It's no secret that I keep my eye on the Final Fantasy XI community. With two friends running an upstanding linkshell on the Bahamut server, I like to know what goes on in the game.

The current word on the street is the "big banhammer freakout." The vocal players are talking about what linkshells were hit by losing players caught up in the cheating scandal. But what's interesting are the words being thrown around -- things like "unprecedented" and "uncalled for."

A quick jaunt across the street to the loving and cuddly galaxy of New Eden shows that something suspiciously similar happened to corporation starbases in EVE Online, also ending with tears, banned accounts, and the exact same arguments being thrown around the community. "I didn't know it was an exploit," "It's not my fault," "They made me do it," and my personal favorite, "You should have fixed it."

So this week's Anti-Aliased isn't dedicated to some developer mishap or some bad piece of game design, it's dedicated to how daft some people are when it comes to cheating.
Normally I'm not about the bans. Bans make me skitterish and break out in nasty gaming related hives. Those nasty forms of punishment just don't fit many crimes in the MMO world. Why break out a ban when you can just slap a nice long suspension, still get a person's money, and perhaps keep them in the game while teaching them a lesson, right?

Then this FFXI thing happened and I had to sit down and think on it a while before I wrote a column about it. I agreed with what Square-Enix did and I agree with the idea of the bans, but I didn't fully understand why I agreed. When I finally got down to it, it wasn't because the economy might have been screwed up, it wasn't because they had cheated the system, and it wasn't because they may have used the funds to get high-end relic weaponry.

It was because they had lied, concealed the information, and had multiple opportunities to report it but never followed through. It also was because they were the "upstanding, loyal, knowledgeable members of the community," as a few people have called them.

Don't let them fool you

Some of the players in question are trying to compare the item duplication glitch to the boss battle with Odin. For those of you who don't play FFXI, the battle with Odin involves a clever little trick. When he goes to charge up for one of his instant death moves, all players in range must go into a healing state to avoid having their heads cut off (occurs around 6:35).

Now, that sounds like a glitch until you see it in action. Odin's attack swings high, and the healing state makes everyone drop to one knee -- kneeling under the attack. Odin even has a monologue before he uses the attack to warn players he's about to send them to Valhalla. Coincidence? Not to mention even going along with the trick only reduces your chances of dying -- you still might die while doing this.

The item duplication glitch, on the other hand, is splitting your raid group apart just before the items drop from the endgame monster or treasure chest. Then the monster magically, without warning, drops 3 sets of the same loot. No hints, no tricky little battle technique, just a flat out "break your party into 3, and get copies of items." This happens at no other point in the game. Ever. Which leads me into my next point...

They should have known better

This glitch didn't occur for newbies or maybe some mid-level players. This occurred for high end raiding guilds in high end raids. This occurred for players who have reached level 75 in their main job, and level 37 in their sub job. These are people that have played through at least 112 levels of Final Fantasy XI, one of the hardest games to level cap in due to the sheer grindfest. These are not people who couldn't figure it out.

Plus, this glitch occurs in raids and we all know you don't do a raid once. You keep doing it, and doing it, and doing it so you can get that oh so sweet gear to drop. Someone in those 18 person raids must have done the math and realized that 1+1 does not equal 3 drops of Salvage gear.

This article was originally published on Massively.