On PvP and how Playdom could make it better for everyone...
Several months back Playdom revamped PvP in M:AA to start offering monthly tournaments, complete with prizes for the victors. At the very minimum the competing players get 100,000 silver points just for competing. If they manage to make the next few tiers they win 10 Gold, a special weapon, specialized armor, or the top prize, a new hero that won't be made available to the general public for at least another month. If one were to do the math on these prizes, one might come up with the following cash value for the total package:
100,000 silver = $5.00
10 Gold = $2.50
LE Weapon = 64 Gold (PD doesn't sell them any cheaper than this) = $16.00
Custom Trench = 22 Gold (closest equivalent is the Commander's Trench) = $5.50
PvP Hero = 135 CP = 67.5 Gold = $16.88 Total value of all prizes = $45.88
We can figure that you can round that value up to $50, because we can rest assured that PD would charge more for the specialized armor than what they're currently charging for the Commander's-series Trenchcoats. This is a pretty good incentive to compete for the top prize. Unfortunately, with prizes of this value, there also come problems.
The first problem is that of cheaters. Playdom likes to pretend this doesn't happen by not allowing anyone to discuss it on their forums. This "head-in-the-sand" mentality does nobody any good. I'm assuming they do this because they don't want anyone to figure out how to do it. Sadly, they completely ignore the fact that if anyone goes to the app's Facebook page they'll be able to find a couple thousand posts with links to cheats and various shady sites that promise you LE weapons that can't be had anymore. But I'm wandering off topic here. The big cheat last couple seasons was the one-hit-kill hack. Since everything is calculated on the client side it's pretty easy for Flash hackers to crack things open and make it so that the player's attacks deal maximum damage every time. Cheaters that would use this hack would typically slot Quicksilver into their teams because of his "always goes first" property. They'd jump into a match, pop QS's Tag Team move, and insta-kill everyone on the opposing side. Supposedly PD has taken steps to track these players down, but we've seen these things happening even into the current season, so whatever they're doing they must be doing slowly. Cheaters that use this hack are somewhat of a self-solving problem. Typically they shoot up the rankings very quickly and then get knocked back down while they're AFK on defense, due to not having the proper armory and hero bonuses to maintain their levels. That doesn't make them any less annoying, and when it comes to the speed with which they can gain rank, that makes them a problem. So how can PD combat this? Checks and balances on the server side of things. They need to track the timestamp of when a match starts and when it ends, the heroes used, and the win/loss record of the initiating player. Combine those three metrics and you can tell pretty quickly who is cheating and who is not. If it's under a certain amount of time (say, less than a minute), the initiating player won, and the initiating player was fielding Quicksilver, then it flags their account. Multiple flags would bring the account up on a list of players to be reviewed, and if the player's case looks suspicious, they suspend their PvP account for further review and possible banning.
More to come...