Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Age of Wushu Blues

So, I've been leading my guild (Amitabha) for a while now. We are finally about to get our first base. It's late, way late. We're behind, unfortunately. I blame my lack of knowledge about the game when I created the guild. And to be honest, it probably would have been better if I had not made the guild with the tiny bit of experience I had with the game when I started it. But, then again, I probably would have quit a long time ago if I didn't have Amitabha to keep me motivated.

To be honest, we're in a pretty good spot right now. Even though one of my Vice Leaders split from the guild and took a decent chunk of our members with him. We are in a good alliance, and that first base is just a day away. We are fighting wars pretty frequently, which is great fun. We are rebuilding our list of active members, too. Partially because the initial hype of a new server is over, and partially because of the split, we aren't able to produce as many numbers as we were a month ago. A month ago we would have had a full raid part instantly. It would have been 90% new characters, admittedly, but that number of people is formidable.

Now, we struggle to achieve half a raid party, even with a week advance notice. The upside to this is, even though we struggle to get a raid party half the size of our initial numbers, we now have many more higher levels than we did back when we could field a 48-man raid group easily. So, in reality, we are much stronger. It's hard to realize that without thinking it through like this.

One issue I've been having lately (and it seems a majority of US-based guilds have), is keeping everyone organized. There are in-game means (Daily message that flashes whenever you log in on your screen), and out of game methods (website frontpage event calender with countdowns, and a massive news feed that is updated almost daily), but people seem to be oblivious to it. We're slowly getting people to realize we have a website and VOIP program (which at war times will almost nearly reach capacity... but that capacity is 25 people).

Everyone in my guild, minus two people who players on Blue Dragon for a short time before White Tiger released, started playing the game at or after the release of White Tiger. We've had to learn a lot the hard way. We are just now finally getting our act together when it comes to instances. We are getting better, but have a bit of a way to go. We've basically mastered GCC normal, but have yet to try GCC hard with just our own guild members. It's embarrassing to admit we're so late to the party, but I've never been one to be secretive, especially when it's a game.

Unfortunately, I've recently had several bad run-ins with Snail USA. And I'm not the only one. But, I will speak of my incidents. First, when I was participating in a guild war. Right towards the end of the war, when everything was starting to come to a close, a GM logged into my account. I did not know this as I had no prior warning, and I immediately assumed I was being hacked. So, while I was reloading an new client and logging back into my character, on my other screen I was quickly changing my Snail account password. I was told immediately upon logging in that the GM understood this was a guild war but it would only take a minute (a friend watched my character and the GM was on my account for at least 5 minutes, not counting the 40 seconds or so it would take my character to log out), and that if I kicked him off the account again he would change my password.

I complied and allowed him to do whatever it was he needed to do. I didn't understand why I had to let a GM rummage around my account when an extremely important event for my guild was happening. I had not been contacted by PM or email before this happened. It simply did. While this was going on, a guildie informed that something similar had happened to him a day earlier, and that the GM had sent a COD from another account (his GM account, I assumed) and took liang off his account because there was supposedly a mix-up during an event and Snail had somehow sent gold out to a few thousand accounts by accident.

To be honest, I'm completely mind blown by how unprofessional this war. First, you screwed up, not the players. If you send a player gold and he uses it, it's your fault not his and he should not have VIP time, liang, or items removed from his account for it. How was he to know that the gold sent to his account was not supposed to be there? And why would you have to log into their account and send a COD (Cash on delivery for an item sent) to their account to retrieve it? Do you really lack GM tools?

And the kicker? The kicker is that I didn't even receive any of this gold. So this GM blindly guessed that my account might have some of this misplaced gold on my account, logs into it during a guild war time THAT THE GAME FORCES AT THE SAME TIME EVERY SINGLE DAY, and then send me this incredibly rude email.


Recently, this account received some gold that it had not purchased.
This was aside from any gold purchases the account performed through
our top-up systems.

In some cases, a portion of the gold was spent before it could be
reclaimed. In all cases, Snail Games reclaimed enough Gold, Unbound
Silver (Taels) and VIP time from the account to equal the amount of
gold that was mistakenly sent. We apologize if any of these figures
are different than prior to the incident, however we were careful to
remove only the appropriate equivalent, and will be unable to provide
further exchange between these different currency types.

