Alex’s Analysis – Stopping Real World Trading

posted by on 27th September 2011, at 2:27pm

I was walking through the streets of Varrock, letting my mind just wander around, when I started thinking. It was one of life’s mysteries that when somebody used an otherworld currency to purchase an item of great value, he and the item were suddenly whisked away into the black hole below the dwarven mines. I wondered, how could that be? Had to have been someone from behind the scenes, but how did he know this otherworldly transfer? There had to have been millions of trades going on all throughout the day, and many of them were similar trades to these bad ones, but without the illegal transfer, and yet there was no punishment! What was going on?

So, I focused my mind, left the realm, and re-entered the realm of reality to give this some thought. And the more I thought, the more it all came together. And suddenly, before I knew it, I had devised a very plausible hypothesis that not only worked perfectly, but was incredibly and considerably simple. So simple, in fact, that it was genius. They wouldn’t have restored the wilderness and removed trade-limits on a mere bluff.

They have a method. And it works.

And I think I might have a good idea on how it goes.

Again, this is merely a hypothesis, so it might be altogether false. Or it could be true. For all I know, Jagex really are bluffing and upon reading this, they will turn the bluff into reality. No idea. I just speak my mind. I do not “immediately” manipulate the world. That’s Dex’s job.

First off, let’s gather some facts during the trade limit. Each player could only trade up to a certain, adjustable amount every 15 minutes, depending on the players. This limit, or “trade rate”, is stored as a value on each player, much like their individual stats are. There was also, and still is, a “rate of transfer” indicated on the trade windows, which is added and subtracted to these values. Lastly, if the value somehow exceeded the maximum 2.1 billion, it changes to “a lot”, or what we programmers call, MAX_VALUE.

Another fact is to help ease the trade limit, they added a “friend time” to each player in your friends list. If you have been friends for a prolonged amount of time, the limit eases.

But now, the present. Trade limits are gone altogether. We can still see the rate of transfer, but that’s to help prevent scamming. Simple.

One more fact, when a player gets reported for breaking a rule, it usually comes with “a screenshot of the last minute before the report”. This is in regards to the chat that took place in the view of the rule-breaking player, including private messages and chats (so be careful not to mention anything… personal when you are reported, or Jagex will be laughing at your grave).

OK. Got all that? Trade rate, transfer rate, friend time, and minute of chat. With the trade limit lifted, we no longer see trade rate or friend time incorporated anymore.

So here’s my theory: None of those values have been removed.

Somebody in Jagex has rigged up a real-time graph program listing the top 10-50 player trade rates exactly like the high scores. Except the public cannot see it. It is also updated every minute, or in real time.

Now, there’s a graph that shows the highest received amounts, as well as the highest given. The program also checks the previous minute of data, and if there’s a sudden spike, it is highlighted. By spike, I mean a transfer of at least 10 million coins or so (because in this day and age, a million is hardly anything…). When it’s highlighted, the game grabs a minute (at least) of the chat, just like the report abuse does, and gets the names of both players who made this trade. The giver and the getter.

Being highlighted, it is brought to the attention of the guy at Jagex watching these graphs. Let’s call this security guy working at Jagex “Macan” for a demonstration.

Macan sees a suspicious spike one day. A transfer of 200 million coins between two players. Suspicious in itself, but it could be someone quitting Runescape. Or it could be a RWT. Thus, the investigation begins.

First off, he checks the level of both players. A couple of level 138s trading 200 million coins worth to each other could mean they’re simply splitting the profit of a Zaryte Bow they just got from Nex from a non-coinshare world. Macan, just to double-check, checks the net worth of the getter’s bank and finds he’s already got over 2 billion worth of stuff. It can definitely be ignored.

But suppose now that the getter is only level 20. That’s something strange, no? There will be more investigation into the matter.

Macan checks the level of the giver and finds that it’s a level 40. Very suspicious. Of course, he also checks the individual stats to see if the guy is a skiller. Maybe he is, and is giving the getter payment for running for him for several weeks to help level up.

He then makes a quick check to see how long these guys knew each other. Perhaps they’d been friends for a year? They’re fine, then; friend giving a friend a gift. Oh, they just added each other not 5 minutes before the trade? Very suspicious.

Macan then checks the recorded chat for any suspicious words. Players can PM stuff to each other and so long as they do not report any of it, nobody will ever know. Unfortunately for them, the trade in itself was technically a report, and Macan now has access to all the private back-and-forth they want. He reads (in some cases, deciphers) it to discern the reasoning behind the trade. The player was quitting and giving away all his stuff to one lucky individual. That’s nice of him.

But no, Macan finds the giver sent a message to the getter saying he was from the “site” and wanted to meet in Varrock. Or he sees the first message is “You paid for two hundred million?”

As one final test, Macan jumps onto their own powerful searching site and looks up the getter’s name to see where it’s been used anywhere on the internet. The name pops up on what appears to be a gold farming website. Unacceptable!

Taking all these variables into account, Macan issues judgement on the getter (and possibly giver, depending on the severity of the trade and if it might’ve been a scam). Even with all this evidence, he could still be wrong, but that’s why players can make an appeal. All they have to do is not supply the evidence, and let the player explain why the trade went down. The appeal is sent, Macan reads it, compares it to what he found that led him to suspect the guy in the first place, and passes final judgement.

And that’s it. Macan grabs a beer, and it’s onto the next highlighted trade!

That’s my analysis (woah, I said it twice!). As you can see, it’s quite in-depth. They are capable of tracking large trades, getting quite a bit of evidence, and as they had mentioned before several times, they are always very confident about their decisions. I mean, it all really boils down to common sense half the time.

And I’ll admit it, the system still isn’t quite perfect (you can’t predict how a trade will go down at all), but they’re trying their best here! And I respect them for that! They want the game to be fair and fun for everyone, not just the financially secure! If you don’t like it, make your own MMORPG. Trust me, it’s harder than it looks.

That’s it. Until next time, I bid you cheers.