Let's talk about "shop alts" and the "shop blocking" meta

Chat about various Open RSC related topics here.
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Logg
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Let's talk about "shop alts" and the "shop blocking" meta

Post by Logg »

Since our server began in 2018, we have allowed using alt accounts. We will not be changing this for several good reasons:

1. People with alt accounts would be upset.

2. We cannot stop people from using alt accounts even if we wanted to, for several reasons I don't need to get into.

3. If we would try to enforce 1 person per IP address, people with more than one person in their household would not be able to play Open RSC together anymore, which would be sad.

4. Multilogging is allowed in modern Jagex games.

5. It is an interesting and fun way to play the game.

One of the most useful & low-effort things an alt account can do is buy items from shops. This has always been allowed & I've even encouraged it in the past, when we had less players on our server and it was common that no one was at the shops at all.

However, we have recently exploded in popularity. Even though we have had an increase in players on the server, the amount of resources available has remained the same. It is very natural in my opinion that people will fight over resources. But there's one trick that people are using that several players feel is unfair.
Screenshot from 2023-02-07 21.45.06.png
Screenshot from 2023-02-07 21.45.06.png (85.08 KiB) Viewed 360763 times
"Shop blocking" is taking advantage of the authentic mechanic of RuneScape Classic that only one person can talk to an NPC at a time, and there is a time-out of about 30 seconds during which a player can wait at a multi-menu and not choose any option. During those 30 seconds], the NPC will focus entirely on that player, appearing "Busy" to others.

I have several feelings about this. The first thing I thought when I heard about this method is "That's really smart." and the second thing I thought was "That's not very nice to other players." But most of all, I thought "That's an unavoidable consequence of the authentic mechanics of RuneScape Classic."

Players on our server have also had several feelings about this. I have seen "I will do something else while I wait for the shops to open up" the most, but I've also seen lots of reports in our "Abuse Reports" channel of players reporting shop-blockers for "Bug abuse" and there has been persistent demand to "do something about it".

What would "doing something about it" mean though? We wouldn't necessarily need to wait in shops and monitor the behaviour ourselves. We have been receiving reports that we could act on if we felt that it was wrong. It would also be technically possible to count the number of times a player blocks a shop for greater than 20 seconds, and send an alert in our discord after meeting some threshold, as well as, it could automatically warn the player that they are breaking the rules, in an impersonal and effortless way. This isn't a system that currently exists, and it would require time investment to build it. But if we did implement a system like this, hopefully, the behaviour would Just Stop after that.

Is it even something that we want to do though? I still feel like "That's really smart" is the correct attitude towards it. It's an option to run your own shop blockers against each other if that's how you would like to play the game. "Crashing" in RuneScape has always been a thing, and if you play this game, I feel like you know that Crashing isn't exclusive to shops. There's crashing at monsters, there's crashing at ore rocks, at trees. The best available solution for this is for players to accept the behaviour as just part of the game and to find somewhere else to train. Of course, even better than that would be for us to open more worlds so that there's more room for all our players (not currently an option for us unfortunately).

I think the pros & cons of allowing shop blocking can be summarized.

Pros:
* Do not impose how to play the game on others.
* Do not have to expend moderator resources on this issue.

Cons:
* Players are put off by the aggressive & selfish method.
* Some players don't understand how shops in Classic work and believe that just one person can use a shop, or that the shop is "broken".

Let us know your opinions below.
Marwolf
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Re: Let's talk about "shop alts" and the "shop blocking" meta

Post by Marwolf »

Suggest openrsc.conf have a mechanic option added for timing out NPC dialog which ends shop blocking if option 1 but as default.conf, is option 0 for the authentic game mechanic version.
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Logg
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Re: Let's talk about "shop alts" and the "shop blocking" meta

Post by Logg »

Marwolf wrote: Tue Feb 07, 2023 11:21 pm Suggest openrsc.conf have a mechanic option added for timing out NPC dialog which ends shop blocking if option 1 but as default.conf, is option 0 for the authentic game mechanic version.
We definitely could implement a system where players can halt another player from blocking if they have been waiting at the multi-menu for more than say 5 seconds. I don't believe I'd like to implement that on RSC Preservation though, given that it is not an authentic mechanic of RuneScape Classic.
RSCPrivateServer
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Re: Let's talk about "shop alts" and the "shop blocking" meta

Post by RSCPrivateServer »

Some potential options:
  • Moderation actions on egregious users of blocker alts could be done on a case by case basis, when moderator time allows. Upon receiving a report of an NPC blocker, it seems sensible to suggest to players that they go do something else for 10-20 minutes before making another report, and then the available mod-capable-actors could make a "non definitive/soft" action on the NPC blocker after this, with any elevation clearly stated in any newly established guidance/rules.
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  • Removing NPC blocking altogether seems like a great option, and it is perfectly in line with small and understandable tweaks that have already been made to the otherwise stringent "Preservation" standard. These changes have been integral to providing a more stable community experience, with less headache for the administrators, and a safer, fairer environment for the players. That is often why the decisions have been made, in the past.
People weren't often interested in playing a broken and unmoderated server. It seems pointedly that OpenRSC has taken a stance of remedying many of these issues, and you've been doing a really great job. If anything, just making a decision on whether or not to do anything, and opening up the floor for discussion is the right mood. It has been a persistent and thorny issue as of late.

