Thursday, February 25, 2016

Breaking the Unwritten Rule

I was goofing off on Dromund Kaas last night, figuring I'd go do a daily or two, when I got in line to take out a 2+ toon in the Temple.

Another toon in front of me asked me and the player behind me to join up as a group, and I figured why not. It saves on waiting around for additional spawns, and you can burn down the boss more quickly.

But. (You know this was coming, right?)

Once the boss dropped, another toon who'd just run into the room ninja-ed it first.

Ahead of about 5 people/groups.

"Did he just do that?"

"What a dick!"


"Come back here, asshole!"

I shook my head. I bit back my "Well, that's someone embracing the Sith Code for you" rejoinder, because I shouldn't have been surprised at all.


I've not seen much ninja-ing of stuff since the height of Cataclysm, but it does still exist.

There was the one time I was on my Trooper and I joined an ops group to take down the World Boss on Tatooine. We were waiting for the last couple of stragglers to join us at the location when a lone Imperial ran up and summoned the World Boss, blocking us from taking credit for it.*

Then there was the 1/2 hour I'd spent grinding my way through mobs in the Field of the Dead on Age of Conan, sneaking around and attempting to reach a boss at the far end of a long flight of steps, when a high level toon rode up and dispatched the boss just as I was fighting off the last mob or two.

And I'd really rather not talk about the times I'd been ganked or ninja-ed while leveling Q back in the day, particularly in the Arathi Highlands. At 3 AM server time.**


What drives someone to take someone else's hard work and capitalize on it for their personal gain?

It's not like MMOs have a lock on this sort of bad behavior. If you work at a company of any real size, you know of at least a few people who attempt to sabotage or (at least) take credit for other people's work on a regular basis. And some corporations seem to actively encourage this sort of behavior, too, given how they handle annual performance reviews.***

Is it the nature of the MMO reward system that encourages Machiavellian behavior, or is it the other way around?

I suspect that a lot of this is absorbed by people while growing up, believing that this is how they ought to act to get ahead in life. From my own experience, I had a grandmother who used to say things like "If you've got someone who looks like they might run you over to get ahead, go and get them first! Get them before they get you!" And this in spite of the fact that she always considered herself a proper God-fearing woman.

However, a certain percentage of people get their amusement out of the pain of others. These are the people who give YouTube comments a bad name, or those who dox people they don't like (or espouse views they don't like). When confronted, you often get a defensive "hey, lighten up!" or a "it's just goofing around", or even the occasional "hey, they deserve it for [insert whatever pissed them off here]!"

Whatever the reason, there's a subset of MMO players that enjoy ninja-ing, and while they tend to gravitate toward certain games, no MMO has a monopoly on this behavior. This leads me to think that the Machiavellian tendencies were always there in people, but the online and anonymous nature of MMOs encourage ninjaing. The reward system doesn't shape behavior to the extent that some could argue, because by and large ninja behavior is the outlier, If the reward system were causing the behavior, I'd expect it to be condoned in blogger press as an acceptable method of playing the game. (It isn't.)


After the 2+ boss was ninjaed, our group switched world instances and found one empty of any sort of line. We dispatched the boss quickly, and that was that.

Well, kinda.

One of the group members dropped, but the other player and I teamed up to finish the other Dromund Kaas Heroics in short order. We chatted throughout the short adventure, and ended up friending each other. In a bizarre sort of way, were it not for that ninja, I'd have not made another acquaintance in SWTOR.

I'd just rather not have a ninja as the catalyst for that.

*He died almost instantly, but it was such a dick move that he should be grateful that his PvP flag wasn't set to "on."

**Which you'd THINK would be the safest time of day to be out in a PvP world. But nooo.....

***The worst types are those that grade on a strict bell curve, with only the highest rated people getting the raises. That means getting that highest rating, whether by backstabbing or working 90 hours a week (and I've seen both in action), makes it open season on everybody who is a good employee. Other people deliberately move to bad teams so that they can be the top banana of a bad group without having to put much effort into it. And still others will lie and cheat and steal in order to get ahead.


  1. This is a great topic. In the case of ninja-ing spawning mobs, I'd say it's often not the desire to be evil, but rather the desire to be quickly done with the dailies or greed that's behind the actions. I also think that the supposed anonymity of the internet plays a part, as you already mentioned.

    Unfortunately, this type of ninja-ing is common in SWTOR, especially in daily areas. To an extend that I was dreading doing my Czerka dailies (still need to get to max rep with that one) because there was always going to be someone to ninja the buttons while I was killing the mobs defending it, no exceptions.

    I've developed the habit of sending ninjas a friendly tell saying it was not a very nice action - with mixed results. In one case a person felt really bad and apologized; in another the person went into extremities to defend themselves (without further encouragement from my side; I kept quiet). Both cases show that people feel caught red-handed when faced with the fact that they're sharing their gaming environment with actual people.

    1. Considering that the majority of my time in SWTOR was not spent at the endgame, I think that the problem is more prevalent in endgame in general.

      But Heroics as the new dailies (as Shintar puts it) thrusts this ugly behavior right into the mainstream. Respawn rates in SWTOR, while faster than WoW's used to be, are still slow compared to Wildstar. (Age of Conan is so freaking fast that it feels like you just killed that mob a minute ago and they're back, which causes a whole other mess of problems.)

      From my perspective, Bioware needs to do two things to alleviate the problem: increase spawn rates and have multiple instances always on tap. You're not going to be able to stop bad behavior unless you have someone policing the Heroic areas, but you can eliminate the line a bit by speeding up respawn rates and providing an alternate location to jump to if there's a line (in effect they're opening up another cashier lane to accommodate the demand).