to do, and you can take out defensive cannons and defenders with ease up there while exposing yourself to minimal risk. Smart use of the roofline and LoS, just like on the Arathi Basin Stables roof, allows you to be effectively unreachable by other players on the ground.
Is that an exploit?
The blue post says,
Players accessing any area of Arathi Basin in order to engage other players from a safe vantage point but avoid combat themselves is considered a reportable exploit.
If we use that definition, this is the very essence of an exploit. But yet — it’s allowed to happen. You don’t get kicked off the top of a wall when you land there, you get to stand and kill cannons with impunity. Interestingly, if you’re on a tower you do get kicked to the ground — but only when the battle first begins.
So what gives? Is this an exploit, or not? I’m not trying to deliberately break the rules here, but if I can do it in the game… why shouldn’t I? Why shouldn’t you? How are you, someone whom I assume is not a Blizzard developer, to know if this is right or not?
I find myself in complete agreement with Cassandri when she says there’s no such thing as an exploit, at least not in the context of in-game mechanics. There might be bugs, but bugs are not the fault of the user. We cannot be expected to know the intent of the developers. Quoting from that excellent article:
…(B)ecause they exist unchanged in the game, that implicitly confirms that they must be working as intended – otherwise they would be changed. We accept them and the best of us turn them to our advantage.
You don’t question whether it’s intentional or not. It’s not your place to question what is and isn’t a mistake in the game. You are a gamer. It’s your job to win.
Cass is writing about PvE in general, and the banning of Ensidia for the use of Saronite Bombs in the 25-man Lich King world first kill. I’m staying away from discussing that specific topic because it is a charged, emotional debate about ego and bragging rights. There is the additional component of whether Ensidia, or Exodus, or any of the other guilds who have been taken to task for exploits in PvE, “should have known” that the encounter was not working as designed. That’s the whole crux of the debate, actually, which is why it’s so complicated.
PvP is simpler. If you don’t pursue every advantage — be it in gear, skill, level, consumables, positioning, macros, addons, communications, whatever — someone else will. If you don’t send people on the walls and towers of Wintergrasp, the other side will.
And if they have an advantage that you choose not to take, you will probably lose.
I don’t want to get banned by Blizzard. I enjoy playing their game and try to follow all the rules they set forth in their ToS. I’m not trying to cause problems with their code or servers, or gain an unfair advantage in their economy. I don’t want god mode cheats. I don’t want world first titles. I just want to play their game and enjoy it.
But when I play, I also want to win.