About a week ago, the North American publisher of TERA Online, Enmasse Entertainment (EME), suddenly declared themselves to be strictly against all third party programs and client modifications. The sudden announcement threatened a permanent ban for all users found modifying their clients and files or using add-ons for any reason, and was met with confusion and disapproval from a large portion of the community.
In the past 5 years, EME had explicitly allowed the use of certain third party modifications through official staff representatives and silently approved countless others. For all intended purposes, add-ons were seen by a large portion of the player base as being a fundamentally ingrained part of the games culture, both improving upon and adding enjoyment to the gaming experience.
Six months ago, a new kind of add-on appeared in the TERA community, colloquially known as the injector or tera-proxy. This program allowed the player base to finally bring TERA optimization into our own hands, fixing several combat netcode issues including desync and ping tax; two of the greatest complaints that went unanswered and ignored by the developers since the game was released almost a decade ago. Most of the endgame community saw tera-proxy as an equalization tool that helped disadvantaged players to finally play on an even playing field. Ping tax was no longer an issue and players living more than a mere two states away from TERA servers were invited to play the game the way the game was intended to be played, sub 30 ping. The difference this made to players living halfway across the world? Unimaginable.
Due to the limited content TERA has to offer and the main focal point being the combat system, the majority of endgame experience is focused on trying to clear the content as quickly as possible and to unlock the true potential of the class. These goals are obviously impossible for players with low FPS and/or high ping. Due to TERA’s poor client coding, the vast majority of the player base suffers from terrible FPS and can only get playable framerates through client editing. Likewise, tera-proxy, a tool predominantly used to remove ping tax through optimizing netcode is seen as absolutely fundamental to enjoying the game and its unique combat system, allowing players to enter the competitive scene and play classes that would otherwise be unsuitable for their ping. With these tools together, for the first time in TERA history, players no longer have to live in the neighboring states of Chicago to enjoy this game to the fullest. In other words, anyone who lives anywhere in the world can now enjoy and get the most out of their TERA experience.
A large portion of the player base feel that the publishers are robbing the community of the only viable solution they have. Issues that have been reported and gone unanswered for almost a decade. The situation is essentially seen by the community as the ultimate sign that EME is absolutely out of touch with the TERA community. With no solution in sight and the only fix being taken away from us, a large proportion of dedicated players are understandably outraged.
Apart from tera-proxy, FPS tweaks and harmless tools like the damage (DPS) meter are also being targeted by these sudden and rash blanket banning. Ever since the removal of The Crusades, the TERA competitive scene could not have survived without the community driven DPS meter. The DPS meter not only represents the core of many competitive gamers’ enjoyment, it's also helped players evolve their skill over time and the reason behind BHS's class optimizations, thus establishing itself as a necessary backbone for TERA. EME’s irresponsible blanket bans do not only threaten the player experience, but could singlehandedly end all competitive activities in TERA as we know it. The entirety of TERA's endgame is hanging by a string, all because of a rogue exploit that used cheat engine to manipulate the emporium. Where's the justice in overturning the acceptability of programs that help players, when they hadn't a hand in the exploit?
EME did very little to cull this frustration and instead decided to pretend the issue does not exist. In their recent community stream, any users who voiced concern were instantly banned by a bot. There's also the issue of forums being heavily moderated, actively banning players on either side of the issue for trying to broach a healthy discussion. A thread was created by the Community Manager, Spacecats, in an effort to consolidate all player feedback, yet there's been no response from him or any other EME representative. Giving players the sense that the thread only exists to give the perception we're being heard, when in actuality we're making it easier for them to silence us.
The official TERA Discord and subreddit remain the only vigils to voice player concerns and criticism of EME's handling on the subject, as forum threads don't stick around long enough to read, and many of the users the community would consider pillars have banned or shadow banned on the forums, proving that no one is safe.
Not only is EME’s response inappropriate and a complete PR disaster, the measures implemented are irrational and ineffective. The third party tools used are undetectable, and only the major developers and users openly flaunting third party software in game are being banned. The main developers banned were white hat individuals deeply involved in the game's veteran community. Banning them not only loses EME's only bargaining chip with the modding community, but diminishes their motive and influence to hold back users with more malicious intent. In the words of a long-term TERA reddit member:
I don't think people understand the power balance right now. EME have less control over 3rd party programs now than they did before. Before banning all the devs, their accounts were at stake. Now that they've been banned, they can literally do anything they want and EME can't do shit to them. EME have lost their only bargaining chip.
Regardless of which side of the issue players stand on, we can all agree that EME has handled this situation extremely poorly. The decision to take a firm stance against all third party programs and tweaks to game optimization, after all these years, has fractured the community. With no viable solution to the delays, instability and poor optimization the game continues to have. Players are left wondering 'why stick around?' The community has since organized a boycott and many notable players responsible for writing guides over the years and veteran players alike, have flat out quit the game in response to EME's stance on the issue. I keep using the word 'issue,' but none of this was an 'issue' up until last week.
Some members of the community mistakenly assume our position is one that promotes exploitation, but that cannot be further from the truth. The group most deeply affected by this change are long-term veteran players, most of whom wish to push their gaming experience to the limit and new players who've only known the game through the use of these programs. Just like the EME staff, we want to see the game blossom, and over the years we had seen the positive impact these modifications have gifted the community. In turn, the community evolved and transformed TERA into the game we know and love. We wouldn't recognize TERA without them.
Everyone in the community can agree, that this fiasco is only going to worsen if it goes without a response, players are calling for EME to:
⦁ Stop the mass censorship of player opinions.
⦁ Quell the rage on both sides of the issue by giving an unambiguous, informed and thoughtful statement.
⦁ Sit down with third party programmers to negotiate guidelines, limitations and restrictions.
Enmasse, we implore you to consider the community's position on the issue and to help mend the fracture between you and TERA'S community, by opening up a line for communication and coming to a peaceful resolution to the matter at hand. The alternative is a lose-lose situation for everyone if the path of inaction keeps going. We love this game too much to see it fall into ruin.