As mentioned on the front page of the game, the recent chips bug either led certain people to temptation, or caused me to be aware of a number of people who were already giving into the temptation of multi abuse, and I wanted to talk about it for a bit, so I can either understand issues that need to be fixed, or--more likely--explain to people why what they're doing is cheating.
First, a fundamental principle of the game is that certain resources are limited. Time is the obvious one, but that's modified by other limited options, like caffeine consumption, and that then affects the amount of money and items you can get, and the amount of progress you can make in a given day.
The ultimate benefit of this system is that it allows a certain amount of fairness to the game -- anybody who plays is given roughly the same opportunities as anyone else, and as long as you can spare 10 minutes or half an hour or whatever daily, you both ought to be able to compete fairly well, whether we're talking about leveling up, or collecting items, or holding a leaderboard spot, or whatever.
So, then, anything with circumvents these intentional rules of the game is, frankly, cheating. The most obvious way to try to break these limitations is by having more characters who then contribute to each other or funnel all the resources into just one character. I want to be clear here that it's perfectly okay to have two, three, or forty different characters, as long as they're doing their own thing. Each character has the same limitations as every other character, so that's still fair. What isn't fair is when one or more of these characters sends items to other characters.
Here's an example. Say that someone can't afford to donate but really wants the item of the month. In an ideal world, if you do nothing but farm for chips/valuable items, by the end of the month you ought to have enough cash to buy yourself the donation item. Some rough calculations by some of the players suggest that one farmer should be able to make maybe 600k chips per month. If there's a lot of demand for the item (which seems to apply right now--the game is small and there aren't many extras), the farmer might be competing with many other players for the item, but each of them--assuming equal footing--will also be able to pay about the same amount. If the items are limited, it might go to the player who's a slightly better farmer, or who saved up some money from a previous month, or whatever.
Now imagine that there's a player out there with five characters, all of them farming and pooling their resources. This player can earn 3 million chips in a month. This player has a huge advantage when it comes to donation items: they would end up fighting with other buyers if they tried to buy five items for 600k apiece, but they can easily bid 700k for four items and have chips left over. This means they're getting FOUR items of the month at a price where other players can't afford any. Even worse, they've established the price for these items at 700k, beyond the reach of any other farmer, meaning that a player with one character has to farm and month and a half to get an item, or some months just doesn't get any at all. And that's simply unfair.
There's a lot more to is than that, of course. Since the game is still small, even a few multi abusers can really mess with the prices of just about everything. They can also use the cash from one character to pay for another character's leaderboard spot by allowing them to spend all their turns at the VR center, for instance.
Weirdly, when I've talked to a few players about it, I've gotten some strange responses. Most basically came down to "I wanted stuff," but here are some (anonymous) examples, with my rebuttal.
1) I was just doing it to collect X of item Y. I was going to stop after that.
Okay, so you wanted a bunch of stuff, and didn't want to take the time that would normally be required to get it. That's tough: it doesn't justify cheating. If you're going for anything that is a point of pride (and a collection surely is), you can only be validly proud if you did it yourself. If you collect a million baseball bats but it takes five multis to do it, you've got to know that someone with 200,001 baseball bats on a single character has done better than you have, so the million is pretty meaningless.
2) If I spent time farming my own chips, I'd fall off of X leaderboard because I wouldn't have enough time pursuing the leaderboard.
Besides the fact that there are a number of ways to earn chips outside of strict farming, if you can't make the leaderboard on your own, you simply don't deserve to be there. Or, put the other way, if everyone else multi abused, the leaderboard would be meaningless, because everyone could have exactly identical points totals because they'd all be doing the same thing. The meaning of the leaderboard comes from having to strategize.
3) I've got four characters, one of each class, and I like to think of them as a team.
In theory having a team is a great idea. I like teamwork. I wish there were more of it in Twilight, and eventually I'll try to address that through clans and such. However, Twilight is essentially a one-player game, and for all the reasons listed above, combining funds from multiple accounts gives you an unfair advantage. Am I going to delete an account for sending an occasional buff toward one of the others? Probably not, but I'll tell you to knock it off if I see it. On the other hand, if you're passing enough money to buy a silver star back and forth, that's clearly taking an advantage that most other players don't have.
4) I only did it because Brays are so valuable. Everyone else will, too. If you don't want multi abusers, you should make it so that everyone can get lots of Brays.
Let's think about that for a minute. First, let's imagine that Brays are plentiful and cheap. They're in the coffee shop for 50 chips apiece. They're also the best caffeine in the game. So, what's going to happen? Everyone will drink a Bray every time, because anything else would be stupid. In other words, I might as well just give everyone an extra 3.5 hours per day and completely trash the caffeine mechanic, because it has ceased to be interesting in any way. The best drink in the game has to be rare to make it interesting, otherwise it destroys an entire mechanic. Maybe you're okay with that, but I'm not.
5) I didn't know.
Uh, it's on the policies page. It's the second rule, so it should be nearly impossible to miss. You agreed to them when you signed up. It says no interaction at all between characters. That's clean, clear, and simple.
Are there any valid reasons for what might look like multi abuse? I think there's possibly one, under the right circumstances:
1) I was doing some spading and tossed some money and items around as part of it.
This, if done right, is potentially okay. However, fairness is still the important part. If your spading absolutely requires resources that one character doesn't have, or requires the interaction of characters, that's okay, as long as in the end neither character benefits unfairly. Thus, to do it right, if you send money or items to a character, you should send the same amount back immediately when you're done. Ideally you'd even include a note to yourself saying "for spading purposes" and "returning" so that I can see what's going on. (Note that the note or lack of note doesn't break the deal -- sending chips and not sending it back is an issue whether or not there's a note.)
Last edited by Ryme on Wed Jan 30, 2008 3:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.