At this time, we have determined your account to have been fully
addressed with regard to this matter, and no further action is
necessary on your part or on Snail's. We thank you for your patience
as we worked to resolve this matter, and we are taking appropriate
steps to ensure such an incident does not occur again."

The above email tells me that they seem to think this was an issue caused by two parties. It also tells me that Snail is oblivious. Because, like I said there was NO GOLD on my account. I do not buy gold except when it is to reapply my VIP. Yet they send me this blind mass email that states that I did receive gold (when I did NOT). They then go on to say that they reclaimed gold/taels/VIP time to what they probably guess (knowing how professional Snail is) is enough to cover the gold that THEY sent, and if they happen to be wrong that you're screwed and there is nothing that they will do to fix it. They finish up by telling us that they will be doing nothing more, even if they happened to have wronged you, and that they will take " appropriate steps to ensure such an incident does not occur again."

I am honestly surprised that Snail China would allow this kind of horribly outrageous nonsense to go on, dirtying their name. Is this really how they want to be seen? As the people that screw up and then punish the players in very unprofessional methods because of it? Really Snail? Are you being serious with this bullshit?

And that's not the end of it. My account was recently hacked and 39 gold plus several hundred taels were stolen from it. Luckily, the character that got stripped was my Blue Dragon alt that I do not play often enough to be affected. But, none-the-less, I paid over $9 for that gold and I do not want my money to be going to waste like that. So I reported the issue. I carefully explained just how my account had been stripped and provided proof that it wasn't I that had done it. To begin with, this hacking was extremely strange because I had have never in all my years of gaming had any of my accounts hacked. I find it weird that I suddenly, after starting to play this game, find my account hacked.

After I reported this issue, this is the email I got in response.

Thank you for reporting your account to us. We are having our security team re-verify the integrity of our systems to ensure that they have not been breached. It appears your account has been compromised by a third party. As account security is the responsibility of the player who holds the password, Snail Games is unable to give items/currency to any account that is reported as compromised.
We are currently investigating these reports, however there is currently no indication that Snail's systems have been compromised. We can understand your frustration at someone gaining access to your account. We are continually monitoring our systems for any potential or actual breach, and have not found such an event to have taken place. The most common causes of compromise are phishing sites, trojan keyloggers, and account sharing. For information on how to protect against these threats, please visit us at
Snail Games Support"

Again with another canned mass response that everyone gets. They start off by assuring me that their "security team" (which, if I guess based off how professional Snail has been so far, is probably some poorly paid angry 21 year old) is verifying that their account system hadn't been infiltrated. They tell me that it's my responsibility to keep my account data safe (even if I'm not the one that leaked it), and that they cannot reimburse me for any items lost, even though they have all the tools they need (I assume) to track where the money went (considering the CODs that hacker used to strip my account were still in my inbox and all the sent money was visible in my outbox).

What's funny is that MANY, MANY accounts are being hacked. There is obviously no other explanation other than that Snail had their account system hacked/compromised. You do not get that many hacked accounts without that happening. One person I know, who is the most diligent user I have ever met where passwords and account safety is concerned, got his account "hacked" a few days after starting the game. Funny enough, it was right after he had gotten VIP for the first time and had bought a bit of extra gold for a few hundred liang to help start him out. This is basically the same story that hundreds of other users are telling. They are fine, then they buy VIP and BAM they get hacked. It's fishy, to say the least.

I wrote an article not to long ago titled, "Has Snail Messed Up?" As an answer to that article, I have titled this article, "Snailed Has Messed Up." Because that's just what they've done. They've provided shoddy server connections, a buggy and poorly translated mess, mass banning that has ruined thousands of players experience, zero customer service (I have yet to talk to someone who has had a ticket answer, even during the hours that customer service is supposed to be available) that will not help you if you are hacked and will log into your account during important events, and to top it all off they will punish YOU, even if THEY are the ones that messed up. GG Snail. Good game.