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Flameseeker Chronicles: Prince Rurik is on the phone, and he says you got banned

Rubi Bayer, @@rubi_

Last week's Massively outing into Guild Wars was another success, with [MVOP] -- Massively's Thursday night Guild Wars group -- tearing through the Great Northern Wall and Fort Ranik missions. As usual there was much fun and hilarity, including the above pictured gangsta Necro and someone's incredibly loud cellphone ringing on Vent in the middle of a cutscene. In the end we were divided over whether Rurik was making or receiving a phone call, but either way it was another dose of our standard silliness. Guild Wars -- as with any MMO -- is so much better when you have a good group that you can have fun with along the way, and [MVOP] has it down to an art.

So what's up next? Well, at the end of our last outing we all landed at the Frontier Gate, so we'll be picking up the primary quest from Warmaster Riga. That will take us on to Ruins of Surmia, then to Nolani Academy. Once Nolani Academy is finished, we'll land in Yak's Bend and it's time to wave goodbye to Ascalon as we enter the Northern Shiverpeaks.

I want to make a quick note about our overall goals for [MVOP]. The overall goal of the group is to play through Prophecies, Factions, Nightfall, then Eye of the North, moving through the campaigns and expansions in the order of release just like they did back in the olden days. Guild Wars is a huge game, with side quests and extra towns in every area. To try to do them all together would take us a few years, so on Thursday nights we're going to focus strictly on missions and the main storyline. One of the great things about this group is that so many of us are playing together outside of the scheduled time, so if you get a chance, make sure you explore some of these extra quests in the places we've been.

Finally, if you'd like to join [MVOP], we'd love to have you. It's certainly not too late to catch up, so send a whisper to my IGN -- Rubi Djinn -- and I'll be happy to add you to our group.

Now that we're all caught up on Thursday nights, what's going on in the rest of Tyria? It's been an interesting week, so follow along after the jump as we look at why the population of Tyria is suddenly a little thinner.

"This is an important day for Guild Wars. Today we terminated more than 3,700 accounts for botting and match manipulation." So said Design Director James Phinney at the beginning of ArenaNet's surprise announcement last Wednesday. This was only the beginning, however. Shortly after the announcement arrived on the ArenaNet blog, Dhuum waded into Guild Wars, banning naughty accounts with a swing of his scythe -- which means the number of banned accounts was over 3,700 and rising. ArenaNet indicated that the Dhuum of... well, doom is a permanent fixture to the game, and that there is no statute of limitations if you violate the EULA. With that, the forums were ablaze. The vast majority consisted of cheering ANet on, but there were quite a few who objected strenuously to entire process.

ArenaNet has been crystal clear about all of this: "If you cheat today, your account may be terminated at any time in the future." The end. They did not say "if you just load a bot to see what it's like, it's all right," or "if you think it takes too long to max your Luxon title the right way, it's all right," or "if you really really really want to win a match, it's all right." If you violate the EULA you're in the line of fire, and that's it.

In the past days, I've seen some objections that honestly left me at a loss for words. There were all the standards: people angry because they only botted for a little bit as an experiment, people pointing out crimes worse than theirs as an excuse, and people protesting that their banning was a mistake and they are innocent. (I have no doubt that some of those people are correct. I also have no doubt that some of them are lying.)

What I found astonishing was the sheer amount of people blaming this on ArenaNet. So many people claiming that they were forced to bot because the titles are too hard to get the regular way. They were forced to bot because they'd get a repetitive stress injury otherwise. They were forced to bot because they are disabled and it's too hard for them. Somehow, ArenaNet forced these people to break the rules, the botters and match manipulators were innocent victims of evil, uncaring developers. People have made increasingly outrageous demands ranging from a full refund of all money spent to a change in the EULA to allow botting.

You can probably guess by now where I stand on all this. It's not that I don't sympathize. I'm sitting at 29/30 for God Walking Among Mere Mortals, and I have been for months. Every time I think about working on it, I look at lucky/unlucky, my Kurzick title, and my wisdom title and I just groan and go do something else. While I was working on drunkard, I gave more than one speculative look at that booze clicker program. So I get it.

But here's the thing: ArenaNet does not force anyone to do anything. Guild Wars, just like any other MMO, was created as a form of entertainment. It's a game. More specifically, it's ArenaNet's game and you agreed to their rules at account creation. If you don't like the rules, nobody is making you agree to them. You are more than welcome to walk away and find a game with rules you like better. However, when you click that little "accept" button of your own free will, this is part of what you agreed to:

(a) NC Interactive reserves the right to suspend or terminate this Agreement (including your Software license and your Account) immediately and without notice if you breach this Agreement or willfully infringe any third party intellectual property rights, or if we are unable to verify or authenticate any information you provide to us, or upon game play, chat or any player activity whatsoever which is, in our sole discretion, inappropriate and/or in violation of the spirit of the Game(s) as described in the Rules of Conduct.

Should NC Interactive decide to suspend or terminate this Agreement with a User under any circumstances, the User will lose access to your Account.

(b) You agree that if the Service or your Account is suspended, terminated or cancelled for any reason or length of time, you are not entitled to any reimbursement or refund of any fees or unused access time.

There are no clauses for "but I only did it once." There are no clauses for "but it's too hard, I don't wanna!" Their game, their rules, and we all clicked the button that said we were okay with those rules.

Thanks, ArenaNet, for enforcing them.

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