There has been quite a bit of discussion on the official forums concerning rank farming recently so I thought I’d wade in and give my tuppence worth. For those of you who don’t know what rank farming is it can be summed up as basically killing an opposing player over and over again with no resistance in order to gain as much infamy/renown within a short period of time as possible. Some people will use multiple accounts to farm themselves whilst others will get friends to control a second character that can be killed repeatedly.
What’s The Problem?
There are basically two issues here. The first is that some people don’t like it if someone gets their ranks easily through farming because it effectively bypasses PvMP. They may feel that this cheapens their own achievements or lessens the impact of the rewards gained through acquiring new ranks.
The second issue concerns the fact that some people believe rank farming to be a violation of Turbine’s terms and conditions, an exploit or to put it in general terms, cheating. Thus they want Turbine to clamp down such behaviour.
Why The Debate?
If rank farming is cheating and devalues gameplay then why is there even a debate? Surely Turbine take action against those doing it and that’s the end of the matter? Well it isn’t that simple because Turbine don’t do anything about it. “Why not?!” you may ask. The reason for that actually is simple: rank farming isn’t against LOTRO’s rules.
Yes that’s right, farming for ranks is not considered an exploit, a violation of the terms and conditions or cheating by the people who actually make the rules. Thus we have a debate.
You can break the issue down into two parts: a) is rank farming bad for the game and b) is it wrong to do it?
Bad For The Game – Let’s deal with the first question first. The idea here is that farming for ranks cheapens the achievements gained by other players who actually fought their way up the ranks. This is a perfectly valid point, but it is also a subjective one. Some high ranked players may feel that way whilst others may not. I, for example, couldn’t care less if someone attained my rank (rank 12) through farming or traditional gameplay. It simply doesn’t bother me. Other people may hold an opposite view.
A similar point is that rank farming trivialises the rewards gained at various ranks because anyone can farm their way up to whatever rank they want and gain said reward. Again this is a valid point and arguably a stronger one than the above point concerning debasing achievements. In short the argument here is that rank farming is an easy route to rewards. The main problem with this line of argument though is that the rank farmer isn’t actually gaining anything that anyone else cannot. They may gain it faster, but it is still the same reward. In that vein it isn’t really any different from purchasing creep skills from the store. Both offer a fast track to a reward that would otherwise take a significant amount of time to acquire and both are accepted by Turbine as valid methods of obtaining the reward.
Is It Wrong? – The short and canonical answer is no. Farming for ranks is not a violation of LOTRO’s terms and conditions and it is not considered to be an exploit. Thus it is considered by Turbine to be as acceptable a playstyle as any other they approve of.
Community manager Celestrata explicitly stated Turbine’s position regarding rank farming in this thread:
As others have already pointed out, our GMs have stated that this activity is not a violation of the rules. Therefore, that is the answer. We’ll pass everyone’s feedback along to the appropriate teams, as we usually do, but that’s the answer for right now.
That’s the official position of Turbine, but what about right and wrong in an ethical sense? That is an entirely different question. Since rank farming is considered acceptable by Turbine then it is really down to each individual player to decide for themselves whether it is a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to play.
Personally I don’t farm for ranks, instead preferring to play in the more traditional manner to again my infamy. True to form though I will not judge those who do farm for ranks. It isn’t for me to tell others how to play whether I agree or disagree with how they choose to play. I’m not forced to do it myself and that is enough for me.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day farming for ranks is something that Turbine finds acceptable. That means that players are free to play that way if they wish. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea (mine included), but nevertheless they are free to do it. Some people do seem to get very bent out of shape about it though and my advice to them would be to let it go. This is just a game after all and if the way someone else plays bothers you that much perhaps it’s time to go do something else for a little bit.
Rank farming is here to stay folks, like it or loathe it, and the best course of action in my opinion is to accept that fact. That doesn’t mean that one cannot suggest to Turbine that the rules should be changed and set out appropriate arguments for such a change, but if you don’t like rank farming don’t let it ruin your gameplay by letting it bother you. People are going to do it and until such time as Turbine changes their rules it is a fact of life in the Ettenmoors.