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  • Allow shop blocking, and expect "botting-like"/malicious behavior-- and the honest user complaints that come with this-- to run rampant because of it. Or perhaps not.
Clans may have warred over shops in the old days. Populations were often so maxed out that talking to an NPC was impossible, because there were just too many people trying to interact with that particular NPC. Players needing to go find something else to do for 20 minutes because the NPC is all jammed up is totally authentic in that regard. It's just also not really great, and results in a lot of complaints.

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  • Developing analysis tools in the future (as OP says) to determine if somebody is maliciously blocking an NPC for speech would be useful and interesting. I strongly consider the possibility that JangFlex had similar tools if not just human moderation culture/protocol in regards to similar problem behaviors.
JogreX had a reputation for being somewhat ruthless or even fumbling in their moderation, as a fledgling company with little experience and a small team. Abusive players were often taken care of with a moderation action, though the game was still certainly no daycare. In later years, they did quite a bit more to make the game more family friendly, age accessible, and open to advertisers/users paying monthly subscriptions. Catching a moderation intervention (talking to), being muted, temp banned, perm banned-- it was not exactly uncommon. OSRS players have their gripes with the community management today, and there were plenty of complaints "back in the day" too.

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Thanks again, and good luck. There will always be growing pains, but you are doing very, very good work!
Anjirusensei
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Re: Let's talk about "shop alts" and the "shop blocking" meta

Post by Anjirusensei »

I feel like alts are ok, we're adults during the day and just want to come back home to play games to relax. Planning ahead to get
resources and placing a alt or main at the shop is fine. Our time is limited these days. But blocking the NPC entirely so nobody can buy? No man, in my opinion is crossing the line and really gives a mean message to the newer people who want to play classic again.

I enjoy the server a lot. This server also gives me a much better chance to play since the official server was unstable, botted to extreme and not friendly at all to play. This server though, has so much life and while there is only one world with traveling being slow, still friendly and can enjoy the grind with like minded people. Right now, i'm using my main to buy feathers during work, pop in and check. I'm getting some and glad that I'm progressing like this with mobile. Huge thanks to the devs who made that mobile port!!!!

I'm still new to the experience, but just a opinion from a fan who really wanted to play classic since childhood. <3
Fah qu
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Re: Let's talk about "shop alts" and the "shop blocking" meta

Post by Fah qu »

Create the rule to stop.

Hand out warnings for breaking rule.

Ban the ones who don't follow thru. If you hold someone up once or twice it's whatever. But if your intentionally holding up show being an ass hat.

Mods should use ::invis and chat logs to determine if it is considered abusing the mechanic.

After the first few people are smacked. It will stop. The people doing it are looking to maximize profits. When they catch a ban for being an ass hat, they will be doing exact opposite of that. That = holding shops being counter-productive. If it's counter productive to the goal. It will stop.
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Re: Let's talk about "shop alts" and the "shop blocking" meta

Post by Marwolf »

NPC DIALOGUE STALLING
Logg has found that the authentic 20 second timer from RSC wherein the player would stop talking to NPCs automatically was not implemented, and presently dialogue only stops after 500 ticks (5 minutes and 20 seconds).

We would like to apologize for this feature not being properly implemented, and it will be resolved. Once it is fixed, the team's stance on NPC stalling will remain the same.

NPCs are considered resources in their own right, and it is part of the RuneScape gameplay to need to compete for resources against other players. We hope that this authentic change should alleviate issues regarding this, but the team maintains that we will not intervene if a single player manages to restart dialogue in order to "keep" the resource, unless they use malicious means to do so (including but not limited to botting and abusing an inauthentic bug).

Thank you all for continuing to enjoy OpenRSC.
Alder
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Re: Let's talk about "shop alts" and the "shop blocking" meta

Post by Alder »

I made an account just to post here, but now I see there's an authentic solution, so that's great!
If the 20 second timeout didn't exist though, my thoughts were going to be either:

1. Leave it as-is, but drop the multilog limit down to something more reasonable (3? 4?) and push for more worlds, or
2. Just change it. It wouldn't be the only inauthentic thing, right?

#2 got me thinking - and maybe this isn't the place to discuss it - but isn't global chat inauthentic? And bank PINs? Some changes seem reasonable to me for the sake of the game's health, and I'd say something like this fits in that category. But I understand it's a slippery slope, so I'm happy things like this are at least put up for discussion.
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Loveless
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Re: Let's talk about "shop alts" and the "shop blocking" meta

Post by Loveless »

Seems like history had another gift to grant us in this situation, so it's good to hear that!
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