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I am having a real hard time (almost 2 weeks) trying to get any kind of assistance from MindArk (Planet Calypso) Support after having dropped 100M Mind Essence (worth $1500 USD) on the ground by mistake while dropping a lot of 100 Mind Essence stacks (each worth $0.0015 USD).
The 100M stack disappeared or was picked up by someone else almost immediately, but nobody wanted to admit taking it and some Players were claiming that dropped items sometimes disappear ("MindArk" takes them), so I've filed a "Missing or Lost" Support Case with Planet Calypso (MindArk) Support.
After several messages exchanged back-and-forth, their final reply was:
Every time you drop an item you receive a warning that advise you that any item that you drop can be picked up by any other colonist, and after you drop an item you get a confirmation message in the main Chat window that informs you which item you had dropped and the quantity.
Unfortunately the 100M Mind Essence were picked up by another participant on 2011-01-12 at 16:15:53, apart from this we can not provide you more information, as it is clearly stated in the support section, information about other accounts than your own will not be published or discussed.
Then I read their FAQ and found an article about "Scam Prevention Policy" where they suggested to go to the Police. So, I did this and have filed an official Police report about what happened to me in "Entropia Universe". But, from what the Policeman said, chances of me ever seeing my virtual items or the money I put in that game are next to zero, because there were no "movable objects" involved (it is all "virtual").
Since I've dropped the 100M Mind Essence by mistake, I began looking at the Game User Interface closer and found a complete chain of flaws which (combined) assisted in creating this situation, so I've submitted another Support case with MindArk to explain the situation in more detail. Here is the contents of my initial "Bug Report" to their Support Team:
When you are dropping stackable items, the warning dialog only shows WHAT you are dropping, but not HOW MUCH you are dropping.
Because of that and the fact that you are shortening the quantity display on stacked items to show 100M instead of 100.000.000, it is possible to drop a 100M stack instead of a 100 stack by mistake, without even noticing it.
If you are dropping a lot of 100 stack items (worth 1 PEC each) and there are people standing near you and picking these items up fast, it can happen very easily that by the time you realize what you have done, the stack is already gone - picked up by someone else. As it happened to me.
If the item has a high value (like 10K PEDs at TT or 15K PEDs market value like it was the case with ME I dropped), some people will just play dumb and keep them, or start claiming that items dropped on the ground sometimes dissapear by themselves.
When it is an item worth over $1.000 USD at TT, it makes MA look like a thief if these rumors spread.
After I dropped my 100M ME stack (see my Support Case #15043-12680), nobody wanted to admit they took it. And a lot of people were claiming that items dropped on the floor sometimes just disapear. Especially after the reaction of all the people around, I started to believe them and wanted to quit the game. Because I don't want to play a game written by thieves and protecting thieves. No sincere person wants that. And I believe that most people who are placing money into your game (like me) want to feel secure with their REAL MONEY in here, which is currently NOT the case.
If you check my support case #15043-12680, where I dropped a 100M stack by mistake after having dropped a lot of 100 stacks, combined with what I just stated here, you might start to understand the scope of the problem.
Also think about the impact someone with a lot of items he stole can have on the economy in your game.
I know you can continue playing ignorant and just rubbing peoples noses that they made a mistake, but it is as much your fault as it is theirs. And after talking in public about my problem, a lot of people had a chat with me and told me they have had similar problems in the past but you did NOTHING about them.
This does not show a good light on your company and is really damaging your reputation, which is already hurt by the fact that sweat prices have dropped to the value where it is just not worth wasting time sweating and sweat was a way for some players to try and get some of their investment in hunting and mining back.
Trading should ONLY be done through the Trade window or the Auctions. Nobody is trading by dropping items on the floor. If someone drops items on the floor, they are doing it for other reasons. If someone wants to give away their stuff, they can always do it through Trade. Having a little chat with someone who takes your stuff for free is also a good way to make friends in here. The easiest thing you could do, for starters, would be to simply DISABLE the "drop items" feature until you have a better implementation.
All the people I talked to, who have already been burned by the flaws in your "drop items" feature, are afraid to use it anyway. Only those who do not understand what could happen (like I didn't) will use it and you should do what ever you can to protect them - as they are your customers and think that they are in a safe environment.
Please do NOT respond to this with a standard "You should not drop items" answer, because this does not help. I know now to not drop items as long as your implementation is as it it now, but there are still A LOT of people who don't know and this problem has been around since you released the game.
I really like your game and what you did with vehicles and the graphics, but since this is a REAL CASH ECONOMY you also need to protect the investment of people placing their money in here.
Please think about it. Thank you.
I think you should also change the way stackable items are displayed. It was a really bad idea to shorten the quantity number. Now, icon for 100M something looks just like the one for 100 something with a tiny M behind 100, but it is ONE MILLION TIMES MORE worth.When you are dropping stackable items, the warning dialog only shows WHAT you are dropping, but not HOW MUCH you are dropping.
Also, when dropped stackable items always look the same, regardless of the amount. A 100M ME stack looks exactly like a 100 ME stack when on the ground. And if you dropped a lot of them, it takes time to figure out which has what size. How can 100 million of something look the same as one? This is very misleading.
I think in the case of icons, you should either display the full number without reducing if by using "k" or "M" - or ... you should have different icons for quantities above 1.000 and again different for quantities above 1.000.000 - and the difference should be enough to easily distinguish a 100 stack form a 100K or a 100M stack.
I also think it should be visible WHO is dropping something or picking something up, using animations. So people would see who is dropping items and who ever picks an item up everyone else would see it. Then it would not be possible that someone just picks a 100M ME stacks but nobody knows anything about it.
It would also be a good idea to not allow the quantity number blend with the background image to make it easier to read. For example, by drawing a black filled square behind the while number, to cover up the complete quantity number background. Maybe even use a different background color depending on the quantity. For example black for amounts below 1k, dark blue for up to 1M and dark red for 1M and above.
That's just a suggestion. I hope your designers can come up with something. But the way things are now, it is very misleading and when combined with trading or the "drop item" feature as it is now, it is easy to make a mistake and lose a lot. With only a few minor changes in your game interface, things like that can easily be avoided.
Their initial reply looked promising:
Thank you for taking the time to write your thorough comments and thoughts about your experience with the "drop item" system. I will forward them for evaluation and necessary action. We will update this support case as soon as possible.
I thought things were finally going the right way, so I've continued talking to other participants in the game and providing their Support with more information and ideas to avoid these issues happening again. But several days later, I've received another reply from their Support, now with this text:
After this and several other messages being exchanged back-and-forth, their final reply on this case was:
The feature of the system that allowed you to drop the item was working as intended, and the reason that I have forwarded your information for consideration, is to try to encourage participants to reflect more over what they are dropping on the ground. This will however not in any way affect the fact that every participant of Planet Calypso are required to take responsibility for their actions.
Yes, I was dumb to have deposited that kind of money into their game in the first place. And yes, I should have been more careful with my stuff and not start dropping small amounts of Mind Essence on the ground. But I would have expected more understanding from their "Support" and some kind of help or assistance. But all they cared about was to rub my nose into their "ToS" and push all responsibility away from them.
Is this a normal way to communicate with a customer who has just lost item(s) worth over $1500 USD by a mistake, for which their badly designed games User Interface was partially responsible?