For both the investigation team and customer support team (perhaps, the Admin team as well):
Preface: The last paragraph states the intention of this post--to shine light on suboptimal solution and addresses a recurring concern that has been popping up over the years. Although this is about bans, it’s not about just one individual, one incident, one case, and etc--this is about solving a problem and creating a positive attitude towards Nexon’s investigation and Customer support team. I understand if this is deemed to be beyond the scope of this Q&A but I truly believe that it is still worth reading as a new perspective can be gained and a discussion can be started.
More than 1.5 years ago, there was an incident that is now referred to as the "December Cube Exploit". Since it has been a very long time, I’ll provide some context--an exploit (not involving any hacks, just abuse of a bug) was found on December 19th, 2015 that resulted in the ability to produce an unlimited amount of Red Cubes and Black Cubes. Shortly after, those who abused this bug were banned. A few weeks after, on January 6th 2016, those who were deemed to have benefitted from this exploit through the trading of these items and some of those who came in contact with these items briefly were permanently banned. With only one known case of an appeal being successful ( http://puu.sh/wRGFc/6d32c7bbb1.jpg ), the rest found no success in bringing to light the flaws of the investigation (multiple accounts were missed, accounts that weren’t logged on during that time period were banned) and multiple people who were extremely funded were banned (e.g. UberLegends, Rachel, Azaiea, and etc from Windia). Even a quick glance at their accounts will reveal that these individuals could hardly benefit from these exploits--their equips were already near perfect (Bonus potential legendary and had very good stats, Tyrant equips were upwards of 13 stars with many at 15 stars). As most Maplers would know, Bonus Potential and enhancing Tyrant equips is done after the regular Potential is done.
One of them reached level 250 a while before the incident and 2 of them were very close to level 250 so they they had very little to gain and very much to lose from this. A sample of “Rachel”’s damage a month before the incident can be seen here: . There is plenty of prior footage of the equips on the character that would further support this case. Furthermore, the NX history of some of these individuals indicate that they purchased Black Cubes and/or Red Cubes during the incident which could support their innocence. It could very well be the case that they did receive illicit items and such, but how much would they have benefitted? It could also very well be the case that somehow their near perfect gears were seen as proof that they benefitted greatly from this bug.
About a year ago, the same exact exploit occurred ( https://www.reddit.com/r/Maplestory/comments/506gyz/a_plea_to_nexon/) but this time, only those who actively abused the exploit were banned--those who came in contact and even storage mules for these items weren’t banned. Logically speaking, if it was seen that, at the time, the scope of the exploit wasn’t severe enough to ban beyond direct offenders, this leniency should’ve been shown, retroactively, to those who were banned on Jan 6th, 2015 due to the December version. It’s not unreasonable as we’ve seen President Obama commute the sentences of nonviolent drug offender in the context of today’s world.
Even if we did assume they did benefit in some form from the exploit--after 1.5 years, how useful would these equips be? Let’s take the Arcane Weapon Exploit that occurred earlier this year as an example (even though it was claimed that all the exploited items were removed): after a year or 2, these items devalue enough for these individuals to be release with no impact on the game balance.
My question to you: Can old cases of permanent bans ever be reconsidered in today’s context. For investigations where the evidence isn’t black and white--investigations where assumptions are made, can those assumptions be presented to the accused so they can attempt to prove/disprove these assumptions. Nexon’s customer support make very valid arguments/cases but not always sound (i.e. If the premises are true, then the conclusion must be true vs If the premises are true, then the conclusion must be true AND the premises are definitely true). It makes little sense to keep those who were permanently banned for taking advantage of hackers obtaining Tyrant capes, 6 years ago, banned. Most of these people never came back and it became a lose-lose situation as the population declined. Given how passionate those who were banned during the December Cube Exploit have been even after 1.5 years, it’s hard to believe that these people will ever negatively impact the game. Here’s also an interesting note to end on: One of the people that was banned during the incident was recruited to be a moderator for Basilmarket for their positive contributions (white hat, responsible disclosure of site vulnerabilities).
Maybe they should consider revising the concept of "permanent ban". At some point, a "permanent" ban is meaningless when the account brings no harm to the balance of the game. If it's like the hyper skill exploit or a level hack then sure, those cases deserve permanent bans but for those who are banned for no good reason or accused of benefiting from hackers with questionable evidence, a permanent ban is far from a win-win situation--especially when you can't guarantee accuracy.
The people that touched items from the December 2015 cube exploit aren't going to impact the game negatively. The same for those who touched an arcane weapon and ended up getting banned. Even if you let those people keep the items (Nexon claimed they deleted the illicit items), those items will be obsolete/cheap after a year or 2 (ie: Empress equips/RA equips/etc).
We can see the inconsistency of the punishment of the recent major item exploits:
December cube exploit 2015: Those who bought items/came in contact with items that were exploited were permanently banned.
July cube exploit 2016: Those who bought items/came in contact (including mules of exploiters)were NOT banned. Only those who directly exploited the bug (which was the same as the December one) were banned.
Arcane weapon exploit: Some of those who came in contact with items/bought the items were permanently banned.
Removal of duplicated items: None of those who came in contact with items/bought the items were banned.
If you can't guarantee perfect accuracy for a case (and we've seen multiple occasions in which we needed a CM to reopen a case), then don't give out permanent bans for those cases. With the hyper exploit, knowing if they did the exploit is binary--either they have the exploited skill or they don't. A permanent ban is justified. If an account touched/possessed an exploited item, instead of straight up permanently banning it (most people are smart enough to avoid doing it on their main so if you're catching people's lv 250 then something is wrong here), give them a 1~2 year ban. At least some of them will come back and the game will be less dead, not to mention that most of them do make a lot of noise on the way out which turns away new players: a lose-lose situation for both the player and company.
A bit unfair that those who were traded items/bought items during the December cube exploit incident were banned and weren't given the option of having those items removed. Those items are obsolete by today's standard and nothing good comes out of keeping them banned.
Also, if this is in preparation for Saturday's Double Miracle Time, then it's disgusting how you're taking advantage of those who spend a lot of money on this game.
As stated through various private messages, conclusive evidence was found from looking through each case extensively.
Maple has a ton of bugs, frequently has typos, sometimes QA fails to verify certain fixes, server maintenance extended due to human error/unforeseeable events(we get it, you're human) but when it comes to investigating and banning these exploiters (december cube exploit and arcane weapon exploit are two great examples), Nexon happens to be flawless and makes no mistakes.
The difference is, we KNOW when you guys make a mistake in terms of bugs, maintenance time extensions, typos and "miscommunication between departments" (see: GM event) because we see it-- the evidence is right there. In the case of investigating and banning for exploits, we can't see ALL the evidence but most of the time, we are able to see the player's side. We see so many of these player's story and how consistent they are even years apart that we have to conclude that, no, you guys are not flawless in investigating these exploits/bans. You just refuse to man up and admit that you guys do make mistakes in these investigation/jump to the wrong conclusion based on lack of evidence when you can just hide it.
I know this because I know someone from the december cube exploit that had nothing to do with it that got banned. I also know someone that made off with quite a few exploited items.
"evidence presented by the appealing player will always be skewed towards their favor"
Yes and "facts" are known to have a liberal bias. If a player presents ALL relevant evidence that the community (actually knows how the game works/plays the game) requests, there's really no bias here. Facts are true statements. If a player is trying to prove that "if P then Q" then proceed on to show that all the premises are true, then Q must be true.
You guys just did a survey on why people play maplestory and I'm confident that the "social aspect" is ranked top 2 if not ranked 1. Permanent bans have a negative impact on the social aspect. What happens to a guild when the guild master is permanently banned? Permanent bans are supposed to be a last resort for if the player is left unbanned, it will affect the game balance/fairness.
Here's the maintenance note from 2011 (6th anniversary coin exploit) if you need a reminder of how you used to deal with exploiters and those who benefited off them by purchasing/trading with them:
"The 6th Anniversary coins exploit has been blocked.
Chaos scrolls are temporarily unusable and untradable.
All items obtained with 6th Anniversary coins are temporarily untradable and have a value of 0 mesos if sold to an NPC.
Chaos scrolls have been permanently removed from the list of items that can be obtained for 6th Anniversary coins.
All players that abused this exploit will be banned, however we understand that some players may have simply made a poor decision, so all players will be given until 5/15/2011 to voluntarily remove the exploited items from their accounts by selling them to an NPC for 0 mesos. If all exploited items are removed in time, you will not be banned (please note that you must remove the items from ALL of your accounts.) Once our investigation is complete and all applicable bans are issued, we will return the items that remain to normal. We hope that most players will do the right thing and remove the items if they know they are exploited."
1. Only the social aspect appeals to me
Secondly, Do you like the art style?
2. Game is good, it's just that it's managed poorly.
Thirdly, How would you Improve the game?
3. Same as 2. Nexon America needs to realize that we're not Korean and also need to do something about the unethical practice (eg: customer support requested for government issued ID and promised to delete it after reviewing it. Instead of deleting it, they stored/kept it and refused to delete even after I requested for it to be deleted.)
Fourthly, How does this game make money and are you happy with how they monetize? Have you spent money on the game?
4.Game makes money by getting a few people spend a lot instead of getting a lot of people to spend a little.
No, any game company that loses $42million a year raises a lot of questions.
6. They give out permanent bans far too recklessly. Consider the case of the lv 250 kaiser that was incredibly funded.
If s/he was truly guilty, s/he would probably quit the game completely or continue exploiting on a new account.
If s/he was not guilty, s/he would probably quit the game completely or explore cheating the game now that s/he has nothing to lose.
The game doesn't benefit at all from these types of bans.
Permanent bans should only be reserved for when the balance of the game is disrupted if the account isn't banned (eg: possession of stuff that can't be deleted for whatever reasons, level, stats,...etc)